Some of the most prominent parts of the social media site Reddit are going dark in defiance of the removal of an admin who organized the site's popular "IAmA" interviews with celebrities, politicians, and other people of note.
The subreddit /r/IAmA was the first to go dark following the departure of administrator Victoria Taylor, a Reddit employee who was let go, according to the forum moderators. Taylor scheduled and ran many of the forum's Q&As.
The moderators of /r/IAmA set the subreddit to private mode, blocking all outside users with the message:
Due to internal administration reorganization at reddit, /r/IAmA has temporarily been made private by the moderators. We will be using this time to restructure our process for AMAs. If you have any concerns, please contact reddit at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Shortly after, the popular subreddits /r/AskReddit, /r/science, /r/gaming, /r/history, /r/Art, /r/videos, /r/gadgets, and /r/movies all followed suit. More than 30 subreddits in total are listed as participating in the protest.
r/IAmA moderator karmanaut wrote a lengthy explanation of the changes, saying that without Taylor's assistance, the subreddit cannot function in its current form.
We have been really blindsided by all of this. As a result, we will need to go through our processes and see what can be done without her.
Tl;dr: 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.
In addition, r/OutOfTheLoop moderator Gilgamesh explained that the situation wasn't really about Taylor's departure, so much as it was a symbolic protest against Reddit's administrative tactics more generally:
As much as Victoria is loved, this reaction is not all a result of her departure: there is a feeling among many of the moderators of reddit that the admins do not respect the work that is put in by the thousands of unpaid volunteers who maintain the communities of the 9,656 active subreddits
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian posted the following response to the situation from his account.
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. All AMA inquiries go to AMA@reddit.com where we have a team in place…
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.
Some of the subreddit messages, such as that found on /r/AskReddit, suggested that a rift between its community facilitators and employee administrators has been in progress for a while.
As a statment [sic] on the treatment of moderators by Reddit administrators, as well as a lack of communication and proper moderation tools, /r/AskReddit has decided to go private for the time being. Please see this post in /r/ideasforaskreddit for more discussion.
Fusion has reached out to Ohanian for comment, and will update if we hear back.