Anthony Weiner’s been on it. Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy winner, offered actual answers not in the form of a question. Navy Seals and four-year-olds have shared this stage.
It’s Reddit’s question-and-answer section, r/IAmA, in which subjects declare their profession or distinctive trait—”I am a …”—and invite users of the social news site to AMA, or “ask me anything.”
And soon, it’s going to be a book.
Reddit’s administrators are now polling the community for the best of the best IAmA posts. Their goal? To compile the top interviews into a book, with proceeds going to charity.
It will be a crying shame if they don’t include this exchange from the interview with Jennings:
Q: “Will you write a limerick for Reddit, please?”
A: “There once was a host named Trebek...I forget how it ends but YOUR MOTHER'S A WHORE!”
The 74-time Jeopardy winner had one of the most popular question and answer sessions ever to grace r/IAmA. The section, or subreddit, now has more than 300,000 subscribers and dozens of celebrity interviews.
The subreddit allows redditors to indulge their voyeuristic, even banal curiosity into the lives of everyone -- from the extraordinary (celebrities and former NAVY SEALS) to the very ordinary (four-year-old kids). And they can do it all behind the safety of their pseudonymous Reddit identity—which often frees them to ask awkward questions that provoke the most interesting and illuminating responses.
We asked Erik Martin, the site’s general manager for details on the book. But Martin said they’re still ironing those out.
So in the meantime, here are five of our favorites from the thread, with a sample Q&A from each. We’d love to see these in print.
IAmA 74-time Jeopardy! champion, Ken Jennings. I will not be answering in the form of a question.
Q: What has been the single biggest change in you life since your epic winning streak, besides the money?
A: Old people can't keep their dry, lilac-scented hands off me. Man, do old people ever love Jeopardy. I can't go anywhere in public where there might be old people, like Hallmark stores or cemeteries.
IAmA Former Navy Seal
Q: Why did you become a Navy Seal?
A: I have struggled with this question for a long time. To be brutally honest I would say insecurity. I had to prove something to myself. I chose SEAL training because it was regarded as the hardest thing you could do. To answer the next logical question here, yes I did prove it to myself and I a have lost quite a bit of my insecurity.
IAMA guy answering questions for maximum security inmates
Q: What do [they] think of The Wire?
A: The general consensus here is :
Them: "What's "The Wire"? Me: "It's a Crime Drama on HBO" Them: "HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAaaaahahahahah" Another Guy: "You are fucking insane if you think we get HBO" Another Guy: "I don't have much time for HBO in between playing xbox and flying my helicopter" Another Guy: "We only get Starz" (sarcastic)
Q: Maybe you can explain what is DID and give a brief summary of each alter ego. When and how do they appear? Do you have any control over them? Are some of them aggressive?
A: DID is the new name for multiple personality disorder. It is when one is dissociating so much that one forms alternate personalities. Here is a link:
Kendall: 5, Mostly a typical 5 year old. Holds many of the same memories I have until that age. He does not like to talk about them.
Elliot: 6, loves math. He is probably the happiest. He holds not abusive memories.
Hector: 14, likes sports and wants to have friends. Feels responsible for many things in my past.
Seamus: 16, The "shepard". All of the alters listen to him. He is also my physical protector.
Alexandre: 13, rather angry and defiant. Does not want to be told what to do. Bad grammer.
Freak: 9, will not change his name. He can't read and he harbors all my feelings of shame about what happened and about having DID.
Deliah: 7, Very sad. Hard to talk to.
Reuben: 9, Desperate for love. Likes dinosaurs. Typical 9 year old.
Gordon: 11, street kid. Fend for yourself. A bit defiant.
I now can control when they come out for the most part. Once in a while one will slip out.
Alexandre can be aggressive and Seamus will be if someone is trying to hurt me.
I’m 4 years old AMAA (a father read questions to his four-old son, then posted the answers to Reddit)
Q: What's the scariest thing ever?
A: A green man changing into aliens who can shoot things out of his mouth and throw up and the throw up can turn into guns and start shooting people.
That answer was then turned into a drawing by redditor Sure_I’ll_Draw_That.
Illustration by Jason Reed