Yesterday, major activity centers for Reddit descended into an uproar when the community found out that Victoria Taylor, the Reddit community’s trusted and well-liked AMA mod, had been fired without notice and numerous default subs going private until the situation blew over. Many more subs voluntarily went dark in solidarity with the default subs who went private, as well as to protest what they saw as a gross mishandling of affairs on the site.
Many of the default subs that were private are now back to being public, one of the first being r/History as of early morning today, along with most having explanations stating why they went dark and how they plan to proceed from here on out. Here is a post from the mods of r/IAmA explaining their situation and indicating that a rift remains between them and Reddit leadership:
“..We have taken the day to try to understand how Reddit will seek to replace Victoria, and have unfortunately come to the conclusion that they do not have a plan that we can put our trust in. The admins have refused to provide essential information about arranging and scheduling AMAs with their new ‘team.’ This does not bode well for future communication between us, and we cannot be sure that everything is being arranged honestly and in accordance with our rules. The information we have requested is essential to ensure that money is not changing hands at any point in the procedure which is necessary for /r/IAmA to remain equal and egalitarian. As a result, we will no longer be working with the admins to put together AMAs..”
Alexis Ohanian, known on the site as “u/kn0thing”, posted this apology and subsequent explanation:
“First, I’m sorry for how we handled communicating change to the AMA team this morning. I take responsibility for that. We should have made a post to r/DefaultMods announcing the transition and contacted the affected mods teams right after it happened and clearly articulated how there would not be a disruption with scheduled AMAs and those communications would now happen via AMA@reddit.com as we find a full-time replacement.”
“We will continue to dedicate resources to AMAs specifically to help manage the workload. Moderating AMAs are a uniquely heavy burden because it requires a lot of coordination between the external guests and the moderators, and Reddit will always be involved. Our process won’t be perfect overnight, but we will refine it over time with the moderators (especially r/IAMA, r/science, r/books the most prolific communities for AMAs).”
Another major development after last night’s article was a revelation that came from former Reddit Community Manager “Dacvak”, whose real name is David Croach. He was able to make a post in subreddit r/IAmA, describing his time with Reddit:
“..Back in 2011, I applied for a job at reddit. The job was actually /u/hueypriest’s (Erik Martin) former position as Community Manager as he stepped up to General Manager of reddit. In late 2011, after a series of interviews, I received a call from /u/hueypriest offering me the position of Community Manager. (Back then, there were seriously about 10 employees at reddit. It was a very, very small company.) I obviously accepted the position.
However, in early 2012, a week before I was supposed to move to San Francisco, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with leukemia. I spent the next six of seven months in the hospital and received four enormous rounds of chemo as well as a bone marrow transplant. During my treatment (the day after my birthday, actually), reddit had made a company blog post about my diagnosis, reaching out to the community to help me find a bone marrow donor. reddit had also made the choice to keep my position open until I was able to return healthy and able to work. I will forever be grateful for what /u/hueypriest and the rest of the company did for me back then..”
He then goes on to describe his meetings with then-Interim CEO Ellen Pao after the implementation of Reddit’s policy that all employees must relocate to San Francisco to continue employment:
“..I had sat down with Ellen Pao (current reddit CEO) to discuss my future at reddit and when I was able to move. I had told her that it would still be at least a month (but probably closer to 2 or 3) before I was finally able to move to SF, and she said she was 100% fine with that..”
“..Less than a month later, in February of 2015, I received a call from Ellen stating that I was to be terminated in less than a week. When I asked what the specific reason was, she had roughly stated that ‘because of our discussion, you are too sick to properly fulfill your duties as Community Manager.’..”
“..I pleaded with Ellen to let me stay, as I had been sick for over a full year now and the only thing that was on my mind was coming back to work – work I loved so very, very much. She finally stated that if I were to get permission from my doctor stating that it was okay for me to move to SF and begin work, that I would be able to come back. I stated this wouldn’t be a problem, and proceeded to contact my doctor to arrange this. Unfortunately, a day later, she had called and once again stated that I was fired, stating that work would be too demanding for my health..”
David then goes on to offer his thoughts on Victoria Taylor and her dismissal, echoing the statements of many others that corroborate her popularity with the community:
“..Victoria was, without question, one of the nicest, most passionate, most efficient workers at reddit, and I honestly can’t fathom why she would have been terminated. It was such an honor to work with her, and as many mods have already stated, she truly took her work to heart and tried to provide a service to the community. She was one of the most well-known admins and was just incredible at her job. Without her, there would be hundreds of incredible AMAs that would have never happened..”
“..My guess as to why she was fired is as good as anyone else’s..”
He continues to offer a musing that Reddit seems to be hoping to turn AMAs into a more commercial venture, which might not have sat well with Victoria. It’s pertinent to note that while this has not been confirmed, it is currently a prevailing theory from Reddit’s community as to why Victoria was fired.
One of David’s comments within his post also seems to indicate that during a company meeting with Pao, things got contentious for a moment, with Pao responding to a staff member questioning why they should trust her in her then-interim position by stating, “You’ll have to pry this position from my cold, dead hands!!!”. This answer was apparently met with applause from other staff around the room.
As of this time, David’s post is no longer on the front page of Reddit, and his account has been deleted. [Eds note: It must be emphasized that all the above information from David is from him and him alone, therefore just accusatory at best rather than fact.]
Another popular Reddit mod, “kickme444”, creator of the subreddit r/secretsanta, revealed that he too no longer works for Reddit, and according to his Twitter, he has been out of the company for a couple weeks, setting off another round of outrage within the community after the announcement.
With CEO Ellen Pao’s popularity plummeting, there is currently a petition on change.org that as of this writing has over 64,000 signatures and counting, demanding for Pao to step down from her position.
With this just being the latest (and by far the biggest) ordeal Reddit has endured under Pao’s leadership, many users are migrating over to an upstart competing site, Voat.co, which as of this writing is down from heavy load, and has been periodically since the start of this latest debacle.
One has to wonder just how much more of this Reddit can take.