TIME Internet

Reddit’s Ellen Pao and Alexis Ohanian Explain Site Shut Down

Ellen Pao
Eric Risberg—AP Ellen Pao, the current interim chief of the news and social media site Reddit, has alleged she faced gender discrimination from former employer Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers.

Protests rippled through much of the popular message board on Friday

Reddit moderators shut down hundreds of the online message board’s most popular sections on Friday. The outages were part of an apparent protest by users after the surprise removal of a popular employee, Victoria Taylor, Reddit’s director of talent and a facilitator of the Ask Me Anything feature.

The move affected nearly 300 individual discussion areas, or subreddits that focus on various topics ranging from technology to art. Subreddits are moderated by community members, not Reddit employees. The shutdowns began on Thursday evening and expanded quickly on Friday.

“I want to apologize to our community for yesterday,” Reddit’s interim CEO Ellen Pao told TIME on Friday. “We handled the transition in a way that caused some disruption, and we should have done a better job.” Pao said the company’s management should have informed moderators earlier about planned personnel changes. Pao declined to comment further on Taylor’s departure.

Alexis Ohanian, one of Reddit’s co-founders and the company’s current chairman, said the site has appointed a dedicated point of contact on staff to communicate with the site’s moderators. Kristine Fasnacht, a long-time Reddit user and current employee, will take on the role, he said.

Ohanian said the plan was to have an email alias available for moderators who needed to contact Reddit employees, but that was not widely communicated after Taylor’s departure. “Unfortunately, we did not announce the transition right after that happened,” he said.

Ask Me Anythings, or AMA for short, are the tumbling question-and-answer sessions hosted on the site that have become very popular over the past few years. They are an entirely user-created genre—any Reddit moderator can host one. In instances with famous participants, like President Barack Obama’s 2012 AMA, the site has an employee help with planning and managing the logistics. “They existed before we had anything to do with them,” said Ohanian. The company is looking into appointing an staffer to continue doing that kind of liaising in the future.

Reddit users speculated Taylor’s dismissal was connected with her moderation of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s AMA on Wednesday, which became disorganized after a flurry of questions about racial issues. “That definitely had nothing to do with it,” said Ohanian.

Ohanian, who has tight bond with the community, said he spent the last 24 hours communicating with the site’s moderators and other users, much of it over Reddit itself. He was fielding questions on the site until about 3 AM Thursday night, he said, and made about a half-dozen phone calls to users. “Some people are understandably skeptical,” he said, “but at the very least it’s a step in the right direction.”

“Now it’s on us to act,” Ohanian continued, “to use Reddit to create a dialogue to better keep our community and user base informed.” He said the discussions so far had been fruitful. “They made some very good points. The first thing we could do was get a moderator like Christine to be the point person just for moderators. So if users have a question or want someone to talk to, we’re there.”

Pao and Ohanian said the site had returned to almost normal as of Friday evening. “Of the 50 default subreddits, 48 of them are up and that’s what most people see on the front page,” said Pao. The site’s homepage—the content on which is generated by the number of up-votes on threads throughout the site, a measure of activity and popularity—contained several threads on Taylor’s dismissal. One pointed out that Google searches for “Reddit alternative” had spiked in the wake of the protests.

After years under the ownership of Advance Publications, parent of the Conde Nast magazine empire, Reddit was spun off and raised $50 million in funding last year. It is reportedly valued at about $250 million. The company is currently trying to kickstart a major expansion but has weathered a series of hiccups over the last few months including policy changes to address bullying and “involuntary pornography.”

“We have a responsibility to [users] to figure out how we can be better stewards,” Ohanian said. “There have been times when we made mistakes. The important thing is that we learn from them.”

TIME BMW: A Company on the Edge

The Race to Sell BMWs

How the car maker uses the track to shape its image and its product

On a crystalline day in late-July 1894, the Parisian gazette Le Petit Journal organized what is widely considered the first motoring competition. The paper’s editor, Pierre Giffard, surmized of contest of then-new, so-called horseless carriages from Paris to northern Rouen would boost circulation. It was a rough trial. Many of the 69 vehicles that entered never made it. Those that did traveled at a glacial average speed of 11 miles per hour. But the stunt coincided with the beginning of the automotive era, and manufacturers ever since have seen in racing a chance to test their technology and influence potential customers in the process. (A vehicle made by Peugeot was among the top finishers.)

Today, automakers from Ford to Ferarri count on motorsports to help spread word of their worth. It gives engineers and designers bragging rights over their competitors. The marketing doesn’t hurt either. In this video, TIME takes a look at BMW’s racing history and how its participation in motorsports influences the cars even the most cautious customers drive.

TIME e3 2015

One of the Best Games of All Time Is Getting a Remake

Not re-released. Not re-mastered. Remade from the ground up

Square Enix’s classic role-playing game Final Fantasy 7 is getting a remake for the current-generation PlayStation 4. Sony announced the game during its E3 2015 press conference June 15. Final Fantasy 7, originally released for the first Playstation, is widely considered one of the greatest RPGs of all time, and remains a critics’ pick.

In an announcement trailer, Square Enix named some of the staff working on the iteration of Final Fantasy 7, including Yoshinori Kitase, who is producing, and Tetsuya Nomura, who will direct. The game will come out on Playstation 4, though it may eventually come to other platforms as well.

Porting or upscaling old games and re-releasing them as “ultimate” or “high-definition” editions has become common practice in the games industry. Last year, Square Enix released a version of Final Fantasy 7 for Playstation 4 that was an upgraded port of the PC version.

This Final Fantasy appears to differ significantly as it is a “remake.” Fans of the Japanese series have longed wanted Square Enix to make such a move, ever since the firm showed a technology demonstration featuring characters from the game running on a PlayStation 3.

No release date was announced.

TIME e3 2015

This Is Destiny‘s Next Huge Expansion

Looks intense

Destiny, the popular massively multiplayer online shooter for consoles, is getting another expansion. The expansion, called The Taken King, was unveiled during Sony’s E3 press conference on June 15. Developer Bungie said the title would be released Sept. 15.

Sony said the game had the most successful launch of the current generation of consoles. Nevertheless, Bungie’s sci-fi romp generated mixed reviews. At the time of its release, TIME games critic Matt Peckham wrote:

Whatever else you want to say about its hackneyed story or over-easy enemies or worshipful replication of Halo gameplay fundamentals, I keep coming back to play a little more.

TIME e3 2015

Here’s Microsoft’s Crazy New Xbox Controller

Looks great but it's pretty pricey

At its annual E3 press conference June 15, Microsoft unveiled a raft of new games and features for its Xbox One console. It also took the wraps a newly redesigned controller, dubbed the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller.

The new design adds four bumper pads under the grips, hair-trigger locks for more precise control and an unusual textured rolling pad in place of a standard D-pad. Additionally, the new controller will feature hot-swappable parts depending on users’ preferences.

The new controller is expected to be released this fall and will cost $150.

TIME e3 2015

Here’s a Closer Look at Tom Clancy’s Gritty New Series

It's coming out in early 2016

The Division, the next big release under the Tom Clancy video game umbrella, is going to be released on March 8, 2016. The game’s publisher, Ubisoft, revealed the date at a press conference on June 15 during E3.

The massively multiplayer shooter will come out on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. The company also said it will host betas to iron out early kinks on all three platforms early next year.

Ubisoft showed off a trailer during the announcement (above) that demonstrated player-versus-player zones in the game. The so-called “the dark zone” is a contaminated area in the middle of Manhattan. In a twist, teammates can apparently double-cross one another.

TIME e3 2015

You Can Play a New Version of Gears of War Today

Microsoft

A slick new version of a beloved favorite

Microsoft’s E3 2015 presentation didn’t disappoint. Along with demonstrations of the upcoming Halo 5, Forza 6, and Gears 4, the company announced a new remastered version in the Gears of War franchise.

The so-called Gears of War Ultimate Edition is bringing the beloved original game to Microsoft’s current-generation console, the Xbox One. The company said the new version would run at a higher, 1080p resolution and that gameplay would be 60-frames-per-second. The franchise consists of four third-person shooter video games that pit humans against burrowing aliens and has generated over $1 billion sales, according to Microsoft.

What’s more, a beta version of Gears of War Ultimate Edition will be available on Xbox One on June 15.

TIME e3 2015

Fallout 4 on Xbox One Has 1 Hugely Important Feature

Bethesda

Something console gamers have been hoping for for years

Bethesda’s upcoming post-apocalyptic RPG Fallout 4 was the breakout title of the early hours of E3 2015. The studio showed off new footage during its press conference on June 14. The game, which will be available for PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4, is due to be released on November 10, 2015.

The Verge reports one additional piece of major news about the upcoming game: Mods created for the PC edition will be compatible with the Xbox One version. Few details were given, but if that is the case it would represent a huge advancement for console gamers, many of whom have long been clamoring for mod support.

Typically, PC versions of titles like Bethesda’s Skyrim have had a robust after-market community of programmers making content that can upgrade or alter gameplay. But because of the relatively closed environment of consoles, this hasn’t carried over to those users.

The site also reports the feature was not mentioned as an exclusive to the Xbox platform. That means Playstation 4 users may also get the feature.

TIME e3 2015

Watch: Super Mario Bros’ First Level Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

This looks a lot harder than we remember it

E3 2015 kicked off with a big bang this year. On Sunday night, developer Bethesda held its first-ever E3 press conference unveiling a raft of new games including Doom and Fallout 4. Nintendo, meanwhile, revived its Nintendo World Championship event, at which two new games—Earthbound Beginnings and Blast Ball—were announced.

The Japanese gaming company also showed off its upcoming title Super Mario Maker, a sort of level editor that allows players to create and remix their own worlds for the classic side-scroller. For a demonstration of what can result from giving up that kind of control, look at the footage around the 3-hour, 30-minute mark in the video above to get a substantial gameplay session. It begins with a recreation of the ames World 1-1 stage found in the original Super Mario Bros. Things get pretty wild, pretty fast.

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