The great Reddit meltdown has begun

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Winter is coming to the Front Page of the Internet.
Reddit devolved into a civil war Thursday night that has left dozens of its most popular communities inaccessible and uncounted refugee users fleeing for higher ground.

After news surfaced late Thursday that management had laid off a popular Reddit employee for reasons that remain unclear, the moderators of an increasing number of subreddits—more than 1,200, according to the latest count, some of which enjoy millions of subscribers—have effectively taken their communities offline in protest.

Victoria Taylor, the public-relations manager who ran Reddit's popular celebrity "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) sessions, was apparently let go by Reddit management without warning, Business Insider reported, leaving her "dazed" and suddenly unemployed.  

"We all had the rug ripped out from under us and feel betrayed."

As a result of Taylor's abrupt absence, the volunteer moderators of r/iAMA, home of the AMA interviews that included Hollywood stars, NASA engineers, and even President Barack Obama, took the subreddit private—meaning only mods and select users could access it—as they scrambled to keep their slate of high-profile AMAs afloat. 

"Today, we learned that Victoria was unexpectedly let go from her position with Reddit," wrote r/iAMA mod Karmanaut in a comment on the site. "We all had the rug ripped out from under us and feel betrayed."

Calling Taylor "an essential lifeline of communication," Karmanaut explained just how vital she was for the AMA interviews to work at such a popular level: She provided proof that the person fielding the AMA questions was who they said they were; she handled the "vast majority of scheduling requests;" and she was the only person able to put out fires whenever they sparked up. 

"Without her filling this role, we will be utterly overwhelmed. We might need to scrap the calendar altogether, or somehow limit AMAs from those that would need help with the process," Karamanaut wrote. 

"We have been really blindsided by all of this. As a result, we will need to go through our processes and see what can be done without her."

Turns out, as goes r/iAMA, so goes hundreds of other subreddits, which have "gone black" in what has erupted into the most significant civil war in Reddit's 10-year history. 

Reddit

A user of the community r/SubredditDrama has put together the following list of subreddits that have, as of publication time, gone black or halted all activity. The list below only includes communities with more than 5,000 subscribers and is therefore almost certainly incomplete. (Note: Some of the links below are NSFW.):
  1. /r/4chan (655,245 subscribers)
  2. /r/a858de45f56d9bc9 (10,958)
  3. /r/alaska (7,411)
  4. /r/amifreetogo (16,646)
  5. /r/animalsbeingbros (132,512)
  6. /r/animalsbeingjerks (235,630)
  7. /r/anonymous (28,766)
  8. /r/art (3,256,241)
  9. /r/askcarsales (9,732)
  10. /r/askmen (196,996)
  11. /r/askreddit (8,917,673)
  12. /r/autos (68,814)
  13. /r/bad_cop_no_donut (78,894)
  14. /r/badphilosophy (10,955)
  15. /r/banana (6,192)
  16. /r/bestofstreamingvideo (34,226)
  17. /r/biochemistry (7,617)
  18. /r/blackpeoplgifs (87,663)
  19. /r/blackpeopletwitter (401,375)
  20. /r/bollywoodrealism (25,328)
  21. /r/bookclub (19,529)
  22. /r/books (5,103,352)
  23. /r/booksuggestions (49,899)
  24. /r/borderlands2 (40,892)
  25. /r/burgers (8,303)
  26. /r/buttcoin (5,894)
  27. /r/buyitforlife (170,159)
  28. /r/calligraphy (27,636)
  29. /r/candidfashionpolice (54,309)
  30. /r/cannabis (28,112)
  31. /r/centuryclub[37] (???)
  32. /r/chicago[38] (70,768)
  33. /r/cinemagraphs (105,915)
  34. /r/circlejerk (254,505)
  35. /r/clashofclans (73,622)
  36. /r/college (24,169)
  37. /r/crappydesign (189,355)
  38. /r/creatures_of_earth (6,484)
  39. /r/crossfit (33,678)
  40. /r/dailydouble (12,215)
  41. /r/dataisbeautiful (3,408,056)
  42. /r/de_iama (66,824)
  43. /r/destiny (9,764)
  44. /r/dinosaurdrawings (7,404)
  45. /r/diy (3,729,041)
  46. /r/documentaries (3,377,766)
  47. /r/doesanybodyelse (252,164)
  48. /r/dogecoin (89,101)
  49. /r/downtonabbey (11,252)
  50. /r/eatcheapandhealthy (246,228)
  51. /r/educationalgifs (94,805)
  52. /r/facepalm (375,433)
  53. /r/fallout (221,890)
  54. /r/falloutlore (11,572)
  55. /r/falloutmods (6,078)
  56. /r/familyrecipes (6,919)
  57. /r/fatlogic (92,483)
  58. /r/fifthworldpics (61,512)
  59. /r/fiftyfifty (265,464)
  60. /r/finalfantasy (46,065)
  61. /r/finance (62,999)
  62. /r/fnv (18,529)
  63. /r/fo3 (6,667)
  64. /r/fo4 (16,897)
  65. /r/foshelter (9,400)
  66. /r/frugalfemalefashion (20,430)
  67. /r/fuckolly (9,150)
  68. /r/funny (~9,000,000)
  69. /r/futanari (31,300)
  70. /r/futurewhatif (17,121)
  71. /r/gadgets (3,427,275)
  72. /r/gamerghazi (7,617)
  73. /r/gaming (8,022,320)
  74. /r/gaming4gamers (29,239)
  75. /r/gaybros (53,253)
  76. /r/gaymers (41,529)
  77. /r/gonecivil (32,228)
  78. /r/gore (49,886)
  79. /r/grandtheftautov (163,925)
  80. /r/graphicnovels (8,812)
  81. /r/gravityfalls (22,501)
  82. /r/greysanatomy (7,243)
  83. /r/grilledcheese (34,868)
  84. /r/gtav (60,829)
  85. /r/hardcoreaww (37,520)
  86. /r/hentai (81,966)
  87. /r/hipcleavage (11,764)
  88. /r/hiphopheads (294,066)
  89. /r/historicalrage (5,970)
  90. /r/history (3,431,562)
  91. /r/hookah (41,248)
  92. /r/humansbeingbros (41,655)
  93. /r/iama the original (8,521,238)
  94. /r/imgoingtohellforthis (459,391)
  95. /r/insightfulquestions (38,413)
  96. /r/instant_regret (106,718)
  97. /r/interstellar (11,100)
  98. /r/intrusivethoughts (22,116)
  99. /r/jobfair (18,920)
  100. /r/jokes (3,552,326)
  101. /r/karmaconspiracy (58,592)
  102. /r/latvianjokes (29,022)
  103. /r/law (40,776)
  104. /r/lazycats (5,601)
  105. /r/learnuselesstalents (224,029)
  106. /r/lewronggeneration (52,233)
  107. /r/lifehacks (413,920)
  108. /r/lifeprotips (4,112,364)
  109. /r/listentothis has locked submissions (3,354,651)
  110. /r/litecoin (25,611)
  111. /r/lookatmydog (19,927)
  112. /r/louisiana (5,400)
  113. /r/massivecock (31,461)
  114. /r/mineralporn (20,594)
  115. /r/montageparodies (138,461)
  116. /r/morbidreality (187,712)
  117. /r/movies (7,662,117)
  118. /r/music (7,391,288)
  119. /r/netsec (134,403)
  120. /r/newsokur (10,787)
  121. /r/nsfw411 (31,925)
  122. /r/nsfwgif (9,792)
  123. /r/nsfw_snapchat (31,690)
  124. /r/obscuremedia (38,692)
  125. /r/onepiece (48,326)
  126. /r/onoff (168,990)
  127. /r/operationgrabass (5,976)
  128. /r/paomustresign (7,535)
  129. /r/personofinterest has locked submissions (6,985)
  130. /r/photography (243,189)
  131. /r/pimpyourmomforkarma (5,098)
  132. /r/pokeporn (25,905?!)
  133. /r/preggo (5,596)
  134. /r/projectcar (14,050)
  135. /r/publicfreakouts
  136. /r/r4r (79,824)
  137. /r/randomactsofcsgo (11,369)
  138. /r/rbi (28,584)
  139. /r/regularshow (21,943)
  140. /r/samsung (6,634)
  141. /r/scottpilgrim (6,835)
  142. /r/seo (24,671)
  143. /r/shittyfantheories (12,927)
  144. /r/shittyreactiongifs (111,647)
  145. /r/skrillex (6,970)
  146. /r/skyrim (301,038)
  147. /r/sluttystrangers (19,768)
  148. /r/sonsofanarchy (25,741)
  149. /r/spain (5,829)
  150. /r/splitdepthgifs (41,023)
  151. /r/splatoon (18,031)
  152. /r/srssucks (12,505)
  153. /r/starcitizen made up its mind (51,971)
  154. /r/startrekstabilized (9,766)
  155. /r/stevenuniverse has locked submissions (22,060)
  156. /r/subaru (43,055)
  157. /r/subredditcancer (7,979)
  158. /r/subredditdramadrama (6,185)
  159. /r/talesfromthepizzaguy (34,986)
  160. /r/tattoos (395,753)
  161. /r/ted (33,288)
  162. /r/teenagers (98,555)
  163. /r/thedepthsbelow (29,283)
  164. /r/thelastairbender (138,974)
  165. /r/theonion (10,749)
  166. /r/thepopcornstand (7,087)
  167. /r/timanderic given to /pol/ (20,852)
  168. /r/tinder (137,103)
  169. /r/toosoon (73,894)
  170. /r/torrents 
  171. /r/trackers (47,245)
  172. /r/trees (757,135)
  173. /r/twitter (8,402)
  174. /r/twoxsex  (14,061)
  175. /r/ukpolitics (36,450)
  176. /r/ulyssesbucketlist (5,960)
  177. /r/unexpectedthuglife (199,623)
  178. /r/universityofreddit (74,204)
  179. /r/usa (5,148)
  180. /r/usenet (21,516)
  181. /r/videos (8,082,138)
  182. /r/wastedgifs (108,569)
  183. /r/weather (14,800)
  184. /r/webgames (87,932)
  185. /r/wildernessbackpacking (8,816)
  186. /r/worldbuilding (54,407)
  187. /r/worstof (35,435)
  188. /r/wouldyoufuckmywife (29,169)
  189. /r/wtf (4,596,825)
  190. /r/xkcd (58,918)
  191. /r/youdontsurf (176,671)

The widespread protest is apparently not fueled by Taylor's dismissal alone. Reddit user Gilgamesh-, a mod of the subreddit r/OutofTheLoop, reports on the site that the deeper problem stems from a general feeling that Reddit management takes advantage of the volunteer moderators who maintain virtually all aspects of their respective communities. As Gilgamesh- explains in a highly cited post:

As much as Victoria is loved, this reaction is not all a result of her departure: there is a feeling among many of the moderators of reddit that the admins do not respect the work that is put in by the thousands of unpaid volunteers who maintain the communities of the 9,656 active subreddits, which they feel is expressed by, among other things, the lack of communication between them and the admins, and their disregard of the thousands of mods who keep reddit's communities going.

The "Reddit Revolt" or "Great Reddit Blackout of 2015," as some have called it, follows widespread controversy over the site's decision to ban a number of contentious communities, including r/fatpeoplehate, a highly active community dedicated to disparaging overweight people, under a new harassment policy. The institution of the policy came under the leadership of interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao, a controversial figure whom some redditors have taken to calling Chairman Pao.

The Reddit blackout carries with it widespread calls for users to abandon the site altogether. Whether the exodus will endure long enough to cause lasting damage to Reddit remains in flux. 

Update 7:30am CT, July 3: The number of subreddits that have gone offline has swelled to 1,222, according to a regularly updated list on the r/GoldTesting subreddit. That's down from a total of 1,266, with 44 subreddits coming back online over night. The reinstated subreddits include r/pics and r/todayilearned, two major subreddits that each count more than 8.7 million subscribers. Both are now dominated by posts about Taylor and the unfolding Reddit "armageddon."

The Reddit protest has also given rise to r/Blackout2015, the central hub of the unrest.

Update 12:50pm CT, July 3: The subreddit that started it all, r/iAMA, is back online, as are a number of other popular subreddits. 

But the rebellions is far from over. Posts about Taylor's dismissal and complaints about Reddit administrators continue to dominate the site. And a Change.org petition started three weeks ago calling on Ellen Pao to step down has surged to more than 22,000 signatures, more than doubling its support in under a day.

Illustration via Reddit | Remix by Andrew Couts

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