Reddit has gained widespread popularity over the last few years years, and – as covered in a recent Journalism.co.uk article – is used by many journalists as a news source or a sounding board for ideas, as well as for verification and engagement.
Reddit is a self-gatekeeping community known for the original content posted by its user-base, as well as links to other content on the web, which can be either up or down-voted by other users.
For new users, the platform – which comes with its own quirks and terminology – can initially appear daunting.
However, with a bit of practice, it becomes easy to navigate your way through the vast amount of content posted to the site each day.
Here are six tips for journalists using Reddit. This list is by no means complete, so if you have a tip or trick which is not detailed below, feel free to add your own in the comments below.
If you perform a simple search of the word ‘search’ into Reddit’s search engine you will see that the engine has received some negative feedback from users on this topic.
Searching for information on Reddit can prove problematic due to the way users word their posts.
For example, posts containing images of interesting finds may not be descriptive of what the image contains, but will be posted with a title along the lines of “look what I just found…”
To narrow your search you can search within specific subreddits (subject areas) and then sort your results by relevance, or by number of comments or upvotes, to see the highest ranked or most-discussed posts.
Users are also not limited to using Reddit’s in-house search system. You can use websites such as searchreddit.com or even via a Google site search (using the site:reddit.com prefix) in order to find a more comprehensive list of relevant items.
At times Reddit appears have its own language. Words like ‘redditor’ (reddit user) or ‘circlejerk’ (people with similar beliefs self-validating each other) and abbreviations such as ‘ELI5’ (explain like I am five) or ‘DAE’ (does anyone else) can understandably leave newcomers alienated.
The subreddit Theory of Reddit has quite a comprehensive list of common phrases used in Reddit which can give newbies a helpful insight into the community’s terminology.
As well as its own language Reddit, has its own rules and values which is commonly known as ‘reddiquete’.
These are in place in order to make sure the community operates in a manner that promotes healthy discussion and website use.
Some rules such as disclosing personal information and promoting illegal activity are more ‘serious’ offences than others, prompting immediate action from the website’s administrators.
By default, Reddit organises posts and comments according to how many upvotes they have received.
Higher scoring items are more visible, with posts that receive the most votes making it to Reddit’s much-coveted front page.
However, just because a post or a comment has the highest score, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the most interesting post on the page.
To see the full picture, it is important for journalists to delve deeper and view a wide scope of posts and comments.
You can filter both posts and comments by ‘new’ or ‘old’ using Reddit’s own system.
Users can also filter by ‘controversial’ to see the most disputed or talked about topics, ‘hot’ (or rising) to see items which are being rapidly upvoted, and ‘top’ or ‘best’ to see the overall highest scoring items.
Enhance and go mobile
If you plan to use Reddit often it is worth looking at getting the Reddit Enhancement Suite (or RES) browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Opera which makes browsing Reddit easier.
The extension provides a lot of ‘ease of access’ features such as hiding blocks of comments and opening images without having to open a new tab allowing quick and easy browsing.
The extension also has more practical uses such as saving comments, so you can refer back to them later, and user tagging so you are able to track users and any new posts or comments they make.
Though Reddit is not optimised for mobile, there are number of apps specifically designed to make browsing the platform easier on your mobile device.
Alien Blue, a Reddit client for iOS, allows users to navigate the site in a more aesthetically pleasing way.
It also offers more functionality by integrating image hosting website Imgur into its post feature.
The best way to learn how to use Reddit is to explore it.
Make an account and try posting content, interacting with the community and voting on posts.
Once you get more familiar with the website’s community and unique interface, navigating it and using it to extract information will become significantly easier.
There will be a session on Reddit at the forthcoming news:rewired digital journalism conference. Although it tickets to attend the event are sold out, you can get digital tickets and see the agenda here.