Reddit sections go dark after exit of staffer

Some moderators claim they should have been consulted

Games subreddit set to private

Games subreddit set to private

The exit of a key Reddit staffer, who apparently played an important role in the bustling AMA (Ask Me Anything) question-and-answer section, has created an uproar on the online discussion website.

Many large communities, or subreddits in the parlance of the site, have been set to private, allowing only moderators or approved submitters to view the contents.

Anger over the exit of Victoria Taylor, Reddit's communications director, who assisted in AMAs with a variety of celebrities and other top personalities, appears to have mushroomed into a controversy over a lack of consultation between Reddit administrators and its volunteer moderators.

The moderators of subreddit /r/videos, for example, wrote that after lengthy discussion, its moderators decided "to join several other large subreddits in 'going dark' to protest the lack of communication between the reddit staff and the volunteers who keep the site ticking over."

Another subreddit /r/gaming said it was going dark because of an unexpected Reddit administrative personnel change, while the moderators of the AMA subreddit wrote that they will be using the time while the section is unavailable "to restructure our process for AMAs." The moderators of some of the subreddits assured users that the sections were unavailable temporarily.

A senior moderator, who uses the handle karmanaut, complained that Reddit let go of Taylor without the administrators talking to the moderators and subreddits that host AMAs.

"The admins didn't realize how much we rely on Victoria," wrote karmanaut about Taylor's role. "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," the moderator added.

Reddit's cofounder and executive chairman Alexis Ohanian said in a post that "we don't talk about specific employees."

"We get that losing Victoria has a significant impact on the way you manage your community," he added. "I'd really like to understand how we can help solve these problems, because I know r/IAMA thrived before her and will thrive after."

Reddit announced in June 2013 that Taylor had been hired as communications director.

The site is not a stranger to controversy. In June, interim chief executive Ellen Pao was criticized severely after the site removed five subreddits because they were found to break the website's rules against the harassment of individuals.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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