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Ever since the mass moderator resignations started, there have been hints that it is somehow related to how LGBTQ members of the community are or should be treated or welcomed. For example, in her resignation notice, Aza mentions (emphasis mine),

I am resigning as a moderator of Literature Stack Exchange, effective immediately.

My departure is not on good terms....

By other mods, by staff, and by the entrenched power structure of Stack Exchange, I have been made to feel unwelcome for my queerness. This particular pattern is abusive and makes an ironic mockery of kindness.

...Only the privileged party can elect to pretend, for a while, that we do not exist. And when moratoria are placed on speaking of our transness among moderators, only the cisgender among us are relieved.

A more recent post by Sklivvz alleges that the upcoming change in the CoC alluded to by many of the resigning moderators is over the use or misuse of pronouns for transgender people.

Does the Stack Exchange network have a problem with misgendering users or otherwise being unwelcoming or rude toward LGBTQ contributors? If so, what is it, and can someone share some concrete examples of what exactly happened? In all the time I have been here, I haven't seen any indication of such - even the religion-based sites have stayed welcoming, honestly explaining traditional and conservative teachings while maintaining civility and even niceness. The occasional troll notwithstanding (whose posts tend to get shredded rapidly), I don't see how we even have a "problem" at all.

Where specifically are LGBTQ members feeling persecuted or unwelcome? Is there an organized campaign or cabal devoted to misgendering users by intentionally using the wrong pronouns whose members need to be systematically identified and banned? Is the problem more of a perceived lack of awareness of LGBTQ issues that could be remedied with education rather than behavior modification?

In no way am I asking for information on why certain moderators have resigned or were fired, whether such actions were justified, whether moderators should resign, or related organizational matters. There are plenty of other questions where that may be discussed or debated.

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    This is very anectdotal but people have often assumed 'he' when referring to me ("His post says / Answering him"). However I don't typically correct people or display my pronouns in an environment with unfamiliar people and no commonplace practice for people to display pronouns, because that would make me stand out. – sylverfyre Oct 1 at 4:11
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    @sylverfyre it's a longstanding tradition in the English language, though, to default to the masculine if a person's gender is not known and/or a hypothetical person is being discussed whose actual gender is not relevant to the conversation. It's not a campaign by people to twist the language to promote bias, it's the way people were taught to talk in formal contexts. – Columbia says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 4:15
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    Yes, there are a LOT of longstanding traditions that are fundamentally rooted in sexism. However, my point is more that "this is a thing that makes the community a little bit less welcoming for me" and not "its actively harmful." As someone who's not a moderator, I only have a this tiny anectdotal user experiences from my position of only very occasionally commenting/answering. – sylverfyre Oct 1 at 4:20
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    While the answer to Robert's question is not just about pronouns, I might as well say, using the singular "they" is both formal and practical. You already do it naturally. If you find yourself using "he" to refer to unknown people in English, where everybody has used and understood "they" for centuries, it's because you on some level assume being male is the default. [This comment referred to an earlier, deleted comment by Blue as well, similar to the one below.] – rspeer Oct 1 at 4:51
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    My example is that when speaking up about being misgendered or when discussing the use of the singular they a user may be shouted down to in the comments. You know. Like above. ^ – AGirlHasNoName Oct 1 at 5:02
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    I think that this will not end good for non-native-English speakers. Seeing that "they" is supposedly a singular pronoun made me raising eyebrows, since today is the first time I ever heard that in English "they" is admissible to be used as a singular pronoun. No English course I ever took ever presented "they" as a singular pronoun. Don't expect that non-native-English speakers get it right anytime soon and don't interpret that as anything offensive. – Victor Stafusa Oct 1 at 5:17
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    @bruglesco Ok. If you or someone else thinks that I should refer as "they", so be it. But expect that some people will simply not understand what the heck is going on and they are not being evil, aggressive or whatever like that. – Victor Stafusa Oct 1 at 5:24
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    On another thought, how this could be enforced in non-English communities? Since this would be part of the CoC, it would/could/should be enforced everywhere. For example, in my language there is simply no gender-neutral pronoun ever, just the equivalently of "he" or "she". Their plural forms are also gender-specific (like "hes" and "shes"). Normally, that is nothing I would ever concern or think about. But if gender-neutral expressions would be enforced, there is simply no way to express that in some languages. – Victor Stafusa Oct 1 at 5:27
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    @VictorStafusa It is true that the singular "they" is a specific feature of English (been there since the 14th century). It's pretty convenient. If you want to know how to be gender-inclusive in other languages, maybe try asking queer folks who speak those languages. This doesn't really seem to be the venue for that question. – rspeer Oct 1 at 5:29
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    @rspeer What I see is a venue for great confusion. I can imagine in the future somebody with poor English skills being accused of queerphobia just for using "he" to refer to a user called "LOLOMG" who just happened to be a queer in a comment of some answer about using arrays in C#. – Victor Stafusa Oct 1 at 5:37
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    @Victor Yes, it's that slippery slope that I'm afraid of. The sad part is...those kind of accusations are already mainstream; say if you assume that a random person in a tech workplace will most likely be male (based on statistical data) you're accused of being sexist when you're just being practical. In order to communicate, people risk offending other people; not assuming good faith on others' part is a very dangerous path to down. In the past, the overarching principle of the CoC was "assuming good faith"; the current behaviour by SE goes against that and badly so. – S.D. Oct 1 at 5:54
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    @Luuklag I'd simply refer to them by their name or say "Dear Professor". Though, even if I did use "Dear Sir" that shouldn't be taken to be an indication that I'm sexist; they could simply correct me and I'd likely oblige. In fact, in my country, "Dear Sir" is often the default students use for addressing any random professor (say, in an email). Doesn't mean they're inherently sexist. I've never seen a female professor take offense to that; they simply clarify their gender and in the future, those students address them by "Dear Ma'am" or "Dear Professor". – S.D. Oct 1 at 6:49
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    [cont.] It's simply this mutual understanding and respect that I'm asking for. Please don't assume that a random person on the Internet is sexist or queerphobic simply because they use a variation of the English language that you're not familiar with or find awkward. This is an international platform and people come here from all kinds of backgrounds. – S.D. Oct 1 at 6:49
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    @Blue I second that last notion. I consider my written English pretty good, and a US coworker once told me "your English is better than most of what I hear from my coworkers here" ... but yet: even I struggle to get such subtle details right. – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 7:10
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    "Does the Stack Exchange network have a problem with misgendering users or otherwise being unwelcoming or rude toward LGBTQ contributors?" In one famous blog post, the Network said yes, because they interviewed users and these users told them about harassment directed at women or people of color or minorities. This is at least some qualitative hint. – Trilarion Oct 1 at 8:53

12 Answers 12

276

I don't see how we even have a "problem" at all.

I think that is the fundamental divide that SE does not seem to understand and why their whole "welcoming" move is met by so much resistance and frustration.

On one hand, we have the technical sites. Those are there to answer User1248346's programming problem. Background is not required nor requested. Whether that user is a man or woman, in the Swiss alps or at an Indonesian beach, married or single, we will never know. Because it does not matter. In fact, sharing that information would be weird. Their compiler will always work the same. Put in the correct code, you get the correct result.

People on those sites don't really see the problem (literally, they don't see it because there is nothing to see, not because they turn a blind eye) and feel very insulted when told they are not welcoming. They are providing free services to random strangers and they are told that their biggest flaw is that they treat every one of those strangers like they would treat a white, straight male, the most privileged class on the planet. So they wonder what the hell this is all about, being told that they are bad people and need to be more welcoming than "just" treating random strangers like their equals and providing free work and education. How much more welcoming would you like your volunteers?

And then... there are the other sites on the network. Where people need to identify in turn to solve their problem. Because their problem is very dependent on all those factors. Background. Gender. Religion. Culture. And I will believe everyone that says they do not feel welcomed there. On technical sites you get an answer that is verifiably true (you compile it and it works... or not) whether you like it or not, it's helpful. On those other sites you get opinions or in the best case experiences. While my compiler and your compiler are guaranteed to do the same thing (given same versions and settings), whether my parents react the same as your parents when my long lost aunt tells them their nephew is gay... is really not an exact science and bound to be a big ball of communication problems, cultural misunderstandings and all round opportunities to get bad vibes. If someone explains how to fix my program in broken English, there are only a very few options to get that so wrong to be insulted. To explain your views on LGBT people without insulting any of the multiple sides to this is hard even in your native language. So yes, if someone says they do not feel good about how this is handled, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt and say: on those sites? Absolutely. I have not witnessed anything specific, but I will believe you that this can happen easily, frequently and in ways I probably would not even notice.

The fundamental problem is that SE mixes all of this into one big bowl of telling their users they are all bigots and they need to improve if they don't want to be banned.

I will support the improve part, but I will not silently agree to the bigot part. It's a little like asking "Will you stop beating your wife?". I certainly support not beating anybody, but I will not agree to "stop beating my wife" because that never happened in the first place and mixing me in with the criminal **** who do that is not going to get any support from me and seeing the reactions, a lot of people like me.

So yes, from my perspective, not seeing the problem at some places, does not mean they don't fester in others. But SE does a terrible job at telling them apart, losing some very valuable support they could have gathered. I don't think any of the opposed users would oppose a "stop bigots from abusing people" campaign. Almost all oppose a "Chances are you are a bigot, stop that behavior" campaign, because that is not the truth and I personally feel very offended by it.


A practical example: as a technical user, I have spent years discussing problems with users like BlackUnicorn73 or HazMatX or User1234567. Telling me I have to respect their correct gender pronouns sounds ridiculous. I don't even know those. I don't know if they know them. Or care. If any of them had corrected me in the use of the one's I estimated, I would have complied. I don't care how exactly I address any of them. But making a rule about that, a code of conduct with consequences to follow? Seems very far fetched from that perspective.

On the other hand side, if you are on a site that is non-scientific and someone intentionally uses the wrong pronoun to constantly harass you against your expressed wish? Sure. Ban their sorry behind. I don't care and I certainly won't oppose that or support harassment.

But the difference here is the intention behind it. The vast majority does not belong to the later group and SE completely fails to recognize that.


So to summarize: Yes, it perfectly possible that for a large amount of users, this problem is not visible, because it does not exist as a global constant. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is also correct to say that for some user's, this is a problem.

And we could all be happily working on a solution for a better site, if this divide would be recognized.

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    While I agree, it's actually worse than that. As a software developer, not only do I not care about the religion, race, sexual orientation etc of posters, I am fully aware that they are unknowable outside of a meat-greet and investigation. So, if I am obliged,to avoid the use of any language that could be interpreted as unwelcome/insulting/abusive by user X, my only option is to post nothing. – Martin James Oct 1 at 11:27
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    @MarkBooth I would go with the easy answer of "if they did it again after being told it's not acceptable, it should be considered intentional". At least that is what the law in my country goes by. Speeding? Considered negligent. Speeding next to a red flashing speed limit sign you cannot possibly overlook? Considered intentional, fine doubled. – nvoigt Oct 1 at 11:31
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    The current dumpster fire started in the context of site moderators talking among themselves. As you say, technical questions are effectively anonymous: we address the questions, not the people. But moderators must reach out to individual people, and address them by name. So moderators do have opportunities for incorrectly using names, and thus (deliberately or accidently) causing offense. – Raedwald Oct 1 at 11:32
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    Incidentally, I have lost track of the number of times friends in my social media circle who are professional programmers have said things along the lines of "I don't do Stack Overflow, I find it too toxic", so a perception of toxicity isn't just an issue for soft stack exchange sites. – Mark Booth Oct 1 at 11:34
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    @MarkBooth Yes, SO is considered toxic by many, but for reasons that are very much different from this pronoun/gender issue. All nvoigt is asking is that we don't mix these clearly distinct problems. – S.D. Oct 1 at 11:42
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    @MarkBooth Perhaps you could start with demonstrating the intersectionality of these apparently distinct problems then (ideally, in your own answer). I can't possibly "appreciate" what I don't even perceive. – S.D. Oct 1 at 11:53
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    @CBBailey It sounds ridiculous because I cannot "respect" the gender pronoun of "KawmzaHuga17". I cannot respect an unknown. I can guess one and go with it, hoping it's right. That's not respect... it's guessing. Especially since I cannot be responsible for remembering every single user's wishes, even if explicitely expressed. Four weeks from now on a different post, I will make the same guess from the same data. And probably fail again in the same way. Would that be considered "disrespectful"? How much personal memory would I need to be in compliance with the CoC? Do I need to keep notes? – nvoigt Oct 1 at 12:20
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    @Renan SO is not a respectful place. Many users ask grossly-disrespectful questions daily: those that expect others to do SO and/or Google lookups for them, deadbeats with homework dumps, those who think that any testing/debugging can be just outsourced etc. etc. – Martin James Oct 1 at 12:44
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    @AnkitSharma The point of my post is not pronouns. It's the fact that "I perceive no problems" and "I experience problems" are both valid experiences and it would help a lot more to get all the people in the boat of solving the existing problems of some, instead of telling those that experience no problems that they are the problem. – nvoigt Oct 1 at 12:45
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    @Renan And I say: maybe it's smarter to go about it in a way that the majority (in your example: of men) can agree to the proposed changes. Because the problem in your "not all men" scenario are not the few that say "it's not us how dare you", it's the many that do not act. Maybe they are like me and think "if you want my support, maybe start by not insulting me". – nvoigt Oct 1 at 13:20
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    This is a brilliant post. I have always thought that it was a bad idea to expand the scope of the SE network to "soft" sites where all answers are opinions and demographics actually matter. The Q&A model we have works brilliantly for technical, objective subjects. For personal or emotional matters, it totally sucks. If SE had steadfastly refused to create such sites, and stuck to their initial goal of "creating a library of detailed answers," we wouldn't be having this problem now. – Wildcard Oct 1 at 19:17
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    The fundamental problem is that SE mixes all of this into one big bowl of telling their users they are all bigots I have seen claims like this a few times...where did this actually happen? Because I was never told by SE that I'm a bigot. What I have read was that the community needs to be a bit friendlier and more respectful. Which for the technical side of the SE network had almost 0 impact aside from the 'help new people find their way instead of downvoting them to oblivion'. – Steffen Winkler Oct 1 at 19:48
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    I disagree that the technical sites are fundamentally different. There's all this stuff. There are instances of unnecessary assumptions about people's genders, and pushback whenever someone attempts to change that. There is ableism, as Renan notes. Universally unwelcoming behavior still impacts people disproportionately based on how much they feel like they belong in the first place. SE is not telling all its users that we're bigots. SE is telling us we need to fix this, and that impacts both the technical and non-technical sites. – Zach Lipton Oct 1 at 21:19
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    @VictorStafusa It seems like that would be a problem under the new (unpublished) CoC. It was hinted that avoiding specific pronouns by using neutral ones wouldn't be allowed. – Modus Tollens Oct 1 at 23:06
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    @ModusTollens Exactly. Mandating a rule that people should not refer to other people by the usernames and that an artificial usage of 3rd person pronouns should be enforced no matter of what seems to me as simply extremely lunatic and insane. – Victor Stafusa Oct 1 at 23:11
84

I recently saw an ex-moderator post an answer on MSE suggesting that trans people are, either in general or in the subset which cares about pronouns, mentally ill and should "get better" rather than participating. The post is now gone and I have no desire to single this person out or revive what appears to be a settled debate, so I won't identify them.

In case it's not obvious, this argument is both trans-phobic and ableist. It also was receiving upvotes faster than downvotes for several minutes (at which point I dropped off the site in disgust for multiple hours).

This was someone I had thought I respected. I'm not really sure what I think now. Part of me is beginning to wonder if the community and the company don't deserve each other. Part of me is trying to figure out what actually happened in the Teacher's Lounge, since the people I thought I could trust have betrayed that trust. Part of me is asking "why even bother any more?"

I still don't have any answers to those questions.

  • 2
    It would be helpful, if you could add, as far as you can recall, when this incident occurred. – Mari-Lou A Oct 1 at 7:28
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    @Mari-LouA: Earlier today. – Kevin Oct 1 at 7:30
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    I saw the post before it was deleted. I would not call it transphobic but rather uninformed. However the point is still valid for this illustration. – Mark Henderson Oct 1 at 7:42
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    @Mari-LouA MSE users with 10k+ rep will be able to corroborate that the deleted post exists. – 200_success Oct 1 at 8:04
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    Of all the problems and issues affecting trans, is the occasional antiquated use of inappropriate pronouns on a globally-accessible website frequented by many ESL users such a massive problem? – Martin James Oct 1 at 11:15
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    @MarkHenderson I saw the post too and I would call it... hurtful. The intention isn't the point is it. – AGirlHasNoName Oct 1 at 11:16
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    @Mari-LouA It got deleted by shog whilst having pending rude/abusive flags, so the user themselves did not delete it. – Magisch Oct 1 at 13:44
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    Someone has the right to not like certain people, based on personal beliefs or religion. But they can still be friendly towards such people, or worst case keep silent. Even if that mod (and Monica?) dislike certain people, they co-operated perfectly for long years without a problem. Shutting Monica off based on her personal beliefs is so bad in so many levels I can't even start to describe how wrong it is. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Oct 1 at 15:50
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    @Geronimo I'm posting a screenshot because, like the post 200_success linked further up in the comments, it's evidence that yes, there are those here who are unwelcoming towards LGBT individuals. – F1Krazy Oct 1 at 16:43
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    Making accusations without naming names is evil. – AlexP Oct 1 at 18:52
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    If people posts shit that are openly transphobic, queerphobic, sexist, racist, etc, then the old CoC and even the still older be-nice policy would be more than enough to handle that. Using this as an excuse to make the new CoC that mandates specific pronouns instead of just referring to people through their usernames is a too big leap. – Victor Stafusa Oct 1 at 23:33
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    @MartinJames: "Of all the problems and issues affecting trans, is the occasional antiquated use of inappropriate pronouns on a globally-accessible website frequented by many ESL users such a massive problem?" Well, apparently similar such issues drove one moderator to quit (which is how this whole thing started). And you should also consider that it was primarily moderator-to-moderator contact that caused this issue. If moderators are supposed to be the best of us, elected by us, what does that say about us? – Nicol Bolas Oct 2 at 3:26
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    @Angew: Why was that moderator stropped of that status? Because SE made a policy change that the moderator could not accept, and that policy change was prompted by a moderator being driven to quit due to bigotry. Bigotry that the policy change was intended to help wipeout. "This thing" is bigger than your narrative would suggest. – Nicol Bolas Oct 2 at 13:21
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    So, where's the infamous screenshot @F1Krazy? Or did your comment get deleted? – Ian Kemp Oct 4 at 10:52
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    Why bother even waving the flag "this profile is transgender" to see what responses come out signifying support, dis-believe or "don't care"? If your calling is Stack Overflow shouldn't your website experiences be focused on C programming or Bash scripting or whatever? Is Stack Exchange really the place to air out your laundry for pseudo-political-scientific experiments? If I'm not welcomed on Stack Overflow until I post good questions and answers why should you be welcomed solely for the sake of gender? I don't understand all this flag waving on technical sites. – WinEunuuchs2Unix Oct 13 at 23:55
69

It is difficult to say much without breaking moderator rules, but examples I've seen include

  • "Oh no, not this again" reactions when someone brings up an issue.
  • People asking "What can we do about people who constantly bring up these issues?".
  • People asking about trans issues and then arguing with the responses they get from trans people or their allies.
  • People effectively being told their experiences don't matter.
  • The scale of the problem being considered sufficiently small that it isn't worth peoples time.
  • People breaking moderator rules to further their agenda.
  • People criticising suggestions that learning about LGBTQIA+ issues might help them better understand the feelings of those marginalised groups.

These issues have been going on for years.

They are coming to a head now because trans exclusive voices are becoming more vocal, so trans people and their allies are refusing to stay quiet any longer, explaining their identities, how they are being excluded and what they want people to do in order to make them feel welcome.

The issues we are dealing with here on Stack Exchange mirror the issues seen out in the real world, trans exclusive bias and victimisation is common, even within communities you would expect to have sympathy for queer problems (Stonewall has faced criticism for being more trans inclusive and people are calling for a new trans exclusion Stonewall to be created!).

I try to be a good ally, as a (nominally) cis white male, so even though I'm only affected by these issues one step removed it disappoints me that people cannot see, or refuse to see the problems trans people are having in our community.

†This post is skirting this itself.

‡ I come from culture which has, until recently, forced everyone into being labelled either male or female, ignoring the diverse nature of gender recognised by other cultures. These differences have always been there, but only now are people starting to recognise them, since my culture now has words for them. To put this into perspective, at least one in fifty people are known to have one or more of the many intersex characteristics, that is a minority, but a significant one. These characteristics have been a part of the human genome for as long as we have been human.

  • 2
    These are very good points for some kind of latent denunciation, although I have to say that from my experience I cannot remember to ever have seen such cases. I guess either they do not happen that often or the moderators are quite quick in cleaning them up or I'm not paying enough attention. It would probably be difficult to quantitatively estimate the intensity of such remarks although without we can never be sure if we really improve or not. – Trilarion Oct 1 at 8:51
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    As I said, this has been going on for years, and unless you have some reason to, you may not even notice it. It's a kind of cognitive blindness which appears to come from our unconscious biases. I'm not sure what you mean by latent denunciation though, you'll have to explain that. – Mark Booth Oct 1 at 9:00
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    Unconscious/implicit bias is actually what I was looking for. Thanks for mentioning it. English is not my mother language. – Trilarion Oct 1 at 10:16
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    The major problem we have in being able to communicate these issues is that it’s not clear where the line is for talking about what happens in the TL and other private spaces. Therefore we default to vague or no statements, while those that resigned are free to say whatever they want, without recourse. – George Stocker Oct 1 at 11:26
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    I agree @GeorgeStocker which is why I have tried to be careful with my answer. There are other points I would have liked to have made, but which would probably have gone beyond what is considered acceptable. – Mark Booth Oct 1 at 11:28
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    I can't say I see it either. In chat, anything happens, but that's not on site. Basic consideration and respect already applies in chat. If this is about being referred to by the generic "he", frankly, it seems a bit silly. On site; answering, asking, and commenting; nothing about your person is relevant and it almost never comes up. If you're a she or something else and it truly bothers you, and somehow it doesn't feel weird and irrelevant to correct people on it, go ahead and inform us. I seriously doubt more than a handful of users will intentionally "misgender". – user212646 Oct 3 at 15:03
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    "These issues have been going on for years" - in some parts of some sites. See @nvoigt's answer; some of us absolutely do not see any of this occurring, and it seems to us like the neighbors next door dragging us into their domestic disputes. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Oct 4 at 8:37
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    Just because you don't see a problem doesn't mean it isn't happening. I may not be seeing a given problem because it isn't there, or because I don't recognise or notice it when it occurs or I may be ignoring it because I don't understand it or actively believe it is wrong or not a problem. I may not even remember seeing something because of my own implicit/unconscious bias or even my own acknowledged biases and prejudices. If you don't believe using 'he' as a 'gender neutral' pronoun is exclusionary and sexist, for instance, then you won't notice when it happens. – Mark Booth Oct 4 at 11:35
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    People asking about trans issues and then arguing with the responses they get from trans people or their allies. People disagreeing with you is an issue? Should everyone agree with trans people on everything? – Luis Reinstate Monica Oct 7 at 8:36
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    When you ask a trans person to tell you about their experience, and then argue that they didn't actually experience it, you're not helping, you're harming. You don't have to agree with everything a trans person says, and if you can find someone honestly arguing that you should, go ahead and shut them down. But you're apparently not even trying to understand what they say, let alone do anything useful. So why bother interjecting in the discussion? @LuisRico – Nij Oct 7 at 8:55
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    @Nij but assuming bad faith from everyone that disagrees with you isn't helping either. If someone tells you their experience and it turns out to be a misunderstanding, should you not point that out? – Luis Reinstate Monica Oct 7 at 9:08
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    If. Why bring up a marginal case that is often not relevant? – Nij Oct 7 at 10:04
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    @Nij if you can find someone honestly arguing that you should, go ahead and shut them down. See, this is exactly the sort of mindset that people like me find so repulsive - the idea that being wrong about touchy issues implies that you should be shut down. – sgf Oct 8 at 11:27
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    When someone is saying they cannot be disagreed with about something, that's not about being wrong, it's about being uncorrectable even if they are. That's something that can't be accepted in any discussion that is meant to be productive or useful. Being wrong is something that can be dealt with; refusing to accept the possibility is not. @sgf – Nij Oct 8 at 19:06
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    The point @einpoklum makes is a valid one. Who studied this, what's the quantification for that data. Even more important: where did such things happen? On IPS, Parenting, Politics, language related sites etc? That I'd consider quite bad with high probability. In chat? On the other hand, if such a thing ("not again…") should occur on, say SO, Photography, AskUbuntu, etc then I'd like the subquestion addressed: "Why should any of this matter on such a Q&A?" For the latter case I see only vague accusations referencing long deleted stuff. For that, and as a vegan, I ask where's the beef? – LаngLаngС Oct 19 at 18:18
65

When I was still identifying as a woman, I already hated that people assumed I was a "he". It made me feel, as a woman, invisible. Like the idea of a woman liking what I liked was too impossible and, thus, that I could only be a man. It made me feel like, as a woman, I had no place here.

I now identify as non binary and I still hate it when people assume my gender. It feels like they are negating my very existence. It's not a good feeling at all.

I, once, had to argue with a user that I preferred to be called "they" rather than "he" or "she". It was only one user and, since some allies jumped in, I didn't have to do much talking (and I thank them for that). But it was still exhausting, it was still emotionally draining and it still made me feel terribly bad. And it was only one user. Who wasn't even being (intentionally) rude.

But they still wanted to be convinced before using my preferred pronouns. And, for me, this wasn't ok. Because, for me, it sounded like:

If you can convince me that you are really, really hurt by this behavior, I will stop. But if you only seem slightly hurt, I won't. Oh, and also, I will be the only one judging if you are hurt enough. Because your words don't really matter to me.

They probably didn't intend to make me feel like that. They certainly didn't even think that could be an issue. But they still ended up making me feel like crap.

36

When you say 'I don't see how we even have a "problem" at all.', I think you should consider reasons why you might not see a problem, even after reading Aza's post.

These reasons may include:

  • The problem does not affect you
  • Part of the problem, as described by Aza, is that queer-positive content and queer self-identification are discouraged by a number of moderators; you seemingly do not post queer-positive content or self-identify as queer, so you never notice this
  • You are a longtime user of the site, and sympathize with other longtime users, who broadly represent the majority demographics in tech and favor the status quo on StackExchange
  • 34
    Has it been considered that moderators discouraging queer self-identification would equally discourage mentioning in a post that you are a cat owner, or a broccoli lover? And that they apply that policy simply because it distracts from the question? If this was the case, should it still be considered queerphobia? – dim Oct 1 at 6:59
  • 3
    @dim Thing is: all of that is still pretty vague. discourage mentioning in a post ... who said we solely talk about posts?! You assume this is about people adding "irrelevant" aspects to questions or answers, but well, I think that is just that: an assumption. What if people put something into their profile, and someone else flags that?! That is why I see a huge need for specific examples. – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 7:06
  • 65
    I don't think that asking for evidence is an attempt to dismiss a problem or sweep it under the rug. It would be helpful to see specific examples so that we can address the problem constructively rather than speculatively. This answer doesn't answer the question, in the sense that it doesn't provide the requested citations. – 200_success Oct 1 at 7:15
  • 14
    No @200_success, but when you see it used as a de-platforming strategy so often, you start to wonder at motive whenever you do see it. – Mark Booth Oct 1 at 10:12
  • 11
    @MarkBooth I don't see how "Can you please show an example of where you feel like you have been treaten wrongly?" is deplatforming somebody. Can you please explain your reasoning behind it? – MechMK1 Oct 1 at 12:04
  • 16
    Asking marginalized groups to justify their marginalization is at the very least problematic. Let's not act like this question was an effort to allow queer folks the opportunity to speak. It is absolutely a demand to justify ourselves. While a non-answer, this answer needed said. – AGirlHasNoName Oct 1 at 12:38
  • Meant to ping @200_success above ^ – AGirlHasNoName Oct 1 at 13:35
  • 37
    @bruglesco If you want your concerns to be taken seriously, then yes, you need to justify yourself with facts and examples, no matter what group you're representing. Just going "you're all meanies and not letting me speak" isn't helping your cause; instead it drives away the people who are actually sympathetic to your cause and further lessens your chances of being heard. And as far as I can tell, this question was certainly asked in good faith, which is why I upvoted it; the fact that you choose not to accept that is your prerogative. – S.D. Oct 1 at 14:39
  • 5
    FWIW @Blue I do recognize the need to present factual support for arguments when making affirmative assertions. I chose the word problematic to describe the situation with care. It is difficult to ask people to stand up to Injustice when doing so can put them at risk. Yet if they don't the Injustice continues. But I am not overly optimistic that people are even willing to recognize that there even is an Injustice. – AGirlHasNoName Oct 1 at 17:56
  • 14
    How can website users be 'put at risk'? I, for one, cannot give credence to claims without evidence. – Martin James Oct 1 at 22:47
  • 1
    @MartinJames Doxxing? – user253751 Oct 2 at 11:11
  • 8
    One of the major complaints about how Monica Cellio was treated is that this incident could seriously affect her livelihood and career. I didn't see you questioning those claims. But when it comes to LGBTQI+ people reporting the potential for harassment, including bullying, social disinclusion, up to stalking or doxxing or threats against life on the basis of whichever identities they happen to have, suddenly we need evidence? – Nij Oct 8 at 19:15
  • 3
    @Nij I don't understand your comment. How could the way Monica was treated be a major complaint but also not be questioning the claims? I've seen so many people demanding proof of the things said against her. How can we act on good faith against these LGBTQ+ issues without evidence? Should we just outright ban anyone accused without digging deeper? – Grumpy says Reinstate Monica Oct 14 at 12:48
36

The overarching theme of the code of conduct has always been Be Nice and that has been problematic for a long time. There was the Summer of Love back in 2012 which wasn't focused on LGBT+ issues, but the general lack of niceness. In 2014 the new new Be Nice CoC was released that highlighted bigotry based on gender and sexual orientation. Then again in 2018 they confronted LGBT+ issues and said

Many people, especially those in marginalized groups do feel less welcome. We know because they tell us.

If you are looking for unwelcoming behavior you have missed the point. Quoting Jon Skeet (with the hope that maybe it will somehow prevent this from being down voted into oblivion) from that blog post about his experience at a pride parade

I wasn’t just tolerated; I was made to feel like the community was actually better because I was there.

We have examples of people speaking out about unwelcoming behavior. We have Aza's public resignation as well as less publicized LGBT+ mods resigning because of unfair and unwelcoming treatment. We have LGBT+ mods who do not feel they can safely and effectively communicate with other mods.

Examples of unwelcoming behavior are much hard to show since it violates the be nice policy and they get deleted. As a mod, I can assure you there is a lot of sexist and LGBT+ negativity that gets deleted. As for examples of undeleted unwelcoming behavior I point to the fact that Monica was fired and Caleb resigned because they refused to use preferred pronouns. There are also examples of sexist comments in this answer. While I believe they did not do this out of malice or to cause harm or hurt, the fact of the matter is that treating LGBT+ people differently is unwelcoming. If our moderators cannot be a shining example of inclusivity, how can we expect our users to be welcoming.

I guess what I am saying is that the SE team and LGBT+ users are telling us there are problems. I suggest we listen.

  • 16
    "Examples of unwelcoming behavior are much hard to show since it violates the be nice policy and they get deleted." -> That's exactly why I'm so confused over the nature of unwelcoming behavior. If I can't figure out what is happening because it gets deleted quickly, there's little I can do to work toward preventing future occurrences (rather, I am stuck with waiting for an "incident" I can red flag). Are there any 10k+ users who can quote some (suitably redacted as necessary) examples of unwelcoming content that was deleted? – Columbia says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 18:31
  • 1
    It's the same thing with, say, a hypothetical law enforcement agency. If cops start summarily executing drunk drivers and burning their cars on-site, we are severely limited in understanding why people drive drunk and what sort of outreach programs (e.g. rehab, driver education, designated driver programs, later bus hours, large print bus maps, stern warning signs posted in bars) might help. – Columbia says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 18:34
  • 16
    Ask that question I'm so confused over the nature of unwelcoming behavior. If I can't figure out what is happening because it gets deleted quickly, there's little I can do to work toward preventing future occurrences and you can have all my meta points in bounties. That is a friendly and welcoming question. This current question is asking the abused to defend and justify their hurts. We don't deserve that level of effort from them. – StrongBad Oct 1 at 18:35
  • 1
    @RobertColumbia so ask the question LGBT+ users I hear you and want to know how I can help – StrongBad Oct 1 at 18:36
  • 9
    I'm implicitly asking the question "I want to know how I can help" by visiting the site daily, and posting helpful answers wherever I can. And yes, I'm implicitly extending that question with "...and I don't care whether you are LGBT+ or not, because it is totally none of my business". But if someone only says "I have a problem", refuses to say what the problem is, and accuses everybody who dares to ask this question of bigotry or ignorance, then this is in no way productive. The answer by nvoigt summarizes this perfectly, IMHO. – Marco13 Oct 1 at 18:48
  • 4
    @StrongBad I went ahead and asked the question, and it's at -1. Are you sure that was a good idea? I'm also questioning the "justify their hurts" idea. Our system of justice is based on that - that someone comes before the judge, or society, etc., explains what happened to them, and says what they need to have happen for justice to be served. It's not right for someone to be forced to be repeatedly interrogated in a hot room over the same facts over and over. It's another thing to ask them to concisely explain the problem so that others can start to develop understanding or even empathy. – Columbia says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 19:18
  • 1
    @RobertColumbia I think the question is great. Thank you. you will get your share of down votes, but hopefully it will actually get some constructive answers. – StrongBad Oct 1 at 19:26
  • 2
    What is your opinion about this? Not that I'm against you or anything like that, but SE seems to had done a pretty bad job on drawing the conclusions that you're using to build up your answer. – Victor Stafusa Oct 1 at 22:47
  • @VictorStafusa The answer you link to is, I assume, relatively typical. But this is unrelated to gender. The fact that there’s a clear gender disparity in the whether people feel as part of the community is absolutely not explained by the personal anecdote of a few people. In fact, the answer’s reference to “most women” is in itself clearly sexist. Either way it’s a complete non-sequitur to conclude that gender differences in feeling part of the community don’t matter, and additionally statistically illiterate. – Konrad Rudolph Oct 2 at 8:56
  • 1
    If it's hard to show examples of unwelcoming behavior because such are deleted, doesn't that mean that things are working properly? Wouldn't it be worse if people signed in and ran into bigoted posts and comments? – DaveG Oct 2 at 14:51
  • 2
    @KonradRudolph No one said that gender differences in feeling part of the community don’t matter. But I agree that both sides are statistically illiterate. My point is that SE claimed that "We know because they tell us." and StrongBat took that as a granted truth when that due to that statistically illiteracy, the correct statement would be "We don't know anything but pretend that we do because we made wrong biased questions and misinterpreted the data in order to produce fake numbers that supports our beliefs". – Victor Stafusa Oct 2 at 17:30
  • 10
    "Monica was fired... because [she] refused to use preferred pronouns" - as far as I'm aware, this is incorrect: Monica questioned CoC changes that mandated the use of preferred pronouns, and got canned as a result. – Ian Kemp Oct 4 at 10:47
  • 8
    @StrongBad This answer appears to be wrong. Monica was fired because she referred to everyone by avoiding pronouns. She treated them the same way as everyone else. That was considered "misgendering". Could you explain why you think you deserve special treatment, rather than actual equality? – Hugo Zink Oct 4 at 11:52
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    "Monica was fired ... because they refused to use preferred pronouns." Assumes facts not in evidence. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/334248/… – Andrew Oct 10 at 7:14
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    @bzklrm Nobody here says they don't care about this issue at all. People care about different aspects of it. Monica cared about being forced to write in a way she didn't like without seeing the benefits of it in comparison to what she was doing. Caleb, who is strangely seen as a bad guy here, cared about his way of moderating people of different believes without enforcing one viewpoint as the "right" one. Everyone I've seen here cares about making people feel welcome. They just have different ways to go about it. – PoorYorick Oct 11 at 6:34
25

I've more or less left the network, largely because of these issues. I was only alerted to the recent drama after getting an email about unread inbox notifications on an old question about pronoun usage...

I should probably say that I've quit SE a few times over these issues. I'd get fed up with the culture and leave, then see some grand gesture in the form of a blog post, or message from a staff member, that they're making efforts to improve things, and then I'd come back to see a tidal wave of blowback.

Some of the worst behavior I've seen on this network with regard to LGBT+ issues, or gender, or race, or ad infinitum, has been watching the community have meltdowns when ever these issues are surfaced. Sort of a:

I'll show you that this thing does't happen by doing the exact thing I'm telling you doesn't happen.

Seriously.

Beyond that, concrete examples are harder to offer. You probably haven't seen much of the nasty stuff because SE deletes it after it has been flagged. Thing is, if you're the target of that abuse you get the notification, see it, and are often the one flagging it for deletion.

So, what's the problem? We delete the rude content, what more do you want?

Well... How about not kicking and screaming any time someone mentions that these things do happen, and are a problem, on the network?

This does not happen to me ≠ This does not happen

As much as Stack Exchange would like to be an island, with it's own ecosystems, culture, and values, cut off from the rest of the world... it isn't. Every one of us lives in the world. We're all impacted by what's happening in real life.

The cultural battles and changes that are going on in the world are already happening here on SE. We just opted to sweep them under the rug and act as if all that was off topic. If we refuse to acknowledge the elephant in the room, maybe it'll just go away.

If we don't acknowledge gender everyone is male. If we don't acknowledge race everyone is white. If we don't acknowledge sexual orientation everyone is straight. Etc. After all, who wouldn't want to be assumed to be a cisgender straight white male? What problems could that possibly cause, or reinforce? It's all very egalitarian if we strip our identities away and assume everyone is a cisgender heterosexual white male, am I right?

I think, or rather I would hope, we're learning that that approach wasn't working.

We effectively, even if inadvertently, labeled those folks who'd rather not be assumed to be cisgender heterosexual white men as rabble rousers and trouble makers. We effectively told people that all those issues were off topic, even on meta, even in chat, even on sites where those things are explicitly on topic. We effectively told people that those topics were just too much trouble to moderate.

We effectively, even if inadvertently, told people:

Sure, you're welcome here as long as you stay in the closet and don't talk about it.

If our civility hinges on internet anonymity; or rather our civility hinges on some people maintaining internet anonymity... We're not really being nice. Nor are we "making the internet a better place".

20

I can now confidently say that there are specific issues which are unwelcoming to some parts of the LGBTQ community.

Trans people suffer a range of challenges in everyday life. Just one of those challenges is having their name and gender recognised both legally and socially. The legal processes for changing ones name and gender marker in places where this is possible tend to be laborious, time consuming and exhausting. Socially, correcting people can be difficult and emotionally taxing.

Sadly, there are people who are unaccepting and/or hateful who actually take pride in determining what they believe to be a person's originally assigned gender and using that in speech targeted to invalidate that person's identity. For example, someone might determine that they believe a woman to be a man and start calling that women "Sir", say "whatever, man" when corrected, or emphasise a male pronoun in their presence "He ordered a latte!". This is known as misgendering and in this example it is deliberate and malicious.

When you are building a space that is trans-inclusive one of the simplest things you can do is affirm that misgendering is not tolerated. Misgendering happens, and a lot of the time it is not malicious so correcting and moving on is the most beneficial approach. When someone is deliberately targeting a user by misgendering, other sanctions would be appropriate.

Once you make this stance, you should be saying that people's pronouns are not up for debate. What is incredibly unwelcoming is hosting debate on that very topic. The fact that there is a question on this site titled "Official FAQ on gender pronouns and Code of Conduct changes" where people are being allowed to actively debate this is draining, unwelcoming and unacceptable.

  • 10
    Yes. Now, there is another way to look at this: this isn't really a debate. It is a discussion that serves a very useful prupose: so that people get used to the new usages. There was a time when it was debated whether homosexuals should have the same rights as heterosexual people. Having this debate would seem completely inappropriate now. But if it had never happened, I don't think we could have reached the point where everybody, whatever their sexual orientation, has the same rights. So I guess we need to go through it. – dim Oct 11 at 10:21
19

Are there specific issues with unwelcoming behavior toward LGBTQ persons on Stack Exchange?

Aside from obvious bigotry which is easy to reference and see as wrong. There is one very specific issue that I believe can be expressed succintly:

  • Some feel it is hostile not to use a person's preferred pronouns.

  • Others feel it is wrong to assume hostility in a person's choice of speech which is not inherently hostile (e.g. using a username vs the preferred pronoun).

These two points, while each having their own merits, can be seen to create contention between the adherents of each.

N.B.: I fully appreciate that there are shades of gray and degrees to these points. But for my own sanity in the blurring lines of discussion over the past days (thank you to those that answered my questions without taking offense), and also of course in answer to the question posted here, this is at least one specific issue that should be addressed.

  • 21
    Beyond the question of the use of pronouns itself, there is this sort of weaponization of virtue and supposed-inclusiveness - at least one may perceive it. The sense is "You'd better jump through my behavioral hoops, because otherwise I might decide I feel unwelcome as a [insert identity group here], and then you'll be in a world of pain because I'll sic the authorities on you." – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Oct 4 at 8:48
12

A couple of months ago I suggested an edited to a question, the only change was to use the generic they rather than he.

Whilst it was accepted by the OP in the end, two out of three of the reviews rejected it because:

This edit does not make the post even a little bit easier to read, easier to find, more accurate or more accessible. Changes are either completely superfluous or actively harm readability.


Whilst I don't know many of the issues the members of the LGBT+ community face, I do know that being misgendered isn't exactly comfortable. I'll admit even when I was misgendered multiple times, I didn't think of ways I could prevent making others from also feeling that uncomfortable. It was only when a friend of mine came out as transgender that I realized that pronouns are more than insignificant details.

If I didn't have those two experiences in my life, I probably would right now agree with the people that rejected my edit. And would also find the edit to be superfluous.

I feel issues like this can effect all sites, and chat, without most users ever seeing some of the problems members of the LGBT+ community or other discriminated groups face.

  • 1
    A while ago, someone edited an answer of mine (on my main account) to add an example of something where they used the word "he" for a generic non-specific person. It was a totally reasonable edit otherwise, but the idea of there being text on the internet with my name out there doing it made me deeply uncomfortable, and I found a pretense to re-edit the question myself so it didn't look like I was changing only that, sigh. Thank you for your allyship. – anon Oct 10 at 21:13
  • without most users ever seeing some of the problems members of the LGBT+ community or other discriminated groups face In fact, most users will never see any of the problems any other individual faces or has faced in their life. That's why finding a balance in how we express ourselves in a community is key. I would like to refer to this excellent post: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/335158/…. – dfhwze Oct 16 at 19:27
11

More of an addendum, as I didn't spend too much time "researching" the observation I intend to share here.

The question quotes Azas letter of resignation:

By other mods, by staff, and by the entrenched power structure of Stack Exchange, I have been made to feel unwelcome for my queerness. This particular pattern is abusive and makes an ironic mockery of kindness.

That was written September 26th.

September 29th, Monica writes up story about being fired.

What happened after Monicas message:

  • multiple moderators stepped down, or suspended their activity
  • multiple practically-hot questions/discussions on meta.SE
  • ... with overall hundreds of comments, many with 100+ votes

Now, see what happened, after that first resignation, out of frustration, and feeling unwelcome for queerness ... and you find: almost nothing, with the notable exception of a few comments, or that answer by user strongbad.

Sure, we don't see what happened after that resignation within the moderator community.

But it seems that being fired in horrible ways by SE.com resulted in way more outrage than feeling forced to quit, by SE.com and the moderator community.

  • 15
    This really doesn't address the question. I specifically wanted to avoid discussion of resignations, Monica's firing, and resolve the single question, Does SE have a problem with welcoming LGBTQ folks, and if so, what exactly is that problem? – Columbia says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 17:17
  • 12
    @RobertColumbia My point is: that firing got hundreds of people into uproar. Many of them spent many hours trying to find out "what happened". Again: compare that to the interest that this resignation caused. You are the only one to publicly speak up and ask "what went wrong". All I am saying: there could be a certain pattern here. And beyond that: what makes you think that there is exactly one problem?! – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 17:37
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    @GhostCat that's irrelevant to the question at hand, though. Stack Overflow completely bungling the issue with Monica has nothing to do with the experience LGBTQ+ people have in this community. – MikeTheLiar Oct 1 at 17:46
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    @MikeTheLiar What about: "not feeling supported" resulting in LQBTQ+ people "not feeling welcome"?! Is that really soooo far stretched? And as said, to a certain degree, this sounds like: "yes, let's reason about this problem, but only in ways to we feel comfortable with". – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 17:49
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    The difference in reaction can without assuming any bias (though there likely is some) be adequately explained by the different visibility. Few people notice a moderator on a small site like Literature stepping down, but when Monica Cellio, who moderated as many sites as I ever visited on the network is fired, that's hard to miss. – Daniel Fischer Oct 1 at 17:53
  • 14
    @DanielFischer That is my whole point: it feels like Monica being fired was important enough to a large number of moderators to express their solidarity. Quickly. Publicly. A queer moderator leaving, and directly confronting the moderator community ... was not worth doing anything. No need to go full public! But if I would be a moderator, I would look at that resignation with almost more energy than the firing. Because the resignation would get me to ask did I do something to cause this? That is a bit harder than identifying a clear enemy "oh that SE.com is treating us so badly". – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 18:00
  • 5
    "Community Managers have treated us like expendable resources to retrain bigoted moderators. They draw vocal bigots from the woodwork with prompts to discussion, and then vanish, forcing us to decide between tacit approval through silence or defense of our own against an unchanging torrent of bigotry" if you read this and your immediate response is "show me examples because I don't believe we have any bigoted moderators" it's possible the fundamental issue is outside of your frame of reference. – MikeTheLiar Oct 1 at 18:05
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    @MikeTheLiar accessibility? When a member of my team quits and tells me because the team and the company made me feel unwelcome that feels pretty straight forward accessible to me. When a member of my team comes to me and tells me "we got problems" than that actually trumpets his issues with the company. Because my team, that is within my responsibility. – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 18:06
  • 7
    @MikeTheLiar exactly. I read Aza's resignation and didn't understand what she was so concerned about. I recognize that anti-LGBTQ bias is a thing in our society, but was at a loss to understand what specifically she had encountered on SE that made her react the way she did. Was she frustrated that people don't proactively ask her for her pronouns before they refer to her in comments or posts? Did she encounter a specific bigoted user who should have already been banned? Is she more upset about systemic societal issues that Stack Exchange lacks the ability or mandate to tackle? – Columbia says Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 18:18
  • 3
    @GhostCat, "and directly confronting the moderator community" does not seem to be a correct description of the events as far as I can tell. If Aza posted something along those lines in the Teacher's Lounge, it would (at least the part of the moderator community present in TL at that time), but my impression is that the resignation post on Lit.meta was the first loud outcry. And few people follow Lit.meta. – Daniel Fischer Oct 1 at 18:19
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    @DanielFischer a number of LGBT+ moderators have resigned and/or stopped using TL because of hostility from other moderators (and I am not just talking about pronouns). – StrongBad Oct 1 at 18:26
  • 4
    Pretty sure it has something do with visibility of the post. @Aza resignation was not as prominently disseminated. It pissed me off even moreso when I saw it after the fact since I do not frequent that site. – user148287 Oct 1 at 18:47
  • 1
    @snailboat That sounds like TL deteriorated quite a bit :( – Daniel Fischer Oct 1 at 18:55
  • 4
    @StrongBad How in the world does it come be the case that the private mod chat ends up being a place so hostile to LGBT+ people that they get driven out? Seriously, this makes no sense to me. We have essentially zero bigotry in the public areas of the network, but the private chat between the people specifically elected to be responsible representatives of the community has so much of it that people have to leave to avoid it? – Mark Amery Oct 3 at 22:14
  • 11
    @MarkAmery You'd think, right? Here's the difference. The policies that users deal with on main sites are concerned with quality, content, etc. and don't much care about who people are. (I think this is a problem, but not everyone does.) The policies that moderators deal with in TL are concerned with people: What does the CoC mean to us? How do we help people feel welcome? What do I do about [specific user]? More main-site users carry deep bigotry than you'd think, but less surface to express it. Mod chat, allll that crap gets exposed. And we don't ask about bigotry during elections, so... – Aza Oct 4 at 8:44
5

I haven't seen anyone talking about it, but I believe this needs to be said.

Today, I saw the number of downvotes on the new Code of Conduct post and, as a non-binary person it made me think that:

There is more than 600 people who think our very own existence is a pain in their ass and that they would rather have us not exist at all (dead).

Additionally, since there were more downvotes than upvotes on this post, it also made me think that:

There is far more people wishing I would be dead than people who agree that I have the right to exist and be treated like a decent human being.

I also had the (dubious) pleasure of seeing how many upvotes​ had a post claiming that OP wasn't going to participate anymore because of this new, more inclusive, Code of Conduct.

So, if I needed anymore proof that the people voting on MSE weren't happy about my presence here, I just got it.

So yes, I consider those voting a hostile behavior toward LGBT+ people (I'm not even talking about the posts here, just about what people choose to upvote or downvote).

If you need any more proof, just look at the upvotes/downvotes ratio on this thread (question and answers) and on this other one about "How can the community assist in welcoming LGBTQ users?".

Thus, if you want this place to be a little less unwelcoming toward LGBT+ people, go upvote posts that defend us and our rights and actively downvote posts that are against it.


Edit:

For people saying "this is not what those downvotes mean", I can't help but feel like they mean that. So, when voting onto something, take into account that your vote will be interpreted and very possibly misinterpreted too. Wonder how your vote could be misinterpreted and ask yourself if you are okay for it to be read like that.

Also, I do agree that comments can help understand those votes better and I would usually read them. But I have seen far too many transphobic comments/answers/questions on the last few days/week to feel like I could safely do so anymore (and those posts have only strengthened my feelings about how the votes indicate that I'm not very welcome here).

  • 1
    Bingo. See also: most comments containing the word "political" on a meta site. – ben is uǝq backwards Oct 13 at 21:29
  • 6
    I certainly didn't mean to be rude; my link hasn't work as intended. By "bingo" I meant "that's it!" or "the right answer!" or "yes!" This is just the latest topic that people have used to state their opinions on others. When you see hundreds of upvoted comments/posts that explicitly or implicitly state that you're unwelcome, you tend to feel unwelcome. – ben is uǝq backwards Oct 13 at 21:38
  • 2
    @ben Thanks for the clarification and sorry for the angry reaction ^^ Most people comment under my post to say bad stuff so I'm a little on edge with comments now ^^ – BelovedFool Oct 13 at 21:43
  • 4
    Completely understandable; I've read some of them. I particularly enjoyed being compared to a selfish traveller trying to squeeze luggage into an already full airplane. – ben is uǝq backwards Oct 13 at 21:49
  • 8
    Doesn't your presumption of bad faith create more of an actually unwelcoming environment then your conclusions based on possibly incorrect perceptions and assumptions of the motives of people downloading things? – Chris Oct 15 at 3:13
  • 6
    @Chris It's not a presumption, it's how I feel. Also, plain transphobic stuff who have no value appart for being transphobic are indeed upvoted so, for those, it's hard to get it wrong – BelovedFool Oct 15 at 6:39
  • 1
    I am sorry for what you and anyone else who feels the new CoC better represents them are feeling when they see the community's aversion to it. I understand that it looks bad and your interpretation that the hundreds of downvoters wish you didn't exist is reasonable. However, I don't believe it's helpful to jump directly from the way it makes you feel to calling those voters hostile: I downvoted the FAQ because I think the CoC FAQ as written excludes more people than it includes, and I upvoted A Pronominal Proposal because it fixes that. – Davy M went to fund Monica Oct 16 at 3:17
  • @benisuǝqbackwards I finally figured out why I first though your "Bingo" comment was snarky. See here (note: this does not say anything about my political stance). "Bingo" is often said when someone check all the stereotypical sentence you are expecting them to say. So, that's often not good. (Not to blame you or anything, I just thought you would like to know). – BelovedFool Oct 29 at 17:24
  • 1
    If that's your cultural reference for the term then I'm not surprised @beloved! I'm not USAian so I've never come across that before. It is interesting to know how we all have the same term, that means the same thing just tainted very slightly with our own personal history of encountering it. (Just realised your French, which makes this comment both more right and more wrong at the same time!). – ben is uǝq backwards Oct 29 at 20:09

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