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.

  • 21
    Respect, absolute respect.
    – user2722
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 9:50
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    Very sad news to hear but of course, your comfort and safety come first. I hope we can still expect you around in any capacity you can. Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 9:58
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    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 10:37
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    Damn. I hope to see you moderating again some day, both because it's a shame that you're stopping and because it's a shame things have got into a state where you feel you have to quit. Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 11:03
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    :( ...................
    – Magisch
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 11:30
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    Really sorry to see you go.....
    – user7852
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 12:09
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    I have been watching this watching this crisis in disbelief as it got worse and worse instead of better. After reading the Meta SE post you referenced, I made my real name invisible across all sites where I am a member. At this point, I don't know how much longer I will be moderating Language Learning SE. For these reason, I respect your decision and wish to say thanks for the moderation work you have done on this site.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 16:01
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    Thank you for all the effort you've put in to grow and nurture this site. It's awful that you're being forced into this position by intolerance and hate. I'm sorry.
    – Matt Thrower Mod
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 21:23
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    I haven't interacted with you all that much (mostly recently, in TL), but I'll miss you anyway. Hope to see you around SE :)
    – V2Blast
    Commented Oct 19, 2019 at 5:43
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    Hi Mithical. I want to let you know that as I was writing the introduction to this post, it occurred to me that it was wrong for me to attempt to stop the discussion about pronouns back in January, 2019. I don't know whether my actions contributed to you feeling unsafe. I do know, however, that telling people who feel unheard to "shut up" (in other words, but in an official capacity) is wrong. I apologize and am open to hearing more from you now. (My email is linked at the bottom of my blog.) I hope I can make amends. Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 18:40

4 Answers 4


May we have an occasion to work together again, some day. If not here, when all is through, then I hope elsewhere. Your reasons are clear, and I understand. If I had not quit already, I would quit again now, as my thoughts echo yours near word-for-word.

Thanks, sincerely, for all you've done.

Your Obdt. St,
-- Aza

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    May it be.
    – Mithical Mod
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 10:00
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    I am more heartbroken with what's going on. Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 10:00
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    @user58 Come, come, come, come, come along now / Run away from the hum-drum. / We'll go to a place that is safe from / Greed, anger and boredom. / We'll dance and sing 'til sundown / And feast with abandon. / We'll sleep when the morning comes / And we'll rise by the sound of the birdsongs.
    – user80
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 11:04

It's saddening that we are losing another valuable moderator and especially on Spirit Day, which is an LGBT awareness day and second strike on literature now due to the same fire.

It's disheartening and I started losing patience now. I might not be so regular on Literature to be specific but I do know user58♦ and had some experiences in TL and other networks and showed me maturity way beyond the age.

For me, I will always see a diamond in your username and wish you good health and a hopeful come back to the team.

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    Thanks, Ankit. It's appreciated.
    – Mithical Mod
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 10:23
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    You have just echoed my words!
    – Nog Shine
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 3:50

Aw, crap.

I've spent the last three weeks reading a number of resignation posts across the network, including some from folks I've served alongside as a mod and some from folks with whom I haven't. Most of really hard to read - not just because we're losing valuable voices, but because the stories and reasons for leaving are so heart-wrenching: not feeling supported by Stack Exchange, being attacked by bigoted users, fearing for their safety online, or just being emotionally exhausted. This is what I've been calling the human cost of this whole debacle. Nobody should have to put up with that sort of crap.

Amidst all of these, I think that your resignation and Aza's were two of the ones that affected me the most. I don't know why. Could be the wording, could be the particular people involved, could be the musical accompaniment. . . But they did touch me. I've learned a lot from both of you, and gained quite a lot from your presences here and on other sites across the network. And that might be why this whole thing feels kinda like a punch in the gut from the Internet in general.

I'm sorry you're stepping down. I really, really am.

One thing that everyone who's staying - and I mean both folks who are staying on Stack Exchange and folks who are staying as mods - has to do is support each other. You don't feel supported; you don't feel safe. I think it's incumbent upon all of us to provide as much support as we can. And that doesn't mean diving into every dispute. It can mean little things: a cat picture in a chat room if someone's having a rough time, an encouraging remark in chat, or maybe just some sort of, well, cheery demeanor - for those who, on that particular day, have a little extra cheer to go around.

That's one way we can start to turn this whole damn problem around. But supporting those like you who don't feel supported, and doing that liiitle bit we can to make this place a bit safer.

This is Literature Stack Exchange, so I do feel compelled to end with a quote. I'll take one from Gandalf in Return of the King, and even though it's about death, I've always felt it's meant to say that there is a hidden light in even the darkest of times:

End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it. . . . White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

I hope you find the Valinor in your heart.

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    Awww, heck. You've made me all emotional again. I really appreciate this. And yes, supporting the people still around is hugely important.
    – Mithical Mod
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 18:40
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    When you are under pressure from people who seek to cause harm, caring for the people around you is a simple act of profound subversion. For how deeply you impact the network, you are rather unsung, HDE. Fight for what you believe. And hey, let's chat about pulsars, sometime. :)
    – user80
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 3:15
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    This is the answer I would have written if I knew what to write, so thanks for writing it. So sad to see all this happening Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 7:55

Your strength, your courage, your patience, your eloquence, your articulation, and your maturity far surpasses mine and that of many of the people on the entire network. For that, you have my deepest respect. I wish you safe passage wherever you go from here.

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