The shock departure of Reddit's director of talent has led to hundreds of popular subreddits being made private in protest including Ask Reddit, Gaming, I AM A (Ask Me Anything) and many more.
Late on Thursday evening (2 July) it was revealed that Victoria Taylor had left her position and as a result Reddit moderators have made a number of the most popular subreddits on the website private, locking everyone except moderators and approved submitters out.
The reason behind Taylor's departure remains unknown, but across Reddit the backlash has begun against a perceived lack of communication from the administrators and owners of the site.
The news was first broken by Reddit user Karmanaut who said that all moderators and users "had the rug ripped out from under us and feel betrayed".
Karmanaut was speaking about the hugely popular subreddit I Am A (/r/IAMA) which Taylor was instrumental in running. Everyone from Barack Obama to Bill Murray, Tim Berners-Lee and ex-mafia boss Michael Franzese have taken part in these sessions where they tell people "Ask me Anything". The idea had become so popular that Reddit even spun it off as a separate app.
The /r/IAmA subreddit was made private and a message on it now reads:
"Due to internal administration reorganisation at reddit, /r/IAmA has temporarily been made private by the moderators. We will be using this time to restructure our process for AMAs."
Karmanaut detailed the crucial role Taylor played in Reddit's AMAs, including helping verify that the person taking part was indeed the person they claimed to be, coordinating the sessions and fixing things when they go wrong.
Karmanaut summed up by saying: "For /r/IAmA to work the way it currently does, we need Victoria. Without her, we need to figure out a different way for it to work."
"Shooting us in the leg"
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian's attempted to diffuse the situation by responding to a question about r/IAmA being locked, 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", adding "We get that losing Victoria has a significant impact on the way you manage your community. I'd really like to understand how we can help solve these problems, because I know r/IAmA thrived before her and will thrive after."
This however did not appease one /r/IAmA moderator by the name of brownboy13, who responded by saying:
/r/IAmA limped along without her. We managed to move from fire to fire and had some truly poor quality posts from people who didn't understand Reddit or what the AMA format was all about. Woody Harrelson, of course, is the prime example. Another would be the fake Emilia Clarke AMA that blew up and everyone thought was real until her manager personally contacted us to tell us that it was wrong. And it translates into bad press for Reddit when that happens.
The subreddit is going to continue to grow by what, 7 or 8 thousand users per day? By saying that we're returning to the pre-Victoria status quo, you're admitting that you're shooting us in the leg but still expecting us to run the same speed. We can't do that.
Elsewhere, other subreddits soon joined forces with the r/IAmA moderators by setting their threads as private, with Reddit user allthefoxes saying that the r/Pics subreddit was made private as this was just the latest incidence of Reddit failing to adequately communicate with moderators.
"Most people are saying that Victoria leaving was the straw that broke the camels back. Reddit's failing at communication with moderators (and users) goes so far back, even to when I wasn't on this site."
The Ask Science subreddit, which is one of the the most heavily moderated subreddits on the site and employs professional staff, has been made private.
The Ask Science moderators made their frustrations at Reddit's paid admin staff clear:
"This is an issue that has been chronically inadequate for moderators of large subreddits reaching out to the admins over the years. Reddit is a great site with an even more amazing community, however it is frustrating to volunteer time to run a large subreddit and have questions go unacknowledged by the people running the site."
A full list of the subreddits (with more than 5,000 subscribers) which have gone private since the news of Taylor's departure broke has been collated, which now stands at almost 250 threads.
Among the biggest subreddits which have gone private include Today I Learned, Music, Movies, Gaming and Ask Reddit, which has almost 9 million subscribers.