More than 150,000 Reddit users have signed an online petition calling for Ellen Pao, the site’s interim chief executive, to step down. The petition arose after Victoria Taylor, the director of talent who managed the site’s popular Ask Me Anything (AMA) subreddit, was fired.
“Action must be taken to prevent Reddit from being further run into the ground,” the petition said . “Stop Ellen Pao from destroying the Reddit.com community by making her step down as CEO of Reddit Inc.”
After Taylor left the company last Thursday, around 300 subreddits, or discussion areas, on topics including gaming, science, history and cinema were shut down by their moderators as a form of protest.
By Sunday, most of the subreddits were back up and the petition was on its way to reaching 150,000 signatures.
In answer to a request for comment, Reddit provided a statement that Pao first released to the press on Friday.
“I want to apologize for how we handled the transition yesterday,” the statement said. “We should have informed the moderators earlier and provided more detail on the transition plan. We are working to make improvements and create the best experience for our users and we aren’t always perfect. Our community is what makes Reddit, Reddit and we let you down.”
In interviews on Friday , Pao apologized , but her remarks did not satisfy Reddit users because they were not made on the site, where such users felt Pao would have been communicating directly with them. Pao did post a statement on Reddit on Friday, in which she said: “We are going to figure this out and fix it.”
In March, Pao lost a landmark sex discrimination lawsuit against the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Pao and her lawyer argued that Kleiner was a boys’ club and that Pao was fired because she was a woman. The jury found in favor of the company, which claimed that Pao was fired because she was bad at her job, was divisive and not a team player.
According to the New York Times , which spoke to Pao when the petition had about 13,000 signatures, the call for her resignation did not faze her.
“It’s an exciting job. We’re doing a lot behind the scenes that people have not seen yet,” Pao said . “Most of the community is made up of thoughtful people, and they can appreciate what we all do, even if we don’t always agree.”
Pao was hired by Reddit in April 2013. “Being part of a community of people who care is inspiring and energizing,” she said then, in a statement . “Reddit has so much to offer so many people, and I’m excited to find partners to help make Reddit even more awesome.”
In November 2014, she was appointed interim chief executive after the resignation of Yishan Wong.
In September 2011, when Reddit looked to hire a CEO, a company statement said: “Make no mistake, Reddit owes its past, present, and future success to the community. We wouldn’t seriously consider any individuals for the CEO position unless they understood the community and were passionate about serving its needs.”
That is what users signing the petition say Pao – who has offended some by cracking down on trolling – does not do.
“A vast majority of the Reddit community believes that Pao … has overstepped her boundaries and fears that she will run Reddit into the ground. Alternative sites to Reddit.com have sprung up and have received vast amounts of traffic within the recent months,” the petition says.
“The communication between the Reddit administration team to its subreddit moderators is very lacking and rather unsettling after years of empty promises to the moderators to improve and provide tools to help run subreddits, and ultimately Reddit as a whole, smoothly.”
When the petition surpassed 100,000 signatures on Sunday, its creators posted an update noting that Pao and chairman and site co-founder Alexis Ohanian had issued apologies via comments and interviews via news outlets.
“Along with their apologies were, again, empty promises to improve their communication with the community and provide tools for the moderators as they have promised to do so years ago,” the users behind the petition said .
“As of right now they have not issued an apology in a site-wide announcement or blogpost. It is sad that they have resorted to the news rather than addressing us, their consumers.”
Those behind the petition urged those who signed it to keep “keep spreading, promoting, and supporting”.“We will not stop until we see action taken,” they said.
Advance Publications , which owns Reddit, is under no obligation to respond to the petition.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015