I joined the Stack Overflow site three years ago, and I too struggled initially to understand the working of that site. I too felt bad and insulted, but the strictness and moderations helped me research better, increased my learning curve as well as in long run helped to strengthen my coding skills. That initial friction upgraded me and never did I feel so called unwelcoming. Moreover, I am sure many existing users might have faced similar friction and they still chose to stay.

I have also observed that moderators tried very hard to lessen down that friction as well and made things clearer, polite and welcoming (Monica was also a great moderator).

Now that entire controversy is on a CoC that is claimed by SE to be more inclusive and more welcoming surely reveals one simple fact (which I personally feel as well): The majority of existing users, moderators, and contributors that actually made this site clean and contentful, are feeling betrayed, saddened, unwelcomed and excluded. In lieu of making newcomers welcomed, isn't SE actually overlooking and ignoring the sentiments of existing users of the site? Shouldn't existing users be felt included?

The controversy is spreading negative vibes and even after positive initiatives from SE, the informal tweets, inactions, and irresponsibility by formal SE people are retaining these negatives.

I don't think this is a duplicate of "An apology to our community and next steps". After this apology got posted, this question actually arose because that post didn't satisfy many queries altogether.

CoC was a claimed attempt, according to me for making new users welcoming (I don't know how), but that was not in any way an attempt to make existing users welcoming - which is my question.

  • 5
    If existing users have made the site untenable for others then perhaps it's not possible to keep all existing users onside and attract new ones that currently feel too alienated to join. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 17:34
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    IMO, the answer is very simple: NO. SE don't care anymore for its communities except that they want money for people clicking ads. They don't hear their users and the only reaction presented to users' complaints is deleting stuff and suspending people. All that they want is to use the communities as a ballast to pipe money from their new teams product. All of that drama is just a smokescreen for something else. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 17:38
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    @RobertLongson: If existing users have made the site untenable for others.. -- But have they? There's no shortage of reddit posts and quora posts from disgruntled first-time users, railing about how Stack Overflow is an elitist club, but how much of that is legitimate griping, and how much of it is just sour grapes because their vague, underspecified question got closed? No matter how you sugar-coat that, it's still going to taste like cough syrup to those folks.
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 17:38
  • 36
    I don't think existing users made things untenable. If that' would have been the case then no one would stay in the community in first place. Will you consider a strict teacher and parent unwelcoming and untenable Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 17:43
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    @RobertLongson If new users are attracted to the site and want to join it, perhaps it's because it is what existing users have made of it. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 18:27
  • 8
    @KaranDesai well we're the existing users, of course we think it's OK for us, otherwise we wouldn't be here. That's survivorship bias. The question is, is there a sufficiently large set of people that might join if things changed and whether we should change to accommodate them even at the expense of some of our existing userbase. Such a change will never be popular because those that don't like it have the tools to be vocal about it here and those that might join do not. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 19:17
  • 4
    Maybe if we disable our ad-blockers and start clicking ads they'll like us.
    – user474678
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 20:54
  • 9
    This is pretty clearly a leading question. What is your actual aim?
    – user206222
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 21:06
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    @KaranDesai StackExchange is not a community. It is a site that has questions and answers that apply to everyone.Trying to make a community is the problem
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 21:22
  • Well, the CoC was an attempt. Didn't exactly go as planned, but there was an attempt.
    – Mast
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 8:05
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    CoC was a claimed attempt, according to me for making new users welcoming (I don't know how) but that was not in any way an attempt to make existing users welcoming - which is my question. Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 8:07
  • Re "...never did I feel so called unwelcoming": Don't you mean "...never did I feel so called unwelcomed"? Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 5:44
  • Re "...for making new users welcoming": Don't you mean "...for making new users welcomed"? Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 5:47
  • 2
    @PeterMortensen please respect an author's style and "voice". Fixing spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes is very useful and helpful, but writing out "Stack Exchange" in full, every single time is unnecessary (e.g. Pascal's answer). The post begins to sound unnatural, stiff, and stuffy. Abbreviations are acceptable in English, native speakers use it all the time, in their speech and in their writing, and especially on SE because the logo "Stack Exchange" takes time to type and users want to save time. Once the meaning is established, there's no need to repeat the full form every time. Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 7:52
  • 1
    All that happened here when you stayed the course had nothing to do with "growth"; it had to do with you working within the system. A brand new user is faced with a system of pedantic complaints, and pile-on down voting from folks I'm convinced just roam around to pretend they're on the high road. This disease is why I left SO and moved onto the other SE sites for software, where things had not yet descended. Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 22:07

5 Answers 5


I have a very different take on it than BelovedFool. For them it's an improvement. For me, I'm doubting that holding the views I do, I'm still welcome here.

In lieu of making newcomers welcomed, isn't SE actually overlooking and ignoring sentiments of existing users of site. Shouldn't existing users be felt included?

My short answer to your question is, yes, SE is overlooking and ignoring sentiments of existing users (not necessarily all of them, though), and no, I don't feel very welcome and included right now as an established user.

The long answer is... well... long. Here's a few of the high points.

  • The CoC without the interpretation given in the CoC FAQ would be ok.
  • The official interpretation of the CoC excludes me instead of appreciating my work.
  • The power to coerce should not be granted according to how much emotional harm you state you experience.
  • The CoC should not coerce except to forbid bigotism, hatespeech, etc.
  • The CoC should foster tolerance instead of mandating specific world views.


No, I don't feel SE's strategy of be more "welcoming and including" is working at all for a large part of the community, but I can't speak for everyone, so I'll just speak for myself.

For the record, I have no problem with the wording of the Code of Conduct itself. If the FAQ hadn't been published, I could have arranged myself with

Prefer gender-neutral language when uncertain


Use stated pronouns (when known). When in doubt, don’t use language that might offend or alienate

These are more specific explanations of what it means to be "kind and friendly" and "inclusive and respectful". I don't see the need, but others do, and I don't see a glaring problem. Left to interpret these statements on my own, I'm convinced I wouldn't have caused any complaints that would have resulted in anything more serious than a warning nod from a moderator, if that.

The issues come with the FAQ that explains how exactly these two fragments must be interpreted. This interpretation is not only very different from the views I hold about how to be kind, friendly, inclusive and respectful, it requires me to act in a cause that isn't mine, and it states that if I don't choose to do so, then my conduct is unbecoming of someone who wants to participate here.

In other words, it tells me that I am no longer welcome here if I stay true to myself.

How I came to feel welcome here

I participate on two sites; more recently Parenting.SE, initially for no other reason that I liked reading about how other people handle parenting issues I'm faced with. But pretty soon I started participating by answering questions. It's a small site, and it doesn't get much traffic or many questions, but still I'm somewhat proud that people seem to value my contributions there, judging from my standings in the reputation ranking.

You have to get used to Parenting.SE. It doesn't work quite the same way as the others I know. Lots of questions get closed for being off topic. People have strong feelings about parenting and you need to be considerate if you want your answer to be heard. So it helped that before I started answering questions, I observed how others did it. Pretty soon I noticed that some things do transfer from other, technical Stack Exchange sites: The important thing is to stay on topic. Even on a non-technical site, it's the question that matters, not the person. (I'm obviously not the only one to feel that's important - see Robert Harvey's take on it.)

I answered questions (not quite 300 of them across all the sites, which is nowhere near Jon Skeet, but hey, I'm just human) in the belief that this is what matters: You come here for answers.

If you do stick around, getting to feel cozy here with the community is a perk. It takes a bit of time because that's the way it works in any human community: You have to learn the ropes, and you mostly have to conform.

Why the interpretation of the new CoC has me doubt my place on the network

I have two separate issues with the official interpretation of the new CoC:

  1. The appreciation issue: SE requires me to change the way I write in a fundamental way and expects me to put in more effort, even though I do this voluntarily, for the benefit of people who come here seeking answers.

  2. The opinionated, authoritarian take on what it means to be friendly, and what causes harm

The appreciation issue

I want to feel appreciated for offering up answers. I take care in writing them. I freely contribute content to a company that uses it to profit, and I don't expect financial compensation in return. But now suddenly that's not good enough any more. Now the same company that has profited from my 300 answers requires me to

  1. put in more effort, and

  2. disregard my own feelings towards language, which is important to me,


  1. it tells me that if I don't want to do it, I'm actively causing harm. It's telling me that the mostly well-received content I produced isn't what's important; if I fail to see the larger vision, it can't be appreciated (look at what happened to Monica).

I find that highly ironic. It certainly doesn't help in making me feel welcome.

I do see that languages evolve, and do so partly to accommodate people's feelings. I've gone from "negro" to "black person" to "African American". Not a problem; language is designed to have synonyms, and it's common that one grows out of use. I've learned to say "chairperson" instead of "chairman" (etc.) even though that often feels awkward to me and I don't really see the need. But it's important to my wife, with whom I want to continue having good relations, so of course I try to accommodate her. It's not just about new nouns, either (we xerox and google things).

I'm sure that when the LBGTQ+ community has formed a consensus on a few new pronouns such as the xir-set and these few sets get accepted by society (a good measure: are they taught in school? And yes, I think it's fairly obvious that a consensus is needed, both due to the grammatical function of pronouns in a language and due to how lobbying works), then yes, I'll use them, too, because to communicate efficiently, I'll need them. I don't have any specific feelings about whether they're a great help or a ridiculous non-starter; I'll see what happens.

But I see no need to do so now, when these pronouns aren't widely known (certainly not where I live), there's multiple sets of them (and there have been for decades!), their future is far from certain and a majority of people who reads an answer or comment that contains them will simply be confused as to their meaning (read the entertaining SF novel "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet" if you want to familiarize yourself).

I am not a social reformer. I consider myself liberally inclined and a moderate lefty, but the relevant word is "moderate". Spearheading the use of neopronouns in the English language is not a cause I feel a need to participate in, and I don't want to be forced to do so. You're trampling on my identity if you force me to do that, and I resent the fact that this is considered unimportant in the larger context of "we need to be more welcoming and inclusive", especially since I do have a proven track record of caring about the site and working to produce content for it.

Opinions on what it means to be friendly and what causes harm

The FAQ state that

Using someone’s pronouns is a way of showing respect for them and refusing to do so causes harm.

Grammar concerns do not override a person’s right to self identify.

Explicitly avoiding using someone’s pronouns because you are uncomfortable is a way of refusing to recognize their identity [...]

I take issue with all three of those statements. These are opinions, not facts, and I do not share them.

No, I don't want to intentionally hurt people. I certainly don't want to misgender them. So if someone with a name who made me believe she identifies as female tells me to please stop referring to them as a 'she' because they don't self-identify as a she, of course I'll respect that.

But I'm simply not going to keep a table of neopronouns taped to my screen in the foreseeable future just because someone on the Internet says that refusing to use (their personal set of) neopronouns in talking to someone causes (them) harm.

Is it enough if someone, or even a group of people, says 'This causes me (emotional) harm' for it to necessitate policy changes? If you tend to answer yes, consider: What's to stop me from claiming that "using neopronouns causes me emotional harm"? What kind of rebuttal can you now use to prove me wrong? How would you play arbiter between people whose various claims clashed? How do you plan to deal with the shouting matches that will appear (we're currently witnessing one) if it's enough for someone to feel harmed or excluded in order to require everyone to defer to this person's emotions?

This way lies madness. I don't doubt that people mean it when they tell me something I told them hurt them. I try to make amends.

But it becomes ridiculous with the statement that we are not allowed to avoid pronouns if someone wants us to use them because "it is a way of refusing to recognize their identity". If I avoid referring to someone with a specific term, am I really refusing to recognize their identity? No, of course not. I recognize they see themselves as a [insert pronoun or noun of choice here]. They told me. They made it clear. I just choose not to use that label for them. A label is not an identity (as every programmer knows). All through my school years, I was called by a nickname not of my own choosing. That didn't mean people were refusing to recognize my identity.

I'm a divorce kid (yes, so I'm lucky; that's the worst thing that happened in my life up to now). People talk about their childhood experiences with their father in my presence. I don't have very many of those. So do I go and require people, not only not to speak of their childhood, but to speak about it in ways that makes them uncomfortable? Do I require them to talk to me, say, about all the times their fathers punished them so I feel better, or to acknowledge, every time they speak about their fathers, that I did not have that, thereby affirming my identity as a person-whose-parents-separated-in-their-childhood? Of course not.

Nobody should get to unilaterally define policy on what constitutes harm, and especially not require me to defer to others in how I relate to them to accommodate their perceived emotions.

On Parenting.SE, you often read something very wise: You can't control someone else's emotions. You can only control your own. (or its close cousin, you're not responsible for someone else's emotions, only for your own). Trying to raise children by making sure you never trigger unwanted emotions in them is a really bad idea that likely is doomed to either fail or produce adults which are incapable of controlling their emotions - how could they, when it was never expected of them?

For the same reason, requiring us to defer to others so as not to cause them emotional harm is either doomed to fail or (worse) will help in victimizing said people ("we need to be careful to not cause them emotional harm" is only a small step from "they're volatile and weak", "they're victims" and finally "we need to speak, decide and act for them because they don't have agency"). I'm not sure what people's take on being a victim is nowadays. I grew up thinking it's undesirable.

Note that I'm not making an extremist statement here. I'm not saying that since we can't control and aren't responsible for someone else's emotions, we don't have to take any care at all and anything goes. But there is a difference between not wanting to be actively misgendered, and wanting to dictate how people should refer to you.

For me, the current interpretation (as specified in the FAQ) of the Code of Conduct can't be salvaged. It needs to lose its authoritarian, if not totalitarian reach, which means first and foremost that it may suggest, but should not mandate except to state, as it does, that bigotry of any kind isn't tolerable, and it should not make blanket statements on what is harmful for any specific group of people, while staying silent about everyone else. It should not make blanket statements about what is harmful at all (IMO the Unfriendly/Friendly examples are a much better way to get the point across).

On tolerance

There is a word, tolerance, that is strangely absent in the Code of Conduct, except to say what isn't tolerated (bigotism). I miss a positive mention to go along with the one negative use of the word (with which I wholeheartedly agree, btw).

I'll tolerate you, even if I don't hold the same values, the same convictions, the same experiences that make you what you are, even if your convictions evoke strong emotions on my part. This requires effort on my part, but in return, you'll tolerate me, too.

I often think that participating on a Stack site is an exercise in tolerance. How do I deal with the question how to cure a daughter's fear of guns? I am not at all on the same page about guns as the poster. I have strong emotions on the subject. I think the world would be a much better place, with lots of people saved from seriously getting hurt, if gun ownership was way more tightly controlled. But I don't vent my opinions on gun control there and then, and even if I owned the platform, I wouldn't decide that what we need is a policy to only talk about gun control in ways I find agreeable, even though I'm absolutely convinced I'm right (incidentally, I came across the same person on another stack, where I respect his knowledge about IT security, and I certainly don't judge his character because of his opinions on guns).

No: What I actually do is answer his question, because that's what he came for, and what I'm staying around for. He in turn hopefully won't hold me in contempt because I don't share his views on guns. We're both better off because he's got an answer that gives him some new ideas, and I'm happy because my answer was appreciated.

I wish the SE people would concentrate less on mandating a specific view of looking at the world, and focus more on fostering tolerance.

One way to do that would be to work on improving the system that deals with quickly removing or improving content flagged as hateful (because racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc). Obviously they've not found a technical solution to improve the system by a large enough margin (see Sara Chipps blog post Iterating on inclusion) to make people feel better, and they don't have or are unwilling to spend money on moderators. That would help to make minorities feel tolerated. So now they're looking at social solutions to fix the problem, but they're a company, so they're not very good at it and think that the way to do it is to legislate how we talk to each other. (That's the nice interpretation. The unkind one would be that they simply don't care very much about keeping established users happy because other business interests take priority and hey, these people are bound to our platform because their communities are here, so they won't leave!).

  • 4
    That was in deed a long answer. Thanks, nonetheless!
    – GhostCat
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 13:14
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    So a comment about requesting mutual tolerance gets flagged and removed?
    – dfhwze
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 14:10
  • 1
    I wondered about that too. @shog9 (only mod I know here, sorry), can you shed light on that? All the previous comments here disappeared and they didn't strike me as anywhere near worthy of being removed? Have I missed something? Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 14:12
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    Better than half the comments that were here got flagged at some point, @pascal; after a while it gets impractical to preserve a thread.
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 14:39
  • 3
    @shog9: Ah, I see. So I just didn't see the bad comments because they got flagged quickly enough. Sorry to bother. Still, the "mutual tolerance" comment was the very first one; could have been left standing on its own. Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 15:14
  • 1
    @Pascal - If you remember who posted a deleted, worthwhile comment, you can ping them on a page where they have had some participation, and ask them to repost. The votes will be lost but the text will be restored. Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 15:56
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    @aparente001 - Thanks for the hint. I think it was dfhwze, who is obviously already aware that his comment is gone (see above). I don't think the comment needs to be reposted, it's just sad that comments get removed so readily. But in good faith, I can understand that the mods are currently real busy and can't spend too much time weighting all the pros and cons of deleting comments. Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 16:09
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    You've expressed most (if not all) of my thoughts better than I ever could. Especially the part about playing arbiter between two parties claiming emotional harm. That is precisely what I coulnd't stop thinking about since I read the new CoC. I very much fear nothing official will change here and I will have to vote with my feet on this, but at least I will know my reasons for it were expressed, even if not by my own words. Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 19:06
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    @Angew, I'm honored, thank you. I also don't think words are enough to effect change any more, but like you say, I could not leave without having tried, at least. It may sound stupid, but I'm grieving for this virtual place I grew to like over the past years. Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 21:10
  • 3
    @Pascal Imho you are pinpointing the key issues with the way SE implements their 'welcoming environment' strategy and you present compelling reasoning for your stance. I rarely see topics like tolerance, the coercion/guideline dichotomy or rulesets rooted in subjectivism at a prominent place in the CoC discussion. Given the length of your post, what do you think of listing some key items in your initial tl:dr section ? ( Please don't get me wrong, every line of your answer is worth reading, but you know how it goes ... ;) )
    – collapsar
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 9:16
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    An excellent answer with many great points. I also find your part about legislating harm vs harm interesting in relation to the wording "Explicitly avoiding using someone’s pronouns because you are uncomfortable is a way of refusing to recognize their identity" they chose. With explicitly citing "uncomfortability" as the underlying reason for "violating the CoC", what they are trying to do is shut off alleged excuses for violations, but what they're actually doing is expose that this is ultimately weighting uncomfortabilities against each other. Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 9:31
  • @collapsar: I tried to add the key items; not sure if I got them right. It's kinda hard to collapse (pun intended) all that text into power point bullet list without losing much in the process, but better persons than me have had the same problem. Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 13:46
  • @Pascal I think you did a decent job with the summary!
    – collapsar
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 18:49
  • 2
    It seems this is still collecting votes and new comments. please take note that I'm leaving the SE network for now. If I don't react to pings, it's nothing personal, I'm just not there to see them anymore. Goodbye! Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 23:18
  • 1
    "if someone, or even a group of people, says 'This causes me (emotional) harm' for it to necessitate policy changes? ... What's to stop me from claiming that "using neopronouns causes me emotional harm"?" No no no, you are not allowed to do that. Those sort of statements can never be generalized. It is like people in the USA like to say "it's a free country" but you are only allowed to do what is is within the borders of the law. (E.g. no drinking before 21 years old) Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 17:18

Every time the CoC gets updated it gets more prone to weaponization against people with no intent of malice. This has been a problem that was usually handled by the moderators with their best judgement, majority of the time they got it right, the few times they did not a peer review usually made it right.

Every update to the CoC ties the moderators hands more and more firmly in using their best judgement to imposing absolute strict enforcement of rules as they are written.

The irony that an unpublished CoC was weaponized against a moderator because they pointed out that it could be a problem with uniform enforcement and weaponization and that they were then proactively removed because of something they might do when the CoC was published and would take effect is not lost on most of us.

Which absolute rule was enforced and against who is irrelevant to the root cause of the complaints about the CoC.



Short answer:
There can be no answer, in general. If there could be, it would tend to be a No


In answering your your question I challenge the basic premise of the question: The SE community is not a community at all.

The term 'community' as it is most often used on the web today is more of a marketing ploy than an appropriate term to denote a group of individuals. Web site operators use it to create a sense of togetherness, to establish a common ground for a heterogenuous user base where there is close to none beyond the trivial circumstance that everybody visits the webspace and thus some common interest exists. This is legitimate insofar as it promotes any commercial operations on the web site which in most cases are necessary to cover operating costs at least.

That applies in particular to a site like SE with a strong tech bias and the basic purpose of being a quality Q&A platform. The common interest here is to expand knowledge and to get quick and valuable help on problems on hand. The visitors' intent is not to hang out and have a good time.

Such a setting usually produces a very heterogenuous user base when it comes to personalities, convictions, sensitivities. People follow the purpose that brought them here and do not consider their activity on the web site as a social endeavour. They focus on the content of this site but not on the people generating and managing this content. At most, subgroups of the user base may form what may pass as a community in the traditional sense.

At some point (ie. above some threshold of heterogeneity) there is no way to accomodate the needs and wishes of a significant number of site users without at the same time alienating a significant number of other users of the same site ( intentionally avoiding majority/minority here ). The important corollary here is that there will also be no change (read: improvement) to the site that would meet wide consensus, unless this improvement remains limited to the common interest of the site visitors - ie. quickly finding high-quality answers to topical questions. Another important corollary is that there will be no consensus on the meaning of abstract notions like 'inclusive' and 'welcoming' among the user base, neither on the meaning proper nor the mapping to concrete behavior.

Given the above, the question seems genuinely unanswerable.

The SO.com case

The SO company has decided to prioritize on being 'inclusive' and 'welcoming' to new users. They have a certain idea what would constitute these notions and what is necessary to regulate site activities to implement their goal. It's their site so they technically have every right to do so. From an ethical perspective that might not be as clear-cut - they thrive on the hard work of numerous people, but at least they openly declared (or, at least strongly suggested) from the outset that they claim comprehensive rights on the content. Imho, the (CoC) rules imposed are fairly strict, and the whole endeavour's implementation tends to be 'non-inclusive' and unwelcoming to the existing user base. This view is apparently shared by a large number of other users, but I am totally aware of that other large numbers of users consider the rules fairly lenient (or do not oppose their strictness), and do not think that long-time users are alienated, respectively. I do not have reliable evidence how these user groups would compare in numbers. I also do not see reliable evidence in which way the separations correlate with newbieness. For both kinds of evidence I expect none to materialize.

Whether the measures they are taking are expedient is another kettle of fish. A pragmatic and somewhat reasonable approach would be - given the lack of common grounds in the user base - to employ a regime of laisser-faire dealing with individual conflicts as they arise taking into account the circumstances of the individual case. In fact this would mean to treat the user base as grown-ups who are aware of the peculiarities of the environment they are operating in. This awareness would comprise 3 insights:

  • A Q&A platform is not a social hang out; thus it is unreasonable to expect to 'feel well' on such a platform at all times.
  • 'Feeling well' cannot be logically sound. People may feel offended in ways one cannot understand; thus what most often is 'acceptable' may not be ok in certian individual exchanges.
  • 'Feeling bad' cannot be logically sound. People may not be able to understand why others feel offended in a certain way; thus it is reasonable to assume good faith in all communication unless there is evidence to the contrary beyond the personal impression.

Unfortunately, a laisser-faire regime is more 'expensive' (in terms of resources devoted to it) than a strict ruleset which generally makes it a less favorable option when it comes to commercial interests. There may also be legal implications.

The general answer still holds. However, the way SE has rolled out the CoC ( which includes blog entries from SE staff, acknowledging that opinions presented in a blog may very well differ from employer opinions ) and the more recent site evolution strongly suggests that even if the company had a way of knowing how to be 'welcoming' and 'inclusive' (in a sensible meaning) to the existing user base, that would not be a primary concern to the SO company.

Again, it's their right to follow this policy. It is just a pity that they employ the very measures typical of authoritarian communities that would not really support the ideals they brandish.

  • Also a very readable post, thank you. And actually much more to the point than my own. Plus it has the advantage of being much shorter :-) I think that's the last one I'll read on Meta, I'm on my way out, but now I can say I ended on a good one. Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 15:38
  • "Short answer: There can be no answer..." In a certain way you answered the question, it is just not a yes or no answer. Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 17:51
  • @SextusEmpiricus, oh c'mon. Is there a potential win for this pedantic comment? This is the kind of thing that makes substantive discussions ever harder. Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 22:29
  • @tgm1024 join the club? ... You should read my comment as a complement to the writer of the answer; I do not consider it pedantic. Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 23:52
  • @SextusEmpiricus, oh good grief. Can't someone say there is no answer to a question without someone bringing up that even saying such is an answer? To what friggen end???? There is nothing to be gained from such self referential nonsense that you brought up just to sound clever. Agree or disagree, his point should be unencumbered by folks just wishing to make points steeped in pedantry. Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 23:02
  • @tgm1024 "good grief"... that is what I am thinking about your somehow apparently very heated friggin response. Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 23:19

The existing community includes trans and non-binary people. The people who are upset about this and creating all the noise want their personal bigotry prioritized over all others, e.g. by being allowed to refuse to use a person's pronouns.

This same argument, "respect the existing community", has been used over and over in similar situations. Women's rights, civil rights for non-whites, gay rights. "Why should I be forced to recognize a marriage between two men?" was pretty common only a few years ago, still is some places.

The good news is that in a decade or so most people will look back on this as an unenlightened, transphobic time. The bad news is that until then it's going to endless drama and concern trolls.

  • 16
    Two men marrying doesn't affect me or bother me. People identifying as what/whomever they please doesn't bother me. Having to mind my choice of words actively at every instant does affect me, and bother me. I have no problems writing in a neutral 'they', though I might slip up at times. But when having to proactively write the words some stranger on the internet tells me to, under threat of.being banned, a line is crossed.
    – user630245
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 2:56
  • 12
    As for the last paragraph: The phrase "The good news is that in a decade or so most people will look back on this as an unenlightened, transphobic time." Shows a complete lack of knowledge or understanding of the objections many, many users have voiced here, that have nothing to do with the trans (or lavender) community.
    – user630245
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 3:02
  • 1
    @Inactive-avoidingCoC so how about being required by a married woman to use the title "Mrs"? Even if she is married to a woman.
    – user
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 9:41
  • 5
    Do you mean someone asking me, respectfully and in good faith, to use a title? Sure, no problem. Someone demanding it? Much less likely.
    – user630245
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 10:02
  • 1
    Also, how do I ping you?
    – user630245
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 10:03
  • 11
    But do you understand what I'm trying to convey in my second comment? Many, if not most, of the objections have absolutely nothing to do with transphobia, and have collectively gathered thousands upon thousands of upvotes. Waving this whole debate away as 'transphobia' completely denies these objections and upvotes.
    – user630245
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 10:07
  • 1
    @Inactive-avoidingCoC So your objection is that SE didn't ask nicely and instead made it a rule, and because it's a rule have to have mis-gender people as some bizarre kind of protest.
    – user
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 11:49
  • 6
    Indeed I object that this rule has been imposed without consulting anyone, neither the general user base nor the group of users it pretends to protect (in practice it seems to do the opposite, but that's another discussion). I've maid no claims about having or wanting to misgender people; you're putting words in my mouth. In fact in the comments above I've already made clear that I don't have any qualms about using gender-neutral language.
    – user630245
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 18:51
  • 11
    On that note; I would kindly suggest that you make an effort to understand the objections that a very large group of users have, in stead of immediately dismissing them (and me) as misgendering bigots (which most of them are not).
    – user630245
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 18:53
  • 5
    Atrocious anti-logic in this "answer". @Inactive-ObjectingExtremism is correct. It's far too easy to rush all the way to the "bigot" (and similar) labels. And it's for the reasons that "racist" is commonly used, because it's nearly impossible to make the statement "I'm not a bigot" without sounding like one. Just because being a bigot often means that you don't realize you're a bigot doesn't mean that denying bigotry defines bigotry. Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 22:24

You are part of the writing community and I understand why losing a mod like that would hurt your feelings. I know I would be devastated if one of the mods from my favorite community were to be de-moded, especially in such a way.

That being said, I have to disagree with the premise of your question. I am an existing member of the community and, for me, this new CoC is a very strong sign that I am more welcome here.

The reactions to it, however, are much less welcoming. I keep stumbling upon transphobic stuff which, as a non-binary person, hurt very much. I don't dare to read the comments or answers anymore and I am fearful every time I see that a new question has been asked. Worse than that, offensive stuff does stay around an unhealthy amount of time before being actually deleted (frequently more than an hour or even longer)

So, on that we agree, this situation is a mess and SE will have to definitively hire more people to help moderate this dumpster fire. (pssst: if SE staff are reading me, it's not too late to do good!)

So, to answer your question:

Yes, there is. This new CoC actually is an attempt at making existing users more welcome.

Also, I'm confident that there will be other attempts, that they will be more or less successful, but that, no matter what, SE will keep trying to make this place more welcoming.

  • 12
    The vast majority of reactions are aimed at SE.
    – dfhwze
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 21:04
  • 27
    @dfhwze I have seen several dozen posts, and flagged down several outright abusive ones, many on the FAQ announcement itself, that say people have a deeper issue with using trans people's pronouns. It is definitely not true that the majority of recent posts communicate anger exclusively pointed at SE.
    – user206222
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 21:05
  • 2
    No the issue is that it should not matter who you are or if you human or not. The comments by so staff say that we can't remove things that add nothing to the details of the question or answer. Remember that stack exchange is a set of questions and answers that a good one helps others. Thus the question is not unique to the OP but applies to all others independent of race gender or any other attribute. If gender matters the question is off topic and should be deleted. The issue is the new CoC won;t allow us to do that
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 21:12
  • 21
    @Aza people are simply angry about SE enforcing the new policy and by threatening them with expulsion for anyone who would not comply. Are you really of the opinion that it should by done by force? I thought we should talk and make people understand and educate them not to punish them for any even slightest disobedience. This way SE does you more harm than good. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 21:18
  • 5
    I just upvoted to fix the downvote this got because while I experience things very differently from BelovedFool, I think it's an honest attempt to answer and I don't think it merits a downvote. I would be interested, however, in what part of the reaction they consider transphobic. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 21:50
  • 3
    @Pascal in regards to voting: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/246287/… leading to meta.stackexchange.com/questions/74666/….
    – dfhwze
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 21:52
  • 3
    Hair splitting. I wouldn't upvote if I didn't find something constructive in their answer, it being that the questioner wanted to know whether SE is doing anything to feel existing users more welcome, and BelovedFool says that yes, they feel more welcome, so it's working. I also agree with their statement that currently SE is a mess. You're welcome to downvote if you don't agree. If you take issue with the "I upvoted to fix the downvote", alright, noted, I won't say that again. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 21:57
  • 2
    @rjzii I'm not sure about that. Paid moderators would lose their livelihood should they resign in protest. Which means a lot fewer would be willing to do it. That would further solidify the one-sided rule that's been going on here lately.
    – user622505
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 22:59
  • 18
    "Worse than that, offensive stuff does stay around an unhealthy amount of time before being actually deleted (frequently more than an hour or even longer)" Monica was a mod on many sites, including this very Meta.SE. She became a mod here because SE asked her to. She volunteered her free time to remove that stuff and create a welcoming environment for all those SE allegedly cares so much about. What she got in return? Insults from the (ab)users and then SE firing her for asking questions in a private mod chat room, then falsely accusing her in public. SE created that unwelcoming atmosphere. Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 12:17
  • 19
    I upvoted the answer, despite not agreeing with the whole answer. In particular, I believe the one hour expectation to be utterly unreasonable. The EU asks Facebook and similar sites with paid moderators to remove the worst crap (ISIS propaganda and that level) within 24 hours. Asking unpaid moderators to remove subjective things in 60 minutes is three steps beyond that. Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 14:33
  • 2
    @MSalters I don't know, bad stuff get remove pretty quickly from IPS (interpersonal.stackexchange.com) so removing bad content in a timy manner is definitively douable. But we do habe a great community who helps a lot with that Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 15:14
  • 6
    @BelovedFool It feels like you're saying, we used to have a great community who did a great job removing bad content quickly (until one of the best was fired, dozens more resigned and many more reduced activity)? I think many if not most of us (with some regrettable exceptions) agree that the stated aims are good, but it appears that in reality, everything has got much, much worse, and SE are just walking away from the mess they created? Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 9:18
  • 2
    +1 because I don't understand how one can disagree with the (admittedly small) data point that you are an existing user and you feel more welcome.
    – Benjol
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 6:17

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