Reddit has been thrust into chaos on Friday as hundreds of the biggest communities on the social news site went dark following the sudden departure of a popular employee. What happened? And more important, what should you take away from this Reddit Madness?
To understand what's going on, you need to know how Reddit polices its communities.
The site acts as a social network, news aggregate, and niche interest message board, all rolled into one. Anyone can start a community, or subreddit, on almost any subject. The subreddits are given a unique URL. For instance, r/AskScience is dedicated to questions about science and r/GameOfThrones is a discussion board about the popular HBO fantasy show. The website welcomes around 170 million unique visitors per month, which makes it a pretty big deal and probably the biggest online community to date.
Subreddits are managed by community moderators, with almost zero input from Reddit's paid admin staff, provided that they don't violate a few global rules or post illegal content.
While the paid Reddit admins have no formal business relationship with the community moderators, they rely on them to maintain the site's communities, some of which have many millions of members. Moderators have a huge amount of power as they are not accountable to users, cannot be voted out, and can alter or delete their communities at any time.
But hell broke loose last Friday when Victoria Taylor, a staff member responsible for the well known "Ask Me Anything" Q&A community — often a platform for celebrities to communicate with the public — was allegedly dismissed.
Simultaneously, the "Ask Me Anything" thread, or r/IAmA, was set as private, preventing ordinary Reddit users from viewing or commenting on discussions.
The personnel change even sparked an immediate and forceful response from the Reddit community, with at least 265 of the site's most popular communities — many with millions of subscribers — turning off in solidarity.
The popular social news site, together with the management, is suffering under great pressure and critique and the Internet is already speculating on the end of Reddit how we’ve known it. Only time can tell what will happen with the one of the largest online communities in the world but what should we learn from this debacle?
Check out the 8 take aways from the Reddit madness HERE!