The Reddit Revolt and Social Silos

The sudden revolt has thrown one of the world’s most popular sites into chaos. It wasn’t immediately clear why Taylor, who joined the company in 2013, was fired. But the response by moderators was as swift as it was ruthless. Within hours, the moderators of /r/IAmA took the subreddit private, effectively shutting it down. That started a cascade of moderators shuttering dozens of subreddits—/r/askreddit, /r/todayilearned, and /r/pics among them—that is still growing, crippling a site with some 160 million users. Many more subreddits, including /r/science, have expressed solidarity with Taylor but remained open.

Source: Reddit Is Revolting | WIRED

Reddit is in a state of turmoil from the firing of a popular staffer as well as a continual breakdown of communication from company officers and subreddit moderators. Reddit itself functions primarily due to the hard work of popular and niche subreddit moderators who laboriously spend time curating and improving the experience of the “internet’s front page.”

What’s interesting to note here is that moderators from hundreds of subreddits are using this as an opportunity to voice their frustration with how the company supports and enables them to do what they do. There’s also ongoing questions and antagonism between community leaders and the company’s new CEO due to her attempts to limit harassing and defamatory posts by users.

Reddit’s distributed model lends itself to such rebellion. Similar things happened to Digg when it began its decline, which gave Reddit a boost of audience. There are cautionary tales of dozens of forums undergoing similar events and eventual departure of key users and members as well.

What does this mean for other social silos such as Facebook or the post-open Twitter or Google+? In my mind, one of the key benefits to the path that Facebook has taken with making key features into standalone services or apps (Messenger, Pages, Instagram, Whatsapp etc) or Twitter with Vine is that these social networks are now more insulated from being left behind due to a mass exit based on inner turmoil.

Much like NASCAR fans decrying the sports’ and associated tracks’ latest announcement asking for Confederate flags to be left at home and, passionate people who feel entitled due to a conception of buy-in can feel betrayed and threaten to leave. Social spaces on the web are built to fail, and companies have to both diversify and continue to attract a membership that is comfortable with evolution.

 

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