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President Obama on Reddit: Just a stunt?

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

(Read caption) Supporters of President Obama cheer as he walks on stage to speak at a campaign event on Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va. On the same day, he connected with some 200,000 visitors in a debut appearance on the social forum Reddit.

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President Obama made a surprise appearance on an “Ask Me Anything” session on the social forum Reddit yesterday, delighting Redditors by fielding questions on a wide variety of topics, from the difficulties of handling school loans to how he balances his work and family time.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors crowded onto the site, crashing it for a time. To some in the tech world, the visit was a coming-out party for such Internet platforms, a moment that showed they have the power to create news, not just aggregate it.

“Just as Oprah joining Twitter was seen as a turning point for that service, the President participating on Reddit is a breakthrough for the service,” writes Christina Warren on the Web news site Mashable.

Well, we’d agree it was a great thing for Reddit, per se. It shined lots of attention on its interesting AMA section and gives a boost to its overall brand.

Plus, it was a good move for the White House. As Ms. Warren notes, there were over 200,000 visitors on the site watching the event live yesterday at around 4:30 p.m. That’s a pretty big audience, and probably more than were watching the GOP convention at that moment. Political counterprogramming! It’s what’s for afternoon tea.

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