Friday 20 January 2017

Mayhem on Reddit as large sections of 'internet's front page' taken offline

James Titcomb

Published 03/07/2015 | 12:19

Major sections of Reddit, the social network-slash-bulletin board that bills itself as the "front page of the internet", have been taken offline by moderators in protest at the departure of a key member of staff.

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More than 100 "subreddits" - the special-interest areas of Reddit that collectively, build the website - were taken down on Thursday night.

These include some of the most popular subreddits, including books, gaming and music, as well as more niche subjects such as "spongebros" - a collection of memes fusing Spongebob Squarepants with Mario Bros.

Visiting these sections now leads to this screen:

Reddit, which is 10 years old and allows users to share videos, pictures and news and hold discussions around the subjects, has had its fair share of controversies.

Last year, it was one of the major locations where leaked private pictures of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence surfaced. However, it is also extremely popular, with more than 150 million active users.

The outage began when IAmA (Ask me Anything), a popular subreddit that hosts Q&A sessions for celebrities, public figures and other interesting individuals, was taken offline.

IAmA - whose participants have included Barack Obama and Bill Murray - was primarily run by Victoria Taylor, Reddit's director of talent.

Ms Taylor has left Reddit in mysterious circumstances, and IAmA's moderators, when they learnt of her being let go, took down the section in protest.

One moderator, karmanaut, explained why, saying they felt "betrayed" at losing Ms Taylor:

lexis Ohanian, Reddit's co-founder and executive chairman, attempted to calm nerves, saying the subreddit "thrived before her and will thrive after her".

But another moderator responded by saying the section was a mess without Ms Taylor, and that Reddit's management made an "awful" decision to remove her.

Various rumours are circulating about why Ms Taylor was fired, ranging from commercial pressures to a company decision that employees must be based in San Francisco.

A statement on the IAmA page reads: "Due to internal administration reorganization at reddit, /r/IAmA has temporarily been made private by the moderators. We will be using this time to restructure our process for AMAs."

After news of IAmA being taken down spread, other moderators joined in protest, taking down more than 100 other subreddits including many of Reddit's most popular sections.

Several moderators expressed their dismay at the chaos surrounding Ms Taylor's sacking, including the lack of information and unclear procedures on how to arrange future "Ask me anything" sessions.

Although Ms Taylor's departure sparked the outage, some moderators - volunteers who are relied upon to keep Reddit running - said it was about wider discontent with how the website was being run.

"As much as Victoria is loved, this reaction is not all a result of her departure: there is a feeling among many of the moderators of reddit that the admins do not respect the work that is put in by the thousands of unpaid volunteers who maintain the communities of the 9,656 active subreddits, which they feel is expressed by, among other things, the lack of communication between them and the admins, and their disregard of the thousands of mods who keep reddit's communities going," wrote one user.

Reddit was bought by media giant Conde Nast in 2006 but has since been spun out into an independent entity, with Conde Nast parent Advance Publications the biggest shareholder.

Telegraph.co.uk

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