Victoria Taylor, the former Reddit employee who’s dismissal led to the largest protests in the site’s 10-year history, has finally broken her silence.
In a post to the r/Self subreddit community, Taylor thanks users for the “extraordinary kindness and support you’ve shown me,” and says that she has been “incredibly humbled and honored to serve this community.” But the statement, which we first saw over on Gawker, sheds no new light on her abrupt departure from the company.
One of Taylor’s responsibilities as a staff member had been to help facilitate “AMAs” (“Ask Me Anything”) — public Q&A sessions with interesting or famous people that anyone can submit questions to. But on Thursday July 2, a Reddit moderator broke the news that she had suddenly left the company, and that r/IAmA, the community responsible for hosting AMAs, was temporarily going offline to work out how it would cope without her.
In a post, Taylor said she was “dazed” — the implication being that she had been blindsided by the news.
The response from the community was immediate — and explosive. Reddit is comprised of thousands of communities (or “subreddits”), almost all run by volunteer moderators with virtually no involvement from paid staff members. Hundreds of the site’s most popular subreddits, many with millions of subscribers, were taken offline by their moderators in solidarity with r/IAmA.
A petition calling for the firing of CEO Ellen Pao gained more than 150,000 new signatures, and Pao eventually posted an apology to Reddit users, saying: “We screwed up.” (Taylor was not reinstated, however.)
Of course, the unprecedented protests aren’t just a reaction to Taylor’s dismissal. They are the culmination of years of simmering resentment between community and staff, as well as more recent concerns over the direction of Reddit.
Volunteer moderators have long complained about the tools they are equipped with and the feedback they receive from staff. As moderator Gilgamesh- put it during the protests: “this reaction is not all a result of [Taylor’s] departure: there is a feeling among many of the moderators of reddit that the admins do not respect the work that is put in by the thousands of unpaid volunteers.”
In the short-term, there have also been worries about the direction Reddit is taking, given its traditional laissez-faire attitude towards content posted to the site. In June, Reddit took the unusual step of banning r/FatPeopleHate and a number of other subreddits known for harassment — provoking large-scale protests from users.
But what did happen to Taylor? She’s currently staying mum, writing to Reddit users that “really, this weekend wasn’t about me. It was about you.” The best explanation we’ve seen still comes from Marc Bodnick, who leads Q&A site Quora’s business and community teams.
In a post to Quora that has since been deleted, Bodnick wrote that “someone close to Reddit” told him that management was “pushing Victoria to do a bunch of highly commercial things around AMAs, but Victoria wasn’t comfortable with these ideas because she didn’t feel they were good for the Reddit community.”
Here’s a screengrab of Bodnick’s post:
So what’s next for Taylor? She says she’s still “figuring that out.” But she promises Reddit users that “wherever the road leads, I will live up to the faith you’ve had in me.”
Here’s Victoria Taylor’s full post:
How was your weekend? Mine was…interesting, to say the least.
I’ve had some time to think about how to respond to the extraordinary kindness and support you’ve shown me. And here it is:
I’ll never forget my time at reddit. You allowed me to be a part of some of the greatest conversations of our time, and it was an honour to be your ambassador.
I just want to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who have reached out.
Thank you for everything you’ve given me. From your messages to your artwork, I am deeply moved and grateful beyond words, and your encouragement has meant more than you’ll ever know.
I’ve been incredibly humbled and honored to serve this community, and I truly believe all voices matter.
Your voices matter.
You proved that this weekend.
And really, this weekend wasn’t about me. It was about you. And if I know one thing about this community, it’s that you’ll continue making your voices heard. And that’s an inspiration.
I know many of you may be curious about what’s next for me, and I’m still figuring that out. However, I can assure you, wherever the road leads, I will live up to the faith you’ve had in me.
You can take the woman out of reddit, but you can’t take the reddit out of the woman. I believe in you. And that’s a promise.
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