Specifically, looking at this answer posted on:

What did Monica do to violate the CoC?

(Wayback Machine link for users without 10k)

It is accurate, contains references for all cited information, and is a true representation of what happened. The most up-voted answer is... Misleading at best.

This makes discussion and resolution of the issue impossible, because accurate information is systemically suppressed by users of Meta. Answers are voted down, questions and closed and even deleted.

What can be done to prevent this and get the facts out there for debate?

  • 4
    I've actually flagged that as "VLQ". It lacks proper research or sources, so the quality of that answer is... Debatable. I know it's not the traditional interpretation of "Quality", but what the heck, times are changing.
    – Cerbrus
    Nov 5, 2019 at 9:46
  • 20
    How is it accurate? It makes some remarkable jumps in logic. For example, Monica's "There are multiple ways to avoid misgendering people, and all of these should be allowed" is translated as "I am opposed to preferred gender pronouns".
    – Gloweye
    Nov 5, 2019 at 9:49
  • 1
    Oh, the linked answer. I've flagged that one. It's nothing the OP here claims it to be.
    – Cerbrus
    Nov 5, 2019 at 9:52
  • 16
    @user, but you haven't been misled in the slightest, right? Nov 5, 2019 at 9:52
  • 9
    Do you have a source for that? Because that's not what all my sources say. AFAIK, her point of view was "I normally write in such a way that pronouns aren't needed. Would that still be allowed?" And in response to that she was de-modded. She NEVER said that she'd only use "them".
    – Gloweye
    Nov 5, 2019 at 9:53
  • 4
    @user: That's a bit of a stretch though... It doesn't contain any lies or misinformation, and no dubious sources. It's drawing conclusions from publicly available information.
    – Cerbrus
    Nov 5, 2019 at 9:54
  • 10
    The answer posted by bobobobo, and cited in the OP, has been deleted. As much as I disagreed with its author, I think the post served a purpose, it showed how some people interpret the removal of M.Cellio, it shows what they base that view on (the article in The Register) but it also shows the support of the community and the general consensus that the answer was partisan and showed no evidence, only a citation from an online paper. Nov 5, 2019 at 10:12
  • 3
    I agree that the answer shouldn't have been deleted. It's a great example of how people can continue to believe misinformation and making...silly... jumps in logic to support pre-existing viewpoints. And the downvotes show that the community in general disapproves of unsupported accusations in that manner.
    – Gloweye
    Nov 5, 2019 at 10:14
  • 10
    Moreover, we cannot complain to the team or to the staff when they delete posts critical of their actions and accuse them of censorship. I mean, if people don't realise the irony in that... Bobobobo's answer was not crude, derogatory, it didn't have offensive terms, the language expressed was civil. The post was objectionable and clearly one sided, which means you downvote it, you don't delete it. Nov 5, 2019 at 10:28
  • 14
    @user000001 I find the monica-gate tag to be offensive, sexist and demeaning. I associated Monicagate with the Bill Clinton scandal back way back in the 90s, which I suppose shows off my age but if I look online...I find the relevant Wiki page. Nov 5, 2019 at 11:38
  • 3
    @user000001 then post a suggestion here meta.stackexchange.com/questions/337237/… rather than doing it single handedly and without the community's consensus. Nov 5, 2019 at 11:50
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA Done. I haven't seen that topic before, thanks for letting me know about it.
    – user000001
    Nov 5, 2019 at 12:01
  • 26
    @user Monica didn't propose to use "they" instead of the stated pronoun, that is an entirely wrong statement. And while the situation is very complex, this is not one of the aspects that is controversial, any moderator can confirm that your statement is wrong. Nov 5, 2019 at 12:24
  • 15
    Thank you for this single-handed demonstration of why the claims against Monica are slanderous. Nov 5, 2019 at 13:14
  • 3
    The systemic lies are that Monica violated the CoC. Nov 8, 2019 at 4:33

5 Answers 5


What can we do about systemic lies regarding Monica's suspension?

She's not suspended. She was de-modded. Which I'm going to use to make a point instead of correcting it with an edit: We need to be careful what we say about this situation, the words we use, and the things we focus future discussion/debate/support efforts on.

I think Tim's answer on the question you're talking about sums it up pretty nicely: We don't discuss these things publicly. Many ships have sailed, including the one where SE kept their own advice and wouldn't have supplied comments to the press under this age old adage. But here we are.

There's a big part of this that's gone public, and that part consists of conflicting reports of the events (what SE so far has said publicly is contradicted by Monica). But we need to remember that even more may still be private, and falling under SE's policy of not discussing suspensions/demoddings publicly.

What can be done to prevent this and get the facts out there for debate?

What we can to to stop lies and misinformation from spreading further is to keep in mind the facts (that X was said by Monica or SE about the situation), and avoid putting our own interpretations of what was said over these, turning cold hard facts into subjective interpretations. We need to keep in mind that there's two conflicting reports out there already, and when talking about these things we should be careful to make sure our readers know both.

I feel bad about 'get the facts out there for debate'. Too much of this has already gone public and done (irreparable?) damage, and I hate to think what might happen in the future when we make 'getting the facts out there' the new standard in these situations. We're probably best off making do with the facts that are out there now, and respecting that parts are going to be kept private from now on. It's not ideal, it outright sucks (even for me, I'd love to know more too)... but it can at least give me some hope and a sense of security that if anything ever happens to me or others, we won't end up mangled by the MSE rumor mill.

  • The deleted answer quoted an article from an online publication, the author of said answer then gave their interpretation that led to the demodding. But that is precisely what the news does every day that's how they broadcast news to the public. If Stack Exchange does not release the script(s) which shows why a person suddenly and without warning lost moderating privileges to six sites, the speculation will continue. As a mod yourself, don't you have access to the TL transcript? Haven't you seen it? I don't understand why you would add (even for me, I'd love to know more too). Nov 5, 2019 at 12:36
  • 3
    Cause even when you have access to all we see, the truth is still something debated repeatedly. And a lot of what happened and was said isn't in that transcript I suspect. Nov 5, 2019 at 12:41
  • @Mari-LouA we (the mods) don't even know the truth. The only truth is a private conversation between Monica and SE, and we don't know about its truth, only "SE said, Monica said". Nov 5, 2019 at 12:44
  • 4
    @Mari-LouA I've seen the TL transcripts, yes :) But what others here have said: I only have my own interpretation of those, and the truth might not be what I see there as stuff might be missing. I'd still would love to know about the bits that seem to not be there, the stuff that might be even more private than TL. At the same time, I respect that this stuff is so private, as that makes me hope I can expect the same protection would I ever need it.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 5, 2019 at 12:45
  • @MetaAndrewT. if it's "SE said, Monica said" isn't that in the realm of a private discussion? What is said confidentially, doesn't then get to be broadcast across the network and on the internets. It's on Reddit, Hacker news, etc. What could be more simple? Monica says in private and in public: "Show me the violations", SE replies: "OK, if this is what you have repeatedly asked for. Here it is ____" Done. SE shows they acted in good faith. Nov 5, 2019 at 12:53
  • 25
    This "privacy policy" is not protecting her, it's covering SE up and making stuff worse for Monica. One can keep and solve problems in private, thats how it should be done - but not go to the public, badmouth a person, and then insist on privacy. I don't see how anyone could be ok with SE's policy in this specific case.
    – Philipp
    Nov 5, 2019 at 12:53
  • @Mari-LouA and I've been very, very skeptical about anything that is reported on here and outside there. While I'm also disappointed with the sudden sacking (and I tried to pinpoint the reason, was answered, but said irrelevant to the issue), I don't want to pick any side instantly and believe anything that's been said. Nov 5, 2019 at 12:57
  • 1
    Thanks. This is by far the best answer so far.
    – user
    Nov 5, 2019 at 14:48
  • 8
    You don't discuss things publicly? I guess the press isn't considered public, eh?
    – user316129
    Nov 5, 2019 at 15:19
  • 7
    @RichardsaysReinstateMonica Many ships have sailed, including the one where SE kept their own advice and wouldn't have supplied comments to the press under this age old adage. Beat you to it...
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 5, 2019 at 15:23
  • 7
    @RichardsaysReinstateMonica Also, Tink is not an employee of SE. She's an appointed moderator on MSE.
    – Magisch
    Nov 5, 2019 at 15:25
  • 14
    Even if there's good reasons not to make the facts public, at least SE should inform Monica what she said that supposedly violated the CoC. And for the record, I haven't seen any SE employee ever contest that and claim that they DID show her what violated the CoC.
    – Gloweye
    Nov 5, 2019 at 15:27
  • 5
    @Gloweye indeed. SE is trying to have it both ways, hiding behind "we don't discuss it", while at the same time, running to the press. Translation: "We don't discuss it, unless it is to drag someone, and then we'll hide behind our policy." Since the damn cat is out of the bag, FULL DISCLOSURE TIME
    – user316129
    Nov 5, 2019 at 15:57
  • 3
    @Richard, they can't. If SE is to blame in this matter, it would be admission of guilt. And even if SE is not to blame and the various discussions contain overwhelming evidence against Monica, there are other users involved in these discussions that may suffer from them being made public. Nov 5, 2019 at 16:19
  • @FrédéricHamidi it will all come out when the lawsuit enters the discovery phase. And, as Ben Franklin wrote "Do not do what you would not have known". If people acted poorly, it should be known.
    – user316129
    Nov 5, 2019 at 17:25

The linked answer has just been deleted, but can (currently) be viewed here https://web.archive.org/web/20191105085319/https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/335373/what-did-monica-do-to-violate-the-coc#answer-337557. It contained:

  • A quote from the article on The Register that repeated the statement made by the StackOverflow Inc. director who sacked Monica. This statement claimed Monica broke the CoC, but did not clearly explain in what way it was breached. The answer treated the director's statement as objective proof that the CoC was in fact breached.
  • A quote from a Wikipedia page explaining what preferred gender pronouns are.
  • Another quote from the Register article. The answer claimed the quote, "there are multiple ways to avoid misgendering and we should not require a specific one", was from Monica and represented her position. The answer then claims that this quote demonstrates opposition to preferred gender pronouns. That claim appears to misrepresent Monica's position (she, like many professional writers, habitually avoids all pronouns in formal writing where possible, for clarity). It also misrepresents the current CoC, in which it is clarified that "You can often avoid using pronouns altogether" and that there is no rule against writing that naturally doesn't contain pronouns so long as it is not singling out particular users or groups, while moderators, who are held to a higher standard, are not allowed to "conspicuously" avoid using pronouns they "find uncomfortable".
  • A long quote from some blogger completely unrelated to Monica or this situation, who was writing against preferred gender pronouns. It was strongly implied, without any evidence, that Monica was somehow in agreement with this completely unrelated blogger.

I didn't vote to delete the answer because I think it's useful to see concrete proof of how the unsubstantiated public allegations StackOverflow Inc have made are causing ongoing damage to Monica's reputation.

The user who posted the answer was active on many SE sites, with nearly 10k reputation here and nearly 40k on Stack Overflow. In the comments, the user said they trusted what was printed in The Register because it's a long-standing news site and has many Twitter followers.

The answer was clearly not what it's billed as in this question. It repeated an allegation, treating the allegation as proof of guilt, then appeared to try to tar Monica by association with completely unrelated individuals.

  • 1
    I've added a Wayback Machine link which shows the answer just before it was deleted.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Nov 5, 2019 at 10:21
  • 2
    @Glorfindel do you see the absurdity? Vote to delete a post but then provide a link in the question so that everyone can see the deleted answer. So, undelete it if you're going to show everyone what it was. P.S I don't have enough rep to cast an undelete vote. Nov 5, 2019 at 10:32
  • 2
    Yes, that was deliberate. There's no need to show that answer to casual users of the site, but it's important enough to show it to users who are really interested in the matter.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Nov 5, 2019 at 10:34
  • @Glorfindel you have to be logged on to SE to see the Wayback archive page? I didn't know that. Nov 5, 2019 at 10:54
  • 2
    And a screenshot as well in case wayback machine doesn't work or too slow: i.sstatic.net/8o8Vy.png Nov 5, 2019 at 11:53
  • 2
    " It also misrepresents and the current CoC, in which it is clarified that there is no rule against Monica's preferred approach." This is not correct. For moderators there are different rules and they must use stated pronouns see M2 Nov 5, 2019 at 13:14
  • 1
    @HerMajestyQueenofARC That says moderators shouldn't be "conspicuously avoiding using pronouns" in the context of "pronouns I find uncomfortable", when "it isn't feasible to avoid pronouns". It doesn't say that if a post doesn't require pronouns it should be written so as to conspicuously shoehorn some in, which is what I believe the initial disagreement was about. Nov 5, 2019 at 14:00
  • 2
    'In the comments, the user said they trusted what was printed in The Register because it's a long-standing news site and has many Twitter followers.' - Yikes, the first I can understand but the second? Hard pass. The number of followers does not determine your credibility or the validity of your statements. There is an abundance of proof of this already out there.
    – Script47
    Nov 5, 2019 at 14:16
  • Same this is said for regular users, but for moderators there is also "As a moderator, you're held to a higher standard and are expected to set a positive example" so that implies that they must use pronouns. Otherwise there would be no difference. Nov 5, 2019 at 14:36
  • 6
    My take on the FAQ is that SE wanted to justify firing Monica, even though she as professional writer can write in gender neutral way, without using pronouns. To do that they needed to use "positive example for moderators". They had to relax a FAQ for regular users even though it is still full of holes because clearly nobody can say what conspicuously actually means and how can be determined that particular user didn't wrote some sentence in natural way. Nov 5, 2019 at 14:42

The same thing you do with answers containing misinformation:

You downvote it.

But what do we know? Who are we to say what is and isn't a lie, until all cards are put on the table? Who's to say things will be better if all cards are put on the table?

Stop speculating, and look at what we know.


What systemic lies are there that you think there should be done anything about? Everything the public knows is basically:

  1. Monica asked for clarification when a CoC update was being discussed in a private chatroom (TL)
  2. Monica was demodded.
  3. A SE employee talked to the press about it, and referenced her by name as having broken the CoC.
  4. Nobody bothered to tell Monica what she actually said that was supposed to break the CoC.
  • I've spotted some downvotes. If I'm missing a few relevant facts here, I'd love to know which ones so I can rectify that.
    – Gloweye
    Nov 5, 2019 at 14:53
  • 2
    My downvote because there is more out there than how you boiled it down. Even if you saw the TL transcript, there is interpretation and motive to consider. And without it, there is still more to it than this. No one I know has access to the emails Monica received. How can you be so sure? Nov 5, 2019 at 17:03
  • 6
    I didn't see any TL transcripts. And about interpretation and motive, I'm going solely off what Monica and SE employees have written, to the limit that I've seen it; which is limited to MSE and direct links from MSE to somewhere else. Monica stated that nobody told her what she said/did that violated the CoC, only that she did violate it. No SE employee ever contested that as far as I am aware. So far, I am ignoring motive since I can't read minds, but I do consider 3rd party opinions like this, which is mods vouching for for Monica, [1/2]
    – Gloweye
    Nov 5, 2019 at 19:40
  • 4
    whose opinion I would trust in these matters, as unlike me, they're in the trans community. If they have A) Been able to see the actual talks, and B) believe Monica is in the right here while according to SE's statements, she was hostile to these people. Therefore, I fall back to Innocent until proven guilty. And no guilt have been proved. Neither SE nor Monica have made any statements about their private mails, which is why I didn't mention them. [2/2]
    – Gloweye
    Nov 5, 2019 at 19:46
  • 1
    @anongoodnurse So if I boiled it down wrong - please tell me what important things there were that I missed. Because I'd really hate to spread lies.
    – Gloweye
    Nov 5, 2019 at 19:48
  • Innocent until proven guilty is fine, but don't post it as Gospel Truth. Also, if you're good at reading between the lines you'll learn (or suspect) that there's a lot more to it than you realize. Finally from your comments, even if I were free to tell you what I know (which isn't everything; no one has that) I don't think you would believe me. People often believe what they want to believe (remember "Pizzagate"?), no matter what the evidence is to the contrary. Nov 5, 2019 at 20:31
  • Well, if you can't tell me, then I can't account for it in my opinions, can I? I posted what I believe are the few points that everyone agrees on, and I haven't heard any conflict on those points. While I've heard claims in addition to the above, they either didn't really change the situation beyond it, or were contested. If you have something to add, yes please, if not, how on earth do you expect me to give a truthful account of things not public, contested, or otherwise unknown?
    – Gloweye
    Nov 5, 2019 at 21:40
  • For example, I could add "Monica broke the CoC", but the most recent news about that is that Monica herself is not aware of what she said that could have done that. She IS aware of things she said considered offensive by certain other mods, but what I got from that was that they talked it out among themselves. However, SE has never stated that that had anything to do with the de-modding. Therefore I don't consider that relevant enough to add. (and neither did it seem chronologically correlated) @anongoodnurse
    – Gloweye
    Nov 5, 2019 at 21:42
  • Proposed edit to point 4: Monica reports that SE has never told her what she said or did to supposedly break the CoC. SE has not confirmed or denied this. // This might be a can of worms, but you might want to say something about the reinstatement process SE announced. // Also, feedback would be welcome for my updated, slightly more detailed outline: meta.stackexchange.com/a/334400/287826 Nov 7, 2019 at 19:25
  • I put in point 4 because SE never contested it. And the reinstatement process... I'd have thought that appropriate IF Monica had been kicked using the paired process for removing moderators. Also, you can't exactly promise to do better if you haven't been informed about what you did wrong, therefore it's not a valid option for Monica.
    – Gloweye
    Nov 8, 2019 at 7:43

There are two ways of upholding quality within any community on Stack Exchange Network:

  • You use the existing means to give feedback. As in: you upvote "high quality" input, you down-, close-, delete-vote content you consider "low quality". Ideally, you leave the OP a comment telling them "what to improve". Sometimes you click on "flag" and report the corresponding post accordingly.
  • When creating content yourself, you take a hard look before hitting the "submit" button. For example you avoid using loaded terms such as systematic lies. Because that term is your opinion, but you use it as if it were a fact.

Nonetheless, you are "correct" insofar that the voting system is far from perfect. Sometimes people vote without really reading everything, they see "something" in a post, and that results in a quick vote.

But the main point of this place is that quality is defined via consensus. Sometimes that is frustrating, but that is how things are here.

Finally note: answers with high vote counts often have high view counts. So, doing that downvote, and then writing fact based comments that outline the deficiencies of a bad post ... those comments will get many views, too. And when the comments are of high quality, they will get upvotes, too. Allowing you to "add" your counter arguments right next to the content you consider "low quality".

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