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I've been considering writing about this for a while, particularly as I haven't seen any discussion on this particular community about the larger goings-on at SE and Meta.

I had heard various rumblings over the years about bad policies at SE, which have sometimes led me to back away from contributing for a while. And then the whole Monica thing happened a few months ago. A huge number of moderators and prominent users either quit or suspended activity. I honestly don't know what went on behind the scenes (and clearly people were offended and hurt on a number of sides), but it was a public relations nightmare that made me really concerned for SE. (I joined Meta and made a comment in the first few days over there outlining some of my concerns at the time.) And it seems increasingly that the direction of SE is no longer concerned with the maintenance of its community.

To be honest, I partly have stuck around for the past couple months because the moderators here (at Seasoned Advice) didn't seem to get too involved and seemingly weren't as concerned as many others. I feel like I'm most familiar with them and trust them, but recent activity in the larger community is hard to ignore.

I was willing to give it a little longer and see how things shook out. But the disappearance of two of the most well-respected community managers in the last few days, with only some sort of Orwellian doublespeak nonsense response from SE, has made me truly disheartened. (To be absolutely clear, I'm not blaming Juan M for that reply; I'm pretty sure from Shog9's recent tweets that nobody is speaking freely anymore.) At least if the company is turning evil and is honest about it, I could know what I'm getting into. At least if they were honest and just said that they were trying to purge certain kinds of users, I could know how much evil I can put up and still contribute to a community of mostly good-hearted people.

I came here to help people. I am no longer certain that goal is in line with what the senior management of SE want. Unless some moderator, community manager, or other high-level user here with some inside information can give me a good reason to stay and a sense that we're not going to continue pretending "all is well" with this hypocritical Orwellian nightmare of fake replies "supporting the community" that have clearly been siphoned through three layers of lawyers, I'm likely giving up on SE.

My thanks to the moderators here and to many great contributors.


EDIT: I've already said in comments that I appreciated the replies from our moderators so far. But I think I've received the most important answer from StackExchange themselves. SE has declared that moderator resignation notices will now be strictly limited in the amount of time they will be shown as featured notifications on their sites. In other words, they have recognized that ever larger numbers of prominent people on SE are really concerned about what's going on, and rather than addressing it, they're trying to hide the problem. (Not to mention the amount of disrespect this shows to long-time contributors to this site, when notices about their departure may not even be shown long enough for users to see them.)

Stephie made an oblique reference to how German folks may have specific concerns about certain kinds of activity and remarks. To me, hiding information about a serious issue in a community rather than addressing it is a huge red flag. I feel at this point I must suspend my activity on this site and see what happens. I honestly would not be surprised if in the coming weeks SE management expands this activity to start deleting controversial and concerned threads about the ongoing situation. If anything like that begins to happen, I will leave. This site was created by a community of users who are willing to share their knowledge. Given that words seem to be doing little to change things in discussions, the only other way I know how to let SE know that this is a problem is to stop contributing.

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    I am sure you realize that any upvotes here mean “we appreciate what you did for the site”, not “yeah, I think you should leave”. (Just to be clear, especially as this post is tagged “discussion”.) ^_^ – Stephie Jan 16 at 13:20
  • For various reasons, it's very difficult for me to speak about my personal feelings on these topics in a way I think is fair, so I'm passing on writing an answer for now, especially since Stephie has said most of the big important things. However I will say that I think that we as a site still have the ability to do good things (no changes are being pushed down to us, far as I know), and I appreciate anyone who's here trying to ask good questions and write good answers. – Cascabel Jan 16 at 16:17
  • @Cascabel: Thank you, both for saying that and for all your work here. I should say that it was not my intention in this post to force any moderators (or other users) to feel like they need to speak out if they don't want to or aren't comfortable or whatever. But I appreciate both your and Stephie's replies. – Athanasius Jan 17 at 14:50
  • Ironically, this is a hot meta post, so it's on the main site even without any featuring. – Cascabel Jan 17 at 21:58
  • Everyone, I'm just quickly here to say that I will say more soon. I treasure SA and what is happening with SE has me shaken. Unfortunately, I have serious stuff happening here in Alaska that needs my undivided attention at the moment. I can't give a proper answer the serious contemplation it would deserve. About the only thing I'm sure about is that I would hate to lose you @Athanasius. – Jolenealaska Jan 18 at 3:25
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    For what it's worth, reading Aza's resignation post, and noting that I too am queer, might give some idea why my perspective is not quite so simple as most of what you'll tend to read around the network. – Cascabel Jan 19 at 4:50
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    Having read your linked answer on network meta, I should also say that no, genuinely asking questions or otherwise trying to learn about how to follow the Code of Conduct will not result in harmful consequences on this site. Failing to follow the Code of Conduct, on the other hand, is of course still not okay, and I highly recommend the FAQ about the CoC update, but that's not something that's anywhere close to happening here. – Cascabel Jan 24 at 0:38
  • @Cascabel: Thank you for your comments and your perspective. I want to reinforce what I said in my post that I don't know all that went on with the Monica situation, and my concerns were never about that or her specifically, but rather about what the SE management has done in response (and non-response) since then. I am aware (and saddened) that people of various demographics have felt unwelcome or not listened to on SE, and management (to me) seems to have exacerbated some of those problems by not listening to pretty much anyone now. – Athanasius Jan 25 at 15:01
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    @Cascabel: Also, I should clarify regarding my Meta post that "harmful consequences on this site" were a secondary issue for me. I mean, if SE wants to kick a user off of here, that's their choice. My Meta post was also about the fact that SE may have in fact libeled a user in the press with no clear evidence presented. I have no idea whether the allegations were true. My concern is that the response to that has been a non-response--at best, a "mistakes were made" with no admission of wrongdoing or justification for their action. Even considering lawyers, they could have done better. – Athanasius Jan 25 at 15:11
  • I'm not really clear on whether you're saying you don't want to participate here because you think senior management's bad behaviour is or will prevent you from helping people, or because you just don't want to be associated with that bad behaviour. – Ross Ridge Jan 26 at 4:08
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    @Cascabel- And yet it appears that Monica was actually kicked out for asking clarifying questions even before the CoC went into effect. All we have is her side of the story but SE's reaction is pretty damning, IMO. – Sobachatina Jan 28 at 17:29
  • @Sobachatina I don't think it's a great idea to try to discuss the specifics of that situation or pass judgment here, given that just as SE is unable to share details, I am unable to share what I know about it from moderator-only areas of the network. I do of course have some thoughts about it, and some stronger opinions on the broader situation associated with the CoC and users' behavior on the network, but I'm not sure if there's a reasonable way for me to share at this point. – Cascabel Jan 29 at 22:33
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Let me preface this with “I am struggling with this answer”. I truly am. I can only speak for myself and I know that’s probably not enough.

You were asking about the moderators here. We chose to stay quiet for various reasons, or at least not bring the topic up ourselves. But I think your post means it’s time for a statement.

Yes, we have seen, watched and worried about the recent and not-so-recent events. Yes, even here on the very peaceful Seasoned Advice corner of the SE network. I don’t think any moderator could remain ignorant or pretend they didn’t know. (And as a German I am very wary of “I didn’t know” statements, as anyone with a vague knowledge of history should realize.) But I also will admit that I don’t (and can’t and probably never will) know everything that happened outside of the public or mod-only realm, which makes an informed decision hard. And I don’t like what seems to be surfacing as layers and layers of pretending “all’s well” are crumbling away. I am sure you have struggled and so have I. I still am.

For now, I am holding up my side of the bargain that I entered with the users of the site1 when I ran for moderator: I am here to serve them. Not a company, not even a network of sites. There may be a point in time when l I feel no longer able to do so or when the company doesn’t allow me to. We’ll see. Many other moderators who didn’t hand in their diamond or have reduced their activity have expressed similar thoughts. Many others have already reached their personal threshold and stepped down. I can understand both sides.

I can’t give you more information - I simply don’t have any. But I can assure you that your contributions, your knowledge and your input were always valuable and appreciated by this community. In seven years, you have gained a whopping 29k reputation from about 400 posts. That’s around 3000 “thank you”s for sharing your knowledge with us. You have reached literally millions of users and helped many of them. So you more than fulfilled your goal when joining the site. And as a mod, I have to thank you for being a role model of good behavior - your flag record is empty.

Personally, I would love to keep you here and I will be sad if you truly decide you can’t contribute any longer.

————

1 both Seasoned Advice and Gardening SE

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  • I sincerely appreciate your kind words and all that you do for this site. I also thank you for your prompt response and for sharing your perspective. – Athanasius Jan 17 at 14:48
  • @Athanasius It’s a pleasure and an honor. Thank you. – Stephie Jan 17 at 14:51

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