Reddit chief engineer Bethanye Blount quits

14 Jul 2015

Just days after interim CEO Ellen Pao left the job, Reddit’s chief engineer Bethanye Blount has left the company, saying she does not believe it can honour promises made to the Reddit community.

Pao resigned from the company on Friday last, just a week after AMAgeddon, when moderators blacked out the site after the dismissal of Reddit employee Victoria Taylor.

Pao said her decision wasn’t due to intense harassment by trolls, but mainly because she didn’t believe Reddit’s core principles aligned with the board’s user growth targets.

Reddit, which is owned by Condé Nast, is regarded as the front page of the internet. The boards-style site allows users to post on any conceivable subject.

However, in recent months Pao and others began a campaign to clean up Reddit and restrict harassment and the posting of tasteless revenge porn photos.

Her efforts earned her the ire of trolls on Reddit who subjected her to a barrage of vicious and sexist comments.

Glass cliff for Pao?

Blount, who joined Reddit only two months ago from Facebook, is understood to have resigned because she did not think she could deliver on promises made to the community.

Moderators had been calling for better moderation tools and such tools had been promised after Pao bowed out.

“I feel like there are going be some big bumps on the road ahead for Reddit,” Blount said in an interview with US tech news site Re/code.

“Along the way, there are some very aggressive implied promises being made to the community — in comments to mods, quotes from board members — and they’re going have some pretty big challenges in meeting those implied promises.”

In the interview, Blount also said that she believed that Pao was set up on a “glass cliff”, a term used to describe women in Silicon Valley being set up for failure by being put in leadership roles during a time of crisis.

Reddit stickers image via Eva Blue on Flickr 

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years