TIL that CEO Ellen Pao is out at Reddit, and co-founder Steve Huffman is taking over


#1

[Read the post]


#2

Based on the timing I would say that she was gone almost as soon as the controversy started. Given the time it would take to line up her replacement.

edit: I just noticed that Victoria posted an AMA one day ago so there must have been some coordination going on.


#3

I don’t follow reddit particularly closely, but the more I read, the more I reminds me of a popsicle stick bomb - it seems basically stable, but the whole thing is under significant internal tension, and when it starts to break, the whole thing just flies apart

Even if this chaos was eventually inevitable, whoever fired Victoria Taylor must surely be regretting that decision


#4

But… But… She’s got an MBA!


#5

Seems to me that this is just a snowball effect that started when reddit killed all those nasty subreddits a month or so back. But no one cared about them, because they were jerks. But every time someone complained about something the company did, those folks jumped right on the dogpile, calling for Pao to be fired (or worse) and inflating the numbers. I really don’t give a darn whether she remained with reddit or didn’t. But it seems to me that those people are going to regard this as a victory. God knows the various chans are celebrating. Hopefully the new CEO of reddit doesn’t invite them back. Good riddance.


#6

Man, I thought about getting an MBA. Not that I ever gave a shit about business - it was just back in the early 2000s, and every other news story was about someone who completely fucked up a company and the company handed them millions of dollars just to get the hell out, and I thought, “yeah, I want a piece of that”. I went as far as writing the GMAT, before abandoning the idea as hopelessly misguided

I don’t think Ellen Pao was the source of Reddit’s problems, and it seems to me as though she was probably a step in the right direction - resistance to excessive rampant monetization. but she inherited a mess, and it continues to be a mess. It seems like reddit doesn’t fundamentally understand whether it wants to be a source of revenue or an open democratic platform


#7

Bingo. I have yet to see anyone who really had any major problems with Pao that wasn’t just a nasty bigot. She’s a woman, so of course they hated her to begin with.

Is there honestly a single person who has had a problem with Pao that hasn’t, you know, called for women to be raped, or sent death threats, or participated in harassment campaigns? Anyone?


#8

Well yeah readers bought Victoria 13 lots of reddit gold in her AMA. Money which goes directly to reddit.


#9

I think that there’s plenty of folks who blamed her for Victoria’s sacking that were fairly normal users, but outside of that major bomb the majority of the longrunning Antipao folks seem to be the normal vitriolic internet denizens.

I use reddit but I’m not really a redditor, if that makes sense - I don’t comment heavily on there and don’t really do much to soak into the culture. I don’t know if Pao was a truly bad CEO, but I find Reddit to be very interesting.

It’s clear that for years, the reddit culture was basically that of a common carrier - they provide a platform but censorship aside from the legal requirements for things like substantial death threats/etc was totally up to the moderators and community. This appeals to a lot of the libertarian leaning internet folks (heck, I find it very appealing on the surface, although I’m not even close to an american libertarian), including many who never did anything really wrong with the platform or subscribed to the shitty parts of it. For years this basically was status quo and normal.

At some point, reddit got Too Big. Maybe it was AMAs. Maybe it was just too many people and they hit critical mass, but the shitty little parts of reddit suddenly started becoming entities of their own. Coontown and fatpeoplehate and all the other parts hosted and owned by the terrible people on the internet started getting attention - maybe we can blame Gawker and the big creepshots doxxing, but suddenly people were calling on Reddit to do something about it.

But to the reddit admins, this was against their prime directive - it was a literal slippery slope since they hadn’t touched the slope at all, they were miles away pretending to be switzerland. 4chan can get away with being a haven for shitstains because it never attempts to be anything more - the condensed nuggets of truly interesting or great stuff on there are always seen as anomalies and get plucked out and shared around by other more sane places. But reddit was a website that hosted a Q+A with the President of the United States of America, and that makes them Kind of a Big Deal - so suddenly there’s tensions, and the popsicle bomb someone mentioned earlier becomes hilariously appropriate.

I don’t really have a good opinion on the ‘right way’ to run reddit. I certainly wouldn’t run the site myself the same way, but I also just wouldn’t run a gigantic internet messageboard either. But I can see a certain naive purity to their original goals, which like so much else in the world, was thrashed against the rocks of reality. Sooner or later Reddit is either going to start sanitizing itself more heavily, or they’re going to lose the more mainstream stuff like AMA/etc as people stop wanting to be associated with a site that previously or currently hosts things like /r/coontown or other crazy terrible bastions of humanity.


#10

“Interim CEO” tells you everything you know. She was brought in to take the blame for all the unpopular changes the board wanted to introduce, everyone calls for her to be removed, she leaves with a giant bag of money and a new permanent CEO comes in looking like a hero.

And Reddit fell for it hook line and sinker.


#11

/me raises hand

I am certainly not a misogynist, never sent a death threat, participated in harassment campaigns, called for anyone to be raped (as I’m a rape survivor myself) - and most certainly don’t hate her. I wholeheartedly disagree with and reject the GamerGame movement and all its sexist ilk, agree that harassing subreddits such as FatPersonHate should have been closed after warning, and think that it’s gross that a vocal minority reacted the way that they did after the FPH debacle - and that an even larger bandwagon (including a good amount of -chan troublemakers) grabbed its pitchforks and rode along. It’s absolutely unacceptable, reprehensible, and just disgusting to use any of the tools of hatred you mentioned to get a point across, or to voice ones dissent. No one deserves to be harassed the way that Pao has.

But it’s also pretty sad that you can create and reinforce such a strong filter bubble for yourself, and at the same time lump everyone into two camps - those who (rightfully) support her, and scumbags. I have seen quite a good amount of healthy and level debate and criticism in her decisions and lifestyle that were around before the FPH/Victoria rebellions, and even more that appeared afterwards. She’s been something of a pariah in the tech world long before she became CEO of reddit (late last year). Hell, Vanity Fair had a pretty sizable article about her shenanigans just before she joined reddit, and long before she became CEO. If you were a part of the VC or tech community for the past decade, or just paid even shallow attention to that world, you would have seen this sort of thing around for quite some time before her reddit involvement. I’m pretty sure that these publications are not nasty bigots, or hate women, or have called for people to be raped, sent death threats, or participated in harassment campaigns.

I do have problems with her a person and customer-facing user of reddit, though much of it stems more from her teamwork with her husband Buddy Fletcher to be generally skeezy sorts of people. My complaints about the customer-facing failings of Ellen Pao extend to other reddit admins, such as Alexis Ohanian (kn0thing). When AMAgeddon happened, rather than just waiting and releasing an official statement, Alexis decided it was best to go in and stir the pot. This is just one example of a long line of reddit admins being totally disconnected from the issues the users are facing, while refusing to invest in community support or PR. The new reddit podcast is, in fact, all about them realizing these failings, talking about hiring PR, and promising to work on it going forward. So this near-wholesale reddit rebellion seems to have done something to help them pay attention to the friction that mods and users are experiencing with their poor actions and response.

However, you have the majority of likes here, so it seems that the majority of BB readers tend to agree that you have to be a pretty filthy sort of human to disagree with some generally bad management decisions, and even worse personal decisions. EDIT2: Cowicide has pointed out, quite correctly, that this paragraph is less than correct, and completely unnecessary. But sanitizing my mistakes would be dishonest. I fell into the same kind of outgrouping that rubbed me the wrong way to begin with.

insta-EDIT: It’s also pretty clear that the reddit board was using her as a shield of some sort; putting her out there to take some of the flak for some major behind-the-scenes changes in terms of management and monetization, clearing out the garbage, and then getting rid of her when the fires got too hot. Bad stuff all around. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Pao and Buddy filing suit shortly - unless reddit saw the writing on the wall beforehand, or did even preliminary research, and included a clause in her employment contract preventing her from doing so.


#12

I have a few problems with Pao, and I agree with getting rid of the fatpeoplehate and other nasty people on Reddit. IMO, they didn’t go far enough and should have also gotten rid of places like coontown.

The devs of Reddit were directed to spend their time on useless things like thebutton and snoovatars, while mods (like me) are crying for better tools to actually mod the subreddits. Things like better anti-spam measures, scheduled unbanning, better search functions, and better management of modmail are desperately needed. They’ve been requested over and over again and a lot of mods for larger subreddits are just fed up.

Add to that Pao’s history against other women in power, and apparently illegitimate complaints of sexism, and bizarre demands for compensation (basically, blackmailing for money while threatening continued lawsuits) show that she’s really not a good fit for a place that, at its heart, attempts to be a reasonable place to participate daily. She was in no way leading by example.

So, regardless of the Victoria firing (which we have no idea the reason for, and may be completely legit), which appeared to be the final straw for a lot of people, she still was not the person that would be a good fit to lead Reddit.


#13

That was really well put. It was almost precisely what I wanted to say, but I would not have taken the time to say it so well.


#14

So the new reddit CEO doesn’t think that parts of reddit that specifically perpetuate racist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise bigoted targeted harassment “doesn’t have a negative impact on others”, and even when reddit is being used to recruit for white supremacist terrorists, he is only wanting to bad stuff to protect reddit, because, apparently, the victims of this harassment don’t actually matter, he literally openly admits its perfectly fine to attack people and be gigantic assholes targeting others off the website as much as you want, as long as you don’t dare attack redditors: http://np.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/3cxedn/i_am_steve_huffman_the_new_ceo_of_reddit_ama/cszuhho?context=1

It’s a cause for celebration, as white men are once more able to attack and abuse others as much as they want. Yay for ‘free speech’ !

The world is worse for reddit, and every redditor, existing.


#15

The thing you have to understand is that where you see it fostering racist viewpoints, the original reddit view was that it was a necessary cost of true free speech. I won’t make a judgment call there, but it’s important to at least understand the root of the problems that’s going on right now.

Also: for many people who support that viewpoint, they are not (to any detectable level) racists or sexists. Many of them simply are ideologically opposed to private censorship. If you continue to interact with them as though they are racists, you’re going to simply offend and not engage in a meaningful dialogue, in the same way that me calling you a Nazi because you support a strong central government (example, I have no idea of your political views) would not be a useful or meaningful way to start a discussion.

minor edit: added a ‘not’


#16

They can go to their Storm Front sites or 4chan if they want to foster that speech. Reddit isn’t the government. They don’t have to allow anyone to say anything at any time on a free site that they run. Right now (and I’m active enough on Reddit), it is a haven for gamergate and trolls in many places (along with outright nazis).


#17

Right - I agree with you but note that a lot of folks don’t - to them free speech means Free Speech, in both public and private, and anything that prevents them or others from speaking their mind is A Bad Thing. I don’t agree with this viewpoint, but again - it doesn’t make them inherently racist, it just makes them ideologically opposed to you.

What I’m getting at here is that the characterization that’s going on here isn’t anything more than simple demonization of an other and isn’t really a good way to fix anything, unless that’s all you were going for in the first place. The path to resolution lies in understanding and rational discussion, not in labeling.

Edit: just to be clear, there ARE racists/terrible people on reddit and I’m not defending them at all, I’m just characterizing the redditor culture and (from what I can tell) the site founders.

To add another analogy here, most of us would probably disagree if the main DNS registrars started removing DNS entries for sites like Stormfront, because we view the internet as a collective whole that has good things and bad things, and that level of intervention is troubling because of the slope it starts us down. We see a distinction between The Internet and a single site of it, but the culture of reddit does not - they view reddit as just a sub-internet, and so stepping in and determining what can and can’t live there goes against that ethos.


#18

Every redditor? 9_9 Might be time to stop letting places like Gawker form your opinions for you. The obnoxious and the disgusting are nothing more than a loud and nasty minority- it really is mostly regular people wasting time online, with a few dummies (many of them brigading from other sites). Just like Every. Other. Site. Ever.


#19

Sounds like your world. Not the world. Just my 2 cents.


#20

No, the ones I call “racist” are the ones, you know, espousing racism on reddit? /r/coontown for example?

No debate is going to fix anything at all here. This is a policy decision by Reddit, which is a business, not people arguing about the town square. Reddit makes the rules and they could actually do something to avoid being a milder version of 4chan (or 7chan or 8chan). They choose not to do so. That is a policy decision by someone in charge, probably a high level one.

[quote]To add another analogy here, most of us would probably disagree if the main DNS registrars started removing DNS entries for sites like Stormfront, because we view the internet as a collective whole that has good things and bad things, and that level of intervention is troubling because of the slope it starts us down. We see a distinction between The Internet and a single site of it, but the culture of reddit does not - they view reddit as just a sub-internet, and so stepping in and determining what can and can’t live there goes against that ethos.
[/quote]

This isn’t a good analogy. DNS is the underpinning of the net as a whole. Reddit is not. It’s just another Facebook or Twitter.

That said, I’d be perfectly happy if registrars had a code of conduct and if you violated it, they wouldn’t register your domain name. I have no doubt that someone would set of “Sicko Registrar” and happily take that money and the companies that refused to could feel good about actually setting some standards. The market in action. Just because someone runs a business, it doesn’t mean they have to do business with you in most circumstances.