bluebeard

Reddit, and why you should be on it.

I've been hearing about "reddit" for a while. I wasn't hugely interested in checking it out, until I heard its motto: "The internet's front page."

Newspapers have never interested me. As a kid, I always turned straight to the "comics" page; as an adult* I do the same. But the idea of the internet having a front page sort of intrigued me.

*or whatever I am

Let me try to explain how Reddit works, because once you understand it, you'll see why it's worth checking out.

Reddit is a collection of what are called "subreddits". Lots of little pages, each maintained by a different person or group.

Each subreddit has a completely different subject matter and tone. The "chess" subreddit, for instance, is full of polite people who enjoy talking about chess. Anyone can submit a link that might be interesting to chess fans, or post a question to be answered by the general chess community. The chess maintainers delete links or comments that aren't chess-related, or anything offensive or insulting.

When a link is submitted, it's given a "headline" (just like in a newspaper!) The front page of reddit shows you a heap of headlines from all the sub-reddits you're subscribed to. People want their posts to be popular, so they (just like in a newspaper!) try to give them snappy and interesting headlines.

When you're bored, or first thing each morning, or whenever you like, you just go to reddit.com and it displays a bunch of headlines. If you've picked your sub-reddits cleverly, it's like a newspaper that is specifically tailored to your interests.

My advice to everyone who is reading this: go to reddit.com, sign up for an account (it's free, it takes seconds, and they don't require an email address) and then unsubscribe from all of the default subreddits.

You can re-subscribe to them if you like, but the default subreddits include "funny", which is non-stop rage comics, "atheism" which is going to annoy you if you don't enjoy the same "Christians are dumb" images posted over and over again, and "adviceanimals", which holy crap I'm so sick of adviceanimals.

Seriously; unsubscribe from everything. If you feel the need to subscribe to them again, go for it, but when I unsubscribed from adviceanimals and funny, I started using the site daily.

Next, go to http://www.reddit.com/reddits and click "subscribe" next to anything that interests you. Keep going until you have 10-20. (I'll be posting a list of my favourite subreddits in the next few days, but "IAmA" and "AskScience" are a great place to start)

Finally, search for topics that are interesting to you! "Chess" was not in the top subreddits, but it's been a great addition to my front page. "ExMormon" is fascinating to me, but I understand why it hasn't hit a million users. Most topics of interst have a subreddit, so find your fascinations! (the more you get, the better your front page will be.)

Now add "Reddit.com" to your list of bookmarks, or make it your home page. You don't have to comment (or even read the comments), you don't have to understand their ranking system or what "karma" is or get involved in their activism. Just use it like a newspaper, a newspaper made just for you, based on your interests.

I've been using it for two weeks, and I am more up-to-date on current events than I have ever been in my life. I've learned more fascinating science tidbits than high school ever taught me, and I know that any time I'm bored, I'm one click away from facts and conversatiosn about chess, Mormons, puppets or what it's like to be a Costco employee. (IAmA)

When shown a newspaper, I skip straight to the comics. With Reddit it's the reverse: the articles and links are so interesting, I've cut the "funny" and "comics" pages out entirely. It's up there with Facebook and YouTube on my list of places that do Web 2.0 right.

Check it out! At worst, you don't like it. At best, it enriches your life.

Any questions?