Google is the closest thing society has to a sage, but not everyone is good at combing through the mountains of information that the world’s imminent search engine might dredge up. And not everyone wants to research something either, scouring to find a source that suits your needs and that gives you answers you can understand.
If your question is complicated and you can’t find anything in the tl;dr format your heart desires, turn to this particular subreddit for mile-high concepts distilled at a layman’s altitude. Reddit’s r/explainlikeimfive seeks to do what its name suggests: Explain things like you’re in kindergarten. And sometimes, Google or Wikipedia won’t do that for you very well (although Simple English Wikipedia often does a great job), which is why it’s nice seek out a human touch to lend a bit of personable colour the otherwise impersonal experience of finding answers online.
What is Reddit’s ELI5?
It’s a subreddit that will explain things, rather than give you straightforward, yes-or-no answers. As the subreddit’s rule page suggests, “anything that has a simple, straightforward, factual answer is not appropriate.” So no asking what two colours are combined to make purple, or why it’s winter in Toronto while it’s summer in New Zealand.
The beauty is that you can ask basically anything you want. It’s different from Ask Reddit because there’s no advice component; this isn’t a sounding board for your personal problems. Rather, it’s a place to learn about history, science, sports, or basically anything else that floats into your mind and sits there without an answer. Here are some examples to sum it up for you:
What happed during ‘The Troubles’ in Ireland?
This question came from Redditor Ieatalot2004, who noted that they’re planning to live in Ireland for a bit after graduating college. A flurry of substantial answers have since trickled in, including this one, from Fuyoc, which detailed the legalised discrimination against Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland, leveled by the Protestant trade unionist, who were loyal to the British crown.
Why do cement trucks spin?
This one came to the fore via bluecranberry2, and while it doesn’t require so much explanation, it’s a question that many probably have never asked because cement trucks and their spinning cylinders are so commonplace and easy to overlook.
One of the many good answers came from Seraph062, who wrote:
Concrete setting/curing time is dependent on how wet and how hot the concrete is. By keeping the concrete constantly mixing it helps make sure that those two things are relatively even throughout the mix. That said mixing doesn’t prevent setting, it just makes it predictable, so that the concrete truck can be sure to get the load delivered before it becomes a problem.
How do plastic bottles create a perfect seal without an O-ring?
When is an O-ring necessary? Another common mystery deconstructed by the masses of Reddit, as this thread garnered 109 comments.
This great answer was posited among the noise:
Plastics are solid materials, but quite soft compared to others like metals. To create a tight seal you want to fill every bit of space, something that can be squished into these spaces is good – such as softer O-rings around your metal tap. When you have something that is already a little bit squishy (plastics) being used with another slightly squishy (another plastic) thing, no O-ring is necessary.
As you can see, it really is open season as far as the breadth of questions you can feel free to submit, and more than likely you’ll find an explanation that gives you just what you need.