Barack Obama, Obama, Obama for America, President Obama — September 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Obama breaks new ground in social media with Reddit “AMA”, broke record & almost broke Reddit


Ask me anything…

Reddit is a force of nature. The biggest traffic days on Eclectablog are directly attributable to us hitting the front page of Reddit and doing that actually shut the site down at one point because we overloaded our host’s servers.

On Reddit, people post links, photos or commentary for others to look at. There are subreddits which are categories. For example, links to stuff at Eclectablog typically end up in the Politics reddit. Links that get popular enough in a specific reddit get promoted to Reddit’s front page and that’s where the traffic really gets heavy.

There’s a specific type of post on Reddit called an “AMA” which stands for “Ask me anything”. Some of them are “IAMA” which means “I am a … ask me anything”. They are very popular and numerous celebrities, business owners and other folks have done them. You can read more about AMAs at Reddit’s blog HERE. Last week, President Obama did an IAMA titled “I am Barack Obama, President of the United States — AMA”.

President Obama answers questions on Reddit, photo courtesy of Obama for America

It was so popular that it actually shut the site down for awhile. Here’s what they had to say about the record-breaking event on the Reddit blog:

Without any fanfare ahead of time, The President of the United States spent 30 minutes answering questions from anonymous users with no mediation on a website run by 20 people, and in a forum that was organically created by volunteers. Tens of thousands of people actively participated by voting and/or commenting and millions watched, and The President even broke some news in the Q & A (by suggesting a new amendment for the first time). Did it go perfectly smooth? Nope. Is this the absolute perfect format for politicians to answer questions? Nope. But it worked, and it was a big step, not just for reddit, but for online communities everywhere. No matter how you feel about the IAMA, reddit, the President, or politics in general, we hope that what took place this past Wednesday will inspire other online communities and start-ups, and encourage other politicians to seek out more ways to talk directly with their constituents. We thank the President and his team for making this happen.

Key figures from the IAMA:

2,987,307 pageviews on the day of
5,280,441 pageviews so far in total (as of 9 AM PT 8/31 — not accounting for stats lag).

In the first five minutes, there were 37 comments. By the ten minute mark, redditors had made 278 comments. Within half an hour that number jumped to 5,266 and was over 10,000 by the end of the first hour.

The only link in recorded history to have surpassed the front page.
At any given time, the front page of reddit ( has around 15-20% of active visitors. An extremely popular submission may have 2-5% of visitors at any given time. In the recorded history of reddit, we’ve never had one single submission get more visitors than the front page at any given time, until the Obama IAMA. The Obama IAMA received over 30% of all visitors to reddit at its peak.

It wasn’t just a fluffy bit of campaigning either. He actually broke some news that has gone largely unnoticed. During his IAMA, President Obama showed support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the anti-democratic Citizens United Supreme Court decision:

Question by suzmerk: What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?

Reply by PresidentObama: Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress – to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who. We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists. Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.

Tres cool. Mitt Romney tried to purchase internet popularity, lamely buying a trending topic on Twitter. President Obama> He just IS that popular. #FTW