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The fame. The infamy. The Reddit. Recently Obama joined the noted list of Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ hosts, but perhaps the site isn’t the most…appropriate venue for a candidate vying for reelection.
According to Wikipedia, Reddit.com is a “social news website where the registered users submit content.” Posts can be voted “up” and “down” by users, creating the hierarchical ranking of posts on the site’s front page and beyond (comments abide by the same system within posting threads). According to President Obama, Reddit is “an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run.”
According to me, Reddit is actually a bastion of seedy shenanigans. You heard me, Reddit; a bastion of just the seediest of shenanigans. More on this later. Back to President Obama.
On August 29th, 2012, Barack Obama graced the masses of Reddit with an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session, in which users were allowed to –you guessed it—ask the president anything. One of the interesting features of this arena is you can see which questions the community wants the answers to the most, and the President answered plenty of these top-voted questions. Due to the brevity of his stay plenty more went unanswered, and the reviews for the president’s stay were somewhat mixed. For the most part, though, anyone should be given props for facing the masses of Reddit, most of all someone as busy as the President.
Obama’s AMA session corresponds to a small spike in Reddit’s traffic. To put this in perspective, I’ve marked off another benchmark on the Daily Attention timeline: Nick Offerman, the actor portraying the character ‘Ron Swanson’ on (the utterly hilarious) ‘Parks and Recreation,’ also committed to an AMA session two days later on the 31st. On that day Reddit received .016% of the internet’s attention, about 90% of the attention Reddit received on the day Obama came around. A 10% difference between a president and a comedian may seem too close for comfort, but fear not; Obama’s thread received about 24,500 comments overall while Offerman’s received about 70% less with 7,407 comments.
As I said above, perhaps Reddit isn’t quite the sanctuary of democratic ore the president flouted. Perhaps it’s not that sort of venue at all. I did a quick pull of the search terms leading to Reddit.com and, sparkling right up on top at the second highest volume of traffic, was the term ‘Reddit Ass.’ Read it, gasp, and then refer to the below list of other similarly racy terms peppering Reddit’s top search term referral volumes. Original rankings are on the left, their referral volumes on the right.
Bastion of seedy shenanigans, am I right? Wrong. Looking to demographics, Reddit is actually populated by mostly young, somewhat male denizens, so it’s actually more like a frat house than anything else.
This just about explains the racy search referrals, explains Nick Offerman’s wildly celebrated romp (his humor was not so starched), and explains the President’s lukewarm reception. It’s about the crowd you’re offering yourself to, you know?
Ryan La Sala joins Compete as the Digital Marketing Co-op for Compete.com, sovereign of all things social media. Ryan is a current attendant of Northeastern University, dual-majoring in Cultural Anthropology and International Affairs (with minors in Biology and Psychology), with career interests in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Consumer Anthropology. Aside from acquiring aspirations with big words, Ryan’s other interests include reading cheesy fiction, writing in any capacity, singing and cooking. Find Ryan on twitter @Ryality or connect with him on LinkedIn.