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This is not about moderators, this is about the general community members being a victim of weaponization of the CoC by other general community members.


This question is NOT about pronouns or any other sociopolitical conflict that is going on at the moment. Please do NOT make it about that in the answers.


Every time the CoC gets updated, it gets more open to abuse and weaponization against people with no intent of malice or that have made any reasonably objective violations.

This has been a problem going all the way back to the basic Be Nice! policy.

I have been targeted more than once in the past for simple neutral phrased comments that people flagged as abusive just because my name was on the close vote list voters on their objectively off-topic question and they disagreed with the closure for whatever reason.

That is what weaponization means. You then suffer consequences and have to prove your innocence to get relief by tracking all the false allegations and proving the serial flagging abuse yourself. All that said ...

In my experience of being a victim of such abuses, issues with abuse of the policy have always been handled by the moderators using their best judgement. The majority of the time they got it right and the few times they did not a peer review usually corrected any mistakes.

Every update to the CoC, though, ties the moderators hands more and more firmly and pushes them to go from using their best judgement to imposing absolute strict enforcement of rules as they are written.

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

The irony that an unpublished CoC was apparently weaponized against a moderator because they pointed out that it could cause problems related to uniform enforcement and thus weaponization and that they were then proactively removed because of something they might do when the CoC took effect is not lost on most of us.

It is rightly a concern for the general population that they could easily be subjected to the same kind of thing with no recourse.

What is Stack Exchange going to do that further prevents weaponization of the Code of Conduct?

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    I'm not comment-locking this, but comments need to ask for clarity in what's here, not ask for protracted justification of everything said. If you disagree that this question needs to be here or is helpful, you've got votes. – Tim Post Oct 18 at 16:23
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Stack Exchange is working with moderators on addressing these issues and has committed to doing so publicly by Tuesday, October 22nd

Cesar M has posted an update on behalf of the CM team which lays out the issues they are committing to address. There are a bunch of points, but the 3 that seem directly relevant to your points are:

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.

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

  • 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.
  • That it is not safe or acceptable anymore, even dangerous, to disagree with Stack Exchange on matters of major policy.
  • That we have failed to make the rules apply to everyone equitably and consistently, leaving attacks without real consequences.

Obviously, at this point it’s just more talk and no action. But it is, at least, a statement that they hear and accept the points your making and are committing to address them. Who knows if they’ll actually do it, but I think there’s a recognition, at least, that they can’t just ignore this issue and hope it goes away.

  • this is good to know, I have not seem this list. thanks for taking the time to post this! like you said, just words and provides not details on how to remediate the problems, but they are self-inflicted problems as they admit. in the past the official party line was weaponization is not really an issue and has never happened in practice ... – user148287 Oct 18 at 16:37
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SE has acknowledged specific issues and is going to give further information about them in the future

See this answer in which the CM team posted in response to the Moderator Open Letter.

In it, the CM team (via CesarM) acknowledge that SE has heard some other concerns you list loud and clear and plan to act to clarify them:

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

[...]

  • 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.
  • That we do not actively support our Moderators anymore, and thus placed you on shaky ground. Including serious concerns regarding our
    statements made to the press.
  • That it is not safe or acceptable anymore, even dangerous, to disagree with Stack Exchange on matters of major policy.

They are also making changes to the FAQ based on community feedback (including from moderators) that will probably help make things clearer. This will also come out on the 22nd.

Whether or not SE fully acts on all their promises and whether or not that satisfies you personally, we'll certainly be more informed on the 22nd.

Reinstatement/suspension procedures for moderators are being released on 10/22 after feedback from the moderation team

Even though moderators are not included in your definition of "general community members" they (we) are highly affected by these changes. And we will also be getting some clarity on how exactly the process for removing and reinstating mods will work.

See this answer from the CM team posted in response to the Moderator Open Letter.

We have shared our censure/removal and reinstatement processes for moderators with them for feedback last week. You can read more on this answer. These should be ready for moderators to use, and publicly available on October 22nd.