Volunteer moderators shut down parts of Reddit

Reddit, the popular online discussion site, had hundreds of its most popular individual discussion areas, called subreddits, closed Thursday. They were closed not by Reddit, but by subreddit moderators, unpaid volunteers who run the individual discussion areas. The reason they did this? To protest the company’s firing of its director of talent, Victoria Taylor. She was in charge of the /r/IAmA subreddit, a hugely popular subreddit where celebrities and other famous people would sit down at a keyboard and answer questions from Reddit users in real-time.

Former Reddit director of talent, Victoria Taylor

When Victoria Taylor was fired, the volunteer moderators of /r/IAmA took the subreddit to private. That meant nobody, including its over 8 million subscribers, could access it. Other volunteer moderators of other popular subreddits began doing the same thing, they made their subreddits private.

All the subreddits are now back up and running. At least they all appear to be.

Reddit vs. Usenet

I’ve never really understood Reddit. it reminds me of Usenet, only different. Where Reddit has subreddits, Usenet has newsgroups. The major difference between Reddit and Usenet is that Reddit is owned by Advance Publications, a large media company that also owns a lot of newspapers and magazines. For example, they own Wired and Vanity Fair.

Nobody owns Usenet.

Reddit and Usenet are also different in that Usenet doesn’t have a system of volunteer moderators who can just shut down a newsgroup because they feel like it.

Does Reddit make money?

I’m pretty sure when large media companies own something, the intention is for that property to turn a profit. I don’t understand how Reddit turns a profit. In fact, I don’t understand how they make any money. There are seemingly no ads on Reddit, at least none that I ever see. I’ve read that Reddit does have advertising, but I’ve personally never seen any. I’m running ad blocker software on my PC, but not only my iPad. I would think if there were ads on Reddit, I would see them.

The fact that hundreds of the most popular subreddits can be taken down, not by the company, but by volunteer moderators, shows a major problem with their business model. Reddit relies on investors to keep it afloat economically. How attractive can Reddit be to current and future investors if its most popular areas can be shut down by unpaid volunteers?

Not much.

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