Reddit dips its toes back into mobile with Ask Me Anything app

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Reddit is a sprawling online community that appeals to a range of different interests, from anime art to journalistic coverage of breaking news, but one of the site’s most popular features regardless of topic is the Ask Me Anything crowdsourced interviews it does with celebrities of various kinds — including President Barack Obama, who did one in 2012. Banking on that popularity, the online forum operator has launched a mobile app devoted to the AMAs.

Ellen Pao, a senior vice-president with Reddit and former venture capitalist with Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers who was hired to expand the site’s reach and monetization efforts, made it clear in an interview with Variety magazine that the new app is just the start of Reddit’s plan to grow as a media entity, saying: “We’re excited and happy to grow but we’ve never been super proactive about it, it’s always been done organically. Now it’s time to be more proactive and grow.”

As Variety notes, the AMA app is not Reddit’s first attempt at a mobile experience for the community — the site launched an official app in 2011 that tried to replicate the site, but it was plagued by bugs and the company (which is owned by magazine publisher Conde Nast) eventually shut it down. Since then, mobile fans have had to use third-party apps like Alien Blue on iOS and BaconReader on Android.

Reddit is seen by many outsiders as a kind of anarchic community aimed primarily at nerds, one that only gets noticed when there is a scandal of some kind. But the site has been making a number of moves towards becoming a more traditional media entity, including a move into monetization efforts such as native advertising, and the launch of tools like its “live reporting” feature. Whether the site’s ambitions will be thwarted by the unruly nature of the community remains to be seen.

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Flickr user Eva Blue

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