-1776
votes

Stack Overflow and Monica Cellio have come to an agreement. We believe that Ms. Cellio was not acting with malicious intent. We believe she did not understand all of the nuances and full intent and meaning of our Code of Conduct and was confused about what actions it required and forbade.

We acknowledge our responses to her requests for clarification were not satisfactory. The verbiage in our Code of Conduct could have been more explicitly detailed about what was expected. We always valued Ms. Cellio’s contributions to the community and respect her intelligence, integrity, and professional writing skills.

While our initial statement did not address her specifically, we regret that we used her name when responding to a reporter's follow-up. We regret any damage to Ms. Cellio's reputation and any other damage she may have suffered.

We have since updated some of our policies and processes to help ensure we are more careful in our public communications, and that there is a clearer process anytime a moderator's status is revoked as well as a process for reinstatement.

We respect Ms. Cellio and believe she is a good person with much to offer and contribute. We sincerely hope she remains an active member of our community. In recognition of the mistakes that led us here, we invited Ms. Cellio to apply for possible reinstatement on all six sites following our new reinstatement process. Ms. Cellio expressed concerns about the new process and has not applied.

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    The comments have been moved to chat. – Journeyman Geek Jan 1 at 0:14
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    Folks - this post had about 250 comments total and 3 pages of answers at this point. A few things to take note. Some of the comments have been pretty ugly - I realise this is emotive but personal attacks on anyone involved is unacceptable. This includes calling for staff to resign or trying to assign blame. I'd also add that this is pretty much a statement both sides appear to have legally agreed on- and I doubt any more details are forthcoming. – Journeyman Geek Jan 1 at 0:17

68 Answers 68

68
votes

I'm glad some kind of agreement could be reached, and I'm hoping to see more of this light. This is a step in the right direction, but the paragraph below is something that needs a bit more work though.

In recognition of the mistakes that led us here, we invited Ms. Cellio to apply for possible reinstatement on all six sites following our new reinstatement process.

Analogy: I'm sorry your foot hurts when stepped on, now you may ask me to get off of it.

Hopefully, it is easier to see the problem with it now.

66
votes

This is an empty apology

We believe she did not understand all of the nuances and full intent and meaning of our Code of Conduct and was confused about what actions it required and forbade.

That is a strawman. It was not at all the problem.

We acknowledge our responses to her requests for clarification were not satisfactory.

This is an extreme understatement. The responses were hostile.

While our initial statement did not address her specifically, we regret that we used her name when responding to a reporter's follow-up. We regret any damage to Ms. Cellio's reputation and any other damage she may have suffered.

You hurt someone by means of misconduct, and the only thing that you do is just say that you regret it?

In recognition of the mistakes that led us here, we invited Ms. Cellio to apply for possible reinstatement on all six sites following our new reinstatement process. Ms. Cellio expressed concerns about the new process and has not applied.

This is not a correction of the bad actions.


Is it really an agreement?

You could say that SE has been digging their heels in by trying to go to the bottom in the legal process and turning it into a battle.

  • Instead of sincerely admitting their mistakes, apologising to Monica and do whatever needs to be done when you admit you made a mistake (no matter the legal consequences, since a person that admits their mistake should agree with those consequences)...

  • Instead of that they state they can not do and say anything for legal reasons and let their lawyers do the apology to Monica.

Maybe this has been settled, but it is very unsatisfactory for the community.

This ugly apology/update shows to the community that Monica has not been on the winning side of the settlement. It is prove, or at least an indication, of the maltreatment path that SE/SO takes towards their respected moderator (is this really respect?). This behaviour can now be hidden behind polished pretty words that do not mean anything.

SE/SO can show of their trophy 'that they reached an "agreement"' and for the rest they can refer to a non disclosure agreement. Thus the settlement allows this sad story/apology, but it doesn't allow a single word/statement from Monica how she thinks about it? That sounds very much like a forced agreement to me.

  • For your first two points, you might be missing some context - Monica sent e-mails asking questions (/for clarifications?) And it looks like this is what the first couple of points are actually addressing... I don't disagree with the rest of what you've written though – Mithrandir24601 Dec 26 '19 at 10:22
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    @Mithrandir24601 we are still guessing here but is it those emails that caused her to be demodded? I was under the impression that it was for certain statements in the teacher lounge. Aside from that, the way that it is phrased is like 'sorry you did not understand us' and that is extremely condescending and denying that there is much blame on the side of SE/SO. Then note the second point, their response was not just unsatisfactory, they were hostile responses (demodding and defamation) – Sextus Empiricus Dec 26 '19 at 18:47
62
votes

We acknowledge our responses to her requests for clarification were not satisfactory.

A good step in the right direction, however...

We believe that Ms. Cellio was not acting with malicious intent. We believe she did not understand all of the nuances and full intent and meaning of our Code of Conduct and was confused about what actions it required and forbade.

This comes under the impression that Monica committed wrongdoing in the first place. Violating an unclear, unrefined code of conduct by asking for clarity about it that wasn't even applicable to the site as a whole yet in a private chatroom (the Teacher's Lounge) designed to garner clarity around difficult issues.

I'm happy that there's finally a degree of agreement between SE and Monica. It's been awhile without much update, but as the situation had turned legal, I suppose that's to be expected.

Lastly,

We invited Ms. Cellio to apply for possible reinstatement on all six sites following our new reinstatement process. Ms. Cellio expressed concerns about the new process and has not applied.

Her issues with the reinstatement process were rather detailed as an answer on your meta post and the specific issues Monica had with it were largely ignored. Though to be fair, the comments got very numerous.

I'm firmly of the position that SE will never reinstate Monica without forcing her to go through the reinstatement process. During which, as far as I understand, a single community manager can choose to halt the process entirely.

Instead of focusing on Monica's issue specifically, I feel as though we should focus on SE's rather erroneous lack of transparency not only on this issue, but on many other issues detailed in this longstanding meta post.

Keep moving forward, SE. This is your chance to start to make things right.

62
votes

Everyone else has pointed out that this reads like lawyer speak, likely because it is and I'm guessing this is the outcome of the discussions between lawyers. Since nobody can talk about the actual agreement, there's not really that much to say.

I do note that there doesn't actually appear to be an public apology from Stack Overflow to Monica Cellio in this post. I also find it very interesting that you didn't just reinstate Cellio as moderator and are making her go through a "reinstatement process." Having seen similar situations, I'm going to interpret this as "Didn't quite have the legal grounds to fire you at the time, so if you apply for a job again maybe we will hire you again." Of course, most reasonable people don't want to return to work in a hostile work environment.

On a lighter note, I find it grimly ironic that as a child I was given detention for telling another student "I'm sorry you were offended by what I said." but as an adult I see similar language being dictated by lawyers.

  • 4
    That's not a lighter note. – user253751 Dec 27 '19 at 11:47
  • What did you say to offend the student? – paj28 Jan 6 at 19:23
62
votes

After reading the "Update" and many, many answers I have a few thoughts. Some of my thoughts will echo what a lot of others have said.

(This part is just my speculation)

This "Update" sounds like it is part of an agreement, this is not the agreement. The lawyers made SE post a recant of their actions. Each paragraph touches on one of the points of pain here. CoC, the "warning", media, policies and processes, and reinstatement.

The reason neither side can comment is because no doubt there is a non-disclosure clause in the agreement. Meaning that when this is finally over and done, we (the community) will get to know nothing.

I can only hope the agreement Monica and SE have come to is fairer than this legalese.


As soon as I saw this I wondered about when this was posted... (Granted they did not post on a Friday afternoon.) Is it a coincidence this was posted during the lowest point of activity for the whole year?

Now SE can easily brush that off by saying "this was an important issue for many in our community, as such we wanted to get the information out as soon as possible."

But that's not good enough for me.
The Update reads like a coerced post, there is no soul to it. It is all meaningless words, and it sounds like SE's lawyers are trying to admit as little as possible, while maintaining their position.

From my perspective I'm again saddened by this "Update."

  • very astute analysis. I agree – Richard says Reinstate Monica Jan 5 at 7:55
  • This is where SE should have been earning trust so the community can give them the benefit of the doubt. Because they have not, I have no choice but to assume the 12/23 date was deliberate. – Carduus Jan 7 at 19:25
58
votes

...we invited Ms. Cellio to apply for possible reinstatement on all six sites following our new reinstatement process. Ms. Cellio expressed concerns about the new process and has not applied.

People have already pointed out the assumption of guilt here, and I would like to add that this feels very much like a strategic move to "officially" torpedo, or at least severely handicap Monica's mod status. Even if Monica chose to go this route, this reinstatement process would put her mod status in the fate of 3 CMs who are supposed to be impartial, but I question if any SE CM would fit that description now (i.e, if there is anyone left who could approach this from a "clean slate" so to speak). Further still, if she passes this and isn't given the official thumbs down, the reinstatement process allows for arbitrary preconditions that she would have to follow "or else" - and I can only imagine what kind of conditionals would be enforced here.

57
votes

Many responses here to Update: an agreement with Monica Cellio deal with the last two sentences.

But given, the preceding text, the last two sentences don't come as a surprise.

The language used in the update induced me to search for "fake apology". Some apt quotes follow in the hope that there can be a beneficial closure to this sad affair:

From The Top 12 Fake Apologies — And What Makes For An Authentic Apology

Apologizing can renew trust, soothe hurt feelings and return the lifeblood to a damaged relationship. But when someone hurts you and gives you a fake apology, it can make things worse, not better.

From Sorry, Not Sorry

There was a time in American public life when atonement was seen as a form of strength—a way not only to own up to one’s missteps, but also to do that classic work of crisis management: control the narrative. (“I’m the responsible officer of the government,” John F. Kennedy said of the Bay of Pigs. “This happened on my watch,” Ronald Reagan said of Iran-Contra. “I take full responsibility for the federal government’s response,” George W. Bush said of Hurricane Katrina.) Bucks stopped. Power came with responsibility.

From 6 Types of Apologies That Aren't Apologies at All in the section Mistakes were made

For those who feel that "deeply regret" is admitting too much responsibility, they can upgrade to "mistakes were made," the highest level of non-apology, used at the highest levels of government. Presidents as diverse as Reagan and Clinton have used the phrase, which one-ups "deeply regret" by not only leaving it open whether they are actually the culprit but existentially questioning whether there even is one.

56
votes

This statement was made strictly to address the libel Monica suffered at the hands of SE employees. The issue of libel is the only thing Monica is able to hold SE legally liable for. How SE chooses to manage mods on their sites is up to their discretion. So this is probably the most Monica could hope for via the lawsuit.

Reading between the lines, this statement was mandated by the settlement. But the people involved in stripping Monica of her diamond don't really want her back, and it's up to their discretion, so they're "offering" her a way to get her diamond back that they know she'll refuse. They're not the least bit sorry, and are continuing to wield their power in a toxic way. SE's relationship with the community is still really, really toxic, and the internal employees responsible for this are not changing tack.

(Conjecture: having it appear on "Featured on Meta" across all SE sites was probably also part of the settlement. Having this specific employee post the statement may even have been part of it too.)

  • 16
    If the company truly wanted to fix things up then, in addition to giving the diamonds back, the message would have been from the CEO. Other companies have done such things. SE did not. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Dec 30 '19 at 16:33
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    Well, my guess is the person who posted the message may have been mandated by the settlement. To your point though, the fact that Monica's diamond wasn't given back is a sign of how SE really feels – BobbyA Dec 30 '19 at 16:35
54
votes

To sum up your statement: despite no evidence or details of Monica's alleged misconduct, you still believe she was in the wrong, but you are willing to (condescendingly) admit that maybe she didn't do that (whatever that is) on purpose. The only fault on your side is perhaps miscommunication. In light of that, you graciously allow her to petition for reinstatement.

// todo: insert "I am a merciful God" meme

47
votes

About the agreement: it's important to point out that both sides have published the same notice. Ms Chipps, as Director of Public Q/A, did it here, while Ms Cellio did it on her GoFundMe page (locked for now). Nothing has been posted on Monica's blog as of this post was written.

It seems important that we allow both sides to keep working, without disturbing/bothering them. Sure, we can still talk about the processes, about things that need to be improved around the network, but please, let's be careful not to harm Monica (who can't comment, as she stated). Under what seems to be a standard NDA, Ms Chipps can't comment either (as she stated in a comment). So, if we write or spread wrong things or ideas, it may do more harm than good, we should just be very careful not to do that.

This statement is a first step. Many people wouldn't think it could even happen, but it did. If Monica agreed to this, let's assume it's good enough for her? Negotiation is almost always a give and take game. Let's trust Monica to be smart enough to have gotten the best she could get for her because she's clever.

People who supported her can still do. People who fought for an improved community can still do. Defaming this statement, agreed by both sides, while same both sides can't comment or defend themselves, might not be the best way to discuss all still pending and related issues. Healing takes time, and we might just be still "licking the wounds". Just my two cents...

  • 41
    "They reached an agreement." That means they aren't going to "keep working"--they're done, it's over. Certainly Monica agreed to this, but it's plausible that Monica sincerely believed that this agreement was the best that was going to actually happen, & so it was this or nothing. It's hard to say that this agreement is something she actually finds agreeable on its merits. Her statement that she would like the removal to be reversed implies the agreement is not fully acceptable. – gung - Reinstate Monica Dec 24 '19 at 1:27
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    @gung : agreeing doesn't mean you're done talking and working. You still have sometimes a lot more to do before all points agreed upon are effectively reached. So, all that's important (to many of us), at the moment, is that she feels better (hope she does!) and that the process of her name being cleaned is on its way. 1/2 – OldPadawan Dec 24 '19 at 6:48
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    (2/2) and when a company agrees to let you go through one of their processes as part as an agreement, it's merely to say there was a process. By doing that, they let the person say "no I don't wish to come back". Or, if the person goes through and is reinstalled, company can say "see how our new process is fair and good". And not reinstalling the person would instantly light another equivalent fire and putting oil on it. They sure wouldn't do that IMO. – OldPadawan Dec 24 '19 at 6:54
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    ...not reinstalling the person would instantly light another equivalent fire and putting oil on it. They sure wouldn't do that IMO. This assertion is contradicted by the facts. Fact 1: There is no reason Monica should have to go through a process to be reinstated. Fact 2: Monica has already said no to the reinstatement process, and the SO notice here reinforces that. Fact 3: They could just as easily unilaterally reinstated Monica (i.e. given her back her diamond) and Monica could've easily responded by resigning from her moderator roles. – President James K. Polk Dec 27 '19 at 12:29
  • @JamesReinstateMonicaPolk: if you (a company) publicly tell a person to go through a process you just put in place, you can be sure you can't fail or be blamed by that same company, unless that company wants to light another fire. Do they? Hm... Automatic reinstatement would say with too loud a voice "we were sooo wrong". Going through the process would say: we made mistakes (who is we?) and we (SO Inc.) help fix them. Good guy, bad guy? – OldPadawan Dec 27 '19 at 15:32
  • This statement is a steaming pile of legalese newspeak, – Richard says Reinstate Monica Jan 5 at 4:09
  • @Richard: as always... It couldn't be different, because, since the GoFundMe raising, it was only legal stuff. Lawyers involved means lawyers talk. Like in any case when you have a government/union/politician/spokeperson and the need to comment/publish anything. Always the same way, same ambiguous words, same "I say it but I don't say it" arguments. (shrug) – OldPadawan Jan 5 at 7:31
  • @OldPadawan It could have been different. IANAL, but I have been around enough legalese to know the difference between sincere and insincere, and yes, both can be conveyed through legalese. Just like when someone leaves a company. If the announcement is "Left to pursue other opportunities", it means he was fired. If it says "We wish him all the best in his future endeavors" he left on good terms. This has all the sincerity of a 3rd grader being made to apologize in front of the class for pulling a classmate's hair. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Jan 5 at 7:49
  • Also, there are different ways of being ambiguous. I have had to learn this because my autism makes it very difficult to lie. Case in point, at my mother's funeral, a coworker she didn't like showed up and introduced herself. I said, honestly, "Oh yes, she spoke of you often". The implication there was positive. Ambiguity can lean positive, negative, or be entirely neutral. SE's statement was more negative than anything else. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Jan 5 at 7:59
  • @Richard: agree with you... You can almost always "smell" the taste of (in)sincerity in these kind of statements, no matter who wrote them. I won't comment because, as I said, I don't want to harm or hurt Monica or anybody else. Just hope she got the best for her. If other battles (for community's sake) need to be fought, they may be linked, but should be separated. – OldPadawan Jan 5 at 8:10
  • @OldPadawan I'm still debating as to whether or not I would walk away. I did leave for a while, but came back when I found out about this mess. This whole mess has become a bit of a zeitgeist now, reflecting what many believe to be the spirit of SE as a whole. I don't know how SE will dig themselves out of this hole. The negative votes are pretty much an indication of just how little trust the user base has, at this point. At least the active user base. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Jan 5 at 8:37
45
votes

I don't believe that your agreement precludes you from admitting fault.

I do believe that the agreement protects you from further legal action.

If you are protected from further legal action then there is no legal risk in admitting fault. I can only surmise that you avoided admitting fault because you don't believe you did anything wrong.

This is clearly the final nail, and it's clear that you haven't been building a bridge.

  • 2
    Exactly. Or they could have offered to admit fault as part of the settlement without attempting to extract any concessions in return. Monica certainly wouldn't have objected. – President James K. Polk Dec 29 '19 at 13:01
44
votes

This announcement update reads like lawyer-speak; as others have already noted, likely because it is. It also reads rather like another of the series of non-apology apologies that have been posted in this matter, which at first glance appear to offer an apology but once you start picking them apart turn out to not be apologetic at all (except in the sense of "we're sorry we got caught").

However, Monica Cellio has, within the last few hours, turned off donations for the Defend Monica from Defamation by Stack Overflow GoFundMe campaign and linked to the statement here from that campaign. Even though Monica is clearly not allowed to comment on the agreement, and Sara Chipps has stated that further comments will not be forthcoming from company officials, until otherwise indicated, and even though I do not know any details about the agreement beyond those posted in these two locations, I'm willing to take that action of Monica's as a proxy indication that Monica accepts the outcome of the negotiations.

unfortunately I can't comment further. Apologies in advance for any frustration that causes. – Sara Chipps♦ 1 hour ago
we truly can't for legal reasons. – Sara Chipps♦ 1 hour ago

I'm hopeful that this agreement between Stack Overflow Inc and Monica Cellio is a positive, at least partial, resolution specifically between them.

I also note that this does little to address the many other issues raised by various members of the community over the recent months and year(s). Stack Overflow Inc therefore, in my opinion, still has a long way to go in repairing the damage caused by the events that have taken place since long before Monica was summarily dismissed as a moderator, some of which I have enumerated in other posts I have made on the network, and others of which have been discussed by other users.

  • 15
    It's plausible that Monica sincerely believed that this agreement was the best that was going to actually happen, & so it was this or nothing. It's hard to say that this agreement is something she actually finds agreeable on its merits. Her statement that she would like the removal to be reversed implies the agreement is not fully acceptable. I agree that, even if both sides are happy w/ this outcome, this does not address the other issues of concern to the community. – gung - Reinstate Monica Dec 23 '19 at 20:21
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    @gung-ReinstateMonica "Her statement that she would like the removal to be reversed implies the agreement is not fully acceptable." Hence "at least partial". – a CVn Dec 23 '19 at 20:25
44
votes

I won't reiterate in detail what others have said (for short: forced apology, false apology, "invitation for possible reinstatment", lawyer speak, etc...). Criticizing the wording and speculating about the reasons and implications of the wording won't help here anyhow.

But I'd like to express one concern:

Announcing an "agreement" for one particular case does not mean that the issue is resolved. And one of the root issues (abstracting from the specific case of Monica) is: The CoC established certain rules (particularly speech codes). The enforcement of the rules is completely arbitrary. The consequences of not following the rules are also arbitrary, and SE made an example of Monica: It shows the (abuse of the) unlimited power of the authorities. It proves that not only violating the rules, but also questioning the rules or (and that's a severe problem: ) even just talking about the rules can have devastating effects. This is confirmed to some extent by further cases, like that of Robert Harvey.

The case of Monica will undoubtedly have a chilling effect. Even if there was an "agreement" for one particular instance now, hardly anybody will have the guts to risk damaging the own reputation, being defamed publicly and having to silently swallow false accusations that are made by SE. Hardly anybody can afford hiring a lawyer for that, and when there are dozens of GoFundMe-campaigns of people who try to stop SE harming them, none of them would achieve ~$25000 or even come close to an amount that could cover the possible expenses.

The bottom line is: There may have been one agreement, but this does not mean that any of the problems that are summarized in Firing mods and forced relicensing: is Stack Exchange still interested in cooperating with the community? has been solved. Subjectively and personally, I won't even consider contributing anything to the main sites only because some people agreed on (probably not much more than) no longer talking about one specific instance of a much broader problem.

  • 1
    @cegfault see entry 7 of the resigned mods in the post linked in tbis answer (Firing mods, etc.) – Tensibai Dec 26 '19 at 17:02
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    Monica made the hugely innocent mistake of using her own real name as her 'username'. So it's much easier to find details about this situation by simple searching (googling) her name. If there were a public article out there saying 'user 'Tensibai' or 'user Marco13' was accused of ..., then it would have a less damaging effect on the real person. – Steerpike Dec 26 '19 at 17:33
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    @Steerpike That's true to some extent. Remaining really anonymous is not that hard, but only if you are careful all the time. And it's distressing that this seems to be necessary now. For example, I was somehow "proud" of my contributions here, and linked from my website to my SO profile and vice versa. In view of the recent events, I removed these links. But there are still dozens of answers/comments out there where I link to one of my GitHub repos. It feels uncomfortable... like just being a few hateful tweets away from having one's reputation ruined. – Marco13 Dec 26 '19 at 21:27
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    The moderator who felt the (frustratingly ironic) necessity to remove the comments about the issue of Robert Harvey should also have removed the first one by @Tensibai (this is like playing "hide and seek" with a 3 year old, who tries to "hide" by covering his eyes with his hands: "If I cannot see you, then you cannot see me"). History has shown that when things derail really badly, then it's usually not the fault of one individual, but the fault of many individuals. – Marco13 Dec 28 '19 at 21:43
42
votes

It's good that Monica finally has some closure. To me, though, this post is, in a sense, worse than nothing. SO Inc. (SOI) would have been better off simply stating that an agreement was reached, and leave it at that. Everything else in this post is problematic.

Monica was hurt in many ways:

  • Maligned publicly in the media. A statement on Meta SE does nothing to repair that.
  • Stripped of all her mod diamonds. These were not restored, and subjecting her to a reinstatement process after all details have already been clarified and worked out in negotiations is a sham, and unfair burden.
  • Put through a hellish process and treatment. SOI made a business decision to settle, but clearly still presents that the underlying fault was Monica's.

So after enduring a long process and being worn down by the company, Monica accepted some terms to gain closure. But this post would have been very different if the settlement was anything along the lines that the community would consider appropriate, righteous, and fair.

The current announcement still does not clarify what behavior was deemed as proper motivation for SOI's actions. That affects all users. In the first non-apology apology, SOI went so far as to acknowledge that the timing of its actions was inopportune. In this non-apology non-apology, SOI acknowledges that some version of the CoC might have been a little ambiguous, so Monica might have been confused (but still the onus was on her and she did something wrong, which has never been explained). In fact, the post acknowledges that SOI didn't satisfactorily respond to requests for clarification.

This post does express some regret, albeit with qualifications, that stuff happened, as stuff is wont to do. It describes how much the company respects Monica, thinks she's a good person, has so much to contribute, etc., etc. But apparently not so much that SOI sees fit to simply reverse its actions. So really, how sincere can these compliments be? Well, it's the kind of language the lawyers came up with that both sides can live with.

Where does that leave the rest of the community? Chaos has reigned because of a host of actions and policies by SOI. These were epitomized by Monica's treatment, but that was the tip of the iceberg. Had SOI done right by Monica, it could have restored a lot of faith in the company.

Instead, this post crystallizes the concerns and opinions the community has had. Anyone can make a mistake. When it happens, own it and make it right. Here, company management just kept digging a deeper hole, ostensibly because stockholders and lawyers and the easy solution. The deeper the hole, the more people must be thrown under the bus to fill it, rather than admitting and fixing your own mistakes. That's not business decisions in the real world, it's just very ethically challenged.

This announcement does provide a kind of closure for all of us. It makes clear how the company will operate. We can come to terms that the platform is what it is and live with it, or there's the door.

Our decisions and actions won't affect SOI's policies or behavior. It's their platform and they don't care. We can piss and moan on Meta SE, but it appears that SOI is simply ignoring it. At home, I DVR TV shows so I can fast-forward through the commercials and not have to see them. SOI is doing the equivalent. Who knows how much our protests may have affected Monica's outcome (it doesn't appear that we gained her more than lawyers, alone, could have done). SOI has also doubled down on its policies and priorities. At this point, it seems like we're accomplishing little more than marinating in our own toxic thought bubble.

Now I have a decision to make.

  • 3
    SO really don't have any solid assets other than a strong user-base at this point. As a private company with venture funding, they are almost definitely hoping to go public, and for that to work, they need to demonstrate they can monetize their service. There's only two things they can monetize; job seeking, and targeted advertising. And for these two items, they need to demonstrate continued growth in users. They've added non-techie sites to grow users, which I think are a bad 'fit' for the technology, and they are struggling to attract new users (new COC was an attempt to fix this (1/2) ... – Steerpike Dec 26 '19 at 17:40
  • 7
    (cont...) So just as SO was an attempt to improve on expertsexchange, the time is ripe for a new site/service to replace SO. There's really nothing proprietary about how they run the site, and one could argue it's in much need of an overhaul anyway. Starting from scratch could be a great opportunity for someone. All these dissatisfied users / moderators could find a new home and put their hearts and souls into it, and let SO suffer the fate it deserves (2/2). – Steerpike Dec 26 '19 at 17:42
  • 6
    @Steerpike, you might be interested in the link in this user's "About me". – jscs Dec 27 '19 at 2:05
37
votes

I think it's enough of discussion here. Monica has moved on, and so shall we. As per her latest blog post - she has been recruited in a Community driven Q&A site.

Time for leaving Stack Exchange and join that new Q&A site - actions of SE shall decide.

  • Translation, SE it rekt so she took da $$ n ran. Good for her. – Johns-305 Jan 7 at 19:57
  • Those "replace SE" projects are a dime a dozen. Codidact is too focused on debating about process. They've been at it since this mess started and still don't have anything live. I'm less familiar with TopAnswers, but they seem in desperate need of someone that's designed a website in this millennium. There are a bazillion sites like SE out there... None of them get the traffic they need to come close to "replacing" SE. – Cerbrus Jan 8 at 11:43
35
votes

Ah, nothing like legalese BS. and NOT GOOD ENOUGH

TLDR:

  1. NO admission of guilt on the part of SE
  2. No admission of wrong doing on the part of SE
  3. The implication that Monica is an idiot with this statement "she did not understand all of the nuances and full intent and meaning of our Code of Conduct"
  4. You are lying when you said you respect her, if you did, you would have just reinstated her, rather than make her go through a process. If she did nothing wrong, then there should be no process for her to go through. But I assume your lawyers told you that you had to hold your ground on that one.
  5. "We regret we used her name". Nice, you don't regret what you said about her, only that you used her name.

In short, this is a transparent attempt to smooth things over without admitting just how effed up you are.

FULL ANALYSIS

Stack Overflow and Monica Cellio have come to an agreement.

Translation: You were in the wrong, and still won't admit it.

We believe that Ms. Cellio was not acting with malicious intent.

No, your lawyer told you to post this. The timing of her firing (right before a high Jewish holiday) in addition to some of the comments I've seen made leads me to believe that there was a degree of antisemitism involved.

We believe she did not understand all of the nuances and full intent and meaning of our Code of Conduct and was confused about what actions it required and forbade.

Bascially, you are saying she's an idiot. I don't believe this sentence at all. If you thought she didn't understand something, you should have explained it, not fired her.

We acknowledge our responses to her requests for clarification were not satisfactory.

By not satisfactory, you mean malicious, nasty, stone-walling, and libelous.

The verbiage in our Code of Conduct could have been more explicitly detailed about what was expected.

It wasn't the verbiage, it was the malicious, draconian, selective enforcement, based on actions you claimed Monica MIGHT take. Not only did you convict her without any sort of process, but without any sort of offense

We always valued Ms. Cellio’s contributions to the community and respect her intelligence, integrity, and professional writing skills.

Complete and utter BS! Your actions speak volumes, and you took no action at all until AFTER this went legal. If you valued her, you never would have fired her at all, you would have responded to her inquiries, and you would have reinstated her once you realized your mistake. All this is, is a collection of empty words, meaning nothing, drafted by a lawyer and about as sincere as a politician 3 days before an election

While our initial statement did not address her specifically, we regret that we used her name when responding to a reporter's follow-up. We regret any damage to Ms. Cellio's reputation and any other damage she may have suffered.

What you regret is that Monica fought back, and that so many of us supported her.
you libeled her in a news piece. You don't regret anything other than the legal entanglements your own bad actions caused you

We have since updated some of our policies and processes to help ensure we are more careful in our public communications, and that there is a clearer process anytime a moderator's status is revoked as well as a process for reinstatement.

Too little, too late

We respect Ms. Cellio and believe she is a good person with much to offer and contribute. We sincerely hope she remains an active member of our community. In recognition of the mistakes that led us here, we invited Ms. Cellio to apply for possible reinstatement on all six sites following our new reinstatement process. Ms. Cellio expressed concerns about the new process and has not applied.

If you TRULY respected Monica, there would be no process for her to go through to correct YOUR ERROR. You see, this is where any semblance of sincerity on your part crumbles to so much dust. You say that Monica did not act with malicious intent, and that at worst she didn't understand the policy.

Now, either you are saying that she's the dumbest person on SE, and that everyone else understood it, or you are just lying even more. I have bumped heads with Monica in the past, but she is far from dumb. If the policy was unclear to HER, that should have been a red flag to you that the policy should have been reviewed.

You screwed up, and now you want Monica to crawl back and go through a process to fix the mistake YOU made.

  • 8
    You can't re-litigate this matter. You may not like the outcome of the settlement, but that doesn't give you a position to re-litigate what the settled terms are. Remember: Stack Exchange sets the rules on how moderators are brought back into the system. If someone doesn't want to participate in that workflow, then that person has no leg to stand on when it comes to reinstatement of any kind. – Makoto Jan 2 at 17:30
  • 21
    @Makoto You miss the point. Monica didn’t get the benefit of any process (the one that existed at the time she was removed or the new one). It was wrong to demod her and it should be corrected without any hoop jumping on her part. Unless someone doesn’t think it was wrong to fire her. There’s no “re-litigating” when there was no due process in the first place. – ColleenV Jan 2 at 17:53
  • 10
    "Stack Exchange sets the rules" Rules are not ends in themselves. Rules are guidelines to help people understand and choose the right action for a situation. (Especially when the wrong action may be quicker, easier, or more seductive.) When there is this wide of a gap between the rules and what's right, the rules are worse than useless, and calling that fact out becomes the right action. – jscs Jan 2 at 19:03
  • 4
    @ColleenVpartedways: I don't disagree that it was abrupt and sudden to demod her either, but you miss my point. In the official language posted by Stack Exchange and later echoed by Monica on her campaign page, the statement included language about an opportunity to re-apply. This implies that the settlement was firm about how she could return to being a moderator. The due process was the mediation, and everything I've read to this point makes me think that it didn't go the way a lot of people wanted and they want to push for it again. – Makoto Jan 2 at 19:57
  • 2
    @jscs: You misunderstand. Stack Exchange has set-in-stone rules for moderators and moderation. There's no room for interpretation since the ultimate remedy to the violation would be removal - from modship, sites, or both. This is their field, and anyone who wishes to participate is subject to their rules. No ifs, ands or buts about it. – Makoto Jan 2 at 19:59
  • 11
    @Makoto People have the right to advocate for any outcome they would like, even if they’re just tilting at windmills, so long as they do it without disrupting the site or breaking the Code of Conduct. I understand that SE is not going to reinstate Monica. I did not reach an agreement with SE, so I am under no obligation to not speak about it or to let it drop. It’s not going to be resolved for me until it’s clear that SE understands that treating people the way they treated Monica is unethical, not just a series of regrettable mistakes. – ColleenV Jan 2 at 21:29
  • 2
    I think you missed that Monica also was part of this "settlement" process. She had a say in what statement should be announced for public. If we interpret this the way you did, we basically believe that Monica wasn't competent and was manipulated by SE lawyers during the settlement. I'd rather not think that way. – M-- Jan 2 at 22:07
  • 8
    @Makoto I'm not retrying anything, I am voicing my opinion, and dissatisfaction with the wording, and I believe I was quite clear about it. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Jan 2 at 22:30
  • 9
    @M-- Anyone who has ever been party to an arbitration knows that you aren’t going to get everything what you want and the deck is stacked in the company’s favor. Monica decided what was good enough for her to be able to move on, and I’m happy she got there so quickly. That doesn’t mean this is good enough for everyone that has a stake in SE’s relationship with its community and moderators. – ColleenV Jan 2 at 22:33
  • 4
    @M-- I missed nothing and I did not interpret this in the manner you are implying. As to whether or not she had a say in this statement, You do not know this unless you have been in communication with her. The statement is garbage legalese and transparent as glass – Richard says Reinstate Monica Jan 2 at 22:34
  • @ColleenVpartedways Exactly. I walked away from 15k in a legal manner one time, simply because it would have cost me more to fight for it. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Jan 2 at 22:35
  • 3
    @Richard first of all, I am not defending SE. I'm pissed off about their conduct not just about this matter but in many other ways. And I'm with you on BS legalese part. But I don't agree with every part of your interpretation. If I implied something that would be offensive, I am willing to extend an apology. – M-- Jan 2 at 22:50
  • 1
    @M-- fair enough. Maybe I'm just too irked about it myself. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Jan 3 at 3:32
35
votes

I can't stress this enough anymore:

It's time to leave the Stack Exchange network.

Without rehashing everything said in the top upvoted answer, it's clear SE wants to just bury this whole thing, and move on. Over the course of the last week, I've only grown more angry at this resolution: Leaving Monica without her diamond, and offering likely nothing but hush money, with a heartless legalize statement.

This isn't the Stack Exchange network I signed up for, and it's not the Stack Exchange network I intend to stay in. Me, employees of SE, and many others have done the same. It's time to send a message: Going down this path is going to lose the most loyal and trusted members of this network.

  • 5
    The problem with that is ... probably these members aren't the ones that really get the money flowing towards SE Inc. ... if the 100 top contributors on stackoverflow decided to go silent for a month ... I bet: Monica would have been reinstated after 5 days. – GhostCat Jan 5 at 19:52
  • 6
    @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC. Then the only thing to do, is to spread the word, and prevent this type of injustice from occurring again – Goodbye StackExchange Jan 5 at 20:35
  • 8
    Many of the top 100 went silent. SE thought that new blood was able to compensate enough. I feel the difference. – EngrStudent Jan 5 at 22:23
  • @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC. Monica should've been reinstated immediately. And Staff can do that to her! – Ṃųỻịgǻňạcểơửṩ Jan 8 at 20:33
33
votes

Sounded good enough - not really contrite but standard 'I'm sorry you were offended' style / could perhaps have done better / Monica is not REALLY the creature from the pit of hell / ... .

Bearable enough, probably.
Seemed to be leading up to a "So we have offered to reinstate 'Ms Cellio' [whoever] with a mutual understanding of the rules of engagement that now apply."

But, then, instead ...

" ... we invited Ms. Cellio to apply for possible reinstatement on all six sites following our new reinstatement process. ..."

Why bother posting this?
What has really changed from the stuff we've been hearing 'for some while'?
Does anyone, of any persuasion, really think that that is an 'answer' to the 'problem'?
As opposed to "Well, we made the offer. So, we're OK .... It's in her camp."

Really?

Try this question: "If YOU were treated like this in circumstances that were essentially equivalent for YOU, how would you feel / react ?"

Really?

  • 4
    Added 2nd & 3rd question marks above as per @Peter M's edit. Rolled back balance of edit. If I'd wanted it in purest Queen's English I'd have written it therein from the get go. I'm happy with what I wrote. I consider the edits unhelpful, at best. || Adding " ... we have italics and bold on this platform ... " as a comment to ANY edit is liable to mar the reception, even if it was, unlike in this instance, an apposite one. – Russell McMahon Dec 29 '19 at 6:17
33
votes

This seems so superficial. This is not even an apology for releasing her name to the reporter and maligning her name; attacking her personally.

It should be noted that this response has only come after legal actions are bring pursued. This is a half-hearted attempt at best and certainly not an apology!

  • 10
    Maybe there is another article by The Register to come? Who knows?... – OldPadawan Dec 28 '19 at 17:32
33
votes

When I think I am wrong I say: Sorry, I was wrong. Please, come back, if you want.
When I think I am on the right side I say: You misbehaved, and possibly You can come back, only if you apologise.

In this regard, your statement does not make crystal clear on what side is the wrongdoing (much like a politician's speech). The lack of a bold statement works against you, harming your reputation more than it is supposed to help.

More Generally
When you have the responsibility of affecting other people's fortunes and misfortunes with a click, it is unavoidable to occasionally click through in the wrong direction. In those circumstances, the best action is always to recognise the error, if there was one.

31
votes

This answer is filled with "lawyer speak", but if the sentence:

We regret any damage to Ms. Cellio's reputation and any other damage she may have suffered.

is really true, then why does she have to apply to become a moderator again? You regret any other damage that she suffered (for example losing her job as moderator), so if you regret it so much, why not re-instate her and allow her to step down if she doesn't want to be a moderator anymore?

30
votes

You've got another window of opportunity. There's always another chance.

Reinstate Monica. Think about it: The above sanitized statement makes it abundantly clear that you've said what you've legally obligated yourself to say.

That means that if you reinstate her, it will be apparent that you are not doing so out of legal obligation, but rather out of a desire to do something decent, just because it's the right thing to do.

Give in to doing what's right. Trust me, it will feel good.

29
votes

I would like to point out that, out of all days possible to release this statement, it was decided to post it again the day before a major holiday? I believe Stack Overflow commented multiple times how one of the failures on the firing of Monica was the fact it was done the day before an important day? This seriously makes me doubt whether SO learned anything from the major outcry last time, or even worse, the promises made that communication like that would not happen anymore.

Other than that, this statement is so filled with void that I personally don't even feel anything positive or negative around it.

  • 8
    Note that the major issue with the specific holiday that this whole thing when down on was that it was a holiday in which Monica was going to be completely offline. Also note that this was not an issue here. I don't really see anything wrong with announcing something 2 days before a holiday where all the participants are available and willing. Given the worldwide nature of this site, it's kind of hard not to do something on a holiday for someone, somewhere. – Rubiksmoose Dec 27 '19 at 1:05
  • 2
    @Rubiksmoose Standing alone no, but when management promises not to convey major news / updates like this in perspective to major celebrations, they're clearly just breaking another promise. Which is the point of this answer. – roberrrt-s Dec 27 '19 at 1:07
  • Real question: did they ever actually promise not to announce something on/before any holiday? I don't remember them doing that. – Rubiksmoose Dec 27 '19 at 1:11
  • 1
    @Rubiksmoose I was expecting that question, but it seems as if previous apologies have been deleted, my urls return a "page not found". However, there's a remark here where it at least is being acknowledged. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/334551/… – roberrrt-s Dec 27 '19 at 1:13
  • 1
    In addition for context: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/334370/… – roberrrt-s Dec 27 '19 at 1:15
  • 3
    "We learned (or were painfully reminded, rather) to never ship at 6 PM (EDT) on a Friday. We didn’t follow that rule last week and as a result there was a lot of confusion over the weekend. Even more, this weekend was a religious holiday observed by many on the site. We’re sorry for the confusion and uneasiness that caused." Via: web.archive.org/web/20191223022626/https://… – roberrrt-s Dec 27 '19 at 1:17
  • 5
    Right, and this seems like a comment different scenario to me. This very much doesn't seem to be a case of repeating that mistake. I'd rather people focus on the very real mistakes SE has made rather than non issues. – Rubiksmoose Dec 27 '19 at 1:22
  • 3
    Your mileage may vary. – roberrrt-s Dec 27 '19 at 1:23
  • 3
    "Given the worldwide nature of this site, it's kind of hard not to do something on a holiday for someone, somewhere." There is no doubt that December 24-25 is a "major" holiday in BY FAR more of the world than any other "major holiday" anywhere. Furthermore, perhaps doing this announcement on December 23 would reduce the number of angry people that would see it. By the time they return from the holidays (for some people, all the way in January) they see it as older news and don't get as outraged. Alternatively, maybe they just wanted to get it done before the holiday and not wait till 2020. – user1271772 Dec 27 '19 at 5:44
  • 3
    @user1271772 If they wanted to try to minimize the number of people that see this they probably wouldn't have featured the post. It's possible that the timing was a way to reduce drama, but it seems more likely to me (as you also mention) that the timing was a result of when the agreement was actually done. It would make sense for both parties to want to resolve it before going on break for holidays. But yeah, I agree this timing certainly was one of the most prominent holidays worldwide. – Rubiksmoose Dec 27 '19 at 5:50
  • @Rubiksmoose. I didn't notice that it was a "feature post". Yes they might have done this simply to get it done before the holidays, meaning that it was a coincidence that last time it was the day before Monica's holiday. It seems that they might be regretting it now because their Christmas might have been ruined by all this backlash (700+ downvotes, and several pages of angry comments). – user1271772 Dec 27 '19 at 5:53
  • @user1271772 Yeah, at the very least, if reducing the backlash was their goal, it didn't seem to work very well. – Rubiksmoose Dec 27 '19 at 5:55
  • 1
    I don't get why people focus on announcements before holidays so much... During holidays is when you have more free time to slack around on SE. When you're at work, you should work rather than read and post on meta. No? – user000001 Dec 29 '19 at 16:59
25
votes

If Monica is happy, I'm happy

I think the two key points here are:

SO:

Stack Overflow and Monica Cellio have come to an agreement.

and Monica:

I can't comment further for legal reasons.

So, obviously Monica has settled. Since the statement contains virtually nothing of benefit to Monica in itself (not even an automatic reinstatement of the moderator flag), and since Monica is smart and has legal representation, I think it's safe to assume there is a financial settlement here.

If she's happy with the lukewarm apology and outcome offered above, then so should we be. It's still a shitty path that they have taken, and I'm sure there will be more of them, but as far as this particular battle goes, I think it's done.

  • 5
    The situation might have been settled. It did not benefit her in any way whatsoever. – Ṃųỻịgǻňạcểơửṩ Dec 24 '19 at 3:56
  • 24
    I would find it extraordinary if there were no compensation. I don't see what she would have to gain in that case in agreeing to this statement, and agreeing not to comment further "for legal reasons". Unless perhaps there is still some pending legal action, but in that case it seems odd that SO would comment at all. – Steve Bennett Dec 24 '19 at 5:59
  • 6
    @MulliganReinstatingMonica Why would Monica sign an agreement and NDA if it didn't benefit her in some shape of form? She was the one suing. – Von Huffman Dec 24 '19 at 7:53
  • @MulliganReinstatingMonica even if they did, Monica might not want it back. – Lankymart Dec 24 '19 at 9:27
  • 20
    I'm not happy with a lukewarm non-apology. This does nothing to reassure community members that the same will not happen to them the next time an SE staffer goes on an irrational vendetta against a user. – hmakholm left over Monica Dec 24 '19 at 12:22
  • 3
    @ByBw - technically, did Monica actually sue? My understanding is, she was raising funds in preparation for a possible future legal action. Lawyers are not cheap. Just having a few preliminary meetings and then having the lawyers wade through all this 'noise' here on Meta and other sources (in order to decide whether she has a good case or not) would take a lot of hours. Her $30k GoFundMe account would not support a lengthy legal battle. So I would expect she was going through these preliminary stages. Similarly, SO could have made moves to counter-sue, to let her know what was coming. – Steerpike Dec 24 '19 at 17:13
  • 8
    Nothing about this suggests that she is happy, just that she agreed. I note that, if I got what I wanted in such a situation, I would be able to at least tell people that I was happy with the agreement, if not the specifics of what it actually is. – trlkly Dec 25 '19 at 17:38
  • 4
    Your naivete is interesting. Settlements out of court in the USA (particularly, and most of the world really) almost always include nondisclosure terms. Forcing an allowance of discussion about the agreement would be advised against by your lawyer and fought against by theirs. If you actually hoped to settle, you wouldn't be left able to talk about it. @trlkly – Nij Dec 26 '19 at 5:22
  • 1
    I doubt monica is happy, but in the face of tens, or hundreds of thousands in legal bills while taking on a corporation, you are going to take what you can get. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Jan 7 at 5:51
25
votes

I don't see anyone mentioning the fact that the second round of clarifications showed that what Monica was asking if she could do was perfectly within the code of conduct. Her question was actually one important to the community at large.

This whole issue isn't just about Monica. It's about whether the desire to help trans people was ever legitimate in the first place. I at least still largely suspect that the whole thing was a PR stunt, and you needed some mod to be the fall guy so you could make a public announcement that you were fixing the problem. Anyone with any knowledge would know that revoking her privileges would cause a controversy, giving you a chance to get your changes into the news.

Everything you do is so clearly tailored to PR (like when you released this, at the lowest time of the year) that we have very little reason to assume any of this is legitimate. And you very clearly did not involve the SE trans community in making the new rules, as many were upset by Monica's removal.

You continue to act in ways that normal human beings do not act when actually sorry. You want to "save face," meaning you still only care about yourselves. Why should any of us think you actually have a social conscience if you're that selfish?

25
votes

We believe she did not understand all of the nuances and full intent and meaning of our Code of Conduct and was confused

Usually settlements of lawsuits have some language that says each party promises not to speak disparagingly of the other. The statement above disparages Monica Cellio by suggesting that the mistake was hers: she did not understand, and she was confused. There is considerable evidence that the officers of the company have little ability to understand anything except software code, and that they were the ones who did not understand and were confused.

Maybe this public disparagement of her should be brought to the attention of the court.

  • 12
    Every indication that we can see indicates that Monica agreed to this statement as part of the settlement. If not, she certainly has the ability to indicate to "the court" whoever that might be in this case that this breaks their agreement. I'm not sure what you think that posting that here will do though. She's already more than aware of this statement and she's much more aware of the terms than you. – Rubiksmoose Dec 30 '19 at 5:41
  • @Rubiksmoose : well, At least you admit you're not sure..... – Michael Hardy Dec 30 '19 at 18:24
23
votes

Thanks for posting this notice of an agreement. Here is my little feedback, for what it's worth:

We believe that Ms. Cellio was not acting with malicious intent.

Unfortunately, you did not make that as clear as possible right from the beginning. The harm to her name has already been done and it will be lasting, no matter what, especially because this message doesn't sound very convincing (and there is no other statement).

We always valued Ms. Cellio’s contributions to the community and respect her intelligence, integrity, and professional writing skills.

Then why did you harm her in the first place? If you really valued her contributions, there might have been other ways to resolve the conflict.

... we regret that we used her name when responding to a reporter's follow-up. We regret any damage to Ms. Cellio's reputation and any other damage she may have suffered.

This is the most important point for me and I would hope it could be printed in bold letters. This is indeed an apology, even though it's not placed very prominently in the text.

We have since updated some of our policies and processes to help ensure we are more careful in our public communications ...

That's also important and good to hear.

We sincerely hope she remains an active member of our community.

I sincerely don't believe a single word of this sentence. If that were true, I would have expected a much more sincere apology, one that never materialized. And that's indeed the main criticism of this contribution. I wish it would have been more sincere, open and ... in search of a better word, true.

22
votes

In recognition of the mistakes that led us here, we invited Ms. Cellio to apply for possible reinstatement on all six sites following our new reinstatement process. Ms. Cellio expressed concerns about the new process and has not applied.

Everything in the post is good for the community because you (Stack Overflow) are willing to solve this problem. But the last paragraph is a bit giveaway. The title and the remaining question sounds like you have realised what mistake was done. To correct that mistake, you are ready to reinstate Monica as a moderator.

But the last paragraph seems like that intention was clear.

In recognition of the mistakes that led us here,

When you have written an apology post for the mistake happened from the company side, I think there's no issue in making clear whose mistakes led us here. Whose mistakes are you referring to?

As I understand, you have invited Monica to apply for reinstatement following current moderator reinstate process.

If your intention is to reinstate her believing she is a good person and having no malicious intent, the process of long formal reinstatement wouldn't have been required now. We don't know for sure what was she exactly offered so we (users) can only speculate.

You invite her for reinstatement (which involves a long process) following rules but she was not removed through formal moderator removal process.

  • 10
    It's part and parcel of reaching an agreement. Offering Monica the official reinstatement process was part of the terms agreed. It's also called "saving face". SE can state that Monica was twice given the opportunity to return as a mod but each time she refused the process. Consequently, the company doesn't look so much like the bad party. – Mari-Lou A Dec 24 '19 at 6:15
  • 3
    She probably lost trust with SE altogether. She wants to get the diamond as if nothing has happened in the first place. She doesn't want another potentially convoluted reinstatement process. – Ṃųỻịgǻňạcểơửṩ Dec 24 '19 at 6:22
  • 6
    @MariLouA No, they very much do look like the bad party. Attempting to save face is something that makes you look like you aren't actually sorry. It doesn't actually save face unless such attempts are not obvious. – trlkly Dec 25 '19 at 17:49
  • “They willing to solve this problem”, but not to admit that they did wrong things. – Michael Freidgeim Dec 25 '19 at 22:29
22
votes

My ideas:

Stack Overflow and Monica Cellio have come to an agreement. We believe that Ms. Cellio was not acting with malicious intent. We believe she did not understand all of the nuances and full intent and meaning of our Code of Conduct and was confused about what actions it required and forbade.

IMHO, she always understands the CoC. Also it doesn't seem (at least for me) that she will be harming.

We acknowledge our responses to her requests for clarification were not satisfactory. The verbiage in our Code of Conduct could have been more explicitly detailed about what was expected. We always valued Ms. Cellio’s contributions to the community and respect her intelligence, integrity, and professional writing skills.

Again, if Monica was always valued on her skills, I don't think such a rude firing was needed.

While our initial statement did not address her specifically, we regret that we used her name when responding to a reporter's follow-up. We regret any damage to Ms. Cellio's reputation and any other damage she may have suffered.

Okay.

We have since updated some of our policies and processes to help ensure we are more careful in our public communications, and that there is a clearer process anytime a moderator's status is revoked as well as a process for reinstatement.

Why? How didn't Monica obey the previous CoC already?

We respect Ms. Cellio and believe she is a good person with much to offer and contribute. We sincerely hope she remains an active member of our community. In recognition of the mistakes that led us here, we invited Ms. Cellio to apply for possible reinstatement on all six sites following our new reinstatement process. Ms. Cellio expressed concerns about the new process and has not applied.

A possible reinstatement? Just do it now? Why not? Also after this firing moderators crime, how would she be so happy to come back? She may not even want to come back. If she wasn't fired it would be peace.


Why even post this question? Just reinstate her. Nothing to talk about, or have the question title as "Monica is successfully reinstated!" and have Monica with her original position.

21
votes

First, thank you for posting an update on this. I think that dialog can go a long way here.

With that said, I'm confused about the last paragraph. It's never been made clear exactly what part of the Code of Conduct Monica was supposed to have violated (especially with the more recent version, which apparently allows what she was asking to be allowed to do). That being said, why is it only "possible" reinstatement? Why is there a question as to whether she'd be reinstated or not? Why does she even need to apply in the first place? Why not just reinstate her forthwith?

  • 9
    The dismissal was never the largest problem. Speaking as someone who was there, it makes perfect sense to me that Monica would have to go through the reinstatement process, because the dismissal was not a black-and-white situation. The lawsuit and the big issue was about the defamation. There is still other context (still in private, not leaked AFAIK) relevant to the dismissal, and expecting SE to just reinstate Monica without question is not a reasonable thing to expect and shouldn't be expected. – Mithical Dec 25 '19 at 7:23
  • 6
    @Mithical - no one can argue against other factors that remain private. But since the lack of reinstatement is itself an implied defamation, I'm surprised they didn't take that route. Requiring her to go through the process is implied guilt. So by accepting, Monica is acknowledging guilt, which means, this isn't really clearing her name. Curious - do we know what Monica does as a 'day job'? If she's secure in her current job, not a huge concern about economic damage caused by this event. – Steerpike Dec 25 '19 at 17:13
  • 2
    You answer is similar to others, created earlier. Also your hope for a dialog does sound naive. – Michael Freidgeim Dec 25 '19 at 22:41
  • @MiFreidgeimSO-stopbeingevil Admittedly, SE has a rather poor record of constructive dialog (especially given their lack of responsiveness to feedback and questions from the community about Monica's firing in the first place). With that said, at least this update is something (even if it's not everything we want). I think that it's important that we encourage them to at least give us information (rather than just complain bitterly whether they do or don't). – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Dec 28 '19 at 17:13
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    @Mithical I'm not a moderator and obviously wasn't there, but it was never clear (even to Monica) exactly what she was fired for (and SE persistently refused to give any more details beyond "trust us, we're doing the right thing," even when Monica and the community asked for it). Based on my knowledge of Monica, I seriously doubt that there was any malicious intent on her part. Plus, the new Code of Conduct evidently permits what she was asking to be allowed to do, so it's even less clear what part of the new CoC she violated. – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Dec 28 '19 at 17:18
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    @Mithical: I completely reject the "trust me --- I was there argument", and frankly I'm tired of it. Unfortunately, people tend to agree with trashing a person rights if that person is merely suspected of holding the wrong opinions. If you can't or won't explain what happened in that room then I give you no credit for being there. – President James K. Polk Dec 29 '19 at 13:50
  • @JamesReinstateMonicaPolk - I will not, both because everything happened in private and so I won't air it in public and because I no longer have access to the transcripts and records. It's certainly not a black-and-white situation, and I don't blame someone if they don't want to take my word for it, because I'm not giving out information. I will say that most people are operating without context, though, and that everything was mishandled from the start by everybody. – Mithical Dec 29 '19 at 14:50
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    @Mithical: I understand and respect your decision not to reveal more detail. So where does that leave the rest of us? We do have some context, from both Monica and a staff member who goes by the username Sara Chipps. I'm drawing my inferences from that context, and I acknowledge that "inference" is just a fancy name for "guess". – President James K. Polk Dec 29 '19 at 15:18

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