I have made no secret of my distaste for the direction in which SE overall has gone. In response, I have deleted every account I had, with the exception of TWP.
I left one stack early on when a moderator actually said in its chat that autistic people were not welcome. That was enough for me. I left SO not too long after that. It's also no secret that SO has a reputation for being a bit heavy handed towards people who ask questions.
I like TWP, and I think that its greatest strength is who we've elected as moderators. It is a thankless job, and they have to deal with people who are upset, which is never easy. The temptation exists to punish or otherwise abuse the power that one is given in such a role. Our mods have consistently resisted that temptation, and are more focused on keeping the site's tone a very relaxed and professional one.
Occasionally tempers flare, and discussions can get heated. The mods are more likely to let people hash things out than to act too quickly, which I think helps avoid misunderstandings and resentment.
Overall, the community tends to be very helpful, especially with new users, which I think sets us apart from other stacks. We tend to take on difficult and controversial topics with more restraint and professionalism than most as well. Even though it's been removed from the official COC, the "assume good intentions rule" lives on here. I think that's important because we are dealing with cultures around the world, and people here are a bit more forgiving of cultural differences than in other sites out there, especially on SE in general.
With regards to disabilities, this stack is extremely friendly. In the 30+ years I've been online, this is easily one of the most welcoming groups I have ever found. I feel comfortable talking about my own difficulties and how to address them, and questions about people with disabilities have been thoughtful, and answers have been of a helpful bend, and extremely respectful. I have not experienced this elsewhere on SE, TBH.
Places where I think we could do a bit better:
- The comments: This has been the bane of SE for some time, as social media exploded, we were infected with a bit of the nastiness that tends to inhabit reddit, twitter, and quora. I don't participate in any of those because I don't like the nastiness. I think we need to do more to not feed the trolls.
- The questions: I think we can, and should put in more of an effort to edit questions that are unclear, if we can, especially if it's a new user. The lifeboat and lifejacket badges are there for a reason.
- The answers: Overall, I think we do better than most by maintaining a positive tone when possible, but we are also able to give the difficult answers when necessary. We are more focussed on providing effective answers than on answers the querents would prefer to hear.
Where we could stand to improve
I think when controversial subjects arise, we all (myself included) should take a step back, and put our own pre-formed opinions aside long enough to answer the question objectively. This is especially hard if you've personally experienced some of the more atrocious behaviors that can effect the workplace. It is very easy to believe that someone posing a question about mistreatment is 100% in the right if you've experienced it, or 100% in the wrong if you think they're overreacting, or if you've seen someone abusing the system. If you have a visceral reaction to a question, it's probably a good idea not to answer until you calm down.
There also seems to be a minor problem with people tending to jump on the bandwagon when a controversial subject comes up, and a focus more on advancing rhetoric rather than offering up constructive answers to the issue at hand.
Overall, I have a great deal of respect for TWP, its moderators, and its members.