The question-answer website Stack Exchange is now facing a small crisis as around 20 volunteer moderators have quit the platform over corporate policy changes as well as the termination of a moderator, Monica Cellio, for pushing back on some of the policy changes.
Stack Exchange have revoked the position of Cellio over allegedly violating unpublished Code of Conduct changes. Cellio, in a post, explained that she was terminated under the assumption that Cellio “will in the future violate a thoughtcrime-style provision of a Code of Conduct change that hasn’t been made yet.”
“On Friday, half an hour before Shabbat and two days before Rosh Hashana, Stack Overflow Inc. suddenly revoked my moderator status on all sites where I had it. I found this out while handling flags, when I suddenly got notifications for Marshal and Deputy badges (which moderators are ineligible to earn). They did this not because I’ve done anything to violate SE policies (which I have not done), but because they think I will in the future violate a thoughtcrime-style provision of a Code of Conduct change that hasn’t been made yet.”
Cellio had drawn attention to the fact that Stack Exchange’s revised Code of Conduct requires users to use fellow users’ “preferred gender pronouns”.
Caleb Maclennan, a mediator who resigned in protest of Cellio’s behavior, expressed that Stack Exchange wants to treat the refusal to use a person’s preferred gender pronoun as a Code of Conduct violation.
Later on, Cellio offered more insights to what happened with regards to Maclennan, writing, “In January a mod asked a discussion question on the mod team: should we require that people user preferred pronouns? My answer said we must not call people what they don’t want to be called, but there are multiple ways to avoid misgendering and we should not require a specific one. Under some pressure I said that I don’t use singular they or words like chairwoman but solve the problem other ways.”
Cellio said a moderator linked to her question and, as always with the state of the internet in 2019, called her a bigot.
On the other hand, Stack Exchange’s director of community, Sara Chips said that, “On Friday, we revoked privileges for one Stack Exchange moderator when they refused to abide by our Code of Conduct (CoC) after being asked to change their behavior multiple times. While we can’t discuss any more specifics, I’ll share that we take our CoC very seriously.”
In connection to the above statement, upon being asked if the anonymous person “they” was Cellio, a spokesperson said that, “Cellio (she/her) would not use stated pronouns, which violates our current CoC. We are soon publishing an update to the CoC to even more explicitly cite misgendering users or moderators as a violation.”