Recently there was a discussion between the moderators and the SE staff that led to one moderator being fired and many other resigning as a protest.

Unfortunately, all I could see was accusations being thrown. Before taking sides, I would like to respectfully ask SE and the moderators involved in the discussion to divulge the content of this conversation, so that we normal users can judge for ourselves who was responsible for hostile behaviour and what was the content of the discussion.

Where did this conversation take place? On a private SE chat? Is it covered by the CC license (some version of it) like the rest of the "user content" here? Is there a "contract" between the moderators and SE that actively prohibits its disclosure? Do the involved parties agree or object to its disclosure?

I know that this is an argument often misused, but if everyone stands by their point and believes that they are in the right, then they won't have any objections to let us read everything, am I correct?

  • 50
    Please don't ask moderators to violate the confidential nature of these (and other) discussions. This would absolutely destroy any trust they have with Stack Exchange going forward.
    – user351483
    Oct 3, 2019 at 9:31
  • 17
    @Snow If both SE and the moderators agree to the disclosure, there is no issue with trust being violated, in my view. Oct 3, 2019 at 10:06
  • 14
    Yes there is. Each individual moderator also expects their words in that room to be held private. It's not a single agreement. This will not happen unless SE wishes to countervent every single moderators expectation of that privacy.
    – user351483
    Oct 3, 2019 at 10:08
  • 1
    This is an effective duplicate of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/334199/… which is itself a duplciate of other related posts.
    – Raedwald
    Oct 3, 2019 at 11:40
  • 9
    You already know the broad brush strokes. There's nothing to be gained by breaching the privacy of the TL other than fueling the fire, and nothing materially relevant that can be further learned from the transcript.
    – user102937
    Oct 3, 2019 at 14:39
  • 6
    I've posted a treatment of the TL Transcript confidentiality issue here.
    – user102937
    Oct 4, 2019 at 19:15

4 Answers 4


Where did this conversation take place? On a private SE chat?

Yes. Most of it did take place in the Teachers' Lounge, a private chatroom for ♦ moderators across the network. Some of it in (private) emails between moderators and Stack Exchange staff, and some of it in the internal Stack Moderators Teams site only accessible to moderators.

Is there a "contract" between the moderators and SE that actively prohibits its disclosure?

Yes, this is part of the moderator agreement (covered by 'other moderator policies'). (Some parts of the transcript have already been leaked elsewhere, and moderators and staff are furious about this.)

Clarification provided in a comment: The key text is included in 'other moderator policies' that are provided within the Teachers Lounge; the rules of the TL preclude anyone from copying that text and publishing it. As MadScientist wrote in his answer: There is an explicit rule about never copying any messages out of TL.

  • 4
    Let me check if I understood correctly: you are stating that there is a separate agreement with SE (which is referenced there as "other moderator policies", but is otherwise unavailable to the public) that forbids you to disclose it? Oct 3, 2019 at 9:56
  • 4
    Yes. It's not covered by one of the other points in the agreement and I can't remember explicitly signing for it, but the way the rule is worded (in the TL room description and in mod-only Help Center articles) it's clear that this is one of the moderator policies.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Oct 3, 2019 at 9:59
  • 4
    OK, thanks. There seem to be more layers of secrecy here than I thought. I hope that at least you had the chance to see these policies for yourself before agreeing to them. Oct 3, 2019 at 10:12
  • 27
    @FedericoPoloni "secrecy" is probably the wrong term, since it's a bit charged. It's about confidentiality - disseminating information can be harmful and shouldn't be done lightly.
    – VLAZ
    Oct 3, 2019 at 10:21
  • 2
    Thanks @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog. That's correct; it's really hard for me right now to keep track of what is public, what is an open secret and what is still confidential.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Oct 4, 2019 at 7:13
  • 1
    I read the agreement you linked to, and I am having trouble finding the relevant part. Would you mind posting the actual relevant text in the body of your answer, and explaining it in your own words? Oct 4, 2019 at 17:04
  • 1
    As stated in the answer, it's covered by 'other moderator policies'. I can't even post the actual text without violating the policy, but MadScientist's answer explains it well enough: There is an explicit rule about never copying any messages out of TL.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Oct 4, 2019 at 17:10
  • Thank you. I felt that your comment provided additional clarity so I put it in a proposed edit to your answer. Please check it and see if my addition is a valid expression of your contribution. Oct 4, 2019 at 18:56

Do the involved parties agree or object to its disclosure?

I have made statements in the TL relating to a number of aspects of the relevant issues and I object to the release of the transcripts. A number of moderators shared deeply personal stories in the TL to help us understand these issues. I have benefited from and appreciate their honesty and will not allow them to be bullied into accepting the release of the transcripts or having to justify their objections to sharing the transcripts.

  • 8
    As much as I would like everybody to have the opportunity to reach an informed stance on everything in the matter: This! 100% this! Oct 4, 2019 at 20:45
  • 2
    Hmm... upvoting isn't enough to let MSE readers know that it's another diamond who agrees, so here's the comment: yes to all of this!
    – nitsua60
    Oct 5, 2019 at 0:54
  • Could you please address why "A number of moderators shared deeply personal stories in the TL to help us understand these issues." would be a problem if the names were to be anonymised? Your argument only makes sense to me if you refer to completely unredacted transcript. But if your bits were to be read as "Mod13" and from another 'vulnerable' mod as "Mod23", a CM as CM4? It would be even better to discuss the content if even Monica's bits were from "Mod31" instead of real name. Or: What else was in TL that is in such a form to make mods personally identifiable? Oct 27, 2019 at 14:03
  • 1
    @LаngLаngС because even if a troll/bigot does not know who they are attacking, the person who is being attacked is still hurt.
    – StrongBad
    Oct 27, 2019 at 16:11
  • But how can 'they' "attack" an anonymised – and thus at least buffered if not removed from – real person's text? Do you mean "RealPersonX12 knows who 'Mod33' really is (they are identical). If someone writes 'bad' things (judging/evaluating/making fun of…) about 'Mod33's chat-messages – then RealPersonX12 will be hurt"? Oct 27, 2019 at 16:26
  • 1
    @LаngLаngС I mean that Mod33 might be upset and hurt if Bigot1 says that the story shared by Mod33 is stupid and doesnt deserve respect since clearly Mod33 is an oversensitive deviant. This doesn't require Bigot1 to know who Mod33 is in real life.
    – StrongBad
    Oct 27, 2019 at 16:42
  • Ah, thx. That's roughly what I wanted to convey with my speculation above. But still: who is hurt in our scenario? Mod33 by recognising 'own story' or many people 'like Mod33' identifying with the story. I think it'll be quite helpful if you'd elaborate that into your answer? Without that explanation in comments I'd still wonder "when anonymised, that follows how?" Oct 27, 2019 at 16:47
  • 1
    StrongBad, what about an anonymized version with those personal stories removed? The community is mostly interested in learning of Monica's part, and that shouldn't be part of anyone else's personal story. Nov 10, 2019 at 5:55

The specific discussion itself happened in the private moderator chat room Teacher's Lounge, but there were also emails and/or discussions that only the two directly involved parties have access to. There is also additional context in older chat transcripts and on the private moderator team site.

All of the content in TL and in the moderator team carries a strong expectation of staying private. There is an explicit rule about never copying any messages out of TL.

The only ethical way to release all this information would be to have the consent of every single involved person, and there were a lot of different people involved. I don't see any realistic chance of this happening. The discussions in TL are made with the assumption and expectation of privacy.

Releasing the transcript also could put a spotlight on specific people, and given the heated nature this kind of issue can take, that is likely a very bad idea.

  • 4
    I am asking to release this with the consent of every single involved person. Oct 3, 2019 at 9:56
  • 39
    I was involved, and I refuse permission. This isn't going to happen.
    – user351483
    Oct 3, 2019 at 10:01
  • 9
    @Snow OK, thanks. I acknowledge your refusal. I suggest making this an answer, so that it is more permanent. Oct 3, 2019 at 10:03
  • 1
    So if one person says "No" but everyone else agrees? What then
    – Dan K
    Oct 3, 2019 at 11:59
  • 6
    It's private chat; it's pretty understandable you cannot expect people to make it public. Imagine some robbers broke into your house, stole valuable items and made a huge mess. Now 100 of your neighbors say "Oh, I am so sorry it happened to you! Could you open your house so all of us could visit and see for ourselves what happened? BTW we will laugh at your giant cute teddy bear if we find it there! What if 100 of us want to enter and you don't - does it make it morally right to demand it from you?"
    – anatolyg
    Oct 3, 2019 at 12:32
  • 11
    @anatolyg That doesn't seem like a particularly fitting metaphor. It was more like a conversation happening with close doors at the police district or in a public office, and now people are accusing each other publicly based on the content of those private conversations. Oct 3, 2019 at 14:03
  • 4
    Anonymizing can solve most, if not all of your points. I guess only Monica and Sara would have to give the permission, as they are obviously involved?
    – Piro
    Oct 4, 2019 at 4:55
  • 5
    @Snow How do you expect users to trust moderators more than SE with that kind of reaction? Do you have something to hide in that small conversation? Is it maybe not as clear-cut that Monica was right and SE was wrong? What reason do you have to refuse publication of the transcripts, outside of "those are the rules". You’re frankly as unhelpful as SE in that situation, and you’re definitely not on the side of regular users. All those apology posts from SE, and all those "SE is wrong!" posts are useless to regular users as long as the transcripts are not published.
    – Fatalize
    Oct 4, 2019 at 7:17
  • 6
    @Fatalize: I certainly don't think anything about the current situation is clear-cut. The policy is what it is because it allows moderators to speak freely with one another. In addition, something that is especially relevant given the issue at hand is that many mods have spoken about their personal lives and experiences under the expectation of privacy; it would be unfair and inappropriate to publicize those discussions.
    – V2Blast
    Oct 4, 2019 at 7:51
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    @Fatalize I have moderated on many forums over the past 15 years or so. All of them have a private place where moderators can talk freely among themselves for the good of the community. This is a place where moderators can speak more freely than they might want to do in public. It's healthy to have this space. And all moderators on all forums have the natural expectation that private talk won't be exposed and made public. The damage caused by violating that trust of confidentiality will be greater than the damage caused by this current situation.
    – user351483
    Oct 4, 2019 at 7:54
  • 7
    @Snow No trust is violated if Monica has agreed to it. If the transcripts are not published, then deal with this issue in private, and stop polluting meta with talks on this subject, since no one outside mods and SE can access the actual relevant information.
    – Fatalize
    Oct 4, 2019 at 9:26
  • 5
    @Fatalize non-mods can see that the SE corporation has publicly insinuated that a moderator repeatedly violated the CoC without providing any evidence. There is nothing preventing them from slandering other mods or users in the future and our ability to sue is limited by the terms of service. There is a lot of public information that should have you pissed off.
    – StrongBad
    Oct 4, 2019 at 20:38
  • @StrongBad We can also see that mods have publicly insinuated that Monica didn’t violate the CoC and that SE is wrong without providing any evidence either.
    – Fatalize
    Oct 7, 2019 at 6:40
  • @Snow In matters of public interest, since so much has been said in public about the events from private chat, and since public trust is for a great part gone, it would not be a bad idea to release a redacted version of the transcripts. Sometimes, transparancy outweights the absolute secrecy surrounding confidentiality.
    – dfhwze
    Oct 27, 2019 at 8:19

I'm one of the folks who was involved in a good chunk of the conversation in question.

I would consider the sharing of transcripts to be a complete an utter betrayal of trust of the moderator community. We often discuss matters of sensitivity - and especially in this context folks may find things they may otherwise choose not to reveal.

The whole result of this would be a circus, not that we don't already have one, and a trial by public opinion.

I would hope we are better than that.

  • Elsewhere, I commented that it'd be nice if we could just turn back the clock, and for Sara & Monica to have a "re-run" of their dialog, but this time in a publicly visible space. But I guess that has the potential to turn into a circus too.
    – PM 2Ring
    Oct 6, 2019 at 7:28
  • 1
    If we were to do this with cooler heads - we probably would have less, rather than more public talk. Even in respect to mods. Oct 6, 2019 at 7:37
  • 4
    Here's the thing: we are not shown any evidence. Private chat -> private punishment (ie: nothing in relation to diamonds?) Secret trial (and obviously snap decision). Not even redacted for anonymity? (Why not this obvious solution?) 'Private corporation' means arbitrary intransparent reasoning? That is bad all around. Redacted script would also mean: public learning by (bad) example "what (allegdly) not to do". You don't want " trial by public opinion", we now have trial by secret opinion. Coincidently we don't get a circus but results fit for the Colosseum and similar justice. Oct 27, 2019 at 10:21

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