I first discovered Mi Yodeya during the 2016 PTIJ season; I was a senior in high school running the school newspaper looking for good content for the Purim edition and had about zero creativity in coming up with any myself. As I stuck around the site a bit and realized that there actually was more to the site than PTIJ, that morphed into asking about whatever I wanted, within limits, and seeking answers.
With Hashem’s help I’ve grown from that selfish sixteen-year-old, understanding how exchanges go both ways and how I actually had what to give back to the community, beyond my terrible sense of humor. Whenever I had time between Yeshiva Sedarim, I participated in not just asking selfishly-motivated questions or writing admittedly terrible answers (what was I thinking with some of those earlier posts?!) but also actually seeking to make my questions more thought-out and my answers more meaningful. With the realization that I could help others find answers to their own questions came my original push for an Answerathon.
With the opening of Codidact I realized something even more important. Learning is not merely an Exchange of ideas; it’s “learning together,” the synthesis of two contradictory ones into a theory neither participant could come up with on his own. And when I read posts like this I realize painfully my own contributions to pushing away new users. “Push with the left and pull with the right,” Chazal teach (Sanhedrin 107b.8). Have I really been honest with myself in just going along with “that’s how the community works”? Just because that’s how it was doesn’t mean that’s how it must be.
As the new mod guide puts it, “being a moderator doesn’t make you More Right™.” Or as Rabban Gamliel put it to his new students, “Do you think I’m giving you authority? I’m giving you servitude” (Horayot 10a.21-10b.1). And an honor to serve it is – to serve the people of the community, not its rules. Moderatorship may come with being a role model for the community, but that goes both ways as well. You can water a plant all you want, but it’s the direction of sunshine that dictates how the plant will grow.
We’re all here to “learn together,” so let’s make this a place where we all can.