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There's an interesting Buzzfeed article: Bernstein, The Culture War Has Finally Come For Wikipedia, June 27, 2019. It shows striking similarity to the current happenings here. Quoting Cherry picking from the article:

  1. The foundation banned Fram shortly before 6 p.m. on June 10. Within an hour, admins had left dozens of messages on their private noticeboard demanding an explanation.

    Similar to Monica's case, and in fact Fram was "de-sysoped" as well as banned, whereas Monica was undiamonded. See: Stack Overflow Inc., sinat chinam, and the goat for Azazel and Firing mods and forced relicensing: is Stack Exchange still interested in cooperating with the community?

  2. It did not, per its own safety guidelines, disclose the complainer nor the complaint.

    The current explanation for Monica's undiamonding is repeatedly violating our existing Code of Conduct and being unwilling to accept our CM’s repeated requests to change that behavior (meta) but it's highly disputed, and since it has "taken a legal turn" it'll probably not be clarified any time soon.

  3. The foundation showed no signs of backing down.

    Nor does Stack Exchange: Monica's situation continues unresolved, is SE hoping the problem just goes away? and Stack Overflow is doing me ongoing harm; it's time to fix it!

  4. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, the organization said it had leveled the ban to maintain "respect and civility" on the platform.

    See The Register articles The mod firing squad and Flak overflow.

  5. A picture has emerged over the past half decade of a platform controlled by a small group of white men that is unwelcoming, if not hostile, to newcomers and women.

    Quoting from the blog post Stack Overflow Isn’t Very Welcoming. It’s Time for That to Change, we have: Too many people experience Stack Overflow as a hostile or elitist place, especially newer coders, women, people of color, and others in marginalized groups.

  6. More recently, Fram had an acrimonious semantic debate with a high-profile transgender editor over whether referring to them as “xe” constituted misgendering.

    Neopronouns strike again! Related: Post for clarifications on the updated pronouns FAQ and Neopronouns or trolling?

  7. The Trust & Safety team apologizes for not working more closely with them in the lead-up to this point.

    Stack Exchange's apology is here: An apology to our community, and next steps which says they apologize for the lack of process, privacy, and to discuss next steps.

  8. Editors and admins have proposed various protest actions, including a work stoppage, freezing the main site page, and forking all of English Wikipedia. Nine admins have resigned.

    Users on strike: Is there a list of non-moderators who have stated they suspended activities due to recent events? Diamond moderator resignations: Firing mods and forced relicensing: is Stack Exchange still interested in cooperating with the community?

It seems there is a pattern of behavior here; it's not simply a once-off. I'm just wondering what's up with this.


Question: Why does Fram's ban on Wikipedia seem so similar to recent events here and what can we learn from these two events?

15

Not really.

I know I'm late to the party, but as an active Wikipedia editor I felt the need to clarify the Fram situation a bit. Every dispute that arises online will have something in common with every other situation, but comparing these two specifically seems like apophenia to me.

They were banned for entirely different reasons

Despite how Buzzfeed attempts to (often inaccurately) spin this as a political issue, the whole neopronoun thing is so minuscule of an issue relative to the rest of Fram's behavior that I, and I think most other editors who closely followed Framgate, barely even saw it mentioned. Further, Fram was banned for violating the current Terms of Service, while Monica, as far as we're aware, was preemptively banned out of fear that she might violate the CoC in the future.

Framgate was resolved through the community

After a few weeks of outrage, the Wikimedia Foundation, of which the Trust and Safety Team that banned Fram is a part, agreed to allow the Wikipedia community to resolve the situation by sending the case to the editor-run Arbitration Committee (ArbCom). ArbCom reversed the ban, but left the desysop in place (incidentally, this is another difference--Monica was never banned from the site). The WMF then opened a community consultation, and acted on the recommendations by pledging not to use office action bans in the future. With this situation, on the other hand, it seems likely that Monica's legal action will have to be the way a resolution arrives.

Monica's and Fram's behaviors could not be more different

Monica has been universally (as far as I'm aware) acknowledged by the community as calm and collected, both before and after the incident, while Fram is universally acknowledged as often coming off as harsh and uncivil in his interactions, even by his closest defenders. After ArbCom decided not to overturn his desysop, he opened a Request for Adminship, a process in which editors who wish to stand for adminship are nominated by others, asked questions, and then supported or opposed by editors. Even his nominators called Fram's behavior "an atrocious mix of unnecessary overpersonalization, extreme defensiveness when challenged, lashing out at anyone he feels isn't sufficiently agreeing with him, and a general attitude that his opinions are invariably correct and it's his duty to bludgeon them through regardless of opposition".

Does that sound like Monica to you?

I am not trying to defend the WMF's actions here, but comparing the two just unnecessarily tarnishes Monica's name even more than Stack Overflow already has.

  • 2
    Thank you! I’m unaware of any behavior by Monica that remotely fits that description. She’s stood up for herself, but it’s not significantly different to how I would (like to believe I would) stand up for myself under similar circumstances. – Rebecca J. Stones Dec 4 at 2:22
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    WMFs decision to allow the community to resolve the situation sounds like something that SE could learn from. Did this decision improve the relationship between the foundation and community? – De Novo supports GoFundMonica Dec 4 at 2:28
  • @DeNovosupportsGoFundMonica I wouldn't really say it "improved" the relationship--there was lots of frustration about the initial delay in communication which didn't just vanish when it went to ArbCom--but at least it stopped it from degrading any more. Over at Wikipedia, we've recovered and gotten back to focusing on important things instead of feeling like we're yelling at a wall. With this situation, it has continued to spiral out of control of SE due to their poor response; the community has thus taken to crowdfunded legal action, which might have long-term, harder-to-repair effects. – Ambrose Winters Dec 4 at 16:19
68

Both networks/communities have a similar purpose: gathering and creating high quality content. Wikipedia does it in the form of an encyclopedia, we do it as Q&A. This attracts a lot of similarly minded people, who are bound to react to certain events in a similar manner. They are organized in a similar way, with moderators/sysops as overseers and liaison between the community and the company/foundation hosting and managing the platform.

Gender neutrality has become a more important topic for many online communities in the past few years. Given the struggles and slow progress it faces in real life, it should come as no surprise that it's a difficult problem to tackle for online communities too. Mistakes, small or big, are likely to happen. We're still a bunch of humans, after all.

I'm not familiar with the Wikipedia situation, but I wouldn't be surprised if they had smaller problems (comparable to the licensing change, or the advertisements) prior to this incident. But in both situations, the fire really started when an extremely well-respected community member was treated unfairly by the company/foundation. While the company/foundation might have their reasons for doing so, it creates an image of good vs. evil. A vocal minority chooses to side unilaterally with the fired community member.

I guess the reason why the cases are so similar boils down to psychology. We are all humans (including Stack Exchange staff) and we react in a similar way to external stimuli, and are quick to side with who we perceive to be our peers if something like this happens.

Now to the main point of the current question (it was edited in later): what can we learn from the Wikipedia situation?

  • Personally, while I use Wikipedia quite often to research (Stack Exchange posts...), I had not even the faintest idea this was going on. So even while Meta Stack Exchange feels like it's on fire for the last two months, most users have no clue about what's going on.
  • Companies are not know for learning from their own mistakes, let alone from other's mistakes.

So while this is a very interesting parallel, I'm afraid it doesn't bring us any closer to solving this mess.

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    The Wikipedia situation wasn't about gender. It was more akin to the "Welcome Wagon" situation of correctness versus politeness. Fram was banned for being correct, but expressing that correctness in a very abrasive manner. – Mark Nov 19 at 20:32
64
+50

The Events are Superficially Similar, but differ in extremely important ways

Here's the broad similarities I've noticed:

  • It involved a high profile admin user
  • getting stripped of their admin privileges
  • over accusations of breaking the Code of Conduct
  • that seem to potentially relate to accusations that the user engaged in openly Transphobic behavior
  • with very poor explanation of these circumstances from the organization itself
  • with said organization being responsible for making the actual decision to ban the user

I think it's important, however, to recognize that after these similarities, the differences become very stark.

The Banned User (Fram) had already seen warnings for incivil behavior in the past, creating a pattern of behavior

From the Article:

Much of the hard work that has gotten Wikipedia to this point has been done by people like Fram. Within the Wikipedia community, Fram is known as a rigorous and prolific administrator with a special talent for quality control: removing spam, handling copyright issues, and, ironically, booting banned users who post under new names. He’s exactly the kind of diligent, obsessive volunteer that Wikipedia needed to thrive. (Fram declined to speak to BuzzFeed News for this story.)

Fram is also known within the community as an asshole. “He’s like Inspector Javert,” one Wikipedian wrote of Fram recently, comparing him to the ruthless and inflexible antagonist of Les Misérables. “Brusque, bordering on rude sometimes,” another longtime admin, Floquenbeam, told BuzzFeed News. “He has a reputation for almost always being right on the underlying merits in a dispute, but going about it in a fairly obnoxious way.” Over the years, Fram has clashed with other admins, with editors, with ArbCom, and with the foundation itself. Still, he remains part of a caste of old-school admins, with nearly 15 years of social capital in the community.

The foundation banned Fram shortly before 6 p.m. on June 10. Within an hour, admins had left dozens of messages on their private noticeboard demanding an explanation. That night, the foundation released a short statement explaining that the ban had originated in complaints from the Wikipedia community. It did not, per its own safety guidelines, disclose the complainer nor the complaint. The statement made things worse. So did a statement from Fram, the next day, on his Wikimedia Commons page, where he, confusingly, had not been banned.

Fram explained that he had received two previous “conduct warnings” from the foundation’s Trust and Safety Council for his incivil style toward other Wikipedians. He then claimed that the foundation told him he had been banned for a single edit to the Wikipedia entry for the Arbitration Committee itself, which began, “Fuck Arbcom.” Once he had received the conduct warning, he wrote, any “flimsy justification” for banning him would do.

We have a lot more detail regarding what may have been the inciting incident that led to his banning

Those dynamics are central to Fram’s ban. Egged on by Fram’s insistence that the foundation had actually banned him because of a grudge, and stymied by the foundation’s refusal to name the complainant, Wikipedians began to scour his history on the platform, looking for someone to blame.

Much of that blame fell, perhaps predictably, on a woman and a transgender editor. In 2017, a fledgling Wikipedian accused Fram of monitoring her activity on the site to such an extent that felt like harassment. The editor, whose contributions focused on women athletes, lesbian history, and abortion rights, felt that Fram’s pattern of correcting her spelling and deleting her stubs — short, unfinished articles that are culled when they sit dormant for too long — demonstrated a lack of good faith.

“Stay off my talk page Fram,” she wrote at the time. “If you have a problem with my work, then you need to talk to another admin and have them handle the problem. It should not be you.”

More recently, Fram had an acrimonious semantic debate with a high-profile transgender editor over whether referring to them as “xe” constituted misgendering. It culminated in an ugly claim by Fram that he would not be misracing a black person by calling them the n-word, only being racist.

On Wikipedia and in the forums of Wikipediocracy, a site where Wikipedians gather to discuss and criticize Wikipedia, users speculated about a secret romantic connection between the woman editor and a member of the Wikimedia Foundation board and about whether the trans editor might’ve been pretending to be trans to win a fight with Fram. The vitriol toward those two users grew so intense that Risker chastised some Wikipedians in her critical note about the ban.

“Please, stop being cruel to individuals whose names have come up in the course of this issue,” Risker wrote. “If ever you wondered why User:WMFOffice exists, those of you who have overpersonalized this situation have illustrated the point quite well.”

[...]

A much quieter group in the community were thankful for the ban. BU Rob13, a former member of ArbCom who recently retired from administration, said that Fram’s behavior toward him, including “taking shots” at him in an edit summary and following him to unrelated cases, felt like harassment.

“[Fram's] actions, and the Arbitration Committee's failure to act promptly in condemning them, were a major factor that led to my resignation,” BU Rob13 told BuzzFeed News. “It is also a major reason why I no longer believe the current Arbitration Committee can handle harassment.”

The real cause of the Fram flare-up wasn’t the sudden overreach by the foundation, BU Rob13 said, but the community’s own laissez-faire attitude about toxic users.

“The community is currently blaming the foundation for their own mess, in my opinion,” he wrote, “which was caused by our abject failure to develop procedures to enforce civility without Foundation intervention.”

The Wikipedia Foundation appears to have a more staunch attitude on how to address issues of "important admins who appear to be toxic"

“There are users in the community who have a reputation for creating good content, and for being incredibly toxic personalities,” Wales said. “On this issue, I have a very simple view that most of these editors actually cost us more than they're actually worth.” In 2016, the Wikimedia Board of Trustees resolved to address toxic behavior in the community.

Getting a handle on the size and severity of the toxicity problem in the Wikipedia community is difficult. The relatively small number of admins and active editors of Wikipedia compared to the number of active users on a major social network means the scale of harassment is necessarily smaller.

“Harassment is a problem, but for us its small,” Katherine Maher the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, told Slate’s If Then podcast last year.

But it can be severe. In 2016, an editor said the toxicity of the community had led him to contemplate suicide. And abuse on Wikipedia can be baked into the tools used by admins themselves.

Sidebar: I was initially worried people would accuse me of taking things out of context if I trimmed away too much from these quotes, so they're longer than I think they should be. If you feel this post would benefit from trimming down these quotes to just the parts I think are relevant, let me know and I'll do so.

Why these differences matter

If we're going to argue that this situation with Wikipedia and Fram's banning, and the more recent situation here with the Code of Conduct Changes and Monica's dismissal are meant to be comparable, then that means taking as a given the following stipulations (most of which, I suspect, the users here would not agree with):

  • That Monica had a prior history of being hostile towards users, to the point that many other users had reported previously that she was harassing users and admins and being a generally toxic actor
  • That Monica has previously already received warnings for incivil behavior
  • That Monica had been specifically accused of harassing users by other admins and users on this site

If we argue that these stipulations are untrue, then we must also conclude that the Wikipedia situation with Fram and the Stack Exchange issue with Monica is not a comparable situation, and that therefore, there's not much that Stack Exchange can learn from that situation.

  • 5
    You've done an excellent analysis of the similarities and differences. Although I believe it's worth studying what happened, and why, at Wikipedia with Fram, I agree the significant differences with what happened to Monica means there's likely not very much we can learn from it (at least not directly) which can help us here. – John Omielan Nov 19 at 20:03
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    Here's the broad similarities I've noticed: //It involved a high profile admin user // getting banned An important correction: Monica was never banned or suspended. Her moderator diamonds (6) and the privileges that accompany them were removed suddenly, without warning or explanation. Monica can still post, and participate in Meta, she earns reputation points, she can comment, she can set up bounties. When an SE user is suspended they enjoy none of these "privileges". – Mari-Lou A Nov 19 at 20:12
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    @Mari-LouA Alright, I've corrected that second bullet point to be more accurate. In this context "banned" was supposed to be synedoche for that, but I agree that it was probably misleading as-written. – Xirema Nov 19 at 20:16
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    Please don't police my phrasing. If you want to correct my grammar or change my cadence, please suggest them first. – Xirema Nov 23 at 3:50
39

There are certain similarities, as noted in the question, but I'd argue there are more differences. Fram is, to quote, an asshole, and wasn't being punished for breaking the ToS (and common decency) by the community, and has instead kept on the admin role. WMF, disrespecting the community norms and due process, stepped in and handed the ban. WMF has given out prior warnings, SE hasn't and there have been no annotations about prior misbehaviour on Monica's account. Probably the main similarity is that people in power don't seem to give the same weight to due process as the ones underneath. Circumstances—not so much.

What is more important is the way it was handled. BuzzFeed article dates back to June 2019 and the case has been largely settled since then. Summary is available here and yes, there were media, there were tweets and there were apologies. Media, however, didn't include defamatory statements from officials against people using real names and apologies don't sound as if they were copied and pasted, devoid of meaning. More importantly, from skimming the summary, it seems the communication was more frequent and was coming from people at top positions. To quote Jimmy Wales speaking of ArbCom (the community body):

To be clear, ArbCom do have the discretion to overturn the ban. They are fully authorized to hear the appeal, and I will personally back ArbCom on whatever they decide.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 07:25, 3 July 2019 (UTC)

Most we heard were empty promises from David & team. No Prashanth, no Joel. Heck, I don't recall any meaningful or personal post from anyone but CMs saying goodbye to resigned mods. It paints the picture of a highly regulated, corporate culture.

Communication wasn't always pleasant or civil, but it ultimately lead to resolving the issue because most of them managed to persist in it. It was ugly and multiple people were unfairly targeted by the mob. There were rumours of conflicts of interest, leading to stalking and harassing based on community member's personal relationship with the official. No doubt it was hurtful for many. But ultimately, points were addressed by the ones responsible. They stopped the bleeding. Norms were (belatedly) followed and they treated their platform as a community and a common effort; SE seems to be treating its platform mainly as a product. People, unsurprisingly, dislike being treated like a product.

ArbCom had the chance and made the final decision partially reversing office actions, lifting the ban. Fram did try running for admin afterwards and failed. In order for it to be resolved, it needed to be handled in a way that is customary in the community. Fram was banned on 10 June 2019; ArbCom opened the case on 24 July 2019; ArbCom closed the case on 21 September 2019, lifting the ban few days earlier. We're past the time point where community should get meaningfully involved. My $.2 are that we won't reach that point at all. This will fade either because people will stop caring or everyone interested will leave eventually.

Topics of inclusion, being welcome and not offending anyone are simply what's current in the society. It's further boosted by SE's primary goal of attracting new users which might find strictly task- and content-oriented, cold environment hostile. Disagreements are to be expected in any larger community which dares to discuss such issues, it's just the handling of them which differs (and the notability of the community when it comes to being featured in the media).

  • 3
    I agree with basically everything you wrote. However, the last sentence in your third-last paragraph says "People, surprisingly, dislike being treated like a product.". I don't find it surprising at all that people "dislike being treated like a product". Did you perhaps mean "unsurprisingly" instead? – John Omielan Nov 19 at 22:41
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    It was a misplaced attempt at irony, I see how it may come off as confusing. Fixed. – Luke Nov 19 at 23:26
39

The original question title was "Why does Fram's ban on Wikipedia seem so similar to recent events here?". Now, there are multiple questions. The first one in the title is "Does the Fram's ban on Wikipedia seem similar to recent events?" (and it is answered by the question itself: The similarities have explicitly been listed there). The second question in the title is "What can Stack Exchange learn from it?", and the post itself currently asks "What can we learn from these two events?"

So there are many questions that are somehow interrelated. I'd therefore like to take this on a slightly higher level of abstraction and quote some excerpts of a paper by John J. Furedy about "Free Speech And The Issue Of Academic Freedom". In this paper, Furedy analyzes "velvet totalitarianism" in organizations and institutions. While this is "soft" totalitarianism, he claims that it has five characteristic features that are also present in "hard" totalitarianism:

  • The first totalitarian feature is the presence of uninterpretable laws. [...] And it is the presence of speech codes, interpretable only by the commissar-like equity officers, that supports this completely subjective use [...]. These speech codes vary in the severity of their formulation, as well as the enthusiasm with which they are implemented [...]

  • The second feature is the presence and power of unqualified pseudo experts. [...]

  • A third feature is status-defined ethics. [...] The current velvet totalitarian parallel is the apparent belief that it is alright to stereotype, say, Anglo-Saxon white males, but not non-Anglo-Saxon, nonwhite, non-males.

  • A fourth velvet totalitarian feature is freezing fear of engaging in public discussion of controversial but fundamental issues. In totalitarian societies the taboo is against the discussion of any real political issues.

  • The fifth feature is demonization of dissidents. We are familiar with the ways in which totalitarian regimes exaggerate the power of dissidents or undesirables. I see a similar trend in the way in which people and organizations are maligned by those on the velvet totalitarian side.

It should not be so hard to align these points with things like the CoC, people who carry titles like "Director of...", the blatant accusations that have been thrown out during Welcoming-gate, the way uncomfortable questions are ignored and discussion is shut down, and the way people who are not obedient mouthpieces but dare to question the decisions that the authorities make are treated.

The bottom line is: Concerning things are happening, and maybe in 50 years historians will (once again) ask "How could this happen? Why didn't people see the signs? Why didn't they learn from previous events?"

  • Interesting read. I'd say #4 doesn't really apply here though, as Meta.SE has been heaving with discussion of the recent controversy. – Rand al'Thor Nov 19 at 17:27
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    @Randal'Thor There is discussion, yes. But the deletion or closing of questions and comments sometimes feels pretty arbitrary (or rather not arbitrary). Beyond that, I don't have the slightest doubt that the example of a valued mod being fired and defamed for neutrally asking questions is a form of intimidation and will have a chilling effect for others, who are now afraid to experience the same when they express disagreement. – Marco13 Nov 19 at 17:57
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    @Randal'Thor I'm aware of a well-received answer that was deleted not because of any poor behavior on the part of the author but because it opined That Which Must Not Be Said. I'm sure if the author was a native English speaker it would have been nuanced slightly differently, but I doubt that world have been enough to save it. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Nov 19 at 20:13
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    @Randal'Thor There has been lots of discussion in the community, yes. But SE-the-company has not engaged in any discussion as far as I've seen and heard, not even in private with Monica? So that is #4 "fear of engaging in public [and private] discussion" right there, it seems to me. – MarnixKlooster ReinstateMonica Nov 19 at 21:51
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Does Fram's ban on Wikipedia seem similar to recent events?

Only to an extent…

According to the BuzzFeed article referenced in the question, or the Slate article published a few days after, Fram was a highly controversial editor prior to his ban. To the point where one former member of the English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee, a body of only 15 selected from over a thousand administrators ("moderators" in the Stack Exchange world), characterized Fram as an archetypal "toxic" user that the community's own laissez-faire attitude gave undue free rein.

Yes, banning Fram was clearly an overreach by the Wikimedia Foundation. They made an executive decision in a situation they had no business involving themselves in. In that sense the situation is similar. It was a decision they should have — very much so, and that's where the outrage stems from — entrusted to the community, i.e., that very same arbitration committee.

But the similarities end there: at the terrible decision made by the Foundation and its disregard of the community. The situation itself is very different: Monica was not, and is not, a "problem contributor". She's not a stand-in for "toxicity" on the site. She's an arbitrarily selected victim for a hypocritical "display of virtue" — by a person who, unfortunately, wields that kind of power. Monica is not, like Fram, a contributor whose behavior has long been heavily criticized by their peers.

What can Stack Exchange learn from it?

Stack Exchange, the company, can learn that it's possible to correct mistakes. It took the Wikimedia Foundation about three weeks to apologize and go back on its bad decision, then hand the matter over to the community — who, according to policy, should have handled it in the first place. This, after considerable pressure exerted on the Foundation's Board of Trustees by Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales.

The Stack Exchange community can learn that non-profit foundations have different priorities than for-profit companies. Where Jimmy Wales acts as the gray eminence who regards Wikipedia as his legacy, Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky stay as far from controversy as they possibly can. It's been 6 to 8 weeks since the unceremonious and unjustified demodding, yet nobody at the company has taken responsibility and attempted to undo the damage. Even though it would cost them nothing. Other, hidden agendas are more important.

18

Why does Fram's ban on Wikipedia seem so similar to recent events here?

Because that is where "the whole" world is going these days (or at least large parts of the world).

To be a bit more precise: at least in large parts of the "Western" world, that evolution towards individualism is moving faster and faster.

What I mean is this: humans "classify" their environment and then make assumptions based on classifications. "It is a duck, so it will make quack sounds". And then "that thing over there seems to be a duck, so it will quack".

Fifty, or maybe seventy years ago, imagine a white US citizen looking at a black one. There is a certain chance that that visible marker of melanin levels within the skin alone would make both sides make certain assumptions about the other person. They didn't see the other person as an individual human being; they assumed plenty of things just because: level of melanin.

Coming back to 2019, what I think happens now: more and more people would prefer to not be classified, and "assumed this or that" based on such classifications. They want to be seen as individuals. And now our entire society is in turmoil: because that means that well-established practices and rules are no longer working for us (of course, many individuals share a specific topic, like "addressing gender", and therefore, groups of individuals work together to change existing structures).

So, long story short: entire societies are in a process of "reframing" basic rules of communication. And that "trend" simply manifests in communities that attract users with many "diverse" backgrounds.

What we see online is an (amplified?) reflection of what happens all around us, and thus is not limited to one particular web site or its community.


Beyond that, the other part might be the "growth pain" of when community-driven but company-hosted combinations move forward. The community users want "freedom" but the commercial company folks want predictable business plans.

0

I don't think it is an accident that both events revolve around site rules mandating the use of neopronouns.1

Many Western societies are split half between conservative and progressive worldviews. In the USA, the UK, and elsewhere, politics have come to an impasse between two irreconcilable directions that are faced off at close to 50% of the votes each. There is a very emotional, often violent conflict between welcoming refugees, allowing gay marriage, addressing climate change, and so on and, basically, preserving traditional cultures, lifestyles, and ethnicities.

Both Stack Exchange and Wikipedia have taken a stance in this controversy.

Before these events, both Wikipedia and Stack Exchange have been politically neutral. Now they have chosen sides.


1 Please also refer to Marco13's answer regarding the presence of uninterpretable laws and status-defined ethics.

  • 17
    Have you read the Buzzfeed article? The section about neopronouns plays a minimal role. The Wiki editor, Fram, was not banned for misgendering someone. Banned for being argumentative, maybe, for being single-minded, domineering, and undiplomatic definitely, IMO. – Mari-Lou A Nov 19 at 20:22
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    The Fram situation was not about neopronouns. The Fram situation was about the Foundation taking over discipline issues that had previously been handled by the community, and about whether "being polite" or "being correct" is more important. (Fram is generally acknowledged as being correct in disputes, but also generally acknowledged to go about those disputes in an extremely abrasive manner). – Mark Nov 19 at 20:26
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    Anticipating this kind of answer is exactly why I changed my mind and supported closing this question, despite (I think) previously voting to re-open it. You're making sweeping statements based on an incomplete, selective reading of a user's incomplete summary of a Buzzfeed journalist's incomplete summary of a situation involving a different community and different organisation where no-one outside a handful in that organisation know what really happened. That's not helpful. Maybe in future we can learn from Wikipedia's situation - if/when the actual facts are known. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 20 at 15:21
  • @user56reinstatemonica8 It is a rule on SE to provide all relevant facts in a question or answer and make it self-sufficient. If understanding a question requires that you go to another site and spend hours doing research, then it needs to be closed. – I am not the way you speak Nov 20 at 17:44
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    @user56reinstatemonica8 The case has been resolved to the community's general satisfaction. See Luke's answer for more detail. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Nov 20 at 18:49
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    @Mari-LouA to me the buzzfeed article reads pretty much like gender equality issues are possibly involved as well. Why the editor, Fram, was exactly banned is unknown, but it is not extremely speculative. It is also point 6 of the OP's question. "Wikipedians began to scour his history on the platform, looking for someone to blame....Much of that blame fell, perhaps predictably, on a woman and a transgender editor. In 2017 ... " and "More recently, Fram had an acrimonious semantic debate with a high-profile transgender editor over whether referring to them as “xe” constituted misgendering". – Sextus Empiricus Nov 22 at 14:04

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