Reddit CEO Ellen Pao Apologizes for Firing AMA Coordinator: “We Screwed Up”
Meanwhile Redditors are like, "Uh, yeah."
After community moderators’ shutting down parts of the site and a petition calling for interim CEO Ellen Pao’s resignation in the wake of Reddit letting go the coordinator behind their “Ask Me Anything” section, Pao has posted an apology to the Reddit community. However, while their apology acknowledges that mistakes have been made, it’s not the total admission of fault that it sets out to be.
Pao’s post starts,
We screwed up. Not just on July 2, but also over the past several years. We haven’t communicated well, and we have surprised moderators and the community with big changes. We have apologized and made promises to you, the moderators and the community, over many years, but time and again, we haven’t delivered on them. When you’ve had feedback or requests, we haven’t always been responsive. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of reddit.
There probably aren’t many Redditors who would disagree with those statements, but there’s no specific mention of an immediate solution to the current problem. Pao continues,
Today, we acknowledge this long history of mistakes. We are grateful for all you do for reddit, and the buck stops with me. We are taking three concrete steps:
Tools: We will improve tools, not just promise improvements, building on work already underway. u/deimorz and u/weffey will be working as a team with the moderators on what tools to build and then delivering them.
Communication: u/krispykrackers is trying out the new role of Moderator Advocate. She will be the contact for moderators with reddit and will help figure out the best way to talk more often. We’re also going to figure out the best way for more administrators, including myself, to talk more often with the whole community.
Search: We are providing an option for moderators to default to the old version of search to support your existing moderation workflows. Instructions for setting this default are here.
I know these are just words, and it may be hard for you to believe us. I don’t have all the answers, and it will take time for us to deliver concrete results. I mean it when I say we screwed up, and we want to have a meaningful ongoing discussion. I know we’ve drifted out of touch with the community as we’ve grown and added more people, and we want to connect more. I and the team are committed to talking more often with the community, starting now.
Thank you for listening. Please share feedback here. Our team is ready to respond to comments.
And again, Pao admits a mistake was made, even if she’s ambiguous about what that mistake was. She says the buck stops with her. But… she offers only some PR-speak in return. She’s definitely not wrong about communication problems; this apology—whether through realities of business or unwillingness to explain—still doesn’t do much to tell users and moderators why such a prominent figure was let go and why it’ll all work out for the best. It reads more like an, “I’m sorry that you’re sorry.”
Pao’s sorry that they didn’t have damage control in place to make the decision seem more palatable to the Reddit community—not that it happened in the first place. Not that I blame her—Reddit’s business decisions are its own to make whether the community likes it or not, and it remains to be seen if all the outrage over Taylor’s firing is justified. But this apology is unlikely to change anyone’s mind on the subject.
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