After what has been a tumultuous few weeks for Reddit, Ellen Pao has resigned as interim CEO. She said her decision wasn’t due to the intense harassment by trolls, but mainly because she didn’t believe Reddit’s core principles aligned with the board’s user growth targets.
Reddit’s co-founder and original CEO Steve Huffman is to step into Pao’s shoes immediately.
Pao’s decision to step down comes just over a week after AMAgeddon, a situation where the dismissal of a Reddit employee caused moderators to ‘black out’ large parts of Reddit in protest.
Reddit – known as the front page of the internet – is a message boards site where users can create and moderate discussions on any topic they like.
However, in striving to bring order to the chaos, Pao and her colleagues brought in stringent rules around areas like revenge porn.
Pao was subjected to a barrage of vicious and sexist comments from groups of Reddit users.
‘If 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’
– SAM ALTMAN
In a note on Reddit, board member Sam Altman said that content guidelines and tools for moderators were coming, but hit out at the vitriol directed at Pao.
“It was sickening to see some of the things Redditors wrote about Ellen. The reduction in compassion that happens when we’re all behind computer screens is not good for the world. People are still people even if there is internet between you.
“If 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.”
Pao herself said the good has outweighed the bad at Reddit and that overall the experience was inspiring.
‘Everyone attacked on Reddit is just another person like you and me’
– ELLEN PAO
She said that her decision to leave was because the board asked her to demonstrate higher user growth in the next six months, which she said would have been out of kilter with Reddit’s core principles.
“In my eight months as Reddit’s CEO, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly on Reddit. The good has been off-the-wall inspiring, and the ugly made me doubt humanity.
“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.
“What has far outshone the hate has been the positive on Reddit. Thank you, kind strangers, for expressing your support.”
Ellen Pao image via Wikimedia Commons