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If you resolved to get more involved with one of the coolest communities online—and even if you didn’t—here’s a few useful tips for navigating Reddit.
However, at nearly 30 million unique visitors a month, Reddit is an enormous–– and sometimes daunting–– community to join. That’s why the Daily Dot has put together a tutorial just for newbs.
Here’s our six essential steps for a happy Reddit experience.
1) Don’t panic!
We know that long list of blue links can look overwhelming. They’re endless. But they’re manageable: trust us. Take a few deep breaths and move on to step two.
2) Pick a username.
Navigate beyond the tempting blue links to the top right hand section of the main page. Here, in tiny text it reads, “want to join?” Click “sign up” and create a new account.
Put some thought into your username. Or don’t. Reddit lets you have as many accounts as you want, so don’t stress over it. If “Grok the Destroyer” does it for you today and not tomorrow, you can always register as “Applejack64” later (though Gimli_The_Dwarf is already taken, sorry). You can be as pseudonymous as you want–– Reddit doesn’t even require your email to verify your account.
3) Explore the subreddits.
Believe it or not, there’s structure to the front page on Reddit. All of those links? They’re from sections on the site, called subreddits.. By default, every reddit user subscribes to 20 sections ranging from r/politics to r/worldnews to r/funny. (You’ll often see an “r/” in front of a section’s name–that’s just Reddit shorthand based on the section’s Web address. For instance, in your browser, the politics section appears as http://www.reddit.com/r/politics).
The top links from those subreddits all bubble up into your home page using a complex algorithm–but don’t worry about that. All you need to know is this: subscribe to sections you like, and the hottest links from those sections will show up in your homepage.
These sections are usually each focused around a certain interest. They’re also highly customizable. Don’t like a default subreddit? Click the unsubscribe link on the right side of the screen. Anyone can create a subreddit, and there are literally thousands of them to explore. We suggest using third-party sites Metareddit and RedditDirectory to explore them.
Once you’re on a subreddit you like, click the green “subscribe” button on the right column. Now your account will never forget it.
4) Download the Reddit Enhancement Suite.
It’s as simple as clicking a button. The enhancement suite, created by two redditors, improves your Reddit experience by optimizing your dashboard. You can now do things like save other redditors comments, view upvote and downvote totals without clicking on a post, and easily add formatting to your text posts.
And that’s just a few of the things it does. As you explore reddit more, you’ll discover it has tons of useful features that make browsing the site a lot more convenient.
5) Start posting.
Sure, you can lurk as long as you like. But eventually, you’re going to get the itch to contribute. Here’s what to do.
The easiest way to interact with Reddit is to start upvoting threads you find insightful and interesting, and downvoting threads you think add little to the conversation. Just click the up or down arrow next to a thread’s title or next to a commenter’s name. But be warned: People will be able to see how you voted on your user profile, unless you change the setting in your preferences (check the upper right corner, next to your user name).
If you want to comment on an existing thread, you can type your comment into the text box below the original poster’s content and above the comments that are already there. Don’t worry if your comment disappears way down the page after you post–– comments with the most upvotes rise to the top.
If you’re feeling especially daring and want to post your own thread, go to the right hand column of any subreddit (including the main page) and click the long, blue “Submit a link” button. Next, select the “link” tab if you want to highlight something you found online, or the “text” tab if you’ve got something to say. Be careful not to self-promote, or risk a wave of downvotes!
6) Get familiar with karma.
By now, you should notice two numbers next to your user name (check the upper right hand corner.) For example, it might be look like this: RedditorBob 2 • 23. The number in front of the bullet is your link karma–– it grows when people upvote your links. The number in back of the bullet is your comment karma–– it grows when people upvote your comments.
Now we’re ready to send you off into the wonderful world of Reddit. Have fun, and may your karma eternally grow!
Lauren Rae Orsini is a web culture reporter who specializes in anime and the business of fandom. Her work has been published by Forbes and Business Insider.