I'm extraordinarily frustrated by the situation as it stands. I apologize that I cannot at the moment present the specific views and interactions that led to Monica's dismissal. While I can't condone those views, I can say that I believe that Stack Overflow's actions were unwarranted, and represent an overreaction on the company's part. Monica had been a moderator on Worldbuilding, Mi Yodeya, The Workplace, Beer Wine & Spirits, and Meta Stack Exchange, as well as a prominent member of communities across the network. Here on Worldbuilding, she had been a moderator on the site for almost five years, guiding it since its inception in 2014.
Monica played an enormous role in shaping the site's scope, design, blog, and community, both in public and behind the scenes. She was, quite frankly, one of the most valuable users across the network, and was for many of us a role model, mentor, and guide. Monica has performed many years of completely voluntary, unpaid service to help hundreds of thousands of people across the Stack Exchange network, and she deserved much more than what came across as an unceremonious kick out the door.
I will not be resigning in protest as moderator. I care too much about the well-being of my sites - and of the well-being of every individual user - and certainly in the case of the smaller sites I moderate, a departure would be too problematic. However, I do feel that it is unconscionable for me to not act based on my beliefs. For this reason, in support of Monica, I have marked myself as inactive on all four sites I moderate. Until Stack Overflow makes significant strides to mitigate the harm that has been done, I cannot in good conscience continue to support them. If there is an emergency - for instance, a wave of spammers or a user being continuously abusive - I will step in for the site's sake. Barring that, however, I am taking a break - in protest, and because the emotional toll of the past weekend has been too great.
A number of people holding vastly different views have been hurt over the last week - both by Monica's dismissal and by the events leading up to it. It has pained me to see many folks I care about so upset. I will remain active in the discussions - in public and behind the scenes - and will strive to help heal those who have been hurt - starting with Monica.
I'd like to finish by quoting someone who has proved to be a great mediator during his time on the network:
I know a lot of people are curious about what's happening. A lot of this will likely get discussed over the coming days. I'd urge patience and empathy.
We've seen a lot of folks act as their conscience saw fit. I respect that. Resigning as a moderator feels like the only way to make a stand. Mine would be to plead for empathy.
That said, we're all stronger together.
Let's work to fix this.
Addendum, October 3rd
Now that it's been a few more days, and things have continued to snowball - about 35 moderators have either resigned in protest or gone on strike in relation to the chain of events - I thought I would elaborate a bit more on the things that bother me about the whole thing.
- I'm bothered that an elected moderator was summarily dismissed without consultation with other moderators, as is the established procedure for cases where users raise severe complaints about a mod.
- I'm bothered that Monica was dismissed based on opposition to a change in the Code of Conduct that had not yet been published or even finalized.
- I'm bothered that, by Monica's account, this happened before discussions between her and Stack Overflow had concluded.
- I'm bothered that this occurred less than an hour before the start of Shabbat, which, coupled with the start of Rosh Hashanah 48 hours later, meant that Monica would be almost entirely offline for 96 hours. Either this was intentional on Stack Exchange's part, or it was completely insensitive to Monica's religion, which is a major part of who she is and is well-known.
- I'm bothered that this was done in a way that effectively shamed Monica and hurt her reputation.
- I'm bothered that Stack Overflow has done essentially nothing to help trans moderators and others in the LGBT+ community. Mods network-wide have expressed strong support for formal sensitivity training, but this has yet to be implemented.
- I am, further, bothered that the company has failed in some cases to act against certain users who have written posts and chat messages that are clearly transphobic. The users who make them should at the least be treated more harshly than Monica was, because she is not a transphobic person. This supports the idea that a double standard is being applied.
- I'm bothered that the company has failed to make an adequate statement in response after more than five days. Responses to resignations and meta posts (e.g. this one) have been copied-and-pasted and say basically nothing of any substance.
- I'm bothered that Stack Overflow talked with the Register and provided quotes for a crappy article that poorly explains most aspects of the sequence of events, while refusing to spend as much time communicating with the community.
- I'm bothered that Stack Overflow does not seem to have acknowledged the human cost if all of this - on users, on moderators, and on their own employees.
- I'm bothered that Monica - someone who has contributed an extraordinary amount to sites across the network, who has indeed contributed to efforts towards inclusion, who has represented religious and gender minorities online, who has done so much more good than harm - was treated like none of her contributions mattered.
Rereading all of this, I have to say, it is quite tempting to hang up my mod hat. I don't believe that Stack Overflow can adequately address all - perhaps even most - of these concerns. But I still believe, after this time, that I can do a better job advocating for the users on Worldbuilding and across the network as a mod than as a regular user - and I will continue to do so.