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Redditors make it clear: they want Ellen Pao out as CEO

Over 150,000 people have signed a petition for Pao to be fired over her dismissal of Victoria Taylor

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
July 6, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3e94

(Updated with comment from Reddit)

Things have been going kind of nuts over at Reddit since the end of last week, and redditors are turning their sights on a very likely target: interim CEO Ellen Pao.

A Change.org petition, started around a month ago to get Pao to be fired from her job has now accrued over 150,000 total signatures. Notablty more than 100,000 of those signatured have come in just the last few days, according to an update posted this weekend.

The petition was first started as a way protest Pao instituting an anti-harrassment policy on the site, but has taken on a much bigger life following the firing of a popular Reddit employee, Victoria Taylor, who ran the site's Ask Me Anything (AMA) feature.

To protest this decision, numerous subreddit moderators set their communities to private, essentially blocking them from public view.

Pao took to Reddit to answer the outrage, but simply promised that the site was looking to give moderators better tools, and to improve communication, rather than addressing the situation directly.

"The bigger problem is that we haven't helped our moderators with better support after many years of promising to do so. We do value moderators; they allow reddit to function and they allow each subreddit to be unique and to appeal to different communities," she wrote.

"This year, we have started building better tools for moderators and for admins to help keep subreddits and reddit awesome, but our infrastructure is monolithic, and it is going to take some time."

Unsurprisingly, this did little to make the Reddit community feel any better. 

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, also posted on the site, addressing the situation directly, and apologizing for how the situation was handled.

"First, I’m sorry for how we handled communicating change to the AMA team this morning. I take responsibility for that. We should have made a post to r/DefaultMods announcing the transition and contacted the affected mods teams right after it happened and clearly articulated how there would not be a disruption with scheduled AMAs and those communications would now happen via AMA@reddit.com as we find a full-time replacement," he wrote.

Ohanian's statement also seems to have fallen on deaf ears, and perhaps even enflamed the community more because of what it didn't say.

"Alexis Ohanian (/u/kn0thing) and Ellen Pao (/u/ekjp) issued several apologies via comments and news outlets. Along with their apologies were, again, empty promises to improve their communication with the community and provide tools for the moderators as they have promised to do so years ago," the petition wrote in the update.

"As of right now they have NOT issued an apology in a site-wide announcement or blog post. It is sad that they have resorted to the news rather than addressing us, their consumers."

Redditors turning on Pao was pretty much an inevitability right from the start, and it is fair to say that the community was looking for an excuse to turn on her.

The former partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers was appointed as the head of the company in November, following the strange resignation of Yishan Wong. 

Pao is more well know, of course, for her sexual harassment lawsuit against KPCB, which she lost earlier this year. Despite that setback, Pao is now a poster-child for diversity in technology, and anti-discrimination, and finally taking action against abusive Redditors will only endear her further in that cause.

The petition cited that lawsuit as a reason for Pao to be dismissed from her job.

"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," it says. "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."

That censorship mentioned above has to do with the policy put into place by Reddit in May, changing the site's long history of allowing its users to self police and allowing members to take care of cases of bullying and harassment, and instead putting the power into Reddits hand to shut down offending threads if there are complaints about it.

What all of this adds up to is a CEO trying to bring a site into the mainstream that, for better or worse, seems to want things to be the way they always have been. With the site essentially going dark, it is all going to come down to who blinks first.

VatorNews reached out to Reddit for comment on the petition, and a spokesperson for the company reaffirmed its committment to Pao.

"The company fully supports Ellen‎," the spokesperson said.

(Image source: nymag.com)


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