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KARMA'S A BITCH

Chart: The backlash against Reddit CEO Ellen Pao

Ellen Pao
AP Photo/Eric Risberg
All is good again.
By Alice Truong

Deputy editor

This article is more than 2 years old.

Reddit and its top executive have had a tumultuous week.

Ever since a popular moderator was fired July 2, users have been taking aim at Ellen Pao, the social message board’s interim CEO. They’ve shut down hundreds of forums in protest, abandoned the site for new competitors, and called for Pao’s resignation with a Change.org petition (211,000 signatures and counting).

On Monday, Pao publicly apologized for not letting moderators know about the firing of Victoria Taylor, Reddit’s director of talent who coordinated the site’s highly popular AMA, or Ask Me Anything, series. (Past participants for Reddit’s Q-and-As include US president Barack Obama, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and nature documentarian David Attenborough.)

By admitting fault, Pao seems to have won back some of the community. The chart above created by Imgur user fantasia123, which was shared on Reddit, shows the ups and downs of Pao’s comment karma. (A bit of background: On Reddit, accumulating karma is akin to collecting points in a video game. Users get karma when their posts or comments are upvoted by other community members, and they lose it when they are downvoted. Though karma can’t be redeemed for anything, it’s like a badge of honor and publicly displayed next to people’s usernames.)

Based on this metric, Pao’s popularity with the community declined rapidly in June after the company removed five forums, including one called Fat People Hate (or FPH for short), for harassment. Her karma score remained volatile with news of Taylor’s firing and dropped to an all-time low on Friday, around the time she told the community “[w]e are going to figure this out and fix it.” But after her apology, Pao’s karma bounced back to—and at times surpassed—the levels from 2014 and earlier.

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