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I didn’t visit lobste.rs for 3ish days, now a bunch of trans tech posters I follow on twitter have posted screencaps of their accounts having been deleted or otherwise banned? What the hell happened?

It was my understanding that this was supposed to be an inclusive place? Can someone (preferably a moderator) explain things?

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    I don’t know what’s happening on Twitter, though I think I turned up one tweet you’re referring to, which is a screenshot of the message a user sees when they delete their account from the bottom of the settings page. It looks like at least one person in the thread did so and checked the “disown” option, which disowns all stories + comments to the inactive-user account for privacy. (background) Mods can’t disown stories or comments, it only happens when a user clicks “disown” on individual comments or the checkbox when deleting their account.

    To be explicit, all bans appear in the mod log, email the banned user, and are recorded on the user’s profile, so it’s always visible to the individual + community. The only reason a profile would 404 is if the user chose to rename their account, so I added that to the modlog a few years ago to avoid the possibility a rename is mistaken for some kind of underhanded, unlogged ban. I’m not aware of any user banned in the year since the linked thread being trans, and it wouldn’t have been any part of my decision in any case.

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      I’ve improved this and other error messages and rewritten the @inactive-user bio from:

      This is a system account. For privacy, users who choose to delete their accounts can disown their comments and their authorship will be replaced with this user.

      to:

      This is a system account.

      To balance privacy and long-term coherence of discussions, users can disown stories and comments to this account rather than deleting. (background) Everything here is because a user clicked ‘disown’ on an individual comment or checked the box to disown everything when deleting their account.

      If you see a comment here, it does not indicate the author was banned. Mods cannot disown users’ stories and comments.

      If I had a time machine I’d name it “disowned-bucket” or something, but it doesn’t seem worth creating a new source of potential confusion at this point.

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        Yes. I already posted about my being mistaken about the ban, in bold, in the comments below, which was the only comment thread at the time. I thought that was sufficient to indicate that I was mistaken, but instead I realise I should have edited the original post. My bad.

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        I haven’t seen what you’re talking about, and I’m on here every day.

        Not a mod or anything, but I’m also not seeing anything in the moderation log.

        Could you link to the Twitter posts (preferably via Nitter) in question?

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          I found the thread, which is here: https://lobste.rs/s/h9haqa/counting_countless_why_data_science_is

          And what I see is:

          • People comparing being trans to anorexia, and arguing that trans people should not be allowed to transition: Not Banned

          • People arguing against that: Banned

          This is honestly the most disgusting read I’ve had on this site. The moderators here need to seriously question on a fundamental level, whether or not they support trans people’s right to exist, or whether they support people trying to erase us.

          edit: Ah, ‘inactive user’ does not signify a ban. I was mistaken! Still, this seriously brings into question what the position the mods want to take on this. It makes me feel deeply uncomfortable that the moderators apparently just sat back while fellow trans people were expected to do yet more more work to state that yes, they deserve treatment, respect, and the right to exist?

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            I have now reviewed this year-old thread. For those who haven’t yet clicked through, the thread is 133 comments long. Of these, two comments advance the anorexia comparison and three comments rebut it. I find the responses to be pretty much in line with my ideal of what should happen: Bigoted ideas are defeated, not through shouting them down or forcibly deleting them, but through defeating them in the marketplace of ideas.

            That is the ideal. That is, to me, strictly a better outcome than if mods had seen the remarks at the time and deleted them.

            If a thread like this occurred today and nobody else was stepping in, I would probably step in to offer my own critique of the viewpoints that I consider to be bigoted. I would do that in my personal capacity, not as a moderator. However, that’s not the ideal. The ideal is exactly what happened. I prefer rebuttal of bigoted ideas to come from people who are not moderators, because that is scalable in a way that moderator attention is not.

            Unfortunately, the thread was long enough ago that I don’t remember whether the two remarks advancing the anorexia comparison came to the attention of the mod team at the time. Therefore, I’m unable to give you closure on what exactly happened there, if that’s what you’re asking for.

            I do want to say one thing about how this is being raised. You seem to be calling for the person who advanced that comparison to be banned. However, you made vague insinuations to that effect, not a clear statement. If you want some particular outcome here - if there’s a specific decision you feel we should justify to you, or reconsider - the very least you can do in return is go on record as actually asking about it.

            I’m sure you understand that with the prevalence of reactionary social media storms these days, it’s a lot easier to respond to specific concerns than to generalized anger. In particular, if I were to jump to the conclusion that your main concern is some specific thing, my expectation right now is that the goalposts would be moved. I’m not going to play that game. Go on record as having a position on something, as saying something. Then I’ll respond to that position, if I find it warranted.

            In closing, to anyone coming to this thread from elsewhere on the web, I want to leave you with one thought in particular. Generally speaking, lobste.rs tries to be a place where people can talk things through. For me, as somebody who cares deeply about facial recognition and how it affects trans people (the main subject of the thread), my top priority is that it be possible to have discussions about that and other difficult topics, and for people to convey their perspectives. If those discussions never happen, then the assumptions go un-challenged. Jumping quickly to banning people denies everyone, both participants and bystanders, the opportunity to see how competing ideas interact with each other and to develop informed opinions on the topic. In other words, reactionary calls to silence people have the effect of preventing bigotry from being defeated in the marketplace of ideas, and thus in many cases these calls actually serve the interests of bigotry. There are several conflicting needs here, and we don’t claim to be infallible, but we try to navigate them as best we can, both as moderators and as a community.

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              One problem with the “marketplace of ideas” is that it’s much easier for a bigot to sealion than it is for a trans person to shut them down. I’m grateful for people who posted long explanations, but I think it’s too early to view it as a victory.

              Personally, I try very hard not to participate in online debates where I am forced to defend aspects of my humanity. This is something i learned only after participating in many such discussions. I wonder how many of the people posting the explanations felt like they’d won. I wonder how many of them will continue to post after two or three more such discussions.

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                That’s definitely a real concern, and I do think we need to change something to swing the balance more positively.

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                  I wonder how many of them will continue to post after two or three more such discussions.

                  A straightforward solution is to not have these discussions, by keeping the content focused as much as possible on actionable technical stuff.

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                  Hi, there’s a lot to respond to here and it’s 3am, so I’ll target my criticism and response to one item that my brain is focusing on right now.

                  Bigoted ideas are defeated, not through shouting them down or forcibly deleting them, but through defeating them in the marketplace of ideas.

                  This is fundamentally a perspective that marginalizes minorities. These are inherently bigoted points of view (And I’ll dig into that in a bit).

                  First I want to go into my perspective here. As a trans person, pretty much every moment of my life engaging with people in cis-centric spaces is either explaining myself, wincing at being misgendered, or pushing back against uninformed takes. Here’s the thing: Dysphoria is like water torture. Pushing back on uninformed takes, as a minority, is like water torture. The first time you do it, it’s ok, a little bit aggravating, but nothing you can’t deal with using good citations and arguments. The first time you get misgendered, sure it hurts a little, but you’re strong right? The problem is that fundamentally, we live in a society that does not understand or tolerate trans people – so there is no escape from this. If I turn on the TV to avoid debates, I’m treated to debates on the news about whether trans people should have access to bathrooms. If I turn on a comedy, there will be a transphobic joke there (This has actually got better in the last 3ish years, but before that pretty much every comedy has a “trans episode” or a “trans joke”. Either an episode or a running gag, where the basis of the joke is my very existence being laughed at, treated with disgust, or both). If I turn on the radio – same thing. If I go to social gatherings, I will get side-eyed. A few years ago every single time I walked out of my house, every time I walked past people I would hear them trying to guess my genitalia – that isn’t an understatement, because I logged incidents where it did and did not occur. Every single time.

                  So as a minority, just by trying to exist in society, you constantly get exposed to these ideas. You constantly get misgendered. Or told in some way that you are disgusting. Or an abberation. Or that you should be erased. And all of these otherwise tolerable things slowly add up until they start getting to you on a deep level. And because of the nature of these issues – most cishets are not educated well enough to make convincing points, or even engage with these people’s arguments in a way that shows people (even bystanders) that they are wrong – it’s easy to look at any comment thread on the internet with transphobia actually getting rebuked, and see that the majority of people actually combatting it are trans or queer in some way. So what you end up with, are trans people – who are already under an immense amount of stress already – shouldering the burden for fighting these ideas. And because most moderators on most forums online, either agree with the people spouting what is literal bullshit, or don’t bother to push them back themselves – because they are just “someone asking a question”, what you end up with are trans people getting tired of fighting the same damn fight every single day and moment of their lives. So trans people leave, and either new trans people who aren’t quite as wise, pick up the gauntlet (and eventually burn themselves out), or these ideas go unopposed.

                  Then, trans people who didn’t have the energy to engage see that these ideas aren’t being pushed back on, and start leaving, because suddenly the space does not feel inviting. After all, if you saw a thread of people debating whether you should exist, and reading the thread you notice that over 50 other users on the site agree with them, suddenly that does not seem such an inviting space, does it?

                  Now, what happens when this space gets known for this? When enough trans people have burned themselves out, and talked about it, that trans people start avoiding the site because they don’t want to bother with a space like that? The only end point here, is a site becoming more and more transphobic over time, because there are less and less people who are willing to engage with it. This is not a good basis for an inclusive space.

                  Second, I said I would show you why what that user said was fundamentally a bigoted preposition. First, let’s look at the comment (I assume we’ve both read the full comment):

                  Gender dysphoria is treated in radically different ways to other types of dysphoria. We don’t suggest people with Body Integrity Disorder amputate their arms and limbs as the first means of treatment. We don’t accept people with anorexia as being healthy in their view of the world/themselves. Both of these types of dysphoria deals with the metaphysical dissonance from one’s self reflective empirical view of the world to an outside classification based view of the world. Yet for gender dysphoria, why is it okay to offer treatment that helps an individual conform to the outwards portrayal of a given empirical classification?

                  Now, let’s strip all of the fluff out of this, I’m trying to be as generous as I can in distilling the argument here:

                  Why isn’t gender dysphoria treated like anorexia or body integrity disorder

                  Now let’s make another leap, from a question into an imperative (I’m sure you can give me this rather small logical leap in intent that seems already to be implied by the user’s comments in that thread):

                  We should treat gender dysphoria like anorexia or body integrity disorder

                  Hmm. This looks a little bit suspect, right? I’m sure you can smell where I’m going with this, but let’s make two more leaps, the first turns it into a declarative statement rather than an imperative, and the second subtitutes out a comparison and makes it a more direct statement. Anorexics are treated by helping redefine their fundamental concept of what their body is like, right? Adjusting their self-conceptualization. Thus,

                  Transgender people should be treated by getting them to believe they are their birth gender

                  Oh. Oh no. What does that sound like? It sounds rather like conversion therapy, right? Even if it’s not exactly the same sort of conversion therapy. It really doesn’t matter what type of conversion therapy that you put there. Fundamentally, this comment is asking:

                  Why don’t we erase trans people?

                  The point of this is that, after seeing what are probably around a couple of thousand variations of this exact same point in the last 8 years, my brain – like many trans people’s brain – does that distillation automatically. The point made by the poster – however earnestly asked – is fundamentally one that asks as to why trans people should continue existing as trans, why we shouldn’t be erased from existence either through psychological, therepeutic, or medical intervention. Can you not see why that is not a hostile take, and how it adds to the already considerable mental and emotional burden of existing while being trans?

                  Or how seeing takes that debate whether or not I should have a right to exist as myself, is something that makes this space immediately feel hostile and uninviting? Can you not see how “Should trans people have a right to exist” is not something that should be tolerably debated? Any more than we would tolerate “Should black people have a right to exist” being debated. For any other minority this question is one that would have a firm “Don’t say this” attached to it, when it comes to debate within general social spheres of discourse. In the vast majority of society, people do not consider “Why aren’t gay people medicated or put through therapy into believing that they are straight” an acceptable question to ask. Likewise I’m sure that “Jewish people should be converted to Atheism” would not be acceptable on this site.

                  I think I’ve made my point, and it’s almost an hour and half later, so I’m going to call it a night.

                  Thanks for reading :)

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                    Likewise I’m sure that “Jewish people should be converted to Atheism” would not be acceptable on this site.

                    I want to call this out as not being totally true. In the “counting the countless” thread, someone compared trans activism to “Zionism” as a way to denigrate trans activism. Not a single person pushed back at the latent antisemitism in that.

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                      These are inherently bigoted points of view (And I’ll dig into that in a bit).

                      Oh, to clarify, I was talking about the comments posted in the thread, not the quote from you. It’s fallacious, but I don’t think it’s bigoted.

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                      @Irene I have a lot of respect for your patience and thoughtfulness, and the work you devote to this site, but I disagree with the philosophy you outline here because I believe that it’s not playing out as you’ve described (though I’ll accept that I probably spend way less time here than you do, and may be lacking a full picture). From an ideological perspective, I sympathize with the idea that we will naturally root out bigoted ideas on this website by exposing them as hateful, made in bad faith, etc. But in reality that’s just not happening, nor do I think it can reasonably happen in an invite-only community which will naturally extend its own biases without regulation.

                      Let’s see what’s selling on the “marketplace of ideas”.

                      The thing is, the few dissenting community members who have pushed us to reflect as a community on these matters, and are supposedly winning the fight in the marketplace of ideas are all either leaving or much more inactive as a result of these clashes as far as I can tell.

                      I know that the mods know that their moderating strategy is a function of their values. I think perhaps those values should be written up so that when someone considers reaching out for an invite, they understand that this is not a community which constitutionally rejects racism, transphobia, misogyny or any form of bigotry, and instead relies on fellow users to buy comments in the marketplace of ideas. They can also review some of the most contentious stories and note the clear bias against discussion of technical topics that intersect with gender, except for when peepee jokes can be made. Perhaps they can browse through then, and consider different options in the broader marketplace of online and offline tech communities that are more willing to look inwards as a normal and healthy part of their culture.

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                        consider different options in the broader marketplace of online and offline tech communities that are more willing to look inwards as a normal and healthy part of their culture.

                        Swinging the banhammer around as soon as someone expresses an opinion that diverges from a certain community’s accepted norms does not make for a normal and healthy culture – Irene’s whole point is that these discussions need to take place, ideally in a setting that is moderated both by in- and out-group members, in order to further everyone’s understanding*. No positive steps forward can be made without that, and you’ll instead get increased polarisation and rigidity of views.

                        (Signed, a trans, queer activist.)

                        * “But what increased understanding do trans people need of non-trans people’s bigotry?” We don’t need any – any given trans person is well within their rights to simply not engage – but for those activists among us who have the spoons to advance the state of our community, understanding where others are coming from is crucial to helping them evolve their views.

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                          Swinging the banhammer around as soon as someone expresses an opinion that diverges from a certain community’s accepted norms does not make for a normal and healthy culture

                          I agree. To be clear I’m not advocating for bans until someone crosses a clear line and probably in a repeated way, which I think only one of the comments I linked did. But I do think there must be some resolution technique in between letting people stagnantly argue things out themselves and outright banning a member.

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                            I’m in full agreement. I can think of quite a few interventions that might work. I do think that you’re right that having a clear statement of values could help make sure it happens consistently.

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                              To be clear I’m not advocating for bans until someone crosses a clear line and probably in a repeated way

                              Right, gotcha; my misunderstanding. I think I imported that idea from the context upthread where the discussion was about ban/no-ban.

                              But I do think there must be some resolution technique in between letting people stagnantly argue things out themselves and outright banning a member.

                              That’s a really good point – agreed.

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                            Thanks for that. It’s thoughtful, and I promise that I will chew on it and discuss it with the other mods.

                            I do think that we as mods, at the very least, probably need to do more to ensure that those conversations actually happen, and go in productive directions when they do happen. We probably also need to work on lessening the burden - I definitely do not believe that that thread actually needed to be 133 comments. That’s more writing than I would ask of anyone.

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                              First, I think that the (excellent) discussion in that year-old thread and the quality posts by @aphyr exactly underline the point I made in the comment you complain about: it’s extremely hard to have high quality discussion about things like sex and gender without a whole bunch of additional education, and handling that in threads with the correct amount of care takes up space from technical discussion. These discussions are great and informative, but they are off-topic and in many cases require us to brush up on women and gender studies 101 (or for politics, polisci 101, or for cooking, cooking 101, or philosophy, phil 101…) in every thread.

                              Second, the three threads you cite as damning evidence show (to me) a healthy, functioning marketplace of ideas. People can go read them and see discussions agreeing, disagreeing, and poking holes in each other–in some cases, we see posts that are just clearly garbage but even that merely helps accentuate the good when it occurs.

                              ~

                              Third, if you want to drag out one of my posts at least have the decency to cite it properly instead of trying to take it out of context to win points. To wit:

                              assumes the “why are there no women in this list?” asker really meant to ask “why are there so many cis white males in programming?” without evidence or seeking clarification

                              I prefaced that with “times being what they are”; they have the same reply button I do, and they elected not to correct my (mis)interpretation. My assumption based on the OP was that if they had wanted to discuss “why don’t we have more diverse demographics” they would’ve just asked that, instead of the way they phrased it about “programmers looking a certain way”.

                              claims that to even inquire about representation of women in tech “erases the unique identities of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people”, implying that it’s indeed sexist to ask about representation of women in tech, relying on the previous distortion

                              My exact comment was:

                              Not only is your statement loaded, it is reductionist and erases the unique identities of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people–something theoretically you are against!

                              I was taking issue with the idea of reducing some plurality of programmers to one homogeneous ciswhitemale blob and of ignoring all of the non-ciswhitemales by lumping into some minority blob that is then ignored. You can of course disagree with me about whether or not I read too much into their “Why are there no women on this list?” question.

                              “If you want just more women […] don’t post on Lobsters” explicitly calls for the end of talking about women’s representation in tech within a tech community.

                              There is rather more context there you are leaving out:

                              On sex I’ll only point out that you have to really get deep into the demographics and sociology to make compelling points, and that’s again a lot of space to spend here away from our core content–and space that ultimately won’t fix anything. If you want just more women, fire some men and hire women; don’t post on Lobsters. If you want to be more inclusive, go counterbully the people that are directly bullying women on Twitter instead of freaking out here when somebody says “guys” instead of “folks”.

                              My point there wasn’t simply “ugh stop talking about women it grosses me out and annoys me”, though I suspect that’s how you’d like to paint me.

                              My point was “look, we can create a lot more good by going out and modeling the change we want to see in the world than by rehashing the same clumsy debates here over and over; in addition, skipping those rehashes helps us hold space for technical discussion that is useful to everyone”.

                              “If you want to be more inclusive, go counterbully the people that are directly bullying women on Twitter instead of freaking out here when somebody says ‘guys’ instead of ‘folks’” constructs a strawman (nobody was talking about ‘guys’ vs ‘folks’) in order to characterize the legitimate discussion of gender representation within our own tech communities as “freaking out”

                              I did not intend this as a straw man: I’ve seen communities (and worked with people) who have exactly behavior and will focus on tone policing and etiquette when there are much more pressing matters to attend to. I used the “guys vs folks” example even though it didn’t show up in the thread; I see how somebody could’ve found that confusing. Mea culpa.

                              I will further note though that the idea of “legitimate discussion” is loaded. Somebody who agrees with both sides with some nuance could (and was) tarred as being transphobic, which seems like a great way of saying “if you don’t prescribe to my specific views you are a bad actor and clearly attempting to engage in illegitimate discussion”. This does not help foster good discussion.

                              ~

                              I know from previous discussions you don’t like what I have to say, but do try and at least quote me accurately when you disagree.

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                                it’s extremely hard to have high quality discussion about things like sex and gender without a whole bunch of additional education, and handling that in threads with the correct amount of care takes up space from technical discussion

                                I’m going to reject “high quality” here as not really getting at the actual problems the community is experiencing. It’s unreasonable to expect that forum members are academic experts in gender studies in the same sense that it’s unreasonable to expect that everyone is an expert in JDK security. I’m not looking for intellectual rigor, but rather empathy for members of the community and a level of trust in marginalized members that their experiences are in fact real experiences. In fact, I think it is precisely the over-intellectualization of human experiences, in place of actual empathy, that results in these back-and-forths that distract from the actual issues at hand. Imagine if, instead of piling on monokrome as aggressive, people acknowledged the mundane observation that, yes, in fact women probably aren’t well represented in OSS, and maybe dropped some links to groups that work in this space. No degree required. The comment thread could have even been small, and uninterested parties could have moved on. But instead there was this really strong backlash that I still find shocking.

                                Before I continue, I just want to point something out here, since the topic of discourse is now in-scope. I don’t want to dwell on this too much, but to quote (hopefully fairly) from your post with some added emphasis:

                                …the three threads you cite as damning evidence…

                                …if you want to drag out one of my posts at least have the decency to cite it properly instead of trying to take it out of context to win points.

                                My point there wasn’t simply “ugh stop talking about women it grosses me out and annoys me”, though I suspect that’s how you’d like to paint me.

                                I’m feeling that you are projecting language and tone into others’ communications (in this case, mine), distorting what they have to say. Intentional or not, it’s not a good way of maintaining a level playing field in the “marketplace of ideas”. Please stop doing this. I’m not motivated to “damn” anyone, nor am I trying to “win points”. I’m especially not trying to “paint you” in the way you’re suspecting. I promise that I have no personal interest in winning some sort of debate on the internet. I’m not even trying to debate in the first place. Like, I actually hate debates.

                                I am only writing here because I want to see this community be a space where people, regardless of their background, can contribute and feel that they’re not rejected or subtly made to feel unwelcome based on who they are. So for example, when someone says “I’m trans and feel that this facial recognition technology is problematic for X, Y, and Z”, people should listen rather than gear up for an internet debate on whether it’s scientifically real or not to be trans.

                                I have no intention of debating or litigating, but rather to point out instances in which I feel like we’re not actually listening to each other, so to hopefully do a better job with the quotes this time:

                                I prefaced that with “times being what they are”; they have the same reply button I do, and they elected not to correct my (mis)interpretation. My assumption based on the OP was that if they had wanted to discuss “why don’t we have more diverse demographics” they would’ve just asked that, instead of the way they phrased it about “programmers looking a certain way”.

                                I don’t have much to say here other than I don’t think it’s fair to use “times being what they are” here to assume that monokrome meant anything other than what they said. I can understand why you would have that association, but it’s important that we listen to what people actually have to say rather than what we think they have to say.

                                I was taking issue with the idea of reducing some plurality of programmers to one homogeneous ciswhitemale blob and of ignoring all of the non-ciswhitemales by lumping into some minority blob that is then ignored. You can of course disagree with me about whether or not I read too much into their “Why are there no women on this list?” question.

                                Yeah, in fact the core of one of my points is that I really do feel that, not just you, but a reasonable chunk of the community projected a whole lot of meaning into the deceptively simple question “why are there no women on this list?”. To me, the point is clearly an invitation for us to acknowledge a lack of gender diversity in OSS. That’s it. We can also talk about other intersecting issues of under representation, but that wasn’t presented. Nobody’s obligated to jump into that tricky discussion, but the fact that people came out swinging so hard against a legitimate if not non-sequiturial question was just sort of embarrassing to me. I don’t want to unreasonably pseudo-psychoanalyze the community, but to speculate for just a moment, perhaps some members have unconfrontend feelings about what it means to be a member of the majority.

                                Using your full quote this time:

                                On sex I’ll only point out that you have to really get deep into the demographics and sociology to make compelling points, and that’s again a lot of space to spend here away from our core content–and space that ultimately won’t fix anything. If you want just more women, fire some men and hire women; don’t post on Lobsters. If you want to be more inclusive, go counterbully the people that are directly bullying women on Twitter instead of freaking out here when somebody says “guys” instead of “folks”.

                                Again, I don’t mean this personally at all, but this strikes me as a distortion of what people are actually calling for. Nobody is suggesting we transform the site into a space to solve issues of equity instead of talking about tech. That’s not going to happen on a web forum. We should instead start with the absolute minimum of acknowledging problems in our broader tech community. It’s well established that women are underrepresented in tech. We can simply recognize that as a fact and a problem without putting on our reading glasses or replacing technical content with sociological problem solving.

                                My point was “look, we can create a lot more good by going out and modeling the change we want to see in the world than by rehashing the same clumsy debates here over and over; in addition, skipping those rehashes helps us hold space for technical discussion that is useful to everyone”.

                                I actually totally agree here with a caveat. I am not the biggest fan of online activism. But I think we’re conflating two things. Again, we can signal to the community that we care about inclusion, and then also save our activist work (or not) for other more effective spaces.

                                I will further note though that the idea of “legitimate discussion” is loaded.

                                Yeah, “legitimate discussion” is not precise. In that context, I mean to say roughly “the discussion and acknowledgement of gender as a problem in tech is legitimate”. There were literally people attempting to de-legitimize the issue by joking “why are there no uzbekistanis on this list” and “because none of them have come out as trans yet”, and others calling the question “aggressive” or suggesting that the OP should not have asked it when they did. There were a lot of members trying to delegitimize the question. The question exposes a real problem that affects real people. Hence, “legitimate”.

                                Somebody who agrees with both sides with some nuance could (and was) tarred as being transphobic, which seems like a great way of saying “if you don’t prescribe to my specific views you are a bad actor and clearly attempting to engage in illegitimate discussion”. This does not help foster good discussion.

                                So it’s hard for me to tell who is who, but in the comment you linked, I agree that the poster should not be “tarred”. However, for them to claim that “medical knowledge” is accurate in describing the way things are whereas transgender identity can only describe one’s feelings is a problematic statement because it takes agency away from the individual. I also think it’s dangerous to claim that there are somehow two “sides” to the issue of transgender identity because it gives heed to the idea that I/science really happen to know who you truly are, and only you get to know how you feel about it. Not the best way of making people feel welcome. And this gets back to my point about over-intellectualization of human experiences. Like, why should a non-trans person jump on the keyboard and theorize about what it really means to be a woman? Who does that actually help in our community? And for what it’s worth - it does look like other users “called them in” rather than “called them out” throughout that whole thread, so unless I’m missing something, I’m not seeing a whole lot of tarring going on. I actually saw a trans community member putting in a fair amount of work there.

                                I know from previous discussions you don’t like what I have to say, but do try and at least quote me accurately when you disagree.

                                I often don’t agree with you, but I’m OK with not agreeing with people. I’d just rather disagree about mundane computer shit. I hope that this time around, you feel that I did better with the quotes. I hope that you too can take other’s writing at face value moving forward.

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                                  Thanks for the reply. I’m not going to waste much more space here, happy to go into DMs if you want or IRC.

                                  Some scattered points:

                                  Nobody is suggesting we transform the site into a space to solve issues of equity instead of talking about tech.

                                  Exactly that has been suggested on numerous occasions, by the vocal faction that usually argues that all tech and discussion of tech is inherently political. Like, exactly that in my recollection.

                                  Like, why should a non-trans person jump on the keyboard and theorize about what it really means to be a woman? Who does that actually help in our community?

                                  Agreed, though I think that the corollary to this is the question of why a trans person should jump on the keyboard and do the same. I feel the same about discussions about homelessness, divorce, cismale issues, favorite cartoons, cancer, whatever. It’s off-topic and every time you roll those dice in a discussion we run the risk of making somebody feel unwelcome. Let those things be discussed elsewhere.

                                  To me, the point is clearly an invitation for us to acknowledge a lack of gender diversity in OSS.

                                  That question to many of the rest of us read like trolling and sealioning.

                                  ~

                                  Anyways, we’ve taken up enough space here. Feel free to contact me on either of the aforementioned channels.

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                                    Exactly that has been suggested on numerous occasions, by the vocal faction that usually argues that all tech and discussion of tech is inherently political. Like, exactly that in my recollection.

                                    All tech is political, because technology is viewed and used through the lenses that society grants us, and those lenses are political. It’s becoming more important now, to view technology through both a political and ethical lens, as the impact of not doing this in our culture is catching up with us – people are recreating phrenology, not to mention all of the other indirect impacts that places like Uber have on local economies.

                                    Agreed, though I think that the corollary to this is the question of why a trans person should jump on the keyboard and do the same. I feel the same about discussions about homelessness, divorce, cismale issues, favorite cartoons, cancer, whatever. It’s off-topic and every time you roll those dice in a discussion we run the risk of making somebody feel unwelcome. Let those things be discussed elsewhere.

                                    Right, but I think that there’s a fine line between “on topic” and “off topic”. Sometimes political things are relevant to tech. However, there’s a line at which they become not-relevant.

                                    What I see from the discussion is a trans person writing and submitting a post about why they were uncomfortable with how some technology was being used and created, and outlined their reasons for it based on experience.

                                    Then, in the comments, the discussion segued on to “Why aren’t trans people put through conversion therapy” and “Why do trans people exist”. Those are not technology questions, and the community here is very likely not suited to answer them.

                                    So what happened was an on-topic post, was derailed because some people decided that, because the person was trans, the comments section of a post about technology was the best place to debate non-technological points about the very nature of being trans.

                                    The post itself is related to technology – the impact of a technology, the potential pitfalls of it, everything about it, is related to technology. There are many reasons why this post is useful, and one of those is that as people working in technology, it is important that we understand the impact that our work within the field has. It is important we are aware of pitfalls with our approaches and methodologies, and understand that what we do has tangible impact. Other fields can accept this, and have ethical guidelines to deal with it. However because people working in tech ultimately are just stitching together ideas that we have with the available resources, because many of us are self-taught, (and those who aren’t tend to have only the bare minimum of knowledge of other fields), there is a feeling of disconnect between what we do, and what the effects of what we do are. It’s easy to feel that the code we write is somehow isolated from the real world, when that’s as far from the truth as you can be.

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                                I think perhaps those values should be written up so that when someone considers reaching out for an invite, they understand that this is not a community which constitutionally rejects racism, transphobia, misogyny or any form of bigotry, and instead relies on fellow users to buy comments in the marketplace of ideas

                                For what it’s worth, one of the reasons I’m still on Lobste.rs is precisely that marketplace of ideas. “Buying comments in the marketplace of ideas” seems to you like a bug, I think, but to me, it’s a feature.

                              3. 3

                                Actually, wait, I should respond to these before I sign off:

                                Unfortunately, the thread was long enough ago that I don’t remember whether the two remarks advancing the anorexia comparison came to the attention of the mod team at the time. Therefore, I’m unable to give you closure on what exactly happened there, if that’s what you’re asking for.

                                That’s fair enough! Honestly this thread’s original purpose was for me to figure out what happened that made those people leave – and that goal has been met. I guess the revised purpose at the moment is debating how these kinds of things should be treated.

                                I do want to say one thing about how this is being raised. You seem to be calling for the person who advanced that comparison to be banned. However, you made vague insinuations to that effect, not a clear statement. If you want some particular outcome here - if there’s a specific decision you feel we should justify to you, or reconsider - the very least you can do in return is go on record as actually asking about it.

                                I had worded things strongly earlier because the thread’s existence and the existence of those comments (Which quite frankly, are so old I’m not sure how they should be treated) were surpising and uncomfortable – the number of trans and queer programmers I saw here helped me feel comfortable in this space, I hadn’t see many problems with moderation until then, and then suddenly the rug was pulled from under me. As a few of the trans people seem to be leaving, I’ll probably distance a bit and treat this space mostly the same way I treat hacker news – skim the comments for interesting points of view on technical topics, see what catches my eye in the topic threads, engage when it feels worthwhile or when my brain has hooked on something.

                                I can’t tell you how to resolve this, because it’s something that as moderators you need to figure out a coherent stance on. I can’t take the responsibility of my word being gospel when I’m just one single queer person who almost certainly does not have the experience to talk authoritatively about resolving community issues. There are probably lots of blog posts dealing with that by queer people with more experience than me, and probably a lot of codes of conduct that you and the other moderators can take inspiration from, though.

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                                I’m confused, your original post seems to point out recent Twitter threads (from the last 3 days?), but you’re linking to a year-old lobste.rs thread.

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                                  Yes – I’m not sure what went on there either. I was just following the references. That’s why I posted this thread, to ask about it in public.

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                                  I just finished reading through the link. I’m not gonna lie, I really don’t see the issue.

                                  Could you point me to any of the comments that you find to be problematic so that I can understand?

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                                    This sounds like concern trolling on steroids. Before you go and start pointing fingers, you might want to actually contact moderators.

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                                      The moderators responded and now there is a discussion in public where people can see it and where anyone can join the debate. Is that not the point of, “The marketplace of ideas”?

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                                        Look at the time of my posting. I posted it when there were no replies to your post. At the time, it looked like you took to create a meta thread right after seeing some stuff on Twitter, and it still looks like that now. Moderators had to respond because of your rash actions.

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                                          I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re getting at here, do you think you could explain a little more in detail what your grievance with my actions is? Thanks.

                                          At the time, it looked like you took to create a meta thread right after seeing some stuff on Twitter, and it still looks like that now.

                                          I did actually do some cursory searching first. But is there something wrong with asking what happened?

                                          Moderators had to respond because of your rash actions.

                                          Yes. Is there something wrong with feeling uncomfortable about how the moderators addressed something, and then starting a public discussion about that? Would you rather we not have discussions about moderator activities and actions on this site?

                                          I already put a content warning on the post by tagging it. Ultimately, if you don’t like it, you can feel free to filter out the meta tag :)