The Register's recent article contains a comment from a company spokesperson:
Asked to confirm that Cellio was the moderator in question, a company spokesperson said, "Cellio (she/her) would not use stated pronouns, which violates our current CoC. We are soon publishing an update to the CoC to even more explicitly cite misgendering users or moderators as a violation."
To the best of my knowledge, this quote provides more detail than SE employees have provided anywhere on Meta. In contrast (and setting aside the lack of communication on licensing and other recent issues to focus just on this one):
- Questions like How is the CoC about to change? have not been answered by SE staff.
- Firing mods and forced relicensing: is Stack Exchange still interested in cooperating with the community? has gone unanswered, not even a "we'll get back to you."
- The boilerplate message posted underneath resignations says merely "We aren’t going to share specifics out of respect for all individuals involved," a position that seems incongruous with the spokesperson's comments to The Register
- Aza's resignation, which charges that community managers have failed to take action and that "moratoria are placed on speaking of our transness among moderators," was met with no response (excepting, in a different location, this comment, which I appreciate), not even a "sorry to see you go."
- Discussions like Are there specific issues with unwelcoming behavior toward LGBTQ persons on Stack Exchange? and How can the community assist in welcoming LGBTQ users? have already put a heavy burden on marginalized users to continually justify themselves, when the CM team could be helping to facilitate that discussion more productively.
I do not believe anyone should be misgendered on a SE site, and subject to community discussion and guidance about how specifically that should work in practice for the types of interactions we have on the site, I support Stack Exchange's commitment to making that happen, especially knowing it will not please everyone. And I recognize that this policy was apparently unfinished, which is why it had not been announced yet, except it now seems to have been announced in an official statement to The Register.
But it is upsetting to me that Stack Exchange staff would speak about this to the press before addressing their own community. SE has a lot of communication channels: meta, ~174 site metas, the blog, chat, that cool new newsletter announced today, email blasts, featured posts, Twitter. What is the use of all of these communication methods if official information is provided to the press instead of being shared directly with the community?
I can certainly appreciate that engaging on Meta is difficult for SE staff right now, and that even more broadly than this incident, it has resulted in staff being at the receiving end of stuff they shouldn't have to experience in the workplace. So I can understand why it seems easier to provide a quote to a reporter than it is to respond substantively here. But there's a destructive message sent by providing more information to the press than to the site's own users, a message that Stack Exchange is uninterested in actually speaking with its own community.
If Stack Exchange is interested in addressing *waves hands variously at all this*, that needs to start with direct communication with the site's users. Speaking through the press will not help.