Friday, August 31, 2012


Without any fanfare ahead of time, The President of the United States spent 30 minutes answering questions from anonymous users with no mediation on a website run by 20 people, and in a forum that was organically created by volunteers. Tens of thousands of people actively participated by voting and/or commenting and millions watched, and The President even broke some news in the Q & A (by suggesting a new amendment for the first time). Did it go perfectly smooth? Nope. Is this the absolute perfect format for politicians to answer questions? Nope. But it worked, and it was a big step, not just for reddit, but for online communities everywhere. No matter how you feel about the IAMA, reddit, the President, or politics in general, we hope that what took place this past Wednesday will inspire other online communities and start-ups, and encourage other politicians to seek out more ways to talk directly with their constituents. We thank the President and his team for making this happen.

Key figures from the IAMA:

  • 2,987,307 pageviews on the day of 
  • 5,280,441 pageviews so far in total (as of 9 AM PT 8/31 -- not accounting for stats lag).

In the first five minutes, there were 37 comments. By the ten minute mark, redditors had made 278 comments. Within half an hour that number jumped to 5,266 and was over 10,000 by the end of the first hour.

The only link in recorded history to have surpassed the front page. 
At any given time, the front page of reddit ( 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.

 The President’s account was given 5 years, 9 months of reddit gold! (Suppose someone will have to figure out how to declare virtual gifts if they haven’t already).

PresidentObama's user page received 428,004 pageviews on the day of the IAMA.

As many speculated, the username /u/PresidentObama was not actually publicly available. That user deleted their account a while ago, so when this event arose, we made the username available for the President. If you are not a current or former head of state, don’t ask us for a deleted username.

The whole site 
There were 865,092 unique visits during the first hour after the IAMA began -- up from 518,312 before it started. At peak, Google Analytics showed 198,000 active concurrent visitors.  At the peak of the IAMA reddit was receiving over 100,000 pageviews per minute.

Map of Barack Obama AMA traffic by City and Hour - August 29th 2012 

Technical bits
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. This IAMA gave us a lot of information on what we need to do next not only to handle the next megathread on reddit, but also to make reddit faster in general. We’re going to redesign our load balancer system to be more flexible under this kind of load, and we’ve got a bunch of things we need to do to make our code more efficient for giant comment threads. Both of these improvements should make day-to-day reddit use faster as well.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Fundraising Options Designed Just for redditors

We're constantly impressed by all the big and small altruistic fundraising campaigns that the reddit community has supported. For a while now, we've been trying to help encourage some additional tools for redditors to be able to collectively raise funds. For nonprofit projects in particular we wanted to find some low or no fee options so that as much of redditors' money goes to the cause and not to payment processing and other fees. We also wanted to see more built in accountability and fraud checks, so that redditors can be more confident that their money is going where they think it is. Additionally, we wanted easier ways for mods to integrate fundraisers into their subreddits.

We now have two new and promising tools that should help make it easier and more reliable for future fundraising and charitable giving. - You may have already seen this one in action for the /r/breakingbad fundraiser or others. Crowdtilt has set up a special version of their site based on redditor needs. Some of the main benefits of their tool:

  • Worldwide. People can contribute from all over the world. 
  • Good for nonprofits: Crowdtilt provides tax-deductible receipts to donors and disburses funds to verified 501(c)(3) non-profits directly. 
  • Safe. Anybody with a U.S. bank account can receive money (more countries coming soon), and Crowdtilt will help verify beneficiaries of campaigns. Beneficiary can not be changed/hidden. Any fundraiser with "verified 501(c)(3)" status means that the recipient of funds matches IRS info for the same non-profit.
  • Low fee. Crowdtilt is waiving their fee for this collaboration, so only a 2.5% fee for secure credit card processing applies (less than PayPal and other sites). 
  • Can also work for various groups or other campaigns that are not official non-profits to collect funds for meetups etc.
  • Event driven with finite time frame.

See a live example at reddit PUNTS Cancer or radio reddit's Best of Campaign . To start a campaign with Crowdtilt go

Dwolla & Stripe ( - This one is brand new. Dwolla (online payments company) and Stripe (payment system for developers) teamed up to create This allows for non-profit fundraising where you can pay with Dwolla, or any credit card (through Stripe). Some of the main benefits of their tool:

  • Easy to use for mods. Subreddit moderators can drop a donate button into their sidebar allowing redditors the ability to donate directly to the nonprofits, no third-parties holding the money. 
  • Safe. Limited to verified 501(c)(3) non-profits who have to confirm accounts. 
  • Open ended time frame. 
  • Low or no fee (Dwolla: $10 and under = free to send/receive money, $10 and over = flat fee of 25¢, Stripe: 2.9% + 30¢ for any transaction).
Here's an example of what their tool looks like in a subreddit:
/r/TwoXChromosomes (she's the first)
/r/Programming (girls who code and hackNY)
/r/assistance (goods for good and united way nyc)
You can see all the nonprofits currently available and how to use this in a subreddit you moderate at /r/redditDonate

These two tools are each a bit different and will develop further based on feedback from the reddit community. We hope they make awesome fundraising projects easier, less expensive, and more secure. We're still talking to other companies on your behalf as well. Let us know what else you would like to see!

Monday, August 20, 2012

University of reddit - Explore any subject that interests you

Imagine a university where you have the freedom to take whatever class sounds interesting. Imagine being able to choose freely from courses like Hindi 101, Algebraic Topology, 17th Century Italian Fencing, Abelton Live, The Art and Science of Making Great Beer, Neural Basis of Cognition, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, or Starcraft II Strategy. Now imagine not having to worry about attendance, grades, tuition, sharing personal information, or anything else but learning for learning's sake. Teachers and potential teachers: imagine being able to explore any subject that interests you and imagine having complete freedom to plan your curricula and carry out your class.

University of reddit strives to be just such a community. University of reddit is a community project that has grown organically over the past few years into a place for anyone looking to learn or teach. It was created by redditors for redditors. It now features a variety of classes spanning Art, Computer Science, Fun & Games, General Studies, Language, Mathematics & Statistics, Music, Philosophy, Science, and Social Sciences. Thousands of students have participated and many people have dedicated their free time to teaching something they are passionate about.

If any of this tickles your learning fancy, there are many ways to get involved with University of reddit.
University of reddit is still new and growing, but it's amazing what the community of teachers and students, mods, and admins there have built. Join the project and consider enrolling or teaching today.

Vastatis tempus sapienter!