User revolt

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User revolt
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please note:
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{{see also|Web hosting service}}(File:Angry mob of four.jpg|thumb|right|An artist's depiction of a prototypical angry mob staging a revolt)A user revolt is a social conflict in which users of a website collectively and openly protest a website host's or administrator's instructions for using the website. Sometimes it happens that the website hosts can control a website's use in certain ways, but the hosts also depend on the users to comply with voluntary social rules in order for the website to operate as the hosts would like. A user revolt occurs when the website users protest against the voluntary social rules of a website, and use the website in a way that is in conflict with the wishes of the website host or administrators.A user revolt is a process starting with a triggering event, then a rebellion, then a response to the rebellion.WEB,weblink Why Social Media Revolts Take Place (and How We Might Prevent Them), Ben, Parr,, 16 May 2009, 24 December 2015, In traditional media like newspapers and television broadcasting, if the media outlet did something to upset readers, they rarely had to fear a hostile audience reaction.WEB,weblink How The Internet's Biggest Social News Site Saved Itself (Again), Nick, Douglas,, 24 January 2008, 24 December 2015, This is because in traditional media, the viewers have limited ability to discuss among themselves how to organize to protest the media outlet they are all sharing. Some Internet media outlets differ in that their community of users can easily contact each other, organize, and present a coordinated revolt against any given media company. Sometimes they can even do this using that media company's own hosted forums.

Distinction from Internet-based activism

Internet-based activism is sometimes called a user revolt when website users protest the terms of a website while using that website for other purposes.WEB,weblink 9 Social Media Uprisings That Sought to Change the World in 2011, Zoe, Fox,, 7 December 2011, 24 December 2015, {{clarify||date=December 2015}} A distinction between a user revolt and Internet-based activism could be that in a user revolt, an objective of the protest is to revolt against the website itself. In Internet-based activism, the primary goal of the protest is something other than reforming a website, although websites which create barriers to the larger protest may incidentally experience a user revolt for participating in the larger conflict. An example of a situation in which Internet activism includes a user revolt might be when users wish to engage in prohibited political discussion, but a government compels the website host to censor those discussions. The core conflict in this case is between users and the government, and not that the website itself as a communication medium. However, when the website as a communication medium chooses to create barriers to communication for users, then users of the website organize a user revolt even when the primary objective is something other than a website protest.Examples of Internet-based activism which led to user revolts include Social media and the Arab Spring and the Twitter Revolution.


The many triggers of user revolt can be roughly split into three broad categories, including unwelcomed changes to technical features, unwelcomed changes to policies, and heavy handedness of host platforms in dealing with core members.



Spanish fork

The Enciclopedia Libre was founded by contributors to the Spanish-language Wikipedia who decided to start an independent project. Led by Edgar Enyedy, they left Wikipedia on 26 February 2002, and created the new website, hosted free by the University of Seville, with the freely licensed articles of the Spanish-language Wikipedia.NEWS, Nathaniel Tkacz, Tkacz, Nathaniel Tkacz, Nathaniel, The Spanish Fork: Wikipedia's ad-fuelled mutiny,weblink Wired UK, 20 January 2011, The split was provoked over concern that Wikipedia would accept advertising.WEB,weblink ‘Good luck with your WikiPAIDia’: Reflections on the 2002 Fork of the Spanish Wikipedia, Nathaniel, Tkacz,, 15 January 2011, 24 December 2015, After Wikipedia made a commitment to not use advertising, the Spanish fork attracted no more attention, and was mostly abandoned within a year of its founding.BOOK, Lih, Andrew, The Wikipedia revolution : how a bunch of nobodies created the world's greatest encyclopedia, 2009, Hyperion, New York, 978-1-4013-0371-6, 1st,weblink NEWS,weblink Wikipedia has a ton of money. So why is it begging you to donate yours?, Caitlin, Dewey, The Washington Post, 2 December 2015, Washington Post Company, WPC, Washington, DC, Washington DC, 0190-8286, 3 December 2015,


In 2012 The Daily Dot suggested that the Wikimedia Foundation's pursuit of more users may be at the risk of alienating the existing editors. Some experienced editors have expressed concerns about the rollout and bugs, with the German Wikipedia community voting overwhelmingly against making the VisualEditor the new default, and expressing a preference for making it an "opt-in" feature instead.WEB, The Register,weblink Wikipedians say no to Jimmy's 'buggy' WYSIWYG editor, Andrew Orlowski, 2013-08-01, 2013-08-05, Despite these complaints, the Wikimedia Foundation continued with the rollout to other languages.WEB, The Daily Dot,weblink Will Wikipedia's pretty new editing software solve its recruitment crisis?, Tim Sampson, 2012-07-04, 2013-07-27, The Register said, "Our brief exploration suggests it certainly removes any need to so much as remember what kind of parenthesis belongs where."WEB, The Register,weblink Wikimedia edges closer to banishing Wikitext, Simon Sharwood, 2013-06-07, 2013-07-28, The Economist{{'}}s L.M., said it is "the most significant change in Wikipedia's short history."WEB, The Economist,weblink Changes at Wikipedia: Seeing things, L.M., 2011-12-13, 2013-07-28, Softpedia ran an article titled "Wikipedia's New VisualEditor Is the Best Update in Years and You Can Make It Better".WEB, Softpedia,weblink Wikipedia's New VisualEditor Is the Best Update in Years and You Can Make It Better, Lucian Parfeni, 2013-07-02, 2013-07-30, Some opponents have said that users may feel belittled by the implication that "certain people" are confused by wiki markup and therefore need the VisualEditor.WEB,weblink The Decline of Wikipedia: Even As More People Than Ever Rely on It, Fewer People Create It, Simonite, Tom, October 22, 2013, MIT Technology Review, January 17, 2014, The Daily Dot reported on 24 September 2013 that the Wikimedia Foundation had experienced a mounting backlash from the English Wikipedia community, which criticised the VisualEditor as slow, poorly implemented and prone to break articles' existing text formatting. In the resulting "test of wills" between the community and the Foundation, a single volunteer administrator overrode the Wikimedia Foundation's settings to change the availability of VisualEditor from opt-out to opt-in. The Foundation acquiesced, but vowed to continue developing and improving the VisualEditor.NEWS, The Register,weblink Revolting peasants force Wikipedia to cut'n'paste Visual Editor into the bin, Andrew Orlowski, 2013-09-25, 2013-10-06, NEWS,weblink Wikipedia faces revolt over VisualEditor, The Daily Dot, Tim Sampson, 2013-09-24, 2013-09-25,


(File:WMF building wiki wall in August 2014 caricature.jpg|thumb|right|Satirical cartoon depicting the Wikimedia Foundation building a wall to prevent the volunteer Wikimedia community from participating in Wikipedia)"Superprotect" was the name for a superuser tool granted to Wikimedia Foundation staff but denied to all Wikimedia community members starting in August 2014.WEB, Wikipedia contributors listed in history, Wikipedia:Protection policy,weblink Wikipedia, 12 January 2016, {{Circular reference|date=August 2016}} Wikimedia Foundation staff used the tool to force the installation of the Wikimedia Foundation's software against the wishes of the Wikimedia community.NEWS,weblink Can Wikipedia Survive?, Andrew, Lih, The New York Times, 20 June 2015, New York Times Company, NYTC, New York, NY, New York, 0362-4331, 24 December 2015, WEB,weblink Wikipedia: Superprotect-Streit spitzt sich zu, Torsten, Kleinz,, Heinz Heise, 16 August 2014, 24 December 2015, This conflict was unprecedented. Erik Möller, then director of the Wikimedia Foundation, managed the Superprotect tool. The software in dispute was MediaViewer, which was a software feature that guided Wikipedia readers into viewing images in a certain way.WEB,weblink Superschutz: Wikimedia-Stiftung zwingt deutschen Nutzern Mediaviewer auf, Friedhelm, Greis,, 12 August 2014, 24 December 2015, Wikimedia commentator Andrew Lih described the superprotect feature as "Orwellian-sounding".The MediaViewer and Superprotect conflict between the Wikimedia community and the Wikimedia Foundation was called a revolt.WEB,weblink Class war! Wikipedia's workers revolt again, Andrew, Orlowski, The Register, 18 August 2014, 24 December 2015, The controversy demonstrated that the Wikimedia Foundation was unable to control the Wikimedia community with technical features, but rather, that mutual understanding and discussion among stakeholders would be required to develop Wikipedia's software.WEB,weblink Kommentar: Der "Superprotect"-Streit in Wikipedia, oder: Souverän ist, wer über Root-Zugriff verfügt, Leonhard, Dobusch,, 23 August 2014, 24 December 2015, The feature was reviewed and discussed by the Wikimedia community.WEB,weblink Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost News and notes, Neotarf,, 13 August 2014, 24 December 2015, {{Circular reference|date=August 2016}}

Representative dismissals

Wikimedia users organized a revolt to call for the removal of Arnnon Geshuri, a member of the board of the Wikimedia Foundation.WEB, Mullin, Joe, Wikipedia editors revolt, vote "no confidence" in newest board member,weblink Ars Technica, Condé Nast, 27 January 2016, 25 January 2016, WEB, BBC staff, Wikipedia editors sign vote of no confidence,weblink BBC, 27 January 2016, 26 January 2016, Wikimedia Foundation head Lila Tretikov resigned in February 2016 during a user revolt calling for institutional changes.NEWS, Motherboard team, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Resigns Amid a Community Revolt,weblink 27 February 2016, Vice (magazine), Vice, 25 February 2016,


Publishing of DVD unlock code

In 2007 in the AACS encryption key controversy various Internet users began publishing the decryption code for the Advanced Access Content System on various websites. The impact was that the code enabled anyone to write simple software, for example DeCSS, which enabled anyone else to rip DVDs and copy the content as they liked. The release of the key and derivative ripping programs made the illicit distribution of copyrighted media much easier for anyone who wished to share content which was formerly locked by the AACS system.The AACS codes were published in many places. One place in which they were published was the website Digg.WEB,weblink The Day Digg Users Revolted, Mike, Nizza,, 2 May 2007, 24 December 2015, NEWS,weblink In Web Uproar, Antipiracy Code Spreads Wildly, Brad, Stone, The New York Times, 3 May 2007, New York Times Company, NYTC, New York, NY, New York, 0362-4331, 24 December 2015, WEB,weblink Digg users revolt over AACS key, Cory, Doctorow,, 2 May 2007, 24 December 2015, WEB,weblink What Happened At Digg? - ReadWrite, Jitendra, Gupta,, 4 May 2007, 24 December 2015, WEB,weblink Digg's DRM Revolt, Andy, Greenberg,, 2 May 2007, 24 December 2015, WEB,weblink AACS LA: Internet "revolt" be damned, this fight is not over, Ken, Fisher,, 4 May 2007, 24 December 2015, On May 1, 2007, an article appeared on Digg's homepage that contained the encryption key for the AACS digital rights management protection of HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Then Digg, "acting on the advice of its lawyers," removed posting submissions about the secret number from its database and banned several users for submitting it. The removals were seen by many Digg users as a capitulation to corporate interests and an assault on free speech.NEWS, Stone, Brad, In Web Uproar, Antipiracy Code Spreads Wildly, The New York Times, 2007-05-03,weblink 2007-07-02, A statement by Jay Adelson attributed the article's take-down to an attempt to comply with cease and desist letters from the Advanced Access Content System consortium and cited Digg's Terms of Use as justification for taking down the article.WEB,weblink Digg the Blog: What's Happening with HD-DVD Stories?, Jay, Adelson, Although some users defended Digg's actions,WEB,weblink Cease and desist letters backfire horribly against AACS, TGdaily, 2007-05-01, 2009-02-27,weblink" title="">weblink 2007-05-04, yes, WEB,weblink Digg losing control of their site,, 2009-02-27,weblink" title="">weblink 2008-12-22, yes, WEB, Sanders, Tom,weblink DRM lobby tries to get HD DVD genie back into the bottle,, 2009-02-27, as a whole the community staged a widespread revolt with numerous articles and comments being made using the encryption key.WEB,weblink DailyTech: AACS Key Censorship Leads to First Internet Riot, Marcus, Yam, 2007-05-02, NEWS,weblink BBC News: DVD DRM row sparks user rebellion, 2007-05-02, 2007-05-02, The scope of the user response was so great that one of the Digg users referred to it as a "digital Boston Tea Party".weblink" title="">, Digg's DRM Revolt The response was also directly responsible for Digg reversing the policy and stating: "But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you've made it clear. You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won't delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be."WEB,weblink Digg This: 09 F9 [...], 2007-05-02, Kevin, Rose, Kevin Rose, 2007-05-01, Digg the Blog, Digg Inc,

Digg v4 revolt and migration to Reddit

When Digg redesigned their website in 2010 the community revolted and used the platform to advertise a user migration to the competitor, reddit.WEB,weblink Users Revolt Against New Digg, Vadim, Lavrusik,, 30 August 2010, 24 December 2015, WEB,weblink Reddit Grew 230% in 2010 at Digg's Expense, Ben, Parr,, 3 January 2011, 27 December 2015, WEB,weblink Digg User Rebellion Continues: Reddit Now Rules the Front Page - ReadWrite, Frederic, Lardinois,, 30 August 2010, 24 December 2015, WEB,weblink With Digg on the Wane, Where Are its Former Power Users?, Simons, Owens,, 23 July 2012, 27 December 2015, WEB,weblink Facebook Didn't Kill Digg, Reddit Did, Paul, Tassi,, 13 July 2012, 27 December 2015, WEB,weblink Digg users revolt after redesign, Josh, Halliday,, 31 August 2010, 24 December 2015, WEB,weblink Reddit considers itself a benefactor of Digg user revolt, Mark, Milian,, 31 August 2010, 24 December 2015, Digg's version 4 release was initially unstable. The site was unreachable or unstable for weeks after its launch on August 25, 2010. Many users, upon finally reaching the site, complained about the new design and the removal of many features (such as bury, favorites, friends submissions, upcoming pages, subcategories, videos and history search).WEB,weblink Digg Redesign Met with a Thumbs Down, Mathew,, Ingram, August 26, 2010, August 29, 2010, Kevin Rose replied to complaints on his blog, promising to fix the algorithm and restore some features.WEB,weblink Digg v4: release, iterate, repeat., Kevin, Rose, August 27, 2010, August 27, 2010, Alexis Ohanian, founder of rival site Reddit, said in an open letter to Rose:}}Disgruntled users declared a "quit Digg day" on August 30, 2010, and used Digg's own auto-submit feature to fill the front page with content from Reddit.WEB,weblink Digg User Rebellion Continues: Reddit Now Rules the Front Page, ReadWriteWeb, Frederic, Lardinois, August 31, 2010,weblink" title="">weblink August 31, 2010, yes, mdy-all, NEWS,weblink Digg Users Lash Out At New Format, Join Forces with Reddit, Time Magazine, August 31, 2010, August 30, 2010, Megan, Friedman, WEB,weblink Angry Digg users flood home page with Reddit links, CNet News, Caroline, McCarthy, August 31, 2010, Reddit also temporarily added the Digg shovel to their logo to welcome fleeing Digg users.NEWS,weblink Angry Users SLAM Digg With Links From Rival Reddit, The Huffington Post, August 31, 2010, Craig, Kanalley, August 30, 2010, Digg's traffic dropped significantly after the launch of version 4,WEB,weblink Digg’s traffic is collapsing at home and abroad, The Next Web, October 20, 2010, Alex, Wilhelm, and publishers reported a drop in direct referrals from stories on Digg's front page.WEB,weblink The Digg Effect v4, Social Keith, October 20, 2010, Keith, Plocek, New CEO Matt Williams attempted to address some of the users' concerns in a blog post on October 12, 2010, promising to reinstate many of the features that had been removed.


{{see also|Reddit#IAmA and AMA}}On July 2, 2015, Reddit began experiencing a series of blackouts as moderators set popular subreddit communities to private, in an event dubbed "AMAgeddon" – a portmanteau of AMA ("ask me anything") and Armageddon. This was done in protest of the recent firing of Victoria Taylor, an administrator who helped organize citizen-led interviews with famous people on the popular "Ask me Anything" subreddit. Organizers of the blackout also expressed resentment about the recent severance of the communication between Reddit and the moderators of subreddits.WEB,weblink Reddit in uproar after staff sacking, 3 July 2015, BBC News, BBC, 3 July 2015, "About 100 chat sections, or sub-reddits, that together have millions of readers are believed to have been shut. Reddit's only comment about the issue has been to say that it did not talk about 'individual employee matters'. The protests were led by the volunteer moderators of the AMA section, which said in an explanatory posting that they needed Ms Taylor to keep the sub-reddit functioning. Ms Taylor helped organise guests for AMAs and worked to verify that people due to answer questions were who they said they were. There had been no explanation of why she was suddenly sacked, said the administrators.", The blackout intensified on July 3 when former community manager David Croach gave an AMA about being fired. Before deleting his posts, he stated that Ellen Pao dismissed him with one year of health coverage when he had cancer and did not recover quickly enough.WEB, Reddit: Laute Rufe nach Absetzung von CEO Ellen Pao,weblink 5 July 2015, 4 July 2015, Zwar sind einige Foren wieder entsperrt, trotzdem ist Pao weiterhin Ziel vielerlei Angriffe. Zusätzliches Öl ins Feuer goss ein ehemaliger Community Manager der Online-Community, der angab von der Reddit-Chefin aufgrund seiner Krebserkrankung gefeuert worden zu sein. Zuvor wurde dem an Leukämie erkrankten Mitarbeiter eingeräumt, beim Unternehmen zu verbleiben – allerdings meldete sich Pao nur wenig später und gab ihm zu wissen, dass er aufgrund seiner Erkrankung nicht mehr bei Reddit verbleiben könnte. So zumindest die Behauptung, die wenig später offline ging., WEB, Reddit's CEO Allegedly Fired an Employee For Having Cancer and Not Recovering Fast Enough,weblink 5 July 2015, Following this, a petition to remove Pao as CEO of Reddit Inc. reached over 200,000 signatures.NEWS,weblink More than 200k people have signed a petition calling for Reddit's Ellen Pao to step down, 6 July 2015, 7 July 2015, The Washington Post, Jena, McGregor, WEB, Musil, Steven, Petition for Pao resignation from Reddit grows to 130K,weblink Cnet, 5 July 2015, 5 July 2015, NEWS, Malik, Naureen, Jones, Tim, Reddit CEO Pao Under Fire as Users Protest Removal of Executive,weblink Bloomberg, 5 July 2015, 5 July 2015, Pao posted a response on July 3 as well as an extended version of it on July 6 in which she apologized for bad communication and not delivering on promises. She also apologized on behalf of the other administrators and noted that problems already existed over the past several years.Reddit CEO Ellen Pao apologizes: 'We screwed up' By Laurie Segall and Chris Isidore July 6, 2015Reddit CEO Ellen Pao Issues an Apology for the Direction of the Site by Laura Entis July 06, 2015NEWS,weblink Ellen Pao: Reddit CEO Apologizes After Petition for Her to Resign, Jack Linshi,, July 6, 2015, NEWS, Titcomb, James, Petition calling for Reddit boss Ellen Pao to resign hits 200,000 as she admits 'we screwed up',weblink The Telegraph, 7 July 2015, 7 July 2015, London, On July 10, Pao resigned as CEO and was replaced by former CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman.WEB, An old team at reddit • /r/announcements,weblink reddit, 2015-07-10, NEWS, Mike, Isaac, Ellen Pao Is Stepping Down as Reddit's Chief,weblink 10 July 2015, The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 10 July 2015, WEB, Frier, Sarah, Newcomer, Eric, Muoio, Danielle, Reddit Revolt Shows Site’s Users Rule No Matter Who Has CEO Role,weblink Bloomberg Business, 27 January 2016, July 7, 2015,


In 2013 Twitter users organized a revolt when Twitter took away a defensive tool that allowed people to protect themselves from other users that they chose to block.WEB,weblink Twitter turns its block function into a mute button, leading to user revolt, Josh, Lowensohn, The Verge, 12 December 2013, 24 December 2015, NEWS,weblink Why Twitter’s users are in open revolt, Brian, Fung, The Washington Post, 4 September 2014, Washington Post Company, WPC, Washington, DC, Washington DC, 0190-8286, 24 December 2015, WEB,weblink Twitter users revolt over changes to abusive behavior policy, Gerry, Shih,, 12 December 2013, 27 December 2015, In response to the revolt Twitter restored some rights to its users.WEB,weblink Twitter backtracks on block feature after users revolt, Reuters, CBS News, 13 December 2013, CBS Broadcasting, CBS, New York, NY, New York, 27 December 2015, WEB,weblink Twitter Reinstates Blocking After User Revolt, David, Gilbert,, 13 December 2013, 27 December 2015,


In 2012 a change to Instagram's terms of service triggered a user revolt.WEB,weblink Facing User Revolt, Instagram Changes Course On TOS, Maccabee, Montandon, Fast Company (magazine), Fast Company, 21 December 2012, 27 December 2015, WEB,weblink Instagram backtracks after user privacy revolt, Doug, Gross,, 19 December 2012, 27 December 2015, Even during the revolt Instagram continued to get many new users.WEB,weblink Instagram hits 100 million members, belying reports of user revolt, Jeremy C., Owens,, 26 February 2013, 27 December 2015,


In 2006 there was a Facebook user revolt and staff replied to users.WEB,weblink Facebook Users Revolt, Facebook Replies, Michael, Arrington,, 6 September 2006, 27 December 2015, WEB,weblink Calm down. Breathe. We hear you., Mark, Zuckerberg,, 5 September 2006, 27 December 2015, In 2007 there was a Facebook revolt over the selling of user information to advertisers.NEWS,weblink The Facebook betrayal - users revolt over advertising sell-out, Susie, Mesure, Ian, Griggs, The Independent, 17 November 2007, Independent News & Media, INM, London, UK, London, 0951-9467, 185201487, 27 December 2015, In 2009 there was speculation that Facebook users would revolt over privacy settings.WEB,weblink So Far, No User Revolt Over Facebook's New Privacy Settings, Nicholas, Carlson,, 10 December 2009, 27 December 2015, In 2010 roughly 34,000 users left Facebook over privacy issues as a part of the May 31 "Quit Facebook Day" campaign.WEB,weblink Facebook users revolt against Mark Zuckerberg over privacy, James, Robinson,, 22 May 2010, 27 December 2015, WEB, Brewster, Tom, Quit Facebook Day inspires over 30,000 to leave,weblink ITPRO, Dennis Publishing Limited, 2 December 2017,


In 1997 AOL amended their Terms of service to permit them to sell users' telephone numbers to telemarketers.NEWS, KAPLAN, KAREN, AOL Drops Plans to Sell Members' Phone Numbers,weblink 23 December 2016, Los Angeles Times, 25 July 1997, Users complained and in response AOL offered an opt-out system.NEWS, Bray, Hiawatha, AOL's subscribers to get new `service': telemarketing calls,weblink 24 December 2016,, 24 July 1997, BOOK, Wu, Tim, Tim Wu, The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, 2016, Penguin Random House, New York, 9780385352017, 211, an inadvertent leak of the plan prompted a user revolt and the telemarketing part was abandoned,

The Pirate Bay

In 2009 Global Gaming Factory X sought to purchase The Pirate Bay.WEB,weblink The Pirate Bay's Revolt, Andy, Greenberg,, 30 June 2009, 24 December 2015, This led to a user revolt when community participants protested that the sale was a betrayal of community values.


Livejournal users revolted in 2007 when Livejournal deleted some site content.WEB,weblink Mass deletion sparks LiveJournal revolt, Declan, McCullagh,, 31 May 2007, 27 December 2015,


{{reflist|30em}}{{History of Wikipedia}}

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