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What does "AMA" mean and how do you use it?



  A photo of the Reddit app with the abbreviation AMA on top overlapping.
BigTunaOnline / Shutterstock

The term "AMA" is a staple of Reddit and has spread to the farthest corners of the internet. But what does AMA mean, who came up with the word, and how do you use it?

Ask Me Anything

AMA is an abbreviation for & # 39; ask me everything & # 39 ;. It is used by people who are open to any kind of question ̵

1; especially personal questions. And although AMA can be used anywhere on the internet, it is usually used on the Reddit AMA forum (which is more open to strangers than a Facebook or Twitter thread).

The AMA forum of Reddit follows a very simple layout. People start a thread with a personal detail about their life, and others ask questions that relate to that detail. One thread can begin with, "I am an Amazon delivery person, AMA," while another could say, "I am a former FBI agent, AMA." (In this way, the AMA forum looks like an interactive version of Oprah or Ellen's Talkshows.)

Of course, the biggest AMA discussions are started by celebrities. Who doesn't want to ask their favorite celebrity a question? These threads are widely published and usually start with supporting new shows or films. They also need identification (photos & # 39; s, videos & # 39; s or AMA-related messages on official Twitter and Facebook accounts) so that fans don't have to worry about breaking.

(By the way, the AMA forum of Reddit is called / r / IAmA, because the AMA format starts with "I am a …" and ends with "ask me everything". If they had known that "AMA" defining the forum, they would probably have called it / r / AMA.)

AMA originated on Reddit, but the idea is nothing new

In 2008 or 2009 the Reddit staff realized that their website could bridge the gap between celebrities and ordinary people. They started hosting the Q & As of celebrities, who were very video-heavy and carried a loose "We Just Got a Letter" atmosphere.

This seems a bit corny now, but Reddit's focus on questions and answers was a huge selling point. Text-based questions and answers can be fake, but video & # 39; s don't log (at least, they don't log in 2009). Ultimately, Reddit employees created the / r / IAmA forum to host questions and answers. They left videos for live, text-based interactions, but insisted on the idea of ​​verifying the identity of celebrities, which explains why the format was so successful.

From this angle, it is fairly clear that the AMA format is nothing new. It has been developed based on the Q&A format of magazines and newspapers and can even be compared to talk shows, radio calls, Star Trek fan panels and other forms of communication between fan and celebrity.

That said, AMA is a very special development in this type of communication. Last year's Q & As were mediated by journalists or radio presenters, while Reddit AMA & # 39; s are completely unmediated. Moreover, you can ask questions to anyone with an interesting life, not just rich celebrities and cheesing politicians.

(By the way, the Atlantic has an amazing description of the history of / r / IAmA. If you are interested in the early internet, then you should definitely read this article.)

RELATED: [19659016] What is Reddit Karma and how do I get it?

How do I use AMA?

  A man stares at his laptop and wonders how he can start an AMA over his extra navel.
fizkes / Shutterstock

The AMA forum is fairly easy to use. Anyone can read messages on Reddit without an account, so it's no harm to browse AMA threads to see if there's anything interesting. If you want to ask questions, create a Reddit account and go for it. Your questions may remain unanswered (even if they are good questions), but that is only part of the experience.

Do you want to start your own AMA thread? It's simple, just make sure you follow the AMA format and have evidence to support your claims. A thread like, "There is a nail in my skull, AMA" is interesting, but you can't place it without an X-ray or some other form of evidence. (Consult the / r / IAmA FAQ for the most robust instructions.)

If you want to use AMA outside of Reddit, just know that it is a direct abbreviation for "ask me everything". You can start a Facebook or Twitter thread in the AMA format, or even use the abbreviation "AMA" in daily conversations – "Need help with your computer? Feel free to AMA!"

The term "AMA" also does not always refer to Reddit or even formal AMA threads. For example, you could say jokes: "I just ate a whole pizza, AMA" in a chat room or on social media. Or you could make a sarcastic comment like, "I'm going to get rich now that my few pennies of Equifax settlement money came in, AMA."


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