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The Day The President Did AMA

President Barack Obama ended his Reddit Ask Me Anything session with a link to his website and a fresh AMA meme.
President Barack Obama ended his Reddit Ask Me Anything session with a link to his website and a fresh AMA meme.

The President of the United States did an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit today.

If this doesn't mean anything to you, let me explain it a different way:

The leader of the free world went onto a message board website that bills itself as the "front page of the internet" and participated in the most well-known online question-and-answer session, inviting anonymous users to ask any question they desired.


In tech terminology, Barack Obama won the internet today.

("What does he get?" an editor in our newsroom wondered. "A lifetime supply of cats," I replied.)

The AMA session drew 1,854,439 readers and 12,922 comments in the space of an hour. The traffic demand was so great, the servers overloaded and the website almost shut down.

Obama posted a tweet and an image to provide proof he was actually participating in the AMA, which is standard protocol for Reddit activities.

Questions posed by users and answered by the President included those about internet freedom, marijuana, the space program and the influence of money in elections. Obama's answers had the tone of campaign rhetoric, promising support or action while being light on details.


But the fact that he showed up on Reddit and agreed to an AMA (as opposed to a more restricted AMAA, or Ask Me Almost Anything), was enough of a coup. And the timing was no mistake: smack in the middle of the Republican National Convention, assuring the internet would be buzzing about Reddit and Obama instead of the glossy events in Tampa.

Obama wrapped up the chat with a message about getting out to vote in November and a special link -- one that directed to his campaign website and a special page for Redditors, complete with fresh AMA meme image.

While all politicians now know the importance of internet marketing and social media use in campaigns (they'd be crazy to forego the practice), I continue to be impressed by how the Obama camp simply gets it. In practice and in tone, they prove they understand the medium and can converse organically with its inhabitants.