What do you get when you take the news aggregator website Digg and combine it with a larger user base and the reliability of an intoxicated New York Times journalist? You get a social news and entertainment website with a geeky slant known as Reddit. As mentioned before, Reddit is a blatant ripoff of Digg, which is acceptable since Reddit is a decent ripoff of Digg.
Think about it like this. Let’s say you have a particular subject you’re passionate about, whether its programming, stand-up comedy, soccer, or just about anything. How could you build on this passion? You could start a club in your community, but it’s hard to find people who have just as much interest in the subject as you do. You could publish advertisements and send out invitations, but that would be difficult and time-consuming. A viable alternative would be open a new community on Reddit. Reddit is a place for people of similar tastes and mindsets to collect together and talk about their common interests. Unlike Facebook, where you’re confined to whatever happens in your friends’ lives, Reddit collects interesting events in lives of people from around the world.
Areas of common interests are organized into groups called “subreddits”. Redditors interested in the same subject post Internet memes and pictures for topics like anime and archeology. Subreddits include “/r/gaming,” “/r/comics,” and even “/r/mylittlepony,” the Internet’s hotspot for the Brony subculture. “/r/todayilearned” contains a staggeringly large list of fun facts. Most notable of the subreddits is “/r/iama,” where celebrities hold question-and-answer forums. How else are we supposed to know that Weird Al Yankovic writes children’s books and Jamie Hyneman doesn’t know how many berets he owns?
The content of Reddit is comprised of user-submitted entries known as “posts” shown in a bulletin-board system. Other users vote on entries using voting arrows. “Upvotes” denote good submissions; likewise, “downvotes” denote overused jokes and inane bantering. The front page effectively becomes a list of high-quality entries with a substantial number of upvotes. Occasionally, bad posts do end up in the front page, but usually receive comments as sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek as the first paragraph of this article.
The voting system contributes to the concept of “karma,” in which each Reddit user is given a score based on the number of upvotes he receives. Redditors are thus motivated to make better posts, yet critics of the “karma” system claim that it encourages content plagiarism, of which the website is not particularly fond.
But what really allows Reddit to leave its predecessor Digg in the dust is its surprisingly good comment system. Comments themselves are voted on by users, resulting in (usually) more intelligent conversations being shown at the top. This selling point puts the website above its competitors since abysmal and pointless discussions usually end up at the bottom away from sight. Certainly other websites might learn something from Reddit. *cough* YouTube comments *cough*
Sometimes, Redditors manage to take it a step further and bring their interests under one roof in Reddit meetups, where people of the same interests physically gather in social circles. These redditors practice their social skills while at the same time have the opportunity to voice their opinions.
Reddit can essentially be described as an “open-world” edition of Facebook. On Facebook, you’re limited to posts by your friends. On Reddit, you experience the best content coming from people all around the world.