While trying to browse your favorite gaming community on Reddit this morning, you may have noticed that it's inaccessible. That's not due to a hack or other technical issue. Instead, these gaming subreddits and so many others have been effectively shut down as a protest.
The root cause was the abrupt termination of Victoria Taylor. Taylor was Director of Talent at Reddit. She primarily helped with AMAs (Ask Me Anythings), public interviews with questions posed by Reddit users. The interviewees ranged from celebrities to anonymous employees of corporations like Google or Apple. Taylor acted as a liaison between the interviewees and Reddit. She would help schedule the AMAs, verify the identity of the people being interviewed and also help resolve any issues that occurred during these question-and-answer sessions.
The moderators of /r/IAmA, the subreddit devoted to AMAs, said that Taylor was vital to their day-to-day operations. Because the mods had no advance warning of Taylor's departure, they have to scramble to find a new way to hold their AMAs. They decided to make the subreddit private while they reorganize. While private, a subreddit can only be browsed by moderators and pre-approved users.
for /r/IAMA to work the way it currently does, we need Victoria. Without her, we need to figure out a different way for it to work. We will need to go through our processes and see what can be done without her.
Dozens of subreddits have switched to private as well to show solidarity. They're not only protesting Taylor's termination but also Reddit's general attitude toward its volunteer moderators. A post on /r/OutOfTheLoop summed up the sentiment:
As much as Victoria is loved, this reaction is not all a result of her departure: there is a feeling among many of the moderators of reddit that the admins do not respect the work that is put in by the thousands of unpaid volunteers who maintain the communities of the 9,656 active subreddits, which they feel is expressed by, among other things, the lack of communication between them and the admins, and their disregard of the thousands of mods who keep reddit's communities going.
You can find the full list of subreddits that are currently private here. The largest video game community on the site, /r/gaming, is one of them. They're joined by several other popular subreddits devoted to games like GTA 5, Fallout, BioShock and Skyrim.
One of Reddit's employees responded to the protest with an interim solution. They ask that all AMA inquiries be sent to [email protected], an email address being monitored by a team of employees:
We get that losing Victoria has a significant impact on the way you manage your community. I'd really like to understand how we can help solve these problems, because I know r/IAMA thrived before her and will thrive after.
It's unclear how long these subreddits will stay private. Even if it just lasts a day or less, though, I think they've delivered an effective message: Reddit is run by its community and pissing them off is a bad idea.