When efforts arise to formalize or corporatize a community, there's often understandable concern that the effort could destroy the very community it seeks to grow. [...] Any effort to grow will fail if members sense that the community leadership is neglecting important values or introducing unwelcome ones. For-profit corporations are particularly at risk for this if they value members for their revenue potential rather than for their contribution and commitment. Leaving any meaningful portion of core members feeling disconnected or abandoned is a real danger when formalizing or corporatizing a community and can lead to its destruction.
- The Art of Community
Mr. Kauderer is not here. But since the cemetery is the home of those who are not here, come in.
- If on a winter's night a traveler
Isn’t it nice that they’re being so nice to us?
If I’m not mistaken I think they might like us.
Aren’t we lucky to be here?
Stop moving, they’re taking a picture.
Smile for the camera, Evelyn.
- A Campaign of Shock and Awe
I am resigning as a moderator of Literature Stack Exchange, effective immediately.
My departure is not on good terms. I have not notified Stack Exchange. I will be around for a short period if I am permitted to be, and then I will not be returning. I do not expect to return at any time in the future, barring all but a major upheaval to the status quo.
By other mods, by staff, and by the entrenched power structure of Stack Exchange, I have been made to feel unwelcome for my queerness. This particular pattern is abusive and makes an ironic mockery of kindness. Community Managers make apparent effort to correct the situation; we are then gaslit into believing progress has been made when it is evident that the state of affairs has not changed in years. It has affected many friends from across the network, and I'm afraid that it will continue to affect others who come after me.
Community Managers have treated us like expendable resources to retrain bigoted moderators. They draw vocal bigots from the woodwork with prompts to discussion, and then vanish, forcing us to decide between tacit approval through silence or defense of our own against an unchanging torrent of bigotry. I think they hope that the more we share, the better the situation will become. That has never been true. The same voices push back against our presence, every time.
They have disbelieved our pain; and when they signal their belief, they do not act to repair it. It is abhorrent that moderators are freely permitted to argue against spoken human respect for our trans, incl. nonbinary, peers. Many of us have expressed this pain to them personally, and on the occasion when we are acknowledged, no action is taken.
They place us in positions where we must defend our right to be here, and then silence our ability to do so when we are too loud; when we are inconvenient. They say it is exhausting, that they need rest. Only the privileged party can rest. Only the privileged party can elect to pretend, for a while, that we do not exist. And when moratoria are placed on speaking of our transness among moderators, only the cisgender among us are relieved.
They believe humans can be retrained out of bigotry if they are friendly enough and simply have positive discussions; they fail to recognize their own complicity in bigotry. While I firmly believe all humans can be guided out of bigotry under the correct circumstances, it is naive optimism to believe Stack Exchange will be able to evoke this paradigm shift in their moderators, now or at any time in the future. They cannot generate the personal circumstances necessary to do it, and the choice to wait is a harm.
Each day that passes, Community Managers have access to a breadth of corrective tools, but refuse to implement them. Kind words and good faith alone are insufficient, and this has always been the case. Even then, they tell us to be patient and wait; they always want more time. This problem has been allowed to fester, and queer moderators are the accepted sacrifice. The only remaining route is censure, and I no longer have confidence that Community Managers are capable of doing so.
My resignation comes on the back of repeated hostile behavior, deep violations of trust, and permissiveness to bigotry; but yes, a single incident has sparked my action here. In the spirit of "break systems, not people," I do not intend to share receipts at this time. Please do not ask for them.
Stack Exchange staff have kept discussions with queer moderators to private rooms, requested only private emails. Stack Exchange knows these problems exist -- we have informed them time and again. This is exclusively a means of protecting the network. Too many moderators would be upset about vocal and active queer support, and it would back CMs into a corner. But someone needs to say it publicly, even if I will burn bridges by writing this.
I hope they can change. I believe they can change. I am afraid they will not. I will not stay to learn the answer.
After five years, resigning in strength,