I will be leaving as a moderator as soon as SE-the-company reacts to my request.

The immediate reason for this decision is a network-wide discussion; see this MSE thread for context. But for several years now I have been unhappy with SE-the-network for sites around the humanities. Low quality content tends to hang around because of misguided ideas around freedom of speech. In my view, The voting system is often no longer able to distinguish good content, and the quality of this site, as well as other sites in the humanities like Biblical Hermeneutics (which has been hijacked by a very particular strand of christianity), has decreased over the past years. It is therefore less and less interesting to participate on these sites.

Good thing for you guys is that because of this I have practically been inactive for a long time now, and therefore you will not really see any difference because of this.

Thank you for your support, in particular to the other (ex-)moderators, and farewell.

  • 7
    You sound like just the kind of moderator required for the site so your decision to leave seems a shame. We haven't crossed paths but thanks for having been a moderator. A thankless task but vital.
    – user20253
    Oct 1, 2019 at 13:32
  • Sad to see you leaving; although I don't think I've had much interaction with you in the site, I've seen countless answers from you in past questions which showed how much you care for this site/community. I think we can all agree with you that this site is a bad fit for the topic we're interested in; do you have any alternative in mind? I've seen people suggesting Quora, but I don't think it's a good fit as well. Oct 4, 2019 at 9:26
  • @YechiamWeiss sorry, I don't have an alternative in mind. The SE format is pretty good, but the humanities are underrepresented and as such the platform is just not (and won't be) ideally suited for it. See a similar discussion on Code golf meta.
    – user2953
    Oct 4, 2019 at 11:52
  • 1
    @Keelan although that discussion is on a very different matter, it really does seem that SE is wrong in thinking that every field of interest can follow the same format as the original SO. Oct 4, 2019 at 12:49
  • There appears to be some SE correction. Does it at all satisfy you?
    – Rushi
    Oct 8, 2019 at 6:19
  • @Rusi I have seen that post and welcome it, but would need some more time to form an opinion. Also the details about the process for moderator reinstating still have to become clear. In any case I doubt much will change for the situation on Philosophy.SE since I had practically ceased to perform any moderation activities already long before these events. Monica's firing was the last drop in the bucket, but even if rectified the bucket is still full and there seems little point in reinstating me as a moderator if anyway I'm not significantly active.
    – user2953
    Oct 8, 2019 at 6:40
  • 4
    IMO Stack Exchange's "apology" is meaningless. They have not reverted any of their poor decisions or even shed more light onto them. Indeed, they are still implying that Monica did something wrong, while refusing to tell us what she did wrong.
    – Hugo
    Oct 8, 2019 at 13:39
  • @HugoZink one of the criticisms was that the decision to fire Monica was made too quickly and on a Friday. This apology was posted on a Sunday, so people have worked on it during the weekend. For me, I appreciate that rush to admit to having done something wrong but also that they take their time to consider what should be the next steps; after all, it has become clear that rushing to take decisions does not work well.
    – user2953
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:23
  • @Keelan the apology happened after more than a week of constant backlash. The apology posting date doesn't really matter considering that it's just empty words. SE also doesn't understand that rushing is bad, because they're still rushing the new CoC out of the door.
    – Hugo
    Oct 9, 2019 at 7:39
  • @HugoZink not sure how far this focus on the bad while neglecting the good will get you here or in life in general. If you are not ready to assume good intentions it may be time to reconsider your SE account.
    – user2953
    Oct 9, 2019 at 9:00
  • @Rusi today's CoC update has made the choice pretty straight-forward. I've given a lengthier answer here.
    – user2953
    Oct 10, 2019 at 20:00

5 Answers 5


Since you asked, I'll explain why SE's reaction (see the timeline) does not lead me to request reinstatement. If anything, the new Code of Conduct (CoC) has reaffirmed this decision.

SE, Inc. has now let us know how the CoC changes with respect to so-called preferred pronouns (i.e. he, she, they, etc., and esp. how this relates to LGBTQ+ folks who go by non-traditional pronouns). In the new CoC the following stands out:

Prefer gender-neutral language when uncertain.

This is good (I already did this by using singular they).

Use stated pronouns (when known).

As a linguist I can tell you that this does not make any sense. They are essentially widening the category of "pronoun" to "anything goes", including "attack-helicopter" or "Your grace". Pronouns are grammatical items — one person cannot for xirself decide what is grammatical and what is lexical, since language is community-built.

The response to this is:

If people are requesting things in bad faith, you are welcome to escalate to mods and mods can contact us CMs when in doubt too.

But it is quite clear that "bad faith" cannot be discerned objectively. SE seems to have missed the whole discussion around the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Furthermore, it seems that SE has its priorities completely out of order. I am all for doing near-whatever is necessary for minorities to feel comfortable. It all the more baffles me that there are instances of moderators making comments along the lines of "you're male, female, or confused" which go completely ignored by the community team, while those who simply avoid the pronoun minefield are fired during their religious holiday.

For these reasons, I would find myself unable to handle flags regarding this and will not be requesting my diamond back. I am still pondering if I can abide by the new CoC or should remove my account altogether.

  • 2
    100% agreed. Tyranny of minorities and limits of tolerance is what comes to mind, nothing but a false understanding of liberalism and tolerance. It is a good thing if people are empowered to ask others to omit certain behaviour that regards their personality rights. It is problematic to empower single people to positively demand a certain behaviour from everyone else since everyone else's personality right is involved there. If raising concerns regarding that means one is not tolerable as a moderator on a SE site, maybe I should have my diamond taken away without notice as well...
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Oct 10, 2019 at 21:48
  • Thanks Keelan. One of the closest expressions I've seen in dozens to my thoughts. Also @PhilipKlöcking. Much appreciated.
    – Rushi
    Oct 11, 2019 at 3:47

Limiting my comments to just here, it was a pleasure working with you and the other moderators on trying to get something functional here.

The battle was/is ... constantly uphill. And the hill is Sysphean and primarily thankless.

  • It has been a pleasure engaging with you as well!
    – user2953
    Oct 6, 2019 at 10:50

I haven't been around much in the past few years but it's a bit sad to come back and see we still have a lot of the same issues that you allude to. Philosophy certainly is a bit trickier to fit with this format compared to other disciplines because of its nature. The "specific question => specific answer" format works for math, programming, etc., but it's not so simple here unless this is only to be a history of philosophy website.

Anyways, thanks for putting in the effort you did. Best of luck moving forward! :)

  • 2
    + 1 for «"specific question => specific answer" format works for math, programming, etc., but it's not so simple here unless this is only to be a history of philosophy website»
    – Rushi
    Oct 5, 2019 at 3:23
  • 1
    Thank you for your words. Your job as a pro tempore moderator has been an example for me.
    – user2953
    Oct 6, 2019 at 10:49

I noticed yesterday the new Code of Conduct FAQ (CoC): Official FAQ on gender pronouns and Code of Conduct changes

This appears to be relevant to Keelan's reason to resign since he also mentioned this post: Firing mods and forced relicensing: is Stack Exchange still interested in cooperating with the community? That post mentions Monica Cellio's post on Judaism Meta Stack Exchange: https://judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/q/5193

There may be problems with this new CoC. For example, consider this FAQ question:

Q2: What does the Code of Conduct say about gender pronouns?

The Code of Conduct has two direct references to gender pronouns:

  1. “Use stated pronouns (when known).”
  2. “Prefer gender-neutral language when uncertain.”

We’re asking everyone to do two things. First, if you do know someone’s pronouns (e.g. because they told you), then use them as you normally would use any pronoun. Second, if you don’t know someone’s pronouns, use gender-neutral language rather than making an assumption.

This does not allow one the option to use gender-neutral pronouns, such as "OP", if one knows the poster's preference.

Another CoC question is the following:

Q11: If I’m uncomfortable with a particular pronoun, can I just avoid using it?

We are asking everyone to use all stated pronouns as you would naturally write. Explicitly avoiding using someone’s pronouns because you are uncomfortable is a way of refusing to recognize their identity and is a violation of the Code of Conduct.

This makes it explicit that one is not allowed to "avoid using someone's pronouns" by using a gender-neutral reference.

I generally use gender-neutral references, such as "OP" or the singular "they". I am also not politically interested in this issue. As a regular member, an option for me is to simply ignore responding to such posts. Also I haven't seen any challenging issue related to gender pronouns so far on this site.

However, I can see how a moderator would be placed in a compromising position in the future when responding to flags based on posts designed to test the moderator's compliance with this policy. I can see why Keelan would want to resign because of that.

Normally, I do not down vote. Since this question on Meta Stack Exchange is effectively a vote on this CoC, I down voted it and gave this reason in a comment:

I downvoted because of Q11 and Q2. People need to have the option to use gender-neutral pronouns, or "OP", whenever they wish and in any circumstances. This should be made explicit. Otherwise this policy is itself a form of harassment. As I read it, the policy is hostile and unwelcoming. That needs to be corrected.

I encourage people to review this update to the CoC on Meta Stack Exchange and vote.


It is sad to hear that you are leaving. Although we have quite a different background, I always had the feeling we have like ideas about how StackExchange in general and this site in particular are supposed to work like.

I think it is quite common that huge communities have their golden times and gradually fall prey to the usual change of times. Users leave due to real-life and the persons who fill the gaps are first different, then less. That's how it's always been in any community I've been active in.

What I do not get is what is happening with StackExchange Inc. They kind of betray the founding values of this network in exchange for traffic. Problem is, that is not how this kind of network works. We need the experts, since without them, there not only is a loss of quality in questions and answers, the content generally becomes more ideosyncratic and repetetive. And experts are not exactly appealed by "mass compatible" content. I will give some imput regarding that in the other thread...

As of now, all there is left is thanking you for the great service you did this community. It's been a pleasure to have you had as a co-moderator.

  • Thank you. You and the other current moderators are doing an excellent job, and it has been good to work together with you as well. Best of luck and joy continuing in this role!
    – user2953
    Oct 6, 2019 at 10:53

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