We’ve got less than 100 days before U.S. voters elect the person they want to succeed Barack Obama as president. And as we inch closer toward November, both candidates are spreading their message by every available means, both online and offline, including leveraging popular media services to interact with supporters.
One tool that has become important is the “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) format, which Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took advantage of last week, mid-way through the Democratic National Convention (DNC). For an hour, he responded to questions on Reddit in a session organized within one of the site’s political subReddits, made up of supporters. But contrast the GOP candidate’s version of an AMA on Reddit with that of his opponent, Secretary Hillary Clinton, who has selected Quora for perhaps a more professional discussion of the issues.
When Trump held his AMA, moderators enacted what they termed “security measures,” designed to keep the discussion “free from troublemakers.” These weren’t official Reddit rules, and the moderators were free to set up their own rules and guidelines, as long as they adhered to the service’s content policies. In order to ask a question of the candidate, users needed to have been on the site for more than 30 days and have accrued more than 500 points in “combined karma.”
Clinton, on the other hand, has opted to pursue an AMA free of such extra security measures. She, along with running mate Senator Tim Kaine, will participate in a session next week, and she has asked the Quora community to submit questions ahead of time. But the choice of forums tells a story in itself: Quora’s mission is to grow the world’s knowledge, and it’s a social network for professional discussions. Reddit, on the other hand, fields a wide variety of discussions, and frequently descends into more controversial and bizarre topics.
While Trump’s Reddit AMA had firm security measures in place, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo told VentureBeat that Clinton’s session will not. But he said he feels confident that the Clinton and Kaine event will go off without excessive trolling. D’Angelo explained that Quora doesn’t have special rules in place — it has one set of conditions for everyone on the site — and he believes that the quality of the conversation will be high because those in the community adhere to its policy: “Be nice, be respectful.”
Neither Clinton nor Kaine are new to Quora, but D’Angelo admits that this is the first time that a presidential ticket from either party has done an AMA-like event on Quora right after a party convention. He also said that the service would welcome participation by Trump and his running mate, Indiana governor Mike Pence.
So far, more than 36,000 people are following the Clinton and Kaine Quora event, which will take place on Monday, August 8, starting at 9:00 a.m. Pacific. Questions already being asked include what the Democratic ticket thinks of Black Lives Matter, the U.S. policy on China, how to make college education more affordable, Clinton’s stance on H-1B visas, appealing to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, why Clinton hasn’t held a news conference in 200 days, the issue around Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches, dealing with ISIS, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
On the flip side, Trump’s Reddit AMA was filled with questions from disenfranchised Sanders supporters, questions about Clinton’s lack of press conferences, and questions about media bias, Obamacare, voter fraud, NASA, WikiLeaks, and Net Neutrality (which Trump declined to answer).
While Reddit is accustomed to dealing with diverse commentators, in an election year with polarizing candidates, can Quora’s self-policing community and professionalism hold up when Clinton and Kaine kick off their AMA? D’Angelo puts his faith in the service’s ability to minimize trolling, saying, “We can handle it.”