Creating and moderating a subreddit 101

Welcome to "modding 101" guide. In this guide I'll try to explain the basics about creating your own subreddit, using the provided moderation tools and some buttons new mods often overlook.

Creating your subreddit

s The following images will explains all the things you will see when you go to:

It is important to note that you don't have to figure it all out at once. The only thing you have to get right is the subreddit name. All other settings can be changed later.

The name of your subreddit as it will be shown in the url. In this case it will be or

This title will be shown in search results together with the subreddit name and description. It is also what the browser will show as title.

The sidebar is where subreddits usually put the content they want their users to see. Think of rules, guidelines or other important information.

What language will your users be submitting in? For the majority of subreddits this will be English.

Who can access and interact with your subreddit? Important to know is that in restricted mode anyone can still comment, only submissions are restricted. A example of a restricted subreddit is /r/blog where only admins can post but everyone can comment.

Here you can set the sort of content you want for your subreddit.

Custom labels apply to the submission buttons. You can use the text here to clarify content further. If you run a subreddit where people ask questions you could make the text say “Ask your question”.

These settings are self explanatory.

How agressive do you want the spamfilter to be? In addition to filtering spam you can use this to run a subreddit where posts have to approved before being shown to users.

Ok lets go over these in order:

  1. Running a NSFW sub? Check this box.
  2. If a post is popular enough it will show up in /r/all, some subreddit choose to disable this since it can overwhelm a subreddit with users not familiar with the rules and culture.
  3. Thumbnails can be great, but also be irrelevant or distracting from the actuall content.
  4. Long story see below*
  5. We will cover traffic stats later, this option controls if only you and your mods or everyone can see these.
  6. Up to 24 hours, hides comment scores from users.

* Shadowbanned users are people that have been banned by reddit admins. You can recognize posts and comments they make by the fact that they will have a light red/pink background with a text strikethrough. They do not know they are banned, this is generally done because normal bans are easy to circumvent. Mods are still able to see these comments and posts in their own subs and can chose to approve them. A lot of mods choose to ignore these posts though, simply because you don’t know why they are banned and often because 99% of the time you can see they are spammers or other unpleasant people. With this option checked, the posts and comments these users make will no longer be visible in the different queues you use to do your moderating duties.

Ok, once you feel comfortable enough you have filled in everything (remember, only the subreddit name truly matters) click create. If everything went well the screen will change to something resembly the image below.

Moderation tools

In your sidebar you will find a box with so called moderation tools, these are what you will use in managing your subreddit.

Subreddit settings

This page resembles the creation page but adds one extra item: Look and feel

Here you can change the text that will show if people hover over the header as well as the reddit logo shown in the left top of the page. It is important to know that this is for replacing the logo not the entire header. For that you will have to edit the stylesheet and click on "edit the stylesheet"

Edit the stylesheet

On this page you can edit the subreddit stylesheet and images associated with it. The stylesheet is writtin in css which is also used for making websites looking the way they do. The fine folks over at /r/csshelp have a extensive collection of good guides and code snippets to get you started. I personally highly recommend to do atleast a basic 101 tutorial about css. This because you otherwise have to entirely depend on code snippets and ready made themes with no clue how to fix or adapt them if things don't work.


Modmail can be reached from the moderations tools list but usally you wil get there by clicking on the shield in your user menu.

When this is green it indicates that the subreddit has received new modmail.

It is important to note that a modmail conversation looks different on both sides. For moderators it will look like a list that chronologically shows replies to a message.

For users this is not the case. They will also get all the messages mods did send in that conversation (even if the mod clicked reply on a comment of another mod) but they will get the messages separately in their inbox. Keep this in mind when communicating with users because it can get very confusing very quickly.

It is basically a ticketing system.

  1. Regular mail comes in and arrives in the "new" directory.
  2. As soon as someone replies to a mail it moves to the "in progress" directory.
  3. You then have the option to move the mail to the "archive" directory once you are done with the mail.

Other directories are:

  • Highlighted, which is exactly that. A mod can highlight a mail and it will appear here.
  • Mod discussions: basically discussions just for us mods.
  • Notifications: Things send from automoderator and ban messages.

Then when opening a conversation you will basically get a flat conversation view with on the right side a bar that shows things like:

  • Recent posts
  • Recent comments
  • Account age
  • If the user is banned the ban status and reason.
  • Option to mute and mute status.
  • (if you use toolbox you also will find the mod button, history button and usernotes here ;))

Within a conversation you have the option to reply as:

  • Yourself which is basically how old modmail also worked.
  • The subreddit which will not show your name but just the subreddit as sender.
  • Create a private moderator note which makes it so your reply is only visible to your fellow mods.

Using modmail with multiple moderators.

Modmail can be a great tool, but it can also be frustrating when used by multiple mods in different ways. So it is a good idea to agree on some ground rules. An example used in one subreddit can be found in the quote below.

to make sure we all are talking about the same thing this is what I mean by "private moderator reply", these are replies not visible for the user and only for us.

Ok, this is what I roughly have in mind:

  • When muting someone try to leave a mod note to explain why the person is muted, unless it is of course completely obvious.
  • Never archive something that hasn't been replied to or handled in some other way. If you handled it without replying also leave a private moderator reply so fellow mods know what's up.
  • Don't archive something to get it out of the way, if you don't feel like handling it let other mods handle it.
  • If you feel that a modmail has been handled archive it.
  • When replying to a mail and you can reasonably expect an answer soon hold off with archiving for a bit so you don't get a clutter of "archived" and "unarchived" in the conversation.

Edit moderators

On this screen you add and remove mods (including yourself). The order in which mods are added is slightly important, mods that have been added first can not be removed by mods that have been added later.


Permissions can be used to limit how much control people have over a subreddit. This can be handy if you add something to help you out with css but not other tasks or if you have a large team where you don't want to give new mods all the permissions when they start out.

  • Access - manage the lists of contributors and banned users
  • Config - edit settings, sidebar, css, and images
  • Flair - manage user flair, link flair, and flair templates
  • Mail - read and reply to moderator mail mods that don't have this permission will also not be able to see any responses to modmail they send as a regular user
  • Posts - use the approve, remove, spam, distinguish, and nsfw buttons
  • Wiki - manage the wiki and access to the wiki

Edit approved submitters

I did not make a screenshot because the page is pretty much self explanatory. Approved submitters will be able to make posts if the subreddit is restricted and have access if it is private.

Traffic stats

Traffic stats are pretty well explained on page. As is stated there uniques are unique individual visitors, page views are all times people visited. So for example if you have one unique visitor but 200 page views you basically had one person visiting your sub 200 times. Because of that uniques is the most important statistic in your stats, because unlike subscribers or page views it actually does tell you how many individual visitors your sub has.

Moderation queue

The moderation queue is where for most mods their routine starts since it shows posts and submissions that have been reported or have been caught in the spam filter. The best days as a mod are when your moderation queue says

there doesn't seem to be anything here

unfortunally that hardly is ever the case so it is important to check this on a regular basis or install a script/extension that alerts you about new items. You can perform 4 actions on something that has been reported

  • spam - This will remove the item and mark it as spam, the spam filter will take notice of this and slowly try to learn from spammed items.
  • remove - simply removes the item
  • approve - will aprove the item and make it visible again if it was a spammed item.
  • ignore reports - sometimes things that don't break rules keep getting reported, hitting this button will prevent the item from ending in the moderation queue over and over again.


Same as moderation queue but only for reports, can be handy if you deal with a lot of spam on a daily basis and want to get to the reported items first


All items that have been removed end up here.

Ban user

This page allows you to ban users and leave a removal reason that will be displayed next to them on the list of banned users. The ban reason will not be sent to the banned user.

If you want the ban to be permanent you can include a number of days the user should be banned. Finally you can include a message to the user, ban messages are only send IF the user has been active on the subreddit before.

The list with banned users can be found on the same page.

Edit flair

This will be a separate guide since there a lot of different ways and steps to set up flairs

Moderation log

This is where you can check what all your mods are up to. Fun fact! You can also spot if admins had to do something in your sub. Be careful though! What admins remove is usually the sort of stuff you don't want to see.

*need to write a bit more about this.

By default all submissions posted to a subreddit are "neutral" and have not been touched by a moderator. So all posts made to a subreddit show up on this page. A lot of subreddits have the policy that all posts need to approved to make sure that atleast one mod had a look at it to check if it didn't break any subreddit rules. The unmoderated queue is for those mods just as important as the modqueue. If both the unmoderated and moderation queue are empty you know that all posts in your sub are checked and approved.

Misc tools

Distinguish (make them green) posts and comments

Distinguishing is really easy, just click the distinguish button under posts or comments you made! You can only distinguish your own posts and comments, by default your posts and comments are not distinguished.

Distinguishing something is used when speaking in your capacity as moderator. For example when you explain rules or make an announcement. Generally you will not distinguish your post when just participating as a regular user because distinguishing means you are speaking from a position of power. Within the mod community distinguishing every comment you make is generally frowned upon.

Sticky mod comments

Distinguishing top level comments (comments that are a reply to the submission and not to an other comment), also gives you the option to sticky that comment. This will make sure that the stickied comment will always be visible on the top of the comment section regardless of votes. This can be used to attend people visiting the thread to certain rules and other things. You can only sticky mod comments and one comment per thread.

Sticky threads / Make threads into announcements

As a moderator you can make two threads sticky, this means it will stay at the top of your subreddit for everyone to see. The option to do this is slightly hidden but easy to use once found. In the image below you can spot it right of the sorting options.

Note: This has been renamed into "make announcement" now, the behavior is still exactly the same.

Contest mode

In the previous image you might have noticed something called "contest mode". The name gives it away, it is intended to be used in contests. When enabled comment scores will be hidden, replies to top level comments will be collapsed by default and comments will be shown in a random order. Doing so prevents people from voting based on what others did and because the comments are shown in random order they will have a equal chance of being seen.

Making a post NSFW

Lastly you will see that slightly above the nsfw and contest buttons there is also a nsfw button. As you probably know, nsfw stands for "not suitable for work" and can be anything from porn to gore. Posts with nsfw in the title will automatically get the tag, users can apply it and you as a mod can do it through this button.

Good moderation practices

As long as it isn't conflicting with reddit's own rules every mod is completely free in how to run a subreddit. However there are some practices most mods agree on are needed in order to run a good subreddit.

Review reported links, removing or ignoring as needed

On a periodic basis, you should review the reported links. Always be sure to leave a distinguished comment when banning a post.

Sometimes, it’s easy to tell why a link was reported: the link may be broken, the post may be completely off-topic for your subreddit, or it might break whatever special rules you have for your subreddit. If you can’t tell, then just ignore the report. If you’re a junior moderator, and you think it might be questionable, or you’re just unsure, then don’t click ‘ignore’ and discuss it with the other moderators.

Review the spam listing

The procedure here is the same as for reports. Review the posts and comments stuck in the spamfilter and take appropriate action.

Monitor submissions and comment threads, removing posts when appropriate

A useful tool to do this is by using the links listed at the top of this post. Remember to leave a distinguished comment where needed.

Ban users when necessary

This is the most extreme sanction a moderator has available for dealing with troublesome users. If a user has had their posts repeatedly banned, and if they have shown no inclination to follow the rules of the subreddit, then you can ban them completely from the subreddit. A less harsh version is the temporary ban where you ban the user for a set period of time.

If you are a junior moderator, you will probably want to discuss this with other moderators before banning a user completely.

Note that when you do ban a user that has been active in the subreddit in some way, they will get a PM from the subreddit, stating that they have been banned.

You can also use tools like automoderator to remove or filtering anything from a user, this can be useful for those users that love drama since they are less likely to notice.

When a user is abrasive in modmail but you feel like they might calm down after a while you also have the option to just mute them for a period of three days.

Respond to PMs from users

Users contact the moderators for a variety of reasons, including:

  • asking if their submissions have been caught in the spam filter
  • asking for help or guidance with a variety of things
  • to report inappropriate behavior by other redditors

Please be courteous and helpful when responding to users who are asking questions in good faith.If they are asking about the spam filter, the easiest thing to do is to go directly to their user page.You can see all bans and reports from there, and unban them as needed.Answer their questions if you can, and if you can’t, try to find someone who can, or have them post their question in /r/help.

Further reading

If you have read this guide you are familiar with the basics of moderating there is a whole lot more you can do. Not all options are always as clear as they should be and a lot of functionality you wish to have is not part of the software. Over time a lot of people with those same feelings stepped in with guides, tools, subreddits and a whole lot more. Unfortunately a lot of that information is hard to find for someone that is new and is overwhelmed with everything already. So in order to help out with that I once made a collection of all relevant guides, tutorials, subreddits, etc. The collection is hosted in the wiki of /r/modhelp and can be found here:

The guide contains most things useful for moderators sorted in easy categories. Some of it you now already know since it was mentioned in this guide, other things will be new. It might seem like a lot of information to digest, but if you take a little bit of time to dig through it you'll find that a lot of it will make running a subreddit a whole lot easier.

Tools that make it easier.

You should look into the earlier mentioned collection of modtools and resources, but below are two must have tools.

  • /r/toolbox because reddit's moderator tools are very spartan and sometimes cumbersome to use (Although recently progress has been made for the better). Toolbox is a browser extension that adds a ton of much needed features and functionality to reddit for moderators. Over the past three years of toolbox development 8,000 mods have installed it and use it in their daily modding activities.
  • /r/automoderator is part of reddit and gives you a ton of ways to filter posts and comments based on a lot of parameters.