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 in which 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. 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 is a link sharing site. Links are 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. All users have the power to "upvote" and "downvote" posts, comment, and post. All parts are integral to the organization of the site.
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. 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.
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. 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 . There is over 5,400 subreddits, so there is essentially a subreddit for most any topic in which you might be interested.
Many redditors often refer to the "reddit effect". Generally speaking, this term is a bit far fetched, but does merit some validation. By sheer numbers, Reddit has a massive amount of traffic, with over 90 million unique visitors viewing over five billion pages per month. That amount of traffic contributes to a massive influx of articles, pictures, videos, and other internet links that users would otherwise not have seen before. The "reddit effect" is the side effect of this. Users of Reddit often see much more things than the average internet user. Because of this they feel like they know more about what is currently happening than their non-using peers.
Like many other social networks, Reddit is driven by users' abilities to share. Reddit allows for the sharing of several types of posts including links, reflections on life, questions, commentary on current issues, and connects redditors with one another. The diversity of ways in which redditors are able to connect with one another allows for a massive interactive community. Like Twitter, Reddit allows people from all backgrounds the ability to communicate with one another about a subject. Whether they are commenting on something as trivial as the cuteness of a cat picture, or something as significant as changing voting laws in the United States, there is something for everyone who uses Reddit. Another similarity to Twitter that Reddit shares is its ability to connect people to celebrities and other people of significance through the "IamA" subreddit or r/IAmA. These connections allow celebrities to tell redditors to "Ask Me Anything". This is a sort of connection that does not exist on other sites. For example, in spring 2012, President Barack Obama did an AMA and it became the most popular Reddit post of all time. People want to connect with others, especially celebrities, and Reddit allows a great interface for this sort of interaction.
Reddit has an interesting paradigm for social cues. It takes some time to pick up, but is vital to having success on 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, one should always use imgur.com 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. 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 were on the front page recently and reference very popular posts months or years down the line in either links or comments. This all contributes to the interactivity and community of the network.
Lurkers are common on Reddit. They are simply users who don't contribute any content to the site itself, but look at what others post. These types of people do not really contribute to Reddit. In my personal experience, the more I post to Reddit, the more I feel connected to the community that makes it up. It makes me more interested in what others post. To an extent, this is also true amongst many other redditors. The entity that allows for the ephemeral nature of Reddit posts is the ability of users to post more and more things. People can be inspired by what others post and contribute their own take on the picture or comment. This is the beauty of Reddit. Everything is so fleeting, yet still present. It is up to its users to decide what's important and what's forgettable.
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- This won't be news to some of you, but we've opened up user-created reddits to the public http://blog.reddit.com/2008/03/make-your-own-reddit.html