Obama makes appearance on Reddit, briefly crashes site

The president took questions online in the site's "Ask Me Anything" format

President Barack Obama, currently on the campaign trail ahead of the upcoming November elections, made a brief virtual appearance on Reddit, a popular online discussion site, on Wednesday.

The president appeared on a forum entitled "I am Barack Obama, President of the United States -- AMA." He appeared under the site's "ask me anything" format, where a popular figure fields random questions from Reddit users, for about 30 minutes, answering questions from users about money in politics, the space program, support for small businesses, and beer at the White House.

Obama's forum had over 22,500 comments on it 15 hours after he appeared, compared to the hundreds of comments on other front-page topics on the site.

"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," he said in a response to one query.

Reddit, which is known for supporting liberal causes, was temporarily inaccessible due to a surge of page views while he was answering questions, according to user comments.

Obama offered his condolences to victims of Hurricane Isaac, and said his toughest decision has been to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying it had been effective but "knowing of the heroes that have fallen is something you never forget." He also answered lighter questions about his favorite basketball player -- Michael Jordan -- and balancing family life with his presidential responsibilities.

Question-and-answer forums on the site typically ask for proof of the speaker's identity, and Obama posted a message on his official Twitter account, as well as a picture of him hunched over an Apple laptop, apparently answering questions.

The campaign, which is relying heavily on grassroots online funding, set up a registration page for users of the site, titled "Redditors for Obama."

Obama said he participated in the forum after a campaign rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Reddit consists of a vast collection of forums on different topics. Registered users vote and comment on subjects and entries they find interesting, and the most popular items rise to the front page.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
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