US President Barack Obama fronted a surprise ‘Ask Me Anything’ chat with the public on Reddit this week, as he gears up for his re-election campaign. The move sparked a flood of traffic that crashed the popular bulletin board site.
Reddit lets registered users submit entries which, depending on the number of ‘up’ or ‘down’ votes, can end up on the ‘front page’.
The Ask Me Anything (AMA) feature allows users put themselves forward to be questioned by other users.
Within 15 minutes of Obama’s introduction, the forum had almost 2000 comments and, as the site struggled with the flood of traffic, it began intermittently crashing.
At one point a Twitter user commented that over 200,00 people were on the forum, a figure eclipsing the sit’s previous high of 130,000.
President Obama left the site 30 minutes later as the forum hit nearly 13,000 comments, more than 40,000 ‘up’ votes and 24,000 ‘down’ votes and 1.8million subscribed readers.
With the username PresidentObama, he appeared out of nowhere to talk with the public on varying topics.
The president’s original message: “Hi, I’m Barack Obama, President of the United States. Ask me anything. I’ll be taking your questions for half an hour starting at about 4:30 ET.”
The wide-ranging discussion touched on issues from Internet freedom to space travel to the most difficult decision of his presidency (which Obama said was sending more troops to Afghanistan).
And asked to disclose the recipe for the White House’s Honey Ale home brewed beer, he promised: “It will be out soon! I can tell from first hand experience, it is tasty.”
Speaking on Internet Freedom the president said: “Internet freedom is something I know you all care passionately about; I do too. We will fight hard to make sure that the internet remains the open forum for everybody – from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business.
“And although there 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,” he wrote.
Read the full Reddit conversation here