Stack Exchange staff will actively remove links to a legal fund campaign from user profiles, posts, and comments, as well as community ads surrounding Monica's situation and reinstatement. Why?

[This post was originally posted by Juan M but ownership was changed with a post-disassociation tool so that the accepted answer would be pinned to the top.]

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    How about usernames that have the GoFundMonica postfix? – rene Nov 14 '19 at 15:27
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    @VikingoS: As much as I enjoy the irony of Stack Exchange hoisting their own petard, I never thought they had any obligation to allow this kind of material on their sites. – user102937 Nov 14 '19 at 15:28
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    downvoted the question because this is basically an announcement, not a discussion and should have beneficial to be more clearly framed as that, at least IMHO. Sorry. – SPArcheon Nov 14 '19 at 16:42
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    Do you mean that you disallow all links to campaigns asking for funds for legal issues, or only specifically Monica's campaign? – Mad Scientist Nov 14 '19 at 16:47
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    Would this happen to be why you haven't answered the letters? Legal said no? – Zoe the 1337 Princess Nov 14 '19 at 17:00
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    This question was posted initially by Juan M, who also provided the expected answer. Now the author seems to be JNat while the answers author is still Juan. How is that possible? – vikingosegundo Nov 14 '19 at 17:03
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    The question was reparented just so the accepted answer stuck to the top — Juan forgot self-accepting didn't do that. – JNat Nov 14 '19 at 17:11
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    @JNat: Changing user names on posts is a really, really bad idea. I know you don't think it is, and I know I don't have any mojo left in this community anymore, but please. I implore you. If there's any tiny shred of concern left at corporate for the welfare of the communities, use it to preserve the integrity of the databases. If any staff member can change anything they want in the databases at any time, we all might as well just pack it up and go home. – user102937 Nov 14 '19 at 17:14
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    @ilkkachu - The blog is where they want their announcements to be posted. It's what they push and publicize. It being posted here just means more of the same, they hope this will all get buried and go away. – StoryTeller - Unslander Monica Nov 14 '19 at 18:09
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    Thanks for editing that in, @RobertHarvey; and sorry for the confusion, all. To provide some more clarification: employees can't change anything they want in the DB; CMs have a tool that allows us to change ownership of posts (used mostly for disassociating ownership, for instance), and that's what was used here — I can count with the fingers on one hand the amount of times I recall us having used it for the ~4.5 years I've worked here. I also forgot that the paper trail employees see on the revision history is... well, employee only! :\ – JNat Nov 14 '19 at 18:23
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    sigh I'm going to make this point here for greater visibility: you're Streisanding your opposition. All it's going to do is bring more attention to the very thing you're trying to remove, and drive people to post URL shortened versions instead, to make it more difficult to detect. Kudoes for being upfront about it, but this isn't a genie you can put back in the bottle. You're literally hardening opposition to the company. – fbueckert Nov 14 '19 at 18:45
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    We did post an answer to the mods' letters, @Zoe: in it we made reference to our next steps "entail[ing] structural change, [and that] it may take a little while." As Sara noted at the very bottom of her latest blog post, though, we're hoping to be able to share some progress on that next week. – JNat Nov 14 '19 at 19:09
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    If this is what the legal team advised, I guess I should be prepared for the possible announcements like: "starting today we would be removing links, erasing existing discussions, and preventing new discussions related to Monica and the moderators who retired in protest", followed a few days by "starting today, we would be removing or suspending, as the case may be, user accounts acting contrary to interests of Stack Exchange. For the removal of doubts, interests of SE should be the interests of communities and not vice versa." :( – 286110 Nov 14 '19 at 19:20
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    @CodyGray We went into thought policing the day a moderator was fired/demodded for daring to question a future change. – vicky_molokh Nov 14 '19 at 21:40
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    I've been gone for several days, and just came home to a few surprises here -- this one about removing the link to GoFundMe and the deletion of one of my answers with the loss of 2,306 points because it was not strictly on topic. I (gasp!) mentioned Monica instead of confining my answer just to the CoC. So I responded in the only possible way: (1) contributed more to the Fund and (2) copied the address of the fund into my computer. I am sorry only that I can't afford to contribute $1.00 for every rep point deducted because I had the effrontery to mention Monica in that answer. – user540056 Nov 15 '19 at 23:23

28 Answers 28


This has taken a legal turn and we want to be as transparent as we can. Under guidance from our legal team, we are not able to respond to anything regarding Monica's situation. We will not be answering any questions or comments about that going forward.

Starting today, also under direction from our legal team, we will be removing the "community-voted ads" not related to the subject of the site. This is not an appropriate use of the free ad space donated to communities to serve their topic space.

We know this is going to be received with mixed results, and we wish we had better news but we cannot elaborate further or respond to this situation anymore. We sincerely hope you understand.

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    you might want to clarify where links to legal fund campaigns are allowed and where not, as I'm not sure I understand this correctly. Is this only about community ads, or also posts, comments, chat and user profiles? – Mad Scientist Nov 14 '19 at 15:06
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    Does this also include the links to the letters from the moderators and the lavender community? – CptEric Nov 14 '19 at 15:10
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    I hope that "anything regarding" will not be interpreted any more broadly than strictly necessary. – gerrit Nov 14 '19 at 15:18
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    Your explanation doesn't cover why the links will be removed from user profiles. Ads are entirely understandable, user profiles will be far more controversial. – Mad Scientist Nov 14 '19 at 15:43
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    This answer doesn't address the issue over removing links from peoples profiles. Is that really being done and if so, how is that being justified? – NathanOliver Nov 14 '19 at 16:06
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    Cross-posting from the question just in case you're the one to ask: "My question earlier was serious, just in case that wasn't obvious. I'd like a yes/no answer, and you can keep the specifics beyond that to yourself, but I need to know whether that battle is worth giving up or not. The lack of a reply in combination with this post actually makes it seem more likely that's the case anyway." – Zoe the 1337 Princess Nov 14 '19 at 18:38
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    I know that this is an old post, but can you explain how this impacts the new moderator review process? – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Dec 12 '19 at 18:54
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    "Under guidance from our legal team, we are not able ..." - this is obviously untrue. Guidance does not prevent action. You have been advised that it's not in the company's interest to respond to anything regarding Monica's situation. Don't compound dishonesty by claiming "we are not able." – LarsH Dec 25 '19 at 3:58
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    I guess we can see in the votes of this answer how the community feels about those horrible changes just to cover what happened to monica – riki481 says Reinstate Monica Jan 21 '20 at 12:17
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    Sorry, Juan M; did you not notice, comments such as "Under guidance from our legal team, we are not able to respond…" is pretty-much diametrically opposed to "… we want to be as transparent as we can"? Do you think it's fun to insult SE Users that way, or what? Worse, Juan, "This has taken a legal turn and we will not be answering any questions…" will prolly be interpreted by almost every reader as meaning "We don't see how we have a leg to stand on". Did you not realise that? Not personally? Not with your team of communications and legal experts? Not at all? Oops! – Robbie Goodwin May 19 '20 at 18:22

I acknowledge that it is a bit of weird situation for you to have your very site used as a platform for protest and advertizing legal measures against your very own company. As a private company you're as much entitled to remove these links as you're entitled to summarily remove moderators for every and no reason whatsoever.

However, at least stand by it being a vested interest against these links and please don't sell it as a purely legal decision that is trying to avoid conflict of interest. Nor should the last few months remotely give you any credibility to sell this as advocating for more on-topic advertizements either (like, wut?).

Let's face it, if these protests or ads were any other causes, especially causes Stack Exchange supports, you wouldn't remotely think about removing them, off-topic or not. It's your site, but don't pretend you're serving anyone else but your company with this.

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    Occam's Razor: The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. As to serving anyone else, I don't think JNat or Juan ever stated otherwise. – user102937 Nov 14 '19 at 17:31
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    Hey @Chris - could you paste the Markdown source of your profile summary somewhere? I'd like to reuse it. – Sridhar Ratnakumar Nov 14 '19 at 19:38
  • @ReinstateMonica I actually largely copied it from GhostCat. There isn't really too much elaborate markdown in there that requires extensive source code and I'm not sure where I'd put it right now. – Christian Rau Nov 14 '19 at 19:41
  • @Chris - you can share it using rentry.co – Sridhar Ratnakumar Nov 14 '19 at 19:58
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    @ReinstateMonica Well, here. – Christian Rau Nov 14 '19 at 20:03
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    So links/ads about YouKnowWhat are banned , but inappropriately sexual ads or excessively animated ones are still kosher? got it. – April Salutes Monica C. Nov 14 '19 at 22:37
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    @April--Un-SlanderMonica-- Until someone starts a GoFundMe to take legal action against that? Yes, probably. – Mast Nov 15 '19 at 10:09
  • @ChrissaysReinstateMonica, minor typo in the profile text: "The intention behind that is to make you curious about a very import struggle" ;) – Marc.2377 Nov 16 '19 at 11:37
  • @Marc.2377 Well, it's also imported. ;-) – Christian Rau Nov 16 '19 at 16:06
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    "As a private company you're as much entitled to..." That 'entitled' word is complicated. No one is questioning that they have the power to do this, and the legal right. But there's also no reason why they shouldn't be criticised for exercising that power. – Steve Bennett Nov 19 '19 at 0:30
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    @SteveBennett Of course, the answer is very much to be understood along those lines. – Christian Rau Nov 19 '19 at 1:24

You can not call us a "community", and then stamp out the community's will.

Removing links from "community" users' profiles that point to a "community" user's fund raiser is ethically repugnant.

This level of heavy-handed censorship, in order to prevent "community" members from being able to effectively support one another, is the grossest intentional effort to destroy the social contract, trust and relationship with an online community that I have ever witnessed.

Stack-specific ads are one thing. They imply a direct endorsement from The Company.

User profiles, which have been considered effectively sacrosanct as long as they do not contain vitriol or confidential information, are another. They are the only place we get to put Who We Are As People, and not merely What We (Want To) Know.

If Stack Exchange chooses to remove profile links to Monica Cellio's fundraiser for legal fees and donation to LGBTQI+ services, they will be crossing a line that they can not come back from.

If you want a community, treat us like one. otherwise we're not a community, we're just end users.

If the threat or enforcement of censoring user's profiles is not rescinded, the message is clear:

Stack Exchange sees us only a collection of end users, not people that are part of a "family of communities".

Additionally, this may not even be legal, despite coming from lawyers. See: What gives SE the right to modify user profiles without indicating change?

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    When was the last time you felt like SE was truly a community? I haven't been around that long (in terms of the total history of the site), yet when I first joined I was welcomed with open arms, warts and all. That has faded over the past few years, and now the company seems to be decided what warts are acceptable, if wants warts at all, or if only a small special set of warts should be paid attention to. – Skooba Nov 14 '19 at 21:58
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    @Skooba If anything, I feel more a part of the community now than before. I feel like we've all united around some common causes. Of course, I'd rather have an amicable relationship with the company, but they're not making that a realistic option for us. – mason Nov 15 '19 at 1:18
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    @Skooba I know exactly when my sense of community was shattered, but I know that wasn't the case for many. By now, I find the official copy that proffers a community to be a slap in the face. I want to build one here, I truly do, but trying to do that with the constant threat of willful sabotage from employees obfuscated by bureaucracy seems infeasible. – user287266 Nov 15 '19 at 1:20
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    We are not even the users. We are the used. – henning -- reinstate Monica Nov 15 '19 at 12:24
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    I approve of the term "ethically repugnant" here. Btw, you might be amused to read what I had to say earlier in an off-site forum: "(...) we decided that enough is enough and decided that an alternative is direly needed". forum.codidact.org/t/what-are-we-trying-to-build/27/… (jump to the "In conclusion" part, at the end.) – Marc.2377 Nov 16 '19 at 12:12
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    @Marc.2377 Thanks for that link. I'm in. – Chris Nov 18 '19 at 16:16
  • "otherwise we're not a community, we're just end users." This here is the crux of the matter, you understate reality. SE like many other successful/large social media platforms are shy about reminding the users that they are the product and having a special/fair relationship with your golden goose is not seen as valuable. – KalleMP Nov 29 '19 at 8:25
  • also thanks for the link. also in! – fr_andres Dec 2 '19 at 5:04
  • In terms of language, I believe the proper term to employ now is "flock"? – LаngLаngС Dec 16 '19 at 22:13

It might be easier to hire new management than to get a new community of volunteers.

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    To be fair, they just got a new CEO. – Mysticial Nov 14 '19 at 16:51
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    @Mysticial To be fair, the CEO barely has power. There's still a board consisting of a lot more people who have power. – Zoe the 1337 Princess Nov 14 '19 at 16:54
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    I wonder about how at least some people in the company are really feeling about what's going on. – DK Bose Nov 14 '19 at 17:04
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    @JusticeforMonica. Yeap. It is the same question I have about people in the White House. Also looking at the mess around KubeCon&CoC I have to come to the conclusion that we live in the age of fractal mess. – vikingosegundo Nov 14 '19 at 17:12
  • @VikingoSsaysReinstateMonica at least there are leakers at the place you mentioned :D – DK Bose Nov 14 '19 at 17:15
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    The statement in this post might be true. But it is hardly relevant to the post of the OP. – Raedwald Nov 14 '19 at 17:28
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    @Raedwald I disagree, today with the post by the OP, SE stopped being a community – James Jenkins Nov 14 '19 at 17:39
  • That might be the "structural change" mentioned in the non-answer to the mods' letter. Just kidding. – Stop harming Monica Nov 14 '19 at 19:53
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    The vast majority of site users have never been to Meta and don't notice nor care about this current "crisis". It will pass them by and the sites will thrive long after you and I are gone. – I am not the way you speak Nov 14 '19 at 20:37
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    @JamesJenkins: This message needs to go to the stock holders. Right now it will mostly be noticed by lower-ranking employees (wo are not to blame for all this!) – einpoklum Nov 14 '19 at 21:22
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    I believe, replacing of the Director of Public Q&A will be enough – Michael Freidgeim Nov 15 '19 at 12:35
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    @MichaelFreidgeim: Perhaps. But I'm not entirely certain. The CoC fiasco isn't the first problem. It is possible she's to blame for all of them, but I suspect there are more people involved. Some of them even to the point that they are equally untenable. – MSalters - reinstate Monica Nov 16 '19 at 2:21
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    It might be easier to fire old management than to get a new community of volunteers. – iBug says Reinstate Monica Nov 16 '19 at 13:35
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    I believe only a very small percentage of SE users actually care about any of this. Most want answers to their questions or to quietly enjoy answering, and all of that still works as before. The firing of Monica doesn't affect most users at all. – I am not the way you speak Nov 17 '19 at 6:12
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    @Iamnotthewayyouspeak, the issue comes from the fact that there is a substantial overlap between the users who care about that, and the users 'running' the sites (moderating, answering, providing deep expertise). Quantity vs. Quality. – clem steredenn Nov 18 '19 at 9:00

Just to be clear, this advice was from the same legal team which told you that you could coolly change the licensing on our content and then just not talk about it, right? And the same folks who told you it's chill to make serious allegations of bigotry against a user to the press? Or are there people who specialize in breaking of copyright law, people who specialize in privacy violations, and presumably more people who specialize in screwing up in court?

In all seriousness, I get that you never had any obligation to host campaigns to sue your own management on your platform. There's no free speech violation when a private company simply takes the mic away from someone they don't like or someone who's saying something they don't like. But there's something about the tone and context which really makes you seem like the bad guy.

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    Let’s not beat up on the messenger. – anonymous Nov 14 '19 at 20:55
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    I think it's the fact that the news of the Funding campaign had been out a while; I haven't seen the ads, but I'm assuming they've been out a while, and NOW there's the crackdown. (When they had a nice distraction or two with the points recalc, the server outage, etc.) Other things (calls for strikes) they deleted IMEDIATELY, and that was deemed reasonably fair -- this delayed banhammer (and worse - editing posts/profiles) just makes them look indecisive and callous at best, and also Streisand Effects the fundraiser, too. – April Salutes Monica C. Nov 14 '19 at 22:35
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    Enough with this mantra about the sanctity of private property. I don't care what kind of ownership is registered with some state - the SE network is a public global resource. It belongs, morally and culturally, to the communities of users who have populated it with content, much more than it does to SE Inc. (So even though your first paragraph makes a great point, I can't upvote.) – einpoklum Nov 14 '19 at 23:26
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    @April--Un-SlanderMonica-- my assumption is that they didn't expect it to get enough support to matter. Now, someone realized "oh crap, it has, this could actually be serious" and now it's frantic backpeddling trying to cover all the things that should have happened. You see it even in the gaslighting in all the messaging around this, SE tries to imply that they are working with the community but in reality it's entirely not the case. – enderland Nov 15 '19 at 0:33
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    @einpoklum-reinstateMonica "the SE network is a public global resource" That is simply not true, nor has it ever been true, and if you think it is, you are being quite naive. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 15 '19 at 2:14
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    PSA The relicensing has a pending lawsuit! – jhpratt Nov 15 '19 at 5:59
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    @LightnessRaceswithMonica: It may not be true legally, but it is true in how SE is used. – einpoklum Nov 15 '19 at 8:24
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    @einpoklum-reinstateMonica Then you're using it wrong and basing your expectations on that misuse is vacuous! – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 15 '19 at 13:03
  • @einpoklum-reinstateMonica If you want to take immediate action against SE, then remove all of your contributions and post them elsewhere and only repost them here once SE acquiesces. SE is only as useful as the content it provides, and so your biggest method of influencing SE is to remove that content. – JAB Nov 15 '19 at 21:57
  • @JAB: I'm not sure how your comment relates to my comment. I was making a philosophical/epistemological/moral point. Perhaps you want to answer/comment-on this question? – einpoklum Nov 15 '19 at 22:13
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    @LightnessRaceswithMonica: No, I'm using it right; it's the legal framework that's wrong. Also - my expectations have already been met so far. Finally, it's not how I'm using it - it's about how essentially everyone uses it. – einpoklum Nov 15 '19 at 22:15
  • @einpoklum-reinstateMonica My point was that just complaining about SE acting in a way you do not approve of has minimal impact. Do you just want to complain about a company doing what you feel to be immoral, or do you want SE to act in a method that matches your morals? If the former, than carry on. If the latter, then take action, don't just complain. Be an active participant, not just a commentator. – JAB Nov 15 '19 at 22:19
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    @JAB Ah, ok. My comments in this thread were actually a complaint about us, i.e. our willingness to defer to the formal, legal ownership of the platform by SE Inc. – einpoklum Nov 15 '19 at 22:23
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    Our willingness to defer to plain facts and total reality? Yeah, shame on us! What are we like.. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 16 '19 at 13:23
  • It seems you are under the impression the person that talked to The Register discussed any ramifications with the legal team first. – Drew Nov 17 '19 at 22:20

My answer is going to be a deconstruction of, or a rebuttal to, @JuanM's answer.

we want to be as transparent as we can.

No, you don't; or at least - you don't act like it. If you wanted to be transparent, you would state how you believe Monica Cellio violated the CoC, or retract that claim and reinstate her. @Mehrdad asked the CTO this question directly, with over 1300 MSE users joining him.

Also, you've begun making fundamental changes to the network unilaterally and suddenly, like the doubling of question upvote reputation - so you're being opaque about your decision-making processes.

Under guidance from our legal team,

That is an unacceptable excuse. You decide how you run this network, not your legal team.

we are not able to respond to anything regarding Monica's situation.

You are able to, you are choosing not to. And that is apparently because if you do answer questions from the community, truthfully, your ability to fend off Monica's legal action might diminish. Well, tough cookies, you owe us answers. Also - you shouldn't be arguing this case in the first place; rather, you should just reinstate Monica and compensate her, and the legal case will go away.

By the way - doing that will not even impact your overall direction and policy, which many of us disapprove of. The fact that you're choosing not to do so can be one of: stuborness; internal organizational disharmony; or perceived benefit from going all the way on it. I wonder which one it is.

We will not be answering any questions or comments about that going forward.

Monica is just the sacrificial lamb. It's not really about Monica, it's about the way you (= SE Inc.) manage the SE network. You're not talking to us about that either.

Starting today, also under direction from our legal team, we will be removing the "community-voted ads" not related to the subject of the site.

You're making it sound as though it's those strict lawyers forcing your hand, and not a voluntary action on your part. I believe that's not true. But - you know what? Why don't you show us those directions from your legal team? Show us a copy of the exchange in which they told you must not answer users' questions.

This is not an appropriate use of the free ad space donated to communities to serve their topic space. To date, we've been very hands-off with the ads served through this program, but removing off-topic protests and other such commentary is necessary and appropriate, even if it wasn't about Stack Exchange.

I thought you said you were removing those ads because of your legal team...?

We know this is going to be received with mixed results, and we wish we had better news but we cannot elaborate further or respond to this situation anymore.

Of course you can elaborate further. You're doubling-down on your stance, because otherwise, the egg on your face would show very visibly.

We sincerely hope you understand.

Unfortunately, we do understand. The question is, do you (i.e. SE Inc.) understand that you're putting this entire network in danger by your repressive attitude towards the community of users (not to mention the future of your company)?

... and the disingenuous posts on your (SE Inc.) part in recent weeks are not helping, either.

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    somehow, this reminded me of older announcement: Net Neutrality and Stack Overflow / Stack Exchange (if memory serves there even was a network-wide banner about that) – gnat Nov 14 '19 at 20:56
  • @LeopoldsaysReinstateMonica nd the question is not a question but one part of an announcement. – vikingosegundo Nov 14 '19 at 21:22
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    @LeopoldsaysReinstateMonica: 1. This is MSE. Questions here begin discussions. 2. I believe my breakdown of JuanM's answer constitutes an aswer. – einpoklum Nov 14 '19 at 21:38
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    The implication that it somehow a legal problem for them to leave these links up is fascinating. It's a strategic decision, not a legal decision. – De Novo Nov 14 '19 at 21:51
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    I'll point out that they also didn't address the relicensing at all – jhpratt Nov 15 '19 at 6:02
  • @jhpratt: But did they say why they're relicensing, or announce in advance that they're considering it? – einpoklum Nov 15 '19 at 8:21
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    When your legal team tells you to take certain well motivated steps, you better listen. If you don't listen to your legal counsel ... don't hire legal counsel. No sensible company would do otherwise. And of course you never share directions from your legal team with others. It all reads rather naive. – Bart Nov 15 '19 at 13:19
  • @Bart It all reads rather naive it does... although in kind of a good way, to me. It's a tiny, tiny degree better (and more human) than staying entirely mum. We'd all be a LOT more angry if they just started pruning links without comment. – Pekka Nov 15 '19 at 13:30
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    @Bart: 1. "listen" and "obey" are two different things. 2. Lawyers answer the questions you ask them. If you ask "can it hurt us if we reply to XYZ?", they would probably say "Yes"; if you ask them "Should we reply to XYZ?" they would probably say "that's not a legal question; but there are potential risks." If you ask: "Will replying to XYZ cost us the case or be significantly harmful to it?" They might well say "No." And I assure you - I speak from experience (albeit not in a for-profit organization). – einpoklum Nov 15 '19 at 13:31
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    @PekkasupportsGoFundMonica: Please read my last comment too. Taking the "legal team told us so" answer at face value is, in my opinion and experience, the naive response. – einpoklum Nov 15 '19 at 13:33
  • @einpoklum-reinstateMonica fair point. – Pekka Nov 15 '19 at 13:34
  • "You decide how you run this network, not your legal team" - Are you sure? Several actions on their behalf seems like they are completely controlled by their so-called legal team. – Henrik supports the community Jan 24 '20 at 9:02

Stack Exchange staff will actively remove links to a legal fund campaign from user profiles

While I understand Stack Overflow Inc. is not obliged to host content which might cause damage to said Stack Overflow Inc., you should know that there is a semi-official guideline posted by a former employee about allowed content in profile pages:

  1. Generally speaking, your "about me" is just that—what you want to share with the world, and we try to allow users a good bit of freedom there.
  2. However, in the rare cases where what's there is likely to be truly offensive to large groups of seemingly reasonable people, we may not allow it.

Since said links cannot be deemed 'truly offensive', it would be good to explicitly add this exception to that answer.

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    I can feel the restraint it took to not link the page in this answer ;-) – Rubiksmoose Nov 14 '19 at 15:08
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    @Rubiksmoose What page? :P – Glorfindel Nov 14 '19 at 15:14
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    The question was edited to answer this. – Juan M Nov 14 '19 at 15:23
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    This does however not match your answer, as profile pages don't pertain to the "free ad space donated to communities". – CptEric Nov 14 '19 at 15:25
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    @CptEric There are some and others and more that do advertise in their profiles, sometimes for years. – gbjbaanb Nov 14 '19 at 16:03
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    @gbjbaanb Thanks for sharing those. They've been eliminated. – Juan M Nov 14 '19 at 16:12
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    @JuanM a simple duckduckgo search found several more, I only highlighted the first 3. Can't you guys search user profiles for "penis" or "male enlargement" once every few weeks at the very least to eliminate more like those? here's another one – gbjbaanb Nov 14 '19 at 16:19
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    @JuanM Has company policy on ads in profiles changed in the last couple of years? – Rand al'Thor Nov 14 '19 at 16:25
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    @gbjbaanb It is weird, when I offered to help finding and deleting that kind of profile inappropriate spam, the reply I got from employees was basically a mocking "you wouldn't be seeing those if you didn't want to search for those"... What changed now that we should start removing them? – SPArcheon Nov 14 '19 at 16:40
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    @Hitodama you mentioned them here which could be bad PR for the investors that soon will buy stack exchange before they realize that it is a dead horse. – Josef says Reinstate Monica Nov 14 '19 at 19:31
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    @Hitodama it's all self-serving. They change policies on a whim; and make it up as they go along now. Their words mean nothing. Their promises mean nothing any more. Don't expect any consistency, any even handedness, or any fairness. – Glen_b Nov 15 '19 at 0:48
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    @Josef: Buy StackExchange at this point? Any lawyers doing their Due Diligence will turn up the impeding lawsuit which we can't talk about here, and they will contact Monica. And then they'll find all these topics, the relicensing shambles, the volunteer legal position, and a few more. If it's being sold despite that, it will be to a buyer that specializes in turn-around management, but my bet is that SE Inc is hoping that it just goes away. – MSalters - reinstate Monica Nov 15 '19 at 18:29
  • @MSalters-reinstateMonica If think you do not go far enough " turn-around management" I believe in a short while it will only appeal to those who do "asset stripping" of the dead and bleeding carcase. At a point not too far into the future a tipping point will be reached and they will loose their product (the users) and have no value left except some historical advertising contracts they cannot uphold. – KalleMP Nov 29 '19 at 8:40

Seriously, you are in dire need of new legal team.

  • 11
    First rule to stop digging a hole, put down the shovel. In this case the shovel is them talking. – Skooba Nov 14 '19 at 19:20
  • 91
    I doubt that the legal counsel is at fault here. They have to obey the company's wishes. If the company has decided to sue (or let itself be sued by) Monica, their legal counsel must give them whatever advice will help their case best. It's plausible that aiding the publishing of a campaign against the company would be legally detrimental to the company. What Stack Exchange is in dire need of is a new management team. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 14 '19 at 19:30
  • 3
    @Gilles'SO-stopbeingevil' You might be right... but even in that case, any decent legal team should advise them (and convince them) to settle this in different manner. IANAL. – Resistance Is Futile Nov 14 '19 at 19:56
  • 5
    The standard legal advice would be that any action on StackExchange in support of "She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" could be seen as an implicit admission of guilt by StackExchange. I am surprised it lasted this long. – Alex Nov 14 '19 at 20:36
  • 6
    It's never about the legal team. That's (almost) always just an excuse. Q: "Hey legal team, what should I do about this argument that's going to court?" A: "Say nothing to noone, it's better the other side doesn't have anything on record that they can use." ... rather than Q: "Hey legal team, are you able to defend our position even if we state it publicly?" A: "Well, I'd like to go over your statements before publication, but sure." – einpoklum Nov 14 '19 at 21:19
  • 8
    @Skooba not only did they keep digging, they hit rock bottom, and then brought out the mining drill – Richard says Reinstate Monica Nov 14 '19 at 21:25
  • 62
    …and of a new Director of Public Q&A. – faintsignal Nov 15 '19 at 1:19
  • 9
    Perhaps they should outsource their legal team to Law SE like how they outsourced their QA to Meta SE. – pacoverflow Nov 15 '19 at 1:38
  • 4
    @Alex Yes, and any lawyer who is not telling them that they are in dire need of admitting their guilt RIGHT NOW before things get even worse is incompetent and needs to be fired. They are obviously in the wrong, and have been ever since that news article came out; fighting it and denying it is only making their situation worse. – Mason Wheeler Nov 15 '19 at 4:22
  • @alex Question about what legal risks the links pose asked here. – Stop Harming the Community Nov 15 '19 at 4:42
  • 1
    "their legal counsel must give them whatever advice will help their case best." <- Nope. Whatever legal advice would help them and their company best. Not quite the same thing. But I agree that their legal team is not the problem. – einpoklum Nov 15 '19 at 8:32
  • 3
    @einpoklum-reinstateMonica: I don't agree. If their legal team is telling them to fight rather than capitulate and start making, they are the problem. Or at least a very significant part of the problem. SE has no case here. They are obviously in the wrong, and if they fight, they will lose and make things worse for themselves. That being the case, any lawyer advising them to fight this is part of the problem. They are harming SE and they are harming us. – Mason Wheeler Nov 15 '19 at 18:57
  • @MasonWheeler: We don't know that their legal team is "telling them to fight". It really depends on what questions they're asking of their legal team. – einpoklum Nov 15 '19 at 19:30
  • 1
    @einpoklum-reinstateMonica "Don't say anything that the other side can use against you" is a strategy for trying to win. They're in a scenario that they can't win, therefore that advice should be disregarded. – Mason Wheeler Nov 15 '19 at 19:36

A good response to this action might be to double your contribution. You can find Monica's page by searching Google or looking on Twitter or Reddit.

Note that SE could solve this issue easily and inexpensively, even at this point, so contributions do not damage SE. They do show them that you're serious, though.

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    SE can choose where a lot of that money goes: to lawyers, or to a charity supporting the LGBTQ+ community. – Monica Cellio Nov 14 '19 at 17:04
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    @MonicaCellio surprised to see you still posting. Has your legal counsel not advised you to steer clear? I don't care either way, just seems a bit strange because litigation is involved – Phil Nov 14 '19 at 19:21
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    @Phil Monica is a very reasonable person. I doubt that legal advice applies to her near as much as it applies to SE. We've yet to see her make any statement that is impolite, offensive or that could warrant any legal retaliation from the offending part. – Marc.2377 Nov 14 '19 at 20:00
  • 10
    @MonicaCellio Hmmmm, if SE is REALLY serious about LGBTQ+ support, they'd want that money to go there, wouldn't they? – Richard says Reinstate Monica Nov 14 '19 at 21:26
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    @Phil, from what I've seen since PronounGate blew over, there's not one comment written by Monica that would tarnish her own standing. I'm having a master class on how a person can be put to such duress and keep reasonable, rational and firmly decided to make things right without retorting to a single mean word or anything of the sort. Facts are on her side. If this saga ends without justice being applied, that's the day I'll mourn SE soul's death. – brasofilo Nov 15 '19 at 4:57
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    Good idea. Done. – thebjorn Nov 15 '19 at 18:00
  • 1
    Apparently they're not removing the link from my profile (at least not yet, but I'm a pretty insignificant user). Comments containing the url were disappeared though (first time that has ever happened to me... -- I must say I'm flummoxed by their behavior)... – thebjorn Nov 15 '19 at 18:08
  • 1
    As a response to this behavior, I have doubled my contribution to Monica's campaign. Thank you for the idea! – bopapa_1979 Dec 16 '19 at 21:46

For SE's sake, I just hope no-one gets the idea of, say, googling for the name of one particular ex-moderator, possibly with words like "defamation" or "fundraiser" included.

  • 60
    That would be awful. Would be a lot worse if said hypothetical search result even outranked hits on SE. /s – Zoe the 1337 Princess Nov 14 '19 at 16:58
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    are links to Youtube still ok? – gbjbaanb Nov 14 '19 at 21:03
  • 1
    Actually, if you know her name then you know enough not to have to Google for it in the first place. – einpoklum Nov 14 '19 at 23:23
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    I hope a lot of people will donate now specifically because SE is actively trying to stop people from doing so. – X-27 is done with the network Nov 15 '19 at 0:32
  • 44
    Or, you know, have someone change their username to a shortened URL... – user12205 Nov 15 '19 at 0:33
  • 2
    I have just googled the exact words "defamation fundraiser" and Monica's GoFundMe is the first result for me. – the default. Dec 20 '19 at 15:25

This is a monumentally bad idea with a chilling effect on community involvement. Community Ads I'm on the fence about, but removing links from users' profiles?

That's a bridge too far.

  • 5
    too far and not yet built. I don't suppose they have the technical ability or people to actually enforce this on a community of largely pissed off software engineers. People are already using workarounds in a ton of ways. – mag Nov 15 '19 at 19:42
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    @mag Off-topic attempt at levity, but when one goes a bridge too far, one normally isn't building bridges, but rather seizing them with paratroopers. – E.P. Nov 17 '19 at 19:19

So your legal team advised to shut up (what you did anyway).

What did your Public Relation team say?

  • 43
    What public relation team? They've obviously all been on vacation for the past 2 months. – Gloweye Nov 15 '19 at 10:08
  • 9
    Too bad the lawyers didn't give that advice a little bit sooner... – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 15 '19 at 15:08
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    There was a highly-upvoted comment about one's conscience here. It's gone now. – user245382 Nov 15 '19 at 20:47
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    @House-'ReinstateMonica'-man, not surprised to see what was deleted. Not at all. Thank you for being a moral voice here! – gdoron is supporting Monica Nov 17 '19 at 19:11
  • @Gloweye Or fired for being considerate toward viewpoints other than the ones favored by SE staff. – jpmc26 Dec 7 '19 at 5:30

This announcement is what tipped me into donating. I know I'm being totally manipulated -- my "you can't tell me what to do" self is being activated, but I'm good with that.

Seriously, I thought the Question Point Value thing was just going to try to make the Monica Issue fade away in a surge of new questions, but this Announcement/Question (Announcetion?) is totally Streisand Effect in action.

From the link above:

The Streisand Effect is fostered by what is called psychological reactance. It is a retaliatory behavior that people resort to in response to an action that threatens their behavioral freedom.


Another example is the indignance of individuals who have sniffed the presence of a snippet of information that is being hidden from them on purpose. It spurs a heightened motivation to find out what the secret is and propagate it in their milieu.

Also see the Tabletop Games 2nd entry here (in real life examples) for something that appears very similar to the SE issue: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StreisandEffect


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    It's amazing, isn't it? Someone could easily write a management "what not to do" book from this saga already, and the court case has barely begun. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 14 '19 at 22:36
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    I have wondered if a ton of the actions that SE employees have been taking are actually malicious compliance. Having been around here a while and knowing some of the CMs, the things that SE is doing is just astronomically stupid - it makes me wonder if it's all being done in a way to show support to Monica by following orders. – enderland Nov 15 '19 at 0:37
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    @enderland Work-to-rule? – gnat Nov 15 '19 at 6:36
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    I'm secretly starting to hope that this is all just an experiment in psychology, where Monica and SE have agreed beforehand to blow this issue up in order to make us donate huge amounts of money to the lavender charity after SE backs up in the last minute as we all get paper trumpets and confetti and yells of "Surprise" from both Monica and Sarah. ... Yeah, I can hope, right? It'd be much more comforting than knowing a company I have come to respect so much has screwed up repeatedly and so seriously. I'd still be a bad joke, but at least I'd see some rationality. – zovits Nov 15 '19 at 9:40
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    @enderland thats an interesting take, and doesn't seem that unlikely. If that's the case, godspeed. – mag Nov 15 '19 at 9:56
  • I think that in paragraph 3 the phrase you're looking for is "a dead cat thrown on the table". – Peter Taylor Nov 15 '19 at 12:20
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    @zovitssupportsGoFundMonica: I think the employees massively misread Joel Spolsky's post. The then-CEO used Stack Overflow to promote his personal cause. 1576 votes agreed with him; this community is not a community of bigots. But a lot of them are in favor of personal freedom. If Joel want to marry a man, that's their business, and no-one else's. The forced speech of the CoC is exactly opposite to that notion of personal freedom. – MSalters - reinstate Monica Nov 15 '19 at 18:58
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    “Perhaps he's JuanMonica-was-wronged“ you probably right. His “we wish we had better news” sounds like he wrote that against his own wish, but according to the order of his management – Michael Freidgeim Nov 15 '19 at 21:47
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    This latest mess is exactly what made me donate as well. – X-27 is done with the network Nov 15 '19 at 23:27
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    I think I will start using doing a stackexchange as a keep digging your own grave in terms of public relationship. – aloisdg Nov 25 '19 at 10:12

I'm posting this from my alternate account, simply because I don't want this to be seen as anything approaching official - which I risk from posting from my main account: Journeyman Geek♦. This is me talking as a long time user and someone who really wishes that folks would think about resolving this rather than legal or professional short term CYA.

Practically speaking, from my experience in the past few weeks - I suspect it's literally going to be impossible to actually properly handle this. There's going to be certainly folks trying to stick it to the 'man'; there's going to be clever workarounds. I saw the leak come up 4 times. And that was something a lot of folks actually felt hurt us more than it helped.

At some point of time, the company is likely going to spend more time (and person-hour-dollars) trying to contain the fallout than what it would have had to spend taking a more considered, compassionate approach.

It's worth remembering, in the face of toxicity, that it's good folks who suffer and leave. Trolls find this their native environment. A few folks stay cause they care, but there's a lot more of them than us.

If your legal team is muzzling folks cause there's a prospect of a quick and relatively amiable solution, maybe it's fine. It's been several months of community breaking dramatic event after another.

So practically - short of chaining the CM team to their desks and poking them with pointy sticks (which is something the company has explicitly promised not to do) - in the current climate, I don't see how the staff can keep up if folks start posting links to this with intent. It's going to be a monumental drain on resources over a uncertain period of time, and it's certainly going to cause bad press.

At this point, I don't even seem sure if there's a strategy in place short of running around throwing buckets of what could be water or petrol but no one really checked on fires.

  • 9
    which is something the company has explicitly promised not to do times are a changin' – enderland Nov 15 '19 at 1:19
  • 3
    Turns out it doesn't matter because it's an electrical fire. – Stop Harming the Community Nov 15 '19 at 1:43
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    if there was "a prospect of a quick and relatively amiable solution" I would assume the first step would have been reaching out to Monica. Considering apparently there wasn't any action in that regards, this seems more like getting ready for a siege while hoping the enemy didn't pack enough rations to feed all the army for months of waiting. – SPArcheon Nov 15 '19 at 8:40
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    I don't think the goal is getting rid of the links completely. They would be actively looking for them if that were the case. Instead they don't want to appear as if they were allowing them so they feel the need to show some due dilligence. – Stop harming Monica Nov 15 '19 at 9:07
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    "At this point, I'm not even sure if there's a strategy in place -- short of running around throwing buckets of what could be water, or petrol, (but no one really checked) -- on fires." --Wish I could upvote a second time just for this line. – LindaJeanne Nov 15 '19 at 20:29

You are hiding behind your legal team and let them take the blame, but obviously, the people who created this entire mess weren't the lawyers.

(Disclaimer: don't get me wrong, I dislike lawyers 😉, but hypocrites even more)


I just read this morning:

an exciting start to working hand in hand with the community to build a better Stack Overflow.

(last sentence of the questions-weight-blog)

Lately, more and more again this month, it feels like "building a better Stack Overflow" actually means:

SE Inc. burning down the old place to the ground, to then tell us how they will build something new, that "the community" is then free to fill with content and moderation efforts tightly aligned to the CoC and whatever other rule SE Inc. intends to put in place.

And no, I have not forgotten that it is actually still possible to work hand in hand, see here for example. But methinks: other people have forgotten how "working hand in hand" is supposed to work.

Finally: your lawyers do what lawyers do.

But inadvertently that leads to further escalation. But you didn't get there by chance. You actually had plenty of chances to fix this without the need for lawyers doing the lawyer thing!


You simply can't stem this tide

You're doubling down on not listening to the community in favor of supposedly helping the community.

Of all the actions you've taken to force the community to change, this is the one that's going to take a toll on your resources.

  • What will happen if someone creates a QR code that links to the GoFundMe page and uses it as a profile image?
  • What if someone creates a QR code for the google search that links to that GoFundMe?
  • What if someone takes a screenshot of the actual page?
  • What if someone adds a link to a seemingly innocuous pastebin that contains the actual related links?
  • What about the About me section?

The list goes on. You better get ready for a guerrilla war against the very same community that helped you grow, because the problem is not magically going to disappear and people are going to take action.

  • 16
    At least one of these hypothetical scenarios has actually happened, with a high-profile member doing exactly that. Not going to make it easy on the censorship team by saying who or which scenario, but... yeah. The "guerrilla war" has already started. – Mason Wheeler Nov 15 '19 at 18:59

If your goal going forward from this is to limit the ability of monica to fight back by curtailing donations to her, you may have already failed.

At least you got me to seriously consider donating again, even though I already did.

And none of this was necessary in the least. You could have come clean, you could even have publicly elaborated if you genuinely, in your heart of hearts believe that you made the right decision. Stand by your actions and own your words, none of this weasel-worded ducking and weaving we've been seeing for the past 2 months.

You know this won't work, you all know the Streisand effect. In trying to bury this situation, you blow it up sky high. This didn't need to go past week two, you made it with your inaction. And then you left your community managers, moderators and users to deal with the fallout while you absconded from view.

You hurt the people you set out to protect, made this place a much more dangerous one for them. And for what? Back patting? There are a million ways this could have been handled better, and you had a hundred outs to take them, even after the series of massive blunders. There was a long row of olive branches you kept not taking.

This continued course of action is a catastrophic failure in management and vision in my opinion, and saddening to see from a company administering a community I care deeply about.

My use of "you" in this piece is intended to address Sr. Management and the decision makers in the company Stack Exchange, not the community managers who probably had no say or were overruled in all of this insanity.


My guess is that SE's management isn't really thinking things through and/or properly listening to the CMs, yet again.

Maintaining an open platform while trying to prevent something that a substantial minority of the engaged user base wants to do is going to be difficult and require significant work from the already over-stretched CM team. Plus the campaign will get another publicity/funding boost just from this.

The best legal advice balances legal risk against other issues like reputational risk, practicality, business risk etc. It doesn't sound like that's happening here, either with the decision to clam up after defaming Monica, or this latest action.

EDIT: Cesar M's comment clarifies that there won't be a bulk exercise to find and remove these links, they'll just be removed if employees happen to find them in normal use of the site. That sort of makes sense in that it means SE aren't knowingly supporting the campaign, even if there may be plenty of the links they haven't seen.

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    Plus the campaign will get another publicity/funding boost just from this. yup, someone just chipped in another $500. – vikingosegundo Nov 14 '19 at 18:14
  • "happen to find them in normal use of the site" If we put one behind a spoiler warning, will it be removed? – user-2147482600 Nov 14 '19 at 20:56
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    @user-2147482600 if I understand that one comment correctly, then it's really just a question of whether they happen to see it or not. – GS - Apologise to Monica Nov 14 '19 at 20:57
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    I've already seen a $600 donation. What also is clear is that many of the donations are not anonymous. I'm not entirely certain how SE, Inc should read that, but I don't see any scenario in which that's good for them. – MSalters - reinstate Monica Nov 15 '19 at 18:49

On the upside this post did prod me into actually getting around to donating to Monica's GoFundMe campaign.

My donation might not be much but it's a direct result of what's written here. Anyone who feels the same as I do can simply do a Google search for "stop stack overflow defaming its users" and click on the Go Fund Me page (should be the top result), but if that doesn't bring it up then you can try searching for "monica cellio gofundme" instead.

  • 7
    You actually don't need more than "stack overflow defamation" – Zoe the 1337 Princess Nov 15 '19 at 9:15
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    "My donation might not be much": all donations and shows of support are welcome. Thank you! Large or small, they all help. – Monica Cellio Nov 15 '19 at 15:09
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    Same -- I really hope for "Malicious Compliance" the way this is keeping the topic visible and interesting. It really is following the elements of a good dramatic story - clear character, dramatic obstacles, etc! – April Salutes Monica C. Nov 15 '19 at 16:07

What about questions/ answers / comments and especially user names that endorse justice and participating in M****'s fundraiser but don't contain any link?

I mean, nobody needs a link to find the crowdfunding campaign. Any search engine will do.

Did you discuss this and what are your conclusions on this?

I must say: I find it worrying that I do actually think SE might engage in such action and censorship even if it means that you will drive away your community even further.

  • 3
    It's kind of censorship but they are absolutely within their rights to do so. Not everyone is actually able or willing to use a search engine, so their decision will have some impact. – Trilarion Nov 14 '19 at 17:28
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    Just because they have the right doesn't mean it is the right thing todo. – vikingosegundo Nov 14 '19 at 17:30

Perhaps it's time to take a financial "turn". How about contacting SO advertisers and asking if they're really wanting to support a company that is behaving like a school-yard bully..?

  • 1
    This is exactly how GamerGate destroyed Gawker's margin-for-error. GamerGate found the contact info for the Chief Financial Officers and Chief Marketing Officers of the companies that advertised on Gawker. Then many individuals asked variations on these questions. Enough advertisers cut back on Gawker ads that Gawker could not recover from a different consequence of their poor ethics. – Jasper Nov 28 '19 at 5:12

It looks like links are also being removed from posts,


which goes beyond even what this post originally stated.

Does SE consider links to that GoFundMe Spam?

  • 6
    The question was pretty clear​ about that: "Stack Exchange staff will actively remove links to a legal fund campaign from user profiles and posts," so no unannounced scheme here. – Jenayah Nov 14 '19 at 18:53
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    @Jenayah It's been edited to be that way now, but when I wrote this I thought it was just profiles – Charlie Brumbaugh Nov 14 '19 at 18:57
  • Uh! I read the timestamps wrong. My bad, indeed the question wasn't clear-cut then. (Though somehow I'd think posts would be the most likely for edition but maybe it's just a personal perception) – Jenayah Nov 14 '19 at 18:59
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    FWIW, I edited it in after this answer was posted. If they're doing it, it might as well be stated – Zoe the 1337 Princess Nov 15 '19 at 9:17
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    ...and from comments... (gofundme.com/f/stop-stack-overflow-from-defaming-its-users) – thebjorn Nov 16 '19 at 13:09

Is the matter so urgent it has to be done in a couple of hours? If not, I don't know how many links to the fundraiser there are on Meta (or elsewhere), but please consider not mass-editing them out. I understand the action will be taken, but if it has to be, please keep in line with the usual guidelines about mass-editing (don't push other content too far down, etc).

Also, on posts which have available revision history (unlike profile pages), will the links be edited out or redacted? As this question is not about the events themselves but the advice of legal team, I hope it's one you're​ allowed to answer.

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    We're not doing mass editing, but we are to remove those links as we encounter them during normal use of the network. We are not redacting the edit history. – Cesar M Nov 14 '19 at 19:10
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    @CesarM even if you're removing them in general, removing the link in my profile seems out of line. It's my profile and it's a link about (and set up by) me. People promote their external links all the time -- blogs, GitHub repositories, Twitter, etc. I realize I am powerless here, but I object strongly to the change to my profile. – Monica Cellio Nov 14 '19 at 19:14
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    @Skooba Funnily enough, meta is actually supposed to serve a purpose in keeping the network running! :-p – wizzwizz4 Nov 14 '19 at 19:14
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    @MonicaCellio Your profile is your profile to the extent that you're not harming the community or the company with it. A fundraiser for money to sue SO, even for the best of reasons, is technically harming the company – from a certain point of view, anyway. "Your profile is your own" is about self-promotion, not about other stuff. – wizzwizz4 Nov 14 '19 at 19:16
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    @wizzwizz4 SE is harming the company; none of this would have been necessary if they'd acted in good faith. I'm sure there are plenty of profile links to things that aren't strictly in the interests of the SE community, like promoting other sites, off-site chat rooms, or software projects. This is no worse than that. Actually better; my goal is to repair harm done to the community by SE. – Monica Cellio Nov 14 '19 at 19:19
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    @MonicaCellio if the rule is that they have to remove ones they know about, then they can hardly leave yours alone, at least initially. But it sounds like if they aren't waved under the CMs' noses, they will stay in practice. – GS - Apologise to Monica Nov 14 '19 at 19:20
  • @MonicaCellio Yes, Stack Overflow is harming itself every day it just leaves the production environment in an insane state. That doesn't mean the self-interested policies it sets… actually, that's an invalid argument, despite my assumption that it's what SO is using. – wizzwizz4 Nov 14 '19 at 19:22
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    @CesarM, reading your comment about not redacting edit history, and seeing above a link to a non-redacted edit history as one piece of proof, I kinda want to say that as a regular user, I'm happy you're not going full 1984 on this. Then again, a situation where that was the happy part does make me feel a bit sad. – ilkkachu Nov 14 '19 at 19:39
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    @wizzwizz4 The notion that Monica is harming the company is like saying "you caused my economic ruin you bastard, I had to reload twice shooting you in the back. Do you know what good bullets cost these days? How dare you being so costly to kill!" – nvoigt Nov 14 '19 at 19:46
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    @MonicaCellio many wrists were slapped when linking to a certain off-site chatroom by a certain group of users. This isn't a first... – Edlothiad Nov 14 '19 at 19:53
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    @Edlothiad that's a fair point. There is one significant difference though: the links you are referring to were about getting people to move to another place (at least for chat). So they can be seen as harming the community by draining users away. This, however, has absolutely nothing to do with the community and is only about protecting the company behind it. So I would argue there is a qualitative difference. – terdon Nov 15 '19 at 11:47

The announcement said, that “staff will actively remove links”, but it doesn’t say that users are not allowed to create such links. There are no references to any existing FAQ, CoC or other rules.

It means that users (including elected moderators) can continue to create the relevant links and even revert staff moderator changes without risk of penalties.

What a waste of staff moderators time instead of doing something more useful!

  • 1
    I think maybe you mean "... which is a waste of etc." but I wanted to check before editing your post. As it's written, it looks like a question but I didn't think you were really intending to ask a question. – aparente001 Nov 18 '19 at 0:06
  • 1
    @aparente001, I’ve changed to “What a waste!”. You are welcome to change. English is not my first language. – Michael Freidgeim Nov 18 '19 at 12:42
  • 3
    "without risk of penalties" having the link deleted is an action made by a moderator (a member of staff, in this case). Do you seriously think repeatedly undoing a moderator decision and creating unnecessary work for moderators will not eventually result in a penalty? – Raedwald Nov 18 '19 at 12:53
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    @Raedwald, I am not aware about the rules, disallowing to create such links. If they exist, I expect, that Juan M would inform us about them. According to announcement, they do it “under direction from our legal team”. We as users do not need to follow direction from their legal team. If you are aware about penalties related to legal links, let me know and I will update the answer. – Michael Freidgeim Nov 18 '19 at 13:05
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    @MiFreidgeim, chances are you will be informed of these rules by the private moderator message coming with your suspension. I would advise against trying to tease that particular beast -- nothing good will come out of it. – Frédéric Hamidi Nov 18 '19 at 13:17
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    @Raedwald, 1. the link describes elected moderators, “not to confuse with certain Stack Exchange employees, for example Community Team members or "community managers"”. 2. The link describes, that elected moderators can suspend or delete accounts, but doesn’t explain when. My point is as if I didn’t break any official rule, I shouldn’t be suspended. – Michael Freidgeim Nov 18 '19 at 21:11

The community needs more clarity into what exactly is going to be removed and if there are any marks against the people that have those links. There are other answers that ask about usernames, questions, answers, and comments, but it's crucial to know if this is attempting to hide the situation from public view or are you just trying to remove the shortcut to donate.

It's an interesting stance, but a very obvious and logical one. Nobody wants to be the platform to support their "competition." Although, it is a bit telling that there may be some fear that this situation does have legal merit and isn't a frivolous suit.

I think the part that is most sad is that this entire issue sounds like it could be been resolved without all this mess by just accepting fault and coming to an agreement between both parties. Instead, being stubborn leads to both sides having to drain money into legal council and waste time to see who's right. Assuming there's no turning back, there's absolutely no way that the company would reinstate her. All that means is that the community loses whether she wins or loses. That sucks. Seriously.

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    That would, of course, require accepting fault... which assumes that there is fault to accept. – user400654 Nov 14 '19 at 20:38
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    @KevinB You're right. To my knowledge, the community has only been presented the story of what happened from Monica's point of view. However, plenty of people have been asking for proof from the other side. We should seek the truth of what happened, not sympathetically support one side. It's just unfortunate that this has to go legal to get that information =(. – Xrylite Nov 14 '19 at 20:46
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    They could never release enough information to convince everyone. Even posting just the content that caused the actual incident would open up a massive debate over what is and isn't appropriate. It's simply not useful – user400654 Nov 14 '19 at 20:47
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    @KevinB, mods can see (presumably) most of the information. True, we cannot see the emails between Monica & SE, but we have plenty of evidence of Monica's character, & plenty of information with which to evaluate the reliability of both parties. AFAICT, there is near unanimity among mods that Monica didn't really do anything here. I've had a couple of conversations w/ mods that are more equivocal &, while their reasoning varies, all think SE's actions were unjust, disproportionate, inconsistent, & that Monica did not misgender anyone. – gung - Reinstate Monica Nov 14 '19 at 21:07
  • I mean, that's fine and dandy, but there's no information to back it up. :shrug: – user400654 Nov 14 '19 at 21:08
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    @KevinB There is actually plenty of information. They got rid of a mod without proper process (in the words of the CTO) yet they stand behind that decision. Then they went public to make accusations that so far have been neither substantiated nor retracted. That is wrong, no matter what the unknown details are. – Stop harming Monica Nov 14 '19 at 22:33
  • And they've apologized for that and put a policy in place to hopefully prevent it in the future. – user400654 Nov 14 '19 at 22:34
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    @KevinB Apologizing and writing policies don't fix the wrong. – Stop harming Monica Nov 14 '19 at 22:35
  • *Assuming a wrong exists. – user400654 Nov 14 '19 at 22:36
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    @KevinB What I described above is wrong IMO. You may disagree. – Stop harming Monica Nov 14 '19 at 22:38
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    Following a poor process (or no process at all) when removing a moderator doesn't eliminate the alleged reason they were removed. Expecting someone to be reinstated just because the process was bad is silly. I can certainly understand continuing to press for information to be released about the actual action(s) that caused this, of course. But pushing for a reversal when you don't have all the facts is... – user400654 Nov 14 '19 at 22:43
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    The community needs more clarity into what exactly is going to be removed and if there are any marks against the people that have those links. ... ah no, that is not what the community needs. The community needs that SE Inc. changes course dramatically. If they come in and find my profile worth changing ... they shall do that. I am creative. I will find other ways. I don't care at this point what SE Inc. thinks would be valid or not valid on the profile. I will for sure not break laws, I wont even be rude or snarky there. But I will find ways to convey the message. Sure, I would prefer... – GhostCat Nov 15 '19 at 9:29
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    if SE Inc. does the right thing, and for Christ's sake: stop digging themselves further into that hole that they themselves put them into. Meaning: asking SE Inc. to clarify how exactly they intend to further go to war with us ... is really the last thing I want them to even be thinking about. – GhostCat Nov 15 '19 at 9:29

This is the final fig leaf. The train has been tipping off the rails in slow motion and has finally started to pile in. These removals are SE's demonstration that they are committed to doing the wrong thing no matter what. Regardless of whether or not Monica is able to compel a retraction and mitigation of the harm done to her, SE has shown that SOMETHING is more important to them than ethical behavior. I believe it to be one or more egos in management, but perhaps this is an intentional bid for increased traffic.

Hanlon's razor tells us that we shouldn't discount incompetence when we first suspect malice. But with over a month at their disposal before (in Juan M's words) it "took a legal turn" it seems reasonable to at least consider that this was SE's desired outcome.

With that in mind, we must remember that while supporting the efforts to mitigate the defamation against Monica we must also deny benefit to SE as much as possible. To me, this means moving to promote the funding page exclusively (no linking to SE answers for context) on all other user-submitted platforms - Twitter, Reddit, Slashdot, Medium.com, Wikipedia, anywhere I can since with these removals it can no longer be confined to actions within SE.


We know this is going to be received with mixed results, and we wish we had better news but we cannot elaborate further or respond to this situation anymore. We sincerely hope you understand.

Yeah. Just. No.

"Mixed results?" Really? What on Earth made you think that any of us will like this move? Fine, you didn't think that we'll be happy about this. Then why would you try to say that there will be a mixed reception? There's really no need to make that kind of comment; it just makes you look bad.

And no, we don't understand. We understand that you aren't doing anything illegal by removing these links. You have a moral and logical obligation to not anger the community, but it is technically your site so fine, whatever. But we don't understand your insistence upon digging a hole for yourself and making things come to this stage in the first place.

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    “we wish we had better news” sounds like he wrote that against his own wish, but according to the order of his management, such as the Director of Public Q&A – Michael Freidgeim Dec 5 '19 at 20:13

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