Tensions have once again flared between the administrators and moderators of Reddit, after an administrator accused a moderator of /r/videos, a Reddit community with over 9 million subscribers, of “mansplaining.”
The incident occurred after the administrator, Wynter Mitchell, appeared to intervene on behalf of a celebrity, the U.S. rapper Lil Dicky, to restore a video that had been deleted from the highly trafficked community. After moderators criticised her communication skills, Mitchell accused them of being “condescending” and advised them not to “mansplain” to her. One of the moderators then informed her that he wasn’t even aware she was a woman.
“Mansplaining” is a term popularised by feminists describing men who explain things to women in a manner perceived as patronising.
Mitchell’s comments, when leaked, led to widespread discontent from ordinary Reddit users. A post criticising Mitchell’s behaviour acquired almost 5,000 positive votes from Redditors, quickly reaching the front page of the site. The moderator who questioned Mitchell refused to apologise for his alleged “mansplaining.” accusing Mitchell of sexism and telling Redditors that he “didn’t buy a ticket in the hugbox parade.”
Mitchell was hired as a replacement for Victoria Taylor, a well-liked administrator whose controversial sacking earlier this year led to the second “Reddit Revolt.” Moderators, who voluntarily manage Reddit’s vast network of user-created communities (known as “subreddits”), went on strike, causing most of Reddit to become unusable.
Taylor’s — and now Mitchell’s — responsibility was to co-ordinate celebrity Q&As known as “Ask Me Anything” sessions (AmAs for short) on the site’s largest subreddits, a delicate position that involves considerable communication with the site’s fiercely independent moderators. Taylor was widely respected for performing this job well, and her firing was cited by many moderators as the tipping point in a long stack of grievances against the site’s ownership.
But Mitchell is not attracting the same level of support. Indeed, the opposite appears to be occurring.
Mitchell is not helped by her public espousal of the same kind of politically correct values that made former CEO Ellen Pao into one of the most despised admins in Reddit’s history. In one of her introductory posts — made on the self-proclaimed “safe space” subreddit /r/blackladies — she claimed that her priorities included establishing relationships between Reddit and the “social justice” community, as well as “highlighting diversity.”
Her recent accusation of “mansplaining” has not helped her reputation.
Mitchell has also attracted criticism for a recent AMA session with Bill Murray, in which Reddit’s transcriptions of the actor’s reply were criticised as being difficult to understand. One Redditor even created a new account to translate the garbled transcriptions.
“Why did Reddit hire a person incapable of writing coherently to transcribe celebrity AMAs?” asked another Redditor. A user who claimed to work as a legal transcriber contended that “if somebody turned in work to the level of quality in that AMA, they’d never get work from that company again.” Other Redditors signalled their approval by rewarding both posts with a large quantity of “upvotes” — Reddit’s equivalent of a “like” button.
According to her critics on Reddit, Mitchell appears to be falling foul of the same combination of failings that led to the untimely departure of former CEO Ellen Pao from the company: poor communication with moderators, a lack of professionalism and an attachment to the wacky politics of social justice warriors.
We have reached out to Wynter Mitchell for comment.
Follow Allum Bokhari @LibertarianBlue on Twitter.