I do find it frustrating, puzzling, and sad how SE appears to have treated Monica Cellio. She provides an excellent summary (from her perspective) here: https://cellio.dreamwidth.org/2064709.html
This kerfuffle, and I only got a little summary of it, makes my eyes glaze over. I'm certainly not against treating people with respect, but I'm not willing to stick my neck out for some of the unsavory characters here who aren't acting in good faith.
What they did to Monica Cellio was disgusting. And most likely based on pure hate.
I remember adding a  tag to an inaccurate claim, and then discovering that my change has been reverted. The reason the moderator gave was that  didn't look good on the page. How do you argue with people like that. I'm not going to spend hours reading on wikipedia's policies just make it better.
SE is bad, but at least I get something out of it. That and the fact that SE's meta game is easier to play than wikipedia's. You just need to make sure you word your question in a way that it can only be answered definitively (no opinion), and preempt duplicate-heads with a list of similar questions and why they don't answer your question.
I've yet to have a question of mine closed as a duplicate, though mods have treated me passive-aggressively for taking away their sticks :^)
Better than that is better, but that's the threshold between bad and good.
So include error messages instead of just typing "I got a certificate error when …", because people who get the same error will paste their error message into google. Some of then paste it into bing. None type "I got a certificate error when …" into google.
Stack Overflow is about building a knowledge base where people find answers. SEO is essential to that.
I agree though. It seems to me to have more to do with aggrandizing power and influence than with hate. What better way to get rid of competitors than to bait them into behaving "bigoted"? Look at the Monica case. She never refused to use someones chosen pronoun. She was baited into admitting that she already avoids certain ways of addressing people out of kindness and politeness and a desire not to rub people the wrong way. Now she's out. This has nothing to do with bigotry, and everything to do with a group of people that want to kick everybody else off every position of power or influence.
They intentionally took action against her on the Shabbos and Rosh Hashanah when they knew she couldn't respond. If you accept the trans community's claim that misgendering is an act of violence, then if follows that this is was act of 'violence' too.
I've found that members of the cisgender community almost uniformly take offense at being misgendered. And responses from the cisgender male community often include threats of physical violence, especially when one persistently misgenders them or challenges the validity of their maleness.
That said, I'm rather troubled by Monica's treatment in this situation, especially its coincidence with Shabbos/Rosy Hashanah.
It's never bothered me.
It's not just "the transgender community." It's a baseline of human decency to call folks what they want to be called.
That’s also how I treat people I completely don’t care about or am aware of. My default behavior is to ignore, that doesn’t mean I hate everyone I ignore. If I assume this about people who ignore me, I’ll probably be wrong.
Should I assume Comcast is shunning me when they don’t respond? Or that they hate me? Or maybe they are just a stupid org that doesn’t care at all about me.
That is a striking perspective, but perhaps just reflects a generational difference?
In a social media driven culture, where people grow up feeling that "attention == validation"... I suppose they could also feel that "indifference == hate" as a corollary.
I use both SE and Quora to get answers, especially to extremely-niche questions. I understand that some people do use them for community and that people do interact and know each other on both platforms, but it's hard to understand complaints about a subpar community when the goal of the site doesn't seem to revolve around a community at all.
To me, SE is a Q&A site. It exists to let people ask questions and get those questions answered. If you took away the community entirely, would it be any less useful?
This probably comes off a bit flippant to the situation, but it's meant to illustrate that you're right: I'd say I'm a pretty average user of SE (in that I just use it to get answers, and occasionally write my own answers when I can, and so far it's worked perfectly well for me) and I don't care one bit about community-based drama.
My suspicion is that the answer is yes. You'd have to have actual data to be sure, but based on my experience with internet communities, there are probably a small number of people who bring in the vast majority of the value (i.e. answer the most questions, clean up/flag/categorize questions and answers). Those people spend a lot of time on the site and the community aspect (relationships, reputation, etc) is a big part of what motivates them to consistently return and add value.
I actually spent a long time lobbying Quora to make content anonymous by default for exactly this reason. It's really frustrating when I come into a comment thread and don't understand some context outside of what's actually being said. This isn't nearly as much of a problem on HN than it is on Quora (or even SE), but if I ask an intentionally-generic question I don't want people looking at who asked it and needlessly scoping their answers to the kind of answers they think I want. I also understand there are some psychological benefits to the opposite though (people wanting to know more about who asked a question to put a face to who they think they're helping), but IMO what little benefit it offers the OP dwarfs potentially unfortunate specificity for anyone else with that question in the future that might put them in a weird mix of "duplicate question" and "oh, but this one little thing is different for me".
I honestly think that's one of HN's strengths. Too often, in general discourse, who is talking becomes as important, if not more important, than what is being said. I feel that the lack of prominence of a poster/commenter's name is a plus - it invites the reader to focus on the message being written, rather than the source.
(Then again, maybe I'm projecting, assuming more community in this place than there really is. I'm a HN addict after all.)
so for a while, due to strange quirk of circumstance, i had the inside track of a profitable adult website. it was your standard “streaming adult videos, no ads, charge hefty subscription” model. one morning the ceo says let’s do community. everyone’s going social. lets have blogs, message board, the whole shebang. Announcement made with much fanfare. The idiot audience thought community means they could talk to their favorite pornstar :) once the ceo clarifies that no, community doesn’t mean that, they turn on him like a pack of wolves. what do you mean, you want us to talk to each other ?! like random perv from oklahoma should message arbitrary perv from cleveland about which vid gets him off ? wtf ?!! the poor ceo’s got his back to a wall. he says, we’ll be the world’s largest adult community. the peeps are like, dude, largest community of pervs ? fbi will have a ball. half of us are scared our employer or our spouse or worse, teenage son hacks into our account. now you want us to have wacky avatars & actually talk to each other on a messageboard so whatever we say persists for posterity ? it quickly went downhill from there. they brought in a moderator, sort of like dang. he was supposed to police the crowds & tamp down on contentious disagreement. but hardly anybody participated, so they had to broaden dang’s role. so now everytime a video was posted, poor dang would have to watch the whole video and make insightful comments like “lady featured in this clip at 7:15 is the same lady in that other clip at 9:20” and so on. soon he became an encyclopedia of porn trivia. people actually started showing up on the community board just to poke fun of his wide acumen.
Around that time i quit. But it was quite the experience. Community can be a major hassle.
So, without community, you wouldn't have the answers, and without the answers, folks stop asking the questions.
For the tourist coming in, looking through the windows, having a canoli, does the community really matter? Are they even visible in the throngs of the crowd?
But for the people who live there day in and day out, the expulsion of a popular shop owner from their midst might be quite perturbing and a big stir.
At the end of the day, without those shop owners who come back every day, Little Italy probably would not be the same pleasant experience for the tourists. I imagine it’s similar for the largely invisible to the end user stack exchange community.
The whole platform is based around the users creating questions and answers. The site puts much of the effort for curation and moderation on to the community, if you visit the chat rooms on there you'll find that there's groups of people who congregate there who do a disproportionate amount of that work of keeping things running smoothly.
So I think there is a risk of the site quality sliding substantially if the currently highly engage segment of the community there disengages.
> Breaking news, October 6 21:00 UTC: the CTO stepped in, accepted responsibility, apologized to the community, and promised to contact me directly to apologize and discuss next steps. Finally! I look forward to that contact.
The reddit future is a very real possibility.
Currently, moderators close the question with a link to the question they think it's a dupe of. Why not instead let people answer the question with a link to the answer that they think solves the poster's problem? If they're right then the asker can just accept that answer, and if not then people can add comments, post alternate answers, etc.
The mods are ignorant and quick to act poorly. StackExchange has sucked for several years at least.
Also, often I see newer and better answers under the 'original' question, but they never get the upvotes or the 'correct answer' badge. Sometimes I completely overlook them because they are just not as visible.
Allowing duplicate questions, at least after some time, could fix this problem.
Questions and answers just aren't evergreen things that one can expect to last through the ages. And even if they were, treating them as such means that SO's new users generally can't contribute anything.
I find SO's current model really bizarre.
I still visit but I basically stopped asking and answering because it’s just not worth the stress of having to defend my question or answer. I have a 10k rep account and I’m an experienced dev with a decent grip of English as a second language but I still never felt once that my answer was welcome or my question was good enough for the site. I can only imagine what a novice must feel when using SO.
Sure, unless it really happens. I'd been burned by over-moderation as well but when I look at the process I think it's not arbitrary. There are controls and voting by more than one person. Remember, there is nothing a moderator gains by doing any of this.
But I think this recipe is a disaster: users downvote and close-vote. Moderators look at votes and clean up accordingly. I think the problem is that the algorithms allow a small group of drive-by downvoters to destroy the experience. I'd be more than willing to accept a somewhat lower content quality for a more friendly experience.
I would guess the vast majority of traffic to any specific question page is search, followed by specific links people have posted (on or offsite), and relatively little will come from browsing through lists of questions (tags pages) or something like that.
Search is going to surface the most up-voted and linked questions. Links people have posted are obviously very specific (no chance of confusion following the link).
I would say the upsides are that you end up with more opportunities to have nuanced differences in question handled, give more people a chance to answer questions, naturally refresh questions/answers over the years (eg: "How do I minify CSS in <stack>?" will have very different answers in 2019 than it did in 2009).
* I'm not necessarily suggesting exact duplicates, but allowing for questions to be re-asked after a year or two, and allowing any subtle difference in the situation, stack, etc.
Like ldigas, I long ago gave up on SO because of bad moderation experiences. I'm grudgingly willing to respect those mods as humans, but I certainly won't as moderators. They do a poor job, needlessly offending and discouraging contributors. They could quit any time. They could go on strike at any time. But no, they just kept on.
I can definitely muster up some sympathy when people trapped in bad jobs are jerks. They are doing it to survive. But people who volunteer to be jerks? That's on them.
The answer lies in its magnificent design. SO has community based voting for almost everything. Almost everything is gamified. There are people literally writing essays on why everyone should vote them to be an "officer" for X and how they will work hard on keeping quality bar high. There is an extra-ordinary passion in what they do. Its HN on steroids but with much better mechanics. It is almost completely decentralized and operates without needing people blessed with special dictatorial powers 99.9% of the times. Again, lot of these volunteers are highly paid IT/tech folks, not your ordinary 8chan Joe. They could have been doing anything else in their free time instead of technical answering questions at SO. This is much harder than dishing out fact-free opinions on non-technical websites as armchair expert. Again, no one gets paid for anything they do on SO. This is the beauty of gamification and extremely well designed community driven completely decentralized governance at its extreme. Its almost magical to me and I haven't found any other website on Internet achieve it at same scale and importance.
They do so for the same reason they did that before SO and SE existed. A good chunk of people like to help each other. Another (partially overlapping) chunk likes to have their knowledge challenged, another (also partially overlapping) like to show off their knowledge in front of their peers. This was what made the Internet tick since the earliest days.
SO happened to come from within the community (Jeff and Joel were known experts), and had the right features to eventually channel most of the drive I described above through itself. But it's not like SO created it. SO is also accumulating some anti-features these days (like well-known propensity for closing 90% of interesting questions as duplicates or off-topic, or the recent moderator dramas, or targeted advertising they snuck in), so their future is somewhat uncertain.
> Again, lot of these volunteers are highly paid IT/tech folks, not your ordinary 8chan Joe.
A lot of "8chan Joes" are highly paid IT/tech folks. Or at least I'd assume so, given that it's true for 4chan.
> They could have been doing anything else in their free time instead of technical answering questions at SO. (...) Again, no one gets paid for anything they do on SO.
People also answer SO question on their employeers' time.
> This is the beauty of gamification and extremely well designed community driven completely decentralized governance at its extreme.
SO wasn't a "big design up front". It evolved over time. Gamification helps a bit, but I question it's critical to get highly-trained professionals to answer complex technical questions for free. Again, a lot of highly-trained professionals do that simply because they like it. On SO, or on HN (one of the big points of this site), or on old-school forums, or on conferences, etc. etd.
Even if I were 100% wrong, this would be offputting. But I don't think I am. I'm in the top 100 users here; I was a Quora Top Writer; I was a Wikipedia admin; I've worked on community sites, including a Webby winner. I know something about online contribution. Yes, SO's design got them where they are. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. And until SO's fans can start seeing those issues, they stand no chance of getting fixed.
Of course I have no hope that S.O. will change anything. When they started their "be nice" campaign I suggested the "CLOSED: This is a duplicate" message should be changed to "CONGRATS: This appears to be a duplicates so you win! There is already an answer [here]!"
In any case there are rules. One is "post the code you're having trouble with in the question, not a link offsite." The offsite link is useless if the code changes there or the offsite site goes offline. Some not insignificant percent of the time the question will just have a link to offsite code. I'll leave a comment saying effectively, "please add the code to the question" and then I vote to close, reason "missing code". The person never adds the code. Are they like you claiming S.O. is rude and unreasonable? Did they get their answer somewhere else and never come back to follow up? I have no idea.
Actually the rule is even more specific. "Make a minimal repo and post it the question itself". Almost no one makes a remotely minimal repo which is fine, but in general lots of people fail at the "repo" part period. In order to help them we'd need to download code, setup dev environments, make up test data, etc...."
What I do know is I often spend 30 to 240 minutes writing working examples for a single answer. I do that volunteerily for reasonable questions. When someone barfs out a "give me teh codez" question it can be very angering. They're basically asking for free labor. If that's not rude I don't know what is.
Here's a recent "give me free labor" question
Here's a recent "teach me an entire CS course" question
And here's an answer I spent over 150 minutes on, trying to understand their code, trying to make a working sample, running into bugs, when I looked up 2.5 hours had passed.
And another more typical 30 minutes on this one
note I'm not trying to brag. I hear your complaint often. I just don't run into it myself. Instead I see lots of volunteers answering questions and only voting to close the bad ones and they are bad ones.
This person was getting unexpected results when calling is_integer. According to the duplicate, the solution is that they should call is_integer... which is what they were doing. The original close voter commented 'sorry I didn't read your question properly before suggesting the dupe', but it remains closed.
The question was answered in the comments: this surprising result was due to floating point error and rounding done by the print function. However, it could not be posted as an answer, because the question was closed. I voted to reopen, but the vote failed.
EDIT: The share link I posted takes me to a different question when I'm logged in than it does when I open in an incognito window. WTF.
EDIT2: Apparently serving completely different pages to logged-in users and logged-out users is by design. https://meta.stackoverflow.com/q/271077/
Here's a link to question  that should work for everybody: https://stackoverflow.com/q/49847677/331041?noredirect=1
EDIT3: It doesn't work. Sorry. I tried my best, but only logged-in users will get the correct page from the links I posted.
It's lucky that the person who answered had enough carma to write comments. SO's job seems to be to prevent users from answering questions.
Before answering questions in future give them a bit of a Googling. Find the ones someone like yourself didnt spend time on, the ones that instantly got closed as off topic or duplicate or moderator was grumpy today so closed.
I get it, wealth of free information and that, sure. But these are the top results in Google. The top results, not a /new queue where you’re hiding. The pages that someone having this problem will visit.
From the visitor’s point of view, SO is a cesspool of power tripping mods who love to close questions.
The solution? SO should noindex closed questions and add canonical links for duplicates. Simple enough, tell the damn search engines things are closed/redirected as well as the user. It would improve the end user experience infinitely to stop arriving on what they perceive as unnecessarily closed questions.
In the absolute ideal these questions would be answered instead of closed as dupe but right now it just means following a trail of dupes and closures to maybe find the answer before giving up and going back to the search results.
Instead of that, give the user the wrong answer straight away so they can just back up one to the search to continue digging
Or the questions that are duplicate questions, but with an answer five years out of date that will never get updated because new people interested in the topic don't have enough magic beans to actually do anything.
I think the reason for that is you’re a web developer. The majority of the admins too. For less popular domain areas, the experience is very different. I run into the issue all the time. The experience became so disappointing that I stopped writing answers there. Here’s a couple examples where downvoters destroyed, or almost destroyed, good questions with my answers to them: https://stackoverflow.com/q/57323981/ https://stackoverflow.com/q/57064879/
I don't understand why it's a privilege in the first place. What's so dangerous about allowing me to read a 'bad' question?
Slashdot had this as well, it was called meta-mod.
And while I agree that some amount of moderation is necessary, it has long ago crossed that limit.
Mods should moderate in moderation, not to the extreme.
Just the other day I asked a question regarding Windows and Android around 12h (midday), and spend until 23h that day discussing with a mod, whether it should be moved to a site that deals exclusively with Android questions (and where it would be closed/offtopic because of the Windows part), or closed on the site where it was asked for being offtopic, because of the Android part.
That they - the mods - haven't understood the question became obvious only when we settled that discussion, and when they attempted to answer it themselves.
This is just a trivial example. But it shows the current state of affairs.
Anyway, would be interesting to know which part of SE exactly you talk about. I've been sort of active for years on e.g. C++ tag on SO and never had any of those problems for any answer given or question I asked. On the contrary, I got a proper answer within hours. I admit that it happened more than once though that while typing a question I did some extra research and while doing so found the answer, on SO itself, and didn't have to post the question anymore so that rules out duplicates.
The entire point of a pronoun is to convey my perceived relation to the noun. We do it all the time with possessives and formalities; if gender is truly a fluid, to-be-perceived, non-biological construct, then why shouldn't we treat it the same way?
This could have been a complete non-issue if there hadn't been so much stubborn hate and disrespect towards transgender and non-binary people. A single case of misgendering would be easy to take as an honest mistake if it wasn't against a context of decades of hate and denial of their identity. So use of pronouns seems to have become the main signifier of whether they're getting the respect they deserve.
That doesn't make one particular view on the use of pronouns right or wrong, but it does make it complex and laden with a lot of baggage that not everybody is aware of.
Personally, I always try to draw the line from a natural rights approach. If one "right" requires the infringement of the rights of someone else, then it's not really a natural right. If your personal belief requires me to have a certain personal belief, it's not a natural-right, it's a form of religious jihad.
People need to realize that if you aren't "normal" in some way (whether it's a personality quirk, weird hobby, odd fetish, or disability, or whatever) that life isn't guaranteed to be easy, and you're going to need to take certain conversations or commentary with a thick skin. (I know "normal" can be a no-no in this topic, but I mean in general terms, which I think is still appropriate for this context.)
And the "coerced" or "forced speech" approach really doesn't make sense in practice if we're strictly looking at self-identity. If it were strictly about self-identity, we'd still say pro-life and pro-choice, instead of pro-woman and anti-abortion. "Racist" would basically be off limits except for the very small number of people that openly embrace it as a badge. Making any assumption about anyone's outward appearance (or any assumption about the underlying motive of anyone's actions) could land you in trouble with the thought police.
People say 1984 and BNW, but I think the whole thing is...it's very Victorian- just with a different set of taboos and standards. Although with the direction me-too is headed, with people being offended (or even feeling harassed or assaulted) just by being asked-out in (what they perceive to be) an offensive manor, we've almost come full circle.
So yeah, we need some balance. You can't expect to never ever get offended, but at the same time, we should be trying to accept people who are different.
The comparison with racists doesn't quite work, as they're defined specifically by not accepting people who are different in a specific way. Of course they'd like to see that normalised, but at the same time they oppose the normalisation of others who are not hurting anyone in any way, and that's something that needs to be called out. But transgender people just want to be themselves, not hurt anyone, and not get hurt by anyone. And I think the reason they overreact is because they get hurt so much. I think you and I would react much the same way if we were constantly under attack merely for being ourselves.
>And when you get it wrong, correct yourself.
This is where I strongly disagree. At most, the compromise is to keep it ambiguous. Otherwise you're putting your personal belief system over mine, and expecting me to modify my outward behavior to accommodate your beliefs (and by defying my own).
Whereas my beliefs would require no outward change in behavior on your part, let alone one that you might find internally immoral. You would just have to be tolerant.
Re: the racist thing. The technical definition doesn't fit the applied use of the term. Most people the left labels racist are at most apathetic, if you leave them out of it. And I don't mean forcing them to treat everyone equally. I mean being accused of racism if you don't actively support whatever political agenda is the flavor of the week.
It's the same forced participation that draws the comparison. And it's counter productive because it fosters resentment.
>they oppose the normalisation of others
This has become some sort of fetishisation, 99% of people being called racist want normalisation through assimilation. There's no personal grudge because a person is different. It's the special treatment being demanded that people have a problem with.
>But transgender people just want to be themselves, not hurt anyone, and not get hurt by anyone.
By demanding that others go against these same principles.
That makes me think that it's not really about pronouns, it's about people using bad-faith misinterpretation and unjustified accusations to hold a witch-hunt. Pronouns are just the purported subject.
But I'm new to the whole kerfuffle, so I may be missing something.
They also did this at 6 pm on a Friday. She's Jewish.
In fairness, there really isn't a good time to fire someone. I would normally think that the end of the work week is one of the least bad times to fire someone.
Edit: Also, even if that's the best time, you should ensure you make personal contact, and not just do the equivalent of a ghosting.
People that think like this baffle me
When I refer to people online, I rarely use 'pronouns'. IMO in online communication, it's most clear/neutral to just refer to people by their name or username, e.g. if I'm referring to you I might just say @beerandt. I can't imagine how that could be seen as offensive in any way
I can see a case where trolls could abuse it, but that shouldn't preclude well-intentioned use.
(Honesty question. I'm curious what the connection is, and that's the best I can think of.)
If it were a common expression of homophobia to to refer to gay people's husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends as their "roommate", SE made a rule against doing that, and a moderator asked if it would be fine if they always referred to the partners by their full names ... I wouldn't really get the impression that the moderator is trying to follow the spirit of the CoC.
Maybe not every user needs to be on board with the spirit of the CoC, but the moderators that are responsible for enforcing it probably should be.
Because no one sane can keep up outside of a small personal group of friends.
I suspect that's what's going on at SO.
Disclaimer: It was written in 2009, read in context it's very clear the first interpretation is the correct one, there's an entire concept of identity that didn't exist in the public discussion when this was written.
I think it's a pretty good idea to think about how to not be a "Java programmer" or a "kitesurfer" (to pick two things that I could be identified as), since the former sets my brain up to be implicitly against, say, Kotlin or Haskell, and the latter sets my brain up to be against windsurfing. And I like all of those things too!
But certainly, there are things that are core to someone's identity, and I guess that's where each of us needs to find our own boundaries.
Identity can be a tool and a crutch. My feeling (as someone who identifies as human and has been hanging out/coping with the world for 3-4 decades -- a feeling, informed by a lifetime of good and bad situations) is that identity politics hurts more the identity-assertion people; the opposite faction is merely annoyed.
This is pretty common amongst business leaders; comparing their statements against their serious work quickly shows that it's not all so warm-and-fuzzy.
Virtue signaling may be its own reward to the masses, but it serves a real function for the well-to-do in preventing or at least confusing a Marie Antoinette effect. If there's any "let them eat cake" to be found, they can point to an abundance of more recent "truth to power" statements that will create enough ambiguity to tamp down the fervor of the mob, if and/or when it comes to that.
Furthermore, some people would say that everyone staying in the closet is bad advice for the gay community overall, as it means the average person will only hear about the 1% of gay people who are arrested for sex crimes, not the 99% of gay people who are perfectly nice people living normal lives and minding their own business, or the great scientists and inventors and authors who happened to be gay.
This is, as I understand it, an area of substantial strength of feeling in the gay community - it's part of what underlies concepts like 'gay pride' and the famous chant "we're here, we're queer, we're not going to disappear".
And although I've used gay men in the example above, it applies to any minority group - although with different details, I've never seen a female programmers' pride march!
But here's the nub: the mental illness belongs to some contexts (therapist, friends, intimate relationship) and not others (trying to sell a project to a client).
The part about preferred pronouns feels a little too abstract and counterproductive. This is a personal feeling, coming from a personal interpretation of sources of wisdom. And it's not because it makes other people react in this or that way -- the point is not conquering the Other, you can't do this anyway. It's about how you set about to cope with the world and grow with it; how you deal with your own subjectivity.
Maybe I'm wrong. It's a very different minoritarian perspective.
Google isn't turning up anything. What was the issue with Friends?
Apparently friends is problematic. Racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist and fat'ist (Is that an 'ist?).
Disclaimer: I don't have a strong opinion about the specifics of the stackexchange case. Without knowing all of the details, it seems the actions and new policy was a bit extreme and will do more harm than good.
That's not necessarily saying people shouldn't be trans. The charitable reading [aside below] is that it could be saying that if they're trans, they should still expect to be disrespected and we should be fine with that.
I think that there are respectful ways to make that point. What are the exact limits to how much respect we should be expected to extend to people who defy our preconceptions of society? The line exists somewhere. But that kind of conversation should be approached with care and clarity. To just hint at that point doesn't imply a nuanced view, but implies a general disrespect to a lot of the hard-won acceptance of LGBT people.
Aside: I don't think I'm wrong calling it a charitable reading. Charity doesn't mean I'm going to think endlessly until I find a non-offensive thing it could mean; I'm still going to weight my reading by how I expect most people to have read it. Ultimately I'm publicly arguing against what other people are reading, not the intention that exists privately in the writer's mind. Even if the author just happened to think now was a good time to remind people they should avoid Ruby vs Python holy wars, it's little use for me to read it as that and respond to that if no one else is reading it that way. If people really think the critics' reading (that the critics have explained) is so off-base, there's been plenty of time by now for them and others to elaborate on whatever the intended reading really was.
You are obscuring the details of the case to make your case and you should be ashamed.
> It's incredible that pronouns can bring down an entire community.
This is obviously talking about the pronouns that transgender folks identify as. Where is the disconnect?
The Opal project's little kerfuffle a while back comes to mind, and the subsequent adoption by several Ruby projects of the Contributor Covenant (of which, it never seems to be applied to its supporters - maybe that's just me being cynical). It convinced me that the best way to go is no code of conduct (I favour the delightfully named NCoC) for most projects.
Still, like many things, it's a choice between one bad thing and one worse thing, and these "covenants" and other well-meaning straitjackets have the same old free speech arguments applicable to them - it's not nice to hear people be nasty but it's worse to have some jumped up little authoritarians choose how us plebs should be "nice" while they get free reign to be horrible.
I wonder, has Torvalds ever acted like that to people's faces?
With European names, I also saw plenty of times when wrong genders were assumed, but those things shouldn't be taken as malice. It would be weird for an adult to use that a a means for insult, so why not assume it's an honest mistake?
The same insult doesn't really work on men in that same setting, since we're not really a minority. So we're more armed against someone calling us "she".
But I can imagine it's hard to have to justify yourself every time for being a woman. Yeah that sucks, a lot of jerks out there and not much to do about it.
I stand corrected.
So against that background, it's entirely understandable that they react more emotionally also to accidental mistakes. That doesn't mean overreaction is a good idea, but it's a backlash against a long history of having their identity denied. If we don't like the backlash, maybe we should work harder to address the original hatred that it's reacting to.
I'm male, and sometimes people outside my native country misread my name and read it as the feminine version of it. I've answered phone calls and gone to appointments where people were actually expecting a woman, not a fully grown man. That's people being silly, not rejecting my identity.
But I don't want any part in this discussion, like the OP in the article, I'll keep using "they" to refer to people on the internet.
Though, as you determined singular "they" is a simple enough implementation without needing a database lookup and keeping a pronoun database on hand.
[ETA: It's a small shame this particular DB is AGPL, keeping it from being maximally reuseful as a shareable standard library. Though data is not code and AGPL may not technically apply, but there's no separate data license such as a CC license mentioned in the repo, so one must assume AGPL-like conditions.]
more like people cant use Bob in an example and say He because "what if Bob is trans" comes up. cant even say "they" to be neutral because apparently "singular they" is offensive.
this is dumb. its not a real problem for the site. the rest of us dont need to deal with all that because some people have nothing better to do.
For those of us not quite up to date on social movements, and for slow-moving organizations, this is obviously tricky to navigate. My workplace is just starting to encourage everyone to state their "preferred pronouns" prominently when introducing themselves and on all correspondence (e.g. in email signatures), and to avoid gendered pronouns when possible in many situations or at least use "singular they" (e.g. in abstract examples or documentation). Last week I thought that was quite progressive. This week I have learned that "preferred pronouns" is no longer an acceptable phrase, that "singular they" is offensive to some, that avoiding pronouns itself is problematic (at least in SE's CoC, apparently), and that asking someone to give pronouns is problematic and hurtful to some. I don't know where that leaves me or my workplace.
...and yet the community that supports them vehemently punishes anyone that strays from their constantly changing and often contradictory directives.
Are any views invalid?
And if that's the thing you intend to be fighting, then yes, you've got a fight. But this shouldn't be a fight. Respecting people for their differences should be a normal part of being a decent person.
i find your comment offensive so youre banned for life from the internet. is that what you want? or should my offense be my own problem? ill let you figure out which one is better
In this context, intentionally denying people their identity. Those bathroom bills that force people to use the wrong bathroom, for example. But anyone who insists on calling a transgender woman "he" or a transgender man "she", even after having been corrected, is intentionally hurting them. It's intentionally being an asshole to someone.
> "you cant just make up rules."
We can do. Hopefully after some careful deliberation, or you end up with stupid rules like those bathroom bills, but yes, rules get made all the time.
That doesn't mean we should legislate everything. We can't and shouldn't. But what should and shouldn't get legislated, or captured in less formal community rules, is an ongoing discussion.
> "and are you seriously ignoring all the people who do get fired and jailed? lol wait till it happens to you"
I'm not. Lots of people are indeed getting fired and jailed for being LBGTQ, belonging to the wrong minority, etc. But nobody is getting fired or jailed for belonging to a demographic that is 99.9% of the population.
> "i find your comment offensive so youre banned for life from the internet."
There's a massive difference between accidentally offending someone, and going out of your way to offend. I'm addressing the latter. If we manage to address that, it becomes easier to assume that the offenses we do experience were not intentional.
There was a discussion a few days ago about how a few people say that the terms "assigned male/female at birth" should apply only to intersex people and the trans community appropriated them. But if you look into it, you find that the trans community invented those terms, and the people who originated the claim are outspoken transphobes who want to invalidate trans people in any way they can. And there's probably some well-meaning people who were taken by those assholes, unfortunately. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21139083
At the end of the day, all you can do is respect people's individual wishes when they express them, and when they don't, go with the consensus and try to extend the benefit of the doubt. Someone who's been hassled and harassed their whole life is gonna be high-strung about some things; you don't need to agree with them, but give them a little slack when you can.
Edit: I'm curious what their rationale for asking people not to state their pronouns was. I can't think of any way that could benefit anyone. Do you recall what they said exactly?
theyre literally making EVERYONE work harder and waste time to not offend a single person who probably doesnt even agree with these rules
I thought it was quite interesting.
but FORCING people to use those words or be fined or banned or jailed is definitely tyranny
heres some articles since i think youre being ignorant on purpose:
This isn't about singling anybody out with pronouns.
Everyone shouldn’t have to adapt to appease the 0.0001% hyper-sensitive. That’s not a reasonable proposition.
its only offensive if you listen to the 1 in a million people who want to make a big deal and control everyone elses speech
I think the point was that 'singular they is offensive' only when people have specifically asked for certain pronouns (ie you're blatantly disregarding people's requests)?
im not going to write bob and alice and then worry about "well what if these fake people in this example i made up are actually trans" lol give me a break.
Same as an author who is writing a novel, is free to invent characters and assign gender, sexual orientation, and any other character traits they want.
It's your story, they are your characters. You decide if it's a he, she, xe, or whatever.
and if anyone steps out of line against the insane number of rules about who you might slightly offend then you get mobbed and "cancelled" by being called a racist/sexist/bigot/transphobe/nazi and whatever cool word is in use until you lose your job and lifestyle and are permanently branded a terrible person
Certainly polite but a bit jarring as a non-native speaker that feels fluent. Also a bit nonsensically-bureaucratic : I made the mistake because I didn't know any better, after the comment I still couldn't correct the mistake because I still didn't know any better, I wasn't even sure what rule of punctuation I had wronged.
I would've preferred a direct edit instead of a comment prompting though I guess that can be seen as worse by some people.
Maybe you put a space before a colon, and the eagle-eyed moderator spotted it :-)
(English rarely has a space before a punctuation mark — except for a dash in British usage. Americans—I think—do this.)
It’s sad that more and more companies ignore normal support channels (a very well established and proven one in SE’s case) and only answer to Twitter shaming. For one thing, it’s very unfair to those of us who don’t (otherwise) use Twitter — I have to keep an account just for tech support, and even then I highly doubt my requests are valued as much as ones from accounts with 10k or more followers.
It doesn't seem like they should be marked as having a poor TOS for at least half the things listed as those things are basically the known purpose of the site.
"We collect location information about you including your IP address, your location, browser information, and how you came to the Stack Overflow Network."
"This is the case for individuals who have registered for an account, and non-members who engage with the Stack Overflow Network by visiting our website(s) but who have not completed an account registration."
"We share this information with certain third-parties (e.g., talent recruiters, payment processors, and advertising providers)"
Some of them are about religions, and that brings on politics. Since religion and politics are intertwined.
Politics and the negotiation of status and access between various in and out groups is a fundamental part of being human.
No, not everything is political. From that perspective you could substitute the term politics with "battle for share", which can be political, but doesn't encompass the whole set of politics. You can even generalize that further and it gets more primitive along the way:
"Every day is a battle for survival"
Of course it is political play to attach attributes to groups and then highlighting fault lines. But it is the most primitive form of what many people call politics.
And since it doesn't accomplish anything productive, many people have the need to remove politics from platforms like SE, because they just see it as a distraction to the topic at hand and is pitting people against each other. Pronouns do that, most of the gender discussion does that and now we have also started a new discussions about racism that won't net positive results.
All because some people crave some validation? Maybe that is not always the case, but it seems that people wanted a conflict and that is what they got.
Name literally anything and I will point out its political implications.
"The story of corn flakes goes back to the late 19th century, when a team of Seventh-day Adventists began to develop new foods to adhere to the vegetarian diet recommended by the church. Members of the group experimented with a number of different grains, including wheat, oats, rice, barley and maize. In 1894, John Harvey Kellogg, the superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan and an Adventist, used these recipes as part of a strict vegetarian regimen for his patients, which also included no alcohol, tobacco or caffeine. The diet he imposed consisted entirely of bland foods. A follower of Sylvester Graham, the man cited as inspiration of graham crackers and graham bread, Kellogg believed that spicy or sweet foods would increase passions." 
It is related to GMO (genetically modified maize), maize/corn, large (subsidized?) agriculture in US, life stock feed (which one can argue is inefficient), high fructose corn syrup.
(Took me 5 minutes to come up with that, by just reading Wikipedia.)
Why continue helping people like that succeed?
Why not just start a new one? Leave en masse to a new playground. Speak with your answers.
Show the powers that be they can't treat the sharecroppers like this anymore.
Hasn't history shown the way? It's repeating itself all over this controversy.
Is this an inevitability? How can this be prevented?
It feels like the issue regarding Monica is just the issue we are all talking about, but ultimately, it goes much deeper.
Either they will fold or they will come to realize that the only ways to deal with users that are preoccupied with genders, religion, sexual orientations and whatever protected class they can come up with are to lose them or ignore them. You can’t go along with their demands because there will always be a new demand, each one crazier and more irrelevant than the last one.
My understanding is that Monica wanted to use gender neutral pronouns throughout her writing as a general case, but that this was deemed "not good enough" (or indeed hateful) in the cases where someone has chosen specific pronouns. So I suppose this is what the GP is referring to. And I can't argue that it seems like a rather extreme position - although I'm happy to be persuaded otherwise.
In fact, I think it would be healthy if language in general developed in a more gender-neutral direction. We don't use special pronouns to divide people based on other characteristics, so why gender?
I've read elsewhere that if a radical lives long enough he'll eventually be chastised for being insufficiently radical. I don't know if it's true, but I for one will find it hilarious in a decade or two when today's SJWs are having to apologise for deriding the idea of human-animal marriage or for opposing lettuce rights in the backwards years of 2019. Or will, anyway, if I haven't died in a re-education camp by then.
To exploit the new rules and demand everyone refer to you by your preferred pronoun of "God". If you're into that kind of thing.
All the StackExchange Q&A content is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike license (CC BY-SA). You can start your own website and use all the content. The only sense in which you'd be starting over is with building the community; the existing questions and answers are free to use.
Continue to give them time and help them create the product they are going to sell to someone else and keep all the money for themselves.
And also support by voicing concerns. Showing them what their user base wants when they clearly don't care what their user base wants, only what they want in their wallet.
Real documentation is better anyway!
If SO was the alternative to real documentation to you, you’re probably part of the reason why SO quality has declined so much and why moderation got heavy-handed over time, with collateral damage: lazy ass users asking RTFM / I-can-haz-code questions.
(Years ago I answered questions for a while on SO, accumulated a few thousand points, and participated in modding queues. I know how bad the bottom 30% or more of SO questions are.)
> Trust people.
> Supporting people should be your default reaction
and then a year later be in this current state.
Worse is, SE seems to unable to reactify the situation in a meaninful and trustful way.
It's not an apology. AFAICT the facts of the matter haven't changed here at all.
In this case if the employee responsible for firing the moderator did such acts repeatedly despite management warnings than perhaps it's a good idea to fire that person. However this doesn't seem to be the case, the CTO correctly assumed responsibility in his apology of green-lighting the moderator's firing.
He does the right thing, in my opinion, by promising a better process that wouldn't lead to such a hurtful (and seemingly unfair) dismissal.
You don't fire an employee for mistakenly deleting your production database, you update your process so this cannot happen (at least not by accident).
There are some people who refuse to behave in the best interests of the group, no matter how much direction you give them.
...but you are correct that they are often only one part of the problem. Then again, often firing them will motivate some of their supporters to quit.
I imagine that was the impetus behind firing Monica, so perhaps turnabout is fair play.
> There are some people who refuse to behave in the best interests of the group, no matter how much direction you give them
I think we agree on this.
If an employee refuses to change behaviour despite multiple warnings he/her is fair game for dismissal. However I think firing someone without prior warnings is abusive unless it's for something criminal or malicious. You can probably guess that I don't care much for at-will employment...
That combination, and the fact that it resulted in a major scandal for SE, makes it absolutely justifiable to fire the person responsible.