Two Reddit moderators who were handling the website's popular Ask Me Anything (AMA) subsection have explained the reasons why they helped shut down more than 100 subreddits, or independent portions of the website.
In an Op-ed page article in the New York Times, volunteer moderators Brian Lynch and Courtnie Swearingen, who work on AMA pages that host Q&As with celebrities, experts and politicians, said they purposely shut the forum down for 24 hours.
"We did this after the company abruptly terminated Victoria Taylor, a Reddit employee who worked extensively with us as well as with other moderator teams on facilitating AMAs," they wrote.
They also criticised Reddit management's critical changes to the website "without any apparent care for how those changes might affect their biggest resource: the community and the moderators."
The IAmA subreddit that hosts AMAs has more than 8.5 million subscribers and between 20 and 30 million page views per month on its own.
You will find more statistics at Statista
Lynch and Swearingen further said they acted out of "anger at the way the company routinely demands that the volunteers and community accept major changes that reduce our efficiency and increase our workload."
The moderators said they spent thousands of hours for the for-profit company because its website provides "a democratic forum based on voting to determine what content gets seen".
While the number of subscribers grew to millions, the moderators said, they needed someone like Taylor to help meet the challenges.
"Communities built their policies around her and relied on her as a coach, a warm voice and a point of contact in an emergency. When the company removed her without warning or providing alternative resources, it effectively hindered every community that hosts the wildly popular AMAs that have made Reddit a part of the mainstream media conversation," they wrote.
The two said they established a trusting relationship with Taylor and relied heavily on that trust to operate the subreddit.
On 8 July, Taylor commented publicly on Reddit for the first time since her dismissal, thanking the moderators for the support, while maintaining silence about her dismissal.
"Your voices matter," Taylor said. "You proved that this weekend."
Reddit CEO Ellen Pao earlier apologised, adding that the recent events at the website were due to miscommunication.
"The issue goes beyond Reddit," the moderators noted.
"We are concerned with what a move like this means for for-profit companies that depend on the free labour of volunteers — and whether they truly understand what makes an online community vibrant."