Reddit is trying to grow up, but it's experiencing a lot of growing pains along the way. And competing quotes, one from a co-founder today and another from another co-founder three years ago, highlight just how significant of a pivot is underway.

The social link and discussion site recently faced a user revolt fueled by the unceremonious departure of a popular employee and years of pent up frustration over moderation tools.

Interim chief executive officer Ellen Pao — the subject of weeks of intense harassment after earlier decisions aimed, ironically, at curbing harassment on the site — took the heat and resigned last Friday.

Today, the company's new CEO and original co-founder Steve Huffman addressed the tone of Reddit in a post on the site. "The overwhelming majority of content on [R]eddit comes from wonderful, creative, funny, smart, and silly communities," he wrote. "There is also a dark side, communities whose purpose is reprehensible, and we don’t have any obligation to support them," he wrote.

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In laying out his concerns, Huffman seemed to distance the site from its reputation as a place where almost anything (legal) goes online. "Neither Alexis [Ohanian] nor I created [R]eddit to be a bastion of free speech, but rather as a place where open and honest discussion can happen," he wrote.

But quick-eyed Redditors quickly pounced upon the "bastion of free speech" language in the post, pointing out that fellow co-founder Ohanian had actually used that exact language to describe the site's role in a 2012 interview with Forbes.

Asked what the Founding Fathers would think of Reddit, he responded: "A bastion of free speech on the World Wide Web? I bet they would like it."

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For most of Reddit's history, administrators took a pretty hands-off approach to user content as long as it didn't violate laws. During Pao's tenure, some of that started to shift — with the site adopting an anti-harassment policy and banning a handful of sections that included some of the worst violations.

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But even now, the site's rules say the site is "a pretty open platform and free speech place." A Reddit spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

A lot has happened to (and on) Reddit since Ohanian gave the 2012 quote, including both Huffman and Ohanian returning to work for the site. (They both left day-to-day operations back in 2009.)

But comparing how Ohanian seemed to view Reddit's role then with Huffman's post now says a lot about where Reddit is going.

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