225

I am a member of the network and posting anonymously for my safety.

CW: References to and examples of hate speech

I don't want to put blame anywhere, but unfortunately due to the huge turmoil created by the recent CoC changes, several right-wing websites have started reporting and thus directed attention of far-right groups to this network. I don't want to provide any links, but it's not too difficult to find examples with your favorite web search engine.

Now, while you have the typical gut wrenching hate speech with murder and torture fantasies, there was one particular case where someone posted pseudo-code for automatically going through the member database of SE and finding users who have listed their pronouns in their "about me" section. The pseudo-code then moved those users into a category for torture and extermination. While at this point it's pseudo-code I fear it's not too unlikely to think that someone could put this into a working tool for doxxing LGBTQ users on this platform. It seems that the Neo-Nazis consider the downvotes on the CoC FAQ an affirmation of their views.

I therefore have removed my pronouns from my "about me" section. This is unfortunate. In the past I did feel welcome. The few situations in the past where someone misgendered me have all been resolved quickly and easily, with everyone being friendly, understanding and accepting when I corrected them.

Now I don't dare correct people any more, not because I fear backlash from the particular person in the particular situation, but because literal Neo-Nazis are now watching this platform with horrible intentions.

I have no idea how to fix this, but I guess we can only wait for things to settle down.

  • 14
    SE should consider blocking requests from hate sites based on the referrer header. It won't stop the most determined ones from working around it, of course, but it would discourage them. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Oct 17 at 19:28
  • 17
    How the bleep does this question get (as of now) 36 downvotes? Is trolling by Neo Nazis not considered a bad thing? – Cyn says make Monica whole Oct 22 at 2:29
  • 44
    @Cyn I downvoted it because the central claim - that neo-Nazis online are openly discussing plans to torture and assassinate trans Stack Exchange users, identified by pronouns in their About Me section - is wildly implausible and almost certainly a lie. I can find no evidence of it on Google, the proposed mechanism of finding targets makes no sense (most people who state their pronouns are not trans), the public internet is a foolish place to plot terror conspiracies, and we are an illogical target for anti-trans terrorism in the first place (why not just bomb a gender reassignment clinic?). – Mark Amery Oct 22 at 13:27
  • 13
    @MarkAmery I don't know who "someone" used to be and even if I did I wouldn't necessary know this user. But I do know that "fantasies" (as someone states) are very popular all over the net and, even if they never amount to any action, they're still terrifying to read when they apply to you. This story sounds plausible to me. And fits in with what Monica has publicly stated that she's been encouraged by certain groups to help their cause (and that some assume she's on their side). – Cyn says make Monica whole Oct 22 at 15:44
  • 6
    @MarkAmery Google blocks and filters a lot of results that get reported to them so it may be that this content has been removed from the results. I don't know if that is the case here but I can say that you will get much different results if you Yandex one of those site names instead of Googling it. – mchid Oct 22 at 21:52
  • Is there any actual evidence for this? skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/45238/… – Fizz Nov 8 at 8:28
  • 1
    @Fizz, the conversation there seems to suggest there is evidence. – gung - Reinstate Monica Nov 9 at 19:05
  • @MarkAmery I downvoted. Does that make me a neo-nazi? I live in Germany, there are a lot of people here who would like to talk to you about your sweeping misuse of the word. – Qix Nov 29 at 9:38

13 Answers 13

-9

This is very sad. Unfortunately transgender / non-binary people are vulnerable to violent attacks, as they have yet to gain any real acceptance by the wider community.

This kind of extreme bigotry does give us all a gut reaction of horror. That's why it's so important to just try and be mindful, for the sake of a small concession for a small group. Transgender people are often rejected by their families and communities and can face a lot of emotional turmoil and that itself presents complications and dangers.

Every human being has times of being rejected or misunderstood. Misjudged. Nobody likes that. I urge people to put their own feelings aside over this issue in a show of support of transgender people.

Stand up and say:

No to Violence against Transgender people!

Show these onlookers that the community of Stack Exchange doesn't endorse this type of hatred and discrimination!

190

This was entirely predictable.

I am older, and have seen things like this happen before.

On the FAQ post, I posted that this would encourage trolling, and it has, and reduced mods to playing whack-a-mole with comments and posts all through SE.

The CoC itself is oppressive, and the enforcement, even before it was established, has been draconian.

Cue the predictable backlash.

There are many LGBTQ+ people who are against the CoC, but don't want to speak up for fear of repercussions, quite frankly, with what happened to Monica, who can blame anyone for wanting to back off.

As it stands, I have already deleted 2 of my SE accounts, and will be deleting all of the rest over the course of the next week or so, depending on my free time.

I agree with you 100%.

THE NEW CoC has put big freaking targets on LGBTQ+ people on SE

I don't feel safe either, which is why I am deleting all of my accounts.

I have been angry with this site in the past, I have argued, I have fought, but never have I felt unsafe....

until now.

  • 78
    ::Sigh:: The last time I mentioned that the terms laid out by the new CoC are actively harmful for LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ folks alike, I was shouted down in the comments. Something like this was bound to happen, given the way SE handled it. Whenever policies are aimed at a specific group (whether in a positive or negative sense) they become hot targets for trolls, rules-lawyers and extremists. It's unfortunate that many people didn't see it coming. :( – S.D. Oct 17 at 13:54
  • 78
    I really don't understand how people who have presumably been on the internet for years, and whose jobs it is to work with internet communities, can be so bad at this. Monica's firing was botched beyond all reason, and then there were multiple opportunities to cool things down, none of which were taken. And then there were multiple own goals that were completely unforced! I can only assume that there are some sort of ridiculous internal shenanigans going on in SE because this flailing does not seem to have any reason or direction to it. Is this really incompetence and nothing but? – SolveIt Oct 17 at 14:18
  • 7
    @SolveIt I assume they are not incompetent or they wouldn't be where they are, which drives me to think that's a voluntary move, fully aware of what would happen. My cynical side would say: That brings traffic, so that's good for ads (whatever those ads are) and give free publicity to SO (teams/jobs/etc.). A French journalist has said to describe this kind of moves one day (Rough translation): "Speak badly about me or speak well about me, the essential is that you speak about me!" – Tensibai Oct 17 at 14:38
  • 15
    @SolveIt - "I really don't understand how people who have presumably been on the internet for years, and whose jobs it is to work with internet communities, can be so bad at this."; very simple, the Peter Principle explains it very well, no need to look any further. That would violate Occam's Razor and can be confirmed/ corroboratedwith Hanlon's Razor. – user148287 Oct 17 at 15:26
  • 6
    @einpoklum Stuff is getting deleted left and right. Plus, I don't want to draw any more attention to any of this crap. As to the harassment from the left wing, apparently I'm some sort of "traitor" for disagreeing with the CoC – Richard says Reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 15:39
  • 31
    @SomeoneWhoUsedToCare This is like anti-poverty programs that make poor neighborhoods more poor. These are the omnipotent moral busybodies that CS Lewis spoke about. People who "help" people against their will, and without their understanding – Richard says Reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 15:42
  • 2
    @SolveIt I see a discernable purpose: press and twitter noise bringing anonymous users for whom the ads are displayed and just noise around the name which offer "free ads for teams and jobs" while talking about the problems. bonus, users making a fuss are seen as the bad guys toward a company willing to enforce more inclusive behavior. At this point of repeated behaviors I start to doubt that's just a mistake. – Tensibai Oct 17 at 16:05
  • 8
    @Tensibai There's actually a term for it. It's called "Rage clicks". Of all the emotions that drive traffic, rage is the number one. Rage click marketing is a real thing – Richard says Reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 16:29
  • 5
    Please don't go. – Resistance Is Futile Oct 17 at 19:21
  • 33
    @einpoklum They passed the point of no return when they dragged Monica in a news article, If they can engage in character assassination against her, nobody is safe. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 19:46
  • 2
    Is there a comprehensive breakdown somewhere of what the new CoC does that is specifically harmful to the LGBT community? I've seen a lot of observation that SE's handling of the changes was bad (which I agree with) but I'm unclear what about the CoC's changes are themselves bad for the LGBT community. – Xirema Oct 17 at 19:48
  • 3
    @Xirema notice the trolling lately? The open mocking? And for the record, Engaging i libel is not "bad", it's a travesty – Richard says Reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 19:51
  • 15
    @Xirema The CoC update is not specifically harmful to the LGBT community.. The CoC, the FAQ and some related events are harmful to the community as a whole. Many people, not just the more toxic users, are feeling that their values are under attack. When people feel that way you can expect bad things happening. – Stop harming Monica Oct 18 at 8:56
  • 6
    The assumption that it's always someone "trolling" seems unfounded. It fails to consider that there's a good number of people out there who're simply tired of getting shamed/coerced into something they disagree with (e.g. other people's behavior, etc.). Just look at the backlash to the 'woke' Gillette ad around Dec. 2018 - Jan. 2019 as a recent example of what I mean. I'm old enough to remember when, in the mid/late 90s it was always about "tolerance" and "acceptance". Today, it's about shaming and enforcing compliance. And people are surprised that backfired? The thing is: why wouldn't it? – code_dredd Oct 28 at 9:40
  • 6
    @code_dredd I remember the 70's, where it was all about just leaving us alone to do our thing. The first cracks I saw was a gay bar that fired a straight waitress back in the 1990s. Well, back then, it was still about equality for EVERYONE, and the patrons boycotted the place until they re-hired her. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Oct 28 at 12:35
148

I am a trans person, and I just signed up after watching this kludge unfold.

This is a mess of epic proportions, and of course it's going to hurt the people it's trying to protect. But that's what happens when you try to propose new rules by shooting a bazooka into the mouth of the community.

The people responsible for this CoC have the finesse of a golem. Of course people are going to notice, and they're not going to be the right type of people to notice. I mean, I'm trans, and I'm laughing at how ridiculous this is. Your hearts are in the right place, but you rolled it out completely wrong.

And to the person (oops I broke the CoC, better ban me!) who previously posted something like "Stop violence against trans people!" (currently as of this edit, the accepted answer)....trans people will always be victims of violence. Because people in general are victims of violence. Even if you are not trans, there will be other reasons for them to perpetuate violence against you. Case in point: I got doxxed by kiwifarms before. Being trans, sure, yeah - but also because I put out a really shitty game. Even if I was cis, they would still probably doxx me because of that damned game. It's not like being cis protects you from violence - there are 20 trans deaths so far this year, but how does that compare to the number of cis deaths?

@eyeballfrog has provided actual statistics:

@Blue They come out to roughly 2 per 100k for cis women and trans people and 7 per 100k for cis men. – eyeballfrog 53 mins ago


Since comments have been deleted again, source data comes from here, here, here, and here. From the population numbers and murder counts, the murder rates can be calculated.

  • Perhaps provide a more direct reference to the referenced post (e.g. "XXX's answer" and/or a link)? – Peter Mortensen Oct 23 at 21:37
  • 18
    The people responsible for this CoC has the finesse of golem Thank you for a much needed belly laugh. :) – Qix Oct 24 at 0:09
69

I completely get you here and feel your pain.

The (now deleted) first draft of the official FAQ didn't really do a great job of introducing the concept of non-binary gender identity:

The vast majority of people go by the pronouns sets “he/him” or “she/her.” A small but increasing number of people use “they/them” pronouns or another pronouns set -- sometimes simply because they don’t want to go by pronouns with a gender association (just as some folks go by “Ms.” whether or not they are married, because they don’t think their marital status should be a relevant issue), and sometimes people use pronouns that aren’t associated with one of those two most common (binary) genders because they are nonbinary (i.e. people who are neither exclusively a man nor exclusively a woman -- e.g. genderqueer, agender, bigender, fluid, third/additional gender in a cultural tradition, etc.). (source - mypronouns.org)

This is the sum total of leading education in the FAQ. To my mind, it's muddled and confusing to the audience and there's no attempt to break this down into a form that people can readily consume and understand; this doesn't really help people grasp and respect the concept. Users are reacting against the "compelled speech" using ridicule without realizing the consequences and impact.

Moderators didn't have the opportunity to read the FAQ before it went out. It was drafted by people who are already biased intimately toward understanding the points that it's conveying. Instead of being aimed at an unknowing audience, it's written by the writers, from their own perspective and understanding.

The net effect of the CoC amendment has ended up being divisive rather than inclusive, and I personally think that sucks.

Within the confines of the moderator chatroom, we've been discussing and processing non-binary gender identification issues almost constantly for the past five weeks or so. But for many people out here in the open, this is new. And we're shoving people into the deep end of understanding this with little in the way of support and understanding.

When SE knew that respect for non-binary gender identification was on the agenda, it (in hindsight) would have been useful to create a blog post or Meta introducing this idea and allowing time for the users to discuss and process the upcoming request for respect. But this didn't happen. We had a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, and conspiracies before the amendment landed.

SE should have rolled this out better. Users should have been offered some education and support in understanding the needs of our non-binary gendered colleagues here on the network and how we can respect them as much as we respect everyone else here. Instead, we have reactions against SE that have steamrollered over the feelings of the very people that we're trying so hard to feel included and supported.

This is my own personal feeling on this. And it really has pained me to see the consequences of what's happened.

I am sorry that you have to face this. Everyone here deserves respect, everyone.

  • 122
    "This should have been rolled out better." Well there's an understatement. – Cerbrus Oct 17 at 9:40
  • 6
    A stark reminder that a bungled change management has far more damning consequences then just upsetting folks on meta. – Magisch Oct 17 at 11:32
  • 5
    I'm going to retract my earlier upvote, not for the failed attribution but for the assumption that a FAQ page could possibly summarise the concept and the complexities of gender-neutral pronouns and, ultimately, the history that lead to the creation of the LGBTQ+ community. What would you expect SE to have done, held an open town hall meeting? (I think someone actually suggested that!) – Mari-Lou A Oct 17 at 12:07
  • 5
    A blog maybe. Or a Meta. The point I'm trying to make here is that the roll-out for this change didn't give many people the time to understand the underlying reason for the change. The surrounding events didn't make things any easier, so people are reacting against SE, hurting non-genders in the process (and apologies for lumping things into "non-genders", but you see my intent there). – user351483 Oct 17 at 12:23
  • Hi. IMO this writing is stretched to use "non-gender" / "non-gender identification", instead of talking about "non-binary" genders. I haven't seen this before. It seems a rather less well-known term - I checked the Wikipedia page. If there's some reason why you're using a term e.g. that's different to the CoC, can you not cite it? It even feels a bit ironic given your complaint about education :-P. Otherwise, IMO it's better to avoid inventing new terms that aren't being used by the people affected. (Particularly if you start feeling you have to apologize in advance!) – sourcejedi Oct 17 at 13:05
  • 2
    I am generalizing rather than preaching here, I'm assuming that people get the intent. I apologize for not being exact in my wording here. – user351483 Oct 17 at 13:10
  • 5
    I disagree that respect must be earned. No one has to do anything to earn my respect. Even if someone is really awful they still get what I call the Basic Human Dignity Package. I suppose it's possible that someone could eliminate any possibility of me having any respect whatsoever for them, but that's hypothetical. I haven't encountered such a person. – Scott Hannen Oct 18 at 13:16
  • 3
    @ScottHannen You're describing courtesy, not respect. – Izkata Oct 20 at 8:33
  • @Izkata - I didn't describe anything. I specified to whom I give it. If I had meant that I show everyone courtesy I would have said that. I said what I meant. What I said generally applies to courtesy as well, but I was talking about respect, not courtesy. – Scott Hannen Oct 20 at 11:21
  • The official FAQ Link is broken – MiFreidgeim SO-stop being evil Nov 9 at 4:48
65

Stack Exchange Inc. made the same mistake too many politicians do, enacting a law so they will feel good and the hell with the consequences in the long run.

Please, let it be a lesson for next time. Think before you do something.

Are you doing it to feel good or to do good?

Here it is obvious to everyone. It was the former, and had you asked (and not fired with shame those who told you you are doing a grave mistake), we could have avoided this completely idiotic and unnecessary saga.

See also Cobra effect.

  • 25
    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. – Resistance Is Futile Oct 17 at 19:12
  • 1
    Honestly, it's reasonable to imagine both: they wanted to feel good about themselves that they were doing the right thing, but also sincerely wanted to do good. – gung - Reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 19:22
  • 2
    The opposite of "well done" is "well meant". – nvoigt Oct 17 at 20:11
  • 1
    @gung When an adult with power is going to make a change, he consults with others to make sure he gets it right. Here... Yeah... – gdoron is supporting Monica Oct 17 at 21:05
  • 3
    @HerMajestyQueenofARC: I'd say the road to hell is paved with sanctimonious heavy-handed legislation. As for the good intentions I'm a bit doubtful. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 21:36
  • @einpoklum Well, I have my doubts too (about good intentions) – Resistance Is Futile Oct 17 at 21:41
  • At least, they did too little after introducing the new CoC to really establish it. Nobody is seen or heard of since and CM staff is overworked. That's not enough to really defend it. It looks a bit like neglect. However they plan on publishing an update to the FAQ on October 22nd, maybe that will help something. – Trilarion Oct 18 at 10:55
  • 1
    I submit that they didn't do it to feel good but rather to look good to the outside world. Just read David's apology, it's got inauthenticity written all over it. Does he care about the people he's affected with it? Who knows, I can't read his mind. What you can tell though is that was a crap PR stunt to save face and had no actual remorse in it. I mean they deleted all the comments from the post. – logos_164 Oct 24 at 19:54
46

This is the greatest tragedy of the whole situation.

I agree with @Don Thermidor_Lobster Mobster: This was predictable, and could have been avoided. When the first actions were taken anyway, and the outrage began, they could have been corrected and this could have been attenuated. Even now, this can be fixed. The solution is simple:

  • Restore Monica.

    1. Return her diamond on all sites.
    2. Issue a sincere public apology for the hurt she's been through.
    3. Issue a statement to the Register clarifying that she is not a bigot.
    4. If you really believe that she needs to be fired for something, put her through a formal process afterwards. Everything will need to be completely transparent, and you'll have to bend over backwards to show that you are being fair and giving her the benefit of the doubt, because otherwise no one will believe the proceedings were anything other than a kangaroo court. But restore her first.
  • Walk back the coercive speech aspects of the new CoC / FAQ.

    1. The CoC itself is fine, it mostly clarifies and extends the 'be nice' policy and makes explicit that it applies equally to trans people.
    2. Much of the FAQ (e.g., #'s 1-8) is fine as well. But amend or delete the parts that entail coercion (e.g., #'s 9-11).
    3. If you like, you can use this: A Pronominal Proposal.
    4. Specifically, give different sites some flexibility to find what works within their culture and meets the needs of ensuring trans people are not made to feel unwelcome. By default, start every interaction by presuming good intent. Allow individuals the flexibility to find a way to interact that both people can feel comfortable with. Trans people are reasonable and are not fragile little buttercups in need of someone else to do this for them, they just need to know that the community will have their back.

These quick and simple steps will reduce the conflagration by an order of magnitude. Yes, the transphobes will continue to fight, and the all purpose trolls who don't really care one way or the other about trans issues will still try to make trouble, because they just want to watch the world burn, but there won't be enough fuel to sustain the fire. Ninety percent of the people here have sincere issues with Monica's treatment and coercive speech, but no ill will towards trans people. With real improvement, things will calm down.

Enough damage has been done. It's time for SE to defuse the situation.

  • 18
    +1, this is clearly what should be done, in a world where common sense reigns, but for some reason we're currently living in bizarre upside-down land. Fingers crossed that tempers cool, emotions get tempered, and some common sense is added back into the proceedings. I fear that it's gone too far though, and the SO team are too stubborn to admit wrongdoing at this point. – Reinstate Monica Oct 18 at 9:48
  • 1
    I agree with everything you've said in this answer except maybe the "ninety percent" part. (That estimate seems a little low to me.) – J.R. means 'Just Reinstate' Oct 18 at 15:46
  • @J.R., it's mostly a round number intended to convey the idea of the overwhelming majority. That said, I do believe there are some actual transphobes & trolls who have been drawn out of the darkness like moths to this dumpster fire, less than 10%, though, sure. – gung - Reinstate Monica Oct 18 at 17:26
  • 3
    @gung - To be clear, I figured you meant "ninety percent" as a figurative expression for "most everyone." I just wanted to reemphasize that fact by mentioning how well over 90% of the comments I've seen have been written both constructively and inclusively. – J.R. means 'Just Reinstate' Oct 18 at 19:10
  • 2
    @gung the entire problem is the shift from "live and let live" to compulsory anything. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Oct 22 at 15:45
  • This is exactly what should happen. – Qix Oct 24 at 0:34
34

This is just a tiny drop in a large ocean, but:

As a cis-gender person, I'm not removing my pronouns from my profile. I encourage other cis-gender folks who feel comfortable doing so to also include pronouns, to prevent it from being an easy way to single out transgender and non-binary folks.

  • 45
    Sorry, I am not going to slap my pronouns on my forehead. I believe we can all manage without doing that. If the pronouns pop in some conversation, it is easy to clarify proper ones. I have been doing it for ages. Also, while your advice may work for she/he it would never work for they. – Resistance Is Futile Oct 17 at 19:07
  • 5
    If you think that currently I do have pronouns slapped on my forehead, that is only because my sarcasm is working overtime to protect me from getting dragged into too deep. I expect going back to my name soon enough. – Resistance Is Futile Oct 17 at 19:11
  • 8
    I applaud this suggestion. Going on strike with community moderation tasks, the Friday moratorium... these are “withdrawal of labour” actions that send a message to SO/SE. But I’ve felt helpless in the face of the extraordinary hostility towards gender inclusiveness, and adding my cispronouns to my profile is one small positive statement I can make. Thank you! – Chappo Says Reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 20:25
  • 3
    +1 and have done the same myself – Kyle Fairns Oct 17 at 20:42
  • 3
    What a great idea. I'm in. – Reinstate Monica Oct 18 at 6:10
  • 5
    It's not really clear if this can prevent transgendered folks from being singled out, but it's a very nice way of showing support. – Trilarion Oct 18 at 10:32
  • 14
    Just an FYI since we're talking about language, folks generally prefer "transgender", not "transgendered," since it's not a thing that happened to you, just a way that you are – camille Oct 18 at 17:10
  • 5
    @Trilarion It pollutes the data fed into auto-doxxing harassment bots used by shitheads to build databases of people to target and attempt to murder. – wizzwizz4 Oct 19 at 14:20
  • 2
    @wizzwizz4 If the shitheads are not totally stupid, which cannot be excluded, they just might filter those out with preferred pronouns he/she. Would it still help then? I'm not sure. – Trilarion Oct 19 at 15:54
  • 1
    @Camille Thanks for the language hint. Written down. – Trilarion Oct 19 at 15:57
  • 1
    @Trilarion That would only let them harass enbies. But, yes, good point. – wizzwizz4 Oct 19 at 15:59
  • 7
    Thank you for being an ally – AGirlHasNoName Oct 19 at 19:36
  • 3
    @camille people say "transgendered" because "gendered" is correct. People aren't "gender", they are "gendered". – Stop Harming Monica Oct 21 at 12:47
  • 5
    @OrangeDog I don't agree with your phrasing. But this isn't a discussion we need to have. Google will show you that camille is correct, that it is common to have this strong preference. Including an ELL SE post, funnily enough. We don't need to debate the reason for that preference here. (An abundance of people willing to start that type of debate when a request is made... is something that makes a space feel less safe). – sourcejedi Oct 22 at 13:29
  • 4
    Thank you for encouraging everyone to help normalize pronoun declarations, as not only does it help trans people feel welcome, but it also facilitates clear communication for everybody, trans or cis. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Oct 23 at 5:41
26

NOTE: I'm responding here because this is marked as duplicate from this question surveying the LGBT community if they still feel safe on SE.

Harsh opinion ahead. Bring on the downvotes.

I'm a very openly gay man having been very active on this site for the better part of a decade (since I was in my teens). Since this post is about anecdotes, I figured I'd give mine.

I have never once felt unsafe, including throughout this whole CoC fiasco, on any part of the Stack Exchange network. Not even a little.

The only anti-gay sentiments I've ever seen on the site were when the logo changed to a rainbow rendition after the US legalized gay marriage. They were few and far between, most coming from a very vocal minority.

Please stop grouping the bulk of the LGBT+ netizens into your generalizations as if we're all some helpless group of everlasting victims perpetually berated by online bullies we're somehow incapable of ignoring.

I do not doubt there has been some malice towards minority groups on this site. Or any site. This stuff happens everywhere, on the internet and off. It doesn't make it right. It isn't an excuse. But it's not experienced so incredibly often that it's something worth starting a brigade over.

Since I was a kid, I've been taught throughout school about online safety and privacy. Maybe that was a luxury, I can't say. However - and this goes for everyone - the internet is not, and will never be, "safe" or free from dissent, anger, malice, or threat. You will never fix this. You will never avoid this. The only way to prevent it happening to you is to take preventative measures yourself. This is the harsh, uncomfortable reality of the internet.

If you do not want to be doxxed, do not put information about yourself on the internet.

If you do not want to be harassed, do not give harassers a medium to contact you.

If you do not want to see uncomfortable, offensive or obscene content, do not visit parts of the internet that allow or provoke it - or, much more simply, do not use the internet at all.

Just figured I'd speak out for those in the LGBT community that do not agree with the continual victimhood that seems to be rampant among those that wish to label all of us as such.

  • 13
    Just because you haven’t felt safe doesn’t means others haven’t. I have received so many hateful and transphobic comments within the past few weeks (that were thankfully taken care of by mods). I’ve never encouraged people to accept being a victim. What I have encouraged people to do is to stand up for themselves in the face of bigotry. All I can ask you to do is consider others perspectives before you outright dismiss them. – Gwideon Oct 24 at 1:10
  • 7
    @Gwideon I specifically did the opposite of dismiss them. However, I'm saying that those that receive such comments are in a minority, not a majority. – Qix Oct 24 at 1:18
  • 11
    And that is minimizing pain that several people have felt. If you couldn't tell meta hasn't exactly been a friendly place recently. Also I shouldn't have to shoulder the blame for receiving some one else's bigotry. I'd say a large portion of the community especially trans and nonbinary folks have not felt welcome. many have spoken out about it but others are to afraid to speak out. so yes by claiming it's simply a minority you are in a way dismissing a rather significant portion of the sites LGBT+ communities feelings. – Gwideon Oct 24 at 1:29
  • 4
    @Gwideon Also I shouldn't have to shoulder the blame for receiving some one else's bigotry. Where is the bigotry? I'd say a large portion of the community especially trans and nonbinary folks have not felt welcome. Is this empirical or anecdotal? you are in a way dismissing a rather significant portion of the sites LGBT+ communities feelings. You have zero evidence a "significant portion" of the "LGBT community" on stack overflow feels anything other than inquisitive about things. – Qix Nov 6 at 12:24
  • 1
    It's anecdotal. I've heard several stories from several LGBTQ+ members who have had similar experiences as me. Also just because you haven't seen any bigotry doesn't mean it doesn't exist. – Gwideon Nov 6 at 14:24
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    There it is. You're assuming a whole lot about things you think are happening. You're creating a problem where one does not exist. That's the whole issue everyone has with the CoC change and this victimhood outcry. – Qix Nov 6 at 18:33
20
+50

I'm honestly scared to express my identity as non-binary. I've expressed that I think SE and a portion of the community are equally responsibly for the LGBTQ+ community's current situation. All I can say is that we have to let our feelings be known and we have to continue to fight back against the bigotry.

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    I think that everyone is scared here on SE, even SE staff themselves. They just made a big mess and every action since then, just made things even worse. – Victor Stafusa Oct 17 at 20:25
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    Hard to blame the SE CM staff. They're rightfully scared of being fired, and with the current fiasco on their resume they're going to have a bit of a challenge finding a similar role. – MSalters - reinstate Monica Oct 18 at 7:16
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    "I've expressed that I think SE and a portion of the community are equally responsibly for the LGBTQ+ community's current situation" Completely agree. SE created this whole mess, but some community members have really given the impression of I refuse to use people's pronouns rather than I'm unhappy with Monica's firing and SE's conduct, which encourages entirely the wrong people to latch onto the platform. – berry120 Oct 18 at 8:36
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    @berry120 "... which encourages entirely the wrong people to latch onto the platform." Yes, that is really bad and people surely underestimated this. I did and I'm very sorry. What times are we living in when you must fear of encouraging the wrong kind of people whenever you speak out in a civilized way? My feeling is the (political) center is getting hit hard from all sides in these polarized times. – Trilarion Oct 18 at 10:48
19

Whenever attention is brought to something, first you'll hear the vocal minority shout the loudest.

From what I can see (based on the lack of response from SE Staff since the CoC changes were announced), it looks like they are waiting for this to just blow over, which is what - in all likelihood - will happen.

There are plenty of people who are in support of this change in principle, and in my opinion there wouldn't have been this sort of backlash had it been worded in a way that was more about teaching the community about why exactly the changes were being made, and reassurance that we wouldn't be penalised for trying our best.

People are taking issue with how it's worded, and it is rallying those who are on the extreme end of that negativity.

The issue when you focus on any part of yourself and say "This is what I am", is that there is always a group of people who won't accept that, because they focus on that part of themselves and they are like "We aren't the same".

In my opinion, the issue with calling diversity, diversity is because at it's core, it divides us. Unity is what we should be calling it. We want to recognise each other's differences, accept them and let them unite us, and I'm sorry for the actions of those that are allowing our differences divide us.

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    This fracas began in September 27... it hasn't blown over. It's got worse, and the management are fools for not intervening with the constructive rebuilding of trust (for want of a better term). – Mari-Lou A Oct 17 at 9:55
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    I've been following it ever since Monicas termination. Management improperly timing announcements and reacting without regard to the community is definitely a pattern that I've noticed. The unwritten alternative was that they were preparing a correction that would actually satisfy the community as a whole, but considering what we've seen so far, I would say they're just going to wait out the siege. – Kyle Fairns Oct 17 at 10:26
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    They are working on something according to Shog9: meta.stackexchange.com/a/335607/627227 – dfhwze Oct 17 at 10:43
  • I hadn't seen that @dfhwze, it looks like I could be (and sincerely hope that I am) wrong – Kyle Fairns Oct 17 at 10:54
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    @dfhwze They are working on something, let's see and hope what is coming soon. However, given SE history of trying to fix a wrong by commiting two other greater wrongs, I have fear that whatever they'll do, it will just make things worse. I really wish that they get right this time, but I wouldn't bet at that odds. – Victor Stafusa Oct 17 at 17:54
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    @VictorStafusa, They've been "working on something" since at least October 3. Every "something" that has come out since then has only made the problem worse. I'm not going to hold my breath. – Mark Oct 17 at 20:02
  • "Unity is what we should be calling it." I don't really understand that part. Calling diversity unity, what exactly would it help? I think you may be up to something, but I fear I do not really understand it, unless it's formulated differently. – Trilarion Oct 18 at 10:54
  • @Trilarion I’m trying to highlight that we stop at dividing when when we call something diverse, because as a word, diversity still highlights the differences between us. – Kyle Fairns Oct 18 at 11:06
  • @KyleFairns Sorry, I still don't understand it. Do you mean that we are all different is good, is bad, is intended? Should we be diverse but not divided and if so how? – Trilarion Oct 18 at 11:21
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    @Trilarion I mean, I may be reading too deep into their definitions is all. According to the definition by the Queensborough community college (the first search result for me when searching for “diversity”), we’re still dividing people by characteristics, rather than focusing in on individuals. Not every person within a group will have the same opinions or experiences, and I feel like while it’s aim is pure, the focus is still on those characteristics, when uniting individuals who happen to have those characteristics is really what we want. – Kyle Fairns Oct 18 at 11:37
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    Like, someone may speak up for themselves and how they feel, and others assume that they are the spokesperson for all people who share that characteristic rather than just an individual with an opinion. – Kyle Fairns Oct 18 at 11:38
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    You mean something like we are all unique and different from each other? I understand that, and would readily subscribe to it. But how can it unite us (knowing that we are all different)? (Sorry I don't have upvotes anymore for today.) – Trilarion Oct 18 at 11:44
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    We should rally behind the idea that we are all human, and take into account the fact that we are all different in order to start from a blank slate (imo). An interaction with someone (especially on a Q&A site) is a learning experience, we find out more about each other the longer we talk, and make judgements and modifications to our behaviour based on what has been said, or the actions of the individual we're talking to, rather than on characteristics that we hold. We know that problems do exist that consistently make others feel worthless, and I feel we should be mindful of that. – Kyle Fairns Oct 18 at 11:54
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    @Mari-LouA and the management are fools for not intervening with the constructive rebuilding of trust Agreed. Very strange that both sides of the argument feel untrustful right now and yet SE still chooses to do nothing. – Qix Oct 24 at 0:33
  • I suspect there are multiple vocal minorities here right now... – Benjol Nov 28 at 13:10
14

Allow me to answer from the other side of things.

I do not (to the best of my ability) conflate a person with a policy or a principle. With the exception of this recent hub-bub, you will not find me opining overmuch on trans or gay issues. I oppose a socio-cultural agenda focusing on these things, but it's certainly no justification for me or anybody else to become rude to a person, and certainly not to become abusive, much less threatening.

I respectfully submit 1) that words do not hurt people, 2) that thoughts are best left un-policed, and 3) that attempting to define things as "hate speech" is incompatible with 1) and 2). It leads to coercive measures such as those included in this recent fracas.

There are a great many things to debate and a great many tools by which we may educate ourselves and each other. Banning speech and coercing speech contribute to neither.

There are already not only reasonable and laudable policies against threats and abuse, there are in fact laws against threats, and via anti-stalking laws and such, against a great swath of online abuse.

It is not my purpose to litigate any of those actual points here, but solely to make the case that speech codes are bad, thought policing is bad, and that SE has really made a mess of this not only in the execution, but in the intermediate goal. Nobody has a right to not be offended, as this weighs too heavily upon the rights of others to speak.

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    The premise that words do not hurt people (1) is demonstrably false, though. Words have power, they have the power to uplift and the power to hurt. If they didn't, we wouldn't expend so much energy on using them and, as a site built on words, Stack Exchange wouldn't need to have a Code of Conduct. – CB Bailey Oct 25 at 6:53
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    @CBBailey, thank you for your considered response. – user286009 Oct 25 at 9:15
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    The fact that this was upvoted at all is astonishing to me. – heather Oct 28 at 5:05
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    @CBBailey Resorting to policing speech on account of the few that are troubled by others' words is a step backward. – Qix Nov 6 at 12:26
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    The CoC does not police thoughts. It restricts behaviours on SE sites. And nowhere else. – Raedwald Nov 9 at 9:13
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    @Raedwald The FAQ is slowly getting better in this aspect, but it still has answers that are variations of the form "If you do X, we'll assume you mean worst imaginable reason for doing X, so you must do Y" (which by implication they assume means the opposite from what they assume for X). That's functionally no different from "You are not allowed to think any reason for doing X". – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Nov 9 at 17:41
6

I sorry. I'm sorry for this whole stupid mess. I like SE. I like getting to the content and cutting out the noise. How much time and effort we've all spent here, slinging mud, screaming at the top of our lungs, building nothing but malice and animosity for each other ... it's done nothing good and has betrayed why we were all here in the first place.

We're a community, relishing in what we do best. Some of us killing it on SO, others taking names on a smaller specialty site, and all of us trying our best are making the Internet better. Creed, color, nation, orientation ... it doesn't matter what you are or what you want to be. We were doing it right.

Then we all devolved three weeks ago and thought bashing our heads in with sticks was the best way to make the Internet better. None of us are safe here any more. In addition to the real physical threats some of us may face from a vicious doxxing, we're all psychologically torturing ourselves here. That's why I'm out. I put in a request a few hours ago to delete my MSE account. I suggest others find their own way to disengage from this meta, at least for a while. Get back to your SE home site and relive those days when you knew you were positively contributing.

Maybe we'll all meet back here one day, without any clubs or rocks in our hands, but open minds with one singular focus: bringing good ideas to the top of the page.

  • 2
    I actually hope may of us are still killin' it on SO or other sites, despite the gory goings-on here. And staying out of pronoun trouble too :-P – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 21:10
  • That's very good advice and I will try to follow it. Just one last comment: "We were doing it right." seems to be incorrect. According to SO we were doing it rather wrong, not really right. Sorry, I just had to let this last thought go. – Trilarion Oct 18 at 10:40
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    I disagree with the complacency implied by "We were doing it right." We were doing it pretty well. We were doing it in good faith. But we didn't always see how our collective actions amounted to rejection. We didn't appreciate the way the system and the framing worked against our intentions. – Jim DeLaHunt Oct 18 at 15:06
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    For the past week or so, I've been active in the debate, and I've been frustrated by what I perceive as stubbornness on the part of SE management. However, I wouldn't characterize my involvement as "slinging mud, screaming at the top of my lungs, building nothing but malice and animosity." In fact, I've gained a lot of respect for many who I hadn't had much interaction with before. Sure, we've been banging a drum, but most aren't using our sticks to "bash anyone's head in". As for disengaging, I'll remain engaged until the wrongs done to Monica have been righted or until I leave the Exchange. – J.R. means 'Just Reinstate' Oct 18 at 15:57
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    The thing that amazes me the most is that SE continues to stick to their position when the LGBTQ community is in large part telling us that SE's implementation of the CoC is actually hurting them more than helping them. – sfors says reinstate Monica Oct 28 at 18:07
5

I feel you're greatly underplaying the issue by implying that it is mostly far-right that have problems with new CoC. It is outright oppressive. Tons of very different people will lash out against it and will attempt to undermine it. You don't need to be far-right to feel disgusted by attempt to force speech patterns down on you with threat of heavy repercussions and without any possibility to discuss and amend said rules. It is not politeness, it is not inclusivity. It is an ORDER - comply or else! And people generally don't enjoy being ordered around, no matter what their views are.

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    The post is not discussing disagreement with the CoC – the question is talking about trolling and threats by outside groups who are, theoretically, hoping to take advantage of the chaos over the CoC. They are not accusing people with criticism of the CoC of being far-right, etc. – divibisan Oct 24 at 0:03
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    You're responding to a post discussing "gut wrenching hate speech with murder and torture fantasies" and "a category for torture and extermination" (which, even if it's not a serious and actionable threat to carry out those actions, and I have no idea if that's the case, is still deeply disturbing). Plenty of people have expressed their issues with CoC changes civilly in many places, but coming to a post that's expressing concerns about hate speech and threats of violence so you can complain is just unbelievably disrespectful. – onetothrowaway Oct 24 at 0:23

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