TL;DR: I’m temporarily deactivating my forum account over the issue of supremacist dog-whistles on the forum, and how they are moderated.
I will reactivate my account if and when it becomes a matter of settled policy that supremacist dog-whistles are absolutely prohibited.
In the course of recent threads and behind-the-scenes discussion about them, it became increasingly clear that the non-ECC moderators and I were not on the same page regarding this issue.
As far as I am concerned, the absence of supremacist memes is not a nicety. It’s a minimum bar for it to be possible to have a civil discussion forum that includes people in groups that are targeted by that supremacism.
I’m not interested in getting into a debate about which memes are supremacist dog-whistles, but I think that as a starting point it’s pretty clear that at this point all Pepe memes are. (Yes, I’m aware that the Pepe character wasn’t originated by the alt-right and was co-opted by them. It doesn’t matter, given that the co-option is so thorough.) I also won’t be gaslighted by arguments that, for instance, a Pepe-based character literally named “Honkler” as a reference to Hitler, is not white supremacist or anti-Semitic.
Hiding such posts just because they were “off-topic” is not even remotely adequate. It matters why posts are hidden or deleted, because it matters that people in targeted groups can have confidence in the process.
ECC management recently confirmed to me that I do not have any obligation, as part of my job, to participate in the forum. That’s good, because it was taking an increasing toll on my mental health to have to deal with practically every moderation decision I made being second-guessed. That included decisions that were absolutely cut-and-dried, literal applications of the forum CoC (such as deleting a post supporting Trump).
In particular, I’m sorry to say that I did not feel that the rest of the (non-ECC) moderation team had my back over these incidents. In some cases, some of them joined in with the pile-on. I wish I could say that the productive relationship that I otherwise had with the team members was enough to outweigh my disappointment over this response, but it isn’t.
I considered just stepping down as a moderator and continuing to engage with the forum as a user. However, I can’t do that because the toleration of extremist right-wing, anti-Semitic, etc. memes on the forum is literally not tolerable to me. Lest you think I’m exaggerating the problem, the Zcash Telegram group had, last time I looked, been allowed to be overrun by this shit.
I would also like to register my opposition to opening the moderation team to random applicants, and to enforcing stricter conduct rules on members of that team than for other forum participants. I think that these are bad ideas that risk undermining the team’s ability to do its job effectively.
I hope to see you all again when this issue is resolved.
Edit: there doesn’t actually seem to be a way to explicitly and voluntarily deactivate a Discourse account on a given server; I can’t find the pause feature referred to here in the account settings. Anyway, consider it deactivated.