It's been just over five years since I joined the Stack Exchange network. I was awarded my fifth Yearling badge, over at Science Fiction & Fantasy, around a week ago. I became interested in the upkeep and moderation of the site not long after.
One thing led to another, and I was appointed to moderate Literature Stack Exchange in February 2017. I was 14 years old at the time.
Throughout the past five years, and the duration of my moderatorship especially, the site has been a huge influence of me. It helped me to mature as a person, helped me realize what some of passions were, and introduced me to some of the best people I've ever met. It wasn't always the best, but it was an invaluable influence on my life.
Over the course of the past three weeks, give or take, though, things have changed. Stack Exchange made a long-overdue change to their Code of Conduct to help protect minority groups, which was awesome to see. And at first, I was hopeful.
Unfortunately, this change sparked a veritable flood of anti-LGBTQ+ comments, posts, chat messages, and what have you. Meta.SE in particular was, and still is, overrun with posts expressing sentiments that make me sick. They are not all overt, but the non-overt posts couched in politeness are just as bad, if not worse.
If that wasn't bad enough, the network also became a host to a large number of anti-Jewish sentiments, sparked by a related issue on the network, in which the company in essence marked a Jewish moderator as being anti-trans and threw her to the wolves.
These sentiments have also shown up in a certain percentage of the folks in the network-wide moderator room, and their claims largely went unchallenged by the vast majority of people in the room.
I am not able to hunt down and remove all of these by myself. The pushback I received from users and other moderators while attempting to address some of the issues I saw had made it impossible for me to effectively moderate chat.SE, in particular.
The company has shown no sign that they are inclined to remove these posts, and the vast majority of them still remain, creating an extremely toxic atmosphere, especially concentrated around Meta.SE.
I also no longer trust the company to support me as a moderator. They have shown that they are willing to defame one of their moderators in an extremely public way, exposing her to mounds of personal attacks and damaging her reputation, to the extent that they spoke to the press about it. They have, as yet, shown no sign that they are taking action to rectify this, and I can no longer trust the company to have any form of support for the moderators who devote their time and effort into maintaining the site, all for free.
In addition, the controversy has attracted some extreme attention, and I do not feel safe under these circumstances.
The combination of these two issues has made it that I no longer feel safe in continuing to moderate this site. The community and the company have made it clear that I cannot trust either of them.
Until I see clear evidence that this has changed, I will be stepping down until further notice. I am open to the idea of return, if I feel that things have changed enough - SE has recently clarified that I do have the option of requesting reinstatement if I step down in good standing. I hope that I'll be able to return. Unfortunately, I doubt it.
I would like to make it clear that the vast majority of people in the moderator room are kind, hard-working people, who are open to learning and want to do what is best. Unfortunately, the small selection of people who continue to post their toxic views are still doing so largely unchallenged, and I no longer feel welcome there due to that.
It's been an honor to serve as a moderator of this site for nearly three years. Thank you all.
Update: See also my followup on Meta Stack Exchange.