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Ellen Pao Leaves Reddit; Site Founder Steve Huffman Makes a Triumphant Return 467

Deathspawner writes: To say that it's been a tumultuous month for reddit is an understatement. While multiple events have occurred in recent months that have caused an uproar, such as the banning of popular "hate" subreddits, nothing impacted the site quite like the out-of-nowhere firing of "Ask Me Anything" admin Victoria Taylor last week. Following that, other minor revelations surfaced, and finally, this past Monday, reddit CEO Ellen Pao came out from hiding to issue an apology. While her message instilled a bit more confidence in the future of the site, it wasn't enough. Today, it's been announced that Ellen Pao has left the company she joined last fall, and will be superseded by someone who knows what he's getting into: founder Steve Huffman.
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Ellen Pao Leaves Reddit; Site Founder Steve Huffman Makes a Triumphant Return

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  • by gcnaddict ( 841664 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @06:47PM (#50085703)
    Ellen made all the hard changes, like clamping down on offensive speech. She was then canned as a scapegoat, the desired person was brought in for the long term role, and all of Ellen's changes stick.

    All the while, Reddit looks like it acquiesced to the masses. Brilliantly played.
    • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @06:52PM (#50085731)
      "Ellen made all the hard changes, like clamping down on politically incorrect speech."

      FTFY.
      • by Funksaw ( 636954 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @09:07PM (#50086379)
        If I say something that's considered to be insensitive in certain contexts, or a word that has been associated with hate and bigotry, that's political incorrect. It is "politically incorrect" to call black people "colored," even though the octogenerian users of that term may not have even seen anything wrong with it's use, it wasn't always seen as an offensive word, and in fact, is part of the name of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). That's political incorrectness. And you treat political incorrectness with stern correction that the behavior is "not appropriate," and you try to educate, if possible. Hate speech is when you *know* how hurtful your words are **and that's the entire point of why you say them.** The stuff Reddit banned during Pao's tenure absolutely, positively qualified as "hate speech."
        • by msauve ( 701917 )
          The statement said "offensive," not "hate," so you're arguing a red herring.
        • Hate speech is when you *know* how hurtful your words are **and that's the entire point of why you say them.**

          By your definition, insults are hate speech.

          Hate speech is like pornography/obscenity: No one can define it, and it's usually strangely close to "Stuff I don't like."

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            The difference between hate speech and an insult is that hate speech advocates hatred of an entire group over things that they are unable to change. So hatred of black people for their ethnicity, hatred of gay people for their sexuality.

            For example:

            1. "You're an idiot." Not hate speech, just an insult.

            2. "You faggot". Homophobic hate speech, using a word that implies there is something wrong with being gay.

            • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @09:14AM (#50088029)

              For example:

              1. "You're an idiot." Not hate speech, just an insult.

              Which is odd, because the pejoratives idiot, moron, imbecile refer specifically to people of a range of intelligences.

              IQ

              50-69 Moron

              20-49 Imbecile

              below 20 Idiot

              source: http://www.iqcomparisonsite.co... [iqcomparisonsite.com] If calling someone a faggot is hate speech, then calling someone an idiot is likewise hate speech against people with an IQ of less than 20.

              Just a matter of time before that becomes a banned word.

              note: I'm merely noting it isn't easy to make simple statements of what is or isn't hate speech. I have a gay friend who often refers to himself as a faggot, or even "worse. If I do something stupid, I'll sometimes call myself a "dumb fucking hunky". And neither of us hate ourselves.

              I tend to apply it to when threats of violence are made, along with whatever group the perp is encouraging violence against.

          • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @07:18AM (#50087733)

            By your definition, insults are hate speech.

            Which, of course, they are. People tell insults to work themselves up. They're psychological preparation to overcome the inhibitions against harming others. Since humans are pack animals, this preparation needs to take such highly visible form so either the victim or other members of the pack have a chance to interfere.

            Look at every genocide in history. They all have a campaign of escalating slander preceding them.

            Hate speech is like pornography/obscenity: No one can define it, and it's usually strangely close to "Stuff I don't like."

            Pornography is speech aimed at causing sexual excitement, and hate speech is speech aimed at establishing it as acceptable to harm someone. Don't confuse people making excuses for themselves either way for the actual concepts being vague.

        • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @08:01AM (#50087801) Journal

          100% bullshit.
          The very idea that others have to tiptoe around your personal sensitivities is anathema to the very concept of free speech (and, frankly, being an adult).
          In particular, the idea that certain groups can assert that other groups are entitled to social protection because of some historical or perceived grievance is not only particularist (and in that sense astonishingly narcissistic) but patronizing as well.
          It's really nothing more than oversensitivity, displaced so one doesn't even have to take ownership: "it's not that I'm being hypersensitive, because I'm feeling this way on BEHALF of that person over there."
          A very later-20th-century form of nonsense.

    • by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @06:57PM (#50085763)

      Ellen is a person who brazenly attempted to abuse the gender inequality debate in a high profile court case to make millions of dollars when she was fired for being abrasive, lazy and generally incompetent. Her husband is just as scummy a person, who participates in ponzi schemes and other less than above board activities. I'm frankly happy she's gone from Reddit. She is a horrible person.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Ellen is a person who brazenly attempted to abuse the gender inequality debate in a high profile court case to make millions of dollars when she was fired for being abrasive, lazy and generally incompetent.

        Actually, it's not at all brazen. The facts of the case painted the firm as pretty sexist [hbr.org]. What they could not prove to a reasonable standard was that this background sexism was directly responsible for her not getting promotions and bonuses. Her husband's legal problems also complicate the narrative, and cast doubt on her intentions

        This is why the civil rights movement in the 60s waited for Rosa Parks, even though there had been several incidents of black women being mistreated on buses prior to Ms Parks'

        • by mattack2 ( 1165421 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @08:37PM (#50086283)

          This is why the civil rights movement in the 60s waited for Rosa Parks,

          Wait, the infamous bus incident happened in 1955.

          • by twistedcubic ( 577194 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @09:04PM (#50086367)
            It's OK. Everyone knows he's just making up a random cause-effect scenario to support his argument. He thinks the number of black women with illegitimate children or alcohol/drug addiction in 1950s was so high that we had to "wait" for someone with a clean record. I know this offends the average Slashdot reader, but it's amazing how racial stereotypes cloud this guy's judgement. Drug addiction among black women in Alabama in the 1950s was practically nonexistent, while alcoholism was extremely rare for black women. And if you doubt this, you might at least agree that drug addiction/alcoholism/unwed children are much more common today than decades ago. The guy is projecting 1980s racial stereotypes decades into the past.
            • by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @09:43PM (#50086531)
              The notion of having a 'perfect plaintiff' is entirely well established in legal theory. Part of the reason is precedent - if you lose a case, especially the sort of case that goes all the way to the Supreme Court, getting a resounding judgment against your side is a pretty big blow, because it means future attempts will have a much harder time getting past the established doctrine.

              So, you want a client who's squeaky clean, that doesn't have any character flaws or potentially shady past that the opposition can point to. You want someone that is more likely to evoke sympathy, because even though it shouldn't matter in the eyes of the law, judges (and juries) are human, and prone to human inclination of liking or disliking someone.
              • by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @11:23PM (#50086853)

                In one of Malcolm Gladwell's books (forget which one, also take with a grain of salt) The reason that Rosa Parks set things off the way she did wasn't so much about her, but who she knew.

                Namely, she had a rather large network of social contacts that could be used to rally to her cause. Had she been the exact same person, but a shut in -- it wouldn't have happened the same way.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          > The facts of the case painted the firm as pretty sexist [hbr.org].

          Those are allegations, not facts. Facts are things actually established in court with legally admissible evidence. Allegations are things people claim. Anyone can make up allegations, the fact that she lost proves that there was insufficient evidence that they were true. Taking all the allegations as "facts" is naive at best. People can and do lie in court.

          By way of example, there's a rumor that you're a rapist. It's not supported

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 10, 2015 @07:20PM (#50085889)

        Wow, I recommend reading the Wikipedia articles on both of them. Quite a pair:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        They are Harvard educated elite grievance energizer bunnies, they just keep going!

    • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @07:03PM (#50085793)

      Censoring people undermine's reddit though.

      Its like removing all the porn links from google. You only think you're doing something that won't horribly backfire if you don't understand the business you're in.

      As the man said "The internet intepretes censorship as DAMAGE and routes around it." You can't censor people on the internet.

      And if you turn your site into a corporate friendly disneyland then many of the content creators will leave, you'll give a niche for competitors to exploit, and the viewers that like that content will leave with them.

      Think of Reddit like a bee hive. The content creators like bees. And the 99 percent of users that don't actually contribute anything as the Honey.

      The problem with bees is that they sting. So somewhere along the way they said "wouldn't it be cool if we could get rid of the bees and just keep the hive and the honey!"... well... sure. But then you'd just have a box of honey. It doesn't work that way though.

      The bees make the honey. And the hive is only as good as it makes the bees happy and productive. Fuck with the bees and you get no honey.

    • by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @07:11PM (#50085845)

      Ellen made all the hard changes, like clamping down on offensive speech.

      "Offense is never given, it's only ever taken."

      -Unknown

      "He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."

      Brigham Young

      WTF happened to the basic American principle of dying for the right of the offensive to be offensive... not just when we don't agree but especially when we don't agree??

      • by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @07:19PM (#50085883)
        It's not about principle. It's about power. For an SJW, to take offense is to give yourself the power to close down the speech of others. That's why they take offense at everything.
        • SJW (Score:5, Funny)

          by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @07:38PM (#50085993)
          By using the term "SJW", you have outed yourself as someone who has had to deal with annoying, dishonest, power hungry, attention-seeking, hypocritical SJWs.
          • Thank god we're finally calling these morons out for what they are.

            There's a big difference between someone wanting equality and someone whining and neighing about anything and everything, in an endless hunt to be the most offended person possible.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Ellen made all the hard changes, like clamping down on offensive speech.

        "Offense is never given, it's only ever taken."

        -Unknown

        "He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."

        Brigham Young

        WTF happened to the basic American principle of dying for the right of the offensive to be offensive... not just when we don't agree but especially when we don't agree??

        4chan is what happened. Who needs another shitty cesspool of Internet assholes?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by epyT-R ( 613989 )

          4chan was sterilized too, during the heyday of gamergate. There are those who think that self righteous, attention seeking victimhood is an example of 'internet asshole.'

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          4chan is what happened. Who needs another shitty cesspool of Internet assholes?

          Everyone does. The more cesspools where such behavior is tolerated, the less we'll have to deal with those people everywhere else.

      • > WTF happened to the basic American principle of
        > dying for the right of the offensive to be offensive...
        > not just when we don't agree but especially when we
        > don't agree??

        That's not really relevant. Your right to free and offensive speech does not impose on anyone else, person or corporation, an obligation to provide you with a platform for said speech.

        What I have to wonder, though, is when in the history of the internet has this sort of thing actually worked? Every example I can recall of

      • by Boronx ( 228853 )

        Americans also don't whine. Make your own damn site. Jesus Christ.

      • "He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool." Brigham Young

        "It's easy to maintain a healthy self esteem if you have an enormous haram and run your own religion." -Me

    • And they made the announcement on a Friday afternoon as close to close of business as possible.

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @07:46PM (#50086043) Homepage Journal

      She didn't though, the clampdown was about using Reddit to organize harassment, not the viewpoints of the people concerned. And this wasn't even the first time a forum had been closed for significant off-Reddit behavior, from TheFappening to SonyGOP - the latter of which I'd be inclined to think should be more controversial than a sub dedicated to shaming people - specific people, in real life - with a particular medical condition.

      I know it's unpopular to point it out, but honestly, if this were about views, don't you think rather a lot more subs would have been closed? Reddit's not exactly known for being dominated by left wing "politically correct" (urgh) subreddits, quite the opposite in fact...

    • If society has devolved to the point where it is acceptable to clamp down on unpopular (aka offensive) speech, then please, kill me now. I want no part of a society like that.
      • If society has devolved to the point where it is acceptable to clamp down on unpopular (aka offensive) speech, then please, kill me now. I want no part of a society like that.

        Depends on who's doing the clamping. The Government? Unacceptable. But individuals, companies, corporations don't have to fund or support unpopular or offensive expression - as determined by those entities themselves. The First Amendment only says the Government cannot make laws that interfere with your speech...

      • That's just silly. The only thing that has changed is what topics are taboo.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 10, 2015 @06:50PM (#50085717)

    It's pretty clear Pao was just a scapegoat to take care of unpleasant business. It could be she turned out worse than the board expected, but make no mistake: she wasn't alone in driving the New Reddit policies they want, and had the board's full support. Her resigning will change nothing.

    In other news: There's voat.co [voat.co] that's turning into a pretty nice community to replace Reddit. It's more like the original and the userbase is pretty big now.

  • wow reddit is going to flip out. I think she was handicapped from day one by her sexual harassment suit at KCPB. reddit definitely has a lot of internet libertarian types who hate anything they perceive as SJW, so for her to come in the door like this was tough. good luck to her, she's a really cool person and has been painted pretty bad in this experience.

  • by Kentokae ( 1023461 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @06:56PM (#50085755)
    First the racist conservative battle flag is removed and now Pao is removed! Whats next? Removal of citizen spying?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      the racist conservative battle flag

      You mean the one that Fritz Hollings, the Democrat, fought to install, in the 1960s?
      The one that the S.C Legislature, under the control of Democrats for most of the last 50 years, kept up?

      • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @07:23PM (#50085913)

        the racist conservative battle flag

        You mean the one that Fritz Hollings, the Democrat, fought to install, in the 1960s?
        The one that the S.C Legislature, under the control of Democrats for most of the last 50 years, kept up?

        Yes, fuckface, that's the one. Did you have another one in mind? The Democratic party is the oldest political party in the world still in existence, and for much of its history it has had conservative factions. Even up until the 1980s Southern populists were Democrats until moving to the Republican party. If you think "conservative" is a synonym for "Republican" then you're an idiot. Conservative Democrats created that flag, and were instrumental in keeping it there (I'll ignore the fact that conservative Republicans in the SC legislature are the only ones against the flag's removal, because if it was another time they might have been conservative Democrats; either way they would still be conservative).

        • No kidding. What party was Strom Thurmond in (until 1964), exactly? And which party was "the party of Lincoln"? One would have to be tremendously ignorant of history to confuse Democrat with liberal.

      • southern democrats in the 60s were basically the party of establishment white people. it wasn't until the 90s that repubs made any inroads there.

      • by Boronx ( 228853 )

        The battle flag of traitors and terrorists who murdered hundreds of thousands of american soldiers!? That battle flag?

        I guess it's good to see Republicans trying to disown it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ding dong, the witch is dead, the wicked witch is dead.

    Except not really. Unless they reverse her changes (bring back Victoria Taylor, restore the improperly banned subreddits that never harassed anyone) and show that they're really committed to communicating with their volunteer mods, then this is meaningless.

    At least it's a step in the right direction, now to see if they follow through.

  • Reddit (Score:5, Funny)

    by ichthus ( 72442 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @07:06PM (#50085817) Homepage
    What's Reddit? Is it like Digg?
  • by Krishnoid ( 984597 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @07:23PM (#50085911) Journal

    some triumphal return music. Any recommendations or favorites?

  • Are they still going to be all anti-gg and pro SJW? I'm not going back if they are. I find those people too depressing to be around. Always so so angry about the newest thing to be angry about.
  • by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @08:35PM (#50086277) Journal

    Thanks to Ellen Pao, Asian-Americans will no longer be saddled with the insidious stereotype of being bright, hardworking and competent.

    Anybody know of $500k+ tech industry job openings for a lawsuit-happy SJW with no technical experience? Asking for a friend.

  • who just doesn't get it? I casually read reddit like I do slashdot though lots more stuff on reddit (too much, I can't keep up with it all). It seems interesting stuff there but a huge time pit to read and digest it all. Plus have to filter out usual BS.

    I was hoping to find a subreddit on specific technical subjects where I can find useful information like in the usenet days.

  • good for her (Score:5, Informative)

    by Goldsmith ( 561202 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @10:26PM (#50086677)

    Whatever you think about Pao, she was in a very tough position. Reddit was in full on shit hitting the fan mode when she took over.

    The company had just raised $50M they didn't actually need, with no real plan of what to do next. The new board was micromanaging and not looking out for the good of the company. The corporate culture was self serving and tone deaf. The prior CEO couldn't get a simple office location change through the board and quit. Pao is promoted to interim CEO. The title of "interim" CEO should NEVER have been used publicly. That it was shows the stance of the board towards management. She got some control of the company back from the board, was able to institute some changes and show that the position of Reddit CEO was still meaningful in the company. Think about that transition from when she started and the CEO couldn't change the office space without board approval (that he couldn't get!) to today when everyone can agree that the CEO runs Reddit. She realized when it was time (ish) to go and (presumably) helped get a very good replacement that the board actually likes.

    I don't think I would actually like working with her, but I do think she did a good job there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > The prior CEO couldn't get a simple office location change through the board and quit.

      They tried to force a large part of the workforce to move from NYC to SF, or they'd get fired. That's hardly a "simply office location change", that's forcing people to move across the whole country. The reason wasn't even logical, it's his feelings that "all successful startups are in SF".

      > I don't think I would actually like working with her, but I do think she did a good job there.

      If by "good job" you mean "ali

    • I notice you neglected to mention the whole fucking the users bit. She may have been good at internal politics but she has not left Reddit in any better position than she found it. Since she's been the CEO it seems Reddit's entire business plan involved negative publicity and doing their damnedest to kill off the user base, not to mention firing people who were popular and a help in making some of the site's more unique features run.

      I get the feeling we would have been better off if she was ignored as a CEO

      • I did leave that off. Because of the money they raised, they needed to boost revenue significantly. This is where people get the idea that she did the "dirty work" of trying to institute advertiser friendly policies (including firing people who were internal advocates of community over profit).

        People didn't give Reddit millions of dollars to be nice to the community, they invested that money to squeeze profit out of the community (and to trigger a higher performance based buyout clause from the initial Con

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