Recently, Sara Chipps posted her message Update: an agreement with Monica Cellio. After reading it, I wanted to compare it with her previous post about this subject. It turns out that she deleted it. Does anyone know why? It looks strange since (as far as remember) it was a sort of official position of SE. Why would such a statement be deleted?

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    Human instinct: erase bad memories. Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:18
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    Note that the canned responses from the moderator resignations also have been removed at the same time
    – Erik A
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:24
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    This just proves that StackExchange does not have the courage to admit their mistakes and instead try to erase history so that any new visitors will know about the massive mess they have instigated.
    – user35594
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:49
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    Had she been a user with no diamond she wouldn't been able to delete her own question as it had at least one answer with a positive score.
    – rene
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:52
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    On a related line, I've been censored by @SaraChipps before. I gave my opinion on this blog of hers stackoverflow.blog/2019/11/13/…. I made my point about how the relation question asker/ answer provider is not symmetric. One comes asking for help, the other gives it FOR FREE. So, distinction in reputation is the only thing that rewards the more skilled. Then I made an analogy with what Communism proposes: reward equally everyone. Just that, and I got censored. Censors like this Sara Chipps should not be empowered, they are bad news for us all.
    – Laz
    Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 20:03
  • Ironically, since Sara no longer works for SE, and since posts deleted by mods who later cease to be mods can be undeleted by the community, there are now two pending votes to undelete it. Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 23:06
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog Thanks for telling me that. I wish I could vote to undelete it too, but I don't have enough reputation for that. Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 7:06
  • Thanks to Brewster Kahle, Sara's deleted post is archived for posterity here. Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 22:37

7 Answers 7


I would assume that Sara's old posts are gone because they contained libel against Monica. We know there's an agreement. Things that could be legally actionable in such an agreement include removal of libelous posts and a post stating Monica had done nothing wrong. Those are the two things we saw happening. I would assume this is what the agreement was about.

Here is why I find this sad and insufficient:

  • It took the involvement of lawyers to get SE to say that much. Seriously, SE? Unless a lawyer twists your arm, you're willing to run over a dedicated volunteer, and wouldn't admit to any wrongdoing? That's disgusting. Honesty, justice, admitting mistakes - these should be basics, basic human decency. It shouldn't take a lawyer to make you act like decent people. Especially since you profess to be "nice" and "inclusive" and "welcoming" and all those good qualities.
  • SE still did not apologise. Amid all the lawyerspeak, where's the simple human "we're sorry, we were wrong"? Instead, Sara Chipps' post starts with "Monica did not understand [...] and was confused" - subliminally laying blame on Monica. Then there's the passive-voice "responses to her requests for clarification were not satisfactory. The verbiage in our Code of Conduct could have been more explicitly detailed". Where's the admittance of guilt - where's "we didn't give satisfactory responses", "we didn't word the CoC well"? The active voice only appears when SE pat themselves on the back: "We always valued Ms. Cellio’s contributions". The whole "apology" was carefully worded to make SE look good, and Monica look bad. They're adding insult to injury.
  • Finally, Monica is still asked to "apply for possible reinstatement", rather than just be reinstated. In this, SE maintain the stance that their removal of Monica from office was OK, and she should ask to possibly be reinstated.

So, to sum up, SE had their arm twisted by lawyers to remove libel, but they still do not wish to admit they'd done anything wrong. I'm disgusted by this attitude.

  • Me too, but what we got is all we are going to get. All we can do is respect Monica's decision. However angry and disgusted we feel, Monica was the person who was affected the most, by far.
    – user540056
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 0:10
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    @ab2MonicaNotForgotten You're assuming Monica is happy with the result, rather than settled for what she could get. We don't know that she's happy. Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 2:07
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    And there's another issue to consider: Monica is an American adult woman. With the help of GoFundMe, she was able to get a lawyer. What if the next person whose name SE decides to drag through the mud is a 15-year-old from India, for example? What justice would they get, based on what we've seen? Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 2:09
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    I did not say anything to imply that I think Monica is happy. I said "respect her decision", with no implication that she is happy with the outcome. If you have never had to make a least bad decision, a decision that makes you less unhappy than the alternatives, you will, eventually. I assume Monica is disappointed or worse, but this outcome was the best that her resources of money, energy, time, (and possibly her advisors) could attain.
    – user540056
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 2:17
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    Worth pointing out that most agreements are created when both parties do not get everything they wanted. There are of course exceptions, but if nobody is completely happy, it’s a sign that the agreement was at least fair. This of course doesn’t mean anyone should accept the third non-apology apology by Ms Chipps as anything but as a non-apology.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 12:37
  • Rolled back to first rev cause... It seems like a silly vocabulary dispute. When I'm doubt... Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 16:25

The obligatory disclaimer: I am not a lawyer but…

The official Stack Exchange announcement, entitled An Update to our Community and an Apology, was deleted 18 hours ago. Possibly SE lawyers advised Ms. Sara Chipps to take this action. Possibly, Monica's lawyers demanded its deletion. Who knows. And no one will know because for legal reasons the agreement cannot be discussed in public.

I wonder if it is expected that Ms. Monica Cellio must delete any of her contributions as a sign of good will or as part of the agreement?

Perhaps not: Her question, Stack Overflow is doing me ongoing harm; it's time to fix it! is still visible.

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    Too wild a guess in my opinion. My guess is that the lawyers (of SE) told SE to write the new post about agreement, but never said to remove anything. The removal appears just a human behavior that fits perfectly with the rest of the actions. Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:37
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    @ShadowTheBurningWizard which is why I said possibly twice, at least I give Ms Chipps the benefit of the doubt. Your comment Human instinct: erase bad memories doesn't. Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:39
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    The lawsuit was a defamation lawsuit. To guess that a settlement includes removing defaming statements is not a wild guess imo.
    – Erik A
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:40
  • @ErikA the posts on MSE were not defaming in any way, as far as I can tell Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:42
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    @ShadowTheBurningWizard the phrase "We removed a moderator for repeatedly violating our existing Code of Conduct and being unwilling to accept our CM’s repeated requests to change that behavior." is damming and appears to me defamatory if it is not true. Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:45
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    It is not certain if the deletion is legally ordered. Or just to save face so only people already veteran to this site can contribute. Otherwise someone could simply undelete and historically lock the post. Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:55
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    It made specific (and highly contested) allegations against Monica; it's highly likely part of the agreement that SE retracted (i.e. deleted) those contested allegations. Deleting the post is the simplest way of doing that. Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 13:11
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    @MartinTournoij a deletion is not the same as a retraction. Retracting a statement means positively affiriming that you were wrong. Deleting it means you just want to destroy the evidence that you were hopelessly wrong.
    – gbjbaanb
    Commented Dec 28, 2019 at 15:12

For me it looks like SE is trying to rewrite the history in the hope that people will forget about this big mistake. At least for new users and those who hasn't heard about this situation at all.

There is no point to delete such posts, because the Internet never forgets. So, even if a lawyer asked about this, it doesn't make any sense.

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    Retracting statements that no longer represent your position absolutely makes sense. While we can still find the original statements, it's clear they no longer represent the author.
    – Erik A
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:55
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    @ErikA it's the history. There are a lot of discussions on Metas, where decisions has been changing in years. So should we delete all those old discussions? No! Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:57
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    Nope. But if you have made a personal statement somewhere, and that no longer represents you, or know what you said was untrue, please consider either editing or deleting it. We don't want wrong information hanging about to be referenced in the future.
    – Erik A
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 13:01
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    ^ this. Considering they settled, I don't see why a source of pain needs to be kept, just so we can point at it, like a head on a pike and go "BE CAREFUL SMALL PERSON! LEST YOU END UP BADLY LIKE THAT ONE!" Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 13:02
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    Well, they can't anymore. They've settled. We're very unlikely to see new developments regarding this situation. If you've got a problem with that, you should (try to) deal with that on your own.
    – Erik A
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 13:11
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    So, even if a lawyer asked about this, it doesn't make any sense. < It does. Her name was all over it in answers/comments, which means it'll turn up when someone looks for it. Deleting it means people without enough reputation to see deleted posts here can't see it, which makes sense as part of an agreement around defamation.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 13:54
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    The Internet never forgets scandal. If you're looking for that awesome third-party mod for Diablo II, yeah, the Internet forgot that :b Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 21:20
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    "Head on a pike" If the spiking of the head was an injustice, then there is most definitely value in having a memorial to point small people to, so that they can beware of, and help guard against, future instances of similar injustices. Whether or not that particular ("An update to our...") post is the right memorial, I'm more ambivalent about.
    – jscs
    Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 2:27

I would not be surprised at all if the previous statement and Stack Exchange's answer to Monica's statement on Mi Yodeya Meta were deleted as part of the terms of the agreement. Monica's statement here made two demands:

  1. Retract negative statements about her (explicitly including and linking to these two and one other that I can't see).
  2. Reinstate her as a moderator.

We see here that they're still not doing (2). With respect to (1) (which she made clear is the one she considers a "must"), it seems to me that deleting the statements on the SE network that Monica had asked them to retract could very well be part of SE's end of whatever agreement they now have. I wonder if they did or are going to do anything about the Register article; I hope so.


I agree with the other answers that most likely, that deletion happened due to the legal agreement between Monica and SE Inc. mentioned in the question.

If so, we might never know for sure.

And that is the essential issue here: far too often, the community is baffled about this or that action of the company and in most cases, we have to ask for explanations. Which rarely happen. Leading to: endless speculations.

Dear SE Inc., if there is only lesson to take away from all this mess: please make transparency your first priority. Understand: you absolutely can't do anything that goes unnoticed. Remember that: the community will notice, most likely within a few hours after you doing something. So whatever you do, consider to let us know why. Right then when you do things.

I am not asking for endless apologies here. Just remember that nothing happens without someone noticing. Provide reasonable summaries of "what and why" when taking actions that are likely to resonate within the community.

Without explanations, that leads to speculations, leading to a huge waste of everyone's time and motivation. YOU can fix that part easily!

And sure, I am not saying that such communication is easy. But saying nothing is rarely an efficient communication strategy!

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    The one thing that seduced me back in 2013 when I joined was exactly this, transparency. So I fully agree with this answer and specially with the please make transparency your first priority part. Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 9:40

In an attempt to keep this conspiracy-theory free:

  • The new official messaging from Sara Chipps is likely one that was reached through the result of legal action/mediation. This would then be the new official position of Stack Exchange, Inc.
  • The previous message was more a policy-oriented reaction as opposed to a legal one; it has been my personal experience with mediation that the terms of the mediation agreement supersede any prior agreements/deals/messaging, and it would make sense to remove it.
  • The previous verbiage may have also contained libelous claims against Monica, and instead of doctoring that out (and/or risk invalidating lots of answers as a result), removing it wholesale is a cleaner option.
  • There is little additional value that can be gleaned from the old post in the wake of the settlement. All of the information that was discussed there, including the formation of new policies for moderator reinstatement, are echoed again in the new statement.
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    If there is nothing dubious about the deletion, then there is nothing to stop a representative from SE staff from posting an answer here. Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 3:29
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    @faintsignal: We can't say for certain. It could be the case that legal reasons would prevent them from further comment on the matter, and that would have to be the end of it. But I suppose I'd ask you directly - what do you want to hear from SE staff on the matter?
    – Makoto
    Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 5:36
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    @Makato Why, the truth, of course. However mundane or otherwise. And if they truly cannot comment on specifics, then they can answer something to that effect. Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 13:41

(Totally posted in my role as a grumpy regular user who wasn't all too happy about much that happened. The following post may not reflect the views of the moderation team or anyone else other than me.)

One would assume that as an official message that no longer reflects the company's views - it no longer belongs. Maybe it belongs in the trashheap of history - the thing that did not give joy, yet seems so hard to let go.

As something that caused that much pain, heartache and drama, maybe it's better buried. Certain parts of it certainly contributed to things being worse than they could have been.

Both forgiveness, and forgetfulness might be hard, undeserved, maybe even impossible. That said, if something is a festering open wound that won't heal, sometimes it's better it is excised.

It is less the mistakes of the past that matter, than hopefully the lessons learned.

That's to say... good riddance?

I hope the lessons learned are etched into the collective consciousness of the company - the story told to new employees as an object lesson.

But to those for whom it does matter - I guess the chapter is closed.

Maybe it's time for a new chapter.

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    the trashheap of history always needs to remain, to act as a reminder to the future who will undoubtebly forget and repeat unless the past can be brought up to check them. That's why deleting it is so bad, its "pretend it never happened", because the only reason to delete it is if you wanted it forgotten.
    – gbjbaanb
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:53
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    And yet, trashheaps are not meant for rooting through. Even if you're a bear or a raccoon. Its not just a rewrite of history, its the removal of something that caused one our ours pain. Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 12:56
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    "It is less the mistakes of the past that matter, than hopefully the lessons learned. " - my worry is - did we (and they) learn, though? Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 13:19
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    I feel you trying to keep the site positive, @JMG. But...I doubt I'm the only one who thinks SE requires to show some humility and repentance before trust can be rebuilt. I'm not willing to give a soulless company a pass until they show me they actually have a soul. Words are cheap. Actions say a whole lot.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 18:02
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    Considering recent actions, and initiatives - keeping the site positive and working feels like a way for me to rebel against the stuff I disagree with. I'm not content to curse the dark. Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 1:20
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    If you are an archaeologist or an historian, trashheaps are what you root through. The Mess will eventually be the subject of a PhD thesis -- say 50 years to 1,000 years from now.
    – user540056
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 21:12
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    I doubt any of this will matter to anyone outside the SE community Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 22:14

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