From FYSE 1396: Digital Media Literacy
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Reddit is a social media site that displays pages of links to articles, pictures, videos, and other forms of media. It revolves around a participatory culture when users are able to vote links "up" or "down" based off of their personal preferences. The most popular links will be ranked higher and be seen by a wider range of people. The name "reddit" derives from the phrase "read it" because reddit allows early exposure to the most significant information[1]. Therefore, a user has already "read it". Reddit is a customizable, participatory site that revolves around competition, community, and participation. One may customize their reddit experience by choosing to follow certain subreddits that interest them. Subreddits are organizational categories of reddits that are dedicated to providing information on that subject (for example r/politics features articles about the current domestic and international political scene).


Reddit was founded in June 2005 by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. The pair designed the site after graduating from the University of Virginia with the intention for the for the site to be a simple "bulletin style" link sharing site. The site now has would later become known as "the front page of the internet" garnering 400 million unique visitors and 37 billion page views in 2012.[2] The site was purchased by Condé Nast in October 2006 for an estimated $25 Million. In 2012, Reddit split from Condé Nast and is run independently from its San Francisco offices. It has remained a private company.

Basics of Reddit

Reddit is a link sharing site. The most popular links at that current time will be displayed on the front page. There is a general front page that is a representation of the "default" subreddits and there are customizable pages based off of the subreddits to which an individual user may subscribe. In this sense, no two users front pages will be the same. Reddit users, or "redditors" (a combination of the word reddit + editor) have three abilities in reddit:

- Submit links or text posts; - Comment on Links; - Vote Positively (Upvote) or Vote Negatively (Downvote) links; - Send private messages to other users.

Links are then sorted in hierarchal order. The links with the highest average upvotes (more upvotes than downvotes) will be on the front page, thenceforward attracting a larger audience.

'The Organization of Reddit/Subreddits'

Links submitted to reddit have to submitted to a categorical "subreddit". (For example, you would submit a link of a cute puppy to the subreddit "r/aww" which is a subreddit committed to cute pictures of animals.) There are 22 default subreddits that all users are automatically subscribed to[3]. There is a wide variety of subreddits. Anyone user can create a subreddit about anything of their choice. This feature was developed in March 2008. This allowed people to establish communities within the larger community of reddit [4]. There is over 5,400 subreddits[5], so there is essentially a subreddit for most any topic in which you might be interested.


Due to the vast community and potential anonymity that Reddit holds, users' identity can be very open. Posts can be shared freely based on interest and can be controversial, argumentative and even social unacceptable in a real world setting. AskReddit - one of the more popular subreddits - is a primary example of the sites identity. On Ask Reddit, anybody can pose a question and anyone can answer the question. The best answers are organized via the ability to "upvote" or "downvote" posts. Reddit users are often defined by their ability to upvote and downvote posts. The more a redditor votes on posts, the more they contribute to the larger community.

Social Cues of Reddit

If one is on Reddit for long enough, they begin to find the various social cues that make up the site. They will begin to understand the various "Memes" on the site. They will figure out that when posting pictures to Reddit, always use create links to their pictures because the site is known to be faster. This is because imgur was designed by a Reddit user in 2009 for Reddit.[6] The site was designed to be able to handle massive surges of data that Reddit can create. Redditors use a different lingo than most social media sites. They make references to other things that was on the front page recently and reference very popular posts months or years down the line in either links or comments.

The Reach of Reddit

In the past month, Reddit has had over 81,000,000 unique visitors from 180 different countries (approximately 95% of the world). Of these users, over 2,500,000 of them were logged in users who casted over 20,000,000 votes[7]. In the past month Reddit users have amassed almost 4.7 Billion unique page views[8]. Six percent of global Internet users are Reddit users[9], with fifteen percent of men ages 18-29 using the site. Some significant demographic statistics of Reddit include: 84% of users are male, 80% are from the United States, 22% are Socialists, 54% are liberal, and only 2% are politically Conservative[10]. 44% of all Reddit users are students[11]. Canadians spend the most time on Reddit with an average of 16 minutes and 10 seconds per visit[12]. Although Reddit spans many ages and demographics, it primarily serves college aged North American males.

The Community of Reddit

Reddit has a massive range of topics and subjects. It's massive platform of different subreddits allow for a wide variety of discussion between users. Like Twitter, Reddit offers interactivity between users and celebrities through the AMA subreddit. AMA stands for "Ask Me Anything". In fall 2012, President Barack Obama did an AMA with Reddit, generating over 5.5 million page views and becoming the most popular Reddit post of all time[13].

Reddit is also very philanthropic. Through the use of its Reddit gift exchanges, it allows users to give gifts to other Reddit users. In December 2010, almost 18,000 members gave gifts and spent over $600,000. A secret santa gift exchange takes place every year[14] as well as other gift exchanges between specific subreddits. For example, the subreddit r/gameofthrones gave each other gifts related to the HBO television show Game of Thrones in spring 2013.

The Reddit Effect

The Reddit Effect has two levels.

1) The high influx of traffic created from a Reddit link to a smaller website that can lead to the crash of the site due to heavy traffic[15]

2) Knowing almost everything about everything before anyone else does because you have already seen it on Reddit. Reddit allows earlier exposure to "hot" internet links [16]. This is the origin of the name "read-it" because someone has probably already read it before a non Reddit user.


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