How to Use Reddit

The quick guide to the platform's content, forums, and social features

Joining a massive platform like Reddit can be daunting. This article will help you get a firmer grasp of what Reddit is and how you can use it to engage with its countless communities. It won't take long for you to learn why it's one of the most popular websites.

What Is Reddit Used For?

In short, Reddit is used for sharing information.

Contributing content is the foundation of what makes Reddit a go-to site. You can make posts that detail something funny, engaging, newsworthy, etc., or ask questions about essentially any topic. People also use it to bring awareness to brands and personal projects others might find interesting.

For example, the World News subreddit is one part of the site that provides a place for users to share important news from all over the globe.

World News Subreddit
World News Subreddit.

Leaving comments is equally essential. Users can write comments on posts for many reasons, like requesting more information or discussing the subject in greater depth.

How Does Reddit Work?

Although there are many intricacies we could get into about the various parts of the site, how Reddit works, in a nutshell, is easy to comprehend. It's a massive forum; users submit content, and other users interact with said content by voting, commenting, or sharing.

Where Reddit excels—and how it even functions at all—is in its vast catalog of subreddits which make the site into something manageable and easy to use. A subreddit is simply a subcategory on the website. Instead of viewing every user's submissions on a single page, all the content is divided into subjects.

Here are some examples of the lifeblood of the site. These are some of the top subreddits, each with well over 20 million subscribers/followers:

  • /r/funny: Videos, pictures, memes, and anything else people find funny.
  • /r/AskReddit: Ask and answer questions, sometimes even with celebrities, presidents, and other big names.
  • /r/gaming: A great place if you're into video games, board games, card games, etc.
  • /r/aww: Cute and cuddly pictures and videos of small animals and other cute things.
  • /r/Music: This is the primary music community on Reddit, although there are loads of genre-specific ones like Indie Music and Dubstep and music-related subs like Listen to This.
  • /r/pics: A massive catalog of pictures in almost any form.
  • /r/movies: Discussions and news about films with major releases.
  • /r/todayilearned: Interesting facts users have recently discovered.
  • /r/Showerthoughts: Intriguing thoughts and perspectives.

Reddit posts often overlap. You might see the same content in Offbeat that you saw earlier in Not the Onion. The overlap is usually okay if it fits the community and follows the proper rules. It helps reach audiences who might not follow the same subreddits.

You can view posts as a guest, but if you want to leave comments, upvote or downvote something, or submit a new post to a particular subreddit, you'll need to make a user account, which is entirely free.

Rules & Terms to Know

As untidy as Reddit might seem at first glance, with its massive trove of images, videos, articles, and other items flowing in every second of the day, it's not as lawless as it might seem. You must abide by absolute rules (see the Reddit content policy) and often precise rules within each community.

For example, /r/technology isn't the place to be sharing your woodworking project (that'd be /r/woodworking), a minimum character limit is imposed for posts made in /r/penpals, and some communities restrict the post type (e.g., links but not images).

To know what's allowed in any particular community, look for a section on the subreddit's home page that talks about rules, which might include specific rules like exactly how you need to format titles or how you need to engage with commenters.

technology subreddit rules
/r/technology Rules.

Subreddits have moderators that specify rules for the community they oversee. If a user posts something that breaks one of those rules, a moderator has the authority to remove the content or even ban the user from the subreddit.

Knowing about moderators and rules is vital as you navigate Reddit. Here are other terms you might run into:

  • Karma: Primarily a reputation score, it's the total number of upvotes users have received when counted against their downvotes. You'll sometimes need a particular post karma score to submit something in a community. Users with very little or negative karma might be viewed as spammers or inexperienced users.
  • Throwaway: An account created solely for posting something the user doesn't want to be tied to their real identity or mixed in with their regular account history.
  • NSFW: Short for Not Safe For Work and usually adult-themed, it's an indicator that the content is something you might prefer to read/see/hear when alone.
  • ELI5: Short for Explain Like I'm 5, it's used to ask the community to rephrase a concept to make it easier to understand.
  • AMA: Short for Ask Me Anything, you'll see this when someone requests that other users ask them about literally anything or a topic that makes sense in the context in which they wrote it.
  • OP: Short for Original Poster refers to the person who made the initial post.
  • PM/DM: Short for Private/Direct Message, usually used in the context of a request to let someone know they should message you privately versus through public comment.
  • Upvote/downvote: To upvote something is to say you like it or that it's relevant to the subject. Upvoting gives the OP karma. Downvoting is the opposite.
  • r/: This precedes a URL that goes to a subreddit (see above examples).
  • u/: This precedes a URL that goes to a user's profile.
  • Custom feed: Formerly called Multireddits, these feeds consist of multiple subreddits. They're tied to your user account URL and are a great way to share custom feeds with someone or to use privately just for yourself.
  • Crosspost: Duplicate content posted in more than one subreddit simultaneously, each with its own set of comments and votes.
  • Repost: Duplicate content in the same subreddit is usually only called out if someone recently submitted the original content.
  • Coins: Virtual Reddit Coins can be left on a post/comment to show the OP that you liked it.

Joining Communities

You can join a community/subreddit only if you have a user account. Once you log in, select Join near the top of the page. Selecting the button again will let you leave the community.

Reddit join button on the casual conversation subreddit

Joining a subreddit isn't usually necessary for posting in it. You might join a community rather than viewing it as a guest if you'd like to receive updates when people post there.

New posts from the communities you subscribe to appear on the Reddit home page or in the Home tab of the official mobile app.

Another page is /r/popular; just as it sounds, it's a feed of the most popular posts on Reddit. The /r/all page is similar but not as filtered; you'll see popular NSFW posts but not sexually explicit posts (/r/all is hidden in the mobile app's menu).

Home and Popular tabs in Reddit for Android

Unlike Home, you don't need to be subscribed to the communities on those pages to see them there. They're an excellent way to find new subreddits to follow or exit your isolated communities and see what else is happening on Reddit.

Reddit requires users to be over 13 years old. Additionally, you must be over the age required by the laws of your country, or Reddit needs to receive verifiable consent from your parent or legal guardian.

Browsing & Posting on Reddit

Using Reddit can consist of browsing and posting. As we described above, some subreddits separate all of the content into niche sections. Visit a community (or the /r/all or /r/popular pages) to find posts.

For example, you'd visit this page to find the movies subreddit:

Reddit movies subreddit

Every subreddit has a few standard buttons along the top to help you browse the posts in the order you prefer to see them:

  • Hot: Suggests well-liked posts because of their upvote count.
  • New: The most recently submitted posts.
  • Top: Posts with the most upvotes are ranked first. You can pick the top posts from right now, today, this week, this month, this year, or all the time.
  • Rising: Newer posts that are gaining upvotes quickly.

Similarly, every post has filtering options to organize the comments. These are similar to post-filters, like Best, Top, and New. Others include Controversial and Old.

To post in a subreddit, visit it as explained above and select Create Post. If you're in the app, use the plus sign at the bottom. Depending on the community's rules, you can post images, videos, text, or links.

To leave a comment, find the text box below the post. You can format the text to your liking and then select Comment.

Reddit comments box

There there are lots and lots of NSFW subreddits. If you're allowing a minor to use Reddit, you might be interested in the content restrictions you can turn on to block adult content, which you can do from the Feed Settings page.

General Tips

Consider the following reminders before posting something on Reddit:

  • Search first. With its massive user base, breaking news, help-related questions, memes, and much more, it's likely another user (or two, or 10) have already posted it. Confirm this before cluttering up a subreddit with unnecessary duplications. Reposts are generally acceptable only if you don't make them minutes before the last one in the same community.
  • Be respectful. It's easy to forget there are people behind the images, text, and other content you scroll through. Keep this in mind before downvoting or commenting.
  • Don't be afraid to communicate, but be ready for criticism. Plenty of lurkers don't contribute anything to Reddit, likely for the simple truth that it's hard to deal with feedback from other users and moderators.
  • Give proper credit. It's tempting to suck in as much karma as possible by attempting to pass something off as your own. But this isn't kind, and in reality, other users will probably call out for it, and your reputation will take a hit.

See Reddit's official Reddiquette page for many other dos and don'ts.

Why People Use Reddit Premium

Reddit is entirely free to use. You can post and comment as often as you want and read and interact with everything from the app or website.

But, if you want the following features, you can pay for Reddit Premium through a monthly or yearly subscription:

  • No more ads
  • Exclusive avatar gear
  • 700 monthly coins
  • Members lounge access
  • Custom app icons
  • Powerups
  • Premium awards

Here's where you can read more about the Reddit Premium subscription.

  • How do I use Reddit Recap?

    In the Reddit app, go to your profile and select the Recap icon (the thought bubble) over your avatar to see your top posts and subreddits.

  • How do I use spoiler tags on Reddit?

    Highlight the text you want to hide, then select the Spoiler icon (the exclamation mark). To hide the entire comment, highlight all of the text.

  • How do I use old Reddit?

    Go to and select Opt out of the redesign. Alternatively, go to

  • How do I see my Reddit search history?

    Select the search box to see your recent Reddit search history. In the app, go to Menu > History. You can also find Reddit browsing history under Recent posts on the desktop site's home page.

  • How do I clear my Reddit history?

    To clear your Reddit history, clear your browser's cached data and clear or disable autofill data in your web browser. To delete individual search terms, select the Reddit search box and the trash icon next to the term. In Reddit app, tap your user icon > Settings > Clear local history > Clear local history.

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