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I am sort of an outsider to all of this, and apologize in advance if this is a duplicate (but I could not find this question).

I have a very simple-minded question. Let us assume that the company apologizes, and reinstates Monica. Needless to say that, given what I believe to know, this would be a step in the right direction. However, I keep wondering if this should be the only goal.

To see where I am coming from, consider the following "trick": if a company wants their employees to work one hour more, there will announce everyone needs to work two hours more (unpaid, of course). The employees will resist, and after some heated discussions the company will "give in" and "only" ask for one hour more, and everyone is happy. Great trick.

To me it seems that the current situation is a bit similar. The company treats users and moderators in an unprecedented way, and their actions against Monica appear only to be the tip of the iceberg. Once she is back, everything is great? We go back to business as usual?

I would like to argue that one should not only focus on reinstating one moderator (I am not in any way suggesting to drop this demand!) but rather demand structural changes such that this story cannot repeat itself. That is, IMHO the community should make much more far-reaching demands. In particular, certain checks and balances seem to be required such that the, arguably arbitrary, behavior of a single powerful entity cannot damage the reputation or well-being of another person (beyond repair).

Since this is a Q & A site, my question: are there any proposals to establish checks and balances, or other means, that prevent situations like the current one from reoccurring? If so, what are the concrete proposals?

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    In one sense, this has already happened: there is now a procedure in place to ensure that no moderators are fired without cause. Of course, maybe we don’t trust that SE will follow that fairly. But, then, what exactly are you expecting? Should SE become a user-owned Co-op? That would be amazing, but I feel like you’re vastly overestimating our influence here – divibisan Oct 28 at 2:37
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    Or maybe I’m just being cynical – divibisan Oct 28 at 2:47
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    @divibisan Thanks for your feedback! My question is really just a question (and conceivably a hook for a discussion on this). However, "no moderators are fired without cause" seems to be a bit vague, one can always find a "cause", and as long as there are no independent entity who decides that the "cause" justifies the action, arbitrary actions may continue. – Schrödinger's cat Oct 28 at 2:47
  • I guess that’s what I’m trying to get at. What are we looking for? If we’re looking for new rules and procedures, then SE seems to be listening and we’re actually making progress on this front. But if you don’t trust SE, then it seems a lot harder to imagine a real solution – divibisan Oct 28 at 3:09
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    Oh agreed; this is one step among many that must be taken. Retracting the defamatory statements is even more important than reinstating me (though they should do that too). But deeper problems got us here in the first place and must be addressed. – Monica Cellio Oct 28 at 3:14
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    Ironically, and unsurprisingly, they are in superposition. – Rob Oct 28 at 3:55
  • I think I get that the sentiment around the network is that this proposal to establish checks and balances for both moderator removal and reinstatement doesn't satisfy...but...I would qualify this question as a duplicate of that one, since, well, yeah, there is a proposal, and it is intended to prevent a situation like this from happening again. – Makoto Oct 28 at 6:12
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    @Rob Are you confusing "superstition" with "superposition"? MEOW ;-) – Schrödinger's cat Oct 28 at 16:06
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    Whom could resist the 😸 – Rob Oct 28 at 16:08
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    put on hold as primarily opinion-based The question asks what proposals exist "to establish checks and balances". I'm aware of two proposals with that specific goal that already existed when the question was written. That's not really opinion-based. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Oct 28 at 16:44
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    @divibisan: It's a very common negotiating tactic to ask for what you really want even if you don't think there is any chance you will get it. Sometimes you're wrong about what they are willing to give you, and even if you aren't, you are likely to get more of what you want when you and the other party find a compromise. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Oct 28 at 18:47
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    Completely unrelated, but I love your bio. – weakdna says reinstate monica Oct 28 at 19:27
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Since this is a Q & A site, my question: are there any proposals to establish checks and balances, or other means, that prevent situations like the current one from reoccurring? If so, what are the concrete proposals?

I'm aware of two proposals:

This question proposes that SE be split into a for-profit company and a non-profit run by the community. The non-profit would then be the for-profit's biggest customer, but the for-profit wouldn't be involved with the non-profit's policies1.

This answer proposes that moderators and non-moderator users be given seats on the the SE board of directors.This is similar to the practice of co-determination in some countries.


1: and politics!

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    Thanks for the feedback! (I can't help remarking that in the old days universities were created to collect and share the knowledge. So one may be worried that so many things that are crucial for our society are now in the hands of entities driven by commercial interests... but this is an opinion, of course. ;-) – Schrödinger's cat Oct 28 at 18:21
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    I was hoping the answer was different, i.e. some more concrete proposals to make sure that the story cannot repeat itself but it is what it is and the answer summarizes the status. Thanks! – Schrödinger's cat Nov 9 at 15:39
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Yep, there's proposals, most notably the two moderator letters.

The first moderator letter was a broader commentary on the situation, and therefore doesn't make as many specifically actionable requests. The biggest thing it asks for is more engagement between the community and the SE team, though it also asks for moderator protections so a Monica situation doesn't happen again and moderators feel safe on the network. (Read the letter in full to get a better idea.)

If you were to make an actionable proposal on this section, it would be either some scheduled way to have SE and the community talk more easily and personally (I know someone suggested the reinstatement of town hall meetings) or some sort of accountability method for SE (I have no idea how this would work or what form this would take).

The second moderator letter, or the Lavender letter makes, imo, several much more specific requests, namely

  1. We ask that Stack Exchange, Inc does more to pay attention to the complaints and requests of the LGBTQ+ community and does more to ensure that rules are properly applied such that LGBTQ+ people are treated with the same respect everyone should be treated with.
  2. We ask that the consequences for not respecting members of the community be more explicit, and be consistently carried out. Too many times have transphobic or homophobic comments gone by with no response from the Community Team, leaving LGBTQ+ individuals to explain their own validity again and again and again.
  3. Moderating is hard, and the LGBTQ+ community has been underrepresented in media for long enough that many moderators do not know how to handle some specific situations. Some moderators have requested sensitivity training. This would help those who work so hard on behalf of the Stack Exchange community to receive the support and guidance they need to carry out their duties.

The letter also suggests directly talking with members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The biggest and most immediately actionable proposal there is sensitivity training for moderators. An extension of moderator tools would also not go amiss; tools like these have been known to be lacking for a while (look through the tag and see how many of the questions start with 'moderators should be able to ...').

There's also proposals other than the moderator letters, which I'm editing to add as I find them:


The biggest thing reinstating Monica would indicate is that SE is willing to communicate with the community again, and since communication is at the basis of all these problems, that would be a very good first step. It's also important that the person who has had (some of) the most real life implications from this situation get that resolved quickly as to minimize damage to her personal life, which is why so many are pushing for a quicker resolution.

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    Combine letters with ton of previously requested changes (which may've not in the letters) to make a somewhat To-Do list would be critical, if things are gonna turn on to good path.. then obviously, taking action.. – Vishwa Oct 28 at 3:29
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    LGBTQ+ and pronoun issues are, with due respect, the red herring in recent events, and particularly regarding Monica's dismissal. Those proposals are therefore orthogonal to resolving the issues we're having, at best; and at worst they give excuses to penalize or villify recalcitrant users. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Oct 28 at 15:54
  • I hope it doesn't get lost that Monica uses her real name there. Her name was in the press in a not so nice way. – Mister Positive Oct 28 at 18:51

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