The online community of Reddit was up in arms over the weekend after the dismissal of an employee who was particularly important to users, reports say. By Monday morning, a petition to remove Reddit CEO Ellen Pao had gathered more than 160,000 signatures.
Victoria Taylor, Reddit’s director of talent and communications, was let go from the social media giant Thursday, and as a result, hundreds of “subreddits” went dark as moderators shut down their threads in revolt.
Taylor had acted as a middleman between moderators, who are unpaid volunteers assigned with monitoring content in “subreddits”, and Reddit’s administrators. She also helped moderators organize the popular “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) section, where public figures like Barack Obama would answer questions submitted by Reddit users.
One user, an AMA moderator who helped organize the shutdown and goes by the username karmanaut, posted a subreddit after the AMA thread became private, locking out users, explaining why Taylor’s dismissal “blindsided” moderators and hurt many users in the Reddit community.
Without Taylor’s facilitation of AMA sessions, karmanaut said, there is no way of ensuring the authenticity of the person responding to questions, Christian Science Monitor reported.
“The admins didn’t realize how much we rely on Victoria,” the user wrote. “Part of it is proof, of course: we know it’s legitimate when she’s sitting right there next to the person and can make them provide proof. We’ve had situations where agents or others have tried to do an AMA as their client, and Victoria shut that … down immediately. We can’t do that anymore.”
Pao apologized for not keeping moderators despite the changes Reddit administrators were planning and told NPR Reddit “relies heavily on the moderators,” and “what we learned from this event is that we need to communicate better with them.”
Pao is Reddit’s interim CEO.