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There is currently a moderation strike on this site: Academia.SE Moderation Strike

Which is part of a moderation strike network-wide: Moderation Strike: Stack Overflow, Inc. cannot consistently ignore, mistreat, and malign its volunteers

Normally this type of key information about AC.SE would be posted in meta and featured on the main site. The community deserves to know when big changes are happening.

But since SE employees are taking it upon themselves to circumvent the community standards, and removing the featured tag, I thought it would be appropriate to post that information here.

Note: this was originally posted to the main site since the company's leadership was suppressing meta posts about the strike. The strike has since finished successfully, and so we have decided to move the post to meta so as to keep it around long-term without introducing confusion on the main site.

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  • 38
    Full support! Corporate SE must understand that the community is front and center.
    – henning
    Jun 5, 2023 at 12:29
  • 63
    Since I'm the GOAT presently, let me agree with the concerns of the moderators. Large language models, not just ChatGPT, can do a lot of damage here, since they have neither intelligence nor a moral sense.
    – Buffy
    Jun 5, 2023 at 12:30
  • 7
    "Academia" moderator should know better. Working for free for a for-profit company ( de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosus ) is bound to a lot of suffering. Hey, wait, the Academia is the same structure that provides the big editors free peer reviews, after making extremely expensive to publish open-access!
    – EarlGrey
    Jun 5, 2023 at 12:30
  • 3
    @BryanKrause I know. I have been in the first programmers helping Couchsurfing to grow so big. And I have been burned repeatedly. See here a long trip, which is the reoad that SE is undergoing: brenontheroad.com/the-end-of-couchsurfing
    – EarlGrey
    Jun 5, 2023 at 14:15
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    @Nobody StackExchange/StackOverflow own this website, it's their property, we have no enforceable right to such freedom here. However, and my fellow mods likely agree with me, I see this site as very useful to fellow academics, and have put a lot of effort towards keeping it that way. The protest is not "bad company is bad!", the protest is "this policy will destroy our community." I feel it is best for the quality of content here, and therefore best for the company, that they listen and change course on this policy.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Jun 5, 2023 at 14:54
  • 3
    Whatever do you mean by "moderation strike?" Do you mean that if I post something that is not ordinarily on the accepted opinion list that it won't get silently deleted?
    – Boba Fit
    Jun 5, 2023 at 17:25
  • 10
    @BobaFit - I only see one of your answers that was deleted by a moderator, the first sentence of which was "it's not an answer to your question, but....". If you're referring to comments, yes, it is well known that comments are ephemeral; the answer box and chat are the places to put things that you don't want to be "silently deleted."
    – cag51 Mod
    Jun 5, 2023 at 18:21
  • 6
    Right this second, this is the top question on the network hot list, so well done @StrongBad Jun 5, 2023 at 21:21
  • 9
    This is really a clever way to circumvent it. Joined here in solidarity. +1. Jun 6, 2023 at 3:55
  • 4
    Is utilizing the site currently by submitting new questions something that would "cross the picket line" so to speak? I do not want my actions to impede this effort, or call into question my solidarity with those striking. I'm more than happy to log off until this is resolved, if that is meant to be a part of it. Jun 6, 2023 at 15:00
  • 3
    @ChristopherRodriguez I think posting questions/answers is not part of the strike, only moderation actions (like voting, flagging, review queues, etc)
    – Esther
    Jun 6, 2023 at 15:42
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    @gparyani I agree it is not a good look with the timing, but at this point looking at the bug reports on MSE it does not seem this was intentional (see comments like meta.stackexchange.com/questions/389886/… ). Unfeaturing meta posts has been intentional, however.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Jun 6, 2023 at 19:17
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    @ShernRenTee the open-source alternative exists: Codidact, founded by users that left during the previous debacle. Jun 7, 2023 at 0:31
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    @openletter.mousetail.nl -- Excellent idea for a bounty. Someone please write an answer that fully explains the situation! Well worth the bounty and upvotes. Jun 7, 2023 at 14:28
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    @user13267 I think we might be the only stack with all moderators on strike so it is really important news, regardless of if you support the strike or not. The CMs un-featured the meta post, so we are on uncharted ground here about how to get news out. Finally there are no mods to reprimand me :) If the post gets deleted or I get suspended, so be it.
    – StrongBad
    Jun 8, 2023 at 11:43

8 Answers 8

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There once was a site StackExchange
Which did well-writ answers arrange
A corps of free mods
Would even the odds
Against porn and spam and 'net rage

One day to the website did ride
The Large Language Models blank-eyed
While they did perchance
Write like (noob) humans
They oft bullshitted far and wide

At first StackExchange said, "No way!
No AI answer can display
The hard-earned merit
And empathic wit
Of a real human's repartee."

But then the mods heard from on high:
"We now take answers from AI!"
No reason was given
For this fall from 'net heaven
Just orders to change and comply

Receiving such stone-faced rebuff
The mods can but show themselves tough:
Until management
Should cleanly repent
The mods' great lights shall stay snuffed!

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    Was this written by a human or AI?
    – qwr
    Jun 6, 2023 at 16:02
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    Either way, it is amazing. If I were StrongBad, I think I'd accept this answer when the time comes....
    – cag51 Mod
    Jun 6, 2023 at 16:32
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    It was written by a neural network. Not saying which sort. ;) what do the GPT-detectors think? Jun 7, 2023 at 0:07
  • 6
    Nobody knows what the GPT detectors think, because all of us stopped using them back in December 2022. Jun 7, 2023 at 0:53
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    To be clear, a human brain is also a "neural network", so the above comment is a joke, not an admission that this post was AI-generated.
    – cag51 Mod
    Jun 7, 2023 at 7:26
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    I am "NotAMod(tm)" and ZeroGPT thinks "Your Text is Human written - 0% AI GPT*"
    – CGCampbell
    Jun 7, 2023 at 11:20
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    @cag51 - can you please not murder the jokes by explaining them? I know this is academia, the realm of unfunny, but still...
    – Davor
    Jun 7, 2023 at 13:55
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    Normally I would agree, but this page is being visited by SE staff, and I would not want them to mis-interpret the above comment as an admission rather than a joke.
    – cag51 Mod
    Jun 7, 2023 at 17:27
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    I feel like an AI would find better rhymes than "arrange / rage" or "management / repent". But maybe that's proof of an AI writing it? I'm genuinely curious what others' experiences are of how strict / loose AI gets with rhymes. Jun 7, 2023 at 21:16
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    @Davor I'm baffled that many people find explaining jokes to be murdering them. For me it's the exact opposite, it makes it much better by highlighting all the cleverness in the joke!
    – justhalf
    Jun 8, 2023 at 2:31
  • @justhalf - explaining why something is funny instantly makes it not funny anymore. That's why you'll never see a comedian explaining their jokes.
    – Davor
    Jun 8, 2023 at 6:55
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    @justhalf How is telling a joke like skydiving without a parachute? Well, if you have to ex-plane ... Jun 8, 2023 at 14:09
  • But you have to ex-plane in order to sky dive, no? =)
    – justhalf
    Jun 8, 2023 at 15:01
221

Writing an answer in hopes that it helps the algorithm to make this question network famous


Success!

enter image description here


6/7/23 (after close and reopen of this question):

enter image description here

Still available on 6/8/23, the puzzling stackexchange post is no longer on front page tho.

6/9/23: No longer on HNQ :c

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    Generally, the easiest way for a question to hit Hot Network Questions is when it is well-received (e.g., lots of positive votes) and has multiple well-received answers. I suspect answers posted by community members would be well-received if they explain why they support allowing local communities at Academia.SE and other SE sites to set their own quality standards, or explain why they feel unattributed AI-generated content is contrary to academic ethics and/or the quality of content on this site.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Jun 5, 2023 at 14:20
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    I came here from the hot network questions, so I believe your efforts have worked Jun 5, 2023 at 20:24
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    Given that SE staff is actively unfeaturing posts about the strike, will efforts to keep this on the Hot Network Questions list mean anything?
    – Kimball
    Jun 5, 2023 at 21:06
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    Hum, is this another Here we go again – OrangeDog towards a Mods cleanup! Jun 6, 2023 at 6:42
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    Sadly, this post was briefly closed (by Academia.SE users, not by staff), and so is no longer an HNQ. Even so, it had a good run -- already the 10th-highest-scoring post of all time on this stack.
    – cag51 Mod
    Jun 7, 2023 at 7:29
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    @cag51 it's back!
    – Esther
    Jun 7, 2023 at 14:20
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As a brief point in support: This strike isn't just for mods. There tends to be a lot of focus on the moderators, especially for StackOverflow. The strike organizers are occasionally a bit self-important about that, though I don't think our mods for Academia.SE are.

I think this point has been made, but is particularly true here. Upvoting and downvoting are, absent other policies, the primary way the entire SE platform is designed to deal with whether an answer is semantically correct or incorrect. Upvotes are easier to cast than downvotes, however. There are good reasons why the privileges have been set up this way.

As the current status quo without additional AI related policies sits, we are not supposed to close syntactically reasonable questions that are nevertheless semantically incorrect unless they fulfill fairly strict semantic criteria (advertisement, plagiarism, or offensive/harmful content as per the code of conduct).

We experience some negative side effects of these policies here with some frequency, especially with the Hot Network Questions queue. We're a small, relatively slow Stack. Syntactically reasonable but semantically incorrect answers are simply very hard for us to collectively bury with downvotes. Furthermore, that kind of aggressive policy strikes me as at least if not more unwelcoming than an extremely rare and appeal-able suspension justified by our current (by company fiat, unenforceable) AI content policy.

I think these conditions are worth emphasizing alongside the original question's, and make the strike particularly worthwhile for Academia.SE. We are a small Stack doing our level best to cultivate a usable Q&A framework for largely non-technical questions. A local policy is a particularly obvious solution for us, and particularly low impact for the rest of network.

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I'm posting to point out at this writing that @StrongBad's question is the top network hot post. Plus, thanks to @StrongBad's return, they immediately became the #1 top network asker. So, well done crafting this.

(And it's only secondarily that I accidentally bumped this question from the top of SE Academia and wish to make penance.)

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Thanks @StrongBad for bringing this to the main page by these means, an excellent idea! I am very sad that a few people on top are making such bad decisions that are so disruptive for a great community and Ressource that I have been very happy and grateful to have joined and discovered.

Let's hope that this strike has a positive outcome! And as others gave said, non-moderators, join in on the striking!

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IMO this is an excellent idea and I think this development has potential to greatly improve the site.

Is there a chance the strike could spread to other sites on the network as well, so that they could benefit from its positive consequences?

Also, I think an even more efficient way to provoke action from SX management would be to popularize competing, alternative sites. It's not 2008 anymore when StackOverflow was the only game in town. Lots of other people have copied the model, even improving the software, their only disadvantage is being dwarfed by SO/SX's pre-existing reputation. I'm sure word of mouth would naturally drive users away from here to better managed sites, but this strike is a great opportunity to accelerate that.

Kind off topic answer, but I'm expecting no downvotes since there is a moderation strike :)

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    Indeed, the strike is already active on many sites, though it’s perhaps more visible here since all of our mods are on board. As for alternative sites, there are a few, but it’s hard to build a user base from zero.
    – cag51 Mod
    Jun 6, 2023 at 3:35
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    @cag51 StackOverflow itself was built from zero, once. I think there's plenty of users here who would happily use something else if they were only aware of it. My point was that now is a good time to spread knowledge about alternatives to people who don't know about them. Reaching critical mass is also much easier when everyone is interested in alternatives at the same time, as they are now. Jun 6, 2023 at 3:59
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    I'm amazed by the number of strikebreakers on this website. I was sure there would be, I wasn't expecting that many and that intense strikebreaking. The rest of SE demonstrates the same trend. If we strike, we must not give up and "get back to work". Having said that, I'm thinking what to do if we loose. And with that in mind, your post comes in really handy. I have never heard of the alternatives to SE. Would you mind listing them in your post please @gomennathan? Jun 6, 2023 at 17:23
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    @gomennathan 76 sites have some moderator(s) striking. Including SO, where it's effectively a complete strike. (Only a majority are formally signed on, but SO moderators handled single-digit flags today in aggregate; their average day sees over a thousand flags come in.)
    – nitsua60
    Jun 7, 2023 at 2:08
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    @IvanNepomnyashchikh One which gets mentioned a lot is codidact.com, which was started in the wake of the previous catastrophic schism between SO the company and the community on their sites, called Monicagate. Monica herself is active on Codidact along with several of the moderators who resigned to protest.
    – tripleee
    Jun 7, 2023 at 4:20
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OrangeDog wrote, Here we go again. I can't help but get a feeling, even if remote, that perhaps the approach to the new AI policy was a smokescreen for 'another' #purge

Inbtw, I'm not a mod but I participate actively as much as I could. In the process, I get bewildered on some of my answers that are struck down and I couldn't get valid or very good reasons for.

By and large, we all need and want quality contents on SO/SX. May the (AI) strike works well (#fruitful) and may the mods also reflect on some of their acts!

PS: there's a mod strike, hence no downvote on this!!!


Regarding AI generated content, one danger is truth value and provenance. AI ain't infallible. Indeed, we've seen how they can be: Even more so with research. IMHO, ChatGPT is almost a disaster with academic references. Perplexity AI fare better but still untrustworthy.
[Out-of-scope] My view on generative AI/LLM is summarised in my LinkedIn post: Digital Pedagogy: Towards a Policy for ChatGPT

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    I do not see a single one of your answers that has been deleted or closed by a mod (or anyone else), so not sure what “striking down” you want us to “reflect on.” But thank you for your support of the strike.
    – cag51 Mod
    Jun 6, 2023 at 7:19
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Something that I would like to clarify is while the AI policy was the final and quite large straw, it is not the sole perpetrator of this strike. It is also about the general refusal to listen to our feedback. Then, of course, there’s the vote arrows, the AI integrated into the site, the prompt design site, and the removal (and eventual reinstatement) of the data dump.

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