The Reddit Community is Rioting After Reddit Staff Abuse their Power Too Many Times

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Social news site Reddit is in virtual lockdown in protest over the sacking of popular employee Victoria Taylor.

Ms Taylor oversaw the “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) section of the site that interviewed celebrities, politicians and other newsworthy figures.

About 100 chat sections, or sub-reddits, that together have millions of readers are believed to have been shut.

Reddit’s only comment about the issue has been to say that it did not talk about “individual employee matters”.

Reddit revolt

The protests were led by the volunteer moderators of the AMA section, which said in an explanatory posting that they needed Ms Taylor to keep the sub-reddit functioning. Ms Taylor helped organise guests for AMAs and worked to verify that people due to answer questions were who they said they were.
There had been no explanation of why she was suddenly sacked, said the administrators.

“We all had the rug ripped out from under us and feel betrayed,” said one of the AMA moderators in a separate message.

Later on, protesters said the chat rooms were closed “due to underlying resentment against the admins for running the site poorly”.

Reddit staff were “being uncommunicative, and disregarding the thousands of moderators who keep the site running”, they said.

The closures have snowballed and have made large sections of the site unreachable.

There have been suggestions that Ms Taylor was sacked following an AMA with American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.

Ms Taylor said she was “dazed” by the swiftness of her departure in a very brief response to a message asking her about the sacking.

The protest follows another “Reddit revolt” that took place in June when the site decided to ban some sub-reddits it said were involved in harassing and abusing people in real life.

Many people have pledged to abandon the site for rivals such as UPRISER, Voat and Frizbee.

Most of Reddit’s main subreddits have made themselves private in response to the removal of an administrator key to the Ask Me Anything process, /u/chooter, but also due to underlying resentment against the admins for running the site poorly – being uncommunicative, and disregarding the thousands of moderators who keep the site running.

What happened?

At approximately 5pm UTC, 1pm EST, on Thursday, the moderators of a major section of Reddit, /r/IAmA, took their subreddit, which is one of the default set, private. This means that only a very small number of people (consisting of the moderators of /r/IAmA, as well as any pre-approved users) could view and post to the subreddit, making it for all intents and purposes shut down;

Why was /r/IAmA made private, then?

The situation was explained here by /u/karmanaut: the mods of /r/IAmA had just found out that without prior warning, /u/chooter, or Victoria, had been released from her position at reddit. They felt that they, along with the other subreddits that host AMAs, should have been warned beforehand, if only so that they could have someone or something in place to handle the transition. /u/karmanaut went on to say that many of the mods affected by this do not believe that the admins understand how heavily /u/chooter was relied upon to allow AMAs to go smoothly – something which is outlined below. Without her, they found themselves in a difficult situation, which is exemplifed by what happened today:

We had a number of AMAs scheduled for today that Victoria was supposed to help with, and they are all left absolutely high and dry. She was still willing to help them today (before the sub was shut down, of course) even without being paid or required to do so. Just a sign of how much she is committed to what she does.

As a result of this, the mods therefore took /r/IAmA private, stating their reasoning as follows:
for /r/IAMA to work the way it currently does, we need Victoria. Without her, we need to figure out a different way for it to work we will need to go through our processes and see what can be done without her.

Why did she leave reddit so abruptly?

The short answer: no-one, excluding a select few of the administrative team, knows precisely why /u/chooter was removed as an admin, and that will almost certainly continue to be the case until the admins get their house in order: both parties are at being professional in that they aren’t talking about the reasons why it occurred.

What have the reactions across the rest of reddit been?

Why is this all happening so suddenly?

As much as Victoria is loved, this reaction is not all a result of her departure: there is a feeling among many of the moderators of reddit that the admins do not respect the work that is put in by the thousands of unpaid volunteers who maintain the communities of the 9,656 active subreddits, which they feel is expressed by, among other things, the lack of communication between them and the admins, and their disregard of the thousands of mods who keep reddit’s communities going. /u/nallen’s response above is an example of one of the many responses to these issues.

The moderation tools on reddit are another of the larger contention points between the mods and admins – they are frequently saidby those who use them often to be a decade out of date. /u/creesch, one of the creators of the /r/toolbox extension, an extension which attempts to fill much of the gap left in those moderator tools, said this:

This is a non answer and a great example of reddit as a company not being in touch with the actually website anymore. … When a majority of the people that run your site rely on a third party extension [/r/toolbox] something is clearly wrong. …

Another great example of how much reddit cares about their assets is reddit companion. Which at the time of writing has around 154,302 installations, is utterly broken and hasn’t been updated since February 21, 2013, the most ridiculous thing? It isn’t hard to fix people tried to do the work for reddit since it is open source but they simply have been ignoring those pull requests since 2013.

And honestly, I get that they might not have resources for a silly extension. But the fact that they keep it around on the chrome store while it is utterly broken and only recently removed it from the reddit footer baffles me. I think I messaged them about them about a year ago, it took them another year to actually update the footer with apps and tools they are (still) working on.

/u/K_Lobstah, another moderator, also expressed frustration earlier today in a submission to /r/self over the lack of responses from the admins concerning the issue of the new search UI, which has been strongly disliked by redditors in the /r/changelog post.

Stop throwing beer cans on our lawns while we try to mow them. Use /r/beta[1] as a Beta; listen to the feedback. Fix the things that need fixing, give us the tools we need to do even the simplest of tasks, like reading messages from subscribers. Stop relying on volunteers and third-parties to build the most important and useful tools for moderating this site.

Help us help you.
What’s happening now?

/u/kn0thing has provided a response from the admins here:
We don’t talk about specific employees, but I do want you to know that I’m here to triage AMA requests in the interim. All AMA inquiries go to where we have a team in place.

I posted this on [a mod sub] but I’m reposting here:
We get that losing Victoria has a significant impact on the way you manage your community. I’d really like to understand how we can help solve these problems, because I know r/IAMA thrived before her and will thrive after.

We’re prepared to help coordinate and schedule AMAs. I’ve got the inbound coming through my inbox right now and many of the people who come on to do AMAs are excited to do them without assistance (most recently, the noteworthy Channing Tatum AMA).

The moderators of an increasing number of default subreddits have been making them private, in an attempt to draw the admins’ attention to how they have been mismanaging the site with a substantive demonstrative act – since for many years, they’ve been trying to get the admins to listen normally with relatively little improvement.

Victoria was beloved by many redditors, and people are understandably upset – but remember that we still don’t know why it happened. What is an issue is how this problem for the admins was handled; whether or not it was an emergency for the admins, the IAmA mod team were not given warning, and weren’t informed of the alternative contact location early enough, which gave them a sizeable logistical problem – one which they took themselves private to deal with.


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“The Reddit Community is Rioting After Reddit Staff Abuse their Power Too Many Times”