Obama first president to answer questions on reddit

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"[T]his is an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run," he wrote on the site, thanking users for their participation.

The social news website site crashed less than 10 minutes after Obama announced via tweet that he would be holding what is known as an "AMA" or "Ask Me Anything" Q&A on the forum. The site was back online within minutes, in "read-only" mode due to the heavy traffic, but the chat went on. According to the site, there were 200,000 visitors on the site at any one time during the president's Q&A.

Obama answered questions for about half an hour, at one point commenting: "By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole reddit experience - NOT BAD!"

Immediate popular question topics on the thread — which allows users to vote "up" or "down" questions and topics of interest — were the White House beer recipe and Internet freedom. A reddit user recently declared he would submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the recipe, which likely is not subject to FOIA rules. 

Obama demonstrated his knowledge of the user base by quickly addressing questions about both the beer recipe — indicating it will be "out soon!"  — and Internet freedom, writing that he cares "passionately" about it.

He began by addressing Hurricane Isaac, writing that his team is still "coordinating with state and local officials to make sure that we give families everything they need to recover."

See the rest of Obama's answers, which touch on topics ranging from the space program to super-PACs to prospects for recent graduates to Afghanistan, here. He called the 2009 decision to send a surge of U.S. forces into Afghanistan the hardest decision he has made as president so far.

Reddit spent the first minutes after the chat announcement reassuring users the Q&A was legitimate. According to the AMA thread, Obama's use had been authenticated, and his introduction offered the tweet as evidence. The tweet is signed "-bo" to indicate the president sent it personally. The thread was then updated with a photo of the president at a computer as further "proof."

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Reddit has hosted important chats in the past, but Obama is the first president to use the site, which was founded in 2005. 

Obama is not the first politician to make use of reddit: Reps. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) have each held AMA chats in the past. The site is known as a free-ranging forum with a steep learning curve that often keeps out less determined or less tech-savvy users.

—Updated at 6 p.m.