it seemed like a very good idea to produce a beginners guide to Reddit, to assist anyone who felt called to take up Bishop Barron's challenge.
Reddit is basically a large group of forums in which registered users can talk about almost anything you can imagine, from news, to pop culture, to technology, to comics, to film, to literature, to the weirdest things in the world, including 'Not Safe For Work' stuff. Reddit is a massive and diverse community. And just like a vibrant city, there are the nice parts of town and there are those notorious streets where you shouldn’t park your car. Redditors are looking to learn, read, and debate all the important issues in their life.
What's a subreddit?
Those specialized forums are called "subreddits," which are referred to as r/"topic" (example: r/gadgets). There are more than 138,000 active subreddits. You can read and participate in all of them freely except private subreddits, which require an admission process. You can also subscribe to the subreddits, so their most popular posts appear on your personalized Reddit front page.
It can sometimes save time just to type in the subreddit you are primarily interested in at the search bar at the top.
Why join in?
Because it is a place where many young people (aged 13-30) go to ask questions, most of them young men, questions that they are not getting answered elsewhere or that they are not comfortable asking in person. If people with faith, experience and knowledge don't answer them there, other people certainly will (directing them to sites like Recovering From Religion).
The subreddit r/Catholicism gets a vast array of questions ranging from the precise liturgical, to pre RCIA and RCIA questions, as well as lots of God-seeking questions, confession related questions (lots of people with scruples), how to deal with demonic influence questions, and lots of struggling with male chastity questions. This last one is a real need, one which could really do with input from people experienced in helping young men via the training received in seminary or in religious formation, and from those with life experience in guiding other young men through to victory in these areas.
At times it can be hard to judge whether a question is honest, or someone larking around. For these questions it is better to assume they are honest ones, lest a real one slip through the cracks.
r/Catholic is a less safe place
r/exCatholic has a lot of vitriol, but the occasional honest question
r/agnostic is a bit on the wild side, but it is far less toxic than r/atheist
r/Christianity gets its fair share of 'how can I know God is real?' questions like R/Catholicism does, and a few other questions where a gentle Catholic perspective would help
r/CatholicPhilosophy is also available
r/RCIA exists, and is very small compared with other subreddits
But if no one shines a light in these dark corners, how are they going to find it?
With some questions, all you can do is pray, and that may be enough.
Sometimes all that is necessary is to upvote someone else's good answer.
There are some bishops (few), priests and seminarians who are active on Reddit. Should you find someone that has a track record of talking sense, by clicking on their Reddit handle you can choose to follow them and therefore have their posts etc show up in your personalised feed. Many of them need the support and encouragement of upvotes particularly when they are trying to present unpalatable truths in the most palatable way possible.
Don't be surprised to see people who profess to be Catholic holding opinions at total variance to the teachings in the Catechism. Be gentle, everyone is on the path to the fullness of faith and will have many mini conversions along the way. The most we can do is pray, and offer the best counter arguments possible, without getting personal, vindictive or emotional.
This is a specialised ministry/apostolate that only some people are equipped for. Not everyone has the requisite combination of active faith, solid prayer life, wide knowledge, diligent ongoing study and sufficient life experience. Should you come across such a person, please invite them to take up this ministry/apostolate.
Because it is really is a ministry, you need to pray for the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit each and every time you open up Reddit. The Holy Spirit knows the answers that the questioners need most, and the best way of lovingly expressing those answers.
You may never know the impact the answers inspired by the Holy Spirit, pulled together from the raw material of your experience, studies and interests, will have. It isn't about chasing votes, it is about helping souls. Should you go to a lot of trouble to pull together a comprehensive answer, and it gets no public response, that's OK. You never know when that answer might be pulled up by a search engine in answer to a query, and have more impact than you could have ever dreamed possible. But if it only gets read by the questioner, that's OK, because we know Jesus is willing to go in search of a single stray whatever the cost.
How do I submit to Reddit, comment and vote?
Reddit is open to anyone to navigate and read freely. This means that you can take your time getting to know how the subreddits function before signing up.
You can also register and become more involved.
Registered users can make submissions to any of the public subreddits. This is like posting information on other social media sites. They can also join the subreddits, an action that will affect how Reddit's front page will look for you (more on this later).
Registered users can also comment on other people's submissions by just clicking on the open comment field right under the submission. In the same way, you can reply to people's comments by clicking reply.
And finally, registered users can upvote or downvote any of the submissions, which is the way that Reddit makes submissions surface to the front page. An upvote is not the same as a like, it is a vote for a worthy argument. In a similar way a downvote is not a don't-like, but sending a message that this is a poor, unworthy argument or not relevant to the discussion.
Posts on Reddit come in two categories; statements/something to share or questions.
The questions are usually far more interesting.
How does the front page work?
Reddit has a front page in which certain submissions are featured, thanks to different algorithms. This front page has different tabs.
If you are not registered, the default tab is "Hot," which is basically a view of the submissions with the highest scores over a period of time. The score is determined by subtracting the downvotes from the upvotes.
If you are registered, then the default tab is called "Best." It features the most-voted posts from all the subreddits but it takes into account other things, like the submissions in which you have spent time before or the subreddits you have joined. This is a personalized view that will also eliminate things that you have already clicked through the next time you load the front page. This is done to ensure that the Best page remains fresh.
On a subreddit you can choose how the posts are sorted, eg hot, new, top, controversial or rising. My preference is for the fresh questions, so my default is new.
No self-promotion or spam is allowed. Just be mindful about what you do, try to be respectful of others, and you will be fine.
Do subreddits have extra rules?
Yes, beyond the logical etiquette, (no self-promotion or spam allowed) each subreddit has its own rules that you should read and abide by when posting or commenting. Some subreddits — like r/pics — may only accept image submissions and no external links, for example. Others will require you to be more descriptive in your posts, like r/science.
What's a "flair"?
Some subreddits will require you to apply a "flair" to your submission, which roughly identifies what it is about. Example: The subreddit r/gadgets has flairs like Phones, Desktop/Laptop, TV/Projectors, Music or Transportation, among others.
There are other tabs, like "Rising" — which features posts that are new and are getting upvotes quickly — and "Controversial" — which uses an algorithm to determine which posts are the subject of conflicting opinions by looking at the fluctuation of the upvotes and downvotes.
Common flairs are 'Question', 'Support', 'Rant', 'Advice', 'Experience Report'.
Others are related to the subbreddit, for example r/Catholicism has a rule that promotions are only permissible on Fridays, hence the flair 'Free Friday'.
Setting up an account requires an email address, and for you to provide a username and password. The username cannot be changed. Anonymity is highly valued on Reddit.
Read the rules for individual subreddits, not all subreddits want you to act exactly the same.
If you don't have time to comment, but want to do so later, you can save the post. Just click in the top right hand corner there is a white icon. Then later open up your profile, and one of the options is 'Saved'. You will find any saved posts there. It is a rather useful feature.
It can also be useful to click on someone's reddit handle, or hover over it. Sometimes there are descriptions. If you click on the handle/username you can see their most recent posts. Often there can be more than one post on a developing situation or struggle.
Start getting karma by commenting smart/funny/constructive things and eventually post your original content on relevant subreddits.
/s means sarcasm which may result in a bunch of downvotes if you interpret this incorrectly.
At first, you will have a limit on the number of comments you can make. This is to ensure that you aren't a spam-bot. Once you get some positive karma, you will no longer be limited.
Seriously take the time to really become a Redditor, so you can understand the platform, its features, and its users.
Find the Subreddits you are passionate about so that you can better understand the conversations happening. Become familiar with the intricacies from one Subreddit to another and participate with a sense of authority around the topics and discussions you already understand.
Take the time to really understand all the features Reddit has to offer, including settings options and the various sections of your profile.
Learn the Reddit language, so when you are engaging in each Subreddit, you sound like you belong. There are a lot of Reddit terms and phrases you definitely do not know but should if you want to have success on Reddit.
Is there any specific Reddit lingo?
Yes, there is. Aside from the usual internet acronyms like 'As Far As I Know' or 'In My Opinion', Reddit has a lot of specific acronyms and expressions. Here are some useful ones:
AMA: Ask Me Anything. People — generally those who are famous or have done something of interest — use this acronym on a submission to have a dialogue with redditors. There's also a subreddit dedicated to AMAs in which everyone from Barack Obama to NASA scientists to Bill Gates (who often participates) answers questions from users. To get an idea, here's a top 10 of best AMAs ,or just go to the subreddit here.
ELI5: Explain Like I'm 5 (years old). If you have a question about a complex subject, use this to ask it. There's a subreddit for this, too.
EDIT and ETA: Edit and Edited To Add are expressions added to comments when people edit them. It seems to be etiquette to explain why you edited a post or comment.
TL;DR: Too Long; Didn't Read. This is used at the end of long text posts or comments to criticize an article or comment as being too long to read. It can also be used to provide a summary of the main point of the text in case people don't have time to read the entire thing.
Alt - Alternative user account.
AMAA - Ask Me Almost Anything
At a [0-10] - "Being at a [0-10]" is a sliding scale of "highness" from marijuana, with 0 being sober and 10 being blown into space. Mostly used in subreddits like /r/trees. Example: "I wrote this at a solid "
Cakeday - The day a user joined reddit. Like a birthday. It displays a small icon next to the username.
Crosspost - Indicates that the post was also posted on another subreddit where OP recognized it.
Ctrl-F - Indicates that the user was searching for this specific reference in a thread.
DAE - Does Anyone Else - An appeal to a common feeling/situation/dilemma. Also a subreddit
EDIT - Indicates someone has changed their comment after first posting it. Usually followed by additional text, responses to subsequent comments, or explanations of why they edited their comment and what they changed.
Flair - The images or text that appears next to usernames in certain subreddits. Usually customizable.
[FIXED] - A remix of an original post, often with the effort of making the post more relevant/close to the truth.
FTA - From The Article
FTFY - Fixed That For You - A small edit of a previous comment that changes the meaning in a (sometimes) fundamental and (almost always) humorous way.
IAMA - I Am A - Also a subreddit in which famous or uncommon people get interviewed by the reddit community. It featured guests like President Obama, Snoop Dogg, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Scientists of the Mars Curiosity Rover Mission and many more.
IMO - "In My Opinion".
IMHO - "In My Humble (Honest) Opinion".
IIRC - If I Recall Correctly.
ITT - "In This Thread".
Karma - The point system Reddit uses. If people upvote on of your posts you get link-karma, if they upvote one of your comments you get comment-karma. The opposite when they downvote. Self-posts (submissions in "text" mode) don't bring you karma. You can see a total of your karma on your overview page (when you click your username) and it is broken down in to comment and link karma if you use the RES extension. Karma is practically completely use- and worthless. The only practical use it has on reddit is removing a rate-timer for posts in subreddits in which you got a specific amount of karma (you can post faster), and for wiki pages if the mods set a subreddit-karma limit. There are several sites that provide karma statistics like karmawhores.net
MIC - More In Comments.
Mod - Moderator of a subreddit. They have the power to remove comments and posts, among other things.
NSFW – Not Safe For Work – Usually a warning of a link to a sexual image/video or gory content. People can also tag their posts to be nsfw by clicking "nsfw->yes" below the posted link.
NSFL – Not Safe For Life – Usually a warning of a link to extreme gore.
OP - Original Poster. The person who made the submission that is now being commented upon.
Orangered - The color of the envelope icon when a you have a unread reply/message. To have an orangered is to have unread messages waiting.
RTFA - Read the f…..ing article.
SJW - Social Justice Warrior. Almost always an insult. What it refers to exactly ranges from "crazy person who takes everything as a personal insult and uses the rhetoric of social justice to bully people" to "person whose politics are left of mine".
Sub - An individual subreddit.
TIL - Today, I learned...
TL;DR - Too Long; Didn't Read - After a wall of text a commenter may include a shorter description of what they wrote about, sometimes humourously. Also sometimes inserted by another commentator to explain an article or previous comment.
Whoooosh. - Indicates that a joke has gone over someone's head.
WIP - Work in progress.
X-post - Indicates something that has been posted in multiple subreddits.
https://www.tomsguide.com/reference/what-is-reddit viewed 5 Sep 2020
https://www.wikihow.com/Use-Reddit viewed 5 Sep 2020
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/social-media/reddit-guide/#ok viewed 5 Sep 2020
https://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit/wiki/glossary viewed 5/Sep 2020
Blog-post last updated 21 Sep 2020