It has been a week since https://meta.stackexchange.com/q/334900/357396 [now deleted] was announced and made a faq immediately. Since it was posted, it received a major backlash. It stands as 378/1976 as of writing. Even if we forget the votes it received, there are many answers which point out the disadvantages of enforcing as it is.

It is written that the goal of the new Code of Conduct is welcoming LGBTQ+ community; some people from the said community feel the code does not reflect their feelings and they have expressed that the code wouldn't provide a welcoming atmosphere on the network. Some questions also acknowledged that there was a flood of troll comments and sentiments expressed against the LGBTQ+ community.

I am non-binary - recent events have made SE less safe for me (and other members of the LGBTQ community)

Does Stack Exchange, Inc. really care about the LGBTQ+ community?

Apart from looking at this scenario only from a gender point of view, there are more posts written about the Code of Conduct.

Did anyone consider the impact on autistics of recent Code of Conduct changes?

There could be more dissent in other posts which I have not encountered yet.

On the other hand, some were not happy with the usage of pronouns. So, I think some people from both parties (who are ok with usage of pronouns and opposed to the pronouns policy and others) have some kind of problem big or small with the new CoC. Many wrote answers to the announcement post and some others wrote questions or raised discussions under in the form of questions expressing their feelings towards CoC and the situation resulting after announcement is made.

Does the company want to go forward with the current Code of Conduct as it is without considering the current scenario and the responses from the overall SE community?

  • 14
    There seems to be some confusion between the actual Code of Conduct and the pronoun-related FAQ post. Oct 18, 2019 at 5:12
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    I'll point out that both of the links you cite are about homophobic and transphobic comments made by folks 'coming out of the woodwork' as it were - they were there all along, it's just now they're saying it on an issue that's visible enough that their comments are also more widely visible than normal.
    – auden
    Oct 18, 2019 at 6:03
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones Yes, my question is mainly about the faq which is related to application of Code of Conduct. The change in faq is just one or two sentences but the faq states some explicit changes like warnings, account suspensions this time. This raised many questions and dissent also.
    – Nog Shine
    Oct 18, 2019 at 6:42
  • 2
    There was Did anyone consider the impact on autistics of recent Code of Conduct changes? and a previous post that seemed related. Not sure if this meets what you're asking about though. Oct 18, 2019 at 8:58
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    Yes, @SecretAgentMan I also count this as related. Not only gender pronoun issues. There were concerns from different perspectives. There was also a post about [treating people with anxiety](How can we help and support users with anxiety in the context of Stack Exchange?). Since it was posted in current context, I also feel it's tangentially related to CoC.
    – Nog Shine
    Oct 18, 2019 at 9:03
  • 2
    @heather Not only the two links I have more examples than homophobic and transphobic comments. There was a post about people with Autism, users with Anxiety also. Even they have shown their dissent to current Code of Conduct implementation.
    – Nog Shine
    Oct 18, 2019 at 13:29
  • Yes, I don't think the company will backtrack from the CoC. Rolling it back will cause the same outrage. The new CEO's focus on making money from SE, the community is not high on his priority list.
    – Alex
    Oct 18, 2019 at 15:28

3 Answers 3


This answer by Cesar M♦ (Community Manager) states:

We are currently working on updating the FAQ we posted to accompany the recent CoC changes, taking in mind and heavily basing it on the community suggested one. We will share the revised version with the moderators by tomorrow - and hope to have the feedback incorporated and made public by October 22nd.

Also stated:

Here are the points that we heard loud and clear from the letter and plan to address...

  • That the CoC changes give less autonomy and flexibility on how to moderate a diverse group of sites that are used by people from many different backgrounds.

So there may be changes coming to the exact specifics of how the CoC is enforced. It seems to me that they will consider the current scenario and the responses from the overall SE community. How effectively they do that, to what extent, and how they plan to address these issues remain to be seen.

  • 3
    If there is an intent to make changes to current faq, I think it's not right to add faq immediately. When there were modifications to "Be Nice" policy, there were multiple drafts before current CoC came live. Only featured was added to attract opinions from the network.
    – Nog Shine
    Oct 18, 2019 at 4:53
  • 11
    That applies to the FAQ, not to the CoC. If I'm being cynical, I'd call it an attempt to rephrase its interpretation in a light less open to criticism, but one that still doesn't mean any actual change in implementation. I'd like to not be cynical. Hopefully, it will make a difference. But I'm not holding my breath at this point. Oct 18, 2019 at 4:57
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    This comment suggests that the tone of the suggested FAQ is being maintained, which I believe seems to be a large part of the issue. If it's true, then this might be a positive change in the right direction. I won't be holding my breath until Oct. 22 though.
    – JFoxx64
    Oct 18, 2019 at 14:03

I see no evidence at all to indicate that SE has any intention of changing the CoC or its current application of it. In fact, the opposite seems to be the case.

I think most of the community criticism is not against the CoC itself, but the actions of SE in applying it. Primarily, dissatisfaction has resulted from SE's lack of communication and its perceived, if not actual, biased reactions. There also seems to be a lack of appropriate follow-through in addressing mistakes they've said they've made, but failed to yet actually correct in any tangible way. The greater the distance grows between their words and any actual action, the more there is an erosion of trust.

As for the CoC itself, I don't think there's anything essentially wrong with it. Certainly not with the principles it's trying to uphold, as opposed to, perhaps, some of its specific wording. I don't see the bulk of the backlash being directed specifically at the CoC.

  • 1
    Where then in your eyes is it that the bulk of the backlash is being directed towards?
    – tchrist
    Oct 18, 2019 at 4:55
  • 2
    @tchrist The entire second paragraph seems to be dedicated to that question.
    – Solveit
    Oct 18, 2019 at 5:20
  • 8
    @tchrist The firing of Monica is directly related to the CoC.
    – Brilliand
    Oct 18, 2019 at 8:03
  • I liken CoCs to the popularity of loyalty oaths. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyalty_oath Both are designed to try to control behavior deemed inappropriate by whomever writes them. On the surface, neither seem to be problematic, but the enforcement is always the key. I'm actually against both of these for this very reason. In the 50's California required all state employees to disavow all "radical beliefs". Which was/is a pretty good way of just disposing of people that say things others don't like. Oddly, there's still a "loyalty oath" in California, though it's pretty mild. Nov 24, 2019 at 0:43
  • The point being, it seems we're in this time again of authorities trying to control others whose behavior they don't like. The vagueness of loyaty oaths, or codes of conduct, or whatever the thing is you're supposed to obey, and the enforcers of such codes (almost always a "king decides" sort of environment) only leads to abuse. Nov 24, 2019 at 0:46

The actual wording changes are documented on the Stack Exchange blog, where they write:

... the Code of Conduct requires people to use the correct gender pronouns ... This has always been true of our Code of Conduct and we are making it more explicit with this language. This isn’t a new rule or a change to our policy. We found there was confusion, and we’ve clarified the language to make things abundantly clear.

So from Stack Exchange's perspective, the CoC has been in place and enforced for a long time. Stack Exchange explicitly do not regard the recent pronoun-related FAQ as a change in policy, but rather a clarification.

Relating to pronoun usage, Stack Exchange edited the Code of Conduct thusly:

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

There are even some responses that raise concerns but seem to agree with the current CoC to a major extent:

I will call you xe or zir etc if you want... -- Sterling Archer

The recent pronoun-related FAQ endeavors to clarify some particulars of the CoC, affirming Stack Exchange's firm stance towards using correct pronouns. However, it seems to have raised more questions than it answers. In the FAQ, they write:

We’ve tried to anticipate some of the most common questions people may have here, and we’ll be adding to this list as more questions come up.

Judging from Houseman's answer, they're working on that now.


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