If you’re unfamiliar with the social news website Reddit, then I’m truly sorry. Sorry that it’s taken you so long to discover one of the great sites of the Internet. Sorry that you missed out on it when it was a smaller and more close-knit online community. Mostly though, I’m sorry for being the one introducing you to such a massive black hole of productivity.
Reddit’s Stats for 12/11
» 2,065,237,338 pageviews
» 34,879,881 unique visitors
» 12.97 pages / visit
» 16 minutes average time on site
» Over 100 million monthly pageviews per employee
» 8,400+ subreddits with over 100 subscribers
But “the front page of the internet” doesn’t have to be the time wasting home of memes, funny cat pictures, and this guy. Instead, Reddit can be a useful tool tailored to help you meet your objectives – if you know how to use it.
A little Reddit 101 for the unfamiliar before we begin. The site aggregates user submitted content, either links or text posts, which is then voted up or down by other users — thus the best content and comments move up to higher visibility, while the poor quality moves down and is usually unseen. The site is also broken down into subsections (called subreddits) created by users, which can be about….well, anything (Here’s one that’s just featuring people in horse masks).
Here’s how you can turn Reddit into your very own resource center to help you meet your goals.
Most redditors are lukers, visitors who don’t contribute or vote on the site and don’t have an account. So the first thing you have to do is create an account (if you don’t already have one). This may seem counterintuitive because it’s a step that drags you deeper into the Reddit community and makes you vulnerable to becoming obsessed with karma, the running tally of points that your account receives for every vote from other users on your posts and comments. But trust me on this.
Clean Out the Default Subreddits
After you’ve created an account, you’ll notice that you can organize just what subreddits you subscribe to and thus the content you see in your Reddit feed. Once you unsubscribe to a subreddit, you no longer get any updates from it when you’re logged into that account (It’s kind of like when you unfriend or block someone on Facebook). You can do this by going into your account’s preferences and clicking “unsubscribe” next to the subreddit name.
Most redditors don’t really seem to take advantage of this feature. Sure they’ll unsubscribe from subreddits that annoy them, but they’ll also stay members of the default subreddits, like r/WTF or r/Pics, that come with every new account. It’s no coincidence that these are the most popular subreddits and the biggest time sucks.
Find Subreddits That Match Your Goals
Once you’ve cleaned out all of the default subreddit subscriptions, you just need to replace them with more productive subreddits that correlate to what you’re working toward (And no, the latest grumpy cat meme is not productive). There are over 100,000 different subreddits with close to 35 million total members at your disposal to help you accomplish whatever it is you want to do. From losing weight to saving money to dressing better.
This is the potential that so many people miss about Reddit. Instead of leveraging the site’s users to filter and aggregate content to create custom news feed full of tips and tricks, inspiring stories, and helpful advice to help them stay on task towards reaching their goals they spend hours looking at funny pictures online and fighting to earn worthless karma points.
Of course, the challenge is hunting down the proper subreddit that matches your interest and is active enough to feature fresh content. The site’s internal search engine is awful, so I recommend using sites like MetaReddit and RedditSpy to find them. You can also just Google “Reddit” with the keyword. Another trick is to check for similarly themed subreddits in the far right hand column of the landing page of a particularly relevant subreddit.
Create More Accounts
After a while you may find that certain ambitions require more than one subreddit. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want access to the most content to help you with your various fields of self-improvement and will end up hobbling together a bunch of subreddits for each purpose. That’s why I recommend creating an account for each aspiration.
For example, I keep an account that I use specially to help me with my marathon training. It subscribes to r/running, r/fitness, r/advancedrunning, r/fitmeals, r/runmeals, and r/MotivationalPics. Meanwhile, I have another account that I use to help me with my career, one to help with my finances, and another to help me with my never-ending home improvement projects. I switch between them to keep me motivated and on track.
Use Reddit Enhancement Suite
Reditt Enhancement Suite is a free plugin that works with all the major web browsers and is a must for any serious redditor. It allows you to switch between accounts without having to repeatedly logout and login, filter out unwanted content, more easily subscribe to comment threads, and much, much more. This is great for when you up your redditting to the multiple accounts, as well as finding other ways to take advantage of the resources of the reddit community.
Try to Stay Away From “All”
Finally, my last piece of advice is to do your best to keep yourself from clicking the “All” tab. This loads the most upvoted content across Reddit and features all the distracting and unproductive stuff that makes Reddit the addictive time thief it is for most everyone else. I’m not going to say “never click there” because…well, we all need to waste a little time on the Internet now and then, don’t we?
Hopefully this will help you turn your Reddit addiction into something useful. Though it’s the birthplace of many a meme and constant running joke, the Reddit community is wonderful and incredibly supportive for whatever you want to accomplish — you just need to know where to look.