(UPDATE: Ellen Pao issued a new apology statement saying, “We screwed up” in Reddit post.)
An online petition calling for the resignation of Reddit CEO Ellen Pao has gained new steam this weekend in the wake of the chaos caused by the sudden and unexplained dismissal of beloved Reddit AMA coordinator Victoria Taylor.
After Taylor was fired last Thursday, over 100 subreddit topics were made private in protest by volunteer moderators. Now, the Reddit community is coming together in an effort to oust CEO Ellen Pao through an online petition that has gained over 170,000 supporters as of this writing.
The Change.org petition, which was started one month ago, reads:
“Ellen K. Pao is a lawyer and the chief executive officer of the Internet company Reddit Inc. After Pao lost her gender discrimination case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins she was appointed CEO of Reddit Inc and Reddit entered into a new age of censorship. A vast majority of the Reddit community believes that Pao, ‘a manipulative individual who will sue her way to the top’, has overstepped her boundaries and fears that she will run Reddit into the ground. Alternative sites to Reddit.com have sprung up and have received vast amounts of traffic within the recent months. The communication between the Reddit administration team to its subreddit moderators is very lacking and rather unsettling after years of empty promises to the moderators to improve and provide tools to help run subreddits, and ultimately Reddit as a whole, smoothly. Advance Publications needs to fix this ordeal or risk irreversible harm to their international brand, Reddit Inc. Action must be taken to prevent Reddit from being further run into the ground.”
Pao unsuccessfully attempted to ameliorate the situation by apologizing on NPR over the weekend. “They should have been told earlier about the transition and we should have provided more detail on the transition plan,” she explained, while also promising “new tools” for moderators to work with.
So far, Reddit moderators have maintained their unhappiness over Pao’s handling of the situation, but Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has been working with moderators to approve a more “hands off” approach to Reddit AMAs in the future. They said in a post:
“While we’re still unhappy with how this transition occurred, it would be unfair for us not to publicly recognize the recent efforts on the part of the site administration to ‘make it right.’ “
Ellen Pao released a new apology statement on Monday that read:
“We screwed up. Not just on July 2, but also over the past several years. We haven’t communicated well, and we have surprised moderators and the community with big changes. We have apologized and made promises to you, the moderators and the community, over many years, but time and again, we haven’t delivered on them. When you’ve had feedback or requests, we haven’t always been responsive. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of reddit.
Today, we acknowledge this long history of mistakes. We are grateful for all you do for reddit, and the buck stops with me. We are taking three concrete steps:
Tools: We will improve tools, not just promise improvements, building on work already underway. u/deimorz and u/weffey will be working as a team with the moderators on what tools to build and then delivering them.
Communication: u/krispykrackers is trying out the new role of Moderator Advocate. She will be the contact for moderators with reddit and will help figure out the best way to talk more often. We’re also going to figure out the best way for more administrators, including myself, to talk more often with the whole community.
Search: We are providing an option for moderators to default to the old version of search to support your existing moderation workflows. Instructions for setting this default are here.
I know these are just words, and it may be hard for you to believe us. I don’t have all the answers, and it will take time for us to deliver concrete results. I mean it when I say we screwed up, and we want to have a meaningful ongoing discussion. I know we’ve drifted out of touch with the community as we’ve grown and added more people, and we want to connect more. I and the team are committed to talking more often with the community, starting now.
Thank you for listening. Please share feedback here. Our team is ready to respond to comments.”