I’m stepping down from moderation soon and putting away my shiny diamond. Just like nitsua60 I’ll be sticking around for a bit longer post-election, so this is not immediate. (Don’t worry, this isn’t some surge of mod resignations. We both planned this in advance, only I had some delays in getting my resignation together.)
It’s been a great privilege to serve this community as a moderator. I’m proud of what the RPG.SE community has become over the past nine and a half years.(1) We’re not perfect, and being a Stack Exchange Q&A sites puts some limits on what we can be, but our community puts in serious work to continuously be open, welcoming, and safe for all kinds of people(2) both on mainsite and in chat. Given the myriad social issues we deal with and the amount of culture warring our collective hobby sees, I think that’s quite a significant achievement.
For the majority of my tenure it's also been a pleasure to be part of the network-wide moderator community. I’ve learned a lot from dozens of my moderation peers across the network—from their advice, from their mistakes, and most especially from my own mistakes—and brought all I could to benefit this site and shared as much as I could in turn. (Future moderators: all of us will make mistakes; the important part is learning from them and to not repeat them.) That said, my experience with the network moderation community is not all rosy, and the bad parts are why I'm stepping down.
(1) Our site turns ten on August 19th this year!
(2) Except for jerks.
I’m opting to leave because of some older issues within the network moderation community that have had a lasting impact on me. This resignation’s been planned for nearly a year with my co-moderators. I burned out early last year and haven’t been able to operate for this site with the same capacity since, so I want to step aside to let other capable users take charge moderating the site.
Specifically, the network moderator community is currently in a significant transition with regards to transgender individuals. I’m happy with where it’s going, but it got here via a lot of hurt. In 2019 and earlier, trans moderators would regularly have to deal with explicit transphobia and misgendering from their own moderator peers within moderator-exclusive spaces. Our support from other moderators was minimal and staff intervention and protection was nonexistent. Other trans moderators have written about this. (Such an experience is unthinkable here, and is shocking given even our at-the-time anti-bigotry clauses in the Code of Conduct should have unquestioningly prevented this.)
That issue came to a head in January 2019: the network moderator community decided to vote on how to handle trans moderators’ pronouns and overwhelmingly voted for a policy that provided no protection from misgendering and transphobia, despite trans voices unanimously and vocally opposing that policy and conveying the hurt it would cause. It even stood to wind back what little progress we'd made. But our voices changed nothing, and the hurt was severe. Staff continued to not intervene. I felt profoundly betrayed by and disconnected from the moderator community and the company I’d given my time to: I had expected these people to all help protect us from abuse, not tacitly allow it! I stepped way back, as did other trans moderators. Some of us resigned, and I very nearly did the same then.
More than a year later things have improved. Stack Exchange staff finally introduced explicit protection against misgendering into the Code of Conduct, and although I don’t like the circumstances around how those rules arrived, we have them and that’s valuable.(3) We lost many good moderators last year, but we also saw some vocally transphobic ones leave. Senior staff have recently embarked on new projects to improve things for the LGBT community and I look forward with cautious optimism to see what comes out of that. Our moderator community is becoming more accepting and supportive, and I believe they’re beginning to understand the serious human cost of transphobia and misgendering.
(Some moderators have gone to serious effort to learn and have been generous in their listening to trans moderators such as myself, even if that also meant butting heads with me from time to time. I’m deeply thankful to all of you who have put in such an effort.)
That said, the hurt and disconnect have lingered for me, and I need to step away to let myself heal. I’ve been working hard behind the scenes to change things internally for the better so that no trans user of the network, moderator or otherwise, would have to experience what we went through again.(4) The ball is now rolling in a way that doesn’t need me anymore, and there are other people who I'm happy to see are stepping in to take over pushing it further.
(3) Despite the many issues that came up in proximity to the introduction of the pronoun rules, I'm thankful to Sara Chipps for actually making those rules happen. It was the first time we saw concrete action from staff to help us.
(4) As have others, such as heather who drafted the Lavender open letter to Stack Exchange
Looking forwards toward a bright future
Despite my issues with the broader moderator community, I have none with RPG.SE nor with my co-moderators. I talked above about how you all put in serious work to make this an inclusive and kind community, and that includes that y’all have already been genuinely friendly and accepting towards trans visitors and regulars for years and have been helpful with their problems without judgement or prejudice. I can’t express enough thanks for the support I’ve seen and experienced here from the community and from my co-moderators: thank you, thank you, thank you. All of you are a treasure.
I believe you are in good hands with V2Blast and Rubiksmoose. Both of them are skilled, kind, patient, considerate, and so many things that I think are vital to being the best moderation can offer. I have been lucky to work with both of them, and nitsua60 and I have taught them everything we can. And, well, whoever joins the team next is up to all of you, but whoever they are they will be lucky to have V2Blast and Rubiksmoose beside them.
To my current co-moderators, V2Blast, Rubiksmoose, and nitsua60: You have stood up for me and provided indispensable support through the most difficult periods over the past year, and for that I cannot thank you enough. It’s been a pleasure moderating alongside you in this community and I’ve learned a lot in turn from all of you.
To BESW, thank you so much for all you’ve done in guiding the mainsite and chat communities. Watching and learning from you and speaking with you have been formative in how I interact with difficult situations and I attribute a substantial part of my ability to moderate effectively to the things I learned from you.
To the chaotic amalgam that is the community again: thanks for being such good people. Moderating for you has rocked.