Good communication is essential for every kind of relationship. A brooding spouse can cause feelings of exclusion or anxiety or guilt. A misinterpreted text message can end a marriage. The same, it seems, goes for businesses and their audiences.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Reddit community has been somewhat up-in-arms over the past several days, in response to the sudden termination of one of its front-facing employees, Victoria Taylor, who handled an integral part of the website. Taylor, who goes by the username /u/chooter, was responsible for Reddit’s IAmA subreddit, which featured high profile interviews ranging from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Barack Obama.

Taylor’s dismissal was more than the swift axing of a beloved member of the community – it was also a move that was insensitive to the /r/IAmA community at large. The Reddit administrators did not contact the site moderators (volunteer, unpaid managers) to tell them that this was occurring, which forced the cancellation of several interviews.

The moderators and /r/IAmA community had to scramble, and ended up going “private,” which essentially means they shut down for the day, partly out of necessity, partly out of protest. Soon, this protest began to spread to other large subreddits, encompassing millions of users.

How did things get so bad, so quickly? Like many blowups over miscommunication, this issue was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back. The lack of administrator accessibility and communication is something that the community has struggled with for years, and one that frustrated moderators have been trying to get put in place. This Reddit revolt was an attempt to get the attention of the administrators…

…who then proceeded to talk to other news outlets instead of going to Reddit itself. It is a company, after all, and perhaps it had to protect its image. However, this is the equivalent of having a fight with your partner and hearing that they talked to all your friends about it instead of you. To say the least, this did not go over well.

After holding out for a few days, Reddit’s CEO Ellen Pao finally went to Reddit itself. She gave an apology, and it wasn’t too bad. She acknowledged the problem, accepted the blame as her own and the administrators’, and she promised to take steps to remedy this problem.

Redditors, right on cue, downvoted her comments to oblivion, and lambasted her for a thousand faults major and minor. Many were justified and valid points, but many…were not. Viewing the comments, it is definitely clear as to why she might not have wanted to take this step.

This speaks to another crucial element of communication, which the Reddit administrators had an uncharacteristically difficult time with: know thy audience. Redditors have many great qualities – it’s a group that includes some incredibly smart and worldly individuals: actors, doctors, lawyers, bankers, world travelers, biologists. But Redditors can be, well, brutal. The community prides itself on being smart, and never getting duped; that is a large reason why it so vehemently resists commercialization and monetization. They are fiercely protective of their data, their minimal-ad website, and the idea of Reddit as a product.

All of these emotions and fears bubbled to the surface during this incident, along with a laundry list of long-harbored grievances, from unwarranted shadow-bannings to false promises of T-shirts.

But despite the issues in Pao’s personal life and the inevitable trolls and emotional comments, she took the step and spoke to the community. There are going to be consequences from this event, no matter what, and many of Reddit’s users have begun to seek out alternatives such as in order to avoid the sort of commercialization they see happening within Reddit. But only a few days later, subreddits are up and running, the “Chairwoman Pao” jokes are beginning die down, and business – maybe not as usual, but business – is up and running, and it seems as though the Reddit revolt may be subsiding.

There is still a long road ahead of the Reddit administrators, but if they properly address the website’s biggest grievances, they can come out of this all the better for it. They may have lost some of the more emotional users – though most who threatened exodus will probably stick around anyway – but if they can get the community on their side and approach monetization in a way that doesn’t clash too hard with Reddit’s user base, then this conflict will have been worth it for the administrators. And, like a bickering couple, Reddit and its users may end up closer than ever before.