Late on Wednesday, a moderator of the popular Reddit message board WallStreetBets posted several screenshots on the chat app Discord. They showed that other moderators had quietly started talking among themselves about landing a movie deal.
“What’s our cut?” one of the moderators had asked in a Discord chat, according to the screenshots.
By Thursday morning, that quest for Hollywood riches had exploded into an ugly battle, giving a glimpse into the unruly nature of a suddenly famous Reddit community.
That was when the WallStreetBets moderators who were considering the film deal began booting out other moderators who had questioned them for secretly trying to profit from the forum’s success. Eventually, employees at Reddit weighed in to try to quell the unrest.
“Can you all discuss with me what is going on?” a Reddit employee with the screen name sodypop asked, according to screenshots of the conversation shared with The New York Times.
The WallStreetBets fight is the latest twist in the saga of an online army of investors who have roiled Wall Street over the past 10 days.
Over the last week, several top moderators, who have administrative control of the message board, met in a private chat room on Discord to discuss the business opportunities arising from their sudden fame.
One moderator said he was in touch with Ben Mezrich, an author of the book that became the movie “The Social Network,” who last week secured deals to write a book and help with a movie about the GameStop saga, according to screenshots from the forum shared with The Times.
“Oof we gotta go fast i think,” another moderator wrote back. “While the studios are competing.”
None of the six moderators The Times interviewed were willing to give their real names, but The Times verified the people were in control of the board’s moderator accounts.
The conversation heated up after Mr. Rogozinski announced that he had sold the rights to his own story to a movie studio this week. Mr. Rogozinski did not respond to requests for comment.
One longtime moderator of the group, known as zjz, saw the conversation and took issue. He posted images of the conversation in a broader chat room for all the moderators.
“We suddenly find out these formerly inactive moderators are trying to *literally* sell the story of how they built the subreddit and undermine us,” zjz wrote in an email to The Times.
In a post to WallStreetBets on Wednesday night, which was quickly removed, zjz also wrote: “We’ve been taken hostage by the top mods. They left for years and came back when they smelled money.”
That led to escalating recriminations and insults that soon went beyond a movie deal. Some began criticizing the top moderators for moves they had made to raise their profile, like creating a Twitter account and hiring a public relations representative. Some also made death threats.
Late Wednesday and early Thursday, the top moderators began removing lower-ranking moderators who were asking questions.
On Thursday afternoon, Reddit stepped in to remove the top WallStreetBets moderators. They put the moderators who had sided with zjz back in control, though zjz himself was not restored.
Mr. Cormier, who has been unemployed since March when he lost his job in a shop specializing in the game Magic the Gathering, said he was dismayed by the fighting on WallStreetBets.