Reddit Chief Promises Better Communication with Community

In the wake of the abrupt dismissal of Reddit employee Victoria Taylor, CEO Ellen Pao apologized to the site’s disgruntled users, acknowledging a history that goes back several years of broken promises and poor communication. But apologies by Pao and co-founder/executive chairman Alexis Ohanian haven’t yet mollified users, who are circulating an online petition demanding Pao’s termination. The 10-year old San Francisco-based company has 70 to 80 employees but relies on its power users to govern the site.

The New York Times reports that Pao acknowledged in a post to one of the site’s forums that the community moderators have “lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of Reddit.”

Reddit_LogoUsers took down large sections of the site when they discovered Taylor had been dismissed without warning to the community. Reddit, which regularly has more than 160 million visitors, is composed of topic-based forums, which also host Q&A sessions with public figures like Bill Gates and President Obama.

Most recently, Pao promised that new moderating tools would soon be available and she “pledged to communicate better with members via a new liaison” as well as directly to the community.

“Management appears to be focused on Reddit’s image, and not devoting any resources to actually running the site,” one prominent moderator complained in an email to NYT. “It’s as if they’re trying to decide what color to paint the walls while completely overlooking a crack in the foundation.”

In Re/code, Gina Bianchini recalled her own experiences running Ning, a community platform of 90 million people across 300,000 active communities.

“Online community platforms attract the best and worst of humanity,” she said. “Product is the answer to 90 percent of your community problems. Platform leaders need to be visible and engaged to influence the community, and your business model has to enhance — not fight — core community dynamics.”

Related:
Reddit’s Meltdown Exposes Its Huge Conundrum, Wired, 7/7/15