reddit Mods Reject Ellen Pao’s ‘Apology’, Explain Reasoning Behind Site Revolt

The past few weeks haven't been all peaches and cream for reddit, one of the most popular websites in the world. After management abruptly terminated Victoria Taylor, coordinator of the site's Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions and a beloved figure of the community, moderators of several subforums revolted by marking their sections as private, thereby locking out the public and denying reddit the mass amount of traffic it receives.

Interim CEO Ellen Pao issued an apology to the reddit community, and the moderators in particular, over the lack of communication with Taylor's firing. Simply put, Pao told the community that "we screwed up," adding that management's been doing a poor job "over the past several years." She vowed to do a better job going forward, and while the subforums are once again open to the public, her apology didn't heal the gaping wound that management caused.


In response to Pao's apology, Brian Lynch and Courtnie Swearingen, a pair of attorneys and moderators for reddit's iAMA sub, posted an op-ed piece in The New York Times explaining why the revolt took place and what some of the lingering issues are.

"Our primary concern, and reason for taking the site down temporarily, is that reddit’s management made critical changes to a very popular website without any apparent care for how those changes might affect their biggest resource: the community and the moderators that help tend the subreddits that constitute the site," Lynch and Swearingen wrote.

They went on to explain that Taylor's "sudden termination" wasn't the sole event that caused the revolt, but more of the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. According to Lynce and Swearingen, reddit's management has a history of making changes without thinking them through or considering how the people who visit the site on a daily basis.

Ellen Pao
Ellen Pao, interim CEO of reddit

As to Pao's apology for the recent miscommunication, Lynce and Swearingen outright rejected it, calling the incident "part of a reckless disregard for the company's own business and for the work the moderators and users put into the site." They're also perturbed that Pao and the rest of management have yet to explain why Taylor was terminated in the first place.

"Miscommunication implies there was any communication at all or any kind of real planning in place to compensate for the loss, when in reality the moderators and A.M.A. guests were left stranded," the duo wrote. "Though company leaders have apologized publicly, they still have not fully explained the decision."

Meanwhile, an online petition demanding that Pao step down as CEO of reddit has collected over 212,000 signatures.