Adding ourselves to an increasingly large list of sites, our moderator team is now entirely on strike.
We've decided on our meta that we do not want AI-generated answers. However, due to falling views and participation (probably mainly on SO), Stack Exchange has put in damaging and ineffective restrictions on how to moderate. This change has been forced upon us mods without consulting us and without proof of suspension policies bringing down participation. In addition, they have:
- silenced dissenting opinions by deleting answers on meta posts
- disparaged moderators in the press, again
- attempted to minimize the reach of meta posts like this one
- written an internal memo which grossly misrepresents the strike
When we were told about the new policy, we were told on Teams which is a moderator-only site. It only hit MSE after an SO-mod strike was issued, initiated by this open letter to SE. Only after that SE started to communicate on MSE, unfortunately by ignoring the striking mod demands for disclosure of the relevant data. To make matters worse, the public explanation that was given to you is different, misleading, and much less restrictive than the private explanation and rules provided to us. We are not permitted to go into detail about the exact policies we have been given.
When ChatGPT became popular we initially had quite some work getting ChatGPT answers out of our system. After some two-week suspensions that number has steadily gone down up to a point that it doesn't seem to be a big problem anymore. The moderators of this site would like to keep it that way. We would like to moderate the way we do using the directions given to us on MSE, instead of being told directly what to do by the SE-team.
What we're doing about it
For this reason our entire moderation team consisting of forest, fgrieu and me, Maarten Bodewes have decided to include ourselves in the strike, hoping that this will change the policy set by SE. Our goal is clearly not to bring SE down, but to indicate to SE that their one sided change has been very ill advised. We need the tooling to make sure this site remains a human operated one, not one that is spammed with AI-generated non-answers, for which the user that posted it doesn't have any idea how the answer was put together. Even more importantly, SE should finally stop making moderator-specific decisions without discussing them first with the moderators themselves.
While we are on strike Maarten remains committed to keep the site safe, similar to emergency staff strikes while the OR is kept running. That means that if spam - or worse - phishing posts appear I'll make sure to remove them. In the unlikely event of abusive activity I'll also try and intervene. Note that it has been indicated that I might lose my diamond if I act while on strike - however for me the diamond is the means to the goal, not the goal itself.
This strike wasn't done haphazardly or without thought. The moderator community has elected three representatives and begun negotiation in order to end the strike
There is plenty of information to be found on MSE. Beware that the SE-posts on this kind of contentious issues, especially those posted by staff as damage control are usually voted down, so make sure you also view posts that have a score in the negative hundreds or so. The strike has also been covered by an increasing number of IT-news sites. Beware that most mods and users seem to agree that the information put forward by SE towards MSE and the news sites is badly stated at best and downright incorrect at worst.
These are hard times for Stack Exchange - the company. However, Stack Exchange communities are created by you, the users and moderated by us, the elected moderators. It is time for SE to acknowledge this and include us in any moderator-policy they would like us to enforce.
Anyway, if you have any questions for the mods, don't be afraid to ask here, we're happy to discuss and respond. Heck, if you want us to stop striking I would like to hear from you as well, as in the end, we are here to represent you. Of course, any support is more than welcome as well, decisions like these don't come easy.