Many moderators, former moderators, and community curators (regular users who vote on, comment on, edit, flag, and close content) are on strike across the Stack Exchange network as of June 5, 2023. Why is this happening, and how will Biology.SE specifically be affected?
First off, info about the strike, with links to why AI-generated content is not trustworthy or welcome on the network:
- Open letter that you can sign
- Meta.SE post announcing strike
- Meta.SO question: What has happened to lead moderators to consider striking?
- Statement from SO: June 5, 2023 Moderator Action (make sure you read the comments and answers)
This is my personal opinion, and is not intended to be representative or on behalf of all moderators, community curators, and others on strike.
I am not an elected moderator, but I am on strike for the duration. What does that mean? Well, my participation on all Stack Exchange platforms, including Stack Overflow (SO) and Biology.SE, is effectively curtailed. I will no longer be voting or commenting on, flagging, editing, or otherwise interacting with content, both new and existing, except in regard to Meta discussions regarding the issues at hand.
Just to be absolutely clear: it really upsets me to have to do this, seeing how things have come this far between the Stack Exchange, Inc. (SE) corporate entity and the community-elected, volunteer moderators. Through means I am not going to discuss publicly, I have seen relevant portions of the mod-only communication that the company sent on Memorial Day dictating the new policy and how mods should act, and they are significantly different. Both the original public company announcement of the policy and the statement from them I linked above are completely misleading, if not downright deceitful, when talking about mods' actions and methods before issuing suspensions, although the recent statement does try to walk that smear job back a bit. They have shown zero evidence of any of their claims, either to mods or the general public. They've broken their own agreement with the moderators on how policy announcements should be rolled out - i.e., with plenty of warning and taking mod and public comments into consideration. There was no discussion of this new policy. It also directly contradicts overwhelming mod and public sentiment, that the current generation of generative AIs like ChatGPT are directly harmful to the Stack Exchange model of community-reviewed, expert-generated content. I could go on and on, but my sentiments are reflected in many of the links I gave above as well as resources they link to.
I'm not a moderator here and don't yet have access to some of the moderation tools that come with 20k+ rep, so I can't give a full answer to the question of how this will impact this site specifically. What I can say, if all four of our moderators agree to strike, is that you should expect to see numerous low-quality answers, often from new 1-rep users, appearing everywhere, on new and older questions alike. Flags won't get handled, or will be delayed. Low-quality and off-topic questions won't get closed quickly. Once the strike is over this garbage will be taken care of, but until then it'll remain. Feel free to contact SE if this becomes a problem for you - the more complaints they get about the lack of moderator actions on your favorite site(s), the more pressure they'll be under. Please be polite!
What can you do to help? If you sign up for a free Stack Overflow account (or already have one), you can sign the open letter. You can change your username (remember you can only change it once every 30 days), preferably putting some information in the About section for those interested. You can choose to not participate in some or all of the community curation actions you might otherwise do. You can contact SE directly. You can participate in this and other Meta discussions. Our mods do so much for our sites - the success of the business and the SE websites relies immensely on their volunteer work, and they are being treated horribly. This is absolutely not a one-time occurrence.
What should you not do? Don't deface or vandalize your own or other posts. Don't harass SE employees. This is not about individuals, but about the corporate entity. State your opinion, but be nice.
I for one will not answer questions, edit questions to improve them, comment on questions or answers to improve them or request further information, vote on or flag questions or answers.
I encourage others to do likewise.
Stack Overflow / Stack Exchange is a commercial enterprise that pays for this list, so if they want to impose rules of conduct that annoy me I have to grin and bear it. However their business model relies on volunteers moderating the sites for free, so if they adopt policies of modification that over half moderators disagree with, strike action is justified and has a chance of being effective. I am not a moderator, but try to maintain high standards of this site as I think it can play a role in science education. The least I can do is support the moderators on this. The alternative is a site that will not be worth contributing to anyway.
Update: Aug 9th
As the strike is now over (or at least the recommendation is for this: GPT on the platform: Data, actions, and outcomes) I will resume participation in this site, including general community duties.