Past actions have been effective
The actions have drawn attention to the updated CoC – over 100k views in 9 days with a score of -1745 and counting. It led to the creation of Meta's 4th most upvoted question in history with a positive score of 1606 and viewed over 121k times in only 21 days. The uproar also attracted the attention of the press, here, and here.
Above all, the significant number of moderators resigning on Stack Exchange and on Stack Overflow has successfully drawn attention to the company's appalling handling of Monica Cellio's demodding.
What is the mood among SE staff and its CEO?
In order to gauge something, I listened to the revived Stack Overflow podcast entitled: compilers, turtles, and a brand new crew with host Ben Popper and guests; Sara Chipps, the director of Public Q&A at Stack; Paul Ford, a writer, technologist and CEO of Postlight; and special appearance by Prashanth Chandrasekar, Stack Overflow’s newly appointed CEO.
The first ten minutes of conversation isn't enthralling unless you are starting a career as a developer, computer engineer or programmer, the explanation of what a compiler does will probably be of interest and useful to know. What particularly struck me was how often Ms Chips interjected with her laughter.
Around 10:24 the new CEO is introduced to podcast listeners and around 15:27, Chandrasekar begins to talk about his vision for the Stack Overflow community and company. In the first two days as CEO he talked to almost 130 Stackers which he said was an “eye-opening learning experience”, he soon realised what made the company ‘tick’ was the SO team
…(16:45) that cares about this community so much and wants to do the right thing. There are probably a handful of companies in the world that has such a large impact around the world. With 50 million developers coming here to seek answers to their most technical questions, there is no way that you could replicate that magic. And so, we're really really blessed to have a phenomenal community of people that are willing to share so much, and be open about the knowledge that is resident in their heads and ready to promote a truly borderless sharing of information around these topics…
Around 19:45 the topic shifts to turtles. I particularly like freshwater turtles, they're cute, but my blood ran cold when I realized that small children could manipulate these poor turtles at their will, to draw things on computers.
My level of engagement plummeted from this point on.
Around 25:50 mark, the topic shifts to something called “Logo”.
Around 27:00 mark, the host (I think) talks about “Net Logo”.
The atmosphere on the podcast appeared to be relaxed, buoyant and cheerful. The host and guests chatted freely, little if anything seemed to be scripted, but it was clear the primary scope of the show was to introduce the new CEO to Stackers and users alike. Everyone showed a unified front, which did not even hint at any possible simmering tension.
Unsurprisingly, there was no mention of the diaspora of moderators fleeing across the network, especially the resignations from SE's jewel in the crown, Stack Overflow; Robert Harvey, George Stocker (a staggering 1,408 votes supporting his decision) and just two days ago, Jon Clements. Unsurprisingly, there was no mention of the recently updated CoC, Sara Chipps' article, Iterating on Inclusion, which was published on the company's blog just ten days ago and praised by Fullerton on Twitter; where else?
Yet, in the podcast there was no mention of the importance of inclusivity, no mention of the LGBTQ+ community, no mention of the updated CoC, no mention of SO's infamy of being toxic and unwelcoming to minorities but how, finally, they were dealing with it, head on. And last but not least, no mention of Monica's demodding from six SE sites, nor how the dismissal was compared to shipping software by the Director of Public Q&A herself.
Why? Simply because it's embarrassing to admit in public.
Next course of action?
I suggest that we wait. We wait to see what Wednesday brings. My patience; however, is wearing thin, similar to that of an eggshell.
On October 15, Shog9♦ wrote an answer to the question on everybody's lips
As noted in David's apology, we created a lot of the problems in play here by not following process. So now we need a process to follow for handling issues involving moderators that our existing process didn't seem right for, and also we need a process for what to do when a moderator has been removed and wants to come back. That last process is the process we need here - that's the big test, really: can we build a process that'll give Monica a fair shake even after all that's happened these last few weeks? Good question...
…If we get that process right, then we'll finally be able to do something useful here. If we didn't, we'll likely keep circling. That's why, frustrating as it is right now, we're moving slowly.
Believe me, I know how stressful this is to watch, especially when so little is being said. There's a lot I want to say right now, but it would be careless of me to do so; and again, we've already been a bit too careless with what we've said in some situations, and hurt folks by doing so.
Thanks for both your patience, and your gentle prodding - it's folks like you being attentive to the work we're doing that keeps us focused. @Shog9♦
This is Stack Exchange's last chance
This is Stack Exchange's last chance to begin repairing bridges with its core users, and rebuild that trust, which has been slowly eroding for well over a year. A trust that George Stoker, in his resignation, states began crumbling as far back as 2014
- Stack Overflow Inc. has forgotten how to lead, how to persuade, and how to talk with the community. This has been a slow decline since 2014 and we are now at the point where the company's actions show they no longer want to build a relationship with the community they have.
He brilliantly summed up the proposed moderator process
- Since the current people in charge also make the decisions regarding the Moderator review/removal process; I am not confident that moderators are seen as partners in community building; but rather volunteers to be tightly controlled. The proposed Moderator Review process lacks due process, codifies the decision making in the hands of the same people who have created the mess we're now experiencing, and treats oversight of the process in a token fashion. They may as well have retained their previous statement that "community moderators can be removed at any time, for any reason", because that's what the proposed process codifies, with the illusion of impartiality.
There's not much room for optimism, is there?
But there's a glimmer of hope, the process seems to have been vetted, and the moderators have been shown the draft and have suggested ways in which to improve it.
Let's hope to see the company and Monica begin talking to each other, in private, by Wednesday. Let's grant Stack Overflow Inc. this one last chance to get it right.