I want to start by acknowledging the hurt and exhaustion that the members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies have experienced in our community as moderators and users. We have read the Lavender Letter internally and repeatedly discussed how we can support you in the future. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with some of the authors of this letter in a call and in chat, for which I am grateful. They were gracious enough to share specific experiences and struggles to help me understand the letter and how we can better support their needs.
We want to apologize to the LGBTQIA+ community members for the hurt they endured from our inactions or actions in the past. There are numerous members of the LGBTQIA+ community and a network of allies (among which I count myself) at every level of the company, and we all want to better support you going forward. I am sorry that this letter took so long to respond to publicly. We have been working behind the scenes to understand the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community and to be able to get to a place where we can schedule and commit to timeframes for these responses. We have had a lot to work through internally to better support our entire community, but this topic is important to us.
In the Code of Conduct, we state “We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion — and those are just a few examples.” To clarify, this includes discussion questioning or debating the legitimacy of someone’s race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. Further, the debate or discussion of whether or not you want to or should use a person’s pronouns is both offensive and alienating.
Based on the letter and subsequent conversations, we are making these commitments to address the concerns raised:
All members of the Community Team and selected members of the Public Platform Team have already taken 13 hours of Diversity & Inclusion Training. This training has been coordinated and advised by our own internal diversity & inclusion expert. We’ve also been provided with resources for best practices in using pronouns and to help us better identify microaggressions specifically towards our LGBTQIA+ users.
Teachers’ Lounge moderation tools are on the roadmap for the Public Platform team for Q4 of this year. This will allow the room to be moderated like other chat rooms. The second module of Moderator Training will focus on Diversity & Inclusion, and will be launched by the end of the year.
Clarifications on the Code of Conduct and our commitment to enforcing it:
We’ve established a new procedure for handling CoC violation reports: If the CM looking at it deems that it’s completely not actionable (meaning it can, without a doubt, be dismissed outright), they must ask a second CM to confirm. If the second believes it should trigger an investigation, one has to happen. In a case where the complaint is against a moderator, this will trigger the Moderator Conduct Review Process - any CM can opt out of the investigation if they feel biased and the remaining CMs are randomly assigned.
Where appropriate, we commit to reviewing and revising the Moderator Conduct Review Process to ensure fairness and openness, while addressing much of the feedback we have received about the existing process.
We have heard complaints about alleged Code of Conduct violations from 2019 and earlier where the public perception is that a thorough investigation was not carried out, or that the user may not have received a sufficient warning (or other consequence). As we said above, we are unable to comment on the specifics of any case. And while we understand and empathize with the pain involved in these issues, we are not going to reopen old cases at this time. We are optimistic that these types of events will not recur. That said, an investigation into a new Code of Conduct violation will also include an evaluation of any previous issues whether or not the user was officially warned, and these can influence the result of the investigation.
We believe these commitments will better enable our staff to support LGBTQIA+ community members, help our 550+ moderators learn more about how these issues impact their sites and guide them in how to handle effectively situations that may occur. We are taking a strong stance to protect the LGBTQIA+ members of our community and ensure they can participate safely in the network. I hope that the Lavender Letter’s authors will continue to share and collaborate with us in the future to identify more opportunities for improvement. We commit to listening to your concerns and responding appropriately to improve the community experience for LGBTQIA+ members going forward.