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This is meant to be a companion post of sorts to I am non-binary - recent events have made SE less safe for me (and other members of the LGBTQ community)

The above post has gotten a lot of attention and is still at least being thought of, in the sense that a post from yesterday was marked as a duplicate of the above.

You might notice that the comments section directly under the question is quite empty. In fact, if memory serves me well, there were many comments, but they were wiped twice. I commented in the first batch, asking (in an indirect, casual sort of comment, so maybe it was mistaken for trolling or something. No matter) for a method to verify the claims, as did a few other people. I recall someone saying "conspiracy theory", so that probably contributed to the end of that collection of comments. When I checked a couple days later, there were a whole different bunch of comments, but with roughly the same content. That collection of comments is gone too.

I stress that I assume the mods have a good reason for wiping the comments, and that I don't need to know this reason. I also know that blanket wiping is easier or maybe even better for fast moving comment sections getting out of hand, and so on - not interested in why the comments are gone. But I do think it is important for us to stay grounded; it is important to know how bad the problem is, so that we have a correctly measured response.

So in the spirit of being level-headed, my question is this. What evidence is there for any of the following claims? (directly lifted from the current version of the post in question)

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 puts 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.

Of course, please refrain from mere plausibility arguments, speculation, and he-said-she-saids.

Notably, the question says "it's not too difficult to find examples with your favorite web search engine." I've tried both my favourite and Bing :) for longer than I care to admit with no success. Maybe I have bad google-fu; this would be an acceptable answer, if you can elaborate why.

I hope this post is taken at least somewhat seriously. The first step before the pills and surgery in the path to recovery is a diagnosis phase.

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    Related post on Skeptics : skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/45238/… – Turamarth Oct 22 at 12:54
  • @Turamarth thank you, I was not aware of that post. – Calvin Khor Oct 22 at 12:55
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    Let's say I have seen the site mentioned. You want me to post a link to that site? So you know the speaker was telling the truth? – Mari-Lou A Oct 22 at 13:03
  • I would also lime to know how severe the problem was before pronounMonicaCoCgate. – Martin James Oct 22 at 22:52
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    @Mari-LouA can you please post a link to the site? I cannot find this stuff. I'm sure it's there, I just am having difficulty finding these groups. I suspect once you find one, it would be a domino effect – Nobody Oct 23 at 0:56
  • @Mari-LouA Sorry for the late response but I had to think quite hard. I think that a direct link to such damaging things would be alright, but not optimal. Its alright because (assuming their existence) they already know all about us, and we don't even know how to name them. Its not a fair fight for us to be under a spotlight while they "scheme in the shadows", is it? Its not optimal because, depending on the severity, might cause SE or someone to intervene...or they can possibly just change URLs. What I'd ideally like are slightly obfuscated instructions that are somewhat reliable... – Calvin Khor Oct 23 at 5:56
  • There was one website that slandered M. Cellio by naming her as a villain, the url still exists but the content has been removed. real-life-villains.fandom.com/wiki/Need_Mod_Intervention – Mari-Lou A Oct 23 at 7:26
  • My comment was my way of saying, we should believe people who say they are in distress and not demand that they produce physical evidence of that distress, which in itself is hurtful and damaging. Do we not believe that there are hate groups because we cannot find a link? I also found this link sophiebits.com/2017/08/26/hi-im-trans.html – Mari-Lou A Oct 23 at 7:29
  • @Mari-LouA One of the things that pushed me over the edge to posting the question, was actually the separation of this responsibility from the OP of that post. Indeed, no one who is or were in distress needs to respond here. In this way, I hope the comments of this nature that plague(d) a number of mentioned posts (including that one) are pulled here, removing the need for moderator action in a somewhat organic manner. Lastly I'm not asking about if these groups exist, but about their actions. We can't react to a punch we can't see, nor should we dodge randomly with eyes closed. – Calvin Khor Oct 23 at 7:47
  • If the groups exist so do their actions. There are coworkers, family members, men and women, in all walks of life, who claim “you” are culpable for the ills of society and the world would be a better place if “you” did not exist and they say it to your face and behind your back. Stating, as a fact, that “you” are an aberration of nature. Now, imagine reading comments and posts on SE that negate that very experience. – Mari-Lou A Oct 23 at 8:10
  • @Mari-LouA and I hope we (still) have capable mods / users and the appropriate means of dealing with such things. But there's a reason we put security cameras in prison, knowing what they're up to is kind of important if you want to keep them in prison. These groups aren't in prison presumably, so the metaphor isn't perfect, but I am in some sense trying to play the role of a "security camera". And of course I don't claim that they're doing *nothing*(i.e. their actions evidently "exist"). But what is it that they are doing in relation to SE? – Calvin Khor Oct 23 at 8:22
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Unfortunately, I think the problem is both severe and persistent.

Being on the hate list of right wing activists means a constant stream of trolls deteriorating this site and adding to the burden of the moderators and community managers.

I cannot judge (from lack of knowledge of the situation in the USA) how serious the death threats are, but even when nothing happens they are annoying and exhausting for those who get them.

Putting the Stack Exchange sites in the middle of a troll battle is one of the worst consequences of the immature actions by one SE representative.

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    It depends on who's making the death threats but yes they can be very serious. – Gwideon Oct 22 at 19:04
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    If you believe that a death threat is credible, contact local law enforcement. They have a variety of tools to look into such things. (Got a relative who is a cop, and a friend at church who's a fed .... and who helped me with a few internet scam/fraud crime issues. The cops are a bit better equipped than a lot of people assume to look into such things. This is a US-centric data point). – KorvinStarmast Oct 23 at 0:50
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It seems you want objective statistics showing that doxxing has increased or that people are actively building doxxing systems. I don't think this is necessary for OP's claim. They would be nice but I could not find any reliable statistics about doxxing at all. Many studies paid attention to a particular consequence (e.g. swatting / identity theft) or they bundled doxxing in with things like data breaches. It will likely be some time before there is any concrete data. Digital crime in general is just now starting to be understood. Since there are no objective statistics about doxxing in general there is no way to measure if it got worse or not.

That leaves us in the realm of speculation and case studies / anecdotes. Anecdotes show that the concern you may be doxxed if you declare yourself LGBT is rational and level headed. There are certainly cases where LGBT users have been targetted for doxxing in the past. [1][2][3] (from a quick Google search). I would think it is pretty uncontroversial at this point that a person that is openly LGBT+ is more likely to be harassed online (not just doxxing but any sort of harassment).

The death threats do not in any way need to be substantiated to back up the claim in the original post (OP feels less safe). These operations can work by directing streams of hate speech towards a targeted individual. If someone manages to connect your profile to an email, twitter, etc. they can bombard you with messages. It doesn't matter if these messages are going to be acted on. The sheer quantity and harassing nature can be enough to affect people.

I saw some comments (now removed) which point out (correctly) that "If you publicly out yourself anywhere you are vulnerable". I think there may be a misunderstanding here. The OP's claim is not that SO is making people more discoverable (a binary 1/0 statement about whether or not it is possible to identify a person as LGBT+). If you had your pronouns in your "about me" before the CoC changes you were just as discoverable as if you had your pronouns in after the CoC.

The claim is that the recent controversies have made the likelihood of being discovered greater. The hypothesis is that trolls are not uniformly randomly sampling websites in an attempt to dox people. Someone being publicly out on their small little discord community is probably safe even if it is theoretically possible some troll stumbles across it and finds them. The claim is that, previously, trolls would have not thought twice about SE as being a place to find LGBT+ people to harass. Indeed, it's not unreasonable to think that many trolls were unaware of SE at all.

However, now that SE has been in the news and this controversy has grown it has gotten the attention of trolls it might not otherwise have attracted. As jknappen points out these trolls are no good for anyone but they are especially not good for LGBT+.

From all of this I think it reasonable that the existence of discussions about SE in troll-heavy forums at all is enough to substantiate OP's claim to the point of level headed and rational. What was previously a niche community which felt small and safe has been caught in the harsh spotlight of public attention. Behaviors which may have felt like a worthwhile risk to be treated as yourself have suddenly become too dangerous because the risk has increased beyond worthwhile.

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    Note that doxxing is not just a problem of far right wing sites. Far left wing activists do it too. They are essentially the same kind of people. – user1725145 Oct 23 at 6:01
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How severe is the problem of “right-wing sites” since the new CoC?

First we'd have to know how severe the problem was before the new CoC. We'd also need to know what qualifies as 'severe'. Does 1 extremist post count as severe? Does it depend how popular or extreme the post(s) are?

It would be especially difficult to gauge the size of the issue when complaints validity are being questioned.

We also have to ask if its really SE's problem and if it somehow is, do we let extremists change the way SE operates (even if slight)?

I commented in the first batch, asking (in an indirect, casual sort of comment, so maybe it was mistaken for trolling or something

The reason for comments being deleted are outlined here.

IMO I don't blame the mods for purging comments, it wasn't long before users post examples to questionable external websites potentially creating more work for the mods.

  • "We also have to ask if its really SE's problem and if it somehow is, do we let extremists change the way SE operates (even if slight)?" - Is pronoun use really SE's problem? How do we not let the way SE operates change (e.g. the new CoC)? – Luck Oct 22 at 18:08
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    If the new CoC were to change, It should be for reasons other than anything extremists have done or might do. IMO pronoun's are not SE's problem. But SE is trying to become a more welcoming place to protected groups and while I don't think they're going about it the right way, I wouldn't say it's not their problem. – dustytrash Oct 22 at 18:22
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    "Please don't doubt the validity of the statements made here, they're true." And I guess the innocent have nothing to fear from the inquisitors amirite? If this is how SE is handling this then everybody involved with that kind of statement deserves every bit of criticism they get. They should be ashamed. – soulsabr Oct 22 at 20:57
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    @soulsabr The moderator there is vouching for there having been hateful posts, which are now deleted. Moderators are not expected to display hateful deleted posts -- doing so raises tricky questions about the appropriateness of reposting hateful content (in the mod's words, "it's deleted for a reason"), as well as about the adequate degree of anonymisiation. – duplode Oct 22 at 22:12
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Notably, the question says "it's not too difficult to find examples with your favorite web search engine." I've tried both my favourite and Bing :) for longer than I care to admit with no success. Maybe I have bad google-fu; this would be an acceptable answer, if you can elaborate why.

I just did a Google News search for Stack Exchange and the fourth result is quite hateful. The first word in the article is "Degeneracy" and it goes downhill from there.

The Google News results have been that way for days. The last time I did that search the third result was dripping with contempt for trans and non-binary people as well.

In one sense, all the Google results show is that the trolls have enough clout and SEO to show up in search results. No doubt they have their own sites and keywords they use that wouldn't even show up on our radar. It proves these sites exist, but without seeing referrer logs it's difficult to know how many deleted posts originated from such sites.

On the other hand, it is powerful circumstantial evidence. Sites that radicalize their users against Stack Exchange certainly have the power to direct users here, and there is history of similar sites doing similar things to other communities.

What evidence is there for any of the following claims? (directly lifted from the current version of the post in question)

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 puts 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.

Several users have indicated that they have seen the code in question. This comment by LangLangC gives more details. Unless you have access to deleted content, that is the best evidence available.

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    'That's a problem.' - No, it really isn't. Look around the Internet and you'll find much worse. Let's not blow this out of proportion, especially when we have no control over it. – Script47 Oct 22 at 16:10
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    This answer provides a Google search that will show the hate sites in question, as requested by the OP. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Oct 22 at 16:47
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    Google News seems to pull their news from all manner of hobby and niche sites though. Not very reliable news there. – Amarth Oct 22 at 16:49
  • @Script47: There is something we can do. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Oct 22 at 17:00
  • @Amarth: People still use Google News. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Oct 22 at 17:04
  • @rockwalrus What kind of argument is that? Either a site is trustworthy or it isn't, no matter how many that uses it. – Amarth Oct 22 at 17:15
  • @Amarth: The OP asked for proof that such sites exist. Quote: Notably, the question says "it's not too difficult to find examples with your favorite web search engine." I've tried both my favourite and Bing :) for longer than I care to admit with no success. Maybe I have bad google-fu; this would be an acceptable answer, if you can elaborate why. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Oct 22 at 17:21

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