The co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian has apologised for the way his team handled the communication of the departure of a prominent member of the team and says the message has been received "loud and clear" following the blackout of hundreds of subreddits.
Ohanian said he took the blame for the problems which happened on Thursday following the surprise departure of Victoria Taylor who played a crucial role in running Reddit's hugely popular AMA subreddit:
"I'm sorry for how we handled communicating change to the AMA team this morning. I take responsibility for that."
Moderators clearly angry at the surprise move acted quickly by making the r/IAmA subreddit private, meaning only moderators and approved submitters were allowed access, effectively shutting if off from the rest of the community.
In the hours that followed moderators for hundreds of other subreddits, including hugely popular threads like Ask Reddit, Music, Gaming and Books, all followed suit by making their subreddits private.
Ohanian said the message had been heard "loud and clear" but he now wanted to work on getting the subreddits back online.
"The communication between Reddit and the moderators needs to improve dramatically. We will work closely with you all going forward to ensure events like today don't happen again. At this point, however, the blackout has served its purpose, and now it's time to get Reddit functioning again."
To help ease moderators worries that things will change, Ohanian announced that a well-known member of the Reddit community - Krispykrackers - would be "point person for moderator issues" to address immediate concerns.
He added that more resources would be put into helping moderators effectively handle AMAs and that the company was building tools to help moderators do their jobs more effectively.
Ohanian had responded earlier to a question about Taylor's firing by saying: "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."
The reason behind Taylor's dismissal remains a mystery.
Here is Ohanian's full post:
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.
That said, I would like to accomplish two things immediately:
Get the blacked out subreddits back online
Your message was received loud and clear. The communication between Reddit and the moderators needs to improve dramatically. We will work closely with you all going forward to ensure events like today don't happen again. At this point, however, the blackout has served its purpose, and now it's time to get Reddit functioning again. I know many of you are still upset. We will continue to work through these issues with you all, but redditors don't deserve to be punished any further over an issue that is ultimately between Reddit and the moderators.
Work out a plan for going forward
In the short-term, we will use this forum to discuss how we will improve being a moderator on reddit. I'll personally be in here asking and listening. There are a couple of changes we can make immediately to improve our relationship:
- u/krispykrackers, a well-trusted employee and community member, is now going to be point person for moderator issues. This should help alleviate the immediate pain, and we'll continue to evaluate how it's working going forward.
- 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).
Longer term, we are building tools to help you all do your jobs more effectively (anti-brigading and better modmail/tools are already in progress). We will build these with your input and incorporate more transparency. We have many ideas, and we would like to hear yours. We will keep you all in the loop as our plans crystallize into actual tools.