Visitors to Reddit might have found their usual content viewing disrupted last week after a revolt occurred on a number of major (and many minor) subreddits. So, what happened, and what does it mean now?
It all started with a surprise announcement. Victoria Taylor, the beloved AMA (Ask Me Anything) coordinator who oversaw interviews with many celebrities on the site, had been terminated.
This immediately started off a veritable storm of anger. Not only from the users of the site who had come to know her, but especially from the moderator’s of the site.
You see, AMA’s are not always very good. The Woody Harrelson AMA, in which a PR agent very transparently tried to pass themselves off as the actor became a punchline, and was one of many events that made Victoria’s job so necessary. She verified the identities of participants, made sure they understood ahead of time what the purpose and format was, kept things on topic, and assisted interviewees with answering interesting questions that provided real insight.
She also acted as a liaison between paid and unpaid staff. The moderator’s at AMA “went dark”, setting the subreddit to private to keep people from seeing posts in protest. They said that the one administrator that listened to them and really helped with communication with the site was gone without warning, and they didn’t want to go back to the constant panic and fire-battling from before.
Other subreddits caught wind of what was going on. They also went dark out of solidarity, stopped taking new subscribers, or just stopped posting anything but anti-Reddit content.
But one call was rising about the others: get rid of Ellen Pao.
Pao is the current CEO of Reddit, and she has been a controversial figure for decisions made both on and off the site. She has recently lost a lawsuit claiming gender discrimination at a former job, and her husband is in some legal trouble. Some people have accused her of filing the lawsuit in a bid to find funds and offset her husband’s fraud and bankruptcy.
In the end, people have taken this to be proof that Pao not only doesn’t understand the userbase of her company, but is actively against it. She has been accused again and again of running Reddit into the ground.
There is a petition to have her resign, currently at over 161,000 signatures.
Will this blow over? Will shareholders push Pao to resign as users demand? Will Reddit implode in a Digg-esque sort of way? Will we be forced to do the unthinkable and move to (gasp!) Voat?
Stay tuned to find out!
Update: Ellen Pao apologizes again and promises solutions.