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The announcement of the Code of Conduct changes (now deleted, alternative link) had a score of -1922 (with 2371 downvotes). I can't remember a change announcement being received so negatively (this post isn't really an announcement). Other announcements like We're testing advertisements across the network and the older A New Code License: The MIT, this time with Attribution Required have scores in the same order of magnitude right now as I'm writing it, but I fear this is far from the end. The last major Code of Conduct changes were published as a blog but the announcements (1, 2) were positively received, even though there was/is a lot of critique on the Welcome Wagon.

What are the (main) reasons that the current changes are received so negatively? And how could/should Stack Exchange improve to make sure such major changes are received better in the future? As a professional trainer of mine likes to proclaim "People can and want to change, but they don't want to be changed." Or, does it even matter that the current sentiment is the way it is, as long as the company is (feeling that it is) doing the Right Thing™? Desperate times call for desperate measures, and those are often unpopular.

I'll try to outline some of the possible reasons (and improvements) in answers, but I hope other users will write something about other reasons I'm not familiar enough with (e.g. compelled speech, or punishing the company for the way they treated Monica). Note: I'm not trying to take a stance here (though it's obviously hard to be 100% objective in this case); as always on Meta, a neutral tone is preferred.

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    Comment threads are heavily pruned right now, cf. chat.meta.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/7964399 – Glorfindel Oct 11 at 21:18
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    They're received negatively because they're poorly written, poorly executed, poorly founded and they don't reflect the majority's interests. It's really simple. It would have been easier to pass a CoC change that mandated everyone sing Merry Christmas on the 25th of December. – insidesin Oct 14 at 23:38
  • The source post for the code of conduct in the first line of this answer (announcement of the Code of Conduct changes) has been memory-holed. Here is an archive link. archive.is/Z6ycF – Eric Nov 21 at 17:25

45 Answers 45

21

The negative reception is a result of many people simply disagreeing with the changes, while SE is treating the new CoC as something extremely important that shouldn't really be questioned.

Personally, I think the changes make the issue of pronouns much more complicated than it really it, as I explained in my answer here. And the idea of people having their own pronouns (especially neopronouns) isn't really a standard part of language (just like people don't have their own verbs, adjectives, etc), it's just a very specific jargon used mostly by American liberal activists on social media like tumblr and twitter.

SE claims to do it in the name of inclusivity, but demanding that everyone has to adopt the internal jargon of a rather controversial group doesn't sound very inclusive to me. It's like requiring everyone to add Scientologist terms like "operating thetans" to their normal vocabulary. It would be a little alienating to non-Scientologists, wouldn't it?

It's also not a matter of being respectful, since the majority of English speakers in the world don't have the concept of preferred (neo)pronouns (since typically pronouns are considered a closed class of words in English grammar), and still they manage to speak respectfully to others. There's no need to use a specific jargon in order to be respectful, and that includes being respectful to trans people and not misgendering them.

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    "There's no need to use a specific jargon in order to be respectful, and that includes being respectful to trans people and not misgendering them." I wonder what your response is to the trans users who are telling SE, year after year, that failing to use their pronouns is disrespectful and misgendering. Are those users just incorrect? – nitsua60 Oct 11 at 16:09
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    @nitsua60: Your comment left me confused. As far as I can tell, most trans people do not argue for neopronouns, do not argue for fundamental changes to the English language. Most just demand to be addressed by pronouns that match their gender, not their birth-assigned sex. Misgendering them is malicious prima facia. And that is the same sentiment I read in Meeep's answer. – MSalters - reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 19:09
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    @nitsua60 - so, to be fair, are you equally receptive to people who are not trans demanding their specific needs of interest be handled in the exact way THEY define to be respective/disrespective? – DVK Oct 13 at 17:59
  • @DVK yes, when someone tells me that I'm doing something harmful to them I (a) listen, (b) try to understand, and (c) try to change my behavior so as not to continue harming them. I'm not perfect at it--I'm sure there are people who think I'm a callous jerk--but I try. – nitsua60 Oct 13 at 20:56
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    @nitsua60 - then you'd be a very rare case. Most people don't, to one degree or another (for example most transgender rights advocates refuse to abandon derogatory term "cis" when asked). IPS/Workplace are very sensitive to offending women but NEVER bothered fixing misandrist content when flagged. – DVK Oct 13 at 21:41
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    @DVK: Exactly. To the "social justice warrior" Left, civility is a one-way street. – dan04 Oct 19 at 0:20
21

The core problem underlying everything appears to be that Sack Exchange, Inc (SE) has squandered a lot of social capital in a fairly short amount of time. A lot of these issues are mentioned in the question. However, in the scheme of things, it's quite possible that a lot of network users were not aware of this since they don't frequent Meta.

Against this backdrop of neutral/poor options of SE, they very poorly handled the dismissal of Monica Cellio. If you are familiar with social network analysis, Monica is clearly in a leadership position with a lot of people aware of them. Now consider the following. As was pointed out in a response to another question,

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.

Effectively, this means that a lot of users that weren't aware of problems on the network, now suddenly see a popular moderator getting fired before Shabbat and Rosh Hashana. That generally doesn't look very good. Since it took a bit of time before it was revealed the whole situation was due to a conversation about pronouns in a private SE chatroom. One way of viewing that is SE handling a sensitive topic by stumbling right into another sensitive topic (i.e., dismissal before Shabbat and Rosh Hashana). Accordingly, SE is now needing to manage the situation since network users are going to be looking very critically at them. Clearly that did not go well for a multitude of reasons.

Rolling out the Code of Conduct (CoC) changes went poorly in part because it was done at time when SE is/was being viewed very critically by Meta regulars as well as other interested network users. A critical analysis of the answers made to the post shows a good amount of dog-whistling being done, but there are a fair number of real questions being broached as well. For example, should profiles have a field for pronouns, how should non-native English speakers be managed, how should moderators decide when "enough is enough" for elevating action against users, and so forth.

The worst part is, a lot of this could have been predicted well in advance by SE. If you recall "Donglegate" from 2013, a lot of things played out very similarly and the developer community was equality up in arms about things. This strongly implies that SE doesn't have leadership that is capable of managing these situations.

In terms of what can be done in the future: the CoC changes could have had a delayed public roll-out. While this goes against the desire to fix things now! it does allow everyone to settle down a bit before the changes. Likewise, the nature of the responses to the CoC, and dismissal of Monica, strongly implies that SE really hasn't thought through the problem space. The moderators should have had a private space to discuss the changes and play Devil's advocate to prepare for the reaction from the community. FAQs and scripts could have been drawn up for moderators before release, profile changes could have gone live the same day (or even in advance!), and so forth.

In short, a lot could have been done and the responses could even have been predicted. SE failed to act as a thoughtful leader at a time when it was necessary for them to do so.

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    Just to shed a little light on things: in the last few days moderators did have a bit of a heads-up and some opportunities to bang against wording, as you suggest in your penultimate paragraph. It wasn't a lot of lead time, it was announced and hosted in ways that made it pretty unlikely that a majority of mods would even know about it, and the fact of it met some predictable "oh, now they're drawing up secret words behind closed doors and not letting the regular users see..." objections... but it did happen. Perhaps it's a green shoot. – nitsua60 Oct 11 at 16:05
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    @nitsua60 it happened with the CoC but not the FAQ (basically they asked for it and then completely disregarded it by writing the FAQ) – LinkBerest Oct 11 at 22:28
  • Why is it important to refer to Monica as “them”? To me it reads dogmatic and jarring. – Yuval Filmus Oct 12 at 6:24
20

Dear SO,

Your users are smart.

We've written a huge number of high quality answers on over 170 different sites. The people who write several of these answers are at the top of their fields. They know the software industries and the dynamics therein. They know how the law works. They know how workplaces work. They know how to write well for all kinds of settings and contexts. If they didn't know that stuff, they couldn't have written those answers which are so respected by the fields. Use their expertise to make and implement the rules.

Tell us your constraints and problems (like the complaints you've been receiving from the shareholders or bad publicity somewhere, or legal issues). Ask for suggestions about how to improve the community (the improvements could be regarding licensing of content, or codes of conduct, or anything). Listen to the advice you receive. Tell us what plans you have with an open mind, rather than just perfunctorily. Accept the possibility that we'll raise concerns you hadn't foreseen. And if you had foreseen the objections, that's good for you, because you'll need to have a plan in case we decide to get up and leave.

19

It might be misguided to lay the blame entirely at the feet of the CoC itself, instead, it would be more useful to look at what happened before and after the content of the policy was released to the community.

The CoC is probably best seen as "fanning the flames" of anger that's been smoldering for a little while, I say this because everyone was angry at Stack Exchange for firing Monica before the reasons for her firing were public, no one was talking about pronouns at the beginning of this fallout but the anger carried over. Monica's firing was quick, almost all users knew that processes that were put in place weren't followed, for most, it was just another example of the company saying rules for thee, but not for me, we weren't aware of the reason for Monica's removal till another exiting mod included it in their resignation post.

After the content of the policy became public the company went into damage control mode which only enraged users more, the company was worried about protecting their image and not worried about clarifying things to the community. Usually, the way SE handled this problem would have worked for any other company because people would still by their product, but SE isn't like any other company because SE's product is FULLY created, edited, and moderated for free by its community.


Policy content breakdown

I'll say it, the policy is patronizing. We're trusted to run the site but we're not trusted to know how to interact with others? really? Maybe next there can be a policy saying "killing people is bad", do we really need to be told? Most of us are adults we know how to interact with others.

If someone says:

Hi, my name is Stephan but I would really prefer it if you would pronounce it Steven

No one will call them Stephan, and if they did, some might call that rude or abusive

Changing behavior is like boiling a frog, if you turn up the heat right away the frog will jump out, but if you do it slowly the frog will acclimate.

If Stack Exchange wanted this to be received better then they should have started by encouraging this behavior instead of ramming it down our throats.

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    I love warning signs. Physical ones. Because no matter how strange, obvious or out of place they may seem, you can bet they are there for a reason. "Don't stick your hand through the fence of the lion enclosure!" ... I can guess what happened. "Do not pee on the electric fence"? ... you get the point. So while we can go "surely we can be trusted to interact appropriately with ..." I have a sneaking suspicion (and people have confirmed as much) there is a very practical reason to put up "a sign". – Bart Oct 14 at 8:28
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    @Bart I must say your analogies are fantastic. Though I'm not sure I agree that signs are a deterrence, people still enter lion enclosures, and pee on electric fences, more often than not these actions are taken because there's a sign, they do it to be rebellious, these examples also are for the general public, random people are unpredictable, lets change the setting. Someone at your work gets in a fight with the boss and in turn, goes into his office and pees on the floor he's fired for this gross action but everyone else has to have a sign saying "don't pee on the floor". – User37849012643 Oct 14 at 9:14
  • I think we've arrived at the middle ground here. Analogies aside, I'm sure the CoC will help some who go "hah, I didn't even know that was an issue, I'll keep that in mind". And those with a more rebellious nature ... we'll handle them through moderation going forward. – Bart Oct 14 at 10:09
  • @Bart Certainly you're right in that regard. One can object to the process without objecting to the content. – User37849012643 Oct 14 at 13:04
17

The idea of a "religious objection" has been pointed out numerous times and is certainly one (probably small) factor in the negativity. But because of the nature of religious objections, there's probably no way that SE could have avoided this source of negativity without actually making substantive changes to the CoC they released – such as by allowing alternatives to using stated pronouns.

There are lots of religions and probably more than one "religious objection" that could be named, but my guess is that most users here who claim it believe that it is morally wrong, and thus a sin against God, to affirm a transgender identity, in this case specifically using words that suggest that one's gender and biological sex are or can be different.

Elsewhere I have attempted to document the views that some hold, but I realize that for many, such content, even presented in an academic fashion, is extremely unpleasant. So I'll leave it behind a link with that caveat.

Please indicate if I have unfairly or inaccurately described the objection; pinning down the viewpoints present in something as diverse as "Christianity," let alone other religions, is not easy. And note that I do not wish to debate the merits of these objections in this forum. If you have questions about objections from a particular religion, I'd point you to the various Religion SE sites. Thanks.

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    While my personal objection does clearly boil down to a religious stance (human dignity and identify being measured by the creator, not in the subjective judgment of the created), particularly on forced speech, it is worth noting that similar objections have been voiced by many others, atheists and otherwise, citing philosophical and cultural principals as well. There is an issue of conscience and truth hidden in here for Christians, but even many non-Christians are operating from worldviews where diversity being equated with conformity and coercion against conscience are not okay. – Caleb Oct 11 at 9:12
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    Im just going to repeat my personal religious objection as I don't think very provocative, or complex. If I believe God made someone and they believe they should be something other than how they were made, for me to affirm their statement is to implicitly infer that God made a mistake. I don't want to offend the person in question, but I cannot by implication charge God with error. – Not loved Not their people Oct 11 at 10:17
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    The requirements to use a requested pronouns is very different from saying someone muct not use a pronouns they know a user objects to. PS I consider "they" not be a pronoun, as they same way a void* is not a type. – Ian Ringrose Oct 11 at 11:11
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    Documentation of legitimate views is apparently not wanted. It makes it hard to support hate charges when such information is readily available. – user212646 Oct 11 at 23:14
  • @LukeMcGregor Is it at all possible for you to entertain the thought that this god you believe in made the person the way they are and it's you who is believing they should be something other than how they were made? I mean it's basically "I am x" vs "no you are y", and tbh, my bet is on the person knowing better who they are than you do. I mean if you are so scared of going against your god, maybe don't question her wisdom and accept that she made transgender people because diversity is awesome? – Max Vollmer Oct 15 at 21:43
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    @MaxVollmer I feel like the comment you have made here is more about baiting me, than actually asking a genuine question. If you would like to have a genuine theological discussion on this, I'm happy to have it, but not in the comments or in a context where what I say is likely to be needlessly hurtful to others. – Not loved Not their people Oct 15 at 22:55
  • @LukeMcGregor It's neither. It was an attempt to open up your mind to a simple solution for your dilemma by aligning your religious beliefs with accepting and acknowledging transgender people. There is nothing to discuss here tbh. – Max Vollmer Oct 15 at 23:20
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The first issue is that things like calling men "she" and women "he" and really just going out of your way to be a dick has always been unacceptable everywhere. This didn't change because someone is trans. It's quite possible we can disagree entirely on basically everything, including your ideas on your own gender, and still engage in polite conversation, earnestly trying to prevent offense.

So what does that make this CoC look like? What does it look like when that most recent blog post by Sara Chips spends 4000 words on "LGBT inclusivity" and only 700 on actual welcoming measures for newbies? The word is pandering. It looks like pandering, which by nature is an affront to the community's intelligence. We're not stupid, which is why so many of us (for about 2 years now) have been asking for qualitative data that we can act on, which assumes our accused unwelcoming behavior toward these groups. And we get in return silence from SE and accusations of hate from militant "allies". How are we supposed to react to this treatment? We took you at your word, and then you were silent when we ask for specifics and couldn't even stand up for us when fanatics called us hate-mongers. It looks like the goal is something other than actually helping users in need.

This leads to the second issue. One common understanding is that SE corporate wants SE usership to contain a set of core beliefs, which have little to do with site topics. To me, the idea itself, here on SE, is incredulous, even if I agreed with these core beliefs. How can a site dedicated to objective answers for timeless questions make a requirement of core beliefs? It's outrageous, and I mean literally, it causes outrage.

The impression many of us are coming to is that the expression of discordant beliefs is not allowed, and is at worst considered expression of hate, and therefore will be deleted with prejudice and may result in suspension.

"Tolerance, inclusivity, diversity" ... all hot air to you, SE. Sara Chips confirmed by retweet, you'd rather we leave if we aren't like you.

What should SE have done.

Literally nothing since September 1. If there was a reset button to reboot SE back to September 1 specs, you should hit it now. You've made what we in the business like to call "a qualified eff up".

What you should have done two years ago was not tell us we're so intolerant of women and LGBT, based only on your word supposedly based on a survey of users. This is SE! Don't bring that weak sauce in here! You have a massive repository of user content, deleted stuff retained, and none of your data geniuses on staff could design a few queries for you? That's the least you could have done. If you wanted the truth on whether we're so intolerant, that is the bare minimum you should have brought to the table before you accused us.

Too bad it's too late for many of us. Too bad it doesn't look like SE cares.

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    While you make a good point about the lack of data, the vitriol in this post forced me to downvote it. The vitriol interferes with clear communication. – Isaac Oct 12 at 23:43
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    @Isaac Thanks for your honest vote and feedback. Unfortunately, I think we're past that point. Frankly, I'm spurned. As I said, "Too bad it's too late for many of us. Too bad it doesn't look like SE cares." I'm already committed to pulling back my use of all SE properties. I may delete my MSE account, as clear communication has been habitually ignored, and even deleted. I may quit SE altogether, but probably won't delete my other accounts. This isn't an "Eff you! I'm outta here" kind of post, but it's close. – user212646 Oct 13 at 0:13
15

Paraphrasing from something I said elsewhere.

When you ask or answer a question on SE, factors such as gender, orientation, colour of your skin, etc, they don't matter and they shouldn't matter.

What SE is doing is taking those factors and making them matter.

That's what I'm opposed to here. That's what I don't like about it.

15

I see two main reasons:

  • The meta communities are (maybe overly) sensitive by now. After many months, years of negative experiences, culminating in the firing of a well respected moderator... people are simply fed up. And like in every other long term relationship that has deteriorated over years, we are now at a point were the slightest mistake from the other side just adds fuel to the fire.
  • The Stack Exchange corporation is making it really easy to feel annoyed about them lately.

Meaning: Stack Exchange put itself into a hole. And for some reason, it feels like they can't stop digging. Just see this for example. That re-tweet would have been not worth a Communications Director at a normal day at work. Doing it during such times is beyond anything I can comprehend.

In other words: it seems like both sides consider each other enemies by now. No trust, and as soon as a statement leaves room for interpretation, everybody assumes bad faith. The times of "assume good intentions" are definitely over.

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    @frisbee-horde maybe, in a few years the Harvard business school does a lecture "really bad management ideas by example". They could invite that director of communication to give a guest lecture... – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Oct 14 at 3:05
14

Why are the Code of Conduct changes received so negatively

Because it is not a Code of Conduct, it is a public relations campaign.

What can / could have been done to change that?

Don't call it a Code of Conduct.


This is over-simplifying it for some, but there really is no reason the mods could not have handled hostility or offensive posts using flags.

Though maybe now that a bunch left we need this?

14

SE is about solving problems. The company should focus on that. Social issues need only be addressed minimally, as far as they get in the way of problem solving. The mods seemed to do a good job when that happened, on occasion.

When I see a code of conduct I always think somebody had too much time at their hands and no real problems. Like when the "Use the handrail" stickers popped up in my tech company after they hired a safety officer. In an office building. Are they really surprised that we are annoyed?

The community liaison staff should leave, not the mods. The mods are doing real work.

13

Unlike non-transgender (cisgender) male and female identities, transgender identities are sometimes contested, and on StackExchange sites this would detract from their user experience or may deter them from using the sites entirely. StackExchange are taking a firm affirmative stance towards transgender identities in an effort to be more welcoming (or perhaps because they simply perceive it as the "right thing to do").

Every StackExchange site uses pronouns (some more than others). However, pronouns for transgender people are sometimes misused (perhaps accidentally, perhaps deliberately), so StackExchange seem to be codifying behavior protocols concerning pronoun usage. As many users have stated, pronoun usage ideally would be a matter of common sense and basic courtesy (and not require codification), but society is not at this stage yet---some people either don't know or choose not to use the correct pronouns, often due to inexperience interacting with transgender people (there's not many around).

Analogously, a moderator might step in if a woman user was repeatedly called "he": we wouldn't be particularly concerned if it was a one-off blip, but repeatedly and deliberately calling a woman user "he" could reasonably be considered bullying and grounds for disciplinary action. My impression is that the StackExchange team are aiming for a equivalent stance towards transgender pronoun usage, but recognizing that it needs codifying because of a general lack of familiarity.

There seems to be some blowback, and the loudest counter-argument appears to be in the form of compelled speech because the new CoC describes explicitly avoiding using someone’s pronouns as a violation. And the answer to Q9: Do I have to use pronouns I’m unfamiliar or uncomfortable with...? seems to be a misinterpretable way of saying "don't misgender people". However, judging from the new CoC (You are not required to insert pronouns where you otherwise would not) it seems perfectly fine to simply not use pronouns at all if you don't want to (although my reading is that one should avoid selectively choosing users for non-gendered language). All in all, it seems it will take some back-and-forth before the dust settles.

Other issues are about the mechanics (e.g. editing posts to remove stipulated pronouns; how to determine which pronouns to use), how to identify and react to a hypothetical bad actor, issues with (less familiar) singular pronouns such as "they" (particularly for non-native English speakers), and contradictions with non-transgender people's religious belief (although transgender people also have religious beliefs).

My impression is that this whole thing is overblown, with people wildly throwing around words like "Orwellian". I recommend giving StackExchange some time to sort out the implementation, time for them to give well-thought-out responses to concerns, and stop intensely badgering them with endless "you suck; I quit" posts. Patience.

Ordinarily, we don't initially know users' pronouns, and opt for gender-neutral language like "OP" or "@username" or "the user". I find it hard to envisage a scenario where a user could misgender someone without engaging in "pronoun guessing" (or doing it deliberately), which is not appropriate even for non-transgender users. A trans person (like me) who prefers "she" will probably make it obvious (like me!) rather than repeatedly say "I use she/her pronouns"---most people get my pronouns right, and don't even realize I'm trans. Relax---you're probably "pronouning" correctly already.

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    This is a very level-headed take, thank you. I stll believe it would have been EASY to sell pronoun guidelines to the community if they hadn't introduced them by ham-fistedly terminating a moderator, pushing them through "convert or die" style and removing all diplomatic escapes for religious folk and such. But that's the new Stack Overflow way, very deliberately so it appears. One disagreement though - it seems perfectly fine to simply not use pronouns at all if you don't want to this was the point of contention around Monica's termination, not sure that's true. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 11 at 11:20
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    That’s what I mean with the bracketed comment: my reading is that issues arise only when you selectively choose certain people to be gender neutral with. However, I acknowledge that my reading might be incorrect, hence we need some back and forth. – Rebecca J. Stones Oct 11 at 11:38
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    " I recommend giving StackExchange some time to sort out the implementation" -> With the way this CoC is written and recent events, it doesn’t seem like SE is willing to give people time to adapt to these changes. – Fatalize Oct 11 at 11:55
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    "it seems perfectly fine to simply not use pronouns at all": No, see Q11: If you do that, you are techically in violation of the CoC. What's more, there's no way to distinguish evil intent from "my natural way of writing" because we can't read minds. Anyway, I don't think it would ever have mattered one way or another. I do think the SE people who drew up the CoC changes had nothing but the best intentions, and if the whole Monica fiasco hadn't happened, I'd never have started thinking that Q9 and Q11 are a problem. This is what happens when you squander the trust people had in you. – Pascal says Talk to Monica Oct 11 at 14:29
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    Many good points, but I disagree with the penultimate paragraph asking for more patience. Looking back at all my recent comments, I can see how I was first confused, then discouraged, then frustrated, then angry. It's been a slow, 10-day buildup, and now I'm out of patience. In my view, the CMs have had plenty of time to issue a mea culpa and quell the shitstorm. Instead, they've pressed forward as if their only wrong was bad timing. I tried sticking it out, but my long-term passion for SE has been snuffed out. They'll be relieved when I go away, but, for now, my patience is their victory. – J.R. means 'Just Reinstate' Oct 11 at 21:30
13

I will state this is pithily as possible, and many people will not like this answer, or will disagree with it. Which is the meta-issue, so to speak.

The new "CoC" is not a code of conduct. It is a set of speech codes enforcing a political point of view. It is tyranny masquerading as manners.

The turmoil is not about small things. It is about large things being treated as small things.

Argue, ask for sources, mischaracterize my position, downvote... whatever. You cannot change these facts.

As for what could have been done differently; there is no right way to do this. And TPTB know this. Which is why it was done with blunt force.

12

Im not sure StackExchange as an organisation should be actively involved in moderation and CoC in the first place. This community has a huge elected moderation community, why don't they work out changes to the CoC. Why should SE staff participate in that without following the election process?

If we had have had this document made by our elected body not passed down from on high, I imagine it would have been much better thought out and worded. There would have been less cause for dissent if these decisions were made people we picked.

I would like to see moderation limited to elected mods, and changes like this either created by or at bare minimum having a quorum of approval from our mods.

4

I think I get why SE are implementing this.

My understanding is that LGBTQ+ people were being drawn into conversations - perhaps like this one - which either did or could be interpreted as involving comments or perspectives questioning their legitimacy. And SE was not supporting or defending them. Such situations were regular or frequent occurrences.

However as SE employees are [I assume] few in comparison to users, they are likely unable to deal with the quantity with which this happens. It is perhaps seen by SE to be more practical to instead provide moderators with guidelines in how to deal with it. But if they did so, it would be unfair to put such guidance into place without also providing users guidance in how to behave; hence a CoC.

This CoC has some stronger wording than I would like, or possibly vagaries that could be interpreted in such a way. Although I agree wholeheartedly with it's goals.

However it is worth some of us, including me, remembering that society at large has been so anti-LGBTQ+ for so long, that relatively 'balanced' or 'neutral' comments and/or silence can (and likely will) be interpreted as negative. This assumption isn't exclusive to LGBTQ+ individuals; I know I am prone to doing it in situations in which I lack confidence. But even from the outside I can see that an LGBTQ+ person has a strong case for having more justification in making that assumption than I do.

As a result, I suspect that stronger wording than I would like is arguably justifiable, in order to make more certain that minorities feel welcomed, and to establish desire from SE that they wish to correct the past.

My main concern is that if SE is forced to water this down from it's most draconian interpretations - as I suspect that they should (via clarifications or more substantive changes), that it is not done so in such a way that leaves LGBTQ+ people uncertain of their value.

Finally, I am slightly uncomfortable with the lack of responses to this by openly LGBTQ+ people, and would appreciate seeing their voice and thoughts on this more.

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    I suspect that many LGBTQ+ people feel that the response to the Code of Conduct changes indicates, or even creates, an environment where they are uncomfortable speaking up. – Silenced Temporarily Oct 11 at 18:28
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    There's at least one in this thread. But for me, I had basically this reaction today. Up until now, I've been able to rationalize most of the uproar as being about Monica specifically. Seeing the thread today has really driven it home that the vast majority of people active on the network do not care enough about people like me to accept a minor inconvenience to avoid harming us. That sucks. Especially on National Coming Out Day on sites related to the field I'm not out in yet. – anon Oct 11 at 22:10
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    anon, you are not harmed by my usage of pronouns. – user286009 Oct 19 at 1:27
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    @anon - you personally think it's a minor inconvenience, and blatantly disregard that someone may see it differently. If you try to do what you wish others to do (which is show a bit of empathy), you may at some point realize that maybe other people have the right to decide how much things affect them, just as you claim the right to decide how things affect you. I don't claim pronouns are a trivial minor issue and grant you the right to decide it's not minor for you, but in return I insist that you equally don't dismiss and minimize and trivialize other people's concerns. – DVK Oct 25 at 23:56
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The page you linked to is more than an announcement, in fact it isn't really an announcement at all. The announcement was on stackoverflow.blog (here).

My interpretation is that the negative reception of the post reflects, at least in part, a lot of discomfort with the way the FAQ is worded (poorly in places, poorly thought-out in others). I down voted it the FAQ post because it lacked clarity which is what the entire post was intended to achieve.

I don't think we should directly conclude that the CoC changes themselves have been received more poorly than previous controversial changes just from the question score alone. (Anecdata, I know, but I down voted the FAQ post but agree with the CoC changes) That's not to say that the CoC changes are universally liked or disliked, just that I think that the votes on that post in particular are a reflection of issues with the FAQ in particular, and other, broader issues that others have mentioned in their answers.

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