Monica recently posted a question making her case to the community, she argued:

My patience is not infinite; the company has already dragged this out for nearly a month while harm continues to accrue. It is past time for a meaningful response. I remain available to discuss the matter. Please prioritize resolving this ongoing, painful, damaging situation in the very near future.

This yielded an answer which I thought wasn't in line with the Code of Conduct.

I think it was needlessly offensive to characterize negatively statements Monica may have made in the Teacher's Lounge, a place few of us are able to check to see if the statements are true. Furthermore, it made a very strong claim:

By Monica and her supporters taking the meta site hostage and the degree of vitriol that has poured out from this, is not the answer. It's created a hot bed for bigotry on the site. I am not calling Monica or her supporters bigots! - but this is the actual reality of what is occuring.

How I read it, that's saying Monica is partially responsible for creating a "hot bed [sic] for bigotry on the site".

For those reasons, I flagged the answer as rude or abusive, as did some others according to comments under the answer. These flags were declined within minutes. I then flagged a mod with a custom reason, trying to outline the reason I flagged the question. This flag too was declined within minutes:

enter image description here

The custom declination reason stated is:

This is Monica's question. If Monica didn't want to talk about Monica then maybe Monica shouldn't have posted a question about Monica.

I think this is very weird. Monica is a user who should be protected under the same Code of Conduct everyone else is. The Code of Conduct doesn't list exceptions for specific users or for users asking questions about their own situation.

Therefore, I am asking anyone who can shed light on this to take their time and answer thoughtfully. Why was this flag declined and why was this an appropriate rejection reason?

To add some background to my question, I think that a post, however personal, does not place it above the Code of Conduct. If there are parts that violate the Code of Conduct, I think those parts should be removed, which is why I flagged them, citing the Code of Conduct. These flags were handled in haste, I get that mistakes can be made in the heat of the moment. That is the reason I flagged a second time, but it seems to have been discarded immediately.

If that is the case, then anything goes. Where do we draw the line on attacking a user? Clearly that's why we have the Code of Conduct and it makes little sense to me to apply the Code of Conduct selectively. If it may be applied selectively as I understand some (e.g. in the flag declination) argue that, then please explain why that is okay and when that applies.

Even though the answer has since been deleted, the question on the handling of the flag stands.

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    The tone of that flag-decline message does not befit a person who has the power to wield such a moderation tool. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 2:34
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    My goal is actually to make my case to SE using the only on-site method of reaching them that I haven't tried yet. Email and "contact us" tickets didn't produce results and I've felt smacked down any time I tried to use the Tavern. I asked a focused question directed at SE; I didn't think that would be license for arbitrary attacks full of name-calling and worse. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 2:49
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    The post on Monica's Q is deleted. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 3:27
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    @Mari-LouA - Only due to the fact enough people flagged it for removal.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 3:31
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    I have not yet seen an answer that addresses that, unfortunately. I hope it will get an in-depth answer over time. I think it may help heal divisions in this community. fat chance of that happening in the near future. I am done here. Time for bed. It is nearly dawn where I am. G'nite. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 3:38
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    "Why was this flag on alleged Code of Conduct violations declined?" Because the moderator decided to decline it. And the moderator even provided you with the reason, which you quoted. I think you are really trying to say you disagree that the flag should have been declined. There is already a relevant FAQ that I think covers this case: What recourse do I have if I believe a moderator has abused their privileges?.
    – Raedwald
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 8:39
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    I think your question is therefore either a duplicate of that FAQ or simply should not be here at all, as that FAQ says to either flag for moderator attention or so send a message to SE.
    – Raedwald
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 8:42
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    More broadly, it is simply impractical to open a meta post for declined flags. There are so many flags, that would be madness. And a little sympathy and tolerance for the moderators would be nice too. In the current environment they have to deal with a lot of posts that are either rude/abusive, or are tacking very close to being so. In this environment, they will make some mistakes, and we should be giving them a pass for cases that are not conspicuously over the line.
    – Raedwald
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 8:46
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    @Raedwald "we should be giving them a pass" Not sure what you mean. Do you mean we should rather ignore them making mistakes or do you mean we should be generous and assume good intent as long as they apologize and rectify their mistakes? Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 9:16
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    @JJJ I should have said "In this environment, the moderators will make some mistakes, and we should be giving them a pass for cases that are near the border between acceptable and not acceptable."
    – Raedwald
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 9:12

3 Answers 3


I also flagged that answer, not because I disagree with its content (people are allowed to be wrong) but because of rudeness like:

I am not calling Monica or her supporters bigots! - but this is the actual reality of what is occuring.

"Oh no, not a bigot but I'll tie this bad stuff to you anyway". And then the post tries to tie me to an alt-right site as if I had anything to do with that.

stubborn refusal to respect other people

That one speaks for itself.

were in actual fact targeting and further marginalising a very small group of, already marginalised people

Accusation of malicious intent, concluded with "These are the facts".

By Monica and her supporters taking the meta site hostage

I ask you to stop hijacking Meta, and making many of the posts about you.

Hostage-taking and hijacking? Seriously? I've posted four times since this started.

if you really detest it so much, you can leave

Who said anything about detesting or hating?

In fact you led the outcry against this, both in the Teachers' Lounge (TL) and on the Moderator Teams site

There was no "outcry", and I answered a question on the team. Hardly leading or setting things in motion.

Another problem in this answer might not cross the "rude" line by itself, but the insinuation is problematic:

your continued debate over this one issue over a prolonged period caused issues

Um, that would be one conversation in June 2018, one answer to a question on the team asking what our policy should be (i.e. we didn't have it yet!), and the conversation in September 2019.

I asked a question, directed to SE, about two specific issues, with the other one (the public statements) being clearly the primary issue. SE has left me no other on-site ways to have a conversation with them. I don't think posting about this should legitimately open me up to personal attacks, particularly when an "answer" doesn't even touch the primary issue raised in the question.

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    "if you really detest it so much, you can leave" The irony here is astounding. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 14:01
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    When Stack Exchange decided on a public smear campaign, they not just violated your privacy in the obvious way, but also in a more subtle fashion. They took away your possibilty to just disengage and leave from you, since you used your real name and it's now linked to these false accusations. It should not be forgotten that SE forced you to speak about yourself by speaking about you first. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 14:18
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    I don't think flagging at all was the right tool here — no matter how people disagree and, as you dissect, are also factually wrong in the process, flagging isn't really going to work out well. This is meta and downvotes are for that kind of stuff. Answers like this that show point for point why the opinion is faulty and shouldn't hold sway are good, flagging it into deletion just perpetuates the mentality that started this whole circus fire. (+1 for everything you said here in rebuttal, -1 for not recognizing that the shoe has to fit on both feet before sanity can be restored around here.)
    – Caleb
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 14:57
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    @Caleb normally the remedy for a post that isn't wholly rude is to edit out the rudeness so the rest can stand. Given who it was I wasn't going to attempt to make that edit; I hoped the comments would elicit an edit from the author, but unfortunately that didn't happen. As I said, people are allowed to be wrong and we shouldn't delete stuff for that reason, but a certain threshold of civility must apply even in discussions such as this. Respectful disagreement is productive, but our attitude shouldn't be "anything goes". Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 15:03
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    'Respectful disagreement is productive, but our attitude shouldn't be "anything goes".' Unfortunately, SE set the tone for how to treat you. And so it's not just SE staff. I have witnessed myself how you were harassed and bullied in answers (many now deleted) and comments etc. Yet you always stay polite and respectful! Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 15:12
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    @MonicaCellio I'm not saying anything goes. But the fact that you can quote most of the worst bits of the post here in the process of refuting them shows that this was not a case of "anything". It was a case of "something" that reasonable people can sit here and debate (even if it's to shed light on why one party is wrong).
    – Caleb
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 15:14
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    Presumably, by "Monica and her supporters" OP wasn't referring to only you?
    – NPN328
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 0:36
  • @GrumpyCrouton That's been the SE MO for years. Before, at least, they had public approval to hide behind. Now there's only their shameful actions. Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 17:10

I had a similar (custom mod) flag pending, though I formulated it slightly differently. The post was deleted before my flag was handled. Now, my flag is marked as "helpful", not sure if it was marked that way automatically, or by one of Meta moderators.

As I expressed under Shog's post, I flagged the post because in my interpretation of CoC it violates:

Focus on the content, not the person.

The phrase

I ask you and your supporters to stop hijacking Meta, and making many of the posts about you. Other people are being hurt and apparently no one seems to care about that. I, personally have received more abuse over this than you have.

crosses the thin line for me, and is written to be perceived as a personal attack. I might be mistaken. But judging by this discussion, I am not the only one who sees that post (technically, a small part of it) in violation with CoC

enter image description here


  • I flagged the post before the discussion started.
  • I certainly never coordinated the flags with anybody.

The flagged post was certainly controversial, and it is not easy to make the right call. Especially, when there might be some evidence of coordinated flagging (I would hate to encounter that myself as a moderator). I would also hate it if I think that a post of mine is deleted via "red-flagging" due to a large group of people not agreeing with me.

To me, those two situations mixed up here. However, it does not make it less legitimate to edit part of the post that is in violation with CoC. Maybe, the deletion was too much.

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    Custom post flags aren't auto-resolved when a post is deleted, if my memory works. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 13:19
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    @DanielFischer That is correct. All other flags are subject to auto resolving, but custom flags never do, and they never expire either.
    – Magisch
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 13:20

I don't see any purpose to holding this discussion on meta. We built a process to handle it privately; if that isn't acceptable or doesn't work, then I have little faith a discussion here will matter. If it would be acceptable or will work, then this is a waste of time.

But, here we are. In public, open to all comers. You don't like the answer? Think it's wrong? Down-vote it. I can't rightly argue that personal statements are inappropriate in a thread about a person, posted by that person. They may be wrong, they may be inaccurate, but they aren't inappropriate merely because they are personal.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat, mostly for archival purposes. Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 3:39
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    For those who can't see it -- the voting currently stands at +55/-70. // I agree that a badly composed, badly reasoned, rude post needs to be downvoted, but not deleted outright only for those reasons. But Shog, what does the spaghetti-code Process that was imposed have to do with OP's question? // Question: how many hours per week are you currently putting in? Are you regularly having to work through your meal times? If so, that's a serious problem. It makes me worry about you, and about the network, and about the company. What can be done about your crazy workload? Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 5:58

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