Reddit moderators explain why they shut down the site

Reddit: We're banning behavior, not ideas
Reddit: We're banning behavior, not ideas

Two unpaid site moderators who helped shut down large portions Reddit last week said they did it to protest a "long pattern of insisting the... moderators do more with less."

The op-ed was written for the New York Times by two volunteer moderators -- Brian Lynch and Courtnie Swearingen -- who work on Reddit's popular Ask Me Anything (AMA) pages, which has hosted Q&As with celebrities, experts and President Obama.

The pair sparked a protest among moderators that took more than 100 subreddits offline when they found out that their coordinator, Victoria Taylor, was fired.

Lynch and Swearingen said they spent thousands of hours working for Reddit and relied heavily on Taylor, calling her guidance a "warm voice." The company has not revealed the reasons for Taylor's termination.

"Dismissing Victoria Taylor was part of a long pattern of insisting the community and the moderators do more with less," they wrote.

Taylor commented publicly on Reddit Wednesday for the first time since her dismissal. Though she didn't indicate why she was let go from the company, she thanked the moderators for backing her and getting the attention of Reddit CEO Ellen Pao.

"Your voices matter," Taylor said. "You proved that this weekend."

Lynch and Swearingen wrote that they acted out of "anger at the way the company routinely demands that the volunteers and community accept major changes that reduce our efficiency and increase our workload."

Related: Reddit CEO Ellen Pao apologizes

The duo said they shut down a subreddit when the subject of an AMA flew to New York to meet with Reddit and was told the appointment had been canceled.

After learning that Taylor was fired, their decision turned into a call to action that spread across the website.

The controversy led to calls for Pao's resignation. Pao later apologized, saying her administrators "haven't communicated well."

The moderators said Taylor's firing was only the most recent example of failed communication by management and part of a "long pattern of insisting the community and the moderators do more with less."

"We are concerned with what a move like this means for for-profit companies that depend on the free labor of volunteers — and whether they truly understand what makes an online community vibrant," the op-ed says.


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