Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is aware of the sexism haunting the site and he has one word for his fellow geeks: "Stop."
Penning a post titled "Dear Fellow Geeks: WTF?", Ohanian speaks out against the overwhelming sexism on Reddit, particularly in response to the recent Adria Richards scandal. While attending a tech conference, Richards tweeted a photo of men sitting behind her whom she deemed to be making sexist commentary. One of those men was subsequently fired from his job, and Richards was fired from her position at SendGrid.
The situation, rather than igniting a constructive conversation about what it means to be a woman in tech, started a violent backlash against Richards and women in general. This troubled Ohanian. In his blog post he writes:
The comments (and support for them) I’ve seen over the past few days have really disappointed me and I really hope this is a chance for us to reflect on how we use these tools to foster the tech community. This isn't "political correctness," this is you having the courage to use your words to create an environment that promotes an open exchange of ideas -- not alienate people and certainly not terrorize them.
Ohanian points out that the majority of the Reddit community is made up not only of "not-poor straight white men," who should open up and be kind to those who are different from them. He ends the post by writing that "the Internet won't live up to its full potential without getting the best out of everyone."
The reaction from the Reddit community was mixed. It seems that Redditors tend to agree with Ohanian. Redditor BRDtheist writes: "He's right that the larger and more upsetting problem is the otherwise kind and reasonable people who spew sexist bile at times like these." On the other hand, some Redditors, like HolidaySHRIMP, reacted negatively and disgustingly to Ohanian's article, writing: "That c*** deserved to get fired. Poor guy just being a guy. Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us!"
Ohanian has made impressive efforts over the years to highlight what he calls "the benevolent Internet" and use the power of the Internet to do good in the world. Ohanian is on the advisory board of Donors Choose, a site that allows Internet users to donate to specific teachers and classrooms in low income schools.