If you are anything like me, Reddit is a bit of a mystery to you. The online community is known for both their open exchange of ideas and their complete hatred of those who disagree with them, and no one on the site seems to see the irony in that. One thing that you can be sure of, though, is that everyone will band together when the upper management makes any moves, positive or negative. You can also be sure that management's response to their actions will be glib and dismissive.
This week proved to be no different, with CEO Steve Huffman making a bad move and dismissing his own actions. Here's what happened: In the pro-Trump community, /r/The_Donald, comments were made that mentioned Huffman's community handle, /u/spez, and these comments were not flattering. As someone who has run several online communities, sometimes comments can be negative, but all you can do is either wear them as a badge of honor, as does Avram Piltch, or you can fold into a heap and cry in the corner. Huffman chose the latter.
Rather than accepting the negative comments gracefully, or addressing any concerns that the community might have with him, his performance or him personally, the CEO of the online community decided to deflect the criticism to others. In fact, he manually edited the posts in the subreddit, changing his own handle to those of the moderators of the /r/The_Donald instead. When called out for the actions, he addressed the accusations saying,
Yep. I messed with the "f**k u/spez" comments, replacing "spez" with r/the_donald mods for about an hour. It's been a long week here trying to unwind the r/pizzagate stuff. As much as we try to maintain a good relationship with you all, it does get old getting called a pedophile constantly. As the CEO, I shouldn't play such games, and it's all fixed now. Our community team is pretty pissed at me, so I most assuredly won't do this again. F**k u/spez.
He had a hard week, and it made him sad, so he made it look like people were mad at a group that had nothing to do with anything instead of him. While members of the community were discussing the possibility that administrators were editing user posts without any notification or marking, the CEO of the company was editing user posts without any warning or marking. At least it validated some of the concerns of the now-banned /r/pizzagate community, so glass half full, right?
It is going to take some time for the admins to get any form of credibility back after this, if it is possible at all. The good news for members of the community is that there are alternatives, so if you decide to jump ship, finding a new home should be fairly easy. It seems like the new platform of choice is Voat, a similar platform that is having trouble staying afloat with all of the new user load.