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Obama's presence boosts Reddit site traffic

August 29, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • President Obama answered a few questions on Reddit for about half an hour. He tweeted this picture as proof.
President Obama answered a few questions on Reddit for about half an hour.… (Twitter )

President Obama nearly broke Reddit on Wednesday afternoon when he took to the popular website for a half-hour question-and-answer session.

Obama answered only a handful of question during the "Ask Me Anything" session, but his presence caused Reddit to significantly surpass its record for most users on at one time.

Reddit, which started to gain mainstream notice this year, got more than 200,000 visits at one point, breaking its previous high of 130,000. And that number may be lower than it actually was because of issues the site began to experience during the session with Obama.

The website began to run noticeably slower than usual and some users had trouble loading it after Obama tweeted "Hey, everyone: I'll be taking your questions online today," with a link to the Reddit thread just a few minutes before the session started.

More than 1.8 million readers subscribed to the thread, which also got more than 12,900 comments and questions.

During the session, Obama said his favorite basketball player was Michael Jordan, disclosed that the White House beer recipe will be unveiled soon and said "we are focused on a potential mission to a asteroid" when asked about the possibility of increasing NASA's budget. A Reddit user quickly replied with a correction for the President.

"an asteroid, Mr. President," the user said.

On more serious matters, Obama said his thoughts and prayers were with those affected by Hurricane Isaac, told an unemployed recent graduate not to be discouraged about the economy, and said his toughest decision so far as president was increasing U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.

Obama was also asked a question regarding Democrats' stance on Internet freedom.

"We will fight hard to make sure that the internet [sic] remains the open forum for everybody -- from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business," he answered. "And although their [sic] will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won't stray from that principle -- and it will be reflected in the platform."

After the session, Reddit General Manager Erik Martin told the Los Angeles Times that the Obama session showcased the advantage the site has over other social networks.

"Your question can be seen by the president based on the votes of those in the community regardless of how many followers you have or if your question is picked by some sort of moderation team," he said.

Though the site has been around seven years, Martin said Reddit has really come into its own in 2012 thanks to more than 3,000 highly active subreddits, which are pages anyone can create that focus on sharing content about specific topics, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers.

For now, Martin said Reddit doesn't have any other Q&As scheduled with anyone nearly as prominent as Obama, but he said the site would welcome his opponent.

"We'd love to do the same thing with [Mitt] Romney," he said.

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