Reddit, you probably already know, is essentially a modernized version of the standard online forum. It provides communities for individuals with even the most niche interests, giving them space to connect with others who share their passions. It also has something of a language and culture all its own, so if you’ve ever found yourself wandering around a subreddit, confused by slang and abbreviations you can’t decipher, you probably haven’t been able to use the platform to its full capacity.
Here’s all the Reddit jargon you need to know to become a true redditor.
Let’s start with the Reddit basics
A subreddit is a forum within the overall Reddit site. Each subreddit is dedicated to something and is represented at the end of the URL with /r/thenameofthesubreddit. So, if you love the old CW show Gossip Girl (or its HBO reboot), you can join over 55,000 fellow fans for discussion at reddit.com/r/GossipGirl.
A cakeday is the day someone joined Reddit. This information is visible on each person’s profile, and the cakeday is typically celebrated.
Karma is Reddit’s point system. When you post in a subreddit, other users have the opportunity to “upvote” your comment, which gives you karma and also makes your post more visible. Your overview page will display how much karma you have, but it doesn’t do much for you outside of certain instances, like being able to post faster in some subreddits if you have a high amount of karma, and bragging rights.
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Moderators (or mods) are people who are in charge of a subreddit. These mods can remove comments and posts from subs, and they generally set individual rules for the forums. For instance, mods in one subreddit may explicitly ban self-promoting posts or solicitation, while others create a rule that anyone engaging in those get permission first and only do so sporadically.
More Reddit slang and abbreviations to know
Outside those basics of how the site operates, there are more terms and abbreviations you’ll want to know. You’ll see a lot of acronyms around Reddit that you’ll be familiar with if you’ve spent any time online in the past three decades or so: There’s NSFW, TL;DR, OP, and IMO, for instance. Other acronyms are more Reddit-specific. Here are some of the big ones:
AMA stands for “ask me anything” and can be appended to a post in a subreddit, but is typically reserved for the AMA subreddit itself. In that forum, individuals with interesting stories, unique job titles, or other noteworthy qualities will describe themselves, then give Redditors a chance to, well, ask them anything. An “AMA” can also be a whole event. When a famous person drops into the sub, for instance, their time there is called an AMA.
Brigading is done when a group of Redditors gangs up to downvote another user or users. This is coordinated. Downvoting leads to loss of karma.
Flair is a customizable badge or label added to a post to help contextualize it. A poster may be able to use flair to share their level of expertise or give relevant information about the kind of post they’re sharing, whether it’s a recommendation, a question, or a fun find.
Throwaway accounts (or “alt” accounts or sockpuppet accounts) are made for various reasons, but you’ll see they tend to be used when a Redditor wants to express an opinion or ask for advice without their post being linked back to their existing profile. A user’s profile shows which subs they interact with and all of their posts, so having a more anonymous, secondary account can be appealing from time to time.
AITA stands for, “Am I the asshole?” Someone, usually in the AITA sub, will describe a conflict or situation in their life, often using a throwaway account. Commenters weigh in on whether that person was the asshole in that scenario or not.
CMV means “change my view.” This is used to start debates. Engage with caution.
DAE stands for “does anyone else” and is used to find out if other people experience something similar to whatever the OP (original poster) is describing, like, “DAE worry they’ll get in trouble for being on Reddit at work?”
ELI5 means “explain like I’m 5.” When used, this is a request to have a complex idea explained simply.
RTFA is an acronym for “read the fucking article.” It’s self-explanatory, but funny, and employed when a commenter responds to a posted link with a question or statement that clearly shows they did not RTFA.
TIL means “today I learned.” Try it now: “TIL lots of Reddit jargon thanks to Lifehacker.”