Reduced moderation

To start with, two of the moderators on Server Fault have drastically curtailed their activity on the site.

Michael Hampton: "After catching up on this situation, including today's post, I have suspended all activity on Server Fault, both moderation and answering questions." This is a huge change, since he's the single most prolific answerer, commenter, and moderator on SF.


Sven: "I am a Server Fault mod and silently stopped all activity since this whole mess started and mostly stepped back from it." He's also a very active answerer and moderator, and has been on the site since the beginning. The fact that he's likely to leave permanently is another big loss:


Ward: I haven't made an announcement about it, but I've cut back my activity here and on other SE sites. Because of the timezone I'm in, there never seemed to be much moderating for me to do, but I've also stopped reviewing and largely stopped voting. My opinions about all this are attached to various posts on meta.SE, you can find them here (all the answers in October):


(If any of the other moderators want to add a comment on their status, please do so.)

How does this affect Server Fault?

No one knows what the fallout will be from a site losing a big chunk of its moderators. There are so many resignations and so many other problems that I'm sure SO Inc. hasn't gotten around to working on a plan. On some other sites that lost all their moderators, SO staff members are stepping in to deal with moderation.

When it comes to the new CoC and how people interact, I don't think there'll be much impact on SF. As I said on one of my posts on meta.SE, there isn't really a community here: there's essentially no chatting and no discussion in comments, both of which take up a lot of moderator time on other sites. If there simply aren't many interactions between users, there's less opportunity for unfriendly interactions and less problems for moderators to deal with.

I think the issue that started all this - proper use of pronouns - is largely a non-issue on any SE site, and here again, the fact that there isn't much discussion on SF means it's even less of an issue:

How can the prohibition on pronoun avoidance possibly be enforced?

So I think we might end up being a bit of test case here on Server Fault: How much moderation does a large SE site require? Does a site without a real community and minimal moderation "work" in a way that SO Inc. likes?

Long term changes on Stack Exchange

I think the underlying reason for the uproar is that long-time SE users are concerned about how SE has changed and is changing. When an SE site is new, most of the activity is by users who are experts and enthusiasts. As a site grows, the proportion of users who aren't experts grows, which changes the type of questions and answers.

There are numerous posts about this, here are some that I think are most relevant, especially the posts on meta.SO by staff members:

For the most part, I don't care how SO Inc. handles this ongoing "demographic transition." I've gotten a lot out of Server Fault and other SE sites over the years, so I'll likely stick around, but it will be mostly as an observer because I'm curious to see how things change, not because I hope to have any input into the changes.

  • 8
    For what it's worth, I've essentially ceased doing anything on ServerFault or any of the other SE sites. I'm still keeping track of Meta in the very faint hopes that things will be resolved in any reasonable manner.
    – Jenny D
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 7:29
  • 2
    Regarding whether use of pronouns is an issue on SE or not, at least one (and I believe two, but I can't find the other) mods have resigned related to feeling like they are not welcome because of their gender identity: literature.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1195/… I'm currently not an active SE user aside from keeping track of the corporate response to all this, and it's not because of Monica directly, it's because of these other users who have been made to feel unwelcome. The new CoC is, IMHO, a poor attempt at fixing a real problem. Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 13:47
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    For the sake of clarity: I am vehemently against misgendering, and I strongly support making sure that people don't do that. My issue is with the way StackExchange have handled this, including the fact that several LGBTQ+ people have expressed feeling more unsafe due to SE:s handling, as well as what was done to Monica.
    – Jenny D
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 8:07

3 Answers 3


Thanks a lot for your times to write that to explain the situation. It’s really appreciated.

I will state it to let other know that I don’t intend to quit my moderation tasks.

nb; to state my position on the issue:

If some of you are following what unfolded with the new CoC, please know that I was a witness in the start of the event, and in a indirect protest I just intend to quit the Teachers Lounge completely and soon the Stack Overflow Moderator Team. Such tools are there to discuss with the StackExchange Staff directly. My moderator CoC don’t force me to interact with them at all except with official way (email/mod message)

The why is; Monica defended me, and I defended her view that I would not use pronoun or avoid them when I moderate. She got sacked, while me Iam still there. I still don’t understand that. (And why a discussion went up so badly and un-moderated by the SE staff directly.)

One side argued that avoiding pronoun was possible, and another side that avoiding pronoun could hurt. I agree to both side, but I believe in a battle that someone got to stop and look with a distance to the discussion. The Teacher Lounge chat room became that day a double edged sword, a tool that can be used to justify and silence any moderator.

For the new CoC I intend to abide by it to the best of my knowledge.

To let it know Iam a French native, in French there isnt gender neutral stance. For me ´they’ sound like an insult to write to someone, as they mean to me ´ils’, so it’s him to the plurials. (In French gender neutral pronoun are getting talked, but some words can’t be gender neutral)

A last word, I moderate inside Microsoft platform, and their CoC is mainly be nice..

A CM, on StackExchange, in the start of the debate told me it too, « the new CoC is just for when someone misuse a pronoun, for clear cut case ». I still have hope that they will fix their mess, but in the short term I will focus on the community I love soo much and cut myself from their discussions.


Thanks again for these summaries, Ward.

Personally, I've been writing answers under a Don't assume gender rule for many years now. This has generally been pretty easy here. As Ward notes, The strict Q/A format doesn't require much in the way of pronoun usage. Why use a pronoun when you works as well.

Where it comes in are comments, especially when more than two people are involved, and right here in Meta. In our more contentious site-youth we used them a lot. Because of how English works, they emerge less often with the interaction style we have on SF these days.

Since I'm genderqueer myself I'm familiar with pronoun arguments. The fight here seems to be between:

Avoiding pronouns for me is to deny me my pronouns, and is harmful.


Avoiding pronoun usage avoids a quite touchy subject, lets do that where we can in the name of harm-reduction.

I've been she/her for several years now, so I get it. On both sides.

It would be better if pronoun could be added to the hover pop-up for users, which would make CoC compliance somewhat easier. Especially for those of us who have to break up the slap-fights, it will make willful misgendering easier to identify.


Not much has actually happened in the last month or so...

  • SE never responded to Monica's attempts to talk and she eventually decided her only recourse was legal action. Once that started, SE's official had to become "no comment," and they decided to remove any links they become aware of (including profiles and usernames) to the GoFundMe Monica Cellio page she set up to receive donations.

  • There have been some blog posts announcing some new communication initiatives that SE will be implementing. Reaction to those has been mixed...

I've participated in some of the discussions on meta.SE because I'm interested in how the SE "community" will change as a result of what SE is doing. As I above, I think Server Fault's community has already changed to the point that we don't really have one, and I'm interested in whether that's likely to happen across most/all of SE.

I don't agree with all of the opinions, but this answer https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/338965/130540 had an interesting view of some of the different groups of SE users. I'd add a few more:

  1. Everyone who uses SE sites
  2. Users who contribute just a little - ask a question or two and then disappear, or maybe ask a couple and answer a couple - but don't interact with other users or meta
  3. Users who contribute to the SE sites by asking and answering high quality questions, but don't interact with other users or meta
  4. The small group of users are active on meta and chat, most of whom are long-time, active SE users

As I said in my answer to Are we witnessing the demise of "community"? , I think the community that SE used to promote (#4 above) isn't going to survive. SE doesn't seem very interested in the group that helped create SE as a library of knowledge.

I think it's the relative sizes of groups 2 and 3 that will determine how an SE site turns out. Here on SF and on at least some of the other high-volume SE sites, group #2 is huge, resulting in a flood of so-so questions (at best) with a small number of good ones.

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