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Reddit's users are in revolt

After the dismissal of a Reddit employee, moderators effectively shut down major sections of the site in protest. Management has attempted damage control, and the subreddit that became a flashpoint has since returned, but repercussions for the site are sure to be felt for some time.

  • Ross Miller

    Jul 30, 2015

    Ross Miller

    Former Reddit AMA coordinator Victoria Taylor is now working for the place that hosted AMAs

    The former "face" of Reddit's popular Ask Me Anything section — whose sudden dismissal caused a massive upheaval in the Reddit community and eventually led to CEO Ellen Pao's departure — has found a new home at WeWork. Announced in a post on the r/self subreddit (appropriately enough), Taylor said she will be joining the workspace company as "their first-ever director of digital community."

    Details on what Taylor will be doing as digital community director are slim, but at least it won't be a big change in her commute: "Reddit's New York office has been based out of the WeWork space in Soho West [sic] since before I joined in 2013." WeWork is a company that offers workspaces for individuals and small business / startups. As to when WeWork will be doing a Reddit AMA, Taylor quoted Plan 9 From Outer Space: "Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives."

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  • Adi Robertson

    Jul 29, 2015

    Adi Robertson

    Reddit needs to stop pretending racism is valuable debate

    Reddit's executives are still walking a thin, shaky tightrope as they update the site's content policy. Today, CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman posted a small update on Reddit's new moderator tools and rules for policing the site's worst communities — which could spell one of the biggest shifts in the site's history. He stayed to chat about what the changes would mean.

    And the inevitable question came up: "How do you feel about hosting what may soon be the biggest white supremacist forum on the internet?"

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  • Russell Brandom

    Jul 15, 2015

    Russell Brandom

    Ellen Pao is just hanging out on Reddit now

    There's a lot of bad blood going around Reddit this week — but apparently it hasn't kept Ellen Pao off the site.

    As a joke, the former CEO was invited to be an honorary moderator of the /r/casualconversations subreddit — and yesterday, to the mods' surprise and delight, she accepted. "I've lurked here in the past," Pao wrote. "First time commenting. Still haven't posted." From there, the conversation turned to potato chips (Pao prefers Fritos), client apps (she uses Alien Blue for mobile redditing), and animal GIFs. "Someone sent me an awesome baby hedgehog gif yesterday, so that's on my mind today," Pao wrote in the thread. "The past few days have been a little less casual than I'd like. Right now, I'm just relaxing."

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  • Adi Robertson

    Jul 15, 2015

    Adi Robertson

    Was Reddit always about free speech? Yes, and no

    Reddit is all about free speech. Or maybe it's not about free speech. Or maybe nobody knows what Reddit is about. Or maybe nobody knows what free speech is about. Reddit's management doesn't seem sure, and it's threatening to tear the site apart.

    Yesterday, Reddit's incoming CEO and original co-founder Steve Huffman said he'd be holding a Q&A session over the site's content policy. Reddit is famously expansive in what it allows, but it's taken a very mild stand against harassment in the past months, which has created a firestorm over whether or not Reddit is truly in favor of free speech.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Jul 10, 2015

    Adi Robertson

    Interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao replaced by company co-founder Steve Huffman

    Ellen Pao, the interim CEO of Reddit who took over the site last year, has officially stepped down. "Ellen Pao resigned from Reddit today by mutual agreement. I’m delighted to announce that Steve Huffman, founder and the original Reddit CEO, is returning as CEO," said Reddit board member Sam Altman in a statement. Huffman co-founded Reddit with Alexis Ohanian, who left the company for a time before returning as executive chair. According to Altman, Ohanian will now work with Huffman under the title of "co-founder."

    Altman reiterated promises that Pao made in an apology last week, promising better moderation tools and communication with the site's administrators. He also said that Reddit users "deserve clarity about what the content policy of Reddit is going to be," and that administrators would create guidelines "to both preserve the integrity of Reddit and to maintain Reddit as the place where the most open and honest conversations with the entire world can happen." This is likely in response to an anti-harassment policy that saw five subreddits banned last month after complaints.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Jul 10, 2015

    Adi Robertson

    Welcome to Voat: Reddit killer, troll haven, and the strange face of internet free speech

    Reddit’s refugees are, by some accounts, the worst of an already bad lot. They’re the people who deride any hint of anti-racism or anti-sexism as “social justice warrior” (or SJW) antics, believe that surreptitiously creepshotting teenage girls is a heroic use of free speech, and leave a site because banning five harassing boards with names like /r/FatPeopleHate is an unspeakable act of oppression. And there’s one place that will take them in.

    That place is called Voat, and the day I create my account, one of its more popular boards is dedicated to introductions. Almost every submission, including mine, draws at least a couple of friendly, welcoming comments. For a site that grew partly because people wanted the right to say the most vile things possible, its users are often polite and thoughtful, at least by internet forum standards.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Jul 8, 2015

    Adi Robertson

    Reddit mods defend Ask Me Anything blackout in The New York Times

    Two moderators of Reddit's popular Ask Me Anything subreddit have taken to The New York Times to explain a shutdown that sparked a nearly site-wide blackout last week. Brian Lynch and Courtnie Swearingen, a pair of attorneys who manage r/IAmA in their spare time, have previously said that they took the subreddit offline after the abrupt firing of employee Victoria Taylor. Taylor acted as a liaison between Reddit's volunteer moderators and the paid administrators, which included helping coordinate high-profile AMA visits — President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and any number of celebrities have appeared on the site.

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  • Reddit is changing because it wants celebrities to visit more

    Reddit's removal of talent director Victoria Taylor sparked a community protest over the weekend, and now the site seems to be touching on some of the reasons why it let her go. In a comment, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian essentially writes that her dismissal is part of an overhaul to how Reddit will work with celebrities. Rather than occasionally helping celebrities conduct an hour-or-so question and answer session — which is what Taylor did in Reddit's AMA community — Ohanian says that Reddit now intends to help celebrities become "consistent posters ... rather than one off occurrences." Ohanian says that Reddit will still help bring big names to the AMA section, but it intends to let the section's moderators take it from there.

    What Ohanian describes sounds wonderful — it's pretty great to have Arnold Schwarzenegger just show up in your Terminator thread — but it also sounds like a big challenge. Getting a busy movie star, writer, activist, scientist, or whoever to take questions for an hour is something Reddit has become quite good at given the huge audience it can provide them with; getting that same person to browse Reddit and write up a comment with any consistency will likely be more difficult. Ohanian points out that some big names, like Schwarzenegger and Snoop Dogg, already swing by to make occasional comments, but that's only a few compared to the number that have passed through /r/iama.

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  • Ellen Pao says 'we screwed up' and promises to make Reddit better

    Reddit CEO Ellen Pao has written a note apologizing for the site's communication issues and longterm failure to deliver on promises made to its community. "We screwed up," she writes. "Not just on July 2nd, but also over the past several years."

    Though Pao doesn't entirely address the variety of issues that led to many sections of Reddit's community shutting down over the weekend, she does call out a series of changes being implemented to make the site a better place. That includes new tools for moderation and identifying Reddit employees who moderators can voice their concerns to. "We are grateful for all you do for Reddit," Pao writes to the site's moderators, "and the buck stops with me."

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  • Dante D'Orazio

    Jul 4, 2015

    Dante D'Orazio

    Nearly all major subreddits are back online following Reddit protests

    Just a day after a massive revolt tore down parts of Reddit, the site now appears to be mostly back to normal. Most all major subreddits are back online after volunteer moderators (who run subreddits without direct control from the company) began setting hundreds of popular subreddits to private mode on Thursday and Friday, shutting out nearly all visitors.

    The protests accomplished its goal — the uprising at Reddit gained international media attention, including articles from The New York Times, The Guardian, Time, and the BBC — and it appears moderators decided there was little benefit in continuing to keep their subreddits offline.

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  • Loren Grush

    Jul 3, 2015

    Loren Grush

    The Ask Me Anything subreddit is back, but the moderators still sound pissed

    Reddit’s Ask Me Anything subreddit, r/IAmA, is back online again, after the site’s moderators switched the section into private mode overnight. The subreddit was one of many to go private yesterday — including r/videos, r/gaming, r/science, and more — as a protest over the firing of Reddit Director of Communications Victoria Taylor. Other major subreddits have also since reappeared.

    In a "Welcome Back!" message on r/IAmA, the moderators explain their reasoning behind closing down the subreddit. And they sound pissed.

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  • Loren Grush

    Jul 3, 2015

    Loren Grush

    Reddit CEO Ellen Pao: 'We are going to figure this out and fix it'

    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Reddit CEO Ellen Pao commented this morning about the firing of Reddit Director of Communications Victoria Taylor, a move that has resulted in a very public revolt from users of the site. Pao wrote that the site is working on better tools for its moderators, but it will be a while before those tools are made available. "The bigger problem is that we haven't helped our moderators with better support after many years of promising to do so," Pao wrote in a comment. She said that Reddit has hired new employees to help build these tools, as well as new employees to engage with the community and its moderators. "We are going to figure this out and fix it," Pao wrote.

    Since she was hired in 2013, Victoria Taylor has worked on Reddit’s popular "Ask Me Anything" question-and-answer sessions. She served as the main contact for celebrities and other high-profile figures participating in the sessions, helping to transcribe their answers to users’ questions over the phone. In response to her firing, Reddit moderators have effectively shut down many of the site’s most popular sections.

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  • Rich McCormick

    Jul 3, 2015

    Rich McCormick

    Reddit's most powerful members are holding the site hostage

    Reddit moderators have shut down several of the site's most popular sections in response to the company's dismissal of Victoria Taylor. Acting as the main facilitator for its "Ask Me Anything" question-and-answer sessions, Taylor was one of Reddit's most visible employees when she was fired, a corporate decision that moderators say will make securing and executing the site's signature AMAs much more difficult. In addition to the r/IAmA subreddit, huge default subreddits that appear on the site's frontpage have temporarily switched to private mode, including r/videos, r/gaming, r/AskReddit, r/science, r/history, and r/movies.

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