Reddit, the self-described “frontpage of the internet”, is in meltdown today after news broke that management had laid off a popular Reddit employee for reasons that remain unclear.
In a never-before seen move, hundreds of Reddit’s communities, known as subreddits, including those with tens of millions of subscribers, turned private, preventing discussion and link sharing, in protest of the move.
Victoria Taylor, known on the social website by her username “chooter”, was a community organiser for Reddit, and the person behind the site’s popular AMA (Ask Me Anything) series, where high profile figures from film stars to US President Barack Obama answer unfiltered questions asked by Reddit users.
Reddit management have steadfastly refused to discuss the reasons behind Taylor’s dismissal, with a rumour on the site stating that she disagreed with management over the future commercialisation and censoring of the site to attract advertisers and a more mainstream audience. Embattled interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao has denied this was the cause of the dismissal, but has not offered an alternative explanation.
Despite being surprised by her immediate dismissal, Taylor took the time to apologise to the various subreddit moderators on the site that she would not be able to help them out in organising future AMAs.
In an attempt to convince the volunteer moderators to make their subreddits public again, Reddit management made a statement saying that they have heard the community’s complinats “loud and clear”:
However, many moderators appear to be unconvinced, with many calling for the resignation of Pao. Thousands of Reddit users have also flocked to alternative sites such as Voat, causing them to struggle under the huge spikes in traffic.
Heated discussion about the Reddit management’s abilities and understanding on its communities continues at the InTheLoop subreddit, while a constantly updated list of the subreddits affected is available at SubredditDrama.