In a recent answer, Juan M ♦ mentioned that:

Lately, we have had an increase of resignation posts that have served to host combative and hurtful words to attack Stack employees, other mods, and teammates.

As an explanation for why moderator resignation posts:

will be featured for around 24 hours moving forward

but not deleted.

Several of the moderator resignation posts that I have seen contain strong messages that the resigning moderators in question no longer feel comfortable with Stack Exchange policies and/or culture, but I can't recall ever seeing one that has crossed the line from ordinary criticism to fighting words.

How often does hurtful speech actually appear in moderator resignation notices? Can anyone give any specific examples of moderator resignation notices that are sufficiently "combative and hurtful" to warrant removal of featured status but that are not immediately red-flaggable as violations of the Code of Conduct?

  • 27
    It's not the notices themselves, it's the comments and answers. The notice is just serving as a platform for the "hate" and instead of removing the "hate" they'd rather just remove the platform (from being featured) Jan 17, 2020 at 13:55
  • 3
    I have to agree with NathanOliver, most of the times this happens in comments, from all the resignations I've seen none of them used hurtful speech although they complained about SE which is a fair point. I would think that SE doesn't want to been seen as the bad guys by users that only check out Meta when it's on the sidebar.
    – CaldeiraG
    Jan 17, 2020 at 13:58
  • 55
    I wonder why you're trying to validate the poor excuses the SE staff are using to avoid having dissenting opinions be prominently visible for too long (you're not the only one). Seriously, I bet even "you're doing it wrong" would qualify to them as combative and hurtful these days. Jan 17, 2020 at 13:58
  • 22
    If you can successfully hide or mute all third-party criticism, it's almost like you're not being criticised at all. And if you can persuade yourself and others that you're not being criticised then you're obviously doing nothing wrong. Congratulations! You now have a green light to go ahead with whatever you think is best, regardless of what this looks like to other people who you can no longer hear. A strategy beloved of authoritarian regimes.
    – Rounin
    Jan 17, 2020 at 14:30
  • 29
    The only resignation post that was controversial was the "Nancy" one, written by an ordinary veteran user and not by a moderator. SO staff immediately took offence that the post stated that women can be incompetent and the Ministry of Truth took over from there on.
    – Lundin
    Jan 17, 2020 at 14:39
  • 11
    "SE doesn't want to been seen as the bad guys" - oh, really? I seriously doubt that's accomplished by eliminating opinions on the meta^4 level (problem - nonsolution - worse problem - resignation - comments). The root is elsewhere...which is, today, probably enough to get this deleted as a "hate" comment. Jan 17, 2020 at 15:03

5 Answers 5


I think there is a certain amount of ambiguity here:

Lately, we have had an increase of resignation posts that have served to host combative and hurtful words to attack Stack employees, other mods, and teammates.

That can mean two things:

  • the resignation notes themselves are hurtful
  • the resignation posts attract hurtful comments and answers

So to answer the question at hand, I think:

  • I have not seen a single resignation note that was rude, or directly attacking specific people
  • But sure, I have seen plenty of answers/comments coming in on such resignation notes later on, that could be seen as hurtful

Coming from there, Juan M. has a point.

But as I implied on his post: I think they are putting their energy in the wrong place. You don't cut down the number of negative posts by reducing visibility.

You cut down negativity by reducing the reasons that create and accumulate negative sentiment, which then, at some point, manifests itself in hurtful posts.

And this was painfully obvious: around the end of 2019, things started to calm down. No more resignation notes, much lower view counts around here, much less posts by upset community members. Then: without any announcement, or reasonable explanation, shog9 and Robert getting fired.

Deja va, the suspended perfect storm resumes almost immediately. What. A. Surprise.

  • 4
    To me, that have served to host only means it's the reaction to the resignation, not the resignation itself. Jan 17, 2020 at 14:50
  • 1
    @NathanOliver Well, a now deleted answer stated Currently, there's stuff in some notices that, when written in anything but a resignation notice, would have never gotten a featured tag. ... so obviously, the author of that answer thought that the notes themselves are sometimes problematic. Maybe that is about native English speakers versus a global community, but as said: people interpret that sentence in different ways.
    – GhostCat
    Jan 17, 2020 at 14:53
  • 1
    Indeed. I've seen a few more outlandish posts made by non-moderators, but those don't tend to be featured.
    – Gimby
    Jan 17, 2020 at 15:00

The posts aren't the problem. They're a symptom

We don't have a problem with the posts. That's just a symptom of a much more serious problem, which is manifesting in posts all over the network.

This shouldn't be news to anyone, but we've got a serious communication problem between the Stack Exchange company, and the community.

Blaming the community, calling them toxic, and trying to sweep everything under the carpet is not the way to fix the problem. As we've seen, that approach isn't working and is only causing further problems.

The only way to properly move forward, is to start mending bridges. Re-invest in communicating openly and honestly with the community. Genuine human interaction is what's needed. Do away with the impersonal canned statements; they don't work.

Take feedback in your stride, truly internalise it, and vow to improve. It can be painful to listen to feedback, especially when you don't want to, but you'll never become better if you don't.

Take a look at Jeff and Joel's playbook from the early days of Stack Overflow. They did a lot of good stuff, and there are lessons from those days that need to be re-learned.

  • 14
    More importantly, when they made mistakes, they listened to feedback and corrected instead of doubling down. Jan 17, 2020 at 17:50

I may have missed something, but personally I've never seen this. Overall, even if this is happening, I don't entirely follow the reasoning in the linked answer.

If there are hostile answers and comments, the proper thing to do is to edit and/or delete them. Same thing with hostile questions.

The claim that the posts are hostile makes little sense. According to the rules set forth in the linked answer, these (supposedly) hostile posts will still be featured publicly for 24 hours. If these posts are legitimately rude/abusive, they should be promptly edited or removed entirely (not featured for 24 hours for everyone to see). Why would a legitimately abusive post be tolerated at all (far less featured for 24 hours)?

Also, why require all resignation posts to be unfeatured after 24 hours because some of them are seen as hostile?

  • 12
    On the last question: Because rather than attempt to address the large number of moderators leaving and the vitriol created by the actions of the company not taking responsibility for their actions, it's easier to blanket sweep everything under the rug as promptly as possible. I wish I could look at it less jadedly, but that's the image they continue to stamp on everything without stopping to think about what we might think about it. Now they just assume everything they do is for the better, the community opinions are moot.
    – JFoxx64
    Jan 17, 2020 at 15:33

It is my opinion that if the company feels the community is being "hurtful" and "combative", they should have an open, honest conversation with the community. Instead we are asked to be silent and wait.

Here is a post which lists the resignations that happened during the Monicagate. If you go through that list, you will find things like the excerpts below:

I am stepping down as a moderator, and you deserve to know why. I cannot condone actions that the company has recently taken (behind close doors, although I expect more will become public soon).
-Gilles 'SO- stop being evil'


I have come to the conclusion that I, at present, cannot in good conscience remain an active community moderator on the Stack Exchange network.
- A CVn


I didn't make this decision lightly, frivolously or suddenly. A persistent pattern of corporate missteps, and a monumentally deplorable moderator dismissal, has compelled me to re-evaluate my relationship with Stack Exchange.
- Robert Harvey

And these are just some random samples. I find that dubbing them "combative" is debatable, but if SE says they are hurtful, then they should meditate on why these things hurt.

  • 2
    These things aren't hurtfull. It are the answers and comments on these notices.
    – Luuklag
    Jan 17, 2020 at 14:50
  • None of the moderator announcements themselves are under scrutiny here. I mean, if CMs wanted to remove them just because they didn't like them, they would have started with Monica's. All have been respectful AFAIK
    – Machavity
    Jan 17, 2020 at 15:02
  • @Machavity OP says: 'Can anyone give any specific examples of moderator resignation notices that are sufficiently "combative and hurtful"(...)'. I think the question is about resignation notices. Jan 17, 2020 at 15:13
  • @Renan Yes, it is. But the limited [featured] rule is not due to the questions themselves, but the answers they've been gathering.
    – Machavity
    Jan 17, 2020 at 15:15
  • @Machavity we could have another question about that, but I'm answering regarding just the resignations themselves. Jan 17, 2020 at 15:16

My first reaction to the staff person's claim that there have been posts with "combative and hurtful words to attack Stack employees, other mods, and teammates" was

No way! You're projecting!

But then I read a post that contained the following:

By trying to censor these posts, [staff member's] actions have created a veritable firestorm....

[Staff member] has disrespected, in particular, Madara himself, but also the rest of the community who has tirelessly built, nurtured, and advocated for these sites over the past decade.

Sadly, the post mentioned the staff member's name half a dozen times. It felt like a salvo against the individual person, rather than the company that had (judging by Shog9's tweets) ordered the employee to post the company policy.

Be kind to your fine-feathered friends,
'Cause that duck could be somebody's mother.
Be kind to your friends in the swamp,
Because it's dark and dreary there.

This particular staff member is relatively new.

I wrote a comment below the post, suggesting that the poor schmo was most likely posting the company line, as ordered.... Without knowing what this employee's financial situation is, who are we to judge him for following orders? After Shog9 and Robert's sudden departures, I think we can feel fairly certain that if this employee were to refuse to follow orders, he would find himself suddenly out of a job.

(Note that except for some personal attacks on Sara Chipps in the fall, this post is the first one I've seen made against an individual SE employee.)

In addition to attempting to reason with the post's author, I also flagged the post.

The result: the flag was declined; and my comment removed (silently -- as though it had never existed -- as has become the MSE moderating team's modus operandi).

I then proposed an edit, replacing the staff person's name with "staff person" or "the company." It only took a few minutes for the author to roll it back.

I believe this sort of personal attack is precisely what Shog9 asked us not to engage in.

I take one thing back. This employee isn't at all new. I was confusing his name with someone else's.

  • 4
    "silently -- as though it had never existed -- as has become the MSE moderating team's modus operandi". It has not "become the modus operandi". It was always this way. Users were never notified of comment removals.
    – yivi
    Jan 18, 2020 at 10:14
  • @yivi - I have seen some moderators state otherwise, speaking for themselves. And I have seen it done. Jan 18, 2020 at 14:44
  • 1
    Moderators stating that they used to issue notifications on deleting comments? I find it very hard to believe.
    – yivi
    Jan 18, 2020 at 14:53

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