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Social Media Basics :

Get Ready to Read it on Reddit

The "front page of the internet" offers fun communities for learning and discussion

Since 2005, Reddit has allowed users to start, moderate, and participate in online communities about a wide range of topics, known as subreddits. These topics range from history to sports to travel to politics, and anyone can join in.

Why It's Fun
Reddit is different from many other social media platforms. Rather than a steady stream of "what I did" and "who I was with," Reddit is more about "what I want to know" and "what I have to share." Users can search for specific topics or browse around and be surprised by what they find. The Today I Learned (TIL) subreddit is filled with interesting and random tidbits of information. Another popular one is Ask Me Anything, which features people who have had extraordinary experiences — such as working in an unusual industry or living in an exotic place — taking questions from other users.

While Reddit has a reputation for being a breeding ground for trolls (people who intentionally try to upset others online), that element is actually in the minority, and users find many of the communities to be quite supportive and helpful. For example, there are subreddits for people struggling with addiction and mental illness who find comfort with others who share their challenges. Reddit users earn "karma" points when the information they share gets liked and upvoted.

What to Expect
On your first visit to Reddit (reddit.com), you'll have a number of options. You can click one of the categories (such as "worldnews," "videos," "funny," or "movies") at the very top of the screen. If you select "movies," you'll see a list of movie-related article links in the main area and other subtopic and subreddit options in the right-hand column. Click areas of interest to read discussions on those topics.

Each subreddit is designed differently and has its own set of rules, which are also posted in the right-hand column. If you want to participate in a community, be sure to review the rules first, as you can be warned or even banned from the group if you don't follow them.

From the Reddit home page, you can also use the tabs near the top of the screen to check out "hot," "new," "rising," "controversial," or "top" posts. Alternatively, you can use the search bar to find posts and subreddits about specific interests.

Once you sign up for an account, you'll see a list of subreddits you subscribe to in the upper-left corner, under the dropdown list labeled "my subreddits." Subscribing also populates your home page with stories from those subreddits.

How to Participate
Once you're in a subreddit, you'll notice that next to each post title there's a number with arrows pointing up and down. This notation indicates the score of the post. That is, the number of "upvotes" minus the number of "downvotes." Once you have an account, you can up- or down-vote posts yourself. Posts are listed in order of their score, so those that other users like best are near the top of each list.

You can also create posts yourself, and they will be up- or down-voted by others. Remember that your post can be in the form of a question. For example, if you're new to camping, you might find a subreddit about it and ask, "How do I stay safe from wild animals?" or "What is the best kind of tent?"

Another feature of subreddits is comments. Anyone with an account can comment on others' posts or answer their questions. Discussions may include comments responding to comments and so on, so each subreddit might look a bit messy until you understand what's going on.

Anyone can start a subreddit, so if you're looking for a topic and don't find it, consider beginning your own community. A person who starts a community automatically becomes its moderator, whose responsibilities include establishing the rules of the community, setting up the visual style of the subreddit, and removing content that's offensive or irrelevant.

Reddit is a fun and fascinating online resource, and we've only begun to describe it here. To learn more, visit the site's FAQ at reddit.com/wiki/faq.

Reddit Abbreviations
Like many online communities, Reddit has its own lexicon. Here are a few abbreviations regularly used by "redditors."

AFAIK: "as far as I know"

AMA: "ask me anything"

DAE: "does anyone else"

ELI5: "explain like I'm 5 (years old)"

IAMA: "I am a"

IIRC: "if I recall correctly"

IMO: "in my opinion"

IMHO: "in my humble opinion"

ITT: "in this thread"

MRW: "my reaction when"

NSFW: "not safe for work" (adult content)

OP: "original poster" (the person who started the thread)

TIL: "today I learned" YSK: "you should know"

QUICK TIP: Before you start using Reddit, be sure to brush up on your reddiquette! Find all the dos and don'ts at reddit.com/wiki/reddiquette.

QUICK TIP: Head over to reddit.com/r/GIFs to find some of the funniest GIFs online. Remember, the best ones will be right at the top.