Blog: October 2019

Most of these posts were originally posted somewhere else and link to the originals. While this blog is not set up for comments, the original locations generally are, and I welcome comments there. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Stack Overflow: GoFundMe page

Predictably, Stack Overflow has not responded to my call for action, which exhausts the internal paths to resolution that I know about. So I'm now forced to use external paths to defend myself from their defamation.

At the urging of many community members who agree that I have been treated unjustly, I've set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for those next steps.

For posterity, because I hope someday this will be over and the GFM page will be taken down, here is the campaign explanation:

Read more…

One year ago

Today there are large community gatherings to remember -- social-action drives, torah study with a variety of visiting rabbis, and a big memorial service.

And I can't even... I just can't do this with huge crowds. It's too painful, and also there's the irrational nagging voice in the back of my head that says "target" (guess I haven't banished it yet after all), and...

I spent that day hiding at home, and so I will spend today as well.

Healing is hard.

But I went to Shabbat services yesterday as I always do. I will not be driven out from there.

Olive branch from the Lavender community

A leader of the queer ("lavender") community on Stack Overflow posted on Meta, the network town hall, in support of me, saying that I was clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time, meant the best, and am not the cause of SO's problems with diversity and inclusion. Heather apologized to me and urged the company to de-escalate and talk with people. This was my response: Read more…

Stack Overflow Inc.: call for company action

I just posted the following on Meta.SE under the title "Stack Overflow is doing me ongoing harm; it's time to fix it!":

Over the last month, Stack Overflow Inc. has violated its own policies and precedents to cause egregious and unnecessary harm to me -- to my reputation (personal and professional), to my health, and to my safety. This harm is significant and ongoing. It is past time for the company to correct its errors, repair what can be repaired, and move toward a spirit of working with rather than against its users and volunteers.


  1. The company removed me without due process or warning and ignored procedures it already had in place, which an executive admitted to, and did so in the midst of a discussion with a community manager to understand the new Code of Conduct (which was previously unclear); and

  2. A representative of the company violated longstanding privacy policies by immediately (within seconds) announcing my firing to a large audience, denying me the standard privacy afforded to subjects of such discipline; and

  3. A director, speaking for the company, posted on various resignation announcements (example) in a way that maligns my character and violates the Code of Conduct; and

  4. Company representatives violated common corporate practice of not commenting to the media (now codified) by speaking with The Register to further malign my character, paint me as a bigot, and make unsubstantiated claims; and

  5. A company representative made an official post on Meta accusing me of "repeatedly violating our existing Code of Conduct and being unwilling to accept our CM's repeated requests to change that behavior", a claim that has never been substantiated, and featured the post across the network where it was prominent for 77 hours; and

  6. Representatives of the company including executives, a director, and the Community Management team have failed to respond to my repeated requests to be shown these alleged violations and warnings and, more broadly, my requests for discussion to find a mutually-agreeable resolution to the situation; and

  7. Company claims of an urgent need to act before resolving the ongoing discussion, despite my having left the Teachers' Lounge nine days earlier and otherwise behaving normally across the network, have never been substantiated; and

  8. The new reinstatement process is unacceptable in my case because my removal did not follow the paired removal process (or any process), the reinstatement process proceeds from a presumption of a legitimate guilty finding, and I cannot appeal charges that have never been communicated to me; and

  9. The issue I asked about has now been confirmed to comply with the new CoC;

Therefore I call on Stack Overflow Inc. and its individual representatives to:

  1. Retract all of the negative statements about me described above, publicize that retraction to all places where the original claims were made or are known to have spread, and to the best of its ability clear my name; and

  2. Reverse the original decision, restoring me to my position without prejudice. The model here must be akin to declaring a mistrial, not akin to an application for early parole.

Stack Overflow Inc. is a private company and its representatives are free to treat users badly. They can ignore #2 if they do not value fairness, respectfulness, and diversity; that is their right. However, they must address #1, and given the many errors that got us here, they should address #2.

My patience is not infinite; the company has already dragged this out for nearly a month while harm continues to accrue. It is past time for a meaningful response. I remain available to discuss the matter. Please prioritize resolving this ongoing, painful, damaging situation in the very near future.

Stack Overflow Inc.: flawed policies posted

Yesterday SE posted their new processes for moderator removal and moderator reinstatement, along with reposting the pre-existing process for per-site removals. The new processes, while better than what was done to me (a low bar!), have some serious flaws. Here is the response I posted:

I know that my answer will overlap others, but enough people are waiting for me to comment on this process with an eye toward my case in particular that I'm going to post anyway.

The new removal process, while better than what was done to me, lacks important safeguards present in the pre-existing Moderator Action Review Process. Most importantly, it lacks the interactive phase where the accused can respond to comments raised by others. It also lacks transparency, being handled entirely by two CMs out of view of anybody else including the accused. It also does not allow the accused to challenge specific judges for substantiated concerns of bias; it relies on CMs to recuse themselves, but the moderator has no say or even knowledge of who acted. If there were more trust between the community and SE this might be surmountable, but in the current climate that's an awfully big assumption.

The new reinstatement process is even more flawed:

  • There is no transparency or ability to audit. The moderator submits a petition into the void and eventually an answer comes out. If I were to submit an application, Sara Chipps can simply veto it and then say "we went through a process so we must be right".

  • The moderator cannot challenge judges. If a moderator has been removed, chances are that there were some interactions with some community managers and/or members of the community strategy team that would prejudice an appeal. A moderator should not be subject to summary judgement by the employee who ruled on the removal in the first place, and the moderator should have the opportunity to raise specific concerns about anybody. The moderator should know who the judges are.

  • The process starts from a presumption of guilt. If a moderator went through the paired removal process and actually received the information about charges and warnings called for in it, then the moderator has a starting point for an appeal. But if that didn't happen, the moderator is forced to guess. "Guilty until proven innocent" is not a sound judicial process; this process should not apply in cases where no sound removal process was followed.

  • There is no dialogue, no hearing, and no opportunity to present witnesses or evidence. The interactive aspects of the pre-existing removal process (MARP) are missing in both the new removal process and the reinstatement process. While synchronous chat for worldwide teams is a major hassle, there needs to be some way to include the moderator in a discussion of the situation.

Both processes involve [account] annotations, which should be shared with the moderator and subject to challenge. I can only imagine what unsupported annotations Sara has added to my account, for example.

The new removal process, if properly followed, would have given me a fair chance, though the concerns about transparency and bias remain. That process would have required SE to share information about the specific complaint with me and, at worst, would have resulted in a warning. But that's not what happened, and against that backdrop, the reinstatement process would not be fair in my case. I shan't submit to it.

Fall CSA, week 2

  • large bulb fennel (with fronds)
  • pie pumpkin
  • large bag green curly kale
  • head escarole
  • white eggplant
  • acorn squash
  • 8 carrots (3 large, 5 small)
  • 7 red carmen peppers
  • 5 D'Anjou pears
  • 1 enormous sweet potato

The escarole never even made it to the fridge; it went into a pot of risotto last night (yum!).

I'm not actually a big fan of pumpkin pie. I might roast it, or maybe it can be the basis of a soup (like butternut-squash soup, but with pumpkin). I'm definitely open to suggestions!

I'm not familiar with this type of pepper. One went into the beef stew I made tonight (for Shabbat lunch), along with some carrots and a turnip left over from last week. They're large enough to stuff.

Clearly it is time to do some baking with pears. And I need to find a field guide to pear varieties, so I know which types are best for what applications. So far, all of 'em have been good for eating raw.

Read more…

Stack Overflow Inc.: more delays

Continuing from my previous post, the company published policies for moderator removal and reinstatement on Friday to all moderators. I understood this to be an announcement, so when I hadn't heard from David Fullerton with an update by Sunday, I sent email asking about it.

It turns out that what they posted was a draft, and they are making updates based on feedback. I'm glad to hear they're listening to feedback, but this introduces another delay. David said they are finalizing the policies "this week" and will send me the final version when it's done.

Reminder: the company has absolutely refused to reinstate me now, even though they admit that they failed to follow the process they already had for moderator removal. Even though David admits that I deserved the benefit of a private, comprehensive process, and even though a senior employee, Sara Chipps, subsequently maligned me repeatedly and very publicly (which is causing damage), they are unwilling to revert the change and then look at the original situation afresh. I have to instead apply for reinstatement.

From what I've heard through the rumor mill, the process, once started, takes two weeks and is probably biased toward the status quo.

With that as background, here is the email I sent to David tonight in reply to that message: Read more…

Stack Overflow Inc.: radio silence continues

I've made some updates to my timeline post, but for those following me via the feed, some updates:

  • On Oct 6, David Fullerton, CTO, posted a pseudo-apology. I say "pseudo" because while, on first read, it sounds promising, the post doesn't actually apologize for what they did to me, only for hurting me more than they would have otherwise. David admitted to the serious process flaws and promised to contact me to apologize and discuss next steps.

  • On Oct 8 I received email, repeating the accusation that I violated the code of conduct and again without specific citations. David also claimed that I was warned and quoted two messages from Sara Chipps (that director) which do not sound like the warnings David says they are. The email said (as did the post) that they are developing processes for both removal and reinstatement and I could apply to go through the latter when it exists. The target for having that policy was Friday.

  • I immediately responded to the email (1) asking for what specifically I said that was a CoC violation and (2) asking for a conversation. David ignored the first and declined the second. This is the last email I have received from SE. I updated my answer to David's post to report on the timing of the email I received, as I'd promised the community to do.

  • Sometime in here, I am told, a community manager told moderators (via a post on the private team) that I have been told what the CoC violations were. This is not true.

  • On Oct 11 (Friday), SE published those processes for moderator removal and reinstatement on the private team. The post was described to me as an announcement, not a draft for comments.

  • As of Sunday afternoon, Oct 13, SE has not sent me any email about this process or how I can set it in motion. I sent email asking about it.

  • Update: On October 15 22:30 UTC, I received a response saying they are finalizing the process this week and they'll share the final version when it's ready. I have more to say about this in this post.

By the way, the "body count" -- the number of moderator positions either vacant or suspended -- is up to 79 (from about 50 individuals; some are on multiple sites), including four on Stack Overflow itself. One moderator deleted his accounts entirely. This is sad. It didn't have to be this way. :-(

For posterity (in case it gets deleted there), my answer to David's post: Read more…

Stack Overflow FAQ on pronouns and CoC changes

A community manager at Stack Overflow posted a new Code of Conduct and an accompanying FAQ. This CoC was different from the preview. I posted the following reply to the FAQ, and that community manager pressured me to delete it. Read more…

Fall CSA, week 1

  • large bunch white turnips with greens
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 "sun tan" bell peppers
  • bunch Japanese garlic chives
  • bunch basil
  • head hydroponic lettuce
  • bag green beans
  • 1 white acorn squash
  • 4 d'Anjou pears
  • 9 mini peppers
  • 6 fingerling sweet potatoes

I don't know what "sun tan" bell peppers are. One is green; the other is mostly green but has a red patch. Do they taste like green bell peppers or something else?

I've never had a white squash before. Is this just aesthetics or is there something different about how it tastes?

I'm glad to have more sweet potatoes! Also turnips, though I'm particularly looking forward to the baby turnips we got last winter. So tender! We had the turnip greens tonight, sauteed in sesame oil with shallots. (I think the dish wanted garlic too -- note for next time.)

One of the pears has a small bruise, which just means I should eat that one first. I can manage that. :-)

Read more…