Great Reddit Blackout of 2015 (aka AMAgeddon)

Published July 3, 2015

NEWS:   Redditors are in an uproar after the sudden firing of employee Victoria Taylor (u/chooter).

The popular social aggregation site Reddit revolted en masse on 2 July 2015, after moderators learned that a popular and essential employee named Victoria Taylor (u/chooter) had been suddenly terminated from her position with the company.

Reaction to Taylor's firing was nearly instantaneous and (in terms of Reddit) massive. An interim subreddit (r/blackout2015) created to serve the "Great Reddit Blackout of 2015" gained tens of thousands of followers in a matter of hours, but that wasn't the only major change to the site's largest subs.

The subreddit r/subredditdrama (which exists to catalog arguments across Reddit for entertainment purposes) began to chart the number of subreddits that have switched their status from "public" to "private" (virtually unavailable) since u/chooter's termination. A live feed for what has also been dubbed "AMAgeddon" was set up to document subs that "went dark" in solidarity over Taylor's termination.

Much of the extant information on AMAgeddon was sourced from a thread started on r/OutoftheLoop (a subreddit for Redditors to catch up on Reddit news they've missed) titled "Why has R/Iama been set to private?" In that thread, fellow AMA (Ask Me Anything) moderator Karmanaut explained the start of the backlash (in a comment gilded nine times by fellow Reddit users):

Today, we learned that Victoria was unexpectedly let go from her position with Reddt. We all had the rug ripped out from under us and feel betrayed.

Before doing that, the admins really should have at least talked to us (and all the other subs that host AMAs, like /r/Books[1] , /r/Science[2] , /r/Music[3] , etc.) (Edit: not to suggest that we expect to know about Reddit's inner workings. Just that there should have been a transition in place or something worked out to ensure that Victoria's duties would be adequately handled, which they are not) We had a number of AMAs scheduled for today that Victoria was supposed to help with, and they are all left absolutely high and dry (hence taking IAMA private to figure out the situation) She was still willing to help them today (before the sub was shut down, of course) even without being paid or required to do so. Just a sign of how much she is committed to what she does.

The admins didn't realize how much we rely on Victoria. Part of it is proof, of course: we know it's legitimate when she's sitting right there next to the person and can make them provide proof. We've had situations where agents or others have tried to do an AMA as their client, and Victoria shut that shit down immediately. We can't do that anymore.

After explaining in extensive detail how Taylor's role affected everyday admin functions, u/Karmanaut claimed that large subreddits were unable to function without u/chooter:

Tl;dr: for /r/IAMA[7] to work the way it currently does, we need Victoria. Without her, we need to figure out a different way for it to work.

The wide scope of the Reddit-based controversy inevitably led to rumors. Among them was speculation that Taylor was let go following a recent AMA with Jesse Jackson which (by all accounts) went poorly. However, a rebuttal made by prominent Quora user Marc Bodnick on that site (in which Bodnick claimed to have spoken to a person at Reddit about the situation) cited a number of separate but plausible reasons for Taylor's termination. That comment has been widely circulated but not confirmed as accurate by anyone speaking officially on behalf of Reddit:

reddit blackout

While Reddit has publicly remained silent on the growing controversy, posts published to their official Facebook page have been inundated by angry Redditors complaining about the matter.

[Image: u/cjmk]

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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