Reddit.com calls itself the front page of the web. In terms of its basic function, it is a website that consists of a list of links to other websites, sorted into categories called ‘subreddits.’ Users may submit a link to one of these subreddits, as well as rate each link with either an ‘upvote,’ signifying that they liked the link, or a ‘downvote’ signifying dislike. Links are then sorted on the front page of the site to show links that are ‘trending’ (or receiving a large number of upvotes) and links that are popular (have already received a number of upvotes).
Additionally, each page has a comments section where Reddit’s users may comment on the link. Each of these comments may be replied to and upvoted or downvoted. This very simple basis evolved to become one of the most popular websites on the internet, with a number of very active communities. Reddit.com continues to expand its user base.
Reddit is designed to rely on user generated content. The site’s administrators may submit links of their own, but they typically do so only as users themselves. Because of the egalitarian nature of the website and the very simple voting mechanism built into it, Reddit comes to accurately reflect what its users are currently finding to be interesting. This means that users are likely to find links that they, too, find engaging on the front page and will enjoy browsing.
In addition to providing links that the average Redditor (the term that Reddit users call themselves) find interesting, the upvote / downvote system encourages Reddit’s users to create original content in order to get karma (a term referring to the total number of upvotes that a user has a received). This in turn makes Reddit even more entertaining than its reliance on external links would imply, since Reddit users can find content that doesn’t exist on any other sites. Such original content takes the form of pictures (typically uploaded to imgur, as it has become the primary hosting service for Reddit pictures) and text based posts.
Reddit allows its users to choose which subreddits they subscribe to. The front page that they see when they log onto Reddit will then show the trending or most popular links from the categories that they selected rather than simply the website as a whole. This allows users to customize the content that they see, and this further specification means that the links they see are even more likely to be relevant.
In addition to providing more relevant content, subreddits become communities as their users come to recognize the usernames of other contributors from their links and the discussions that arise from the comments section. The results of these communities have ranged from political organizations such as Reddit’s own political action committee to regional clubs of Redditors. With a sorted list of interesting links, original content, and communities that share one’s common interests, people use Reddit as a means of entertainment and sharing with the other users of the site.