I ran across the Stack Exchange seven years ago by sheer luck, after doing a Google search. I reckon a lot of us started here in a similarly accidental fashion.
One thing I noticed right away: SE was different from other sites – and not just because the Help Pages said so. I noticed how people were serious about keeping the quality of the site high. Questions that showed little to no research didn't fare very well; answers that were shallow (or worse yet, erroneous) were called out quickly. Discussions stayed largely civil, and lengthy discourse in comments were sometimes suddenly pruned or else would evaporate altogether. I liked the quality control and it kept me coming back.
I wouldn't expect a measurable effect after a week or two of bedlam. Individual moderators who chose to remain "at their post" might have a little more work to do (fewer hands make heavier work), but, as the saying goes, the show must go on.
That said, I get the feeling that many of the more active folks who make this such a great place have become disillusioned (I count myself among them). The risk of losing those folks for good is real.
An optimist might maintain that such losses, though sad, would eventually be overcome by other capable members who would likewise stumble onto the Stack Exchange one day and find a home here, eventually growing from casual users to moderator candidates. A pessimist might argue that it's possible for the Stack Exchange to lose a critical mass of people who are committed to keeping a particular Exchange in good working order. And then, who knows? It's conceivable that a broken window or two here and there will make this a less appealing neighborhood, and perhaps fewer who stumble by will opt to stay for very long.
This week's drama reminded me of a quote I learned in my high school English class: Paradise contains the seeds of its own decadence. Sooner or later all good things must come to an end. Collectively, we have enough tech in our blood to know that today's Stack Exchange could easily become yesterday's Netscape or MySpace.
I think one of the main reasons tensions ran so high this week is because Monica is such a well-known and respected member of the community. To be frank, I had never even heard of Sara Chipps before last week (I usually stay in my little corner of the Stack Exchange), but Monica was someone I had heard of before. Our interactions had been limited, but she had definitely earned my respect. Of this much I was certain: It's people like Monica who make the Stack Exchange great.
One of our own got mistreated, and the community acted in solidarity. So, are there any observable effects of a “strike”? If we are merely talking about review queues, flagged comments that should be answers, and deleting the drivel posted by drive-by spammers, probably not. Fortunately for us, we don't get a whole lot of vandalism requiring prompt intervention. But at least we got an improved apology (Version 2.0, if I might continue the tasteless analogy).
For me, though, it's less about striking moderators, and more about what motivates the foundation of the community to keep contributing. When we lose sight of what made us great in the first place, it's only a matter of time before that greatness diminishes.
Only time will tell.