269

Monica's demotion as a moderator was in the words of Stack Exchange's CTO a procedural error . The consensus among witnesses and users is that the faulty process resulted in an erroneous outcome. There was no reason to demote Monica.

Then there is a July podcast with the Director of public Q&A at Stack Overflow, Sara Chipps, in which she talks about a case resembling Monica's months before the demotion. Sara announces to be "not nice" in implementing gender policies — which, paradoxically, would be a clear violation of the code of conduct. In this context the situation leading to Monica's demotion looks like a setup to me, or at least a (poor) opportunity for stating an example noticed and taken. Monica was made a scapegoat, on Yom Kippur of all days.

While such a confrontation and injustice will afflict anybody who is invested in a community on Stack Exchange and spends a lot of time with the topics and people there, SE Inc. also talked publicly about the case, using Monica's name and accusing her of Code of Conduct violations. These public allegations, denied by Monica and all witnesses I have read from, have neither been substantiated nor retracted. The current situation is untenable:

  • SE Inc. acted in error, procedurally and factually;
  • SE Inc. has not responded in a timely and satisfying way;
  • SE Inc. gave wrong and damaging information about Monica to the press, using her name;
  • SE Inc. is not correcting the wrong public information.

How can we help Monica and show her support as a community?

  • 12
    Although I support Monica and her endeavours, I believe that posting a question and answer combo yourself to draw attention to the GoFundMonica is a little much for SE to tolerate. I hope I'm wrong and this stays up, but I have a feeling the almighty powers may strike this down. – Drew Oct 29 at 23:33
  • 3
    @Drew You know what they say about striking things down... – House- 'Reinstate Monica' -man Oct 29 at 23:51
  • 77
    If that podcast was referring to me then there are even more errors. The podcast talked about somebody who was misgendering people. I never did that. – Monica Cellio Oct 30 at 0:25
  • 5
    @MonicaCellio stay strong there. You're one of the sane ones :) – linuxandria Oct 30 at 0:27
  • 14
    The podcast doesn't appear to "[talk] about Monica's case months before the demotion", because Monica wasn't "misgendering another moderator", and none of the relevant events involving Monica happen "over the past few weeks" before the podcast was recorded, in late June/early July. That being so, consider reworking the second paragraph. I don't think drawing a direct link from the podcast to the demotion the way that paragraph does is helpful. – duplode Oct 30 at 2:15
  • 3
    Surely this is a duplicate. – Nobody Oct 30 at 4:09
  • 1
    @duplode This is how I understood it. Do you know who Sara was talking about if not Monica? Is there another case? – Peter - Reinstate Monica Oct 30 at 5:59
  • 6
    @Peter-ReinstateMonica While I can't point to a specific case, there have been, across several posts as well as in the Lavender Letter complaints about reports of other cases being made to SE and not being responded to in any visible manner. Anyway, with respect to the podcast neither picture nor chronology match. It seems prudent to not rely on a "setup" conjecture, specially given that it unwittingly reinforces the idea this case is about misgendering, and there are plenty of other reasons to criticize SE about it which are clear and substantiated. – duplode Oct 30 at 10:45
  • @duplode Changed the wording to "resembling". Whether or not it was Monica (who apparently had another "incident" at the beginning of the year, and we don't know when the podcast was recorded) ) is anybody's guess. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Oct 30 at 12:07
  • 2
    @duplode Btw, SE Inc. stated publicly: "Cellio (she/her) would not use stated pronouns, which violates our current CoC. We are soon publishing an update to the CoC to even more explicitly cite misgendering users or moderators as a violation." (Emphasis by me.) This is as much about alleged misgendering as it gets. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Oct 30 at 12:10
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica The podcast was released in July 3rd, and at one point the podcaster mentions a tweet from June 3rd, so it was recorded at some point between those dates. – duplode Oct 30 at 16:49
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Does repeatedly talking about Monica actually do her any good? – Rob Oct 31 at 3:15
  • 5
    [Edit: I don't think it's a dup with either of the questions mentioned in the comments. I'm not asking (directly) what we can do to make SE Inc. change their ways; nor am I asking whether keeping the topic up is a good thing. Instead I wondered what can be done to help Monica; promoting Monica's fund raiser is one answer.] -- Peter - Reinstate Monica – Robert Harvey Oct 31 at 16:51
  • 12
    What would you do if SE announced that they had no intent to rectify the matter, ever? Do it now. – Scott Hannen Nov 3 at 13:02

10 Answers 10

217

One way to show tangible, useful support is to contribute money to "defend Monica from defamation by Stack Overflow":

https://www.gofundme.com/f/stop-stack-overflow-from-defaming-its-users

  • 16
    Another way one can help would be to spread this link around, on twitter, or elsewhere. – House- 'Reinstate Monica' -man Oct 30 at 0:08
  • 9
    Twitter, reddit, your friendly neighborhood reporter – De Novo supports GoFundMonica Oct 30 at 0:22
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    I love Stack Overflow. I've never thought I would consider donating money to litigation against it... – Pluto Oct 30 at 0:33
  • 111
    @Pluto Donate because you love Stack Overflow. – House- 'Reinstate Monica' -man Oct 30 at 0:37
  • 7
    Does someone with graphic design skills want to make an image that could be used for a community ad? – Peter Taylor Oct 30 at 7:39
  • 15
    @Pluto Stack overflow needs a course correction, and this is a way towards that. Most of us really like the community, which is why we're doing this. – Magisch Oct 30 at 10:52
  • 15
    I love Stack Overflow, and hate to see it in decline, with the crazy decisions being made lately. It needs a major course correction. It's akin to Apple before Jobs returned. – Reinstate Monica Oct 30 at 13:33
  • 71
    So folks. We have gotten a few spam flags on this. They have been and will continue to be declined. This answer is entirely relevant to the question. If SO Inc decides it is inappropriate that may be a different story, but I consider leaving this post up in the community interest. – Journeyman Geek Nov 1 at 11:23
  • I would like to help Monica in this way, but since i am not an adult, means i don't have myself some money, i can't :(. We need to find other way to support her. – Where is our Monica Nov 7 at 23:19
  • 3
    Beware that SE may remove links to GoFundMe campaigns against it. – Raedwald Nov 14 at 15:16
  • 4
    @Raedwald I'm actually surprised that they didn't, and they earned like 1% of my respect back by hosting it. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Nov 14 at 15:44
  • 7
    @Pluto This is not Stack Overflow we are attacking here. It's the SE staff that is abusing its power from our free labor, to promote their political agenda. Stack Overflow (the encyclopedia and community) are victims to SE staff. – Fermi paradox Nov 18 at 8:58
158
+50

The best way to help Monica and the site itself is not to let this issue drop until a satisfactory resolution is reached. Keep the discussion going on meta, keep the altered name tags supporting Monica if that's what you're doing, keep yourself marked as inactive if that's what you're doing. Keep sharing the link to the gofundme appeal. Perhaps those with suitable first hand knowledge should ensure that the Register story comments contain suitable accurate rebuttals and clarifications, to help in setting the record straight.

If the company hopes it can continue to more-or-less ignore the issue until people forget about it and move on, let's prove them wrong. For without a satisfactory resolution to something as vital to the site as processes for control of moderation, how can there be any trust, and without trust we may as well go and set up a work-alike site not controlled by this company and all migrate there, and nobody wants to have to reach that point.

86
+100

You could publicise this interview with Monica Cellio on YouTube. The first 13 minutes or so are when she explains how the SE sites work. Then she tells her side of the story.

I was tempted to quote parts (because Monica so eloquently explains the situation). but I think it would do Monica a disservice. It's best to listen to the whole interview.

Personally, I thought her tone was objective and respectful. Her enthusiasm and optimism, despite all the events of the last month, shined through to me.

Here is an audio only version.

  • 42
    "I was tempted to quote parts" You should! Far more people will read a short partial transcript than listen to an hour-long podcast. – Leopold says Reinstate Monica Nov 2 at 17:15
  • 1
    Video is inconvenient for me, and the content is apparently predominantly audio anyway. Is there a place where I can get this as pure audio? I tried to look for a podcast but unfortunately there only seems to be one with almost the same name from 2018. – tripleee Nov 3 at 8:02
  • 5
    @tripleee Edited in an audio-only link. You can use youtube-dl to download only the audio of any youtube (and some other hosts) video. – Leopold says Reinstate Monica Nov 3 at 10:54
  • 26
    I can confirm, it was not a struggle in the least to listen to the interview, despite it being an hour long. Monica speaks clearly and very coherently. SE really shot themselves in the foot when they fired her. She was a huge asset to the site and a valuable member. – Mari-Lou A Nov 3 at 11:34
  • @LeopoldsaysReinstateMonica: I have tried and I may post my efforts later. But there is always the risk that, by taking out a few sentences, Monica may feel I have taken her out of context or others may misunderstand her intent. I may retry later. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Nov 3 at 13:44
  • 17
  • 4
    We're gathering momentum!. And now there are >130 of us. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Nov 7 at 12:35
  • @nvoigt - thank you for the bounty! – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Nov 17 at 12:06
  • 1
    @LeopoldsaysReinstateMonica That link appears to be dead, at least it doesn't work for me... – Erik Reinstate MonicA Nov 20 at 12:22
  • 1
    @ErikReinstateMonicA Can't reproduce. There was a github outage today, maybe it's fixed now? If not, try the http:// version instead of https://? – Leopold says Reinstate Monica Nov 20 at 19:33
47

This may be a very bad idea that makes things worse, but as I did not yet see it mentioned, I'm just throwing it out there for consideration.

SE very clearly is actively ignoring the hundreds of topics protesting the decision. For whichever reason they seem to take zero action to correct this wrong. They can do this because Meta has no true reach within the network itself, and even less outside of it. All this concentrated outrage here has little to no public PR effect.

Yet we've learned multiple times that they are highly sensitive to feedback from outside the network, where a single Tweet can lead to immediate and drastic action.

Knowing this, why not play the same game? Take the story to the press. But this time told from the opposite side. A giant case file is already there. Make sure its something with reach and flashy, like Buzzfeed.

I have to put up some giant disclaimers here:

  • If at all considered, it should be Monica's call to make as the outcome will affect her.
  • I do not necessarily think it's a good idea, more like a desperate idea, I cannot really oversee the outcome and effects. A potential option when all other options are running out.
  • It's not intended as an eye-for-an-eye action or activism. It is not intended to intentionally bring bad press to SE. Instead, the idea is to tell the full story as neutral as can be. A full story that was not told to the Register, as it was one-sided and fully controlled by corporate. Telling the community story is not bad press. It's just press. If SE prefers their conversations not here but in the press, well, let's have it?
  • 22
    I just want to emphasize your first point: if this becomes a media circus, it's going to tie Monica to this situation even more and make it even harder for her to move past this. If she wants to do that, then she has my support, but it should be her decision alone – divibisan Oct 31 at 0:29
  • 1
    @divibisan Fully agree. I generally would hope this idea is not needed and not even considered. The outcome is too uncertain. I'm posting it as PR seems to be the only thing SE responds to, nothing else seems to work. I hope this is dismissed and downvoted to hell. It is a nuclear option. I'm truly saddened that I felt the need to write it, it's entirely the result of a bizarre situation that could be resolved in no time if only willing. – Fer Oct 31 at 0:40
36

I think that What would be good "call to action" elements for "Reinstate Monica" profiles? lists the few "immediate low effort" things that users of the community can do: adapt their profiles, reach out into the public (for example by sharing links on FB, Twitter,...).

As already stated in the question, one can put the money where the talk is and contribute to Monica's GoFundMe campaign. You said it yourself, the key element is to reach out to as many people as possible.

Beyond that, I don't see much else. If you live in New York city, you might decide to do that real protest thing in front of their office building. Which would probably be a lonesome experience given that this is a global community, with not many members living in NYC. Of course, if you can turn such a protest into a media event, it might put plenty of real pressure on Stack Exchange Inc.!

In other words, our means are limited:

  • we can strive to make "non meta" community members aware of the situation
  • we can strive to create more public pressure

and that is about it.

  • 11
    I love the idea to drop by their headquarters and tell them that you are "unhappy with the overall situation". google alone has 7000 employees in NYC. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Oct 31 at 18:10
  • What do you mean by "available"? – aparente001 Nov 1 at 5:18
  • There's a problem with the first bullet point. "Available OF" is problematic. I'm not sure how to fix it because I don't perfectly understand what you're trying to say there. Maybe you mean "make them aware of the situation"? – aparente001 Nov 1 at 5:36
  • @J.R.means'JustReinstate' - I wasn't sure. If you feel confident, I'd encourage you to fix it with a small edit. – aparente001 Nov 1 at 5:39
  • @J.R.means'JustReinstate' - Once it's clear that the author is happy with the edit, I'm fine with deleting discussions of edits. // I do know that availability to travel to NYC was also on the author's mind -- so I'm not 100% sure. – aparente001 Nov 1 at 5:41
  • @J.R.means'JustReinstate' -What's the hurry? – aparente001 Nov 1 at 5:44
  • It seems that my comment creates a lot of confusion. Not sure how to else say what I meant, so I just deleted it. – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 1 at 6:18
32

Make sure at the next moderator election, candidates are aware of this case, so they know clearly the risks which are attended by a moderator's chair.

This may be foremost a good idea for helping others not to get into the line of fire of a press affair (at least if they don't want to). But I guess it could also help Monica, since the moderator exodus (and maybe future problems to restock moderator positions) is something I don't believe SE (Inc.) will completely ignore.

Without enough mods, the quality of certain sites will decrease. When quality decreases, the network will lose visitors, and when the network loses visitors, SE (Inc.) will lose revenue. So I guess if they do not want the next mod election to become a huge outrage, sooner or later SE (Inc.) will have to make a serious attempt to regain some trust, at least for their mods.

  • SE Inc. will easily ignore moderator exodus and also the quality drop. There's no indication that SO could reach shortage of moderator candidates anytime soon. Money isn't made on the Q+A part of the enterprise; SO is one of the very few iconic sites that are associated with money making parts of the enterprise; and external competition to SO isn't currently so strong that a potential drop in SO health could quickly translate to a drop in its relevance/popularity/market share. – Jirka Hanika Nov 25 at 9:51
30

We spread the news around, and we let everyone know what's happening

And we let SE realize how many people know what they did wrong.

22

I suggest editing the question to focus on the current phase of the Mess. (don't know what else to call it. Would welcome suggestions.)

By my reckoning, we are now in Phase III. Phase I was incredulity and very vocal outrage and an expectation that the onslaught of the peasants (us) carrying flaming torches up to Castle SE would cause the Powers That Be to reconsider and do something meaningful. Phase II was the realization that we had little effect. Phase III is now, with Monica taking legal advice.

And, by now, (almost) everything that can be said has been said several times. I'm sure someone can think of something new, but probably not much. Moreover, if we hope that Monica's legal strategy can prevail, we need to figure out how to let SE know that we are not going to go away, that our support is still strong, that we are not getting tired, but we shouldn't be inflammatory.

I don't know quite how to say this, but we need to have something like a cease-fire while still keeping the pressure on.

Most of the answers so far address this aspect (e.g., contributing to Monica's Fund, continuing with modified user names and modified profiles and proselytizing.) But, as for proselytizing, how? Perhaps a well-worded question on all the Meta sites?

Anyway, my suggestion is that the OP edit their question to incorporate some of these suggestions.

  • 13
    Most of the activity has been here on main meta, but most people don't come here. Proselytizing (as you put it) and calls for action probably need to go to where the people are -- in our communities, person to person, in chat or on meta or wherever people connect. Think about elevator pitches for people who haven't heard about it; what are the key things you want them to know, and are they readily available in a link somewhere or do you need to build something? Each community is different, but we know our own communities and can take that knowledge into account. – Monica Cellio Nov 8 at 3:09
  • I think they are trying to bury what all happened by a new update: valuable question upvote. – Where is our Monica Nov 13 at 23:43
  • @WhereisourMonica, They could always simply squash meta.SE entirely. My ongoing question though is whether or not they're afraid this would then bleed onto the more populated groups. – tgm1024--Monica was mistreated Nov 21 at 2:24
17

If you see an advertisement on an SE site, contact the company and ask if their advertisement means they support the slander of volunteers and/or the abuse of Creative Commons licensing.

Stack Overflow is doing me ongoing harm; it's time to fix it!

Was the retroactive change to CC BY-SA 4.0 approved by Stack Exchange's lawyers?

-9

The worst thing to do now is would be spreading news around.

As we spread the news about Monica, we always give the press more information to discuss her, and that’ll hurt her even more, with articles like "Fair actions of Stack Overflow annoyed its users" and so on.

I'm not saying we should do nothing.

SE acted in error. They don't respond in a timely and satisfying way. They gave wrong and damaging information about Monica to the press, using her name BUT those who are really interested in this topic should have visited Meta at least once, right? And they know what's really happening around.

We're not kids and we do understand that any incorporation acts in purpose of profit. Open for example the Sara Chipps's latest question and you'll see:

1) Unbelievable record of downvotes of all times on SE.
2) 50 responses from users who see what's really happening.


Isn't that a helping hand already from thousands of users? We see the problem, we discuss it together in SE Meta posts and we respond critically to any SE Inc. action and make them have the right decisions. We help Monica and show her support as a community. That's how the war of community and the management works.

The press? This occasion will be forgotten in a few weeks. Those who are interested will always find the right information. Those who are not, won't be even checking out what's happening on SE.

  • 10
    …says the chap with a "Reinstate Monica" avatar and moniker. Color me confused. – Caleb Nov 9 at 8:41
  • @Caleb ...and that's why I don't wan't to harm Monica. – Ver Nick says Reinstate Monica Nov 9 at 8:48
  • 3
    “The words of this wizard stand on their heads. In the language of Orthanc help means ruin, and saving means slaying, that is plain.” — Gimli, speaking of Saruman in The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. – Caleb Nov 9 at 9:04
  • @Caleb Unfortunately, that's not the case we're in. – Ver Nick says Reinstate Monica Nov 9 at 9:09
  • 1
    I don't care about downvotes. – Ver Nick says Reinstate Monica Nov 9 at 12:05
  • 4
    This answer is extremely confusing and could be improved by adding, like, 3-4 paragraphs of clarification. – Leopold says Reinstate Monica Nov 9 at 12:35
  • @LeopoldsaysReinstateMonica I think I will. – Ver Nick says Reinstate Monica Nov 9 at 14:05
  • Ok, the edit is done, enjoy. – Ver Nick says Reinstate Monica Nov 10 at 20:53
  • 3
    "BUT those who are really interested in these topic should have visited Meta at least once, right? And they know what's really happening around." - No, I don't think so. A potential employer might not care about SE at all when googling a name, but reading "was removed as mod from big platform because of" that's definitely not a nice thing, for some it might be an immediate dealbreaker. In that moment it would be good to also find some other articles via google which say how unjust SEs move was. – Philipp Nov 10 at 21:11
  • @Philipp By searching "stack exchange act an error", the second link is "An apology to our community, and next steps". That's actually not good, but I'm not sure where should we write articles and make them interesting so people would read them. – Ver Nick says Reinstate Monica Nov 11 at 6:55
  • 12
    Yeah, SE is getting good press because "they apologized", except they didn't really -- they said some words but didn't follow through to repair the damage, and look closely at what they did and didn't apologize for. Timing yes, defamation no, and while they mentioned the utter lack of due process they said they're sticking with it anyway. – Monica Cellio Nov 11 at 16:04
  • @MonicaCellio They did, yes, and they didn't repair the damage. I completely agree with that. The problem is that none of the users have enough popularity to write an article and disprove "apologies" so that the press would see it. Well, except for Jon Skeet, but he's not into this much. – Ver Nick says Reinstate Monica Nov 11 at 20:43
  • they apologized, but they didn't do what they should do after the apology, which is fix the problem, and restore the clam, healthy community. – Where is our Monica Nov 13 at 23:40
  • 2
    They successfully boil the community, but they don't cool it down. – Where is our Monica Nov 13 at 23:41
  • 1
    Their plan of ignoring-everything will sooner or later work though. 1. Most people don't come here. 2. The other sites I've been to have no chatter about this at all other than name changes. 3. Nearly all the moderators who quit will ask for their job back as they realize that their personal identity was wrapped in being a moderator and the power that goes along with it. It's already happened to a significant degree. Gotta LOVE this excuse: "I came back to help the community". Riiiiiiiight. – tgm1024--Monica was mistreated Nov 21 at 2:28

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