We, El’endia Starman, Peter Turner, and Mason Wheeler, are not resigning at this time.
However, we object strongly to the way that StackExchange staff handled their disagreement with Monica Cellio. SE has shown extreme and unjustified disrespect towards her and by extension, all of us. This is the latest incident in a long line of SE mishandling, misjudging, and mistreating various communities and individuals that provide valuable services to SE for free by creating and curating mountains of content.
Our former fellow mods Caleb and Nathaniel have resigned in protest - as have many others - and we support them in their decision. We are sorry to see them go and we thank them for many years of service to the site. As for us, we are not resigning this time. Not yet.
Each of us have something particular we want to say.
I remember being elated when SE picked me to be a pro-tempore moderator a week after Christianity.SE’s private beta period. I was overjoyed when I learned that I had won a moderator position in the election a couple years later. It has been such a wonderful privilege to serve this site over the last eight years.
When I learned that Monica Cellio was fired shortly before sundown on Shabbat, moments before she would go offline like she always did as a religiously-observant Jew, and that SE staff had done so even in the middle of ongoing communication with some SE staff members, I was dismayed and outraged. I keenly felt betrayed. I held Monica in high esteem as an excellent role model for moderators. She was incredibly patient, tireless, understanding, dedicated, and respectful of so many individuals within and without her communities. That SE unceremoniously dumped such a well-regarded mod with nary a thought as to the impact speaks volumes.
A year ago, when SE removed IPS from the HNQ because of a tweet from someone who didn’t use the site, my trust in SE started eroding. Now that trust is gone. I now firmly believe that SE does not truly care for the communities it hosts. I seriously considered resigning because really, what’s the use in continuing to moderate? My patience is gone. If SE messes up one more time like this, I am throwing in the towel and walking away. I will not put up with abuse from SE while I give my services and receive nothing in return.
A fellow mod from a different site mentioned the MLB practice of playing under protest and said that they had decided to moderate under protest. That’s what I’m doing too. This is my statement to StackExchange: I care about my community far more than you do, so I will continue to moderate in spite of you.
To my community, please be patient with me as I try to step up my moderation activities again. Caleb and Nathaniel did the lion’s share of work around here and they’ve left some pretty big shoes for us to fill. Yet, I care about you all too much to not do anything, so I will do my best to moderate with a fair and even hand. Feel free to call me out in comments, on Meta, or in chat if you think I made a poor decision.
Your servant, El’endia Starman
To paraphrase St. Thomas More, “I’ll go out Stack Exchange’s good servant, but God’s first”, because I have not been specifically asked to do anything in violation of my faith or conscience, I see no reason to resign as a moderator on this site. I ran for moderator complaining (probably falsely) that a minority viewpoint was under represented on this site. I now see a minority complaining - in accordance with other things I see in society - I have to give them their due and promise to humbly serve all members of this community and visitors.
I have been closely following the other moderator resignations and their statements and, while sometimes I feel that I disagree with almost everyone on an ideological level, I don’t want to be disagreeable. I honor and respect the decision of Caleb and Nathaniel to resign as moderators. It’s entirely conceivable that it was because they were primo moderators that they had a graver feeling than me about this fiasco. I do take it seriously, but something inside me still enjoys this website as a large game of Christian trivia night - and I hope to recapture that in the future.
Sincerely, Peter Turner
These have been a difficult few days for me. I’ve put a lot of time into this community, and into SE in general beforehand. I’ve been around here since 2008, back when it was just StackOverflow and nothing else. I happily joined Programmers.SE when SO started getting too narrowly defined, then saw it turned inside out by the very people whose rigidity and intolerance drove us to create Programmers.SE in the first place. I helped push through the Area51 proposal that launched Christianity.SE, and I’ve been a moderator here for as long as we’ve had moderators, helping to fight off wave after wave of troll invasions back when our site first opened to the public. This network, and this site in particular, have a very special place in my heart.
It’s a bit of a conflicted place, however. From the initial letdown with Programmers.SE, a pattern slowly but surely emerged. While we were trying, up and down the network, to build solid communities, the people at the top had other ideas. Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky were so taken by Clay Shirky’s fundamentally anti-community notion that “a group is its own worst enemy” that they built the entire structure of the site around its ideas, and even brought Shirky on as a member of SE’s Board of Advisors. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that over the past 10 years, we’ve seen SE slowly chipping away not only at our communities, but at the fundamental notion of the legitimacy of those communities and the bonds that tie them together.
And yet, we’re here because of the communities. Casual questions and answers come and go, but the core of our community endures. We made it through the trolls. We made it through the network’s delegitimization of comments and discussion. We made it through the tragic death of one of our most beloved members. We made it through the attempts to pump the brakes on Hot Meta Questions, which encouraged the growth of our communities and the spreading of activity and members between communities, once it began to actually be successful at doing so. Now the network is attempting to enforce a thoroughly un-American policy of compelled speech in service to a specific ideological position, even though it may be in violation of individuals’ consciences and sincere religious beliefs… so what is this but the latest trial for us to endure?
I must admit, I’ve put serious thought into leaving over the last few days. I completely understand why Caleb and Nathaniel did so, and they have my full support. And I come from a religious tradition with a long history of dealing with targeted persecution by simply walking away and founding a new community elsewhere. But seeing the response of the SE community to this fiasco, seeing how massively one-sided it has been in their near-universal support for Monica and condemnation of SE’s indefensible actions, (even from so many people who “should be” ideologically aligned with the causes behind those actions,) gives me hope. In spite of everything that’s tried to tear it apart--largely because of it, in fact--our community is strong, and I believe it will come out the other side of this even stronger.
And that’s something I want to remain a part of.
We love our community. We serve our community. We did our best to make Christianity.SE an inclusive, tolerant place where anyone is welcome to come and learn about the thousands of Christian faiths as long as they treat each other with respect.
We did and do our work for our community, not StackExchange.
Signed: El’endia Starman, Peter Turner, Mason Wheeler.