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“Ask Me Anything” is a common chat topic or general discussion forum thread in which posters are encouraged to ask the OP questions relating to a specific aspect of their life, often relating to their career, unique experiences or their fame, when a celebrity is involved. The topics and questions can range from serious to silly and often see recurring questions, especially on Reddit.
In the 1990s, an America Online (AOL) chatroom titled “Ask Me Anything” existed for members of the internet service to interact and ask each other questions. As the room was placed in the Romance category, the room was typically intended for questions of a sexual nature. In May 1995, several female frequenters of the chatroom left and formed “Ask Female Anything” in the general chat category, which was known as “Town Square,” allowing any type of question that related to women. Frequently Asked Questions from the chatroom were archived on a Tripod homepage.
By December 2000, message boards began to see their own Ask Me Anything threads where specialists in a specific area encouraged posters to ask them questions about it. One of the first appeared on the forums for the UK multiplayer game service provider Wireplay, in which the user known as [COF-HS]Grim… solicited questions about the 1986 science fiction film Aliens. The thread was active through April 2001, receiving 155 responses.
In February 2002, an Ask Me Anything LiveJournal community was established. However, the format of these interviews were slightly different, as questions were in the main post and any community user could comment on it with an answer. The first post was made on February 9th, 2000 by a deleted user who asked for help deciphering chemical terms. In 2008, the community launched an IRC channel so users could ask and answer questions of each other in real time. As of January 2013, the community has more than 127,000 posts, 3.1 million comments, 7600 members and 5700 followers.
Probably the most well-known spot for Ask Me Anything threads on the internet, the “I Am A” subreddit was established on May 27th, 2009. Within the first three days, the subreddit saw nearly 800 subscribers and dozens of submissions including a Norway resident, a polyamorous bisexual female and a man who survived testicular cancer. As of January 2013, the subreddit has more than 2.5 million subscribers. More than 150 celebrity AMA threads have been archived on their own subreddit.
Vloggers often host their own Ask Me Anything sessions, soliciting questions in the comments of one video to answer them in another. As of January 2013, there are nearly 42,000 search results for “Ask Me Anything” on YouTube, making exception for the Strokes’ song “Ask Me Anything.”
After Tumblr implemented the ability to ask other users questions on January 6th, 2010, many users began seeking out questions via the tags “ask me anything”, “ask4ask” and “ask me a question”, among others. In April 2011, specific novelty blogs dedicated to answering questions from the perspective of fictional characters begn popping up on the site, in which the blogger will answer questions with either fan artwork (shown below, left), GIFs and other media content from the work in question (shown below, center) or images of the blogger cosplaying as the character (shown below, right).