Reddit is a community of communities, with subreddits you wouldn’t believe existed that cater to every need, desire, and interest. While most of these communities are moderated, you can make your views known with comments and other feedback to help guide a post, with the best comments becoming the most prominent.

One of the best forms of feedback is Reddit karma, which helps to promote comments and posts, as well as help users gain recognition. What is Reddit Karma exactly? As you’ll see in this guide, Reddit karma is your reputation, built on the backs of the contributions you make. Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is Reddit Karma?

When you post a new post or comment on Reddit, users will be able to promote or hide it by upvoting or downvoting the content. Each reddit thread or comment starts with a single point—this is the total karma awarded to that post.

If other Reddit users dislike it, they can downvote it, reducing the karma points to negative figures below zero. If other Reddit users like the post or comment, however, then they can upvote it, giving it greater publicity. If the post goes viral with enough karma attached, then it can even potentially push it to the Reddit front page.

This is the power of Reddit in action. Karma is the sum of points earned through comments and posts throughout Reddit across different subreddits. It’s your reputation, allowing other Reddit users to see if you have a good standing on the platform, or if you’re a bad participant, totally new user, or complete scammer.

If you’re a popular contributor, then your Reddit karma will be high, but a risky post or two can push your karma score down. You can’t earn karma by simply posting or commenting, but if you’re writing useful, interesting, or insightful posts in popular subreddits, then you’ll soon be rewarded for your contributions by other users.

Is Reddit Karma Necessary?

Reddit karma isn’t strictly necessary, but it helps to screen low-quality contributions and users from subreddits. For instance, if you’re ever shadowbanned from Reddit, it will probably be due to a number of insulting or upsetting posts—posts that would have been downvoted by other users for the very same reason.

Some subreddits also use the karma system to help screen posts and comments automatically. If you have a new account, you won’t have much of a karma score. Some subreddits will prevent you from posting new posts or comments unless you build up this score elsewhere through regular Reddit contributions.

If you want to go far on Reddit, you have to take notice of your Reddit karma, at least every once in a while. Low karma on older accounts will mean judgements are made by subreddit moderators about your intentions—accurate or not.

Reddit is a platform for everyone, so even if you don’t care about Reddit karma, and don’t bother to keep an eye on your karma score, you may still be forced to deal with the consequences if your score falls too low.

How to Get Karma on Reddit

Receiving Reddit karma is entirely down to the goodwill of other users. If your comments and posts are well received, other users can upvote you. Upvotes from other users add a point to your overall karma total, which you can view in your profile.

You can’t fake your total, and most Reddit users will be able to spot attempts to generate goodwill (and therefore karma) through fake or spammy posts. The best way to build up your karma score on Reddit is to be authentic and inclusive to the community you’re participating in.

Some subreddits are known for having a largely negative user base, so judge your contributions carefully. Posting controversial or negative posts will generate a response, which is often coupled with downvotes and a reduction in your karma score.

Viewing Your Reddit Karma Score

If you want to keep an eye on your Reddit karma score, then there are a couple of ways you can do so. A quick glance in the top-right corner of the Reddit window (once you’ve signed in) will let you see your current Reddit karma score as a total.

You can also see your Reddit karma score on your Reddit user profile. You can access this from your user URL directly (for instance, reddit.com/u/user). Alternatively, you can access your profile once you’re signed in by selecting your Reddit username in the top-right, then selecting the My Profile option.

Your Reddit karma score will be shown in the panel on the right, next to the anniversary date of your Reddit account registration (known as your Reddit cake day).

The Reddit karma score was previously separated into post karma and comment karma in the old Reddit interface. In the new Reddit interface, however, you’ll simply see your post and comment karma combined as one total score.

If you’re curious to see the separated scores, you’ll need to switch back to the old Reddit interface. To do this, visit old.reddit.com/user/username, replacing username with your Reddit username. Alternatively, select your username in the top-right corner of the new Reddit interface, then select the Visit Old Reddit option.

In the old Reddit interface, select your username in the top-right corner. This will bring you to your user profile, where your separated Reddit karma scores will be displayed in the panel on the right-hand side.

How to Upvote and Downvote on Reddit

If you want to give karma to users who post or comment on Reddit, then you can do so by using the upvoting system. Next to every post and comment on Reddit is a set of arrows pointing upwards and downwards.

Selecting the upwards arrow will upvote that comment, so long as you’re signed in yourself. For new Reddit posts, this means the original poster gains an additional karma point. This may not immediately update itself, however, as Reddit uses vote fuzzing to camouflage score updates to protect the system from manipulation.

If you decide to upvote a comment, the commenter will gain the upvote (and the karma point as a result). Likewise, if you decide to downvote a post or comment, a single point will be taken from that user’s karma total.

This ensures that the balance of power rests in the community. If you and other Reddit users spot a poor-quality comment or post, you can downvote it. Once a comment or post has been downvoted below zero, it will begin to be hidden from view.

Building Up Your Reputation on Reddit

Once you start building up your Reddit karma, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a pro Reddit user and contributor to the thousands of subreddits available for you to view and post in. If you can’t find the subreddit you want, try to use Reddit’s advanced search features to help you find your way.

If you want to take things a step further, you can subscribe to Reddit Premium (previously Reddit Gold) and hand out super karma with gold, silver, and platinum awards. Don’t worry if you lose interest, because you’re free to delete your Reddit account at any time, but be prepared to lose your karma if you do.