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Some of you may have already heard that there is an ongoing disagreement between the larger network of Stack Exchange moderators and Stack Exchange, Inc. This disagreement has led many moderators and users to go on strike from moderation activities.

While this strike has been led by moderators, it is not solely for moderators. The community moderation model of Stack Exchange means that each and every one of us has some ability to moderate the content on our site. As such, each and every one of us must choose whether or not to participate in the strike.

The fact that you're here, on our Meta, indicates that you have an active interest in the overall health of the site and deserve to have your voice heard in matters about how the site is run.

As such, I'd like this post to serve as a line of communication between the members of this community, both diamond level moderators and all other users who engage in moderation activities and/or non-moderation participation.

Many of the details surrounding the strike and the issues that the moderators have raised are fractured across a number of Meta sites. However, the main thrust of the arguments can be found in a Stack Exchange Meta post and an open letter sent to Stack Exchange, Inc. and signed by many diamond-level and community moderators.

To summarize, there is a new official AI Content Policy that didn't sit well with many users. Both the policy itself and the manner in which it was announced resulted in a good deal of ill will. Additionally, it raised some recurring complaints that users had with Stack Exchange, Inc. If you'd like a more thorough explanation of the issues, please see the posts I've linked above.

If you're so inclined, please feel free to share your thoughts on the strike and the issues behind it in your own answer.

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    I was not aware of this. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. For what it's worth, I feel the bicycles moderators do a great job and I trust whatever decision they make regarding strikes.
    – Andy P
    Jun 8, 2023 at 22:23

3 Answers 3

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Speaking personally, I have a strange separation between Bicycles.SE and all the rest of Stackexchange.

I value this little corner of cycling knowledge and all the users who contribute and learn here. To me that is more important than the mothership's policies.

As such, I intend to continue moderating, and will simply disregard stupid instructions that do not contribute to the quality of posts.

Did you see the rubbish posts made around 3 hours ago, with a high level of vitriol and hate? No - and neither should any other user who wants to fix their bike.


As for the long term - either things improve, continue, or deteriorate. We'll take it as it comes, and should SE cease to exist or suffer a dramatic transformation, then we can re-evaluate at that point.

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I won't speak to Criggie's or Gary.Ray's thoughts on the situation. I'll let them do so for themselves, if they choose.

Speaking for myself, I have been on the fence regarding the strike. I understand the issues that the moderation community is raising and agree that they need to be addressed. I feel that I should support the strike. However, in balancing that action with the size of our site, where we don't have a zillion high-rep users who can keep the site chugging along, I'm not sure that going mod-free won't do more harm to our community than good.

We've already seen at least one user who has tried to take advantage of the strike to post hate speech. Because our mods have not joined the strike yet, action was quickly taken. Had our mods been on strike, the action taken would have been less severe and may not have taken place at all. This, no doubt, would have been harmful to our community.

Furthermore, I'm not sure that an AI Content Policy is a hill worth dying on. While AI generated content definitely has the potential to create havoc on our site, we haven't seen a ton of it so far. I'm also not sure that any policy created around AI content at this particular moment in history should be viewed as the permanent, end-all be-all policy. Rather, as AI evolves, I expect our policies to evolve. We'll get it wrong sometimes. We'll get it right sometimes. And when I say "we" here, I mean both our community and the larger Stack Exchange network.

On the other hand, the issues raised in the strike are real. The way the policy was rolled out was definitively anti-community and anti-consensus driven. I am somewhat prevented from revealing details due to the agreement I signed when becoming a moderator, but I am comfortable saying that I don't disagree with any of the stated positions of the group on strike.

For now, I'm going to sit and wait. I'm going to watch the talks unfold. And, most importantly, I'm going to listen to the feedback from this community.

I'll update this answer if my position changes.

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I'll briefly add my thoughts, if for no other reason than to clarify that my infrequent moderation visits lately have far more to do with changes in my work and life situation than any moral or ethical stand I am trying to take on the strike.

Like Criggie, I also see the Bicycles.SE community as somewhat separate and distinct from the primary Stack Overflow community I initially joined. I interact with those communities in different ways.

I've also been involved as a mod since this site was an Area51 proposal, and was a very early Stack Overflow member as well. So I have seen community and moderator controversies come and go. The sites certainly have changed over time, but there has not yet been anything that has risen to a level that I would want to completely walk away from the Bicycle.SE group.

I agree with the strikers that policy changes and their roll-out have been capricious in the past, and that it feels like the voices of experienced moderators have been discounted if not ignored.

At the same time I share the concerns over automated detection tools. I have tested several using text that I wrote on both technical and general blogs over the years, and multiple passages have been flagged as having "a moderate likelihood of being written by AI", and some a high likelihood. Automated tools will improve I am sure, but the inaccuracy and bias concerns me.

I feel the risk of this site being overrun by trolls posting unchecked abuse, hate, racism and other distasteful content is worth my continuing to check in as a moderator as my time allows.

I'm grateful for the active moderation effort of jimchristie and criggie, as well those of past moderators and high rep users who keep this site running (for the most part) cleanly and effectively.

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