"Hi, I’m Barack Obama, President of the United States. Ask me anything. I’ll be taking your questions for half an hour starting at about 4:30 ET."
And so he did. In a surprise open question-and-answer session this afternoon on Reddit, the democratized social news site, the president hosted an "Ask Me Anything" thread, known as an AMA in Reddit-speak. The site experienced intermittent crashes due to heavy traffic, which hovered around 30,000 participants and nearly 2 million onlookers during the 60-minute session.
Reddit users are a tough crowd and Obama wasn't spared. After the skepticism died down over whether or not it was the "real" Obama, Redditors got down to business and asked their questions. The two most popular questions (indicated by the number of points awarded to each post by other users) included one about the space program and a second about Internet freedom.
Asked if he was considering increasing funds to the space program, the president replied, "Making sure we stay at the forefront of space exploration is a big priority for my administration ... so even as we continue work with the international space station, we are focused on a potential mission to a asteroid as a prelude to a manned Mars flight."
Reddit users were elated — not by the president's pledge to support the space program, a reply that did receive more than 1,900 points, but by the opportunity to correct his grammar.
It might have come as no surprise to Obama that he would be asked about Reddit, whose founder Alexis Ohanian was one of the most vocal opponents of SOPA and PIPA legislation earlier this year and staged aa 12-hour blackout of Reddit in protest.
His 1,610-point answer began, "Internet freedom is something I know you all care passionately about; I do too ... And although there will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won't stray from that principle - and it will be reflected in the platform."
Overall, Obama's AMA received 13,959 points, which translated into a 62 percent approval rating. He closed his hour on Reddit with, "By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole reddit experience - NOT BAD!"