“The Front Page of the Internet” Offers Something for Tech Writers and Everyone Else

Craig’s customized Reddit homepage

Introduction

I forget exactly how I stumbled upon Reddit. I think someone posted a link on Facebook and I followed it. Once there, I started looking around.Reddit is huge. There is something for everyone here.

Reddit is not like other sites. Think of it as a combination of Library / Rummage Sale / Saturday Night at the Bar. Beware that you could see anything when you first visit the site. This means in addition to professional content, that you could see something very adult.

Someone I know visited Reddit for the first time and was confronted by adult material. This has not happened to me personally. I know Reddit contains adult material, but I thought you had to seek it out. You know how, if you frequent rummage sales or flea markets, you might stumble across a box of of Playboy magazines? Reddit is kind of like that.

So it pays to be cautious here. If you’re curious about Reddit, visit for the first time at home or on your mobile to avoid any possible awkwardness in the office. Despite the adult material, I think it’s still worth setting up your own profile and exploring.

Layout and Navigation

Enter any search criteria you want, press the Enter key on your keyboard, and you’re off to the races. Anything from “writing” to “history,” to “business.” One caution here: Unlike Google, you don’t receive any search prompts. You won’t be asked, “Is this what you’re looking for?”

Reddit provides several ways to set up your home page. These concern the type of listings you see and how they are displayed. You can configure your home page for you to see the Best, Hot, New, Top, or Rising entries. You can also set things to see larger images, smaller thumbnail images, or just a brief text summary. I set up mine with the brief text summary so I can quickly scan the entries. Play around with the tags and see which listings resonate the most with you. As far as I know, you may not create your own tags, you must use the tags provided by Reddit

Reddit also gives you several ways to customize the layout: card, classic, and compact. Card is a display with larger images. The images are large enough to appear below the text portion of the post. Here, each post and accompanying image occupies its own rectangle, or card. The Classic display offers the same text portions, but the images are much smaller and appears to the left of the text portion of each post. In the Compact View, the text portions are the same, but the images are removed altogether. You can still see the images by clicking an icon to the left of each post.

You can easily get lost in here. Wonderful way to kill some time if you’re bored with Facebook.

Website Content

Reddit truly offers something for everyone. Since I’m writing this post for TechWhirl, a website for technical writers, I’ll concentrate on why I think technical writers can find a lot of value in visiting Reddit. Reddit provides two subreddits for technical writing (a subreddit is a forum dedicated to a specific topic on Reddit). One is https://www.reddit.com/r/technicalwriting/. The other is https://www.reddit.com/r/techwriting/. And yes, they are mirror images of each other. So follow either one, but be sure to follow one.

Here are a few recent  threads you might find interesting:

If you’re interested in business writing, enter business writing into the home page search box. You will find several results, among them: <https://www.reddit.com/r/writingforbusiness/. This result is the one to which I subscribed. Want to look at some funny GIFs? Enter gifs into the home page search box. The results include https://www.reddit.com/r/gifs/. Yes, I subscribed to this one as well. A great way to while away the hours on a rainy, lazy Sunday. I highly recommend Reddit. You never know what you’ll find.

Additional Information

Threads seem to be archived if they don’t receive traffic in a certain amount of time. This means you can read them, but you are not allowed to post a response. There weren’t too many active threads in late July, but since we’re into the final days of September now, posts are hopping.

When you’re searching, make sure you do it from the home page. It’s easy to make the mistake of searching a subreddit for particular information when you should be searching the whole of Reddit. Just ask me! I’ve bungled that many times.

Conclusion

Reddit bills itself as  “The front page of the internet.” Given the grab-bag nature of Reddit, I couldn’t disagree with them. Reddit reminds me of a 1970s department store in terms of the great variety of content right there waiting for you, kind of chaotic and confusing, but lots of fun to explore. I am a latecomer to Reddit, but I can’t resist “The Front Page of the Internet.” I bookmarked Reddit, I visit once or twice a day, and I have created my own personal Reddit frontpage. I suggest you do the same.

Have a job-related, business, or tech comm website you’d like me to review? Have some tips or tools to share with your fellow technical communicators, information developers, and content creators? Let’s network! Drop me a note: HelpFiles@TechWhirl.com. Follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn, circle me on Google+, or email me at craig.cardimon@gmail.com. I enjoy connecting with others in the industry.