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Reddit paves the way for the Internet famous
Thanks to a rules change, Scumbag Steve and Bad Luck Brian can take part in Reddit AMAs.
The Internet celebrity ecosystem is finally whole.
Starting today, the Web’s largest and best open question-and-answer forum—Reddit’s r/IAmA—will finally welcome the Internet famous into its warm, high-traffic embrace.
In a clumsily worded announcement, the subreddit’s moderators declared that AMAs (“ask me anything”) about your life online are OK, so long as “it can be objectively determined that the activity is a significant portion of your life, using factors like income received, time devoted to it, uniqueness and level of creativity, and outside attention it gets.”
That is to say: If you make a lot of money on the Internet, or have done something quite special, or are just downright famous online, you can host an AMA.
YouTubers, Twitter users, and meme stars finally have free reign to promote themselves and interact with fans on the Internet’s best forum for doing just that. (Famous redditors are still banned, however. Sorry, Shitty_Watercolour.)
When r/IAmA went through a leadership shuffle in August 2011, the new team instituted a rules revamp, which was intended to sweep out the junk, spam, and trolling that had often polluted the subreddit. But among the sensible new rules was a bizarre one: a blanket ban on people who wanted to talk about their experiences on the Internet.
The idea was to keep the subreddit devoted to high-quality and really interesting AMAs; people who are famous because of the Internet, the reasoning was, are probably not actually interesting. That’s a strange conclusion to make, especially since r/IAmA has helped change the dynamic of celebrity and fan interaction online. And the fact is, there’s no difference between offline and online celebrities anymore, because Internet use so wholly ubiquitous nowadays. Banning Internet celebs from r/IAmA was be roughly equivalent to an early TV host banning TV stars from his show. It just didn’t make sense.
You wouldn’t expect r/IAmA’s moderators to hold such a seemingly dated and warped understanding of Internet celebrity.
Not surprisingly, whenever the rules were enforced, it stirred up a veritable Reddit riot, such as in April 2012, when mods deleted an AMA from the real Bad Luck Brian, the star of a popular image macro series. In September, they similarly throttled a thread by Laina Morris, who rocketed to fame from a YouTube video and her own macro series, the Overly Attached Girlfriend.
That decision stirred up a lot of anger in the r/IAmA community, mostly directed at the moderators, who users labeled “ignorant,” “arrogant,” and “hypocritical,” among other invectives. The new rules are probably a direct response to that controversy, as well as a subtle admission that the old rule just didn’t make sense.
Photo via Quickmeme
Kevin Morris is a veteran web reporter and editor who specializes in longform journalism. He led the Daily Dot’s esports vertical and, following its acquisition by GAMURS in late 2016, launched Dot Esports, where he serves as the site’s editor-in-chief.