The chief executive of the social media site Reddit, Ellen Pao, has apologized for “letting down” users after the company fired a well-liked employee.
Until Thursday, Victoria Taylor managed the site’s popular Ask Me Anything subreddit. Her dismissal as director of talent sparked a “Reddit revolt”, in which about 300 subreddits (or discussion areas) on topics including gaming, science, history, and cinema were shut down by their moderators.
While Reddit would not comment on the specifics of Taylor’s dismissal, the company said it was working on providing its moderators with a better infrastructure and support network.
In a comment posted on Reddit in response to a user looking for alternative sites, Pao said: “The bigger problem is that we haven’t helped our moderators with better support after many years of promising to do so.
“We do value moderators; they allow Reddit to function and they allow each subreddit to be unique and to appeal to different communities. This year, we have started building better tools for moderators and for admins to help keep subreddits and Reddit awesome, but our infrastructure is monolithic, and it is going to take some time.
“We hired someone to product manage it, and we moved an engineer to help work on it. We hired five more people for our community team in total to work with both the community and moderators. We are also making changes to reddit.com, adding new features like better search and building mobile web, but our testing plan needs improvement.
“As a result, we are breaking some of the ways moderators moderate. We are going to figure this out and fix it.”
In an interview with Time, Pao said she wanted to apologize to Reddit users and added that the management should have informed moderators earlier about personnel changes.
Neither Pao nor Alexis Ohanian, the company co-founder and chairman, would comment on the firing of Taylor. Ohanian did dismiss speculation that Taylor’s departure had to do with the moderation of a Wednesday AMA with Reverend Jesse Jackson, which according to Time “became disorganized after a flurry of questions about racial issues”.
“That had nothing to do with it,” Ohanian told Time, going on to say that Kristine Fasnacht would take on the role of liaison between the site and the site’s moderators. Fasnacht is a community manager at the site.
In the wake of the user protests, Ohanian posted that he was there “to triage AMA requests in the interim”. He spent hours communicating with users, fielding concerns and suggestions.
“Now it’s on us to act, to use Reddit to create a dialogue to better keep our community and our base informed,” he told Time. “They made some very good points.
“The first thing we could do was get a moderator like Kristine to be the point person for moderators. So if users have a questions or want someone to talk to, we’re there.”
This article was written by Jana Kasperkevic in New York, for theguardian.com on Saturday 4th July 2015 18.42 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010