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SXSW invites Reddit users to ask anything, answers very little

By | Published on Wednesday 30 October 2013


Reddit has a thing called AMA, whereby famous people, noted companies and the like invite the site’s users to ‘ask me anything’ (that’s what it stands for, you see?). You probably knew that already, but I just wanted to be sure we were all up to speed. It really is that simple to understand.

In the past there have been pretty insightful AMAs with the likes of Barrack Obama, Bill Gates and Madonna. A well managed AMA can generate great PR, and the best ones generally work because the ‘interviewee’ realises that, while they don’t actually have to answer every question (if nothing else, because there are simply too many), they should at least tackle a few that might be considered difficult.

Earlier this week, as the latest AMA participants, three members of the South By Southwest Music team – General Manager James Minor, Music Conference Panels Chief Melissa Williams and Music Festival Programmer Stacey Wilhelm – managed to provide just seven answers to a barrage of questions that came forth, four of which were basically the same and one of which was a response to a compliment, rather than an actual question.

Anyone who wanted to know about volunteering at the festival, what SXSW looks for in artists who are chosen to play the festival, the event’s target market, the qualifications of two of the three staffers, and whether or not they were sad about Lou Reed dying would have gone away happy. Though much of that could have been found in the FAQs on the SXSW website.

And it turned out that wasn’t what the majority of people wanted to know. Questions about the expanding size of the event and the annoyance that caused some Austin residents, criticisms of the festival by artists such as DIIV, a perceived increase in commercialism, and where money raised through applications to play the event goes were left unanswered.

Perhaps that’s fair enough, though arguably you shouldn’t put yourself forward for something called ‘Ask Me Anything’ if you’re not going to tackle at least some of the tricky stuff. And not answering these questions just opened the door for a bunch of angry people to suggest answers to the more contentious queries, turning the whole thing into a bit of a ‘let’s bash South By’ party.

Fair enough to SXSW on ignoring all of the many, many, many requests for free tickets though.

Read through the whole AMA here.