Congratulations, assholes of Reddit! You’ve driven another woman away from your internet clubhouse.
This time the woman in question was the site’s now ex-CEO Ellen Pao, who resigned today after a week of “Reddit Revolt” that included racist and misogynistic abuse aimed at “Chairman Pao” as well as the occasional death threat.
Indeed, the abuse was so bad that Pao felt the need to address it in her resignation note:
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.
Reddit board member Sam Altman, in his announcement of Pao’s replacement, described the attacks on Pao as “sickening,” and declared that “[i]f the reddit community cannot learn to balance authenticity and compassion, it may be a great website but it will never be a truly great community.”
This latest “Reddit Revolt” was triggered by the firing of a popular admin who worked with the site’s’ often beleaguered and ignored subreddit moderators.
But what really drove the revolt was the resentment many Redditors feel every time the site admins make any efforts at all to rein in the worst tendencies of Reddit’s regulars — the most recent “outrage” being Reddit’s banning of the FatPeopleHate subreddit and an assortment of others because they were encouraging real world harassment.
It certainly didn’t help, as far as Redditors were concerned, that she was a woman. The very thought of being bossed around by a woman is anathema to a shockingly large number of Redditors. Naturally, she’s being replaced by a dude, Reddit cofounder Steve Huffman, who promises to continue many of the same policies as Pao, but who will presumably be more palatable to the site’s fragile male userbase.
The abuse against Pao continued even after her resignation. In the thread announcing her replacement, this obnoxious comment at one point sported more than 1500 upvotes:
Only after someone pointed out that the commenter, who named himself after the racist Charleston church shooter, was in fact an unironically racist moderator of Reddit’s outrageously racist CoonTown subreddit did the comment end up with more downvotes than upvotes.
Stay classy, Reddit!
EDIT: Added links and a bit about her replacement.