If you take a look at the front page of Reddit right now, you might find it a bit… empty.
Here’s the reason:
/r/IAmA, /r/AskReddit, /r/science, /r/gaming, /r/history, /r/Art, and /r/movies have all made themselves private in response to the removal of an administrator key to the AMA process, /u/chooter, as well as underlying resentment against the admins for running the site poorly.
Basically, /u/chooter is former Reddit employee Victoria Taylor, and she was responsible for running the Ask Me Anything sessions that celebrities like Barack Obama, Channing Tatum, Amy Poehler, Julian Assange, and many others took part in. As of a few hours ago, Victoria was apparently let go from Reddit — leaving the AMA community high and dry.
Taylor was responsible for the vast majority of /r/IAmA’s organisation, and her surprise removal means a few imminent AMAs with celebrities and high-profile individual may not go ahead at all, or will at least have almost zero support — in previous AMA sessions, Victoria was responsible for everything from organising celebrity questions and timing to actually transcribing and posting their answers to Redditors.
Understandably, the /r/IAmA moderation team is feeling the impact of her removal, and it has closed itself off to the regular Reddit-reading public apparently in protest — and other subreddits have followed suit in solidarity. All this inside baseball means that you, the Reddit user, can’t get your fix of interesting AskReddit threads, read or take part in celebrity interviews, or learn about science or history.
Victoria — all of Reddit’s /r/IAmA forum refers to her by her first name, since she is (or was) an integral and highly visible part of the most important and high-profile AMAs — started working as an employee of Reddit in June of 2013 in the role of Director of Communications. She was popular enough with /r/IAmA users that she even ran her own AMA, a cached version of which is available here.
Another high-profile Reddit moderator, /u/karmanaut, shared his thoughts:
Today, we learned that Victoria was unexpectedly let go from her position with Reddt. We all had the rug ripped out from under us and feel betrayed.
Before doing that, the admins really should have at least talked to us (and all the other subs that host AMAs, like /r/Books, /r/Science, /r/Music, etc.) (Edit: not to suggest that we expect to know about Reddit’s inner workings. Just that there should have been a transition in place or something worked out to ensure that Victoria’s duties would be adequately handled, which they are not) We had a number of AMAs scheduled for today that Victoria was supposed to help with, and they are all left absolutely high and dry (hence taking IAMA private to figure out the situation) She was still willing to help them today (before the sub was shut down, of course) even without being paid or required to do so. Just a sign of how much she is committed to what she does.
The admins didn’t realize how much we rely on Victoria. Part of it is proof, of course: we know it’s legitimate when she’s sitting right there next to the person and can make them provide proof. We’ve had situations where agents or others have tried to do an AMA as their client, and Victoria shut that shit down immediately. We can’t do that anymore.
Part of it is also that Victoria is an essential lifeline of communication. When something goes wrong in an AMA, we can call and get it fixed immediately. Otherwise, we have to resort to desperately try messaging the person via Reddit (and they may not know to check their messages or even to look for these notifications). Sometimes we have to resort to shit like this (now with a screenshot because I can’t link to that anymore for you) where we have to nuke an entire submission just so that the person is aware of the problem.
Part of it is also organization. The vast majority of scheduling requests go through her and she ensures that we have all of the standard information that we need ahead of time (date, time, proof, description, etc.) and makes it easier for the teams that set up AMAs on both ends. She ensures that things will go well and that the person understands what /r/IAMA is and what is expected of them. Without her filling this role, we will be utterly overwhelmed. We might need to scrap the calendar altogether, or somehow limit AMAs from those that would need help with the process.
We have been really blindsided by all of this. As a result, we will need to go through our processes and see what can be done without her.
Cheers for the Twitter tip-off from the ABC’s Will Ockenden:
Another big Reddit fight just started. Subreddits /r/IAmA, /r/AskReddit, /r/science, /r/gaming, /r/history, /r/Art & /r/movies gone private.
— Will Ockenden (@will_ock) July 2, 2015