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Today I'm handing back the diamond you gave me in 2011. Some of you will not understand or agree with my reasons for doing so, but the nature of the community we have on this exceptional site leaves me hopeful that, though we may see the world through different eyes, we have real, mutual, respect that transcends those differences.

As you may know, Stack Exchange have published an updated Code of Conduct (related posts on their blog and on meta). I wish to make it clear right away that:

  • I recognise and respect the right of Stack Exchange to make their own rules and to promote any cause they choose on their platform (as I do on mine).
  • I know we are only here at all because for years Stack Exchange have provided this service for free, and supported the community. I want to thank them for that.
  • I have had nothing but support from SE, at every level (both CMs and staff), in my time as a moderator.

Nevertheless, I'm resigning, and I believe I should explain why. It is not because I believe that SE have handled recent events badly (though I do). It is not because I'm conflicted about donating time for the benefit of a for-profit company that seems to be moving away from its community roots (though I am). In a nutshell, it is because I do not share their ideological standpoint concerning gender issues, and I feel I'm now compelled as a moderator to promote that standpoint.

To explain my problem by way of an analogy: if I went to live and work in Saudi Arabia, I would not break their laws by proselytising my Christian faith. Neither would I drink alcohol. I might choose not to live in Saudi for those reasons, but it would not be against my conscience to do so.

However, if it was law in Saudi Arabia that I must promote the Muslim faith then, for me, that would cross the line of conscience.

That line has been crossed for me as moderator today. I am not upset or angry that SE have exercised their rights, my only negative emotion is regret; that I can't keep on doing a job that I love for people I respect.

If you think my response to the new CoC is bigoted, I refer you to my history on Stack Exchange as evidence that I care about marginalised people and communities. I don't believe that many people who have interacted with me think that I am bigoted or 'not nice'. 'Wrong', maybe, sometimes, but not 'unkind'.

Whether you think my beliefs are right or wrong, I want to say "thank you" to everyone for trusting me with the diamond here for so long. I'm sure whoever you pass it on to will get as much pleasure from the job as I have done. Now the current circus is perhaps dying down, hopefully we can all get back to building a library of expert answers to advanced database-related questions! You are by far and away the best bunch of people on the internet :)

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    So sad to see you go but i understand you have to stand up for your beliefs. If anybody calls you a bigot they haven't been paying attention to your daily efforts on this site. I'm not sure what to add but Godspeed Jack. Take care. – Tom V - Team Monica Oct 10 at 16:46
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    I am saddened to see you step down. Working with you to build up Biblical Hermeneutics was one of the most exciting and fulfilling things I've ever done. You have given so much to this community as well and I will always appreciate that. Whatever your future holds, I'm praying that God will bless it. – Jon Ericson Oct 10 at 17:30
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    You are one of the people I respect the most in all SE, it really sucks to see you leave. But I understand your decision and want to thank you for all the work you've done – Lamak Oct 10 at 18:59
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    Thanks guys, your words mean a lot to me; it wasn't an easy decision and reading your comments and the other things people have said has helped make me feel better about the whole thing! – Jack Douglas Oct 11 at 22:49
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    I commend you for standing up for your beliefs. – Robert Hickman Oct 14 at 16:01
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    I understand your reasons for leaving. Sadly, those who share your views are likely to be entirely excluded from moderator positions in the future. As Mark Baker pointed out, this is a requirement of the same kind as the oath once required of British officers against transubstantiation: the direct purpose was to keep Catholics out of the ranks of officers. This is being done deliberately by SE in the name of "inclusiveness." – Wildcard Oct 14 at 22:08
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    Your efforts and contributions over the years have been great and your future presence will be sorely missed. Thanks for all you've done. – LowlyDBA Oct 15 at 16:34
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    Echoing the comments above, sad to see you go. But thanks for your contributions in the last 8 years. – Martin Smith Oct 22 at 7:39
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    All the best Jack. Take care – gbn Oct 29 at 20:18

12 Answers 12

30

Jack, first forgive my English, is not as fluent as I would like.

I don't know you personally, I've been in this community for 2 years and 11 months, and we have regularly met in the chat room.

Honestly, I think you are one of the most fair and impartial moderators here, and this is very important. Always willing to help users, regardless of the level of their questions, developing and making available to the community a tool like dbfiddle.uk, in addition to all your collaborations.

This is very important for people, who like me, are always trying to learn from those who know more.

I only want to say: Thank you.

I hope to see you here even if you are not a moderator, and if possible on the next drinkies meeting if I come back to UK.

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    You are welcome and far too kind — I'll definitely try and make the next drinkies :) – Jack Douglas Oct 11 at 22:49
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    Hopefully I'll get an invite to the aforementioned beers!🍺 – Martin Smith Oct 22 at 7:37
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It's a sad day for Database Administrators.

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    It would be nice to think it's just a blip for an otherwise healthy site… – Jack Douglas Oct 19 at 13:55
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Jack, as the person that thanked me for my first few answers & encouraged me to join The Heap, I'd like to thank you for the time you have invested in DBA.se & also for the work you have put into dbfiddle.uk.

You will be missed.

Please don't be a stranger :-)

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    Wow, that brings back memories, there weren't many serious Oracle bods on the site back then. Of course you've since flirted with the dark side ;) – Jack Douglas Oct 11 at 22:49
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Even though we didn't have that much of an exchange (except for the dozens of chat messages regarding oracle and rman and incarnation and ora-600) I will really miss you as a very moderate moderator and online friend.

It is a strange time to live in where pronouns are a reason to kicked, banned and/or fired. A strange time where trying to be all-inclusive is in fact excluding people because of their beliefs, education and/or environment.

Your engagement for and with the community is exceptional and I'm saddened to see you lay down your moderator badge, even though I do understand your reasons.

I really do hope you will stick around on dba.se and possibly The Heap™ – Consultancy ©® in order to further engage with our very inclusive community.

Best regards,

John

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    Thanks John, I'll be around again in The Heap to say hello and to troll Evan to be sure :) – Jack Douglas Oct 11 at 22:50
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I am very sorry to see you forced to leave, Jack.

Your sound judgement and seemingly infinite patience will be much missed by the moderation team.

Thank you for your selfless service to Database Administrators over the past 8 years.

A personal thanks for making me a (somewhat) better moderator in so many ways.

My very best wishes for the future.

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    Seeing your effort and commitment towards helping the site, both before and after you started moderating, has been one of the top highlights of my time here. Not to mention that you did most of the work the last few years ;) – Jack Douglas Oct 20 at 20:27
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I am late to the farewell party. But I want to express my deepest regret to see you step down. You were one of the reasons I kept contributing here - even if it started with controversy around my first post:

Comments are deleted now, but the answers still show how that turned into something productive quickly. The way you handled our initial disagreement was compelling. That's how it's done. Many more interactions over the coming years should prove as fruitful.

Being non-religious I hardly share your outlook on the world. But there are few I'd rather trust to moderate this site. SE could build their ominous CoC around the spirit here.

I want to thank you for your work and hope you stick around!

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    This means a lot to me Erwin, thanks. – Jack Douglas Nov 5 at 10:56
  • I don't know if you'd be interested in this sort of thing Erwin, but we would love to have you on board if you are. Or just to drop by and say hello :) – Jack Douglas 2 days ago
  • @JackDouglas: Thanks for the invite, certainly interesting. I am currently engaged on too many fronts to get involved in something new. Maybe at a later time. – Erwin Brandstetter yesterday
  • thanks for taking a look Erwin, no surprise that you are in demand elsewhere :) – Jack Douglas yesterday
11

Because I can't not be contrary...

For the minority: Please Don't Resign

I get that the new changes are weird for a lot of people. I'm a reasonably "woke" person and some of the literal wording for the new guidance is aggressively weird for me.

I get that the has f*cked up considerably in the handling of recent matters.

But we are in a time of change. You have consistently demonstrated through your conduct both on and off the network your value to the the greater community as someone who contributes to the proliferation of knowledge. Give it a minute. If you believe 30 or 60 days from now that your resignation serves the same message you feel it does today, I'll be the first one to cheer you on.

I can't cheer your departure on in the midst of the current chaos. IMHO, You're too valuable a contributor to lose in the noise. If the reality of the new CoC is unbearable and resignation-worthy for you in the cool light of day, then I'll support it because I trust you as elder in this community and as someone I've looked to for guidance before now.

Your departure as a mod was always going to leave a vacuum. What do you hope will fill it? What do you think is going to fill it?

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    Thanks for the sentiment Peter, I really appreciate it. It's not clear from the timing of my post but I've been considering this for a while as we had some advance notice. I had already shared my intention to resign and a draft of my post with the other moderators back on 30th September :( – Jack Douglas Oct 11 at 22:50
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So sorry to read that, Jack. You've been one of the best mods I've seen on the SE network.

If it's time to move on, move on. As the Greek said, it's a sad day for DBA.SE.

Don't be a stranger :). Cheers!

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    Thanks Marian, you have me reminiscing about the old days now :) – Jack Douglas Oct 18 at 20:09
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Best of luck in your future endeavours - it's a pity that this silliness over pronouns is causing so much grief. I liked your analogy to religious belief; there's a difference between accepting/tolerating something in others and being expected to advocate/enforce it yourself.

I do hope you keep the dbfiddle.uk site up. It's a great contribution to the community and I know that moderation is no walk in the park either. I'll be in touch about the issues we have been discussing there - up to eyes at moment.

Beannachtaí leatsa! (blessings to you!)

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    Thanks, and rest assured db<>fiddle is here to stay — just added SQL Server 2019 today! – Jack Douglas Nov 5 at 18:13
2

As a navel-gazer who mostly checks in to see if I've had any recent rep changes or comments to my Qs and As in addition to making new answers if the existing answers weren't quite "good enough" for my situation, I thought I'd throw in my non-literal two cents.

First of all, thank you Jack for your years of service to the community.

Secondly, I guess I don't see why everyone is in a fervor over the new policy. Isn't it an extension of the old "be nice" policy? Based on the (unpopular) FAQ, the guiding principle appears to be in absence of knowledge of the user in question, use gender neutral pronouns or simply use the user's handle instead. If you use a gender-implying pronoun, you're incorrect, and someone lets you know that you were incorrect, you alter future responses to the individual accordingly. Either you, the user, a moderator, or someone else entirely can ALSO edit past Qs and As accordingly, albeit there's no mechanism for editing someone else's comment.

If I'm responding to a question, I typically respond in the second-person. E.g. "here's what you can try." 99% of the time there's no reason for me to use a gender-loaded pronoun on this site. And if referring to another answer, at least the first reference would refer to the user's handle, and after that I may, pending future revision, use a well-intentioned pronoun: "As Jack was saying in this answer, he thinks..." If I get corrected in my assumption that Jack is generally a male name, but is instead a shortened form of Jacqueline, I'll just change the "he" to "she" or "they" as flows best.

Maybe I'm missing the context of what situation tripped off the code of conduct modification or not reading between the lines enough, but what's wrong with treating others with respect for who they are or believe themselves to be? Isn't the policy just to deal with situations where someone e.g. wishes to be referred to as "she" but another user goes out of their way to say "he" instead?

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    "Isn't the policy just to deal with situations where someone e.g. wishes to be referred to as "she" but another user goes out of their way to say "he" instead?" — No, moderators are expected to set a 'positive example': meta.stackexchange.com/a/336367/166851 – Jack Douglas Oct 23 at 22:46
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    that does indeed suck, as it appears "positive examples" are of a very strictly delineated limited set that doesn't encompass many things that I might consider a positive example personally. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors, and I hope you are treated in the manner of the Golden Rule. – mpag Oct 29 at 18:20
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I always liked DBA because there's losts of really meaty technical issues to talk about, but many of the forums (and their administrators) are extremely unpleasant towards anybody who does not think like xhey do. It's perverse: in an effort to be polite to the smallest number of people, they are obnoxious to the largest.

Are there any other forums you plan to frequent instead?

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    I'll get back to you on that one ;) – Jack Douglas Oct 28 at 9:25
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=) Good bye =)

You're against compelled speech?

  • StackExchange compels you to use a pronoun that treats transpeople with respect and decency. You resist being compelled because it's against your Christian beliefs. You give us no means by which we can reason with you because ultimately no argument on the basis of respect and decency can convince you to do something that you view as un-Christian.
  • Meanwhile, you see no problem in compelling me to use lowercase letters and actively suspend me for not doing so, despite it being against my deeply held rational and secular beliefs which I allow others to criticize and take part in forming.

@EvanCarroll you've been nudged away from ALL CAPS before — asking you not to shout is not censorship

Asking me not to use uppercase letters under threat of chat-ban is the same as compelling me to use lowercase letters.

If compelling me to use lowercase letters is not censorship because you say so. Then compelling you to use a pronoun of the choosing of whomever you're talking to is not un-Christian because I say so.

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    More of a public annotation, and less of a comment to you Evan, although you deserve it right now: This is not the sort of speech we condone on Database Administrators but we will allow people with these views to out. The driving dictum on participation on this site is that we are kind to one another. While I could delete this answer, as some have asked, since I am a moderator, I am choosing not to. Evan has the right to say rude and nasty things in public, and to have the option to not remove them after being rebuked. Evan must also live with the ramifications. [ Edited: language. --CM ] – jcolebrand Oct 29 at 14:41
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    This answer is less rude than many of the moderator resignations. I'd rather someone flippantly say "goodbye" than use polite words that amount to "I don't respect many people's gender identity". If this answer is deleted then the whole thread should be deleted. – Jon Heller Nov 7 at 7:43
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    @JonHeller the answer is here and not deleted. As for the "many of the moderator resignations being rude"? Where did you see many resignations with the reason "*I don't respect many people's gender identity""? – ypercubeᵀᴹ Nov 9 at 11:46
  • @ypercubeᵀᴹ The mod and others have commented about deleting this answer, I don't want that to happen. Many resignations reference "moral values", "beliefs", and "faith". Yet no resignations explicitly say what those beliefs are, and why they are incompatible with the Code of Conduct. The CoC is about respecting gender identity. If people quit because of the CoC, I assume it's because of gender issues. But the people resigning could always prove me wrong by explaining themselves. – Jon Heller Nov 9 at 19:20
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    Most resignations happened before the new COC was published. Most of them had to do with how horribly another mod was treated by the company. And not with any code of conduct. – ypercubeᵀᴹ Nov 9 at 23:53
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    @ypercubeᵀᴹ I have no issue with people who resigned over the alleged poor treatment of a mod, poor communication from the company, or license changes. But many of the resignations, and specifically this one, is about beliefs preventing people from abiding by a change to the CoC. The phrase "I do not share their ideological standpoint concerning gender issues", is not inherently rude, but it is rude in the context of the recent CoC changes. – Jon Heller Nov 10 at 2:43

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