With 169 million unique visitors per month and well over 800,000 subreddits, pseudo news site and Internet hangout Reddit pulls in the numbers that most L&D only see in their dreams. Reddit also boast pageviews in the billions and over three million users, but the most astonishing data might not be who’s on Reddit, but how they’re using the site. Sure, cat pictures and funny llama videos are front page staples, but the site also functions as one giant eLearning machine. From one-off statistics to world news, industry forums, controversial conspiracies, and media reviews, there’s no denying that Reddit users learn something every day.

What if eLearning could harness the power that Reddit exerts over users to check back often, get active, and learn–even if knowledge share is inadvertent? By understanding what makes Reddit-based learning so effective, you might have the workings of a new /r/strategy.

Reddit is Customizable and Relevant

Reddit users are able to tailor their experience to their interests by managing their subreddit subscriptions. By subscribing to the topics they’re most interested in, they limit the information that filters to their front page. This ensures that each user gets the information most relevant to them and allows them to skip over the stuff they don’t want.

Reddit is Self-Guided

Reddit users click on topics because they contain information Redditors actually want to learn about and no one feels forced into reading threads. This level of self-guidance keeps learners both engaged and motivated by allowing them to explore different subreddits and areas related to core interests.

Reddit is a Rabbit Hole

Sure, Reddit can be a total time-waster when you’re avoiding a deadline, but its vastness does come in handy when it comes to learning something new. One link leads to another; which leads to a discussion; which leads to a previously undiscovered subreddit. The sheer breadth of information available in Reddit encourages users to dig deeper than just their own front page–for better or worse.

Reddit Connects Learners

Consider it a way to crowdsource learning: By allowing users to connect with and comment on threads, learning comes naturally through discussion, debate, and yes, even the occasional troll. Still, it’s the open, collaborative nature of Reddit which keeps the community coming back every day.

Notice the difference? Reddit has created a near-perfect environment for engagement and motivation; two of the most difficult characteristics to capture when creating effective eLearning. And while visiting Reddit might have a detrimental effect on your to-do list, it’s worth a peek to understand why a Reddit visitor becomes a user for life. With the right combination of news, entertainment, and collaboration, Reddit could become the footprint for a new direction in eLearning–just don’t say we didn’t warn you.