If you’ve spent time on Reddit, then you already know it’s a great place to learn, discuss, and laugh. However, you probably also know that it can be tough to navigate both the etiquette and features of the website.
One such feature that confuses many redditors is karma, imaginary internet points that you can “earn” with good content submissions and comments. If a redditor likes a comment or post, they upvote it, if they dislike, they downvote it. A redditor’s karma score is basically the total upvotes they’ve been granted by other redditors minus the total downvotes they’ve received, with two separate scores for comment karma (comments on links) and link karma (link submissions to articles and images). Yes, karma is meaningless. But we humans tend to crave social acceptance, and it’s incredibly satisfying to rack up thousands of karma points!
For many redditors, earning karma can seem like an impossible task. You contribute good comments, so why aren’t they being upvoted? You submit interesting links, why are they getting downvoted? Well, there’s a little more to it than simply plopping a comment or submission into one of Reddit’s thousands of subreddits. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on Reddit, and even wrote my thesis about Reddit culture, so I’d love to share with you my top tips about how to get karma on Reddit like a pro.
1. Browse reddit.com/new
Commenting on the top submissions on the most popular subreddits can be quite unrewarding. In the race for karma, you’re competing against thousands of other users. If your comment is the 1,335th comment on a front page /r/AskReddit post, there is a good chance it will get buried.
To avoid getting buried, you have to find a popular thread before it hits the front page – this is where browsing content on the “new” tab comes in handy. Scout out a promising thread, get your insightful and hilarious comments in there before everyone else, and sit back and enjoy as the upvotes start pouring in.
2. Comment in /r/relationship_advice
Another way to have better luck with comment karma is to contribute to smaller subreddits where there is less competition, so your comment will be more appreciated. Usually, getting comment karma is easier in the discussion-based subreddits like /r/changemyview, /r/relationship_advice or /r/sex. In these subreddits, there is almost always someone who is actually in need of advice or a second opinion. Good advice reaps good karma, so you’ll need to put a little extra thought into what you type. As a bonus, you just might help an internet stranger in the process!
3. Find your niche
Want more attention on Reddit? Go find the subreddit dedicated to your hobby. Whether it’s drawing fan pictures for My Little Ponies – Friendship is Magic, lifting weights, or bird watching, there’s a subreddit for just about any hobby or interest imaginable. These subreddits are filled with like-minded people who are more likely to appreciate your contribution.
4. Actually read the article
This is one of the easiest ways to acquire that sweet, sweet karma. Go find a post about a news article and –gasp– read the actual article. Then, pick an interesting quote from the article and post it in the comments. Most of us don’t care enough to actually click on that link, and we appreciate you handing us the most interesting nuggets on a silver tray.
Seriously, go check any news article post: the top comment is almost always providing some extra info for those of us who can’t be bothered to read the article.
5. Just contribute
Don’t be afraid of the judgement of a bunch of strangers on Reddit. The only way you’ll find your own way of commenting and submitting content is by doing it. After all, karma is just worthless Internet points.
6. Post at the right time
It would seem that the best time to post on Reddit is around 8-11 (UTC-5). So, if you really want to optimize your timing, try posting around that time. This is when the redditors are online worldwide, meaning more people online to dish out the upvotes.
7. Be lucky
Hitting the front page requires a combination of perfect timing and a bit of luck. Don’t be upset if you feel your post doesn’t get the love it deserves. There are numerous examples of posts that have gained zero attention until they are reposted just a few hours later by someone else, garnering enough upvotes to reach the front page. This may feel like a form of karma thievery, but it happens
8. Avoid the cliches
Thinking about starting your post with “That feeling when…” or “Found this gem”?
It’s probably not a good idea. Popular expressions like these get old quick, and redditors have no mercy in downvoting them. But happily, the ever-helpful redditors have compiled a cheat sheet for you already. Check out this post that lists what annoys redditors the most, and stay far away from their most disliked karma-drainers.
9. Know your memes
Don’t use a meme if you don’t know what it’s about. Nothing annoys nitpicking reddit geeks like myself more than misusing a meme. There’s even a subreddit for that: /r/terriblefacebookmemes. If you don’t know how to use a certain meme, check it on knowyourmeme.
10. If you hit the front page…
…Please avoid the seemingly mandatory “Wow, I can’t believe I hit the Frontpage!” edit. It’s Reddit. Nobody cares.
Read more about Salla’s Reddit expertise: Meet the Finnish woman who graduated by hanging out on Reddit for a year
Salla Koivu is a Helsinki native and graduate of Aalto University School of Business. Her Master’s thesis Why Do People Share Online? Online Disinhibition Effect in the Context of the Virtual Community of Reddit explores Reddit culture.