Reddit Tips and Tricks for Wizzley Writers

by Paul

Founded in 2005 by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, Reddit is a social news website which has the potential to drastically increase your page views - but only if used correctly.

Recently, Wizzley author JoHarrington received a staggering 70,000 hits (and still climbing) from Reddit; and as it claims to be the front page of the internet, this should come as no surprise.

However, recreating this feat is no menial task. It is not as easy as submitting your own link and watching the hits roll in.

Reddit may at first appear confusing and daunting. With an astonishing userbase there are plenty of things to be aware of! But getting to grips with the site will help promote your articles.

The Reddit Alien
The Reddit Alien

What is Reddit?

Reddit is the front page of the internet! It's a place where like-minded individuals come together to talk about just about anything.

Reddit is a large and influential social news website. You may remember it was the first website to suggest and commit to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) blackout in January 2012.

Being a social news website, it revolves around its users submitting content and then having other users vote and comment on this.

This generates the link's ranking. Every link has two arrows next to it, one pointing up (named an upvote) and one pointing down (a downvote). Clicking these allows Reddit's users to vote and see the link's current standings.

Redditor is a term used to describe a registered user of Reddit that contributes to the site either by submission or comment. Each registered user has their own 'front page', which is a compilation of the links that are submitted to the subreddits that the user is subscribed to.

The best way to comprehend the relation between Reddit, the Redditor's front page and subreddits is to imagine a large group show-and-tell scenario.

Imagine that there are groups of people sorted by their main interest sat around vast tables with large banners above them briefly describing what the interest is. Each person has brought something that they find of some worth which is related to the interest.

This could be anything at all from a hilarious anecdote to an interesting scientific discussion to a cute and adorable picture of a cat. There are over 100,000 of these groups of people, each having their own set interest and taste.

These groups now lay out and order all the items that the individuals in their group have brought and each table now has their own ranking for said items. The tables are known as subreddits.

Now, imagine an even bigger table. Several times bigger than the others. One with gilded edges if you'd like. The banner above this table reads "Redditor's front page".

The Redditor - to whom this front page belongs - selects which subreddits (s)he'd like to hear from. Once they've done this, all the items from the subreddits are combined to create one grand master ranking list of items that this individual Redditor is interested in.

In reality, the ranking system is slightly more complex than this and sadly slightly less gilded but this will be explained later in this article.

Becoming a Redditor and Contributing to Reddit

Creating an account on Reddit couldn't be easier.

Simply visit, look in the top right corner and click the 'login or register' button. You'll now be faced with a simple interface which will ask for a username which will be what people know you as - using your real name here is highly discouraged.

Next, a password and as with any password this should be an alphanumeric combination and an email which although optional is recommended as this is how Reddit will contact you in the event of you forgetting your password.

Finally, Reddit will ask you to complete a simple CAPCHA form to ensure that you are not a robot.

Reddit's Sign Up Page
Reddit's Sign Up Page

Contributing to Reddit itself is also easy. The hard part is finding the most appropriate subreddit to submit it to.

Each subreddit has the ability to customise the 'submit a link button' and also the form that appears once you've clicked it. The main reason for this is that each subreddit often has its own rules.

They appear on the right hand side of the subreddit and are hard to miss. The submit button on your front page however always remains the same and so does the form it produces so this may be an alternate option if you know the rules of the subreddit you wish to submit to.

The submit form has two varieties - one for links and one for 'self posts' which are entirely text. Since we only want the former, that is the one which will be explained although if you can submit a link, you can submit a self post as it is even easier.

Reddit will first ask for a title. Much like Wizzley, often the shorter the title the better and therefore the better it is likely to do. Again, some subreddits require you to format the title in a certain way but again if you've visited the subreddit and read its guidelines, this format should be relatively simple.

Reddit's Submit Screen
Reddit's Submit Screen

An example of this is the subreddit /r/TodayILearned as each post is required to start with TIL (today I learned). The link is then asked for and finally the subreddit you wish to post to. If you've clicked the submit button from a subreddit, this should already be filled.

The best way that I've found is to use this subreddit explorer. Typing in the box will search for subreddits that exist and that contain the text you've entered.

Subreddits are often referred to with the prefix /r/ which is simply because this is the part of the URL that determines that the link is in fact a subreddit and when using certain Reddit enhancements it automatically creates a link.

Another prefix would be /u/ which is used for users. Some subreddits that I feel might be the best for Wizzley articles are /r/TodayILearned, /r/HowTo and /r/TrueReddit.

However, be warned these are generic subreddits and your article may well do better in a more specific subreddit such as /r/TrueGaming or /r/Music.

What are the Benefits of Posting to Reddit?

During the month of December in 2011, Reddit had 2.07 billion page views, 34,879,881 unique visitors and 13 pages viewed per visit.

There are more statistics here including some information about Reddit's demographic. To put this into perspective, this means that 66.7 million page views were served by Reddit every day for December of 2011.

That's more than the population of Thailand.

The entire population of Canada could visit Reddit and it would still not beat the number of unique views achieved.

Reddit is gargantuan and may prove a valuable asset to you and your articles here on Wizzley.

Reddit also frequently accidentally knocks smaller websites offline. This is known as Slashdotting and is caused when a large website links to a smaller one and the smaller website's servers can't cope with the influx of visitors.

This can happen even if a link is given in the comments section of a submission - it doesn't even have to be the main submission itself. There's no doubting that Reddit is powerful.

Hopefully by now, you should see that Reddit is both easy to use and you can sense the benefit that placing your articles on Reddit may bring but you have to respect Reddit and abusing it by placing all your articles on there without thought will most likely not work. Abiding by the Reddiquette is the final key to fully understanding Reddit.

The statistics of a Wizzley user after Reddit's influence

What your statistics may look like!
What your statistics may look like!

Reddit's Ranking System

By now, you should understand each Redditor's front page is organised by a ranking system which is decided by other Redditors voting on submissions. This is the very basic workings of Reddit's ranking system and the more we understand it, the easier it is to use this to our advantage.

This section will get a little technical, but it is certainly worth getting to understand it as best you can.

Reddit is open source which means the coding behind it is available for all to see and download. It can be found here in Python and Pyrex and if you're able to understand it, it is well worth a read. An excellent breakdown of this code is found here, but the most relevant parts will be explained here too.

The 3 main components to a high ranking post on Reddit are time since submission, upvotes and net upvotes and downvotes. Each of these contributes to a 'weight' that Reddit uses to rank submissions.

Reddit frequently receives new content and prioritises this over other older content. This is so that Redditors don't see the same submissions for long periods at a time.

An extremely noticeable drop in weight occurs 13 hours after submission. The initial burst of upvotes is important too because the weight given follows a logarithmic scale meaning that, as the above blog suggests, it can be generally stated that the initial 10 upvotes are as important as the next 100 which are as important as the next 1000 and so on. 

Finally, the third contributing factor to Reddit's ranking system is the net upvotes and downvotes. This is simply the submission's upvotes minus its downvotes meaning an article with 500 upvotes and 0 downvotes would be given a similar score as one which has 5000 upvotes and 4500 downvotes.

Subreddit related shirts

Purchase these and show you're a fan of either /r/atheism or /r/trees!

From this, we can build a picture of what the golden submission would be. We know that we have 13 hours to get as much interest into the submission as quickly as possible but with the least amount of downvotes.

Now, seeing as 65% of Reddit's audience for 2011 was American, this means that the best time to submit your post would most likely be around 7PM EST as this would most likely be the time at which Reddit has the most traffic.

Again, it is all dependant upon how the article you've written - maybe you'd like it to be exposed to Europeans? It's different for every article, but the submission time is absolutely vital. 

The other two variables focus mainly on upvotes and minimising downvotes. This is best done by making sure that the subreddit you submit to is as relevant as possible, the title is short and would want to make your average Redditor investigate it and also make sure to follow the rules of the subreddit.

This being said, Reddit has an algorithm which adds downvotes to all submissions. The Reddit Admins are secretive about why this algorithm is in place but have suggested that it may be to do with making sure that spammers which use macros to upvote their own submissions are unable to tell if their macro is working or not. It may also be in place to ensure that fresh content is constantly available.

Either way, all submissions accumulate downvotes over time - it doesn't necessarily mean that your article was ill received. 

Reddit Alien Shirt

Buy a shirt with Reddit's alien mascot to alert other Redditor's of your presence!

Reddiquette and Warnings

Reddiquette, as you may have guessed, is Reddit's etiquette of which a full version can be found here or scroll down and listen to it! It is written by Redditors for Redditors and highlights the values of which the majority hold.

If you want your submissions to do well, abiding to these rules is a must. Reading it in entirely is recommended, however a compilation of the most relevant points can be found below.

  • Keep your submission titles factual and opinion-free.
  • Post to the most appropriate community possible.
  • Read the rules of a community before making a submission.
  • Don't hint at asking for votes.

One of the more important things to be wary of when using Reddit is that although Redditors are happy with you submitting your own content, you have to be extremely careful not to spam Reddit with just your articles.

It is widely accepted that as a rule of thumb, 10% of your submissions should be your own content. Some subreddits are more lenient than others when it comes to original content but again, it is best to be aware of how much you are submitting.

People can check what your previous submissions are and they may not take kindly to this. But if the content is good, this shouldn't matter.

Another important thing to mention is that Redditors are likely comment on your submission which is good as it often provides feedback, but you must be aware that, although a nice gesture, responding to each and every comment is frowned upon as it is not contributing to discussion - a simple upvote will suffice.

Reddiquette in Song Form

The final cautionary tale is to be wary of is something known as shadow banning. This is when an account is banned from posting without knowing it.

The user will still believe that their content is being accepted, but it will only be visible to them. Reddit uses this to combat spammers who will often flood the website with their own advertisements and websites purely for self promotion.

This is different to our aims as we wish to share content which will genuinely interest Redditors. The problem here is that it is automatically detected.

The best advice to heed would be to not instantly submit every article of yours to Reddit, instead, only submit the ones you feel are your best.

Commenting and voting will helpful too which shouldn't be hard as it's a great website - just make sure that it doesn't eat into your writing time!

Updated: 03/10/2013, Paul
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BrendaReeves on 03/31/2016

I joined Reddit way back but never used it mainly because I wasn't sure of how it worked. Thank you for the article. I especially like the video.

Fargy on 09/27/2013

*takes some notes*
Thank you!

Holistic_Health on 08/10/2013

I've bookmarked stuff at Reddit for years but not participated in the forums. I've missed out!

sandyspider on 06/21/2013

I have seen this so many times but hadn't joined. Thanks for explaining it better.

Paul on 06/16/2013

Good luck, Kimbesa!

kimbesa on 06/14/2013

Thanks Paul! I'm clearing dust off my existing Reddit account, now that I have your guidance to know what I'm doing!

Paul on 04/11/2013

I hope it's fruitful for you, Katie!

katiem2 on 04/11/2013

Thanks I've revisited my reddit account and utilized it once more. Now I feel confident to use it properly since I've read this helpful reddit guide.

Paul on 01/26/2013

If it's a fairly small subreddit, you probably will get continued traffic as each subreddit has what you could think of as "highscores" - the things that are the highest upvoted of all time are listed in numerical order. To anyone browsing the subreddit, the things that feature at the top of the "highscores" are basically the crème de la crème - perhaps your submission has featured highly on it? :)

JeanBakula on 01/26/2013

Thanks Paul. It was maybe a year ago I tried, and I didn't even see /r/astrology. I do belong to a Metaphysics Society and am a member of the AmericanAstrologersAssociation, but thought it was a bit much to fax those items to them, I thought they were busting me. I did get a big spike in traffic, and didn't see the Astrology area, so maybe I'll try again thanks to your great explanation! I read a lot and liked "Four Sentence Book Review" I still think I get traffic from that subreddit.

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