The Surprising Insight of REDDITAma’s (And the Best Ones Out There)

One of the most cherished features on REDDIT.com is the AMA, which stands for the phrase “Ask Me Anything.” The idea is to provide an unfiltered Q & A forum for any person with a particularly interesting background that the online community might have questions for.

Sometimes these people are famous, like celebrities or musicians or politicians. Sometimes they’re just regular folks with a story to tell (“I saved a girl from drowning. She then sued me. AMA”). Or tragic (“IAmA Columbine survivor…AMA), or just bizarre (“I Was a Putty in the Original Power Rangers Series. AMA”). Often, they can even be all three at once.

There have been hundreds of AMA’s posted to REDDIT over the past few years. Probably thousands. It would be damn near impossible to compile a comprehensive list of the best site appvalley, given how subjective those judgments are.

Instead, here are three of my favorite and three of my least favorite AMA’s, just to give you a sense of what kind of range these posts offer. When you’re finished, feel free to browse REDDIT.com/r/ama to your heart’s content. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at what you find. What I can’t guarantee is your continuing non-addiction to REDDIT.com.

Worst:

Woody Harrelson: Harrelson’s AMA went infamously wrong early last year after the actor tried to brush off allegations of sexual abuse on his AMA. After initially dodging a user’s inquiry that he had abused a teenage girl several years prior, Redditors became increasingly agitated with Harrelson and the AMA quickly turned ugly. As one user succinctly put it: “This is the crapes AMA in the history of the internet.”

Barack Obama: 

Obviously, the REDDIT community was delighted when it was announced that Barack Obama, the acting President of the United States of America, would be engaging in an actual REDDIT AMA. However, the reception turned sour when users realized Obama would be answering questions in the same canned, stilted way notable politicians generally answer questions everywhere else. Of course, Obama wasn’t incendiary.

The questions he chose to answer were answered reasonably, in friendly rhetoric. But that was the problem. It was still just all rhetoric. And that’s a cardinal sin when it comes to the REDDIT AMA. Above all else, Redditors expect an AMA to be candid. It’s meant to be unfiltered; otherwise, it’s just another artificial interview.

Roger Goodell: 

The problems with Barack Obama’s AMA also apply to Roger Goodell’s. The NFL Commissioner engaged in an AMA a week before the Super Bowl as a promotional stunt, but it quickly became clear that he didn’t intend on addressing any of the serious questions posed to him.

Goodell, who has been under fire all season long over a variety of controversies related to league safety and abuse of authority, didn’t even attempt to answer any inquiries related to those issues. He instead presented predictably vague canned answers to only the safest questions, refusing to enter fully into the unofficial candidness that a REDDIT AMA implies.

Best:

Ken Jennings: 74-time Jeopardy! Champion Ken Jennings is a fellow internet nerd, and his title doesn’t carry quite as much responsibility as the NFL Commish or the POTUS. These are perhaps just a few of the reasons that Mr. Jennings was able to engage in such a satisfying AMA with the REDDIT community.

In addition to offering a ton of insight into the process behind auditioning for/competing on Jeopardy! Jennings also proved to be quite witty outside of his skills as a trivia Q & A man. This one’s truly worth checking out, especially if you love Jeopardy!

Sure_Ill_Draw_That: 

Is a particularly popular user on REDDIT who chimes in on a support everyone and a while among a funny little doodle illuminating a prior comment or question. Eventually, someone suggested that he do an AMA answering every question with a doodle. Lo and behold, Sure_Ill_Draw_That showed up and did the AMA. The results are just fantastic.

Louis CK: 

I’m probably biased because Louis C.K. is one of my favorite comedians, but in my opinion, this AMA is one of REDDIT’s finest submissions. Despite not being very familiar with REDDIT or with the online community in general, Louis proved to be a great sport about the whole thing, addressing dozens of questions with honest, thoughtful answers, even when he was being silly.

And the best part? After being asked whether he ever visits REDDIT during his own free time, Louis answers with a short, simple, and profound encapsulation of what’s wrong with the internet: “Time clicking around is just dead time.

Your brain isn’t resting and it isn’t doing. I think people have to get their heads around this thing. All this unmitigated input is hurting folks. My opinion.” So there you have it, folks. Louis C.K. insults REDDIT while using REDDIT, and what happens? He gets upvotes from REDDIT, that’s what. Brilliant.

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