AMAs have become a huge thing for reddit allowing people from all walks of life coming along and telling their story. From the outside it looks like some random fellow or celebrity comes along one day to talk about their life, but it’s a little more than that. In fact, it’s a lot more than that, all of which is held together by an admin by the name of /u/chooter.
This morning however, /u/chooter also known as Victoria Taylor, was no longer a part of reddit, and this has sent the community into a complete meltdown. Right now if you logon to reddit it’s no longer the “front page of the Internet” we’re all used to. Instead it’s a ghost town.
Victoria Taylor wasn’t just any old admin, she was an employee of reddit who single handedly organises, moderates, and in some cases transcribes AMAs by both ordinary folk and celebs like Gordon Ramsay and Barack Obama. She was a staple part of the reddit ecosystem, but as of this morning she’s effectively been removed from her position.
Since then popular reddit community pages, also known as subreddits, have gone “private” meaning that nobody other than moderators or admins can see what’s inside. This has caused reddit to effectively go dark in protest.
Most of the major default subreddits (the one you’re automatically “subscribed” to when you check out the site without an account, or the starting set of subreddits you’re a part of when you first sign up) have gone private in protest.
/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.
What this means at the moment is that most, if not all future Ask Me Anythings, specifically from the more high profile people, may not go ahead as planned, or will go terribly awry if they do.
In response to Taylor’s ejection from the site, /u/karmanaut, another high profile reddit moderator said:
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.