1. Stack Exchange has a Problem
Too many people experience Stack Overflow¹ as a hostile or elitist place, especially newer coders, women, people of color, and others in marginalized groups.
This question Does Stack Exchange really want to conflate newbies with women/people of color? (the title is self explanatory) raises some important issues. Although the blame is placed firmly at the feet of the new comers to the site posting crappy questions, in typical Stack Overflow meta style.
Now it comes (probably should be no surprise, as Stack Overflow is the flagship site) that this type of hostility is not limited to Stack Overflow.
It's been receiving a lot of public attention:
Now bear with me for the next paragraphs, this is leading to somewhere relevant to the site.
2. The Blindness of Discrimination
There seems to be a displaced and disturbing degree of community outrage on the Stack Overflow when Stack Exchange or any users speak about Social issues on the site. There also is a strong dismissive air about acknowledging that anybody on the planet does indeed suffer from discrimination, but we cannot convince nor educate everyone to take a walk in someone else's shoes and most racial discrimination, wherever it is, is pervasive, ingrained and sickenly insidious. It's something that many people point blank do not want to deal with. In fact, I live in a country where the Aboriginal people have completely different life expectancies as the rest of the country, and in fact were not recognised as human beings until recent history changed that, and yet much of our country dismisses the inbuilt discrimination and disadvantaged faced by this group of people.
Dealing with discrimination is difficult, as human beings seem attached to the idea that if people are in a rotten position it's their fault, the world doesn't owe them a living and there's a complete and rotten blind spot in comprehending that institutional discrimination is actually real.
3. Stack Exchange does not Exist Separately from the Rest of the World
Stack Exchange does not exist as a microcosm separated from the rest of the world. It's a reflection of the world, but a shinier reflection, as we do have standards, despite the criticism, we do pretty well, considering much of the internet is basically a free for all to abuse one another. We are far from perfect and there's areas that need improvement, most of us agree with that and clearly the site is doing something about that.
Does Stack Exchange have an Ethical or Social Responsibility to Address Discrimination?
Clearly the network has a Be Nice policy, although it would appear that we're failing to employ that to it's best practice. So bigotry is clearly not allowed on the site. But it does beg the question.
If 1, 2 and 3 are true. Does this mean the network has a responsibility to address discrimination, as an issue in it's own right, with or without blame?
Does the network have a responsibility to educate the community?
Where is the line between what Stack Exchange does as a site and a community and social justice?
It's time to determine if these conversations are on topic for the site and how they're addressed if they are. Frankly, as it stands a free for all brawl on Meta Stack Overflow is not helping our public profile, it's not helping to make hesitant or burned users like participating on the site. In all honesty, management needs to take some clear control over this situation. We can live in the allusion that the site if for the community and run by the community, but this isn't the case. The company runs to make money and the bottom line and decision making ends there. Yes community consultation is a good thing, but it's time management cleared some of these areas up, before we tear each other to shreds on meta.
For clarity, I'm not pushing one way or another for whether these discussions are on topic, I'm genuinely asking that management takes control.