The vast online community Reddit has been facing turmoil for the last month or so, peaking last week with the sudden departure of Victoria Taylor, a Reddit employee who spearheaded Reddit’s popular “Ask Me Anything” platform. This move created an unforeseen level of chaos on the site: Reddit’s moderators, who aren’t company employees, closed off many of the site’s biggest communities to the public.
In response to the pandemonium on Reddit, many users are leaving the site in favour of another similar site, called Voat.
Voat works, feels, and looks much like Reddit. Based in Switzerland, Voat is a website where you can submit links and text, and others can vote those posts up or down: The posts towards the top are the most popular links and discussions.
On Twitter Wednesday, Voat’s social media team responded to the recent immense surge in traffic.
So we’re still down and still seriously sleep deprived. Everything that could possibly go wrong – went wrong, but we should be back today.
— Voat (@voatco) July 8, 2015
Reddit, which has more than 163 million visitors, it at risk of losing its community to Voat.
Earlier this week, Reddit CEO Ellen Pao wrote an apology to users, acknowledging a “long history of mistakes,” and vowing to improve communication throughout the site, as well as responding to users’ questions and concerns. But the damage control efforts may have come too late, as Pao had said earlier, “The vast majority of Reddit users are uninterested in” the Victoria Taylor situation.
One Redditor’s comment has gained a lot of attention: It nails why Reddit could easily lose out to a site like Voat, simply because loyalty doesn’t matter much with content aggregation websites.
The thing is… [Ellen Pao is] absolutely right, I 100% don’t care at all about this situation, reddit, or the moderators. I’m a pretty apathetic content sponge.
That fact is deadly dangerous to reddit, because the moment the content creators jump ship, I’ll follow them like the fair weather fan I am, because I don’t care — at all — where I get my content, or about which corporation or moderators are involved. If reddit compromises its content stream by having moderators jump ship, I’m out too, not because I care, but because I don’t.
So she’s right — most reddit users absolutely don’t care a bit about this, or the site, or really anything. And that’s why she can’t afford to piss off the moderators, who are the people who do care.
What’s hilarious is that the reddit administration seems unable to see that most people not caring is precisely what makes the moderators caring so dangerous: they’re wielding my caring by proxy, because they hold the keys to content.
Voat is capitalising on Reddit’s vulnerable state, emphasising its “censorship-free community platform,” and the fact that “users can earn a percentage of our ad-revenue share for the content they submit.” Meanwhile, Redditors are calling for Ellen Pao to step down: a Change.org petition has already garnered more than 210,000 online signatures.
Another Reddit user explained why this scenario could spell the end of Reddit’s reign as one of the most popular online communities, and relinquish its title as the true “front page of the internet” to Voat:
Look, I honestly don’t give a damn where I read the news. Reddit is convenient because it’s all gathered into one nexus of information, with each specific interest having it’s own little mini-dimension that I can hang out in. If you folks continue to f–k up (as has been the trend over the years), and a better, more convenient, site shows up to replace you, I have no qualms about leaving.