SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A petition calling for Ellen Pao to step down as Reddit’s CEO has collected over 100,000 signatures in less than three days.
The petition is a culmination of backlash around a series of changes the San Francisco-based website absorbed in the last month, most recently with the unexpected dismissal of employee Victoria Taylor who managed the site’s popular “Ask Me Anything” interviews.
Taylor coordinated Q&A sessions with politicians and celebrities ranging from Elon Musk to a man viciously mauled by a bear. She was dismissed on Thursday without explanation, unleashing a fury of frustration among moderators — the unpaid volunteers who manage the site’s communities.
Within hours, moderators took down hundreds of subreddit groups including /r/todayilearned and /r/pics. As of Monday, most of the website was up and running again. By then, the Change.org petition for Pao’s resignation had collected nearly 180,000 signatures — the majority coming from over the weekend.
“Reddit entered into a new age of censorship,” petition creator Billy Johnson wrote. “A vast majority of the Reddit community believes that Pao, ‘a manipulative individual who will sue her way to the top’, has overstepped her boundaries and fears that she will run Reddit into the ground.”
Pao was appointed CEO of Reddit shortly after she lost her gender discrimination case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins in March.
Among various complaints, moderators claim that Pao has failed to provide adequate tools to help the website run smoothly.
Pao commented on the situation Friday morning, saying that she is working on better tools for moderators.
“This year, we have started building better tools for moderators and for admins to help keep subreddits and reddit awesome, but our infrastructure is monolithic, and it is going to take some time … We are also making changes to reddit.com, adding new features like better search and building mobile web, but our testing plan needs improvement. As a result, we are breaking some of the ways moderators moderate. We are going to figure this out and fix it.”
The site is estimated to have some 160 million users.