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IAmA President
August 30, 2012 6:49 AM   Subscribe

Starting around 1:30 p.m. Pacific time yesterday— and announced less than 30 minutes before — Barack Obama answered redditors’ questions about war, taxes, basketball, and beer. In Reddit jargon, the chat was an “AMA” (“Ask Me Anything”) in the “IAmA” subreddit (as in “I am a chef,” “I am a plumber,” “I am a President of the United States”). (SLWired) posted by Roger_Mexico (140 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Brief overview: Obama likes Michael Jordan and White Houser Beer, thinks we're laying the groundwork for possible manned Mars missions, dislikes Citizens United, says we're getting out of Afghanistan in 2014, and feels bad for new graduates in a still-recovering economy. He doesn't discuss marijuana or aliens and neckbeards shouldn't correct the President.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:54 AM on August 30, 2012 [19 favorites]


The kind of intimacy and honesty that Redditors crave does not scale up to national politics, where no one ever lets down his or her guard. Instead of using the stiffness and formality of the MSM to drive his message home, Obama simply used the looseness and casual banter of Reddit to drive his message home. Here more than in almost anything else: Tech is not the answer to the problems of modern politics.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:54 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Clever counter to the Repub Convention; addresses a base he sorely needs to reconnect with, strikes big for that base without interrupting the main stream media, yet still gets a bump for all the coverage of "Oh lookie what he did."
posted by cavalier at 6:55 AM on August 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


Though I have to think my favorite part of the AMA was a grammar dude checking the President (it's "an asteroid", not "a asteroid") and all the meme banter that ensued.
posted by cavalier at 6:56 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's an utterly lame AMA but it reinforces Reddit's importance.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:57 AM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Back in the day, when a President or candidate for president wanted to look edgy and in tune with the nation's youth, he went on late night TV, smiled through his platitudes, and answered a question about his skivvies.

Today, the candidate chats his platitudes on Reddit and tells us retired Michael Jordan is his favorite basketballer. Reading between the lines, I think that means this election -- and the future of the free world -- comes down to "Hanes boxer briefs".
posted by notyou at 6:59 AM on August 30, 2012


We should note that the main reason for this AMA's lameness is that the site was inaccessible for 80% of the time. Kinda sad to imagine the leader of the free world sitting in a corner mashing F5 for an hour.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:00 AM on August 30, 2012 [56 favorites]


strikes big for that base without interrupting the main stream media

Where "that base" is "people who like their Presidents to type on computers, but don't care about any actual issues".
posted by DU at 7:00 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Somehow my favorite thing about the AMA is that Obama doesn't capitalize every correctly-- it makes it look a lot less like White House Staffers Commenting On Behalf Of Potus and more like Barack, that guy you know, dicks around on the internet. And then I imagine him finding a subreddit about kitten videos or something.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:02 AM on August 30, 2012 [29 favorites]


How can we trust a man who refuses to tell us whether he would rather be attacked by one horse sized duck or 50 duck sized horses?
posted by zombieflanders at 7:02 AM on August 30, 2012 [85 favorites]


cavalier: "Though I have to think my favorite part of the AMA was a grammar dude checking the President (it's "an asteroid", not "a asteroid") and all the meme banter that ensued."

I really love granted's comment from a related MeTa thread:

I was able to read a few presidential answers, and also this gem:

   don't correct the President, neckbeard.

      I don't know what was worse, the thread deletion or the moment I realized you weren't quoting one of the presidential answers. :(
posted by Rock Steady at 7:02 AM on August 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


It is possible to like the President's tech saavy, care about actual issues, and like the AMA. Strange though it may seem, DU. =)
posted by lazaruslong at 7:02 AM on August 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


I believe the only actual news was the he would release the white house beer recipe soon.
posted by empath at 7:03 AM on August 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Romney will be mentioning r/atheism and r/jailbait (now discontinued) in 3, 2, 1....
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:03 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kinda sad to imagine the leader of the free world sitting in a corner mashing F5 for an hour.

I prefer to imagine a burly Secret Service agent, jaw set tightly, hitting F5 ten times per second with machine-gun precision while another barks orders into his cuff for the strike team currently bursting through the Reddit office skylight.
posted by No-sword at 7:04 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


This was a publicity stunt, but it was a good one, reinforcing Obama's image as an actual, likeable human being as opposed to his opponent's image as a machine sent from the future by the Koch brothers ancestors to help them maintain their fortune.
posted by dortmunder at 7:04 AM on August 30, 2012 [66 favorites]


addresses a base he sorely needs to reconnect with,

But he doesn't discuss marijuana or aliens so he's got nothing really to say to them.

care about actual issues, and like the AMA.

No he likes the AMA so he doesn't have to talk about serious issues.
posted by three blind mice at 7:04 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Somehow my favorite thing about the AMA is that Obama doesn't capitalize every correctly-- it makes it look a lot less like White House Staffers Commenting On Behalf Of Potus and more like Barack, that guy you know, dicks around on the internet. And then I imagine him finding a subreddit about kitten videos or something.

Remember that famous picture from the Bin Laden raid situation room? Clinton isn't holding her hand over her mouth because of what's going on in Abbottabad, it's because someone accidentally clicked on /r/spacedicks.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:05 AM on August 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


The fact that he used his birth certificate to prove his identity was unambiguously gold.
posted by mhoye at 7:05 AM on August 30, 2012 [35 favorites]


But he doesn't discuss marijuana or aliens so he's got nothing really to say to them.

He DID discuss internet privacy, which is basically the #1 reddit issue all the time, other than cats.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:05 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Romney will be mentioning r/atheism and r/jailbait (now discontinued) in 3, 2, 1....

Adrien Chen beat him to it.
posted by Talez at 7:06 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Clinton isn't holding her hand over her mouth because of what's going on in Abbottabad,

True story.
posted by mhoye at 7:08 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Adrien Chen is an expert troll.
posted by empath at 7:11 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kinda sad to imagine the leader of the free world sitting in a corner mashing F5 for an hour.

I'd like to know how this went down on his end. I'm sure he was typing ("And although their will be occasional disagreements"), but I'm betting he was not sitting alone. He at least had an IT person or two to make sure it went well technically (and to find out what was wrong when Reddit slowed down) and he probably had a couple of PR and speechwriter people there to make sure he found and answered the right questions with the right answers and stayed far away from weird stuff.
posted by pracowity at 7:11 AM on August 30, 2012


I am torn. I can't imagine a candid on the record conversation with a sitting US president, but I am pleased that Reddit is seen in around or near to the White House. The crap filters lean left but there are diverse forums on Reddit that provide an international discussion of just about anything. Mefi is my preferred destination and time suck but the Reddit front page is usually entertaining.
posted by pdxpogo at 7:13 AM on August 30, 2012


Redditor's First Lady.
posted by fight or flight at 7:14 AM on August 30, 2012 [36 favorites]


It's an utterly lame AMA but it reinforces Reddit's importance.

If not importance, at least how well it is used/known. It's not a small site in terms of user numbers. In fact, it's friggin' huge.


I believe the only actual news was the he would release the white house beer recipe soon.

I am more interested in his future discussions of a possible constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. But yeah, beer.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:15 AM on August 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


I imagine typing his answers is a great way to memorize some of the parts of his stump speech and prepare for next week's big speech. I was glad to see he mentioned a constitutional amendment banning the fundraising activity made possible by Citizens United. When was the last time a Democrat Presidential Candidate proposed a Constitutional amendment of any kind?
posted by Roger_Mexico at 7:15 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


QUESTION: Who's your favourite Basketball player?

I wouldn't imagine asking anyone George Bush or Mitt Romney who is their favorite sports star is, but the third question to the black guy: "Who's your favorite basketball player?"
posted by three blind mice at 7:16 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Redditor's First Lady.

Is Obama using an oldschool iMac?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:18 AM on August 30, 2012


the third question to the black guy: "Who's your favorite basketball player?"

That was the 3rd question he chose to answer. There were MANY questions asked before.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:19 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't imagine asking anyone George Bush or Mitt Romney who is their favorite sports star is, but the third question to the black guy: "Who's your favorite basketball player?"

I think you're seeing things here. The President is famous for being a basketball nut - he plays daily (more or less) and he has gone on EPSN (or something) to talk about his March Madness picks and was clearly very very up on it. In an informal "let's ask this guy a question" there's much more "he is a human being who likes basketball" than "HE'S BLACK" in that question.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:20 AM on August 30, 2012 [31 favorites]


but the third question to the black guy: "Who's your favorite basketball player?"

And asking the black guy from Chicago. It's Jordan. You know it's going to be Jordan. Vegas wouldn't even give you odds on that because everyone already knows it's Jordan.
posted by Talez at 7:20 AM on August 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


I wouldn't imagine asking anyone George Bush or Mitt Romney who is their favorite sports star is, but the third question to the black guy: "Who's your favorite basketball player?"

A) President Obama is very public about his love for basketball and is not shy about playing the game in front of cameras.

B)
posted by NoMich at 7:21 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't imagine asking anyone George Bush or Mitt Romney who is their favorite sports star is, but the third question to the black guy: "Who's your favorite basketball player?"

Obama is a pretty vocal sports fan, especially about basketball. He does a NCAA tournament bracket every year, I'm pretty sure he's given multiple interviews to ESPN, he's shown up on Monday Night Football, and he's played basketball with the UNC Basketball Team.

He clearly likes getting and answering these sorts of questions.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:21 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


But he doesn't discuss marijuana or aliens so he's got nothing really to say to them.

It's not bigotry because it's funny!
posted by Aquaman at 7:24 AM on August 30, 2012


Brief Romney preview nextweek: Mitt likes John Stockton and Bud Light, thinks we're laying the groundwork for possibly enslaving Martians, has a boner for Citizens United, says we're re-invading Afghanistan in 2014 ("Operation Alexander the Great"), and feels that new graduates should "suck-it-up" in a still-recovering economy. The FBI will be visiting your house regarding the marijuana and aliens question and his great-grandfather was a neckbeard.
posted by incandissonance at 7:24 AM on August 30, 2012 [21 favorites]


It's not bigotry because it's funny!

I don't get it. Where's the bigotry?
posted by postcommunism at 7:28 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


don't correct the President, neckbeard.

Open season on the VP though. It's not P O T A T O E, dipshit.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:28 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think in some ways the savviest PR part of this was the reference to the Reddit "NOT BAD" meme in his sign off. Communities love shout outs to their memes.
posted by yoink at 7:28 AM on August 30, 2012 [31 favorites]


If not importance, at least how well it is used/known. It's not a small site in terms of user numbers. In fact, it's friggin' huge.

Wonder how many of the people at that big convention last night have any idea what Reddit even is. My Fox News-watching parents are still unsure about The Google.
posted by kgasmart at 7:32 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mentioned this in yesterday's thread, but: someone asked what was in Area 51, and it got deleted. I am unbearably delighted about the number of conspiracy theories this is going to refresh.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:37 AM on August 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


How Reddit got Obama (found via hacker news)
posted by memebake at 7:37 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


In case you missed it, Biden did an AMA too.
posted by jbickers at 7:38 AM on August 30, 2012


Yeah, the "NOT BAD" part which I hadn't seen until just now, is hilarious. I love that he did an AMA. Now we just need him to come on here the next time there is an election post. I hope the mod team has an account waiting for him.
posted by cashman at 7:40 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Considering I'm knee-deep in a local political fight that has my elected town officials actively ignoring the people they claim to represent, I find this absolutely refreshing. It may not change minds or the world but it chips away at the wall that separates us from out government and silences our voices. NOT BAD indeed.
posted by tommasz at 7:46 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]




IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

DOES AN AMA


Their campaign staff must have still had the kerning settings from the right panel in their Photoshop still because that black framed Impact text looks extremely weird.
posted by Talez at 7:50 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


ASK ME ANYTHING

CRASHES REDDIT
posted by brundlefly at 7:52 AM on August 30, 2012


I hope Biden actually does an AMA. I want to know exactly how a Biden beer can coozy* came to be.

*foam holder thing, I have no idea how it's spelled
posted by troika at 7:52 AM on August 30, 2012


"beer can coozy" sounds a bit rude.
posted by pracowity at 7:54 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


pracowity: ""beer can coozy" sounds a bit rude."

Beercan Coozy is either the absolute best or absolute worst gay porn star name ever.

As for the AMA, to use the metaphor in The Atlantic article, yes, this is just one new way of politicians kissing babies. But as somebody who, though not a super-active Redditor, considers himself part of the same demographic, it's nice to have my baby kissed.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:58 AM on August 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


Yeah, but that's what they're called when they aren't called coolies.

I prefer cozy, myself.
posted by tilde at 8:00 AM on August 30, 2012


Metafilter: it's nice to have my baby kissed.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:03 AM on August 30, 2012


ASK ME ANYTHING

CRASHES REDDIT


UR DOIN IT WRONG, REDDIT!!!1

LOVE, SLASHDOT
posted by daniel_charms at 8:03 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


but the third question to the black guy: "Who's your favorite basketball player?"

To the guy who plays basketball on weekends. Not so weird. Though did anyone ask him about golf or poker?
posted by pracowity at 8:10 AM on August 30, 2012


does it creep out anyone else that things like "twitter" and "reddit" and "google" (major parts of people's communication networks) are incorporated (twitter) or owned by corporate interests (reddit, conde nast)

I mean lol realpolitik and everything, but isn't there something more peer-to-peer/decentralized/less vulnerable to economic attack that could be used instead
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:14 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


In that verification photo he looks like he is in a dreary cubicle. Even a B list hollywood guy would have been in a suite in 5* hotel.

He would have some great class cred right there if he didn't spoil it with the Mac.
posted by bukvich at 8:17 AM on August 30, 2012


He would have some great class cred right there if he didn't spoil it with the Mac.

He has a sticker over the apple, which makes it fine. Also, he gets a glowing Obama/Biden sticker.

(I used to have an apple sticker over the Dell logo on my laptop - confused a lot of people, especially as it was one of their more apply-looking models. I just figured that if my computer had to advertise some multinational corporation, I wanted it to be the wrong one. And it was a free sticker).
posted by jb at 8:23 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean lol realpolitik and everything, but isn't there something more peer-to-peer/decentralized/less vulnerable to economic attack that could be used instead

I guess he could have used Usenet but I'm not sure how much traction a Q&A on alt.sexy.bald.captains would have.
posted by kmz at 8:23 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


This, of course, alludes to you: "I mean lol realpolitik and everything, but isn't there something more peer-to-peer/decentralized/less vulnerable to economic attack that could be used instead"

I am a President of the United States, AMA on Diaspora
posted by boo_radley at 8:26 AM on August 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


So when do we get the President to come to Ask MeFi? "Any tips on getting a $15 trillion economy out of stagnation? I have a performance review coming up and I'm worried the company might bring in some douchebag private equity guy to clean house unless I turn things around."
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:26 AM on August 30, 2012 [24 favorites]




gern, you should check out Top Conservative Cat then.
posted by Talez at 8:29 AM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Talez: "gern, you should check out Top Conservative Cat then."

Yesssss: "There was a commotion at #GOP2012 last night when Jan Brewer tried to have Jeb Bush's wife deported."
posted by boo_radley at 8:30 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dang, it's bad enough to be the guy who has to keep saying "we're working on it" when your site goes down. Imagine how annoying your boss would be when the White House is on the phone.
posted by ctmf at 8:34 AM on August 30, 2012


Maybe we could get him to come here and ask for some relationship advice.

DTMF, Barack. Just do it.
posted by Fister Roboto at 8:43 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Though did anyone ask him about golf or poker?

I saw one question early on about what kind of golf clubs he uses.
posted by yoink at 8:45 AM on August 30, 2012


Pander to us!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:47 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


In retrospect Obama should have taken a page from republicans and dropped in a couple dog whistles. A few references to trees and maybe a "hi frients" and nobody would ever bug him about Legalizing weed again.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:47 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Reddit: It's not bigotry because it's funny!
posted by brundlefly at 8:49 AM on August 30, 2012


The AMA was going great until Obama kept saying he only wanted to talk about Rampart.
posted by jeremy b at 8:53 AM on August 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


Mitt likes John Stockton and Bud Light.

Leaving aside the unlikeliness that Mitt enjoys any beer at all, I kind of picture him as more of a Donald Sterling fan.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:54 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


@boo_radley

you're right, I guess the free market just works
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:55 AM on August 30, 2012


I was very relieved the questions were reasonable and respectful. I was expecting:

"President Obama, MARIJUANA?!?"

"President Obama, when are you going to eliminate the Fed and return us to the gold standard?"

"President Obama, would you say Ron Paul is the greatest politician alive, or the greatest man of all time?"
posted by Sangermaine at 8:58 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, and:

Metafilter: Communities love shout outs to their memes.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:58 AM on August 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


I could totally see Romney answering a favorite beer question with "Root Beer" and a self-satisfied grin.
posted by troika at 8:58 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh, and:

Metafilter: Communities love shout outs to their memes.


HE MENTIONED MEFI! WHOO!
posted by grubi at 9:00 AM on August 30, 2012


This, of course, alludes to you: "@boo_radley

you're right, I guess the free market just works
"

well yes, fine, lol realpolitik like you said, but short of having some open pit of people shouting questions at him, it'd be hard to do the infrastructure for this kind of thing
posted by boo_radley at 9:14 AM on August 30, 2012


The verification pic was just a tweet and a picture of Obama sitting in a generic room on a computer. He didn't even write the date on his hand! I'm a little skeptical that it was actually him responding.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 9:27 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The up-votes and down-votes on the page don’t accurately reflect how Reddit users actually voted"
posted by jessamyn at 9:28 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Where is that room, anyway? It looks like he's in the laundry room of a college dorm.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:31 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am guessing they have special rooms with faraday cages built into the walls so spies can't pick up RF leaked from the computer. Possibly soundproofed/shielded in some way if the electronics have been tampered with.

Remember, we snuck bugs into russian embassies embedded into printers.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:37 AM on August 30, 2012


As an aside. I am assuming that is the same reason Obama has like a circa 1990 tube tv in his study. I bet the SS and NSA spent weeks on that thing going over it for listening devices.

The NSA has entire buildings with a fine wire mesh embedded in the walls to stop RF leaks, but I don't think you could retrofit that into the WH. Expecially the windows. Can't have chickenwire windows in the oval office.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:42 AM on August 30, 2012


I think he had just finished a campaign event in South Carolina, so I assume he was in some sort of greenroom or the hotel while they got his transportation prepped.
posted by gofargogo at 9:45 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's fun to imagine this as a B story for an episode of The West Wing. Dule Hill all asking random questions while the president is trying to work...
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:45 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well that ruins my theory. The truth is so much more mundane than what I think is happening.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:46 AM on August 30, 2012


It was a campaign office in Charlottesville. They had 30 minutes notice the boss was coming.
posted by Mick at 9:47 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


@boo_radley

i'm just saying, the way things are is kind of creepy

also note that things being bad does not actually imply a less-bad alternative
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:49 AM on August 30, 2012


Ad Hominem: You'd be right: http://www.geekosystem.com/obama-tent-scif/
posted by scolbath at 9:55 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


That, sucks. I imagined him going with like half a dozen generals, one with the nuclear football chailed to his wrist. Past two marine guards and a man trap into an elevator secured with voiceprint and retinal scan. Down several hundred stories in an underground reinforced concrete silo. At the bottom there is a small cog railway that runs several miles under washington. At the other end is another elevator down another two hundred stories into bedrock. It emerges into a windowless room that looks much like a laundy room in a dorm. This is the Secure Presidential Computing Office. or SPCO. From there he powers on his macbook and answers questions about Ron Paul and Weed and looks at funny cat pics.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:56 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ad Hominem: You'd be right: http://www.geekosystem.com/obama-tent-scif/

Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF,

Thanks, I knew that had to exist and I knew it had to have an awesome name.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:57 AM on August 30, 2012


I expect pics of Bo in r/aww now!
posted by vespabelle at 10:00 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: The truth is so much more mundane than what I think is happening.
posted by yoink at 10:04 AM on August 30, 2012


*sigh* Am I the only one who thinks AMAs are cheapened when they have a press team helping them?
posted by Canageek at 10:09 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently the site was down for most of the time he was answering questions.

Anyway that was pretty lame. Given some of the issues Redditors care about, you'd think they'd be able to come with more compelling questions. Like what's up with his support of the TSA policy they flipped out about, or why the democrats were more in favor of SOPA, why is he against legalizing drugs, and so on. I wonder if people were actively downvoting 'tougher' questions or if he just skipped ones he didn't feel like answering.

Also, I have to say that while the reddit system works well at finding interesting comments, it kind of sucks for picking questions. There's no seperation between the questions and random commentary in the UI, it's all a jumble.

I mean, there are 23,000 comments in that thread. It would be pretty difficult/annoying to go through and try to figure out which questions were popular and went unanswered.
posted by delmoi at 10:13 AM on August 30, 2012


*sigh* Am I the only one who thinks AMAs are cheapened when they have a press team helping them?

I think this opens up a whole new career, AMA consultant.

Terry Crews got an astonishing 50k karma from his AMA and spawned countless Good Guy Terry memes (some of them are a bit questionable, in that they call him "well spoken" but I chalk that up to nerd cluelessness).

NDT Has done 3-4 AMAs now. NDT also pops in randomly to chat anytime you say his name on reddit, Obama can't really do that but NDT can certainly give him some pointers on how to interact with redditors.

Matthew Lillard and Jason Mews both did multiple sucessful AMAs. Lillard even promised to confront Woody Harrelson about Rampart. Lillard did so many AMAs people suggested that he wait until he had something new to talk about before his next one, he got kinda sad. I think he just likes talking to people online. They are both so upbeat and off the wall in their online personas you can't help but enjoy them.

I propose they form Crews,Mews,Lillard and Tyson. To guide celebs throug the reddit experience.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:55 AM on August 30, 2012


Terry Crews got an astonishing 50k karma
NDT Has done 3-4 AMAs now
Matthew Lillard and Jason Mews both did multiple sucessful AMAs

Jesus, I feel so hopelessly out of it. I have no idea who any of these people are. Reddit is really enthusiastic about C-list celebs, I take it?
posted by naju at 11:13 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Niel DeGrasse Tyson is a science nerd guy. Matthew Lillard was the annoying guy from Hackers, no, no, the other one, the hyperactive tall one. Jason Mews was Jay as in Jay and Silent Bob as in the smack-talkin' weed dealer guy in the Clerks universe who had a friend from Germany who sang about how his love for you was rolling truck berZEHRker.

Crews, I don't know.
posted by cortex at 11:20 AM on August 30, 2012


They are, but NDT is Neil Degrasse Tyson. He is astronomically more classy than a C-lister.
posted by postcommunism at 11:20 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Obama can't really do that but NDT can certainly give him some pointers on how to interact with redditors.

Those who seem to be disappointed that Obama didn't adopt a more laid back, genuinely "ask me anything" demeanor in this AMA are not really thinking about the actual nature of the media world we live in.

It's not like Obama could make 4:20 jokes or something and think that that wouldn't be all over Fox news the next day. Heck, even making that "NOT BAD" joke was taking a risk. The fact that this was Reddit doesn't really change the calculus all that much for Obama from what he can plausibly say on, say, a major network TV interview. The President really doesn't get to be unbuttoned and relaxed except in the company of family and a pretty small circuit of friends.
posted by yoink at 11:31 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The big advantage I have is that I live above the store - so I have no commute! "

What a nice turn of the phrase. Reminds me how nice it is to have someone smarter than me running the country.
posted by notsnot at 11:32 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


this is Terry Crews

Those who seem to be disappointed that Obama didn't adopt a more laid back, genuinely "ask me anything" demeanor in this AMA are not really thinking about the actual nature of the media world we live in.

Oh I totally understand. I really wasn't serious about having a world famous astrophysicist coach Obama on how to make "like a boss" quips.

I also think the questions were by shill accounts.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:35 AM on August 30, 2012


It's not like Obama could make 4:20 jokes or something and think that that wouldn't be all over Fox news the next day. Heck, even making that "NOT BAD" joke was taking a risk.
it's almost like the whole "disintermediation" thing is sheer bullshit!
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:49 AM on August 30, 2012


naju: "Terry Crews got an astonishing 50k karma
NDT Has done 3-4 AMAs now
Matthew Lillard and Jason Mews both did multiple sucessful AMAs

Jesus, I feel so hopelessly out of it. I have no idea who any of these people are. Reddit is really enthusiastic about C-list celebs, I take it?
"

Jason Mews is 'Jay" as in Jay and Silent Bob.
posted by notsnot at 11:49 AM on August 30, 2012


> I also think the questions were by shill accounts.

This is a conspiracy theory. The questions rise to the top of the queue by upvotes, algorithmically, by machine. Unless the management at reddit rigged it in cahoots with the white house your thought is nonsensical. A shill would be inside reddit.com or powerless.

Not that there isn't some false advertising in the idea that a reddit Iama could get the president to answer meaningful questions about the war on drugs or the banks too big to fail or the insolvent military industrial complex bubble. We are years and years and continents away from that coming to fruit if it ever does.

This is a baby step but it's in the right direction.
posted by bukvich at 11:50 AM on August 30, 2012


some of them are a bit questionable, in that they call him "well spoken" but I chalk that up to nerd cluelessness

Was it a reference to the Chris Rock routine, or is the Chris Rock routine sadly still relevant?
posted by Gary at 11:51 AM on August 30, 2012


How can we trust a man who refuses to tell us whether he would rather be attacked by one horse sized duck or 50 duck sized horses?

Heck, he's been dealing with a House full of horse-sized ducks for four years now.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:55 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Matthew Lillard was the annoying guy from Hackers, no, no, the other one, the hyperactive tall one.

He's also played Shaggy in all the "live" Scooby Doo movies.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:56 AM on August 30, 2012


I know it's unrealistic but my day has been made pretty much by just imagining Neil Degrasse Tyson coaching the president on Reddit etiquette and in-jokes. I wish I could let you into my head because it's SO funny.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:04 PM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


My mom shook the President's hand about half an hour before he started posting to reddit.

That's not at all related; I just wanted to mention that my mom met the President.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:13 PM on August 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Was it a reference to the Chris Rock routine , or is the Chris Rock routine sadly still relevant?

It is very hard to tell on Reddit. In a sense these are my people but I can't tell if the are joking, making a callback to comedy due to some encyclopedic knowlege of comedy, are genuinely racists,think we are so post-racial it is cool to reference racist jokes because we and Terry Crews are bros like that now, or have never spoken to anyone before. On balance I don't attribute any malice to it.

Here it is judge for yourself.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:18 PM on August 30, 2012


Unless the management at reddit rigged it in cahoots with the white house your thought is nonsensical. A shill would be inside reddit.com or powerless.

Well we know reddit was in talks for a while about this. He did manage to get the coveted PresidentObama username, which is some kind of christmas miracle or something.

And there is a conspiracy theory
posted by Ad hominem at 12:28 PM on August 30, 2012


Ad hominem I upvoted that theory just now because I like it. It has 7 votes including mine so I don't think the argument is going to get any traction.

Would you find it crooked or unfair if they nuked whoever had the PresidentObama username and gave it to President Obama?

Not saying it's perfect. In particular it was most definitely not "Ask me Anything" which has often gotten answerers flacked in the past. I don't think there was any shilling going on.
posted by bukvich at 12:38 PM on August 30, 2012


Holy shit, if you're trying to give Reddit the benefit of the doubt on... well, anything... don't explore too much of /r/conspiracy.

For those who take my advice but are curious: If you ever need a non-jailbait example of how there is no such thing as a "Reddit-type" because subreddits are so different, this one would provide your 'negative' example.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:42 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am guessing they have special rooms with faraday cages built into the walls so spies can't pick up RF leaked from the computer.

Wouldn't they just tempest the machines if they had to?

Crews, I don't know.

I know your shit's all emotional now, but you should remember President Camacho from Idiocracy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:43 PM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Possible. It is also possible PresidentObama was registered by Obama operatives years ago because 12 dimension ninja chess.

There is no denying user hmlee joined immediately before and got 2k upvotes on their only comment ever.

I am not accusing Obama or reddit of anything evil. I just think this shit is 12 dimensional ninja chess.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:44 PM on August 30, 2012


Jesus, I feel so hopelessly out of it. I have no idea who any of these people are. Reddit is really enthusiastic about C-list celebs, I take it?"

Terry Crews was the POTUS in Idiocracy. He was also the dad in Everybody Hates Chris.
posted by wherever, whatever at 12:47 PM on August 30, 2012


Terry Crews is a big ass robot
posted by Ad hominem at 12:49 PM on August 30, 2012


The questions rise to the top of the queue by upvotes, algorithmically, by machine. Unless the management at reddit rigged it in cahoots with the white house your thought is nonsensical.

I'd just love to see a little more transparency in what they meant when they said that the upvotes/downvotes we saw on the screen didn't affect how users voted. Like this could mean "Well we couldn't keep up with voting numbers" which I'm sure people would be ine with or it could mean "We bent the algorithm for POTUS" which people would like less well.
posted by jessamyn at 12:52 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


My mom shook the President's hand about half an hour before he started posting to reddit.

That's not at all related; I just wanted to mention that my mom met the President.


Stop bragging, Malia!
posted by vidur at 1:01 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm talking too much here but upvotes and downvotes are not a "pure" count. There is a statistical sample of all possible votes used for ranking. But there is also a sort of "jitter" algorithm that aims to counter floods of votes of the sort thay may be made by bots. People complain about it all the time on reddit because the counts you see on the page do not reflect actual clicks. I can't find docs on the "jitter" yet.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:06 PM on August 30, 2012


> I'd just love to see a little more transparency in what they meant when they said that the upvotes/downvotes we saw on the screen didn't affect how users voted.

It's almost certainly some kind of a Bayes net, similar to how google gives you search results or gmail labels spam. With weights that are changing all the time and there is a surprise every day and with something this big even the people who wrote the codes might not know that clear what's happened. It's kind of a black box that depends on the cumulative wisdom of all of us idiots. But the thing is gaming the sucker is hard. That's why the algorithmic approach is so valuable. You let a computer look at the millions of search results and decide what is a good one, or look at the millions of e-mails and decide what is a spam, or look at the millions of upvotes and downvotes and decide what is a good question / post / comment.

There are other reddit code based sites. The code is on github. There are probably a number of metafilter users who could answer your question in eyes-glazed-over detail.
posted by bukvich at 1:13 PM on August 30, 2012


for comments it is a confidence Interval, the goal is to predict what the votes would look like if every user voted on every comment. For posts, it is a logorithmic scale, so later votes have less weight than early votes, this causes new stories to float to the top and old ones to sink down no matter what the voting patterns are.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:26 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have some questions about Reddit.

Most of what I know about the site is stuff like the thread where rapists tell their stories and the fact that it's a haven for #mensrights types. In fact, I'm pretty sure I became aware of its existence via MetaTalk comments about how Metafilter isn't Reddit (and this always seemed to be a good thing, or so I gathered. Especially for women.)

I have clicked over there from time to time (like when that guy got the screenplay deal for the Marines vs. Romans story), but I'm confused by the fact that the format puts things out of order (I have the same problem with Slashdot) so I never delved very far in.

So ... is it reasonable for me to feel super weirded out by my (beloved!!) president engaging so fully with those dudes? Tell me more about the site that will make me feel better about this. (I am genuinely asking, and I obviously know that my impression of Reddit is skewed. Help me get a better perspective on this.)
posted by purpleclover at 1:44 PM on August 30, 2012


There are reddits (forums) for pretty much any topic under the sun. I'm sure they do have a reddit for "mensrights types," but there are also reddits for feminism. The more controversial reddits just get a lot more attention.

Reddit is what you make of it. If you accept the default reddits you're likely going to have a lower opinion of the site than if you only browse reddits about topics that interest you. It's like Usenet, with post ranking. Some reddits even have excellent moderators keeping trolls at bay and discussion civil.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 1:52 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


So ... is it reasonable for me to feel super weirded out by my (beloved!!) president engaging so fully with those dudes? Tell me more about the site that will make me feel better about this. (I am genuinely asking, and I obviously know that my impression of Reddit is skewed. Help me get a better perspective on this.)

The thing about Reddit is that it's a big community and it's pretty fragmented. The individual subsites have their own little cultures and people only tend to read the ones they're interested in, like if MetaTalk was devoted to blacksmithing and the people who read it never read AskMe because it was all about posting pictures of abandoned buildings.

There's plenty of misogyny, but it's easy to get a skewed perspective if you just read the subreddits devoted to men's rights and pictures of naked women. It would be just as east to believe that Reddit was full of people care deeply about sex education, if you only read /r/sex. The average redditor apparently enjoys atheism, pictures of cats, and video games. As a whole it's not as good for women as Metafilter, but if you stick to the feminism subreddits it's almost certainly better. It's hard (for me at least) to be weirded out by Obama showing up on Reddit because of that diversity. Sure, there's plenty of skeevy stuff going on there, just like in the rest of the world, but it's not exclusively or primarily about being skeevy.

It's primarily about stupid memes and running jokes into the ground.

And cats.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:53 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Reddit party line is that you can't reduce the site to any one aspect of it because it's so big and sprawling. There's some truth to that; the site's really open, anyone who wants to can start their own "sub-reddit," and if you have an account you can filter content. In practice, however, the party line is kind of BS and there is definitely a distinct site culture which is collectively enforced with upvotes/downvotes. Part of that culture includes plenty of misogyny, racism, and righteousness thereabout. But it all goes on in kind of a milquetoast, banal way.

That said, the AMA section is actually pretty good, and there are totally some decent boards. /r/gaymers, for instance. So it is as bad as you think (or worse, [I just edited out my bad examples because they're horrible]), but it's also not. The site's huge, and part of it falls in line with what is now a pretty mainstreamed way of doing public relations.

Reddit is basically the nerd suburbia of the internet. Obama's just doing a 21st century whistle-stop.
posted by postcommunism at 2:07 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]




The tabled subreddit pulls just the answered questions from AMAs with their answers, making completed AMAs much easier to browse. Here's Obama's. Molly Ringwald did a funny one earlier this year too.
posted by Blue Meanie at 3:08 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


So ... is it reasonable for me to feel super weirded out by my (beloved!!) president engaging so fully with those dudes?
posted by purpleclover at 4:44 PM on August 30


not all are men. i've been one & off the site for 6 years. there are tons of sbu-reddits moderated by women.
posted by liza at 4:03 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]




growabrain: "Some investigative work about planted questions / shilling in the thread"

Someone learned something from the Woody Harrellson incident.
posted by zarq at 12:14 PM on August 31, 2012


blog.reddit: POTUS IAMA Stats
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.

/u/PresidentObama
As many speculated, the username /u/PresidentObama was not actually publicly available. That user deleted their account a while ago, so when this event arose, we made the username available for the President. If you are not a current or former head of state, don’t ask us for a deleted username.

In preparation for the IAMA, we initially added 30 dedicated servers (20%~ increase) just for the comment thread. This turned out not to be enough, so we added another 30 dedicated servers to the mix. At peak, we were transferring 48 MB per second of reddit to the internet. This much traffic overwhelmed our load balancers which caused a lot of the slowness you probably experienced on reddit.

posted by zarq at 12:49 PM on August 31, 2012


Nick "Ron Swanson" Offerman is doing an AMA right now, and it is a thing of wonder. No, no...wonder is inadequate language for something like this. It is glorifictorius. It is stupenditastical. I may come away from this ready to start a new religion.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:52 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


[–]heycheeahs

Are your political stances similar to Ron Swanson?

[–]NickOfferman[S]

Well, I just went to discuss this question with Ron, and I found him staring stoically into a fire in which burned his VHS collection of Dirty Harry movies whilst he seemed to be mumbling the words to the Beastie's High Plains Drifter, and welling up. I would not have expected Ron to be aware of Paul's Boutique, I guess that seminal record really penetrated the generations. Anyway, I left him to his thoughts.
posted by homunculus at 12:14 AM on September 1, 2012


So ... is it reasonable for me to feel super weirded out by my (beloved!!) president engaging so fully with those dudes? Tell me more about the site that will make me feel better about this. (I am genuinely asking, and I obviously know that my impression of Reddit is skewed. Help me get a better perspective on this.)

Instead of thinking of Reddit as one forum, you should think of it as a platform for hosting forums. These forums (subreddits) can be created by anyone, on any topic. There's a large MRA subreddit, but there are also feminist subreddits. There's probably a subreddit dedicated to nothing but pictures of walruses.

When you go to Reddit.com, you see popular posts from the "default" subreddits - the ones that appear if you aren't logged in or haven't changed your preferences. Since these subreddits are seen by so many, they tend to drift towards the lowest common denominator. (Which includes the MRA types whining about how feminists are bigoted against men.)

You can't really avoid MRA talking points unless you stick to smaller subreddits where that kind of thing isn't welcome, but that doesn't mean that Reddit is an MRA site.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:32 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]




I hope Biden actually does an AMA. I want to know exactly how a Biden beer can coozy* came to be.

Beyond the typo, it should be made clear that the Joe Biden Can Holder is a real thing being sold by the campaign. It's been out since October and I can't find anything on the web other than people making fun of it. Has no one asked him about this? At least find out if it supposed to be Joe Biden saying "Cheers, champ" to the drinker or if it is declaring Joe Biden the Champion of Cheers.
posted by Gary at 12:03 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes! I am keeping my drink cool with a Joe Biden Can Holder right now! It's such an odd piece of campaign merch. I can't find any history of it online, so until someone asks Biden I'm just going to keep imagining the meeting where this was first proposed.
posted by troika at 5:03 PM on September 5, 2012


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