When users logged on and saw the words "I am Barack Obama, President of the United States – AMA" at the top of the front page, they knew that it was an historic occasion for the site. Reddit has been called a driving force of the internet - a social force that not only generates a massive amount of pageviews, but can send a massive amount of them to your site - if you're lucky enough to get a top link. And amid the cats, trolls, and subreddits devoted to mutilated penises, everyone know that reddit's heart is pure. This can be seen in the random acts of generosity performed by the site's members.
But this was something else. This was the President of the got-damn U-S-of-A...talking to redditors. When the comment total hit 4,000+ within 15 minutes of the AMA post, everyone knew records were bound to be set.
And according to reddit, they were. Big ones.
Preliminary pageview and unique visitor stats from reddit users showed that reddit had a banner day due to Obama's AMA. But here are the official numbers from reddit:
2,987,307 pageviews on the day. Not on the site. On the single post.
If you count pageviews on the AMA post from the time of posting until noon today (EST), that number jumps to 5,280,441.
But here's the most impressive part:
At any given time, the front page of reddit (http://www.reddit.com) has around 15-20% of active visitors. An extremely popular submission may have 2-5% of visitors at any given time. In the recorded history of reddit, we’ve never had one single submission get more visitors than the front page at any given time, until the Obama IAMA. The Obama IAMA received over 30% of all visitors to reddit at its peak.
That's just insane.
And remember how Obama took down reddit? For awhile, both the front page and the actual AMA post were slow to load (if they loaded at all). Reddit explains why they had problems with all of the traffic, even though they knew about the AMA well in advance:
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.
For the most part, redditors seemed happy with the AMA. Sure, Obama only answered ten questions and only spent around a half an hour participating - but hey, he's a pretty busy guy. One thing has emerged since the session. One reddit user did some detective work and found that a lengthy question on student loans came from a new account whose creator may be tied to the Department of Justice.
Press plant? Wouldn't be the first time a politician has tried to make an interview go more smoothly. It could just be a coincidence, but it is mighty suspicious, Mr. President.