What Is Reddit and How Does It Work?

By Corbin HartwickUpdated on February 21, 2018

There are many different outlets for news and stories on the Internet today, from professional journalistic institutions to independent investigative reporters to the odd conspiracy theorist. But what if there was a news website where all of its content was selected — or even created — by the people that used it? What if the website gave its users almost full control over what stories were worth talking about, from world-shaking current events right down to the little moments that make life enjoyable? Well, you'd have a website that looked an awful lot like Reddit.

Reddit is a social news and media aggregation website, as well as a online discussion forum. Users can visit various topic categories (called "subreddits") and post links, pictures, or stories. Other users can then respond to posts or other comments, and vote on the popularity of posts and comments.

How Reddit works: 6 cool things to do on Reddit

1. Join a vast community of Internet users on Reddit… for free!

Reddit has over 200 million registered users, and becoming a part of that community won't cost you a cent! Just pick a username and a password, and then enter and verify your email address. That's it! You are officially a "Redditor"!

Signing up for a Reddit account

2. Share stories on Reddit that are important to you.

Is there a breaking news story that you want to draw people's attention to? A funny picture that you think will leave others in stitches? A personal life experience that you'd like some advice or input on? Whatever you want to share on Reddit, just write your thoughts down, upload an image, or type in a hyperlink. Then, give your post a title, pick which subreddit you want it to appear in, and then submit it.

Posting a picture or hyperlink on Reddit

3. Have your say about what you see on Reddit.

If you enjoy something that you find on Reddit, you can "upvote" it; you can also "downvote" it instead if it rubs you the wrong way. Or, if you encounter something thought-provoking, you can leave a comment on a post or another user’s comment. Who knows… other people may show their appreciation for what you have to share by "upvoting" your submissions!

Responding to a comment on a Reddit post

4. Use Reddit's search functions to pinpoint content that you want to find.

Reddit is a vast website, but that doesn't mean that you have to spend hours browsing it if there's something that you're looking to find immediately. Just type in a few key words, and Reddit will search for subreddits, posts, and comments that contain your search terms. You can sort your results in various ways, or limit them to those posted within a certain time frame. There are also special search modifiers that you can use to search for posts by title, author, subreddit, type, and more!

Searching Reddit using advanced search parameters

5. Indulge your curiosity with the popular "ask me anything" (A.M.A.) subreddits.

Some of the most popular subreddits on Reddit are what are known as A.M.A.s, or "ask me anythings". These are where Reddit users introduce themselves based on something interesting about who they are or what they've done, and other users get to ask them any questions that they want. Some are about mundane life experiences, while others are about people who have done exceptional things (such as achieving a rare sporting feat or surviving a dangerous situation). And still others are thought-provoking conversations with celebrity guests, including athletes, scientists, politicians, and more!

6. Buy a Gold subscription to get even more features and keep Reddit independent.

If you want even more out of Reddit, consider getting a subscription to Reddit's premier membership service, Reddit Gold. With a subscription, you can do all sorts of neat things, like block all advertisements, customize your experience with themed interfaces, automatically tell what's new on any particular post, and more! Plus, by subscribing to Reddit Gold, you're helping it remain an independent company and rely less on advertising revenue to keep functioning.

That's a brief introduction to what Reddit is and does! In the rest of our Reddit course, we'll go over topics such as how to create an account, how to post various types of content, how to search Reddit, and how its famous "ask me anything" subreddits work. If you want to get a finger on the pulse of what the Internet is talking about, Reddit is a good place to go.