Ellen Pao recently apologized to the Reddit community for the disconnect between administrators and moderators, among other things.
The Reddit community and Ellen Pao have had their differences in the past. After several subreddits were banned for their offensive content, many users lashed out at the CEO. The nickname “Chairman Pao” began to pop up in comments and posts throughout the site claiming that she was inhibiting free speech.
At that time, there were still many users that were indifferent to the drama. The other shoe dropped on Thursday when Victoria Taylor, the coordinator in charge of the popular Ask Me Anything (/r/AMA) subreddit, was fired without a back-up plan to keep the page running.
Rumors circulated throughout Reddit guessing why Taylor was let go. The two main rumors had people believing that it was either because of the disastrous Jesse Jackson AMA that took place on Wednesday or because she was completely unwilling to commercialize the subreddit.
As a result, many subreddits came together as a message to Ellen Pao that they supported Taylor. Those subreddits went dark, settings turned to private.
Things escalated mostly because none of the administrators thought to inform moderators ahead of time. It didn’t help that Ellen Pao remained silent on the situation, leaving the community to speculate.
Long before Taylor was fired, a petition popped up asking Ellen Pao to “step down as CEO of Reddit, Inc.” It got a few signatures, but it was moving slow. After the firing, signatures began to add up quickly.
This past Sunday the petition reached 100,000 signatures. After Pao’s apology on Monday, the signatures began pouring in. By early Tuesday, the petition had reached 200,000 supporters. At 10:45 p.m. EST, signatures were still being added, bringing the total to 209,608.
Why did Ellen Pao’s apology seem to make things worse?
Although Ellen did post to /r/announcements, Reddit users were furious that Pao went to the media before contacting them through the site. Especially since her apology accentuated the promise to reconnect with the Reddit community.
“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.”
User fuschino posted a thread to /r/Blackout2015 explaining the issue.
“Ellen Pao is the CEO of one of the greatest social media communities on the web and, rather than respond to that community, she retreats to old media (New York Times, Time, etc.) for comment. Talk about ‘not getting it’.”
It seems that if Ellen Pao is truly interested in apologizing, she might have to face the music.
Users have called for Pao to connect with them through an AMA. The request, posted by user gibslayer, has been 93 percent upvoted, but there has been no response from the CEO.
[ Images courtesy of Reddit.com and Justin Sullivan/Getty Images ]