I recently blogged about the problems at Reddit : Reddit – The Front Page Of The Internet, Bottom Of The Class For Community Relations. In that post I talked of the failures of Reddit management to engage with the community.
The furore over the direction Reddit was heading had already seen a petition created that called for the head of Ellen Pao. In the wake of the communication debacle the number of signatures on that petition ballooned from around 10,000 to over 200,000.
However, it was quite clear that Ellen Pao, who only took over as Reddit CEO on a temporary basis eight months ago, was not solely to blame for Reddit’s communication issues. The anger fired in Ellen Pao’s direction was misdirected. A communication breakdown such as the one Reddit faced was not due to events in the last eight months.
Ellen’s resignation letter, posted on Reddit, contains a human touch that far too many people on social media and even in virtual worlds, seem to forget about :
I just want to remind everyone that I am just another human; I have a family, and I have feelings. Everyone attacked on reddit is just another person like you and me. When people make something up to attack me or someone else, it spreads, and we eventually will see it. And we will feel bad, not just about what was said. Also because it undercuts the authenticity of reddit and shakes our faith in humanity.
This doesn’t just apply to Reddit. I’ve seen similar sentiments made when people are attacking Linden Lab, or attacking people on Twitter, or in below the line comments sections. I’m not sure why people are so quick to spread bile when we communicate by text. I do hope that one of the side effects of a more immersive virtual reality future is that we will get more clues from facial expressions and that we will then see less venom when people communicate at distance.
Ellen also pointed out how support can be inspiring :
What has far outshone the hate has been the positive on reddit. Thank you, kind strangers, for expressing your support. You gilded me 100 times. (For those of you who apologized for generating a wave of accusations that I gilded myself, please don’t feel bad. You did a good thing.) And thank you for sending cute animal pics and encouraging me to “Stay safe!” when the site overheated with expressions of hate in various forms. There were some days when your PMs inspired me more than you can imagine.
The reason Ellen is stepping down though is not because of a petition and fortunately, it’s also not because of trolling and abuse either.