ID:16719 Section: Internet

Updated:Monday 13th October 2014

Reddit Definition

(Wikipedia) - Reddit Reddit Inc. Type Founded Headquarters Area served Founder(s) Key people Employees Slogan(s) Website Alexa rank Type of site Advertising Registration Available in Current status
June 23, 2005 (2005-06-23)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Steve Huffman Alexis Ohanian
Yishan Wong (CEO)
The front page of the internet
45 (September 2014)
Social news
Banner ads, promoted links
Optional (required to submit, comment or vote)
Multilingual, primarily English

Reddit /ˈrɛdɪt/, stylized as reddit, is an entertainment, social networking service and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links. Only registered users can then vote submissions "up" or "down" to organize the posts and determine their position on the site''s pages. Content entries are organized by areas of interest called "subreddits".

Reddit was founded by University of Virginia roommates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. Condé Nast Publications acquired the site in October 2006. Reddit became a direct subsidiary of Condé Nast''s parent company, Advance Publications, in September 2011. As of August 2012, Reddit operates as an independent entity, although Advance is still its largest shareholder. Reddit is based in San Francisco, California. In October 2014 Reddit received $50 million in funding from Snoop Lion and other investors.

  • 1 Overview
    • 1.1 Site
    • 1.2 Users
  • 2 Subreddits
    • 2.1 IAmA and AMA
  • 3 History
  • 4 Technology
  • 5 Demographics
  • 6 Community and culture
    • 6.1 Philanthropic efforts
    • 6.2 The Reddit Effect
    • 6.3 "Restoring Truthiness" campaign
    • 6.4 Controversies involving Reddit
  • 7 Awards
  • 8 See also
  • 9 Notes and references
  • 10 External links

Overview Site

The site is a collection of entries submitted by its registered users, essentially a bulletin board system. The name "Reddit" is a play-on-words with the phrase "read it", i.e., "I read it on Reddit".

The site''s content is divided into numerous categories, and 50 such categories, or "subreddits," are visible on the front page to new users and those who browse the site without logging in to an account. As of May 2014 these include:

Category Subreddits
Educational News, Science, Space, TodayILearned (TIL), and WorldNews
Entertainment Creepy, Documentaries, Gaming, ListenToThis, Movies, Music, Sports, Television, and Videos
Discussion-based AskReddit, AskScience, Books, ExplainLikeImFive, IAmA, NoSleep, and TwoXChromosomes
Humor/light-hearted DataIsBeautiful, Funny, InternetIsBeautiful, Jokes, NotTheOnion, ShowerThoughts, StandUpShots, TIFU, and UpliftingNews
Image sharing Art, Aww, EarthPorn, Gifs, MildlyInteresting, OldSchoolCool, Pics, and PhotoshopBattles
Self-improvement DIY, Fitness, Food, GetMotivated, LifeProTips, PersonalFinance, Philosophy, and WritingPrompts
Technology Futurology and Gadgets
Meta Announcements and Blog

When items (links or text posts) are submitted to a subreddit, users (redditors) can vote for or against them (upvote/downvote). Each subreddit has a front page that shows newer submissions that have been rated highly. Redditors can also post comments about the submission, and respond back and forth in a conversation-tree of comments; the comments themselves can also be upvoted and downvoted. The front page of the site itself shows a combination of the highest-rated posts out of all the subreddits a user is subscribed to.

Front-page rank - for both the general front page and for individual subreddits - is determined by the age of the submission, positive ("upvoted") to negative ("downvoted") feedback ratio and the total vote-count. Dozens of submissions cycle through these front pages daily.

As of June 2013, commentary on the site is particularly active, with several communities generating thousands of comments per day.


Registering an account with Reddit is free and does not require an email address to complete. Users are referred to as "redditors". When logged in, users have the ability to vote on submissions and comments to increase or decrease their visibility and submit links and comments. Users can also create their own subreddit based around any topic of their choosing, and interested users can add it to their frontpage by subscribing to it. For example, as of November 2013, the Wikipedia subreddit - subtitled "the most interesting pages on Wikipedia" - has over 126,000 subscribers. Reddit comments and submissions are occasionally abbreviated and peppered with terms that are understood within (and in many cases also outside) the Reddit community, ranging from OP (for “original poster” - the user who posted the submission being commented upon) to NSFW (for “not safe for work”). Users earn "link karma" and "comment karma" for submitting popular links and comments, which accumulate as point values on their user profile. Users may also be gifted "reddit gold" if another user has well received the comment or post, generally due to humorous or high quality content. The points do not lead to a prize as they are meant to stand in as a badge of honor for the user among their peers, although redditors have attempted to redeem their points before.

Reddit also allows submissions that do not link externally. These are called "self posts" or "text submissions". Many discussion-based subreddits allow only text-only submissions such as "AskReddit" - where users are only allowed to pose broad, discussion based questions to the community at large. Self posts do not accumulate karma points for the submitter, but they can still be voted on like other content.

Mister Splashy Pants logo used on November 27, 2007

Reddit communities occasionally coordinate to skew polls on other websites, such as in 2007 when Greenpeace allowed web users to decide the name of a killer whale it was tracking. Reddit users voted en masse to name the whale "Mr. Splashy Pants", and Reddit administrators further encouraged this by changing the site logo to a whale during the voting. In December of that year, Mister Splashy Pants was announced as the winner of the competition.

Within the site, Redditors commemorate their "cake day" once a year, which is the anniversary of the day the user''s account was first created. The "cake day" offers no special benefit, except a small icon representing a slice of cake appears next to that user''s name for 24 hours.

Redditors can "friend" one another, which gives a redditor quick access to posting and comments of their friend list. The commenting system and friend system, along with a certain "Reddit ethos" (called reddiquette on Reddit), lend Reddit aspects of a social networking service, though not to the extent of Facebook, Google+, and other websites aimed at providing social networking services.

The Reddit community socialize at local parks and bars around the world, and there are many localized subreddits for local meetings.


Reddit entries are organized into areas of interest called "subreddits". Historically, the front page was the main subreddit, and other areas were "subreddits". There is now no main subreddit. Instead, there are multiple default subreddits dealing with topics such as books, television, and music. Any registered user may create a subreddit, although a link to do so does not appear on the user''s homepage until after thirty days. There are over 5,400 active subreddits to peruse, with a default set of 50 subreddits as of May 2014.

Users may customize what is shown on their personal front page by subscribing to individual subreddits through a page that shows all subreddits available. The site''s general front page is also accessible via a link to "all" at the top of the individual user''s customized front page.

In an interview with Memeburn, Reddit GM, Erik Martin noted that the platform''s "approach is to give the community moderators or curators as much control as possible so that they can shape and cultivate the type of communities they want".

IAmA and AMA

One of the most popular subreddits is IAmA ("I Am A") where a user may post "AMAs" (for "Ask Me Anything"), or similarly "AMAAs" ( for "Ask Me Almost Anything") – prompts for others to ask questions about any topic. AMAs are open to all Reddit users, and use the site''s comment system for both questions and answers; it is similar to a press conference, but online. This subreddit was founded in May 2009.

A number of notable individuals have participated in the IAmA subreddit, including President Barack Obama (while campaigning for the 2012 election), Dave Grohl, Madonna, Chris Hadfield (who answered questions from the International Space Station), Bill Gates, Ron Paul, Stephen Colbert, Psy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Maddow, Renée Fleming, M. Shadows, Louis C.K., Roger Federer, Larry King, Philip Zimbardo, Bill Nye, Stan Lee, John Mather, David Copperfield, Paul Krugman, Danny Boyle, Al Gore, Roger Ebert, Michael Bolton, Gary Johnson, Lawrence Krauss, Jill Stein, Kevin Rudd, Amanda Palmer, and Tim Ferriss. As of April 2014, Barack Obama''s AMA is the highest rated on the site; the increased traffic brought down many parts of the website when the AMA occurred on August 29, 2012.

Celebrities participating in IAmAs have seen both positive and negative responses. Woody Harrelson''s AMA was criticized after Harrelson declined to answer questions that were unrelated to the movie Rampart he was promoting. In contrast, rapper Snoop Lion attracted 1.6 million page views after conducting an AMA that provided several candid responses to the community''s questions.


In June 2005, Reddit was founded in Medford, Massachusetts by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, both 22-year-old graduates of the University of Virginia. It received its initial funding from Y Combinator.

The team expanded to include Christopher Slowe in November 2005. Between November 2005 and January 2006 Reddit merged with Aaron Swartz''s company Infogami, and Swartz became an equal owner of the resulting parent company, Not A Bug. Condé Nast Publications, owner of Wired, acquired Reddit on October 31, 2006, and the team moved to San Francisco. In January 2007, Swartz was fired.

By the end of 2008, the team had grown to include Erik Martin, Jeremy Edberg, David King, and Mike Schiraldi. In 2009, Huffman and Ohanian moved on to form Hipmunk, recruiting Slowe and King shortly thereafter.

In July 2010, after explosive traffic growth, Reddit introduced Reddit Gold, offering new features for a price of $3.99/month or $29.99/year. Reddit Gold adds a number of features to the interface, including the ability to display more comments on a page, access to the private subreddit /r/lounge, and notifications whenever one''s username is mentioned in a comment. It''s also possible to endow comments or submissions of other users and thereby give a gold membership to them as an anonymous present.

On September 6, 2011, Reddit became operationally independent of Condé Nast, now operating as a separate subsidiary of its parent company, Advance Publications.

On January 11, 2012, Reddit announced that it would be participating in a 12-hour sitewide blackout in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act. The blackout occurred on January 18 and coincided with the blackouts of Wikipedia and several other websites. In May 2012, Reddit joined the Internet Defense League, a group formed to organize future protests.

On February 14, 2013, Reddit began accepting the digital currency bitcoin for its Reddit Gold subscription service through a partnership with bitcoin payment processor Coinbase.


Reddit was originally written in Common Lisp but was rewritten in Python in December 2005. The reasons given for the switch were wider access to code libraries and greater development flexibility. The Python web framework that former Reddit employee Aaron Swartz developed to run the site,, is now available as an open-source project.

On June 18, 2008, Reddit became an open source project. With the exception of the anti-spam/cheating portions, all of the code and libraries written for Reddit became freely available on GitHub.

As of November 10, 2009, Reddit uses Pylons as its web framework.

As of November 10, 2009, Reddit has decommissioned their physical servers and migrated to Amazon Web Services.

Reddit uses PostgreSQL as their primary datastore and is slowly moving to Apache Cassandra, a column-oriented datastore. It uses RabbitMQ for offline processing, HAProxy for load balancing and memcached for caching.

In early 2009, Reddit started using jQuery.

On June 7, 2010, Reddit staff launched a revamped mobile interface featuring rewritten CSS, a new color scheme, and a multitude of improvements.

On July 21, 2010, Reddit outsourced the Reddit search engine to Flaptor, who used its search product IndexTank.

As of July 12, 2012, Reddit uses Amazon CloudSearch.

There are several unofficial applications that use the Reddit API on the Google Play, including Reddit is Fun, Andreddit, F5, BaconReader, Reddit Sync and an Android tablet specific application called Reddita. There are also several Windows apps used to access Reddit, including unofficial Reddit apps such as ReddHub and Reddit To Go!. An unofficial desktop application Reditr exists that is compatible with Windows, OS X, Linux and ChromeOS. There are unofficial applications for iOS such as Alien Blue, Karma, Upvote, iReddit, and iPad-specific applications such as Reddzine and Biscuit.


According to Google Ad Planner''s estimate, as of May 2013, the median Reddit user is male (59%), 18–29 years of age, and is connecting from the United States (68%). has stated that 6% of all adult internet users use Reddit.

Community and culture

The website is known for its open nature and diverse user community that generate its content. Its demographics allows for wide-ranging subject areas, or main subreddits, that receive much attention, as well as the ability for smaller subreddits to serve more niche purposes. For example, the University of Reddit, a subreddit that exists to communally teach, emerged from the ability to enter and leave the online forum, the “classroom," at will, and classes ranging from computer science to music, to fine art theory exist. The unique possibilities that subreddits provide create new opportunities for raising attention and fostering discussion across many areas. In gaining popularity in terms of unique users per day, Reddit has been a platform for many to raise publicity for a number of causes. And with that increased ability to garner attention and a large audience, users can use one of the largest communities on the Internet for new, revolutionary, and influential purposes.

Its popularity has enabled users to take unprecedented advantage of such a large community. Its innovative socially ranked rating and sorting system drives a method that is useful for fulfilling certain goals of viewership or simply finding answers to interesting questions. User sentiments about the website''s function and structure include feelings about the breadth and depth of the discussions on Reddit and how the site makes it easy to discover new and interesting items. Almost all of the user reviews on, which rates Reddit''s monthly unique traffic rating 125th in the United States, mention Reddit''s "good content" as a likable quality. However, others raise the negative aspects of the potential for Reddit''s communities to possess a "hive mind" of sorts, embodying some negative aspects of group interaction theories like crowd psychology and collective consciousness.

Philanthropic efforts

In recent history, Reddit has been known as the instigator of several charity projects, some short and others long-term, in order to benefit others. A selection of major events are outlined below:

  • In early December 2010, members of the Christianity subreddit decided to hold a fundraiser and later members of the atheism subreddit decided to give some friendly competition, cross-promoting fundraising drives for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and World Vision''s Clean Water Fund, respectively. Later, the Islam subreddit joined in, raising money for Islamic Relief. In less than a week, the three communities (as well as the Reddit community at large) raised over $50,000. Most of this was raised by the atheism subreddit, though the smaller Christianity subreddit had a higher average donation amount per subscriber. A similar donation drive in 2011 saw the atheism subreddit raise over $200,000 for charity.
  • In early October 2010, a story was posted on Reddit about a seven-year-old girl, Kathleen Edward, who was in the advanced stages of Huntington''s disease. The girl''s neighbors were taunting her and her family. Redditors banded together and gave the girl a shopping spree at Tree Town Toys, a toy store local to the story owned by a Reddit user.
  • Reddit started the largest Secret Santa program in the world, which is still in operation to date. For the 2010 Holiday season, 92 countries were involved in the Secret Santa program. There were 17,543 participants, and $662,907.60 was collectively spent on gift purchases and shipping costs.
  • Members from Reddit donated over $600,000 to DonorsChoose in support of Stephen Colbert''s March to Keep Fear Alive. The donation spree broke previous records for the most money donated to a single cause by the Reddit community and resulted in an interview with Colbert on Reddit.
  • Reddit users donated $185,356.70 to Direct Relief International for Haiti after an earthquake devastated the nation in January 2010.
  • Reddit users donated over $70,000 to the Faraja Orphanage in the first 24 hours to help secure the orphanage after intruders robbed and attacked one of the volunteers, Omari, who survived a strike to the head from a machete.
  • In October 2012, Shitty Watercolour, a popular Redditor known for posting watercolor paintings on the website, streamed live a 12-hour painting session on YouTube to raise money for charity: water, a non-profit organization which aims to provide potable drinking water in developing countries. Redditors donated a minimum of $10 to have a photo of their choice painted in a 5 cm by 5 cm (2 in×2 in) square section of large sheets of paper. The paint-a-thon raised $2,700.
The Reddit Effect Main article: Slashdot effect

Also known as the "SlashDot effect", the Reddit effect is when a smaller website has a high influx of traffic due to Reddit. It is also affectionately called the "Reddit Hug of Death" among the website''s users. Because Reddit is such a large site, the traffic is immense and can easily crash smaller sites. In order for users to see crashed websites, several Reddit bots have been created that take a snapshot of the website before large amounts of traffic flood the affected website.

"Restoring Truthiness" campaign

As a response to Glenn Beck''s August 28, 2010, Restoring Honor rally (heavily promoted by him in his Fox News broadcasts during the summer), in September 2010 Reddit users started a movement to persuade Stephen Colbert to have a counter-rally in Washington, D.C. The movement was started by user mrsammercer, in a post where he describes waking up from a dream in which Stephen Colbert holds a satirical rally in D.C.

He writes, "This would be the high water mark of American satire. Half a million people pretending to suspend all rational thought in unison. Perfect harmony. It''ll feel like San Francisco in the late 60s, only we won''t be able to get any acid."

The idea resonated with the Reddit community, which launched a campaign to bring the event to life. Over $600,000 was raised for charity to gain the attention of Colbert. The campaign was mentioned on-air several times, and when the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was held in Washington, D.C. on October 30, 2010, thousands of redditors made the journey.

During a post-rally press conference, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian asked, "What role did the Internet campaign play in convincing you to hold this rally?" Jon Stewart responded by saying that, though it was a very nice gesture, the two had already thought of the idea prior and the deposit on using the National Mall was already paid during the summer, so it acted mostly as a "validation of what we were thinking about attempting". In a message to the Reddit community, Colbert later added, "I have no doubt that your efforts to organize and the joy you clearly brought to your part of the story contributed greatly to the turnout and success."

Controversies involving Reddit See also: Controversial Reddit communities and Michael Brutsch

The website has a strong culture of free speech and very few rules about the types of content that may be posted. This has led to the creation of several communities that have been perceived as offensive, including forums dedicated to jailbait (since banned) and pictures of dead bodies; several such subreddits were the focus of an edition of Anderson Cooper 360 in September 2011. However, "Suggestive or sexual content featuring minors" was not explicitly banned until February 2012.

On December 16, 2010, a Redditor named Matt posted a link describing how he has donated a kidney, and included a JustGive link to encourage users to give donations to the American Cancer Society. After an initially positive reaction, Reddit users began to become suspicious of Matt''s intentions, and suggested that he was keeping the donations for himself. Users telephoned his home and he received death threats. Matt eventually proved that he was genuine by uploading his doctor''s records.

On September 10, 2011, a Reddit user posted a link to a photograph on Imgur of a bruise on her face in a thread titled: "I was sexually assaulted in the early evening while wearing jeans and a T-shirt in a ''safe'' residential neighbourhood in Toronto. This is what he did to my face. Only rapists cause rape." Reddit users accused her of faking the bruise using make-up, speculated that she might be an "anti-rape activist resorting to a false account of attempted rape in order to further her cause", and sent her death and rape threats. The user eventually proved her innocence by uploading a video of herself rubbing a wet cloth over her wounds.

On October 18, 2011, IT manager nyan_all_the_links submitted a post to the subreddit r/gameswap offering Redditors to trade one of 312 codes he had been given for the game Deus Ex: Human Revolution. A group of users obtained nyan_all_the_links''s personal details, and began to blackmail him for the codes. The Monday after uploading the post, he received 138 threatening phone calls both at home and at his job, and by the end of the day he had been fired.

Following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Reddit faced criticism after users wrongly identified a number of people as suspects. Notable among misidentified bombing suspects was Sunil Tripathi, a student reported missing before the bombings took place. A body reported to be Sunil''s was found in Rhode Island''s Providence River on April 25, 2013 as reported by the Rhode Island Health Department. The cause of death is under investigation. Reddit general manager Erik Martin later issued an apology for this behavior, criticizing the "online witch hunts and dangerous speculation" that took place on the website. The incident was later referenced in the season 5 episode of the CBS TV series The Good Wife titled "Whack-a-Mole".

In February 2013, Betabeat published a post recognized the influx of multi-national corporations like Costco, Taco Bell, Subaru, and McDonald’s posting branded content on Reddit that was made to appear as if it was original content from legitimate Reddit users. In response to this influx of content skeptical Reddit users created a Hail Corporate subreddit to expose these attempts by corporate marketers to manipulate the site.

In late October 2013, the moderators of the /r/politics subreddit banned a large group of websites. Many were left wing news websites, such as Mother Jones, The Huffington Post, Salon, Alternet, Rawstory, The Daily Kos, Truthout, Media Matters, and ThinkProgress as well as some popular progressive blog sites, such as Democratic Underground and Crooks and Liars. They also banned a number of right wing sites—Drudge Report, Breitbart, The Daily Caller, Dailypaul, Little Green Footballs, Power Line, and Reason. Salon reported that "the section''s moderators explained in a post on Tuesday, the goal is ''to reduce the number of blogspam submissions and sensationalist titles. The purge, the moderators explained, is also aimed at sites that provide lots of "bad journalism." The December 2013 list of banned websites has been modified since late October, and sites with original content, such as Mother Jones and The Huffington Post, are allowed.

In January 2014, Mother Jones published a story describing the sale of guns on the site. The report suggested that sellers were doing so to exploit a loophole in federal law. Nearly 100 AR-15s were engraved with the Reddit logo as part of licensing deal made with the page in 2011.

In August 2014, reddit users began sharing a large number of naked pictures of celebrities stolen from their private Apple iCloud accounts. A subreddit called "/r/TheFappening" was created as a hub to share these photos, and contained links to most if not all of the criminally obtained explicit images. Victims of "The Fappening" included high profile names such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton. Some of the images constituted child pornography, as the photos of Liz Lee and McKayla Maroney from the leak were taken when the women were underage. The subreddit was banned on September 6.


In May 2010, Reddit was named in Lead411''s "2010 Hottest San Francisco Companies" list.

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