Late Thursday night, Reddit descended into chaos after Reddit employee Victoria Taylor, known also by the username chooter, was reportedly let go. Taylor was known for moderating subreddit r/IAmA, where Reddit would host “Ask Me Anything,” a question and answer forum between users and celebrities. Taylor had a reputation for actually caring about moderators questions and concerns. As Gawker explained:
Coordinating and verifying all those celebrities takes a massive amount of work, which is why Victoria Taylor, the site’s Director of Talent, seems to have been so immensely beloved by the site’s many, voluntary moderators—she was good.
Today, we learned that Victoria was unexpectedly let go from her position with Reddt. We all had the rug ripped out from under us and feel betrayed.
The admins didn’t realize how much we rely on Victoria. 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 shit down immediately. We can’t do that anymore.
The news of Taylor’s abrupt dismissal caused basically all of reddit to collectively lose it. In protest of the staffing changes, moderators shut down their subreddits in solidarity with Taylor’s dismissal.
- /r/askreddit (8.7 million subscribers)
- /r/todayilearned (8.6 million)
- /r/pics (8.6 million)
- /r/iama (8.3 million)
- /r/videos (7.9 million)
- /r/gaming (7.8 million)
- /r/movies (7.5 million)
- /r/technology (5.1 million)
- /r/books (4.9 million)
The exact events surrounding her dismissal have yet to be explained, as Reddit admins have yet to offer an explanation. A timeline of events, including an explanation of the strike, has been posted on the site by a user, Gilgamesh. What is clear is that the move has triggered a strong backlash, as some users believe this is only the latest of offenses that admins have committed against its moderators and users.
A manifesto of sorts has been posted by a moderator in an open letter, detailing incidents where the Reddit admins have failed to communicate well with its community. Moderators are demanding that admins communicate more effectively, and equip them with better tools, which are outlined in the letter.
The Reddit community’s response to the news of Taylor being let go is refreshing to a certain extent. Typically when the collective Internet decides to “mob up,” it does so to attack or destroy. Backlash surrounding ESPN’s Britt McHenry’s mean verbal rantings at a towing company earlier this year resulted in people calling for her resignation. Cancer scientist Tim Hunt’s odd jokes about sexism in laboratories, which were later found to be taken out of context, resulted in the actual loss of his job. Monica Lewinsky’s sexual past was hyped up to the point that she has had difficulty finding employment and even contemplated suicide.
The Internet loves creating and destroying pariahs, and it’s very rare to see the Internet rally in support of a dismissed staffer, and calling for Reddit to reform their policies. Perhaps this is just a brief moment, and the tide will soon change to become a hate-filled hurricane of sheer destruction. But for now, I suppose the internet deserves a thumbs up.