Reddit Revolt: petition to sack CEO Ellen Pao nears 200,000-signature target

A number of high-profile subforums have also ‘gone dark’ in protest after the company fired a popular member of staff

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The Independent Online

Reddit is one of the internet’s most fortified communities. It’s billed as ‘the front page of the internet’ and its powerful, engaged audience help stories go viral all around the world.

But the site is falling apart after members of the community started shutting down some of the site’s popular subforums in protest over the firing of a popular staff member.

Now, a petition to oust interim CEO Ellen Pao is nearing its 200,000-signature target after just four days as the community takes action against the future direction and management of the forum.

At time of publishing, the petition had attracted more than 198,000 signatures.

The firing of communications director Victoria Taylor, who was responsible for coordinating the hugely popular Ask Me Anything Q&As, sparked outrage among the community, where she was well liked.

Details around Taylor’s firing are murky, but a deleted post suggested she was let go because she didn’t feel comfortable with the company’s interest in commercialising the AMA format.

A statement on the petition to fire Pao explains the concerns about the site being 'run into the ground':

"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. 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. ... Action must be taken to prevent Reddit from being further run into the ground."

Reddit is almost completely staffed by volunteers, but as its owners are learning, these volunteers also hold a lot of power.

Currently the site’s gaming, science, history and cinema subforums have temporarily closed as unpaid volunteers show their solidarity for Taylor.

Metrics reported by Gizmodo also point out that the site’s traffic is down significantly from its average of 140 million monthly visitors, losing nine places in the overall ranking of the world’s biggest sites.

Given that a petition only needs 100,000 signatures to get a response from the White House, Reddit’s issues might not be so easily swept under the rug.

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