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.

Update: It took them a while and in my opinion Sara Chipps continues exposing the patronizing, unprofessional and unwelcoming attitude which has shown in every contribution I have seen from her, but

  • SE Inc. has come to an agreement with Monica Cellio.

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

I let the question stand for now. I find the agreement lacking. In particular, since the demotion was made in error, Monica should not be asked to re-apply; she should be re-instated instead.

  • 13
    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
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 23:33
  • 3
    @Drew You know what they say about striking things down...
    – user245382
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 23:51
  • 96
    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. Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 0:25
  • 6
    @MonicaCellio stay strong there. You're one of the sane ones :)
    – unixandria
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 0:27
  • 16
    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
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 2:15
  • 3
    Surely this is a duplicate.
    – user310756
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 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? Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 5:59
  • 7
    @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
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 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. Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 12:07
  • 4
    @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. Commented Oct 30, 2019 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
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 16:49
  • Possible duplicate of Firing mods and forced relicensing: is Stack Exchange still interested in cooperating with the community?
    – user168476
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 0:42
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Does repeatedly talking about Monica actually do her any good?
    – Rob
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 3:15
  • 6
    [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
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 16:51
  • 17
    What would you do if SE announced that they had no intent to rectify the matter, ever? Do it now. Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 13:02

10 Answers 10


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


Monica has come to an agreement with SE and has stopped her fundraising.

Somewhat related is a fundraiser to literally pay respect to former SE employee Shog9 who was let go not too long ago, initiated by George Stocker. The community's reaction to his firing (as I assume) shows the hurt SE is willing to deal to the community for the ongoing course direction, presumably towards a larger, more profitable company.

The Monica Cellio affair was no isolated event.

  • 17
    Another way one can help would be to spread this link around, on twitter, or elsewhere.
    – user245382
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 0:08
  • 9
    Twitter, reddit, your friendly neighborhood reporter
    – De Novo
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 0:22
  • 32
    I love Stack Overflow. I've never thought I would consider donating money to litigation against it...
    – Pluto
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 0:33
  • 116
    @Pluto Donate because you love Stack Overflow.
    – user245382
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 0:37
  • 7
    Does someone with graphic design skills want to make an image that could be used for a community ad? Commented Oct 30, 2019 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
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 10:52
  • 16
    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. Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 13:33
  • 76
    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. Commented Nov 1, 2019 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.
    – okie
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 23:19
  • @PeterTaylor see Place community ads on as many sites as possible. Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 14:43
  • 3
    Beware that SE may remove links to GoFundMe campaigns against it.
    – Raedwald
    Commented Nov 14, 2019 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. Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 15:44
  • 8
    @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.
    – user
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 8:58

UPDATE 2020-01-27

Monica has just posted this on Worldbuilding meta announcing that she is leaving the site for good, and highlighting further disturbing staffing developments. For the reasons I have outlined in the answer I wrote to Monica's post at the link above, I have decided that I can no longer contribute to the site. I am therefore updating this answer. I do not think the measures I previously suggested have helped: I do not feel SO has any interest in getting rid of the toxic atmosphere its actions have created. Therefore my recommendation is now that the best thing to do is to find another site for your Q&A activities. I plan to keep an eye on Codidact, hopefully the worldbuilding community will migrate there once the coding is complete, and hopefully you will all find suitable sites for your own Q&A activities. But I no longer recommend hoping that SO will "come good": this now feels very starkly like the slow-motion death of a set of communities.

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.

  • 1
    This is bad news, not the one I hoped for: Monica slowly earning back her mod diamonds. Very sad. Very disappointing for us, for everyone in her communities especially. Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 16:48
  • 2
    slowly? earning? when they were too-hastily removed with insufficient cause? Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 20:17
  • @AprilSalutesMonicaC. - I can't speak for Mari-Lou, but for myself, I was hoping that she would gradually get reinstated, and what I had in mind, when saying "gradually," was that I was envisioning her dipping one toe in the water by requesting reinstatement in one site, and seeing how it went, before requesting reinstatement at another site. Or, perhaps she would participate in an election, and see how that went. I miss her. Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 6:23
  • 5
    @April I echo aparente's explanation. Before Shog9's firing, I even harboured the extremely remote possibility, that someone higher up would invite George Stoker, and Robert Harvey, back as moderators . With Shog9, Robert Cartaino and Jon Ericson gone, and now Monica joining them, as far as I'm concerned, the protests and any hope of persuading SE to reconsider their policy and strategy is over. I could not have come up with a worse ending. Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 7:47
  • Also note that Monica clearly refused to partake in any further affairs of SE, and similarly, Shog and Robert. They have the right to refuse. Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 16:09

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.

  • 49
    "I was tempted to quote parts" You should! Far more people will read a short partial transcript than listen to an hour-long podcast. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 17:15
  • 2
    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
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 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. Commented Nov 3, 2019 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. Commented Nov 3, 2019 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. Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 13:44
  • 17
  • 4
    We're gathering momentum!. And now there are >130 of us. Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 12:35
  • 1
    @LeopoldsaysReinstateMonica That link appears to be dead, at least it doesn't work for me...
    – Erik A
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 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://? Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 19:33

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?
  • 23
    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
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 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
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 0:40

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.

  • 1
    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. Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 9:51

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. And unfortunately, in retrospective, nothing like that did have any visible effects.


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.


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.

  • 14
    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. Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 3:09
  • I think they are trying to bury what all happened by a new update: valuable question upvote.
    – okie
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 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. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 2:24

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?


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.

  • 12
    …says the chap with a "Reinstate Monica" avatar and moniker. Color me confused.
    – Caleb
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 8:41
  • @Caleb ...and that's why I don't wan't to harm Monica.
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 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
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 9:04
  • @Caleb Unfortunately, that's not the case we're in.
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 9:09
  • 1
    I don't care about downvotes.
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 12:05
  • 4
    This answer is extremely confusing and could be improved by adding, like, 3-4 paragraphs of clarification. Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 12:35
  • @LeopoldsaysReinstateMonica I think I will.
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 14:05
  • Ok, the edit is done, enjoy.
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 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
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 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
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 6:55
  • 13
    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. Commented Nov 11, 2019 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
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 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.
    – okie
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 23:40
  • 2
    They successfully boil the community, but they don't cool it down.
    – okie
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 23:41
  • 5
    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. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 2:28

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