There are two issues at play, here. This post deals with the way the post was edited, rather than the end state of the post.
The Editor is an SE Representative
Regardless of whether or not Jaydles was acting in an official manner, he represents StackExchange. As such, his action reflects on SE whether he intended it or not. This has a large intimidation factor--if I think the change is frivolous (a bad edit by definition), who am I to roll back the VP of Community Growth's edit? And, if I do, will I be suspended? (That second question is the primary reason I have not rolled back the edit already.)
Furthermore, the StackExchange model is built around self-governance of sites. The action Jaydles took was a giant statement saying "We don't believe you're capable of handling this on your own, so we're taking care of this."
We've worked through many problems on our own, thank you very much, and we were certainly capable of settling this one. As a result, the feeling I am left with is as if a friend and myself were in a disagreement, and then my parent came in and said "here's how it's going to be, now act happy." We're semi-stuck with the solution we were given and we would have settled it on our own (probably in a much better way). Granted, we're not truly stuck in this instance, but any edit to the question to remove gender will cause all the answers to be outdated. Or, if someone reverts the edit, they look like a male-supremacist for taking issue (even though my reason for reverting would be to discourage revisions like that in the future).
The Editor Misused Moderator Abilities
There is good reason for the revision queue--it is to prevent people with little experience on a site from screwing up questions with bad edits. However, since Jaydles is an SE employee, he has superpowers on all sites. This edit would have died in review, for multiple reasons:
- The edit clearly conflicted with the author's intent. For good or ill, this was meant to be a discussion of a problem from Tao's blog. That modification makes it no longer the same problem.
- The edit is not scalable. Are you now going to edit questions like this one? Are we also going to edit a bunch of Stable Marriage problems? If we decide that the issue of gender in a backstory is significant enough to require edits to questions, we likely have hundreds of questions to edit.
- The edit is polishing a turd. The question is off topic, as discussions are off-topic here. There is no question in the OP. An edit by a semi-official person (and sending it out on the Twitter feed) causes headache because now there's a precedent for such questions to be on-topic. Questions like this are bad questions by the help center definition (discussion oriented), and have no business being popularized.
The Editor is Unfamiliar with Math.SE Culture
The edit reason is very revealing:
Some readers thought the original reinforced negative gender stereotypes, so I jut reversed the genders. Even if you think that unneeded, it seems like it can't possibly cause any harm, so why risk a fun problem being shut down?
We are not a "fun problem" site. That is Puzzling.SE. "Risking a fun problem being shut down" doesn't bother me one iota. Risking a good, on-topic, non-duplicate question being shut down would be cause for minor concern, but this none of those. (Here's the duplicate.)
Beyond this: Math.SE is a very conservative site with regards to how much editing is done of other people's posts. We edit to add formatting or make something clearer. We don't edit to say something substantively different than the author meant. If there's a disagreement about a post, we take it to meta first; we don't take unilateral action. (Consider the stink that arose when one of our new moderators closed and deleted two popular questions without discussion first.)
Anyone with two months of Math.SE experience would have known that such an edit certainly could cause an issue. This shouldn't have been forced on us by an outsider, but rather suggested.
I really don't care about the genders of people in a problem. However, I do care about someone coming and imposing their view of the issue on me. For all I know, only two people took issue with the question (the guy who first commented and Jaydles) but hundreds of people viewed the question without thinking anything of it. Now there are dozens of people who are irritated at the way this went down, and there's no clean way of settling it. If Jaydles wanted to make everyone happy by changing the offending text, he could not have caused a worse outcome.
Jaydles, if you're reading this, please understand that I don't mean it as a personal attack. Your intentions were pure, but the action you took was badly done. Each site on the SE network has a different level of lenience regarding edits and unilateral action. You've now found out that Math.SE has very little lenience in this area. In keeping with the awesome SE model of site self-governance, please ask a question on Meta or suggest action be taken via a comment/chatroom next time you're tempted to edit a post on a site where you're inactive.