Parts Of Social-Sharing Site Reddit Go Dark In Apparent User Revolt

The popular Reddit question-and-answer section /r/IAmA, along with hundreds of others, have shut down in an apparent protest over the dismissal of a key figure at the social sharing site. (Screengrab from Reddit.com)
The popular Reddit question-and-answer section /r/IAmA, along with hundreds of others, have shut down in an apparent protest over the dismissal of a key figure at the social sharing site. (Screengrab from Reddit.com)

An Internet insurrection is taking place on Reddit, where moderators have shut down many of the social sharing site's most popular sections in an apparent protest over the dismissal of Victoria Taylor.

Taylor was a key figure in Reddit's extremely popular r/IAmA section, which brought in celebrities of all stripes — from actors to musicians and even President Obama — to answer questions submitted from the vast community. Taylor's role was often organizer, mediator and even transcriber for many of the AMAs.

As The Verge reports:

"Taylor, who joined the company in 2013 as its director of communications, was point-of-contact for many of the site's celebrity AMA sessions, relaying questions over the phone to high-profile figures and transcribing their responses. Her sudden departure, moderators say, leaves them unable to effectively set up and run AMA sessions. 'I am the mod in /r/science that organizes all of the science AMAs,' user 'nallen' writes, 'and I am going to have meaningful problems in the /r/Science AMAs; Victoria was the only line of communication with the admins.' "

As a result, the moderators of r/IAmA set the section to "private," effectively closing it to anyone but the moderators. Once word of Taylor's firing began to spread, moderators of other popular sections that cover movies, science, gaming and a host of others, also went private, making much of Reddit essentially useless to regular site visitors.

Reddit users have been keeping track of what sections are closing on a live thread on the site.

It is still unclear why Taylor was let go and the company has not yet made an official statement on the matter. But in a post on the site, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who goes by the username kn0thing, apologized for "how we handled communicating change to the AMA team this morning." In response to the blackout, Ohanian wrote that the message was "received loud and clear," and urged moderators to bring the shut down sections back online.

As TechCrunch reports, one moderator wrote in an open letter that this latest move was "merely the straw that broke the camel's back," and that unrest and a call for changes have been brewing for some time. TechCrunch adds:

"Last month, the site upset many of its most ardent users when it closed down five subreddits on account of 'harassing' content contained within them. Those subreddits did violate Reddit's community policy, but the selective enforcement of the site's guidelines confused and angered many, since other subreddits — some of which contained arguably worse content — were left untouched while these five were closed."

Those closings followed changes to the site's harassment policy, changes that put Reddit's interim CEO, Ellen Pao, under fire from many users, with some even petitioning to have her step down from the company.

The 10-year-old site, one of the Internet's busiest, has more than 160 million monthly visitors.

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