Reddit meltdown: Top chat boards hidden as rebellion breaks out

Subreddits in lockdown as unpaid moderators protest shock exit of popular staffer

Reddit admins tend to the flames

4chan-with-upvotes Reddit is in turmoil after a staffer much loved by the website's users suddenly left the business. Now the unpaid volunteer moderators of the site have turned against the admins aka the employees of Reddit.

The hugely popular Q&A forum called "I am a ... Ask me anything" (r/IAmA) and the science message board (r/science) have been hidden from public view by the site's moderators "due to internal administration reorganization at Reddit."

Other popular subreddits – including r/movies, r/videos, r/AskReddit, r/books, and r/gaming – totaling millions of subscribers were also locked down by moderators in the site-spanning protest. The link-sharing discussion website, which had 163.9 million unique visitors in June alone, bills itself as the internet's front page.

The rebellion came after Reddit's director of talent, Victoria Taylor, left the biz under mysterious circumstances, angering a number of powerful unpaid moderators.

"While I can confirm that Victoria is no longer with the company, we do not comment on individual employee matters," a Reddit spokeswoman told The Register on Thursday evening.

Taylor, who has the handle chooter on the message board, was a troubleshooter for the volunteer moderators who do all the donkey work on Reddit. For the IAmA forums – where people ranging from Barack Obama to ordinary folks with interesting experiences take questions from the site's users – Taylor would often be on hand to transcribe answers from the interviewees, help them navigate the message board website, and so on.

"Today, we learned that Victoria was unexpectedly let go from her position with Reddit. We all had the rug ripped out from under us and feel betrayed," commented senior moderator karmanaut. "The admins didn't realize how much we rely on Victoria. Part of it is proof, of course: we know it's a legitimate [AMA] when she's sitting right there next to the person and can make them provide proof [of identity]. We've had situations where agents or others have tried to do an AMA as their client, and Victoria shut that shit down immediately. We can't do that any more."

Another top moderator, Gilgamesh, said the problem runs deeper, thundering: "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, which they feel is expressed by, among other things, the lack of communication between them and the admins, and their disregard of the thousands of mods who keep Reddit's communities going."

In a comment on the site, Taylor described herself as "dazed," and said she was planning on spending the holiday weekend with her husband's family before looking for a new job.

In the meantime, the lockdown continues, and Reddit is giving no indication of what it will do next. The company, known for its stolen nudie pics scandal, is owned by the corporate giant that owns mag publisher Conde Nast, and has a small staff: it relies heavily on volunteer moderators to keep things relatively sane. If the users withdraw their labor, there may be a rethink. ®


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