Reddit is what you make of it.
It’s part procrastination tool, part viral news source, part amateur porn site, part educational resource, part white supremacist network, part hobbyist’s paradise, part victim support group, and part absurdity.
Users can spend years without ever leaving the default subreddits, or even registering an account. Or they can delve deeply into some of the most bizarre and esoteric communities on the Internet.
So assuming you’re not one of those redditors content to lurk in r/funny and r/pics, how do you actually go about navigating Reddit’s murky waters? If you’ve got a hankering to experience the best the communities have to offer, how can you track down the diamonds in the rough?
Reddit’s search tools, honestly, aren’t worth a damn. Unless you’ve got a clear idea of what you’re looking for, it’s easy to pass over some 100,000 communities that gel perfectly with your interests, stumbling upon them only by reading some errant comment buried deep in an off-topic message tree.
I don’t think that’s any way to live. The Daily Dot and Kernel staff put our heads together and wrote a guide to making the most of your Reddit experience—from the subs that don’t get enough love to the tips for filtering out the crap and ensuring quality content floats to the top.
8 essential tips for improving your Reddit experience
1) Unsubscribe from the defaults
Reddit can be home to some of the best discussion and debate on the Web, but (with some exceptions) you’re unlikely to find this on the subreddits you’re subscribed to by default. Whether it’s fascinating articles on niche subjects, or superb Internet sleuthing, the site is overflowing with quality content—but this content is also all too often obscured by the sheer volume of reposts and memes posted in the defaults on a daily basis.
Reddit’s voting system also perpetuates a hivemind that can filter out dissenting thought and minority opinions—the very things that make the Reddit experience so fascinating—an effect experienced by female-focused subreddit r/TwoXChromosomes when it was made default for the first time earlier in 2014.
While relatively “safe spaces” free from harassment and trolling can be found on Reddit (even if the site’s admins don’t exactly cultivate them), you’re not going to find much nuanced discussion over more sensitive subjects on r/videos or the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is r/adviceanimals. For any topic discussed in the defaults chances are there’ll be a smaller sub devoted to it with a higher level of debate, and the scale of Reddit means there’s a community out there for almost anyone—if you’re prepared to look for them. (See below for a full list of recommendations to get you started.)
2) Stay skeptical
The site is a treasure trove of useful information, but as is always the case with anonymous message boards, misinformation flourishes (just look at r/ThatHappened for some of the most egregious offenders). Don’t be afraid to demand sources for suspect claims, or even seek them out yourself. As a message posted to aggregator subreddit r/BestOf recently put it: “The more I read comments on Reddit about things I know about, the more I see that I should stop trusting comments on things I know nothing about.”
3) You don’t have to engage
For the sake of your own sanity, it’s best you don’t try and respond to every single redditor being a terrible person.
“Sometimes it’s better to simply downvote a stupid/racist/sexist/obnoxious/mean comment than to just write an equally ill-conceived, rage-filled response,” recommends Daily Dot reporter Aaron Sankin. “They’ll get the message and you won’t get bogged down into a pointless argument with someone who isn’t worth your time over an issue that also isn’t worth your time. People are wrong on the Internet every day. In fact, it’s virtually guaranteed that someone is typing something that’s objectively wrong into Reddit right this very second. Sometimes it’s best just to register your disapproval with a single click and let it go.”
For particularly serious cases, don’t be afraid to use the report button. Reddit’s admins may be famously laissez-faire about site moderation, but there are some rules: Don’t spam, ask for votes or engage in vote manipulation, post personal information or sexually suggestive content featuring minors, or break the site.
“If some asshole is threatening you or trying to dox you or some other terrible obnoxious behavior, inform a moderator or admin,” Sankin says. “There’s no guarantee that anything will be done about it, but taking a screenshot and telling someone who is at least supposed to pretend to care couldn’t hurt.”
4) Get used to the UI
The second-most frequent response in our staff poll as to why people don’t use Reddit? The user interface. It’s not particularly engaging or user-friendly, and it hasn’t seen a significant update in ages—if ever. While some mobile apps (we recommend Alien Blue, recently acquired by Reddit) can clean it up somewhat, Reddit’s relatively unique tree structure for comments isn’t going to change. Navigating the site takes more effort than your average forum in the beginning, but the rewards are worth it. For particularly ugly subreddits, browser extensions like Reddit Enhancement Suite can let you turn off custom CSS skins, allowing you to use the clean—if not user-friendly—default interface.
5) Embrace your inner geek
Reddit’s great strength is allowing anyone to create a community, bringing together fans of even the most niche hobbies. Under the cover of anonymity, there’s no need to feel ashamed of your more peculiar passions. As our entertainment editor, Monica Riese, points out, “Your most successful posts and experiences will be around something crazy specific that you thought nobody else on Earth cared about. Nerd out together.”
6) Augment your experience
Browser extensions can drastically improve your Reddit experience. In particular, Reddit Enhancement Suite offers an array of options and added functionality, including the ability to take users for later reference, an inline image viewer, and infinite scrolling. (There was a potential security vulnerability in RES, but it’s been patched.)
7) Use multireddits
Instead of drinking from the firehose of every single subreddit you’re subscribed to, multireddits allow you to produce curated lists of related subs, letting you navigate what Reddit has to offer with greater purpose and direction.
8) Be the change you want to see in Reddit
This should be the cardinal rule of Reddit. There’s a lot of power in downvotes and comments. Don’t just stand by idly.
47 subreddits worth subscribing to
Following those guidelines should ensure a better Reddit experience, but finding relevant niche communities will always be a struggle. To help you on your way, we’ve curated a list of Daily Dot–approved subreddits. While they may not all be relevant to everyone—Reddit isn’t one-size-fits-all—together, these 47 forums showcase some of the best content and communities the site has to offer.
1) r/aBraThatFits: Exactly what it says on the tin. As reported back in 2013, this “extremely helpful, extremely supportive subreddit” will guarantee you’ll “finally find a bra that truly fits,” without any of the unnecessary sexualization that normally accompanies discussion of gender issues on the Internet.
2) r/AskHistorians: A firm team favorite, AskHistorians was recommended by no fewer than three of our staffers. It’s “really strict on bringing only well-sourced information to the fore,” notes senior politics reporter Kevin Collier, letting you discuss the nuances of antiquity and clear up historical misconceptions in a forum “about a billion times better than the rest of Reddit.”
3) r/asoiaf: My own personal fave. R/asoiaf is dedicated to “news and discussion” relating to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, “with a particular emphasis on GRRM’s written works.” From the stunningly in-depth theories to the community-moderated debates, the community is Reddit at its absolute best: individuals brought together by a shared passion and producing discussion of a consistently outstanding quality.
4) r/AustinFood: Perhaps not relevant to most people, but a reminder that “sometimes the smallest communities are the most helpful,” says Monica Riese. A “hyperlocal focus on Austin’s foodie scene, complete with restaurant reviews, news, etc.”
5) r/BadHistory: A necessary counterpoint to r/AskHistorians, this sub “critiques and ridicules bad history discussion Reddit,” says Kevin Collier, “including r/AskHistorians.”
6) r/Baking: “A generally positive community that always good for finding recipe ideas.” —Monica Riese
7) r/BirdsWithArms: “Birds aren’t supposed to have arms. That’s ridiculous. But also creepy. And then kind of terrifying. I should probably stop looking at these. Well maybe just a few more. And it’s morning.” —Aaron Sankin
9) r/CFB: Dedicated to all things college football. “There’s a tremendous amount of knowledge, intelligence, humor, and friendly rivalry that comes out of this community that’s leaps and bounds above the comments and community that you’d find on team-specific message boards or ESPN comments.” —Logan Youree
10) r/ColorizedHistory: Photos from the past, colorized. “Every time I see a photo from this subreddit I am floored by the talent it takes to edit them, especially the photos that are iconic.” —Michelle Jaworski
12) r/DelusionalArtists: “I’m sure Reddit isn’t packed with the great artistic minds of this era, but just about anyone can feel like a creative genius when they look at some of the stuff people are trying to pass off as products of talent and ambition. A fascinating glimpse into the egoist vortex of utter denial.” —Miles Klee
13) r/DIY: There’s just something satisfying about seeing a project come together, and that’s pretty much all this subreddit is. “It provides that satisfying ‘If that guy can do it, so can I’ kind of feeling. And also makes you realize how much damn money it costs to really take on a major home-improvement project.” —Andrew Couts
14) r/ExplainLikeIAmA: Riffing on the two popular subreddits r/ExplainLikeImFive and r/IAmA (a Q&A forum), r/ExplainLikeIAmA invites its users to explain various phenomena while impersonating a vast array of unrelated characters. Explaining the George Zimmerman trial like Eric Cartman from South Park is one of the most popular threads ever. So is explaining the plot of Fifty Shades of Grey like Dr. Seuss.
15) r/Formula1: An example of a fan-focused subreddit that really knows its stuff.
16) r/FoodPorn: “Consistently drool-worthy” photos of gourmet spreads, says Monica Riese, even if it is “occasionally unrealistic.”
17) r/GamePhysics: Showcasing some of the strangest quirks that video game engines can produce, the subreddit is an archive of GIF-y goodness.
18) r/GayBros: “Even though the community has been surrounded by some controversy because of valuing traditionally masculine pastimes and pursuits,” reports Greg Seals, “it’s a very friendly and welcoming place for people out and proud, or those still in the closet.” It’s far from the only gay community on Reddit. There’s also r/ainbow, r/gayaww, r/gaymers, r/ladyladyboners, r/genderfluid, and r/LGTrees, among countless others.
19) r/Homebrewing: Another hobbyist community devoted to those that get drunk the old-fashioned way, there’s a rich variety of opinion present in the subreddit. “I find with subjects that have a lot of depth from them, it’s nice to get information from a wide set of people. That way if there are differences of opinion, you can start to understand *why* those differences exist rather than slavishly accepting one or the other.” —Jason Reed
20) r/InfiniteWorldProblems: Indescribable. Essential.
21) r/InternetIsBeautiful: “The Internet has some amazing things to offer, from useful websites to stunning visuals, and this sub digs them up in droves.” —Andrew Couts
22) r/KarmaCourt: A particularly meta subreddit, disputes over threads, abuses of the Reddit karma system, and out-of-order OPs [original posters] are all deliberated and determined by various judges in humorous fashion. The Daily Dot’s Wyoming correspondent Ned Donovan is a former judge.
23) r/Me_IRL: “The only good sub,” it boldly claims. “It’s consistently funny and surprising,” Cooper Fleishman tells me. It aims to catalogue what we’re really like in real life.
24) r/Metalworking: “In another life, I would make a living doing something that involves fusing pieces of metal at high temperatures. This sub lets you see what you can do if you actually put that dream into action.” —Andrew Couts
25) r/MichaelBayGIFs: A great example of Reddit’s remix culture, r/MichaelBayGIFs takes, well, just about anything, and re-envisions it as directed by the billion-dollar-grossing creative force behind Transformers.
26) r/Motorcycles: “Anyone who rides will find a collection of awesome bikes, knowledgeable people, and safety tips galore. Best yet: You know how not to behave on your two-wheeled personal rocket ship.” —Andrew Couts
27) r/NoSleep: A highly popular subreddit, it’s Reddit “for horror and creepypasta lovers,” says Aja Romano, and its stories do not disappoint.
28) r/LucidDreaming: “This is a fun subreddit full of people trying out all kinds of wacky ways to get high or go into trances or conquer sleep paralysis, or, you know, just learn to lucid dream.” —Aja Romano
30) r/PerfectLoops: “The art of the perfect looping GIF is one of patience and perseverance,” lead illustrator Fernando Alfonso III says, and a quick browse of r/PerfectLoops confirms that “art” is indeed exactly the right way to describe what its members do.
31) r/PhotoshopBattles: This is where some of the greatest creative minds of our generation are being squandered.
32) r/PixelArt: “In a Reddit world dominated by reposts and content pilfered from around the Web, r/PixelArt is home to some stellar artists eager for feedback and advice.” —Fernando Alfonso III
33) r/PressureWashingPorn: Incredibly niche, but Greg Seals recommends it “for those that enjoy cleanliness and indulging their own weekend warrior.” Seals says he’s “easily spent hours scrolling through before-and-after pressure-washing pics on this SFW sub.” Bring out your inner dad.
34) r/ShitRedditSays: Reddit’s underground watchdog group. “A separate, alternative, completely self-sufficient network of users devoted to calling out shitty behavior,” describes Cooper Fleishman. R/ShitRedditSays (or SRS for short) is “a necessary counterbalance to the rape jokes, casual bigotry, and slut-shaming that fly unchecked (or routinely get upvoted) in mainstream Reddit threads.”
35) r/ShittyFoodPorn: Nominated by Audra Shroeder because she hates herself.
36) r/ShittyKickstarters: The crowdfunding revolution has brought us transformative new technology like the Oculus Rift, but it’s also brought hucksters and frauds out of the woodwork, flogging dodgy goods like the “IQ-raising” NEO Neurophone. R/ShittyKickstarters lampoons the worst offenders.
37) r/SimpsonsDidIt: This sub catalogs not only the show’s cultural significance but also how remarkably—and accidentally—prescient it has been.
38) r/TheoryOfReddit: Dedicated to a meta-level discussion of Reddit. “Understanding how Reddit works on a fundamental level is difficult, if not impossible, to grasp by exclusively interacting with the front page and a random assortment of subs. R/TheoryOfReddit is a place where users can take a step back and give a long hard look at what it really means to be the front page of the Internet.” —Aaron Sankin
39) r/TheBluePill: Existing solely to make fun of the intersection of men’s rights activists and pick-up artists, r/TheBluePill makes righteous fun of one of the most squalid communities on Reddit.
40) r/TheyDidTheMath: We’re not afraid to jump in and do some totally unnecessary statistical analysis, but this subreddit takes it to new heights, calculating things you never wanted or needed to be calculated.
42) r/TrollXChromosones: “Just brilliant women being incredibly funny.” —Jason Reed
43) r/TrueReddit: A unique experiment: In order to submit a news story, you have to leave a comment explaining why it’s interesting. “It’s a good way to cut down on lazy link-spamming.” —Cooper Fleishman
44) r/UnresolvedMysteries: Exactly what it says, and it does not disappoint.
45) r/WhatCouldGoWrong: “People fucking up never stops being funny.” —Andrew Couts
46) r/WorldBuilding: This sub exists for its members to help each other construct fantastical worlds and critique them, right down to the minutest detail.
47) r/WritingPrompts: “There will be a year, a year that comes very soon, where the premise of every non-sequel, non-documentary, non-remake movie nominated for an Academy Award will be taken from a post on r/WritingPrompts. The responses are often brilliant, although just as often terrible, but there is literally no better place online looking for a little inspiration.” —Aaron Sankin
Illustrations by J. Longo