Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ Moderators Will No Longer Facilitate Interviews

Moderators of one of the most popular subreddits have said they will no longer facilitate the very thing that has made their community so popular....
Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ Moderators Will No Longer Facilitate Interviews
Written by Staff
  • Moderators of one of the most popular subreddits have said they will no longer facilitate the very thing that has made their community so popular.

    The IAmA subreddit is well-known for booking celebrities and high-profile tech and public figures to engage the community and answer whatever questions are thrown at them. The AMA (Ask Me Anything) series was incredibly popular and attracted wide audiences far beyond Reddit’s normal user base.

    According to a post in the subreddit, the moderators have decided to stop facilitating these interviews and doing all the exhaustive, behind-the-scenes work that was necessary to make AMAs happen. The moderators say they will continue to engage in basic moderation duty but will limit other activities:

    So, moving forward, we’re going to run IAmA like your average subreddit. We will continue moderating, removing spam, and enforcing rules. Many of the current moderation team will be taking a step back, but we’ll recruit people to replace them as needed.

    However, effective immediately, we plan to discontinue the following activities that we performed, as volunteer moderators, that took up a huge amount of our time and effort, both from a communication and coordination standpoint and from an IT/secure operations standpoint:

    • Active solicitation of celebrities or high profile figures to do AMAs.
    • Email and modmail coordination with celebrities and high profile figures and their PR teams to facilitate, educate, and operate AMAs. (We will still be available to answer questions about posting, though response time may vary).
    • Running and maintaining a website for scheduling of AMAs with pre-verification and proof, as well as social media promotion.
    • Maintaining a current up-to-date sidebar calendar of scheduled AMAs, with schedule reminders for users.
    • Sister subreddits with categorized cross-posts for easy following.
    • Moderator confidential verification for AMAs.
    • Running various bots, including automatic flairing of live posts

    The moderators say they will not prevent AMAs from happening, but it will be up to the community to arrange and verify guests.

    Interestingly, the IAmA moderators did not join in the widespread protests that many subreddits engaged in. The moderators explained their decision, saying it was their belief “that such actions will not make any significant difference this time.”

    That belief is educated by the moderators’ own conflicts with Reddit over the years, conflicts that sparked an op-ed in The New York Times in 2015. In fact, the moderators quoted segments of that piece in their announcement, remarking how little had changed in the intervening years, in terms of working with Reddit. In 2015, the moderators did take the IAmA subreddit dark for 24 hours, which was referenced in the quoted op-ed:

    Our primary concern, and reason for taking the site down temporarily, is that Reddit’s management made critical changes to a very popular website without any apparent care for how those changes might affect their biggest resource: the community and the moderators that help tend the subreddits that constitute the site. Moderators commit their time to the site to foster engaging communities.

    Reddit is not our job, but we have spent thousands of hours as a team answering questions, facilitating A.M.A.s, writing policy and helping people ask questions of their heroes. We moderate from the train or bus, on breaks from work and in between classes. We check on the subreddit while standing in line at the grocery store or waiting at the D.M.V.

    The secondary purpose of shutting down was to communicate to the relatively tone-deaf company leaders that the pattern of removing tools and failing to improve available tools to the community at large, not merely the moderators, was an affront to the people who use the site.

    We feel strongly that this incident is more part of a reckless disregard for the company’s own business and for the work the moderators and users put into the site.

    With the IAmA subreddit moderators taking such drastic action, it should send a clear signal to Reddit that it needs to change course…but it probably won’t.

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