Obama on Reddit: By the numbers


President Barack Obama drew record traffic numbers for Reddit with an open Q&A thread Wednesday. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
August 30, 2012

This post has been updated.

President Barack Obama’s surprise visit to Reddit on Wednesday broke records and drew so many people to the site at once that the Web site had some trouble keeping up with the traffic.

Still, even with the site’s problems, Obama’s half-hour session drew major numbers for Reddit, general manager Erik Martin told The Washington Post on Thursday.

How much traffic? First, a look at the raw numbers:

— 3.8 million page views on the first page of the Obama Q&A

— 2.6 million unique page views on the first page (and still going)

— Over 22,000 comments. To be more exact, 23,082 as of 11:25 a.m., Eastern Thursday.

— The up-votes and down-votes on the page don’t accurately reflect how Reddit users actually voted, Martin said. Reddit has an anti-spamming algorithm that affects the voting numbers that get displayed, particularly when there’s a high number of votes.

While the thread shows about a 50 percent approval rating among Redditors, Martin said the real number is closer to 75 percent — much higher than his current approval rating in the country, which Thursday’s Wonkbook reports is 47.7 percent.

So how does that stack up? According to Martin, popular threads on the IAmA subreddit get “hundreds of thousands” of page views, while really popular Q&As may hit 1 million page views over the course of a month.

As a whole, Reddit itself reported at the start of the year that it gets around 2 billion page views and 34 million unique visitors per month.

In other words, Obama’s Ask Me Anything thread blew other AMA traffic numbers out of the water.

The president answered 10 questions over the course of a half-hour on topics ranging from funding for the space program to campaign finance reform to the identity of his favorite basketball player.

He also earned points among Redditors for referencing his own meme — Not Bad Obama — in his final answer.

As my Post colleague Emi Kolawole noted, “At the end of his response to a work-life balance question, the president wrote, ‘By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole reddit experience — NOT BAD!’

Redditors are already discussing a way to get Mitt Romney to follow suit with his own AMA, and perhaps make light of his own Internet meme, Relatable Romney.

Related stories:

President Obama hits Reddit on ‘Ask Me Anything’

Ideas@Innovations: President Obama’s Reddit AMA: Top five most awesome questions

With SOPA gone, setting Internet advocacy’s next stop

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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