(5) A Starter’s Guide To Social Media: Tumblr & Reddit (The Dark Side)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Part 5: Tumblr and Reddit (The Dark Side?)

Four weeks ago, I shared my descent into social media and my guiding philosophies for interacting on the internet. Three weeks ago, I discussed the generals about creating a website and starting a blog. Two weeks ago, I discussed Facebook, Twitter, and hashtags. Last week was all about the visual social medias, Pinterest and Instagram.

Today? I’ll be discussing DARK SIDE OF THE INTERNET: Tumblr and Reddit

Or are they?


Tumblr and Reddit are given a lot of grief about being breeding grounds for social justice mobs, trolls, and dank memes (in which dank means something between dark, cynical, and cool).

For older web denizens: they’re where the teens are, and honestly? Where 90% of the Facebook content comes from. Look at where all those reshared thought experiments, story inspiration, and other screen-shots come from. A LOT of them are screenshots from Tumblr. Or made popular on Reddit. Or both.

If you wait for them to come to Facebook, you’re gonna miss a lot of content and it’s gonna be old before you see it.


So what IS Tumblr? Is it a blog? Is it a quote sharing site? Or is it for reblogging memes?

The quick answer is… yes.

For the longest time, I didn’t really know what I was doing with it. I reposted stuff from my Instagram since Tumblr seems to like pictures, and I reshared my blog posts from here over there. (Or over here, if you’re reading on Tumblr…)

But, it’s just as much for resharing your favorite webcomics or your not-character-count-limited mental contemplations. And GIFs are super popular.

NOTE: It’s also very popular for…um… archives of adult imagery. Luckily, safe-search is a thing. I’ve yet to end up somewhere I didn’t intend. A big advantage to its compartmentalized set-up.

It’s a social media network, like Facebook, that’s not geared towards a specific media (unlike Instagram or Twitter), which can make it more visual, but it supports anonymity–which can make it more attractive to teens (or Russian troll farms).

There’s definitely a part of it that’s socially progressive. Tumblr’s the sort of place that encourages defining your pronouns and can be very accepting of any sort of identity that doesn’t espouse hate.  That said, the admins are struggling with censorship issues around LGBT tags as well as antagonistic alt-right groups gaining a presence on the site.

Tags are important here if you want people to find you. And if you look around, you can find Tumblrs groups to join (sort of like the ‘blog hops’ of olde…). The communities are like islands, but they share resources.

If you like something, heart it. Reblogging stuff is VERY encouraged, and shows support for the original poster — and also means that the original poster gets credit — very awesome for the artists and writers and singers on here.

Note: If you add a comment to a reblog, it’s now permanently attached to that reblog.

Like most social medias, you can follow people and their posts/reblogs show up on your feed. Don’t be intimidated, most people are quite welcoming on Tumblr.



Here, everything is a popularity contest. It’s like middle school.

No. Really.

Getting Started

You create an account, you join forums called ‘reddits’ and ‘subreddits’ (or ‘subs’), named /[whatever] that are organized by areas of interest, and then you either share text or links to content.

On your feed, you’re only shown links to reddits and subreddits that you subscribe to.

Then, as people read posts, they ‘upvote, ‘downvote’, or [do nothing]. Every upvote and downvote affects your karma.

The more upvotes you get, the more likely you’ll show up in the feed. You can check tabs of ‘Hot’, ‘Rising’, and ‘New’. And karma means a lot.

What is Karma

You earn karma for:

  • posting
  • commenting
  • getting upvotes

Posting new content or sharing external links are typically seen as more valuable contributions, but it depends on the quality of your comments.

NOTE: When you comment, you can reply to other comments — otherwise known as nested comments.

You lose more karma for every downvote. It’s a way of trying to keep people from being jerk-faces.

Unless the forum is about being a jerk-face. Then, friendly people get downvoted.

Although there is an overlying sense of ‘Reddiquette’, each forum has its own admins, moderators, and set of acceptable behaviors.

Overall, someone with higher karma is seen as being more of a contributor and potentially someone to watch for new, quality content. The best of them have been given Reddit Gold.

Reddit Gold

You can literally buy virtual gold that is only intended for rewarding, or ‘gilding’, OTHER people with posts you find valuable.

Being gilded (or buying that status) temporarily unlocks:

  • comment highlighting
  • ad-blocking
  • exclusive subreddits
  • a personalized Snoo (known as a “snoovatar”)

WARNING: Reddit values anonymity, tends to be hands-off, and doesn’t censor. There can be really dark reddits, and subreddits with a lot of either off-color or outright offensive content.

The communities are typically well-described though, so you know what you’re getting into before you click the links.

Like most social medias, you can follow people and keep an eye on their content.

So far, I’ve shared a little in /writing, /writing-tips, and /nosleep. /AMA (Ask Me Anything) is one you’ll see on the news on occasion, with scheduled visits for politicians or celebrities, as well as normal people with unusual experiences offering to talk about them.

Feel free to explore and I find it best to wade into a Reddit, watching the expected behavior before trying to contribute.

But I’m still learning my way around.

So… that doesn’t really sound that scary, does it? A little different, but not completely unfamiliar organizational structures.

Long form, images, links, these are the sites where content is created.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s