While Sara Chipps, the Director of Public Q&A, did make a response to the Stack Exchange Community, it has been very negatively received and the tag isn't enough to keep it visible to the broader network community. It also triggered additional resignations and suspensions of moderator activity.

Given that Stack Exchange is currently in the middle of on-boarding Prashanth Chandrasekar as the new CEO, perhaps it is time for someone from the senior leadership team to schedule a town hall meeting to address the concerns of the community?

  • 64
    And do what? Double-down on their double down?
    – Oded
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:16
  • 35
    I really like this idea. Where? Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:18
  • 10
    @Oded if my math is correct, that's a quadruple down.
    – user622361
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:20
  • 45
    @SaraChipps this will not end well.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:25
  • 31
    Without an actual public apology first, what is there to say?
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:25
  • 6
    What about something sort of similar to moderator elections? Make a Q&A post where the "answers" are questions from the community. Highest voted posts get answers in a separate Q&A. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:26
  • 13
    Perhaps someone from the Stack Exchange Leadership Team should give a sincere apology first?
    – user35594
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:45
  • 38
    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog perhaps an actual conversation between Sara and Monica in private would be a good first step. SE isn't taking my calls; I can't initiate that. I still believe that there has been a profound misunderstanding that they could have fixed last week if only there'd been actual communication. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:46
  • 59
    OK, stop asking for apologies. An apology and a dollar will buy me a cup of coffee. Ask for meaningful changes instead.
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:47
  • 23
    @SaraChipps if you want my advice, start by addressing existing concerns before you start further discussion. There's a lot of questions to say the least that need to be addressed. With over 20 answers on the apology, there's a lot that needs to be addressed just there. Maybe clear that and start defusing the heat before you get more input to process? Going about the situation wrong after the "firing mods" meta post will only lead to further problems (and rightfully, at least so far). Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:50
  • 5
    @RobertHarvey It's been pretty clear from the very beginning that along with an apology, what most of the community is asking for is that the existing procedures on CoC violations by moderators be followed. This would involve reinstating Monica and then following those procedures with transparency and community involvement. SaraChipps clearly admitted the policy was not followed, but dismissed the idea of following procedure. THAT would be "meaningful change". Saying, "we'll do better in the future" is NOT meaningful change.
    – Avi Cherry
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:36
  • 15
    @SaraChipps It's not too late to mitigate the damage SE has done, but stonewalling the community that is SE's lifeblood will not make this go away. You've admitted to not following your own procedures and that this situation was handled poorly. Therefore how can you possibly justify not even attempting to go back and doing it right? Imagine you were arrested, tried and convicted, but the court admitted you were not given due process. But then they said, "but what's in the past is in the past, let's just move on!"
    – Avi Cherry
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:42
  • 5
    @StephanS I've seen a lot of that "don't shoot the messenger" line lately, but I'm not buying it. If Sara didn't want to be in this position, she should not have accepted it. She should stand up for what's right. If someone wrote that "apology" and told her to deliver it, then she should have said "no, I won't do this, this isn't genuine. Let's listen to the community and come up with a real solution". Of course, it looks to me like she wrote it herself, so I don't think she's just a messenger.
    – mason
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:54
  • 25
    @einpoklum Her job isn't "messenger". It's Director of Public Q&A. As in, the main reason the entire site exists. She's been promoting tolerance and acceptance of others, and her actions and inactions here are directly responsible for this community uproar, even if she isn't the only one at the wheel. This is an entirely self created problem - the company caused this. As the face of this company to our community, she needs to fix it, or step aside and let someone else take over.
    – mason
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 0:40
  • 13
    For the benefit of everyone here who doesn't participate in US (I assume) politics, what on Earth is a "town-hall style meeting"? Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 7:24

7 Answers 7


I don't see how this is any more meaningful or different than meta for this purpose. Town halls are for open conversations/discussion. Not preexisting questions.

In fact, in this case, I'd say this would be worse than nothing when there are so many clear questions on meta being ignored around the recent events.

  • 11
    also less public, just not what we need
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:27
  • 4
    And a chat would only open the door to abuse from the worst users. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:28
  • The best and biggest questions on everyone's mind are floating at the top of the pool currently for all to see. In the words of Palpatine: "How ironic".
    – user622361
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:30
  • 3
    Imagine being able to be ignored in a real time public Q&A meeting.
    – Script47
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:38
  • @rjzii they just had like 3-7 days to work on this update/apology and this is what we got... as for other questions, they've had years, look through MSE/MSO and see the old questions and when they date from.
    – Script47
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:46
  • 5
    no one said the chat had to be a livechat, could be a super delayed chat where 3-7 days pass between each question @Script47
    – enderland
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:48
  • @enderland I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not but why can't they just answer those questions..?
    – Script47
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:49
  • @rjzii they already have this option. Just be more open and communicate with us like they used to, no need for this new method. That option has never been removed from them they just seem more closed doors now.
    – Script47
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:50

The only way this would work is if everyone agreed to put down their pitchforks or pointy implement of choice, and hear this from a neutral stance.

I...don't see that happening in the short term. In fact, I see this as a prime chance for those who are just anti-Sara to simply throw her under the bus in any manner they can muster.

So how about no, we don't have a town hall on this. I for one am not interested in reading either side's arguments; not really keen on hearing for the umpteenth time about how things are gonna get better, and I'm not really keen on hearing about how such-and-such should've been phrased or how this should've gone or if heads should roll or any of that nonsense.

We've all got better things to do with our time.

  • 4
    A "Moderator questions and answers" style post would lend some much needed decorum and order to the proceedings... But yeah, I totally get what you are saying.
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:54
  • 2
    @RobertHarvey: We lost the privilege for decorum and order on Sunday, if I'm going to be honest with you. No sense in closing the barn door when that horse is already halfway across the county, y'know.
    – Makoto
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:55
  • 7
    @rjzii: I'm really not going to judge how long you've been in the corporate world, but every meeting I've had with leadership under these pretenses - both when directly facing them in academia and in the business place - it has been their MO to basically make "no" sound like "yes", and to spin optimism and hope while remaining intentionally vague. I'm far too pessimistic to believe that anything that's conjured up now is gonna change that impression of mine. Furthermore, I'm really not sure what you're expecting when that happens. What do you want as an outcome/takeaway?
    – Makoto
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:58
  • What neutral stance? The rules are clear and published. The actions taken by the parties involved are visible and can be inspected by anyone with an internet connection.
    – user160254
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 23:54

I believe there's a real urge that the new CEO introduces themselves to the community, and what are their plans to solve the actual problems.
Meta is burning and many users are just confused.
Don't forget: The community made the product you have right now!

— Günther Makulik (@GntherMakulik) October 3, 2019

Just citing my Twitter message to Joel Spolsky's announcement.

One thing I can predict for sure is, the company will fail without supporting their core product, which is the community and repository of Q&A.

The problems with Stack Overflow and other sites at the SE network go far deeper than the recent hype and storm of protest about Monica Cellio's kick-off from moderation.

There's need of intervention and clarity about what the company's direction is in cooperating with the community culture that has been build up since decades.

The statement of a subordinate company member like Sara Chipps doesn't mean a lot, and only addressing the particular case (which is only the tip of the iceberg) is useless.


In this case, I believe it wouldn't accomplish too much. I'm willing to see it if it were to happen, but I think meaningful change should happen in conjunction with company transparency.

In my opinion, the best course of action for SE at the moment would be to make a few changes first:

  1. Release the new CoC: As it's directly related to the recent debacle, this should definitely be released.
  2. Release the new method of relieving moderators that was mentioned in the apology. It would show that positive change was being made in relation to Staff - Community Moderator relations.
  3. Release some information regarding the incident. For legal reasons they can't release some of what transpired, apparently, but I do believe the specific reason for the moderator in question's dismissal should be mentioned.

All of this to say that meaningful change should be presented that should spark productive discussion. A lot of answers to the apology Sara posted earlier (many now deleted, to be fair) got off topic, and ventured more into the realm of "dunking" on her post rather than presenting meaningful solutions to future related problems.

  • 4
    The moderator agreement (a legally binding contract) only states that personally identifiable information cannot be released. Other things that are private aren't prevented from release as a result of legal reasons, but simply due to an informal agreement. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:46
  • I see. Thank you for the clarification. That makes request #3 all the more valuable... We need to know what happened specifically, and how the community as a whole can do moving forward, and offer meaningful, targeted critique to SE.
    – Spevacus
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:49
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog companies generally don't have an informal agreement when giving someone access to privileged information such as a private chatroom. All agreements that companies and users (mods) have are probably legally binding. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:51
  • @StephanS Here is the agreement all moderators are required to sign as a condition of becoming a moderator. Note that it only prevents the disclosure of "personally-identifying information". Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:53
  • 5
    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog Whoever wrote this contract really knows how to departmentalize the elements of the contract to make it more confusing to follow but if you look at SS (i.) it states "I will abide by the then-current Terms of Service of Stack Overflow, and other moderator policies made available to me" this would include the agree the moderators agree to before entering the mod chatroom and other mod only areas, if you're looking for a more fleshed out answer about this ask the question on Law.SE and I can explain alittle bit more. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:17
  • "agreement" not "agree" Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:23
  • 1
    This agreement may be legally binding, but what are the legal consequences of breaking it? If it is just "being revoked as a moderator", well, I got news for you...
    – dim
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 10:59
  • @dim the contract doesn't actually outline what damages would be so it's more of what a court would determine the damages for breach of contract. Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 18:36

If it happens, it can happen now

The site already selected the questions we are having. It's pushing them to the top. This comes at the unfortunate expense of the official statement sinking to the bottom, but that's some pretty clear insight into the sentiment that is shared by all.

My recommendation: answer what's already there

Stack Exchange is a site where people with questions can get answers. Silence, in my opinion, can be in many ways worse than an unpopular answer. The questions that need addressing have been at the top for hours and in many ways having a town hall where only a privaliged few can participate is throwing mud in the face of the people who cared enough to ask.


I am not a moderator, nor an employee. I do not have a personal understanding of what either go through on a day to day basis to get this tremendously helpful resource working, but I am a person who is concerned with the updates to the policy and licensing.


This sounds like a great idea. Some suggestions for how this might be accomplished because the logistics for this type of thing can be tricky:

  • Stack Exchange staff could collect common questions that have already been posted around the network metas, especially over the last week, but there may be relevant concerns from earlier that are worth addressing.

  • Create a new, MSE post soliciting additional questions from the community. Seed it with a community wiki of the aggregated questions from previous posts

  • Stack Exchange hosts a livestream with leadership, with a public link for users to view. Maybe invite a few moderators to participate in the livestream as well so it can be a conversation.

  • Pair the livestream with either an SE chatroom or something like https://www.sli.do that lets the audience submit (and potentially vote on) follow-up questions in realtime.

  • Post a video and/or transcripts to meta afterwards as a public artifact.

  • I also suggest using a token system, where at most 3 questions can be answered with "unfortunately we cannot disclose information due to the sensitivity of the subject". Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:32
  • @AndrasDeak Thats kinda already their answer to all question I'm not sure a token system would change their minds Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:33
  • 6
    I like the idea of a meta post, in the same style as "Moderator Questions and Answers." You can probably dispense with the livestream for awhile, at least until things have cooled down a bit. I'm a bit worried that the community will see all this as a parlor trick, though; at the end of the day, the community wants to see change, not just more words.
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:46
  • Part of why I like the livestream bit is because I think it’ll take some time to plan and execute, which will give people time to cool off a bit. I also firmly believe this is a solution to be pursued in addition to - not instead of - better and deeper engagement with the community here on meta.
    – Laura
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:17
  • 1
    This sounds like a lot of humdrum for not a lot of result. Like, I think there's two big questions. One regards the CoC, one regards the relicensing. There's subquestions to that sure, but those concerns are well documented here and elsewhere. No reason to poll the community when the big questions are answerable here (in my opinion)
    – user622361
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:17
  • Exciting ideas! Please edit to change to "invite a few moderators (past and present) to participate." Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 8:07

My idea is similar to Laura's. I think it could work to create something similar to moderator elections:

A new question is created on Meta, where the "answers" are questions submitted by users. Other users upvote the questions they want to see answered. After a period of a week or so, the Q&A is locked.

However, instead of a livestream with a live chat, it might be better to create a new Meta post with the answers to the upvoted questions.

That way, there's a bit of a buffer, where overly-harsh or offensive questions are pushed to the bottom, and the ones the community most wants answered are the ones that actually get a response. Livestreaming it would open staff up to a lot of angry comments in realtime.

If there needs to be a follow-up round, there can be another post with the same process. I just personally don't think a live interaction would go very well, even if it could potentially resolve the situation more quickly. Also, even if the answers a pre-prepared, it's possible for the people reading the answers out live to misspeak or interject their own opinions without a review process.

Of course, the answers should definitely start with the questions that have already been asked and highly upvoted/discussed already. Compiling future questions into one Q&A, though, means Meta is a little less cluttered (not really the right word), and it's easy to browse through questions you might want to see answered.

  • I like how you want to create a Q&A as a question in a Q&A site about Q&A sites
    – Luis Rico
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 11:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .