With Redditors furious at her, Pao sort of apologizes

While never addressing Victoria Taylor's firing, Pao vows to create better tools and communication

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
July 6, 2015
Short URL:

With Redditors protesting in droves, and many of them petitioning for her to be fired from her job as interim CEO of the company, Ellen Pao is not having a fun time right now.

So she did what anyone would do in her situation: she apologized for what caused the strife between her and her community. Well, she kind of apologized. She at least admitted she had done something wrong, so that's kind of like an apology, right? 

"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," she wrote in a Reddit post on Monday.

"We have apologized and made promises to you, the moderators and the community, over many years, but time and again, we haven’t delivered on them. When you’ve had feedback or requests, we haven’t always been responsive. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of reddit."

One thing you may notice is that Pao never mentions any of the specific incidents that cause the Reddit community to revolt. That includes the firing of a popular Reddit employee, Victoria Taylor, who ran the site's Ask Me Anything (AMA) feature, last week. She does mention the date, July 2nd, in which Taylor was let go, but nothing more than that. 

To protest the decision to let Taylor go, numerous subreddit moderators set their communities to private, essentially blocking them from public view late last week.

Rather than address that situation directly (or at all) Pao reiterated the same point she made over thw weekend, when she took to Reddit to answer the outrage, amd promised that the site was looking to give moderators better tools, and to improve communication.

In the more recent post, Pao got a bit more specific about what that means, outlining three "concrete steps" it would take to make the situation better.

First will be improvement of tools, with two of its staffers, Chad Birch and Lesley Brownlee "working as a team with the moderators on what tools to build and then delivering them."

The second improvement will be in communication, with the appointment of a Moderator Advocate who will "be the contact for moderators with reddit and will help figure out the best way to talk more often." The site is also going find ways for administrators, including Pao, to talk more often with the whole community.

And finally, the site is "providing an option for moderators to default to the old version of search to support your existing moderation workflows."

"Today, we acknowledge this long history of mistakes. We are grateful for all you do for reddit, and the buck stops with me," she wrote.

Will these steps do anything to change the minds of people who see Pao as "a manipulative individual who will sue her way to the top," as the petition said? Most likely not, and Pao even acknowledged this in her meaculpa.

"I know these are just words, and it may be hard for you to believe us. I don't have all the answers, and it will take time for us to deliver concrete results. I mean it when I say we screwed up, and we want to have a meaningful ongoing discussion," she said.

"I know we've drifted out of touch with the community as we've grown and added more people, and we want to connect more. I and the team are committed to talking more often with the community, starting now."

(Image source:


Related news