Recently, Reddit users reacted viscerally when Victoria Taylor, Reddit’s director of communications, was fired. Taylor was instrumental in coordinating celebrity AMA (ask me anything) threads, and many major subreddits went silent in protest. As the backlash continues, SimilarWeb provides some hard data about the impact on Reddit and other sites like it.
The largest part of the backlash stemmed from Taylor’s presence as a liaison, and from the perceived lack of support for community moderators on Reddit. Several subreddits, including r/IAmA, r/videos, and r/gaming set their posts to private mode, meaning no users were able to access the content on some of the most popular subreddits on the site.
The admins have refused to provide essential information about arranging and scheduling AMAs with their new ‘team.’ This does not bode well for future communication between us, and we cannot be sure that everything is being arranged honestly and in accordance with our rules […] As a result, we will no longer be working with the admins to put together AMAs.
On July 5, that same post was updated, noting that Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian has been in talks with the moderators, and Reddit will be hiring a new full-time employee to essentially take Taylor’s place.
However, SimilarWeb’s data demonstrates how many Reddit users may have been jumping ship in light of events. Voat.co, a Reddit clone, received a huge traffic spike reaching over 1.5 million visitors on July 3, compared to their usual average of 200,000 daily visitors. There was a 500 percent spike in traffic for Panjury, another Reddit alternative, and a 47 percent increase in traffic on Digg.com.
While this may seem like a huge exodus away from Reddit, SimilarWeb’s own data indicates that Reddit traffic has not been significantly impacted. Traffic appears to drop by 5 million users; however, the historical data over the month shows that traffic can swing by about seven million users at any given time.
The controversy may look to have wide reaching impacts, but actual traffic impacts may be a lot smaller in the long term. What this has highlighted is a growing discontent among Reddit users with the moderation system of the site, and the actions of Reddit staff. And the protest has definitely worked: Reddit staff have promised to institute real change and also noted that they’ve largely lost touch with their own community.