Popular forum-based website Reddit has announced that its interim CEO Ellen Pao has stepped down from the position, and is set to be replaced by former chief executive and Reddit founder Steve Huffman. Reports suggest that the decision was taken mutually by Pao and Reddit’s board.
Pao, who had been holding the position since November last year, was targeted by a significant chunk of the site’s user base and moderators after Victoria Taylor, an employee in charge of managing a popular Q&A sub-board on the site, was fired last week for undisclosed reasons.
Rumors suggest that Taylor was dismissed after staging such a Q&A session on the /r AmA (Ask Me Anything) board with civil rights activists Jesse Jackson, which quickly devolved into a heated argument powered by racial slurs and anonymous threats. Pao has also cracked down in the past on Reddit sub-forums which were found offensive, such as one named “fatpeoplehate”.
Taylor’s dismissal has prompted widespread user anger on the site, with moderators of it’s the site’s most visited sub-forums (called sub-reddits) setting their visibility to private, barring any access to users and providing losses of thousands in ad revenue for the site. An online petition which called for Pao’s dismissal reached more than 200,000 signatures in less than 48 hours since its launch.
Reddit’s board chose one of the site’s two founders as her full-time replacement, and Huffman himself, who hadn’t had any contact with the site in the last couple of years, broke the news to users himself in a post on the forum:
“Hey Everyone, I’m Steve, aka spez, the new CEO around here. For those of you who don’t know me, I founded reddit ten years ago with my college roommate Alexis, aka kn0thing. Since then, reddit has grown far larger than my wildest dreams. I’m so proud of what it’s become, and I’m very excited to be back.”
Huffman now has the ungrateful job of picking up were Pao left and trying to combine the open and non-censored nature of the site with effective combation of offensive threads, all while trying not to alienate its user base or, even worse, the volunteer moderators who basically make a large chunk of the site functionable for free.
Even though he said that he’s unlikely to reverse Pao’s decisions in firing Taylor or shutting down offensive threads, Huffman has also said that he will prioritize the building of adequate moderating tools for the site – which is one of the subreddit moderators’ biggest gripe with its board.
Image Source: The Sydney Morning Herald