I'm not going to take a side on the CoC change, but I am going to discuss where we are now, and maybe a little bit about how we got here.

Somebody made the determination that there were inclusivity issues in SE, and, to their merit, the community decided to take this on, and make things better. I have no problems with this.

That said, it doesn't feel like we've reached our happy place as a result. Maybe that will come, maybe it won't. I think most will agree that this rollout has been less than optimal.

That's not real surprising, as this type of stuff is hard -- which brings me to my question.

Is there anyone on the SE staff with credibility in such endeavors?

Heart surgery is hard. As much as I would like to be able to help people who need heart surgery, I'm not qualified to actually do such surgery. The best I can do is point someone to a qualified heart surgeon, and maybe I can help them pay for it. I wouldn't attempt to do heart surgery if unqualified, as managers of a major web presence shouldn't take on social engineering without knowing what they're doing.

So, as my faith in the staff to bring us to the other side of this issue wanes, I'm asking about whether anyone actually has any formal training or credentialing in managing such situations (maybe something like restorative justice practices)? The FAQ, to me, looks like the chosen management approach to the new sentence in the CoC (which in and of itself, seems fine, but the devil is in the details) will cause more conflict than it solves, and it looks like this will get worse before it gets better.

If the right expertise is not in place, I humbly suggest that it's time to find some, maybe the right contractor, maybe a staff member. Indeed, we're looking down the barrel of three issues as major as I've seen in years on the stack; the CoC, the license change, and inappropriate ads for revenue. It simply doesn't feel like we're (i.e., the community, of which I consider myself a part) are properly geared up for this level of conflict.

So, as a member of the community who is feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the direction I see the community going, can somebody convince me that we have the collective skills to see us through this?

  • Stating that people might need a brain surgery is quite rude, in whatever direction. Oct 11, 2019 at 17:04
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    @πάνταῥεῖ this is fogging my sarcasm detector. I was spinning a metaphor, not suggesting people need brain surgery, and I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. I wouldn't attempt to do brain surgery if unqualified, as managers of a major web presence shouldn't take on social engineering without knowing what they're doing. Oct 11, 2019 at 17:06
  • I'm also not suggesting that they not take on social engineering aspects, but if they really want to, they should gather the experts to help them do it right. Oct 11, 2019 at 17:07
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    It might not be a bad idea to change "brain surgery" to "heart surgery" or something to reduce the chance of confusion. Oct 11, 2019 at 17:15
  • @TannerSwett -- but I might try the heart surgery! ;-) Oct 11, 2019 at 17:15
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    Credibility is not required. It's their site. It's more similar to building your own cabinet than brain surgery: you can be terribly underqualified to build that cabinet, and produce an unusable pile of wood with nails sticking out at all sides hurting people, but it's your house and your cabinet, and you're 100% free to do so. Of course, actually investing in a handyman to build that cabinet might be a better idea.
    – Erik A
    Oct 11, 2019 at 17:34
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    I think most will agree that this rollout has been less than optimal. That seems fair. It would help to see Monica's situation resolved appropriately. Oct 11, 2019 at 17:48
  • Credibility may not be quite the right word to use. Certification or credentials, maybe?
    – fbueckert
    Oct 11, 2019 at 18:03
  • "I'm not going to take a side on the CoC change," so you side with the status quo. Oct 11, 2019 at 18:20
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    Oh, there are people at Stack that have the experience and wherewithal to do this properly. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be listened to.
    – Oded
    Oct 11, 2019 at 20:30
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    @Renan -- absolutely not, and I somewhat reject the implication. I choose not to share my opinions, because I don't believe they're particularly relevant. The only side of all this I want to be a part of is "This wasn't done right". Oct 11, 2019 at 20:30
  • ... and FWIW, the execs at SE have posted to that effect. They agree. Now, I'd like to figure out if the expertise to dig us back out is present, and suggest that if it's not, we stop spinning our wheels, and find the expertise. Oct 11, 2019 at 20:35
  • " and, to their merit, the community decided to take this on, and make things better. I have no problems with this." Oct 11, 2019 at 20:42
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    Are we really fighting inclusivity issues? People can be quite offensive even if using gender neutral language. I wonder if ever there will be some kind of quantitative investigation of inclusivity issues and their reasons. Oct 11, 2019 at 21:24
  • @Trilarion -- a serious, concerted effort would indeed have metrics and goals. Oct 11, 2019 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


Sara Chipps (SO's relatively new Director of Public Q&A) cofounded and ran Girl Develop It for a number of years (and may still be actively involved; I wasn't able to quickly determine her current role with them). From "Our Values" at their site:

We are committed to making sure women of all races, education levels, income and upbringing can build confidence in their skill set to develop web and mobile applications. Our goal is to provide powerful hands-on programs to women seeking professional help in software development and create basic to advanced web and mobile applications.

You may not like Sara or agree with her posts, but she has undeniable experience and credibility.

  • 33
    I can certainly deny it: creating an environment that's welcoming to a single minority is something entirely different than creating an environment that's welcoming to all, because the second is about compromises and balance, and the first isn't. Narrowing down your demographic to "girls" shuts people that don't identify as girls, I assume most people that use they or a neopronoun don't.
    – Erik A
    Oct 11, 2019 at 17:59
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    @ErikA: I wouldn't exactly call "girls" a minority. But I agree with the gist of your criticism. I see a lot of value in presenting Women in Tech as a normal, good thing. But it would be good for boys too to see that. In general, it's good to present role models from all walks of life, but not so good to restrict the audiences along the same lines. What happens if boys learn to program from men, girls from women, nb children from nb adults, and in 10 years time they all meet on the workfloor? Oct 11, 2019 at 18:51
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    I only did that because the company referred to treats them as such. That's why they can exclude anyone not fitting the definition while still being socially acceptable. In my current workplace, there are actually more women than men
    – Erik A
    Oct 11, 2019 at 18:57
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    I would think that is a fantastic experience, and certainly gives Sara credibility in trying to advance the interests of groups that may be marginalized, but the type of experience we need is subtly different, as @ErikA suggests. Working with others outside the group to prevent the bias is a different skill set. Oct 11, 2019 at 20:40
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    But thanks for the considered answer, and people like Sara are certainly part of what we need to keep the community healthy. Oct 11, 2019 at 20:40
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    I didn't know that. That sounds impressive. On the other hand the messages from her in the last two weeks made things even worse instead of better and she got not much agreement for it. The main objection may be though that she would not be impartial in the whole matter. Somebody more neutral might be a better option. Oct 11, 2019 at 21:20
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    @Trilarion I don't disagree that it might be an impressive experience, and Sara might be great at making people feel welcome. The only point I disagree with is that we don't know for sure that Sara has experience making compromises between things as making different groups feel welcome if their believes conflict. She certainly might, I just don't know. Much of the history and qualifications for the SE staff aren't public, and as I said in a comment on the answer, that's allowed.
    – Erik A
    Oct 12, 2019 at 7:11
  • @ErikA My guess is that internally they are not in the mood for compromises right now. It rather looks like doubling down in order to achieve the desired goal against resistance. With the sparse communication here and the press interview on the other hand it looks like she has digged herself in lately. Is this a good basis for compromise? Maybe we all, company included, need time to cool down. Oct 12, 2019 at 8:32
  • The situation at Girl Develop It doesn't look so good...this was linked from the #causeascene podcast
    – curious
    Nov 27, 2019 at 2:50
  • Apart from such an organization being a prime example of sexism, the mission statement strikes me a bit: "making sure ... all ... education levels ... can build confidence in their skill set". If someone is uneducated, then what "skill set" does this refer to? And isn't confidence in non-existent skills just hubris? But... well, it sounds nice and inclusive, and I guess that's all that counts.
    – Marco13
    Nov 27, 2019 at 21:31

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