(Note: This post originally appeared on the PNConnect blog)
Ellen Pao was run out of reddit on a rail last week, following several days of controversy and upheaval following the dismissal of a popular moderator, one who managed the site’s well-known AMA sessions, which attracted both celebrities of all stripes and subsequent media coverage, which pulled out notable quotes from a just-completed AMA. If reddit is indeed “the internet’s front page” then AMAs were a lot of people’s introduction to it. And now in the wake of Pao’s ouster the site’s chief engineer, who had only been there for two months, has left, her assertion of the two being unrelated ringing a bit hollow.
But now the luster has come off and everything about reddit seems to be under the microscope. People who weren’t hip beforehand are realizing the site is managed by unpaid moderators, that there’s minimal oversight from management and that the decentralized power structure has fostered a community whose power isn’t always put to the most positive use. And, most importantly, the liaison between brand managers and that community is no longer there. So a single point of contact may be missing.
It would be hugely premature to write reddit’s obituary at this point based on the events of the last couple of weeks. It’s more than likely the site will weather this storm and continue to be the weird hangout that generates much of what shows up on other sites. But this moment does present an opportunity for other sites to seize some of that momentum.
Seems like the Reddit meltdown is an excellent chance for someone to launch a pure, fresh AMA platform http://t.co/X3wWwrqsyr
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) July 14, 2015
In May of last year Quora, one of the big Q&A sites (some people oddly used it as their personal blog for a period of time…which was weird), introduced Verified Profiles and President Barack Obama, the person to be Verified, answered questions about the Affordable Care Act. No, it wasn’t as interactive and devil-may-care as the reddit AMA he also participated in (no one asked him about duck-sized horses and the like) but it was effective, at least at showing Quora wasn’t ceding the playing field entirely.
Now there’s an opportunity for it and other sites to gain some marketshare by taking advantage of the discord at reddit. I’m not saying everyone will abandon it for another site, but Quora or someone could use this as a chance to do some major brand outreach, presenting themselves as the safe place for them to come and interact with fans on a site that doesn’t also feature sections devoted to topics those brands and celebrities wouldn’t want to be associated with.
Again, this isn’t going to happen overnight. And it won’t be an overnight transition, nor will it be complete. But this is a “blood in the water” moment and even if it results in only gaining a percentage of the attention paid to reddit on a daily basis that could be a big win for some sites.