Will Frank Warren Spill His Secrets? Bring Your Questions for the “PostSecret” Guy

Frank WarrenCourtesy of HarperCollins

In 2004, Frank Warren, the owner of a medical information company in Germantown, Md., had an idea for a project. He bought 3,000 blank postcards and wrote two things on the back: his home address and an invitation to anonymously share a secret. He passed the cards out on the street, stuck them in library books, left them behind in coffee shops; he didn’t put stamps on them. When 100 cards came back to him, he turned them into an art exhibit in Washington, D.C. Then he created a blog to display them all. He called it PostSecret.

For the next two years, the postcards kept pouring in, containing everything from confessions of extramarital affairs to career disappointments to thoughts of suicide. Warren eventually accumulated more than 175,000 post-secrets from all over the world, which he turned into more art exhibits and also compiled as several best-selling books, including PostSecret, My Secret, and his newest, A Lifetime of Secrets.

As for the blog, it’s become one of the world’s most popular, with more than 3 million unique visitors a month.

Now Warren has agreed to spill his secrets (some of them, at least) to readers of our blog. Write in your questions below, and we’ll post Warren’s answers (to some of them, at least) within the next few days. Thanks in advance to Frank and all of you.

Addendum: You can read the answers to these questions here.


Jesse Silverglate

Did people share any positive secrets or was everything people shared negative? I wonder if people only feel a need to confess what makes them feel guilty?

Mike Palmer

Two questions:

1. So far you've kept PostSecret an ad-free site. As your page views go up, the expenses must also be going up. Do you foresee a day when you'll need to run ads?

2. I've often wished there was a PostSecret archive. I know you must have given that some thought. Why isn't there an archive?

Thanks!

Estoban

What is your secret?

mgroves

I love PostSecret, but I always wonder how many of the "secrets" are fake? I can't think of a reason why they would be--the anonymity seems to remove any incentive that I can think of. What do you (Warren) think the percentage of fake 'secrets' is?

T2

What's the secret you've read that disturbed you the most?

Phil Gerbyshak

So what's next? You know many of the deepest, darkest secrets of folks. Are you planning to do a movie or anything about that? Perhaps tour to where the most (or least) postcards came from? You're not that anonymous anymore, so do you think folks are filling out the cards just to get in the book?

Allison

What gave you the idea to do this project?
Do you use/publish all of the postsecrets?
What is your favorite postsecret?
Is there a postsecret that you would like to know the idenity of?

Bill

Thank you so much for your very innovative project - both your books and the website.

Is Postsecret based on a private for-profit model?

Marie

Do you have an obligation to report people who send in postcards confessing to serious crimes or threats of crimes?

What is your favorite postcard?

gerard callan

thanks for coming on... im a long time devoted reader.

i was wondering... do you ever find yourself becoming overwhelemed emotionally from all of the secrets you receive and having to step away from it all for a mental and emotional break?

thanks.

Webster

Hi Frank - I've seen one of your talks in person (in fact you can see me in one of the pictures on the PostSecret website right now!) and I wanted to ask this question but I was afraid people would take it the wrong way so I didn't ask.
How much money do you make from the PostSecret books? What do you do with the money you make? And if you keep any portion of it for yourself (as income, not just to cover your expenses), do you ever feel like you are exploiting the people who send you postcards?
- Webster

Joanne

I read once that you've had cards stolen at art shows. Does that still happen? What kind of cards get stolen? Have you ever caught someone doing it? Maybe they've confessed by sending you a card...

Wes Hartline

Mr. Warren -

Do you feel any ethical/moral dilemma posting secrets having to do with suicide, adultery, etc. Have you ever found out after the fact that one of your post-secrets regretted their confession?

AsianK

What's going to happen if/when you decide to move? Your home address has been published and distributed across the country; is anyone going to possibly want to purchase your house?? Maybe you could sell it and turn it into an office or museum...

What long term goals do you have for this project?

Eli

I read the blog occasionally. It's clear there are some common themes: parental betrayal, career failure, extramarital affairs, suicide, gender identity, etc. Do you ever get bored of seeing the same stuff over and over?

Chris

Frank, I just saw the new book trailer you did:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pKZ5blYSyE

It was really deep and touching. Keep up the great work!

Damien D.

Some of the post cards seem very detailed and show a great attention to the artistic renderings. Has there been any postcard in particular that seemed the most elaborate and/or unique?

BogdanN

When someone writes on a postcard that he/she wants to kill himself/herself, do you feel that you need to do something about it? Do you have a desire/willingness to help those types of individuals?

AbleFable

Hey that's great! Two of the sites I read most often, coming together. One I love to hate and the other, I hate to love.

Typical responces from many of our economic minded friends. Trying to catagorize and assign value to emotional and artistic expressions. Freakonomics is just re-packaging classical economics for the ipod generation. Nothing revolutionairy here. Keep on movin on.
Kudos to POSTSECRET for remaining add free and especially for still having a heart.

Marina

How do you release any tension/stress/angst that you may possibly feel as a sort of witness to people's pain?