The tech industry's being rocked by news that Reddit's Chief Engineer Bethanye Blount has quit the company less than 2 months after joining it, and because Bethanye's a Linden Lab veteran (the company's engineering director between 2006 and 2009), we just got to talking about her plans after leaving the embattled content sharing site -- and how it's similar to Second Life during her time with Linden Lab:
"I'm looking forward to starting my own company again and this seemed like a good moment to make that change," Bethanye told me last night over Facebook. "I wish Steve et. al. every success." (Steve Huffman is the new CEO, replacing Ellen Pao in that role, after she was reportedly left to twist in the wind by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.) "To be clear," she continued, "my decision to leave wasn't tied to Ellen personally but rather to a general sense that I wanted to focus in a different direction than the company seems to be taking."
As a platform for user-generated content and pseudonymous users, Reddit shares a lot with Second Life. "It's been interesting as a Linden alum to compare and contrast the experiences of the Second Life community with what I saw were the frustrations of the Reddit community," Bethanye went on. "There were several similarities to things we were discussing with the residents back in 2007-2008." (In SL, she was known as "beez Linden".) In fact, she just got to make those comparisons with the former VP of Community for Second Life at the Reddit office:
"Cyn Skyberg came to visit Reddit last week and she had some interesting community insights. I think that the variety of both 'good" and 'unsavory' is one similarity, where the 'unsavory' elements capture the imagination of the press but aren't really the point of either platform. I think that both are opportunities for people to explore parts of themselves that they aren't comfortable or can't pursue in their day-to-day real life."
The current Reddit controversy is in great part over tools for community moderators, and there, Bethanye also sees a parallel with Second Life:
"I think both are complex and need a combination of technology and tools to support the community stewards (landowners in SL; moderators in Reddit). And neither (at least when I was at SL long ago) are really doing it as well as the constituent stewards would like."
Bethanye Blount also shared some closing advice for Reddit's new CEO and his team:
"For Reddit I think they need to be thoughtful about how to prioritize the commitments they are making to community to ensure that they can fulfill them -- unfulfilled promises are way more dangerous than fewer, fulfilled ones. I think after the blackouts, Reddit gets that. Unfortunately, memories fade with time so they'll need to deliberately keep focus on making commitments they can keep and then keeping them."
As a Redditor myself, I'm hoping her advice is followed. Meantime, here's to hoping success for Bethanye's new startup venture.
Photo via Re/code.
Please share this post: