Definition

Reddit

Contributor(s): Miki Onwudinjo, Christian Stafford

Reddit is a social news website and forum where content is socially curated and promoted by site members through voting. The site name is a play on the words "I read it."

Reddit member registration is free, and it is required to use the website's basic features.

For a monthly fee or yearly subscription, redditors can upgrade to Reddit Gold. This service provides a set of extended features not available to nonpaying users. Features of Reddit Gold include access to members-only communities and the ability to turn off sidebar ads.

What are subreddits and how do they work?

The site is composed of hundreds of subcommunities, known as subreddits. Each subreddit has a specific topic, such as technology, politics or music. Reddit's homepage, or the front page, as it is often called, is composed of the most popular posts from each default subreddit. The default list is predetermined and includes subreddits such as "pics," "funny," "videos," "news" and "gaming."

Reddit site members, also known as redditors, submit content which is then voted upon by other members. The goal is to send well-regarded content to the top of the site's front page. Content is voted on via upvotes and downvotes: arrows on which users click to the left of a post. The more upvotes a post gets, the more popular it becomes, and the higher up it appears on its respective subreddit or the front page. To access a subreddit via the address bar, simply type "reddit.com/r/subreddit name."

How to use Reddit

Upon arriving on the site's front page, users will notice a list of posts -- a collection of text posts, link posts, images and videos. When logged out of a Reddit account, the front page is composed of the site's default subreddits -- a list of about 50 topics including music, videos, news and GIFs, among others. After creating an account, users will automatically be "subscribed" to the list of default subreddits. Users can then unsubscribe to any of the default subreddits they do not wish to view, and they can subscribe to additional subreddits to get a personalized front page of content that interests them.

Users can also comment on posts after creating an account. Commenting is one of Reddit's core features, and it is the primary way for users to interact with each other, besides private messaging. Comments, like posts, can be voted on by users and are then ranked accordingly. The comment with the highest number of votes sits at the top of the comment section and is referred to as the top comment.

Reddit company information

Reddit is similar to Digg, another user-generated social networking site. Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian started Reddit in 2005, and Condé Nast Publications acquired the site in October 2006. Reddit split from Condé Nast in 2011, and now operates under Advance Publications. A July 8, 2012, NYMag.com article reported that 35 million new users sign up for Reddit every month.

Notable controversies

Since its inception, Reddit has been the subject of many controversies, some great enough to make the news.

  • 2013: After the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, some individuals took to Reddit to help search for the bombing suspects. Users analyzed images and security footage after authorities asked for the public's assistance in identifying the suspects. Many individuals were wrongly accused of being the suspects, most notably Brown University student Sunil Tripathi, who went missing prior to the bombings. Sunil was found dead in the Providence River in Rhode Island on April 23, 2013, the result of an unrelated suicide.
  • 2014: In August 2014, Reddit was involved in the distribution of many nude photos of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, who was underage at the time her photos were taken. The images were leaked online after Apple's iCloud services were hacked. A subreddit dedicated to the nude photos was created and later deleted.
  • 2015: Former interim CEO of Reddit, Ellen Pao, was the subject of much controversy during the summer months of 2015. While acting as interim CEO, Pao's husband, Alphonse Fletcher, was running the now-bankrupt hedge fund Fletcher International. Fletcher was in a court battle after his hedge fund was accused of being a Ponzi scheme. Pao received hate and criticism after many user posts and comments regarding her husband's legal battle were suspiciously deleted.
  • 2015 was also notable for censorship on Reddit, starting with the removal of a controversial subreddit that was 150,000 subscribers strong. The subreddit, "fatpeoplehate," was deleted, along with a few others, on the premise of harassment, which sparked outrage within the Reddit community, as the site was supposed to be a forum for free speech.
  • 2016: In November of 2016, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman admitted that he had been modifying users' comments that were insulting to him, making it appear as though the users were insulting moderators of the popular pro-Trump subreddit, "The_Donald."
  • Also in November 2016, a subreddit was part of a conspiracy theory referred to as, "Pizzagate." Reddit users suspected Hillary Clinton and a Washington D.C. pizza chain, Comet Ping Pong, of child sex trafficking. A subreddit for discussion of the conspiracy theory was created and later banned, as it broke Reddit's rule against "witch hunts" -- posting someone's private or personal information.

Site statistics and user demographics

As of this writing, Reddit is the 24th most-visited website in the world and the 7th most-visited website in the United States, with the U.S. accounting for 46.9% of the site's visitors, according to web traffic data and analytics company Alexa Internet. According to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, 71% of Reddit's audience is composed of men.

Popular acronyms

Many acronyms are unique to Reddit. They are commonly found in post titles, subreddit rules and comments. The following is a breakdown of some of the most commonly used acronyms on the site.

  • ELI5: Explain like I'm 5 -- A term used when redditors want something explained to them in very simple terms, as if they were a five-year-old asking for the answer to a question. A popular subreddit, explainlikeimfive, exists for this very purpose.
  • TLDR or TL;DR: Too long; didn't read -- In some longer posts or comments, redditors may place a, "TLDR" at the end of their text for the purpose of shortening what they wrote if other redditors do not want to take the time to read the entire post.
  • NSFW: Not safe for work -- When redditors make a post or comment that has explicit content, it is marked with this acronym to let other redditors know not to view the content at work or any place where explicit material would be unsuitable.
  • TIL: Today I learned -- Used mainly in the form of "TIL" posts, this term is used when redditors want to share something new they learned.
  • OP: Original poster -- The redditor who created the initial post.
  • AMA: Ask me anything -- A popular acronym used on Reddit's "IAmA" subreddit, where redditors can post "AMA" threads. This is another name for a Q&A thread, where redditors answer questions about their life and, usually, their occupation. President Barack Obama made headlines when he participated in an AMA on Aug. 29, 2012. He was the first sitting president to do so. 
This was last updated in December 2016

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