Reddit’s IAMA Sub-Reddit
One of the greatest things about Reddit is the IAMA sub-reddit. The idea is that people post things like:
I Am A (Cardiologist|Photographer|Fisherman) Ask Me Anything!
And people pose questions to them. It’s usually anonymous (except when the point is that they’re famous) so you tend to get an amazingly unvarnished look through their eyes.
For example, maybe someone works at a Chili’s or an Outback Steakhouse as a server, you can ask them whether the burgers are fresh or frozen, the best dishes, how things are made, and even what to avoid. These are the kinds of questions you could ask in the restaurant and the positive things they might even tell you (Our burgers are fresh!) but the atmosphere is very different.
For one thing it’s less likely that they’ll lie in a public forum and even less likely that someone won’t point it out if they do. You’ll often see two or more current/former employees comparing notes. The biggest advantage is that there’s no manager watching over them, no chance they’ll get caught for telling a customer the truth instead of the marketing spiel.
You’re getting the kind of behind-the-scenes look at a business that is usually reserved only for friends.
Tonight I saw on Twitter that @pud (Philip Kaplan) asked whether he should eat at Outback Steakhouse or Chili’s and I semi-jokingly suggested he read the relevant Reddit IAMA threads to make his decision.
The truth is that it’s not a very practical use-case. He’s probably driving around with his wife trying to make a decision. He can’t spend 20 minutes poring over Reddit comments. Those are not the best threads either, just the two I could find quickly.
Other times Reddit is more than good enough as-is. For example medical patients will often post talking about their illnesses. Doctors post as well. If you have the time go digging there’s a wealth of knowledge available.
Someone I know was recently interested in the idea of becoming a pharmacy technician. My first thought? Check Reddit. The results?
After reading those you’ll feel like you know what the job is really like. Compare that to Googling and reading a bunch of SEO’d pages.
The Startup Idea
Imagine a site that collected/organized/filtered/structured/verified/summarized and did all the other muck-work necessary to make this kind of data instantly searchable and quickly readable to anyone who wanted it?
The the next time you needed a locksmith you could search under “locksmith” to find all the do’s-and-dont’s when dealing with them. Or moving companies, doctors, restaurants, dentists, clothing shops, electronics shops, etc, etc.
It would be like having “a friend that works” there for every business that you ever deal with. If the service became large enough it would become immensely powerful. Companies would have to get better because they wouldn’t be able to get away with doing anything bad that employees knew about.
Name/branding ideas I like are based around getting “the inside scoop” or having “a friend that works there.”
Scoop.com — Your friend on the inside.
That kind of thing. I haven’t given it a ton of thought, but that’s the general idea. It could also be a single vertical. Maybe just restaurants or professional services. It could also be completely open-ended. Probably would be wise to start with The Bowling Pin Strategy regardless of your eventual ambitions.
Now. It’s got problems. How do you collect all that data? Do you pay people for it? Do you make it an altruistic thing? Do you verify the data? How do you handle disputes? And more…
There are a lot of challenges to overcome. I think Reddit IAMA proves that it’s possible to create an amazingly valuable resource, that people are willing to contribute this kind of information, and that people are hungry for it. It shows “proxy for demand”.
The only hard part is in the execution. Heh.