Reddit describes itself as “the front page of the internet”, but over the last few days the presses have been stopped thanks to a firestorm of confusion and anger.
The recent removal of several Reddit communities (subreddits) lead many users to decry the seemingly hypercritical move. Although the subreddits removed did deal with things such as extreme racism and prejudice, many subreddits focusing on equally or more sinister principles were left standing. Many users began to discuss this sudden change to the traditionally open forum of Reddit as a way to prune the site, making it look better for investors and advertisers while not fulfilling the promise of the changes to make the community “safer”. Many users saw this as a type of gentrification and began to flock to Voat, a site which is functionally similar to Reddit.
The next round of protest from the userbase came as a blackout of the site. A popular employee and director of talent at Reddit, Victoria Taylor, was seemingly dismissed without any notification from upper management at Reddit, leaving a very popular part of the site dead in the water. In protest, various part of Reddit began to become inaccessible and for almost a day the site was almost completely dead. This was a serious blow to the site as despite from the loss of traffic and revenue, the community would soon learn that another employee was fired for having leukaemia, but this has been denied by a Reddit spokesperson.
With the site desperately asking for answer and finding none, Ellen Pao and Alexis Ohanian (one of Reddit’s co-founders) spoke to Time about the incidents, in which Pao apologised:
“I want to apologize to our community for yesterday,” Pao said, “We handled the transition in a way that caused some disruption, and we should have done a better job.”
She would later go on to decline further comments regarding Victoria Taylor.
It seems Reddit is in a downward spiral at the moment, and the doomsayers are already ringing their bells and preaching, but we will have to wait for more time to pass to see if Reddit can recover from poor management and a community intolerant of mistreatment.
//Updated – 6th July
Ellen Pao has come forward in a announcement on Reddit, seemingly owning up to the mistakes of her management:
“We screwed up. Not just on July 2, but also over the past several years. We haven’t communicated well, and we have surprised moderators and the community with big changes. We have apologized and made promises to you, the moderators and the community, over many years, but time and again, we haven’t delivered on them,” Pao said, “When you’ve had feedback or requests, we haven’t always been responsive. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of reddit.”
The community, again, seems largely splintered regarding the announcement. While mentions of changes have been made, as of now no actual changes have taken effect on the site.