As of July 27, 2021, I have picked up my moderator diamond once again. The circumstances have changed enough from late 2019–early 2020 that I can feel comfortable enough picking it up. Some of the factors in this decision were software changes, such as the moderation features in the TL; other factors were more based on changes in the company itself, such as the departure of many staff members who were involved in the community clashes and the joining of the company by several people I respect, especially the new VP of Community, Philippe (honorable mention to new hires going to Slate, my former co-mod on Literature, and V2Blast, the first mod-to-CM hire in a very long time). See my post on reinstatement on Literature Meta.
Given SE's firing of Shog9 and Robert Cartaino, I am no longer open to the option of returning as a moderator for the network. That ship has sailed at this point. I don't believe there is anything the company can do to redeem itself enough that I would be willing to return at this point.
So... to start off, I didn't just suspend activity; I decided to step down. That was around two months ago now.
Now that SE has started to address the defamation issue, would I consider taking back my diamond and resuming my moderator position? The answer is... it's complicated.
I'd like to quote from my resignation post a bit:
Over the course of the past three weeks, give or take, though, things have changed. Stack Exchange made a long-overdue change to their Code of Conduct to help protect minority groups, which was awesome to see. And at first, I was hopeful.
Unfortunately, this change sparked a veritable flood of anti-LGBTQ+ comments, posts, chat messages, and what have you. Meta.SE in particular was, and still is, overrun with posts expressing sentiments that make me sick. They are not all overt, but the non-overt posts couched in politeness are just as bad, if not worse.
If that wasn't bad enough, the network also became a host to a large number of anti-Jewish sentiments, sparked by a related issue on the network, in which the company in essence marked a Jewish moderator as being anti-trans and threw her to the wolves.
These sentiments have also shown up in a certain percentage of the folks in the network-wide moderator room, and their claims largely went unchallenged by the vast majority of people in the room.
I am not able to hunt down and remove all of these by myself. The pushback I received from users and other moderators while attempting to address some of the issues I saw had made it impossible for me to effectively moderate chat.SE, in particular.
I also no longer trust the company to support me as a moderator. They have shown that they are willing to defame one of their moderators in an extremely public way, exposing her to mounds of personal attacks and damaging her reputation, to the extent that they spoke to the press about it. They have, as yet, shown no sign that they are taking action to rectify this, and I can no longer trust the company to have any form of support for the moderators...
I also linked to this post about recent events endangering enby folks on this site.
As you can see, my main issue was not Monica's dismissal. I have stated previously that I disagree strongly with Monica's position, and there is context extant that muddies the water. It's not a black-and-white situation.
Instead, my problem was what happened as a result of the dismissal. These include:
- anti-queer sentiments all over the place
- anti-Jewish sentiments also circulating
- these sentiments showing up in moderator space
- pushback from (fellow) moderators and users when attempting to call out and remove these
- there being no way to moderate the moderators
There is also an element of not trusting the company to support me as a moderator, which also involved previous context in which the company has in a sense thrown its moderators to the (sea)lions.
Now, to be fair, Stack has started to address these issues. They have made attempts to make the TL less toxic by moving it to chat.Meta.SE, allowing the MSE moderators to moderate the room. (I can't of course see how this works in practice, but it's a step in the right direction.)
They have created a no-comment policy when speaking to the press, mitigating some of the fears about defamation - although not all; I still have not heard any word about not repeating the mistake of pinning a message announcing the dismissal in the TL, for instance.
They have sort of started to address the harm they have done to Monica by putting up a sort of apology post and removed posts levying accusations at her.
That's all good, and allows for at least the consideration of starting to build trust again.
But. What I have not seen is anything about the safety of its users being a priority for SE. There are still hordes of anti-queer and anti-Jewish posts lingering in comments and chat posts, incurring sometimes a half-hour suspension and most of the time just silently deleted, if they are deleted at all. Some of this comes down to a lack of active moderators at the time, and I do not want to blame the moderators, so that is a smaller issue for me.
But my main problem still remains: SE endangered its users and I have not seen any attempt made to rectify that.
Stack's actions first endangered Monica, by exaggerating her position and speaking to the press about it, and further by the continued discussion around her. She has stated that she has received threats by people and invitation to join alt-right groups. That is actual harm.
Stack also endangered queer users on their platform, by making us a target of people blaming us for Monica's dismissal and a target of the bigots who amidst the support for Monica decided that this meant that they could get away with being bigots. This includes people writing hate speech, threats, and semi-credible discussion about writing scripts to identify and target queer people.
Stack also endangered Jewish users on their platform by making us a target of those who believe that Monica's Judaism caused her to be anti-queer as a result of Stack's caricaturization of her position, as well as a target for those who disguised their anti-Jewishness as support for queer people and as disavowing Monica's position.
Stack Exchange needs to address the harm they have caused, no matter how unintended, before I am willing to take up my diamond again.
My dilemma, of course, is whether or not I would be in a better position to help push through changes that I'd like to see if I did have my diamond back. Is it better for me to remain without it, because I don't want to support the company etc yet due to the unresolved issues, or is it better for me to help resolve those issues from the inside?