I spend most of my SE time on Worldbuilding and rarely post or even spectate over here. But after taking a three-month hiatus changing locale and jobs in the real world, I logged back onto SE only to find the most amazing person I know in the SE world has been de-modded and the service aflame with accusations, commentary, criticism, bigotry, falsehoods, allegations... it's been very emotional for the few hours I've put into reading through this mess. I feel awful for everyone who has had to endure this for days.
All this has reminded me of a lesson I learned in a small company many years ago. Farmers don't need kings. But kings desperately need farmers.
If that doesn't make sense, permit me to explain. Royalty (kings, aka "management") is comparatively useless. It produces nothing. It has as its only benefit the ability to oversee and organize to improve efficiency or to bring about a collaborative benefit such as group pricing for products. But by themselves, kings are incapable of producing enough value to justify their own existence.
Farmers, on the other hand, are mega-producers. They produce the food to feed nations. Farmers are the foundation of society. Without someone growing the food, everyone else can't do what they want to do.
When the two are in sync, kings and farmers can do amazing things. When they're not in sync, the king invariably believes he's more important than the farmers. The farmers, of course, know better.
Stack Overflow, Inc. is the king who desperately needs the farmer.
The community is the farmer who doesn't need the king.
SO.inc has developed an incredibly cool and useful website/platform/service. But without the vast community of contributors, it's worthless. And contributors can go anywhere to contribute. Without the value other people bring to SO.inc, SO.inc has nothing to offer to anybody.
And it appears SO.inc has forgotten that simple, important fact.
It also appears — only appears, because a lot of information is either missing or spread too thin across the Internet to effectively discover in just a few hours — that there is a substantial problem with what pronouns are used to refer to people. Frankly, until today I didn't know whether any user was LGBTQ or anything else. Isn't that true utopia? Not knowing or caring what gender/gender-preference a person is? To respect them solely for their intellectual contribution and not degrade or dismiss that contribution because of who they are? Isn't that the essence of freedom?
Apparently not, at least not at SO.inc, where a great many users use a nom de plume to identify themselves that has no relation to gender, ethnicity, race, or anything else. What pronoun is appropriate for someone identified as "user12345?" And what do we expect from someone speaking English as a second language, perhaps too imperfectly to figure out which pronoun to use when posting an answer to a question from user12345?
In my opinion, after spending hours reading through mile-long posts+answers, the choice to remove the moderator status of Monica Cellio, one of the most respected, patient, and level-headed moderators on Stack Exchange, was heinous. The efforts made by SO.inc to make amends demonstrate intolerable immaturity.1 Am I trivializing the need to treat all people equitably? I don't believe so. But I do believe that SO.inc's politicization of the CoC and the subsequent abuse of power has done so. And considering Monica's nature and the brutal behavior of SO.inc, I have no choice but to perceive this as the quintessential First World Problem.
My point in all this? I'm done with Stack Exchange. It's heartbreaking for me as I've enjoyed it so much. Will my choice have repercussions? Not in the slightest. I'm nobody. I'm not a mod. 99% of my participation is on a small stack in the Stack Exchange galaxy. But I'm done. I won't delete my accounts because my input has had some value to users in the past and may have some value to users in the future — and it certainly has value to SO.inc, even though it's such a small drop compared to the whole.
But I have chosen not to leave without reminding Their Royal Majesties at SO.inc that we, the contributors, don't need them. We contributed long before Stack Overflow was first created and will continue contributing long after SO.inc goes the way of MySpace, AOL, and BBS Bulletin Boards.
We don't need you, Your Majesties. You really need to remember that.
1 I have no problem using whatever pronoun someone feels most comfortable with, but I'm not a fool when it comes to the complexity of knowing what that pronoun is and its consistent use. I'm also no fool when it comes to how politicized and unproductive this has become. To make a point: A dear friend of mine, raised in the southern U.S. states to treat people with courtesy and civility by referring to men as "sir" and women as "ma'am," was told by a young man in his 20s those terms were gender hate speech. That SO.inc would even try to legislate pronoun usage in a world where people are choosing which pronoun is most suitable for them "today" is, quite frankly, laughable.