As I write this, Meta burns with the falling dominoes of moderator resignations. I suspect we've not hit bottom yet, either. The meager response hasn't been too reassuring either.

This isn't another "I quit" mic drop post. This is more a caution to SO as a whole. There's no official response and hopefully this arrives in time to avert what I fear is a rerun of what happened to Reddit a few years ago. Reddit used to do a bit called "Ask Me Anything" and it was run by a woman named Victoria Taylor, who was pretty well liked by Reddit. She was fired and the alleged reasons weren't all that great. What happened next was ugly for Reddit.

Moderators have all but shut down more than 265 subreddits to protest the termination of Victoria Taylor, the site's director of talent.

I see something far worse happening to SO. In that case, Reddit could have gotten control back by firing the moderators and turning the sites back to public. SO, however, relies on high reputation users and a few elected diamond mods to do all the curation work (including moderation). For all the high profile diamond mods who have quit, I suspect a lot more high reputation users (curators with basic reputation-based powers) are throwing in the towel as well. It's not hard to see why.

This all really got going last year with the poorly received Stack Overflow isn't welcoming blog entry

Too many people experience Stack Overflow¹ as a hostile or elitist place, especially newer coders, women, people of color, and others in marginalized groups.
¹ This post focuses on Stack Overflow, but most of it applies to the broader Stack Exchange network as well.

Newer coders, maybe, but the rest? Try posting an openly sexist or racist comment or answer anywhere on SE and see how long it lasts before it gets deleted. Well, at least that was mostly true before the current debacle. Even a condescending comment was likely to get a flag and deletion. People were understandably confused by this sudden shift. I wrote on Meta.SO about how moderation works and why people get cynical and I noted a comment from chat around that time

I'm a bit discouraged by the attitude toward moderation in the blog post. Moderation on SO often feels like a losing battle against the flood of low-quality questions, and Jay's statement that our moderation efforts "make [him] sad" is honestly really frustrating.

The best way to describe the reception is an old Bill Cosby line where he describes a toddler taking an older child's thing, and the parent comes down on the older child because "Parents are not interested in justice. They want quiet!" It's scary how well that seems to describe what the "welcoming" blog seemed to be advocating.

What's got me really concerned, however, is part of what Monica Cellio's description of her "firing" had in it

Someone with a "director" job title had dropped into the room to announce an upcoming change to the Code of Conduct; unlike the rest of the CoC, this rule mandates specific, positive actions. I raised some issues with the formation of the policy and asked some questions, the vast majority of which were never answered. I was polite and was trying to work with others to solve a problem I have with the change as presented.

Let's just, for argument's sake, say that Monica is painting herself as the victim when she was really over the line. Taking the treatment of Monica out of the picture, this matches the pattern of how SO/SE has treated the community of curators for the last 18 months. New changes are announced which are long on "we need more new users" and short on "here's what we expect of curators"

There seems to be little appreciation of curators of late. The mass moderator resignation is merely a symptom of that larger problem. They might not be angry over Monica but I guarantee a lot of them are just tired

Right now, I feel lost and confused. My hammer feels too heavy to pick up. I see folks at each others' throats - seeing every shadow as a threat. I wish I was up to what I feel we need. I'm not entirely sure anyone is. I'm sorry I don't even feel up to trying. Maybe some day I'll feel up to what I expect myself to be as a moderator here. For now, I'm not sure where I stand, or the community. I'd say though I'm grateful for the chance to serve, and to serve alongside some of the finest people I've had the privilege of modding with.

Or, to put this in starker terms

Counter point: let's shut down every queue review, flagging system, etc, for a month so that people are forced to acknowledge the tedious sewer work many people put in every day.

People love this community. They want it to succeed, so much so they spend their own time and money (such as SoBotics and Charcoal) making sure it operates smoothly. The message being sent right now is that SO/SE really doesn't need curators or moderators. Even if you apologize right now, reinstate Monica, and convince the exodus of moderators to stop the damage may already be done. Those trusted curators may not ever come back, or even care enough to contribute. That was what Reddit missed. They tried to stem the anger over a poorly handled termination, when they had alienated the community at large and the firing was merely the catalyst.

Curators and moderators need to hear that we're not the enemy. We need policies that are open about what SO goals are. People might not like the ads, but SO is a free service to all and admitting you need the revenue helped us accept it. "Welcoming" wasn't great, but we adjusted. You can't ignore the greater problem here. You can't leave this policy change in the dark. You can't cut us out. Sooner or later, you need us. If we all stopped contributing, you'd have a much worse product.

Get it right, please.

  • 35
    To add reasoning from the "business side": when the "high quality" folks leave, answers will mostly come from "high reputation alone matters" people. The gamification part of my ego wouldn't mind, hunting reputation is fun, too. But of course, even my inner rep hunter knows: that reputation would be of much smaller "value". As people outside will notice that SO/SE turned into a low quality dump. And that will impact SO/SE business, too! You folks make money because of your reputation. Which you are about to run into the ground.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 14:40
  • 30
    I'm even questioning coming to these sites anymore. Their response is utter nonsense. I am pissed!
    – JonH
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 14:51
  • 7
    I already wasn't working the queues since they're pointless anyway... but I had been thinking about working the Python dupe queue on SO since I can hammer those. But why even bother now?
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 15:17
  • 4
    @peterh The Welcoming Blog
    – Machavity
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 15:28
  • 2
    @peterh You already know my story :-/ Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 17:09
  • 1
    @GhostCat - my nickname from those that know me IRL is Cassandra for a reason.
    – user148287
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 17:51
  • 3
    I don't want to point fingers, but I've been surprised by how long I have seen some openly sexist or racist comments and answers last on some parts of Stack Exchange. Certainly long enough that many regular users would have read them. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 18:22
  • 1
    @user9161 Not in a timely manner, and sometimes it was necessary to flag a second time. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 19:12
  • 6
    I had my SO account suspended for talking about this. The moderator said they were "sick of cleaning up" my ranting. I wish I had screenshots of my comments, I was simply discussing my frustrating in a respectful way. Yep, the damage is done. It's not clear to me why everyone in this thread isn't suspended, if my comments were so egregious. No citations to the CoC, just shut me down for saying that I'm not happy.
    – Chris
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 21:02
  • 15
    @Chris: Are you sure it wasn't because you threatened with vandalism? Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 22:04
  • 6
    @PeterMortensen Is that a threat? I said "considering", meaning looking in to. I see now that I can't withdraw my content, which makes sense -- they have what they need from me, so they don't really care if I'm angry or not. Further, the CoC doesn't say anything about considering leaving the site to be a violation. The CoC also says that a warning would be issued for first-time issues, I've never had any disciplinary action of any kind. Lastly, that is not referenced in the suspension email, it just says the moderator is "sick of me", after deleting comments exactly like many others on meta.
    – Chris
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 22:07
  • 7
    I wasn't aware that a user cannot withdraw their contributions because the idea is something I've never even considered before today.
    – Chris
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 22:11
  • 1
    "You can't leave this policy change in the dark. You can't cut us out." In due time, when they are ready, they will surely inform us about possible changes to the CoC, if only because otherwise we could not follow it. I'm not sure there is such a big urgency here. We can surely wait a few days more before going on strike. Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 9:30
  • 4
    I'm not going to contribute anymore. If Stack Exchange doesn't value me, I don't see a reason to provide value for Stack Exchange.
    – MechMK1
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 14:41
  • 7
    @Chris "I wasn't aware that a user cannot withdraw their contributions" It's complicated. Under the Terms of Service, you consent to SE publishing your contributions under a CC BY-SA licence. However, SE broke the terms of the licence by changing the licence version without asking your permission. IANAL, but I think that means that they need to renegotiate with you if they wish to display the content that you provided, and you are within your rights to remove that content, if you so wish.
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 6:29

7 Answers 7


I totally agree with your points. I was an active participant here, and I spent 12+ hours per day in the past on SE sites.

I didn't focus on Internet points, and I know they're nothing. I focused on keeping the site clean by flagging, editing, closing, etc.

Moderators are not employees, and they were not getting paid for their activities. Still I've seen many moderators spent more than 8 hours on this site and they work on the weekend too. The way the director treated the moderators is highly unacceptable because moderators have a significant role in shaping this community.

Many other, similar sites exist, and I've never seen such moderators there. On those sites, only a few moderators are committed to keep it clean but here, almost all of the moderators are working very hard, spending their valuable time, so that some greedy employees can earn more.

The director, Sara, mentioned that if they think something is good for the community, they will implement it. Directors didn't interact with the members directly. It's moderators who interact with the people, and they know the pulse of the masses.

I'd like to quote a section from the history of India,

Delhi was the capital of India for long time and an emperor, Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, wanted to change it to Maharashtra (From Delhi, almost all places are of equal distance but Maharashtra is exact center location when considering only N-S direction) Along with him, he ordered the entire population in Delhi to move to their new capital. The journey was hard and many people lost their life on the way. And when he reached Maharashtra, riots started in East and west areas and also other kings started war to capture north-east and north-west states. After realizing he can't protect those areas, he re-ordered to move the capital back to Delhi. The people had to walk 1500+ kilometers to each direction and thousands of people lost their life.

Why I'm telling this here is, this is the same thing the company is doing. The company wants to implement whatever they want, without discussing with anyone and if someone raised a question, the company, simply kick them out. All I can say now is, one day, the company will realize it's the moderators who helped Stack Overflow to become the #1 Q&A site in the world.

A community can have healthy arguments, but these are not healthy arguments. The director could've simply answered Monica's queries. Monica was a well trusted moderator on this site, and she deserves to know why. Instead, simply removing her diamonds is unacceptable. Why Monica raised such concerns is because it's she who's going to interact with the public. Not the director. She had to explain the members about new changes and do's & don't's. When such problems arises, the members will ask to the moderator what happened. Not to the director.

I decided to pause my participation until things get resolved completely.

  • 10
    I've been a moderator at several sites (not SE) and I can attest to everything you have said.
    – user316129
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 16:54
  • 36
    What kind of genius decides to fire an outstanding, efficient, dedicated and hard-working contributor who's literally paid $0/month? StackExchange team : please consider firing all the employees who thought it was a good idea. If it means firing the "Director of Public Q&A", the new CEO and many others : so be it. It would be a much less damaging move than what you've done in the past few weeks. Finally, send flowers and a personal excuse letter to each affected moderator. Again, it would cost much less than what you'll lose otherwise. Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 21:35

I consider it important to underline: this goes beyond the moderators. I think that us "experienced" users are in the exact same boat.

I concur with the notion of the statement by user @machavity, and I will therefore pause all contributions to (non-meta) sites on the stackexchange network until further notice.

Edit, further notice:

I am going back to slowly contribute in other places, too. See here for the reasoning behind that decision.


Thanks for the letter. Now that the crux of the story has been laid out by Caleb (emphasis mine), my opinion of Stack Overflow Inc. has reached a new low.

In light of all the things we went through just to open this site much less make it work, the touch-stone issue is almost comical. Pronouns. No seriously, pronouns.

Personally I have yet to face the specific issue; nobody, to my knowledge, has taken offense at the pronouns I used for them. But the "law" laid down quite suddenly and directly to moderators by several staff members was that henceforth we all had to do whatever was requested of us by other parties. It used to be that the ground rules were limited to a "be nice" policy⁴ and how that was enforced varied a bit by site. Even though I often disagree with the world at large on what is considered nice and constructive, I can usually figure out how to live within a system of boundaries. You can do X or Y but not Z. Given the framework of a secular platform that hosted a diversity of viewpoints those were rules I could play by.

What changed is this: now it isn't enough just to avoid being rude to people you disagree with, the new policy forces us to positively affirm the other parties' position. Even disengaging was specifically ruled out as an allowable solution since that would be discrimination and potentially "hurtful". That avoidance of potentially compromising scenarios is not allowed has been directly affirmed by staff members several times.

If person A comes along and demands that I refer to them by their "preferred pronoun" (even if it is a mismatch for their genetic sex or the grammar of the language being spoken) and I refuse, that's considered an insult. Now, SE staff's enforced interpretation is that if I deliberately avoid pronouns altogether, whether by carefully avoiding sentences that even need pronouns at all or by sticking to proper names or by disengaging from the individual — those are all being considered insults too if the other party says they are insulted.

I might have been on the same page with Stack Exchange had they restricted themselves to making legislations on what a user is not allowed to say. However, they decided to mandate users to use a pronoun of another person's choice even if they don't feel comfortable doing so, and over and above not even giving them the choice to disengage, in the guise of "protecting people's feelings". This kind of appropriation of speech is an utterly stupid and absolutely reprehensible move. In fact, it makes me very much fear about the direction the site is headed into, in the name of making itself more welcoming for the so-called "minority groups" and "new users".

I shall not come to terms with a policy that forces me or anyone else to display a specific mode of respect towards another individual, by employing specific wordings or sentence framings in my speech, under the threat of punitive action. I am not willing to give up my freedom of choice, just so that the company can attempt to improve its image with some cheap publicity stunts. I fear that the company is currently in extremely incompetent hands as evident from these boilerplate responses and lies to the press by some "director of public Q&A". Absolutely pathetic.

It's not really the essence of these policies (being more inclusive and welcoming) that the resounding disapproval is against but the fact that these policies will, in all probability, be enforced by the last kind of people on the planet you'd want i.e., who not only claim that their interpretation of the policies are absolutely sound but also that their understanding of the situations they're policing is always perfect and beyond public criticism (as is evident from the company's response following Monica's firing). And this is exactly the reason we should draw the line when the company decides to enforce some kind of "ideological compliance, rather than the ideology itself".

I'll quote Mark Baker as he summarizes the pressing issue far more succinctly than I could:

It is the compulsion, rather than what is being compelled, the forcing of ideological compliance, rather than the ideology itself, that is the red line for me. The treatment of Monica is appalling too, but the two things, the compulsion and the expulsion, arise from the same intolerant instinct. They are born of the same spirit and made of the same cloth. Stack Exchange is a private company. They can impose whatever ideological speech codes they like and conduct whatever pogroms they like. But they will have to do it without me.

The question of whether one can choose one's own identity, as opposed to your identity being what the world sees when it looks at you, is one with profound and wide-reaching philosophical, epistemological, and even theological implications. Making personal preference in pronouns mandatory is making the rejection of the objective view mandatory. At that point is has nothing to do with whether or not one wished to make people feel comfortable. Philosophically, sophisticated arguments can be made for both the objective view and the social constructionist view. My objection is to the imposition of the philosophical test. The fact that I happen to be one side of the issue isn't the point. For many decades British officers had to take an oath against transubstantiation. Its aim was to keep Catholics out of the ranks of officers. A relatively small matter was used to impose a big restriction. This is a requirement of the same kind. The request seems small but the implications are vast.

Henceforth, I have decided to abort all my community moderation activities on all Stack Exchange sites, including but not limited to editing posts, handling review queues, raising flags and guiding new users, until the company mends the damage it has caused and puts forth a public apology. I'm sad to say that I now feel that I've wasted a lot of my time in essentially working and creating value for free for a company that doesn't even give the bare minimum respect to its primary userbase.

†: For the record, I am personally not comfortable with using singular 'they' or any of the gazillion non-binary pronouns like 'zhe', 'sie', 'hir', 'co', etc. although I would agree to go with the former if explicitly requested by an individual. I'd still prefer to refer to them by their username though, in such cases, and that choice is not a slight against them in any rational sense.

  • 20
    There is an argument to be made that it’s not OK to ostracize someone simply because they request that people address them a certain way. It’s not friendly. That said, and I’m not sure of this because of the ham-handed way this came out, they’ve made it sound like I’m not allowed to avoid using pronouns at all, which is stupid. If that’s the actual policy, SE has hurt the people they’re trying to help. It shouldn’t be a big deal for me to say “I prefer “she” over “they” (or vice versa) please when someone gets it wrong, but now all the sudden it is. It’s not good for any of us.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 18:40
  • 15
    I van only second this. There are a gazillion views in this world, what happened to Live and let live? If we can't do that, the most basic of all human interaction, then I see a very grim future for this site. And I very much wonder if we do the LGBT+ community a favour with these rules, but please correct me if I'm wrong. Im only a privilidged, educated, white male...
    – Luuklag
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 18:41
  • 42
    these are imaginary people you have never met, yet you "know" their "genetic" gender? And this is your hill? I do not believe that avoiding pronouns would have been the issue; misgendering I can. Spare me your "plural they" nonsense - singular they literally dates to before Shakespeare and everyone understands it. Knowing this is what everyone is digging their heels in over actually makes me feel a lot better. At least the fight is over something important. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 21:11
  • 27
    You're misinterpreting; read again. I never said that I know their genetic gender. I don't need to. I would much prefer calling users by their usernames. Also, I do not care whether singular they predates Shakespeare. It's just something I am not comfortable using and I'd rather leave SE for good if using it is mandated. @KateGregory
    – user437611
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 21:18
  • 19
    you cannot know that their pronoun mismatches (see the bold text in the last quote in your answer) a thing you don't know. And your opinion about whether singular they is grammatical is not a widely shared one. Who put you in charge? If you can remember to call me Kate, you can avoid misgendering me while you're at it. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 21:19
  • 35
    @Kate You're (intentionally or unintentionally) completely mischaracterizing my statements and attempting to put words in my mouth. I refuse to engage any further as I don't think you're interested in a coherent debate. Godspeed.
    – user437611
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 21:24
  • 33
    @KateGregory I don’t care which pronouns someone would prefer, and I am happy to refrain from using the wrong ones. I wouldn’t insist on calling you KG if you told me you didn’t like it - that would be rude. However, you can’t make me write a thought in such a way that I must use a particular pronoun that I don’t want to use. There is a trans woman in my extended family, and I would never dream of misgendering her or referring to her in a way that would make her think I didn’t care about her. I’m not going to use zir or whatever though.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 21:38
  • 9
    @user9161: So you won't use incorrect pronouns for family members but you reserve the right to use incorrect pronouns for other people? Where do you draw the line and why?
    – CB Bailey
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 22:13
  • 8
    @user9161 Just make a reasonable effort to call people what they want to be called. That's all anybody asks. If you refuse to refer to someone the way they ask you to, then yes, that's the kind of thing that would make someone think you don't care. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 22:19
  • 29
    @CBBailey I won’t use incorrect pronouns for anyone. It’s rude. I reserve the right, however, to express myself without using pronouns. Frankly, I rarely am in a situation on SE as a moderator where I really need to use them.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 22:57
  • 12
    @user9161: If you decided to avoid the use of pronouns altogether, that would be one thing but it’s evident that you do use pronouns for some people from your previous comment. Making that distinction for one group people is inherently exclusionary, it’s absolutely your right to do so if you wish but if you’re making that distinction on this site based on, say, a person’s gender then it goes against this site’s current code of conduct.
    – CB Bailey
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 23:16
  • 14
    @CBBailey The current CoC says I must be respectful and friendly. It doesn’t say I have to write exactly the same way for every person on the network. I change how I write based on what I feel the person I’m communicating with will understand best. If someones pronouns are not ones I’m comfortable using, I’m not going to use the wrong ones instead. That would be wrong and disrespectful. Fortunately, English is my native language, so it’s not difficult for me to express myself effectively and politely while avoiding words and phrases I find disagreeable.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 23:29
  • 11
    @user9161: Hypothetically, if a person used language to avoid using pronouns only for people whose pronouns they did not respect then that would be likely to alienate them and that’s a clear violation of the “No bigotry” section of the CoC.
    – CB Bailey
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 23:39
  • 7
    @user9161: I'm not demanding anything of you, in fact in my previous comment I deliberately shifted to talking about a hypothetical person so I could point out the consequences of a hypothetical behavior without seeming antagonistic. Using someones correct name and pronouns where appropriate seems like a pretty low bar for showing a base level of respect for another human. I would suggest that it's not something that's worth getting defensive over.
    – CB Bailey
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 5:21
  • 17
    @CBBailey The whole point is that enforcing a specific mode of respect doesn't end well. I'd rather do it on my own accord and in my own way.
    – user437611
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 5:23

I requested my 10 year old Stack Overflow profile to be deleted over a year ago after I realized that who was in charge now is nobody I wanted to be associated with in my professional life and I sincerely believe that SO is actually way more harmful to its community than beneficial with the Every question is sacred, do everyone elses work for them and stop complaining entitlement attitude that became the normal mantra there. I did not want to be associated with the site because of the the W3SCHOOLS level of quality information that it has become.

I just requested the other 66 profiles I had on other sites to be deleted just now.

Not just the professional ones where I had the most advanced rep to vote to close even, but ALL of them.

I am NOT disassociating this account, because I want this bread crumb trail to make it really crystal clear I am NOT ok with how they are doing business now and I completely regret providing any content to these people that are enabling them to make any money on making mine and others peers suffer because of their greed.

the veteran contributor formally known as user177800 and then feeling unwelcomed. I got their message back then loud and clear, gave everyone plenty of time to prove me wrong by actions and they just doubled down, so I disassociated from that profile. Now it seems everyone else, not just Stack Overflow is just now getting the same treatment as well. Their actions the last few days completely validates my decision to dump all that effort and time as just wasted and un-recoverable and chalked up to lesson learned.

I know better now, before volunteering my time and content to someone other than myself for something other than cold hard cash.

Maybe it is time to dust off that old content management system I was working on in my spare time, now that I will not be spending any of it on any Stack Exchange sites!

  • 8
    I think we ran into each other more than once, often on conflicting views. But you are for sure a man who walks the talk, and I wish you all the best for your future path. I do hope that you can see the value in your past contributions. You did good work, and stands for itself, no matter what happens to this place.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 18:07
  • GhostCat you are one of the "good ones" from my book. I do not think everyone has to agree to everything to be valuable to a community. Hearing that internally they are ones that are doing exactly what Jay Hanlon implicit accused everyone of us and they double/tripled/quadripled down on for the following years ... yeah ... whatever. Thanks to @Aza and the actions against Monica the hypocrisy that I kind of always knew was there was confirmed, at least for my autistic sensibilities.
    – user148287
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 15:58
  • Now I have my popcorn and getting to watch it all from a dispassionate perspective.
    – user148287
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 16:00
  • 1
    They say that angry people aren't necessarily a bad thing. If someone is angry, they are still engaged and still care. The point of no return is when people become apathetic, and simply don't care, or worse, just sit back and enjoy the show.
    – user316129
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 16:04
  • 6
    @GhostCat - I was never really that much of a fan of Monica, because I thought she was too much of an apologist for people pumping crap into the site(s), esp SO. I was one of the 10 year people that valued quality over whatever else and no patience for the "send me teh codez;copy/pasta" morons, because I actually still write code for a living and have to deal with it. Apologizing for them hurts me directly. I respected her opinion and the effort she put in even if I did not agree with them. If they do not see any value in her being a mod, they are not blind, they are just stupid.
    – user148287
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 16:07
  • 1
    @JarrodRoberson More opportunities to throw around popcorn: meta.stackexchange.com/a/334096/285661
    – GhostCat
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 17:38

Not a moderator here, but have been engaged for a few years.

I have experienced random edits of my posts, replacing all the "he" or "she" pronouns with "they", "them" et cetera, with a snarky reason left in the edit.

The change in the COC from the fairly obvious "be nice" rules and other easy to follow rules about conduct, into this clandestine, divisive, turgid code which seems to morph into whatever they want to at the moment has been frustrating, to say the least.

In The Workplace, my rep climbed to over 100k, and I was rep-capping nearly daily. I say this not as a boast, but for context. The change in the code, combined with an emphasis on "making the new users feel welcome" led to an immense amount of disrespect towards high-rep users. We lost several high rep users during the past year who just got fed up.

Myself included.

The OP mentioned the crisis on Reddit, I'll give another one. Tech Republic. During the late 1990s and early 00s, Tech Republic was THE place to go for IT. It had a "techpoints" system, a good Q&A section, and damn good people hung out and modded there. Then, CBS bought it, and decided to "fix" it.

Basically, they did the EXACT SAME THING as was done here, only 10 years earlier.

It's a ghost town now, and SE is bringing the same fate upon themselves.

Why am I back 6 months after I quit? I guess some small part of me still cares and I haven't quite reached the point of apathy yet, but I'm close.

I sincerely hope that SE changes course.


...where's the equity in all of this?

One of the things that I'm struggling to deal with as a part of this issue is how it can be resolved, and how things can go back to "the way they were". Problem is, I'm not seeing a path forward.

We don't know what an "apology" to this whole mess would look like.

Nor do I truly believe that it'd be accepted or considered acceptable.

The big things we have right now:

  • Moderator resignations; lots of them. More are likely to come in the wake of anything else.
  • Lots of disgruntled high-rep/respected contributors or curators; I'm definitely one of them.
  • Lots of mistrust and animosity over the way things are communicated.
  • A seeming march forward without either side getting the impression that they're being heard clearly enough (and with Stack Overflow Inc. paying the bills, they're the ones who will always get their way).
  • Some uncertainty with a new CEO coming on board.

I opined in my linked article that I believed that my primary community was unsupported. That doesn't mean that it's broken; that means that when we encounter something broken, we don't have anyone to tell that it's broken except ourselves, and we're not able to really fix the broken, either.

We also have different definitions of "broken", much of which you touch on. These definitions of broken are not universal and are not one size fits all, as convenient as that might be.

The only thing I really want at this point is for the company to firmly own their decisions. Establish this as the new norm and own it. If this is how they wish to engage with us, then it is their duty to make that clear to us so that we don't have any room for ambiguity or uncertainty.

Reinstating moderators won't fix this, and it won't magically fix what has been a brewing communication issue for almost two years now. But if they establish the ground rules on what and how they choose to engage, then that's enough. It gives us the liberty to continue to engage with them.

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    I know this latest, "pronoun-gate" is just the straw that broke the camel's back, but I can't tell if SE is thinking, "Oh sh1t, what have we done?" or if they're partying because they managed to eliminate everyone who isn't a social reformer. In any case, after several years of this, it seems that perhaps SE has no intention to fix the relationship. If you want to talk about this more, we can take it offline (off-network).
    – Mysticial
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 19:46
  • @Mysticial: I'm intrigued. In my profile, there's a way to reach me via a secure channel. We can set up some time to chat Soon™.
    – Makoto
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 19:48
  • That would also be a conversation I'd be interested in, if you two don't mind me sticking an oar in.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 19:55
  • @fbueckert - You too know how to find that secure channel.
    – Makoto
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 20:01

We are in a transition period where dubious "freedoms" are being pitched against transphobia. For example, people complain that they should not be "forced" to use someone's preferred pronouns.

We experienced the same thing with homophobia. People complained that they should not be "forced" to accept same-sex relationships as equal to opposite-sex ones.

It's actually an attack on freedom of speech, because it requires people who might criticise someone repeatedly mis-gendering a person to be silenced for the comfort and convenience of the speaker.

There is probably no way to avoid this pain. All that can be done is to try to minimize it, but unfortunately the people complaining loudest about it have vested interest in being victimized. Their position lacks any good rational basis and is rooted in transphobia, so they appeal to "freedom" while seeking to take it away from others.


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