Reddit recently had issues when a popular employee was fired and users started a revolt against the decision. That lead to interim CEO Ellen Pao leaving Reddit and in a new announcement that Steve Huffman, the first CEO and co-founder is back at the helm.
Reddit has been going off with conspiracy theories about what happened and what’s not being said by the company. According to sources as Reddit and Pao, this was a mutual decision and she was not fire. Some conspiracy theorists on Reddit believe Pao was a scapegoat and the board wanted rid of her.
Reddit is a place where people can form communities that write to each other on different topics, or subreddits. There are some amazing communities on Reddit that connect others, share ideas and are like melting pots of ideas, creativity and human connection. Sadly, due to the open nature of Reddit and its belief in free speech, darker topics end up on the site, and this is where Reddit’s possible future destruction may come from. As is shown by Pao’s departure, some users of Reddit feel it is fine to post death threats or use their freedom of speech to bring people down and harm others.
The team that run the site, the moderators, are an unpaid team that volunteer their time. They aren’t paid by the company, and don’t have any thing connecting them too tightly to Reddit. It’s not the board behind Reddit that make the site, but the unpaid moderators who connect with the users.
A problem with Reddit was that the moderators weren’t people the company itself was connecting with, aside from the employee who was recently fired and started the uproar, Victoria Taylor, who ran the Ask Me Anything (AMA) feature of the site. Reddit, through it’s lack of communication, firing the only person who communicated from the company to the community, making a statement to the media and not the users, making a statement to the users that could be downvoted and push down the list of posts on the site, and taking the third go to finally communicate properly with users is not a good way to run a business.
In other industries it may work, however the users of Reddit are a community, not shareholders or employees. The ones moderating on the site aren’t paid employees, and this creates a different dynamic. What connection does someone who isn’t under a contract, who isn’t paid, who doesn’t have the company communicate to them have to the company?
Reddit plan to make some changes to the site, with a promise of better moderation tools and better communication from the admins, as well as a clear policy to preserve the integrity of Reddit and maintain Reddit as “the place on where the most open and honest conversations with the entire world can happen”. Some commentators are predicting the death of Reddit, others are thinking a new site will rise from the ashes, but Reddit may live on despite the naysayers.