May 4, 2017

How I use Reddit and how to make the site useful for you

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How to use reddit and make it an useful tool

During the last 6 months I found myself using Reddit more and more. I’ve had a Reddit account for the last 10 years or so, since the times of Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon. The reason I didn’t really use it until recently, though, is that I thought the site was crowded with things I didn’t care to know, overrun by people that wanted cat pics (I love cats, I lose hours from time to time watching at photos, but still…).

Until, once, I remembered something a friend of mine wrote about: if you want to understand something, you have to actually use that thing in earnest. So I started reading about “How to use Reddit”. And here’s what I ended up with :)

What is Reddit?

A forum of forums, a community of communities. It’s a collection of information from every domain possible which gets upvoted and downvoted by the multiple millions of users there and, based on that, it gets presented to all the users/readers on their homepages. If you don’t personalize your homepage it becomes a collection of photos and politics. But if you DO personalize your homepage, it’s a great tool to know what your community’s interested in.

First thing: use Reddit Enhancement Suite. I don’t know everything it does, but I know that my experience is so much better than with the default Reddit look/options. It’s a browser plugin that works with most browsers. From now on, in this article, I assume you have RES installed.

Second: you can find a subreddit (a niche forum, if you want) on about any subject possible. So you have to decide what kind of information you want to have on your front page of Reddit. Because, yes, Reddit has highly personalized homepages for every user. You can, basically, subscribe to any subreddit to appear on your home page and, more important, you can remove any subreddit from your home page.

You go here, where you can see the subreddits you subscribed to. As of now, I’m subscribed to about 100 subreddits, mostly business and travel, but I am also subscribed to things like YouSHouldKnow, PS4Deals, PS4, which are things I’m interested in. I’ll put a list with all the subreddits I’m subscribed to at the end of this article.

For obvious reasons, if you are interested in business and startups, subscribe to /r/Startups and /r/Entrepreneur. Also, one of the best subreddits I’ve seen around is /r/JustStart. Targeted mostly to Amazon affiliates, it’s really good because it has ridealong case studies (people write what happens to their business almost every month and it is really, really interesting to read). Another similar one, for any type of entrepreneurial business, is /r/EntrepreneurRideAlong.

Also, if you want to find interesting subreddits, search in Reddit. Or, even better, you can search for “interesting subreddits in [niche]” on Google and you can find lists from people that are really interested in the same things.

This is how I find good content to read.

Participation in communities

Another thing you can get from Reddit, though, is participation in communities. If you are the person that likes to help others, but on your own time, not theirs, Reddit is the best place. I go, every 2-3 days, to /r/Entrepreneur and /r/Startups and look at the New section on each subreddit. That’s where you see the latest things people post. And I try to comment, helpfully, on those things (if I have something to say, obviously). The reason I go to New instead of Popular or Controversial is that, by the time I get to the posts in those sections, I really have nothing to add. Most of the comments are thoughtful, people are genuinely trying to help, so I’d just repeat what others said.

Of course, from time to time you might have something to add in form of a post. An interesting link, something you want to ask or share. As long as it’s interesting for the community, people will react well, thank you for it and share with others. Be careful, though, at self-promotion. And I don’t say this about things you share with the community (my post about quitting MavenHut was received well enough), but about links to your blog/website that don’t really add anything to the subreddit. Then you will be hit with a lot of downvotes that will kill your karma. And some sarcastic comments that you will not enjoy :)

What’s karma?

Well, it’s a kind of credits system. It shows how relevant what you say and publish is for the communities you are part of. I have about 200 karma at this moment (which is really low), but I’ve seen accounts with tens, if not hundreds of thousands of points. Truth is, each subreddit has a different chance of getting on the /all page (which is, basically, the page everyone sees by defaultif they didn’t personalize their homepage). Once you get there you will probably generate about 30-40,000 karma. So, if that’s your play, this is where you need to get to. Most of the things in the subreddits I follow don’t get to /all, so you don’t really get a lot of karma.

And talking about /all: until recently I didn’t look at the page at all. It was full of politics regarding US elections (both Trump and Clinton fans manipulated the algorithm to get their stories on the front page). Several months ago, though, Reddit gave users the opportunity to exclude subreddits from the /all page. And now it’s somewhere I go from time to time. I removed almost all politics, all conspiracy theories, almost all pics. It makes a much better page for me now :)

Finally, before showing you my subreddits, I have to tell you that it took me about 2 weeks to actually start to get what Reddit is about and about 3-4 months to actually start making an effort to contribute to the communities. I do this about 3-4 times a week, for about an hour (contributing, I mean). I also read Reddit almost every day, for about 30 minutes, to see if there’s something interesting to read available.

Here are the subreddits I’m subscribed to: (if you want the link, just put in front of it, I’m not gonna add 100 links. I’ve bolded the reddits the I think are really, really interesting.

Keep in mind that these are things I find useful, but there are some aspirational things there, as well (like /r/LongTermTravel). A guy can dream, right? :)

A list of all the subreddits I’m subscribed to


/r/lounge (I think you need to be buy gold for this – like a premium subscription)