111

On 2019-12-23 Monica Cellio updated her gofundme to announce a legal settlement with SE Inc.

(Latest) Since that day, I've been wondering if (or what) that means for that unorganized ad-hoc "campaign" that got a few hundred (?) community members to alter their display name (and ideally their profile information) to make a public statement of support for Monica.

My questions to such users are probably a déjà-vu1:

  • Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?
  • In any case, what are your next steps? Do you for example intend to keep your "Monica-supporting" display name forever? Or do you consider the whole effort to be useless by now, to react by doing...?

1: But not a duplicate of Checking in with moderators that suspended their activity, as this question addresses a completely different set of community members: the moderators!

  • 13
    Given some of the answers, I would have a follow-up question: have you tried asking Monica about her opinion on your decision? Corollary: in the hypothetical event she asks you to stop using her name in your user name, would you comply? – Frédéric Hamidi Jan 1 at 22:10
  • 8
    One thing I am surprised nobody has mentioned yet is that having lots of users with very similar wording in their name means that I find it very hard to follow some conversation threads, due to mixing up users who now share a large portion of their names with other users – Daveoc64 Jan 1 at 23:16
  • 7
    You might also link the new Register article that cites SE's kinda-retraction as what's probably the last effective step that anyone'll perform on the issue: theregister.co.uk/2020/01/02/stack_overflow_settles – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jan 3 at 23:14
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    @FrédéricHamidi Yes, we have asked Monica. She says she is unable to comment further than she already has in the joint statement. – SRM Jan 5 at 5:34
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    Too short for answer: yes, I'll keep "reinstate Monica" in my name, probably even when I'll stop visiting SE because of this mess. And no, I'm no way satisfied. – val says Reinstate Monica Jan 6 at 16:07
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    I just came back from a break and read the official question / answer thread. I changed my name again. – SmrtGrunt quit because Monica Jan 6 at 20:18
  • 4
    I just changed my name the first time and will reduce contributions to all sites of the network! – Josef says Reinstate Monica Jan 7 at 10:20
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    @JosefsaysReinstateMonica Pro tip: consider to update your profile as well, so that newbies that get curious about your username ... find an explanation why that is, and who Monica is ... – GhostCat salutes Monica C. Jan 7 at 10:44
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    If nothing else, Monica has not been reinstated. My username is changed for a different reason. – jhpratt GOFUNDME RELICENSING Jan 7 at 22:47

35 Answers 35

120

I still have reinstate Monica in my name. I am happy that Monica reached an agreement she could settle on. I do not need to know the details of said agreement to be satiated.

I am not happy with SO's continued behavior though. Throughout this whole process SO has said multiple times 'we screwed up, we know it, we're going to do better'. I have seen none of that. I have seen the opposite. Censures are way up. Suspensions are way up. Transparency is way down. Communications (outside the Monica situation) is way down. I have no idea where the boat is going, but just looking at the non-Monica signs from the last ~4 months I don't like it.

So I'm probably sticking with my username for now. And I'm probably not going to contribute to the broader SO community either. I don't see this as a welcoming place anymore, settlement or not. I don't have high hopes it will change, but I'll poke back every once in a while in the faint hopes there are some good signs.


Update: 1/13/20

I logged in and saw Shog and Robert were let go. What a joke. And SO's response is flat out insulting (how do you invest in community by removing the few staff members the community support?). I wasn't expecting any positive signs soon, but I was at least expecting SO not to dig significantly deeper.

  • 2
    I made my profile description: "Stack Exchange's lawyers made them post an 'apology' regarding Monica, but SE has yet to actually admit guilt in firing her, or reinstate her." – X-27 wants to Reinstate Monica Jan 3 at 22:30
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    "Throughout this whole process SO has said multiple times 'we screwed up, we know it, we're going to do better'." Citation needed to where SO admitted they screwed up. – user541686 Jan 4 at 11:38
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    @user541686 They never said they screwed up with firing Monica (for the obvious legal issues), but they have said they screwed up with communication, roll out of the policy changes, transparency, etc. One example is Fullerton's post, but there were others – David says Reinstate Monica Jan 4 at 19:49
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    The boat is on a one-way trip to hell. That's where it's going. – user651518 Jan 5 at 17:20
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    I have effectively quit SO, as in stopped answering questions. – Has QUIT--Anony-Mousse Jan 15 at 21:24
107

I'm not a *Monica* user; but I'd like to weigh in.

Since the beginning I've been focused on two things:

  1. Helping the Stack Overflow community achieve its goals.
  2. Participating where appropriate to help drive change to what I believe will accomplish those goals.

I should note that in none of the above am I really focused on Stack Exchange the company -- to my way of thinking it's at best a way to help us achieve our goals.

With the Monica situation, this got flipped on its head. What had been settled law with how we handle CoC violations (alleged or actual), turned into a comedy of errors (dare I say a tragedy of errors in the classical Greek sense), with Stack Exchange using each opportunity it was presented to make the situation worse.

So, regardless of whether I think the dismissal was valid or not, or regardless of whether I think the CoC changes are good or not; I'm stuck on the part where Stack Exchange has effectively cut its relationship with its community, and shows no attempt to regain that trust necessary to help achieve the goals we all say we have.

For that reason, I'll largely still consume Stack Overflow content, and I may even answer Stack Overflow questions; but I likely will not spend much time (if any) trying to drive change on meta. We have been told several times that our labor and opinions are no longer valued, and at this point we are the fools if we continue to provide the labor of building community for free.

  • 18
    You bring a lot of weight to the table, so I am glad that you did exactly that. – GhostCat salutes Monica C. Jan 3 at 7:28
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    Yes, we are the fools. But what draws me to answer questions on Stack Overflow is to help people with questions, not to help Stack Overflow. After Stack Overflow's appalling treatment of a long-standing volunteer and inability to express contrition, I no longer feel much goodwill towards Stack Overflow. So when another top-drawer Q&A Knowledge Index emerges I will help people with questions there. I trust that all the EQ-deficient Stack Overflow suits will enjoy the slow demise of a once-incredible platform, because they will make money during that demise. (It was about money... right?) – Rounin Jan 3 at 10:23
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    @rouin I should be clear there is a difference between asking and answering questions on stack overflow and working to build community through participation in meta and trying to advocate for change. SE wants us to stop, and there’s only so many spoons we can give towards this. I have given all of mine. – George Stocker Jan 3 at 18:20
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    @Rounin "So when another top-drawer Q&A Knowledge Index emerges I will help people with questions there" I don't know for sure what you mean by 'top-drawer', but I wonder if you'd be interested in getting involved with TopAnswers? Either as a contributor (it's still early days but we would like to start branching out into more topics/communities), or perhaps with our development. – Jack says try topanswers.xyz Jan 7 at 21:53
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    George I'm aware I'm spamming your answer, which I wouldn't do except I'd also value your opinion of where we are going with TA, if you can spare the time and would like to take a look. – Jack says try topanswers.xyz Jan 7 at 21:53
86

I am only partly satisfied.

For Monica Cellio herself, the most important thing was that her good name be restored as far as possible. Since the statement makes it clear that Stack Exchange does not claim that she was being transphobic, that much would appear to be done as far as possible.

However, for me as a veteran user of the network, that is not enough. If Monica did not act against the code of conduct, then the removal of her moderator status was an error. An error should be corrected by the entity who made it without further requests of the victim.

If someone at Stack Exchange were to fat-finger a database command, removing the moderator status from one or more current moderators, we would expect that they would fix it as soon as it was discovered - by correcting the database.

In this case, the error was a human one rather than a technical one. But it is still an error, and it should still be corrected by Stack Exchange. Monica should never have been removed as a moderator, and therefore she should not have to go through a process of evaluation to be restored.

Stack Exchange has now shown that if I were to run for moderator (which I have considered), and if I were to be elected, then no matter how well I were to perform those duties, the company may kick me out at any time and for any reason. I have cared a great deal about the communities I've been part of here, but I cannot see any way to invest more energy and time into them, knowing that the company running the sites will not support its veteran users and volunteer moderators.

I will miss Server Fault. Though, honestly, I have missed the Server Fault I started out at for some time now. The community is dwindling, and the number of expert users is steadily decreasing. Many of the experienced and skilled system administrators who were around when I started contributing are no longer there and won't come back - this can be easily and clearly seen by running the Number of active experts per week query on Server Fault.

I don't see any way to change this, and I'm not willing to participate in a site run by a company I can't respect.

So goodbye.

  • 5
    If Monica did not act against the code of conduct, then the removal of her moderator status was an error The word "error" seems wrong to me. It was a very deliberate act and one we have no reason to think will not be visited upon others at the whim management for no good reason. – StephenG Jan 2 at 20:45
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    Since the statement makes it clear that Stack Exchange does not claim that she was being transphobic I didn't really get that from the statement. They don't claim she is transphobic. but of course they don't back down from previous statements that claim she is. This was the purpose of the statement written by lawyers – David says Reinstate Monica Jan 2 at 21:48
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    @StephenG Errors are not mistakes - errors can be deliberate, mistakes are inadvertent. But I try to not ascribe intent to others; I usually find it more constructive to discuss actions than motivations. But we are in agreement that the company does not protect its users and moderators from actions of the staff, whether deliberate or unintentional. – Jenny D Jan 3 at 10:13
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    @DavidsaysReinstateMonica As I understood Monica's posts, the accusation of transphobia/hate speech is the stain on her character that she wanted removed. She accepted the statement as sufficient for that. So in that specific regard, so will I. – Jenny D Jan 3 at 11:36
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    "Errors can be deliberate". Why couch a deliberate act or acts in terms that are ambiguous ? That only helps the perpetrators and normalizes their behavior. My impression is that management regard the error as being caught, not what they did. That remains and will always remain unacceptable to me - no justice to be seen here, just more BS law. – StephenG Jan 3 at 13:03
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    @StephenG Because whether the act was deliberate or not, it should still be corrected in the same way - by restoring things to their proper state. – Jenny D Jan 5 at 10:52
  • I've mostly avoided Server Fault for a few years now, but that query is depressing - only about 20 people (of any rep!) post two upvoted answers in a given week? That's not the sign of a healthy site! – Boycott SE for Monica Cellio Jan 14 at 20:08
76

I am not satisfied. The company no longer listens to the community. It is cracking down on speech in an unacceptable way. The company no longer cares about quality. As such I'm done contributing. I'm a low rep user so I won't be missed. When an alternative site such as Codidact launches, I will check it out.

  • 9
    Codidact is getting closer, and actually has something working now. – gbjbaanb Jan 2 at 15:53
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    @gbjbaanb The new Writing site isn't actually running on Codidact, though; AoC's just hosting it there. The framework is QPixel. – AmaiKotori Jan 2 at 17:33
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    @AmaiKotori thanks for that info, I thought it was all talk and no trousers. – gbjbaanb Jan 2 at 19:30
  • @gbjbaanb: Is Writing the only site or are there more? – user541686 Jan 4 at 11:44
  • @user541686 AFAIK its the only one as that's the one Monica was most interested in. – gbjbaanb Jan 4 at 13:27
  • I only wish that CodeAddict would have an option to to email me when it launches. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Jan 13 at 7:43
55

I am very disappointed by what I know of the resolution of The Mess, but not surprised. I respect Monica's decision; it was undoubtedly the best that she could negotiate given the constraints on her money, time and energy.

I will retain the Monica reference in my user name for the forseeable future, but eventually I will drop it. When, I don't know. If Monica asks us to drop the reference to her in our names, I will instantly comply.

SE's behavior to Monica was disgraceful, and it continues to be disgraceful to the users. People are getting suspended simply because SE has a paper-thin skin. I have no loyalty to SE the company any more. My loyalty is to individuals. I will continue on a few sites where I am most interested, but requested removal from SE Meta on Dec 23, and will be relieved when the removal goes through.

In a comment, @Centaurus suggested that, if there are elections, we vote for Monica as moderator on the sites where we can. Great idea! If SE comes to its senses and reinstates Monica to her modships, I will be satisfied, but I am not holding my breath.

  • 1
    Odd... the answer above (now credited to "user540056") was posted under the name "ab2 MonicaNotForgotten" (see archived copy here). The user's account is now apparently deleted. (See archived profile here.) Was this voluntary? (That'd be strange, as the user indicated an intention of remaining on the site for now.) – Jacob C. says Reinstate Monica Jan 22 at 21:19
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    @JacobC.saysReinstateMonica It is voluntary. A considerable number of users, including resigners have deleted their accounts. – Mᛜ. Sᛜ. Rᛜ. require mulligansǃ Jan 25 at 7:09
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    @Mᛜ.Sᛜ.Rᛜ.requiremulligansǃ Oh, I'm not sure how, but somehow I missed the "requested removal from SE Meta" part. Thanks. – Jacob C. says Reinstate Monica Jan 27 at 22:11
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    @JacobC.saysReinstateMonica ab2 is still here across other networks as of the posting of this comment. – Mᛜ. Sᛜ. Rᛜ. require mulligansǃ Jan 27 at 22:26
48

I was "Columbia says Reinstate Monica" for most of the crisis.

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

No, but I've accepted that it's pretty much over and that nothing is likely to change anytime soon.

In any case, what are your next steps? Do you for example intend to keep your "Monica-supporting" nickname forever? Or do you consider the whole effort to be useless by now, to react by doing...?

I've reverted my username since I feel that it detracts from my primary goals on our sites and to reflect the fact that Monica herself appears to have given up her goal of reinstatement. I've decided to keep the profile image for now as it is relatively unobtrusive and represents what I feel should happen in theory. By doing that, I've essentially "given up" without really giving up.

45

I am keeping "unSlander Monica" in my name -- they may have reached an accord with whatever NDAs, but there's no retraction.

Also, I'm not satisfied with the offer for her to go through the re-instatement process. If she could be de-modded instantly, she can be re-modded instantly.

After that point, she can request to be de-modded, if she wants. But accompanying the Big Legal Statement, there should have been a re-diamonding -- what would it cost them? (The SE Corp. could then watch her like a hawk and find some excuse to go through a procedural-removal if they wanted to.)

I'm sticking around partly because I like watching drama type stuff, I admit, but my actual Q&A energy will go to the new projects Monica mentioned on her blog.

38

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

The specifics of the legal agreement between SE and Monica weren't made public, AFAIK. Insofar as the course of events doesn't (yet) seem to have resulted in SE taking action to reverse, or recognise (what I perceive to be) the ill-advisedness of some of their actions, I am not satisfied.

In any case, what are your next steps? Do you for example intent to keep your "Monica-supporting" nickname forever? Or do you consider the whole effort to be useless by now, to react by doing… ?

In my eyes SE has gone from being a company that had good ideas about community building, to a company that does not have a great deal of competence in this area. Whether that's because they no longer care about community building, or they've just taken some wrong turns, or they're right about everything and I'm wrong, I don't really know.

SE's original model of building a knowledge base depended on a community effort to maintain its value. I hope that the knowledge base will continue to exist and be useful, and to that end that the communities will continue to thrive, but posts such as this and this give the impression that the company is happy to make it their policy to actively upset community members - as a means to an end best known to themselves.

For now, my Monica username remains as an expression of disappointment.

36

I may change it in the future, but I'm leaving it for now. When I do change it, it won't be back to my real name.

Stack Exchange reached an agreement with Monica. It was far less than they should have done, and they made it much worse for themselves by refusing to fix it immediately, deflecting blame, and throwing accusations. But... Monica and SE came to an agreement, probably the best she could have hoped for.

They didn't resolve issues with me, though. I'm still dissatisfied with their behavior. Their treatment of Monica (in addition to all the pain it brought to her) broke my trust of them. Their juvenile and unprofesional behavior afterwards made it worse. This agreement, which was the minimum they could do under legal pressure, certainly doesn't restore any trust.

So... until they actually regain my trust, I'm going to include my little reminder in my name. As I said elsewhere in a comment, Monica's name is going to trigger a little regret in some employees' and mods' minds, and a little irritation in others. I want that to continue until they correct their behavior. Actually correct it, which is hard and slow.

I don't think they think they did anything wrong.

34

I was "Stop Harming Monica".

Monica has reached a settlement that involves SO retracting their harmful claims. There is no reason to continue raising legal funds. I am satisfied that there is no ongoing harm being done.

Regardless, it is her decision to have reached an agreement, which I will respect.

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    That's the same reason I switched away from "Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog". (Was going to post an answer saying the same thing, but didn't want to post a redundant answer.) – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jan 1 at 21:24
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    Not sure about no ongoing harm. The apology sounds quite weak and even though there is a settlement it may not be fully satisfiable to her. The firing of her might have lasting repercussions despite of the settlement. – Trilarion Jan 2 at 22:22
34

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

Obviously, not.

In any case, what are your next steps? Do you for example intent to keep your "Monica-supporting" nickname forever? Or do you consider the whole effort to be useless by now, to react by doing ... ?

Not forever, SE just need to do 2 things:

  • Apologize publicly (not with faceless lawyers post like last one).
  • Reinstate Monica.
27

Monica is not reinstated, so no, I am not satisfied.

I wanted to see Stack Exchange undo what they did. I wanted them to humble themselves. I did not want them to save face.

I will retain this name until she is reinstated. period.


To be totally honest, this isn't about Monica to me. I don't actually know Monica. What I don't like is the idea that a user can be capriciously retaliated against just for questioning authority.

The reason SE hasn't reinstated her yet is because doing so would embarrass them. They don't want to set the precedent that they will bend to the community's demands.

But they should be embarrassed for what they did, and they should bend to community demands.

  • 1
    Can be thought as an exceptionally exceptional exception not being handled by StackExchange. – Mᛜ. Sᛜ. Rᛜ. require mulligansǃ Jan 3 at 16:08
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    What I don't like is the idea that a user can be capriciously retaliated against just for questioning authority. - This is precisely my issue and why I have made comparisons to Hong Kong. – Rounin Jan 8 at 9:25
26

I don't know about anybody else but at this point, I don't see us being able to wring any further concessions out of SE and they don't seem to want to apologize for their part in the whole mess or the damage they have caused to the communities (especially for causing so many experienced users to leave).

Hopefully, the friction we created, even if it wasn't enough to get what we wanted, will be enough to prevent them from trying any similar things in the short term.

So as of now, I am changing my username back and will be back to reviewing and answering and editing and voting. I don't really feel like asking questions, but we will see.

Finally, there are efforts to recreate the system elsewhere and migrate the existing content. Here is an example of that already happening. Once that software is in place, I think it would be worth taking our content and moving off the SE platform.

Answer copied from here

  • 2
    I don't see this as entirely true. SE has shifted their position from "It was her" to "We made mistakes, too.". If we continue to push, there's a slim chance we'll get to "Our community is important to us and that means more transparency in processes and better communication." – tu-Reinstate Monica-dor duh Jan 2 at 2:09
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    @tu-ReinstateMonica-dorduh Do you think we will ever get to "yeah, we screwed up" though? I doubt it, depsite them outright lying to the press and to us, and basically persecuting someone. They still don't get that they are bad people who did really bad things. I won't be satisfied until they admit that, as its the first necessary step to becoming good people. – gbjbaanb Jan 2 at 15:52
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    @tu-ReinstateMonica-dorduh, I don't see anywhere in their statement where SE has admitted that they made any mistakes. They wrote, "We acknowledge our responses to her requests for clarification were not satisfactory." And "we regret that we used her name when responding to a reporter's follow-up." And "In recognition of the mistakes that led us here..." without saying whose mistakes. – Wildcard Jan 2 at 22:17
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    @gbjbaanb Possibly. Gitlab managed to do it recently, and we have seen a couple of other good examples around in recent years. However, none of them really fouled up as badly as this, though. – tu-Reinstate Monica-dor duh Jan 3 at 8:27
26

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

I think it's quite obvious that nobody with "event"-specific account names is satisfied with how the events unfolded. Monica is still not a moderator, and most likely will never be again. The company wants her to go through the ridiculous reinstatement process which is completely unfair to apply to her, and Monica obviously doesn't want to do that.

Furthermore, we don't even know the result of the legal battle and will probably never know for sure. It could be Stack Overflow's legal team threatening Monica to sue her into oblivion and their offer being "get $10K and get out, or you'll regret fighting with us". How can we be sure it's even a tiny bit better? And what's exactly "better"? A bigger sum of money? SO didn't bother to fix anything, "Monica is bad" is still there on the website.

In any case, what are your next steps?

Being grumpy. Realistically, that's all we can do. Until the culture within the company changes to prioritize community over virtue signaling, building knowledge base over answering homework questions — until that happens, we can do nothing. And for that to happen, the culture outside the company needs to change too, and we're still far away from that.

I'm not a god tier Twitter memer or a YouTube celebrity, I can't affect the company's ways in any way. And I'd be branded "literally Hitler" for doing so anyway, judging by modern trends...

Some people decided to create alternative Q&A platforms. While I support that idea, I don't personally believe they can compete with the big sites from SE network. Some smaller sites may migrate, but I don't think anyone at SO would care. For the alternative platforms to succeed on a big scale, the SO company needs to do something of epic stupidity to really anger all users, not just regulars, and I doubt that'll happen. I've seen too many times better alternatives failing in competition with monopolies to think this time it'll be different. Sorry for my pessimism.

Everything is bad and it's only getting worse. Whether it'll get better some time in the future, we'll see. But it'll take a long time.

Do you for example intend to keep your "Monica-supporting" nickname forever?

It's clear that the stated demand will never be fulfilled. But I don't know a better alternative. So I guess I'll keep it this way for now.

26

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

No, but it's not my battle. Monica can agree to whatever put to her, and she has, and that makes it acceptable to me. There's nothing more to say on that: it was and is entirely her choice.

In any case, what are your next steps?

As I said in another answer, there's little to do now except leave and watch from the sidelines. I think SE and its officers have acted in a truly disgusting and unacceptable manner, and if I was in charge I would have sacked some of them already. But I'm not, and there is nothing about the level of reprehensible actions that occurred, without even a moment's seeming reflection about the level they descended to. All the time telling us how welcoming and inclusive they are, yet their actions show a reality that is quite the opposite.

  • 4
    Of course they were only unwelcoming and non-inclusive to the people who are unwelcoming and non-inclusive. ... Oh wait, this may mean that they have to fire themselves. – Trilarion Jan 2 at 22:31
26

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

Not my business. I just hope Monica considers she's received adequate recompense for damage to her reputation resulting from SE's defamation, & that their latest statements, here & to the Register, suffice to prevent ongoing damage.

In any case, what are your next steps? Do you for example intent to keep your "Monica-supporting" nickname forever? Or do you consider the whole effort to be useless by now, to react by doing ... ?

Unless & until SE do the decent thing & reinstate, or at any rate make an unconditional offer to reinstate, Monica. Even if they never do, it at least serves as a reminder to SE that we haven't forgotten their contemptible treatment of a dedicated moderator, & as a warning to all users of how they themselves might be dealt with if it's deemed expedient.

26

I'm not satisfied with the outcome or with the current state of affairs.

But I have reverted my username from Rounin says Je suis Monica to Rounin.

In twilight, a dog may momentarily run up to and bark at a tree, believing it to be a person about to throw a stick.

But when it becomes clear that it is, in fact, a tree... there is really no point in continuing to bark.

For a few years I didn't think Stack Overflow was a corporation run by Montgomery Burns.

It turns out it was, after all.

26

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

Totally unsatisfied.

StackExchange's approach to acknowledge and respond after stating the apology is wholly inadequate; Sara Chipps' last update [or the update, posted under her name], obviously shows no guarantee that Monica will receive her unduly removed diamond. Monica is clearly refusing to partake in the possible reinstatement application. Zero progress has been made, her/the update already amassed an extraordinarily inconceivable final score of -1783 downvotes, and rates of unrest have blown up to massive proportions.

StackExchange refused to show true acknowledgement to this event through reversing Monica's revocation. They can do it instantly since that is a staff action. They delayed for months and months, an insane amount of delay in which they should instead reverse the decision instantly.

This is an exceptionally exceptional situation to be handled [I could've said "exceptionally exceptional exception"]. As a result, this needs be resolved through unconditionally offering back Monica her "replacement" diamond, as if the revocation never occurred. Only then will the SE staff should re-evaluate Monica's suitability for the diamond. It is already severely late, irreversible collateral damage have been done; furthermore Monica might even declare that she no longer have the intention to regain her moderatorship.

In any case, what are your next steps? Do you for example intend to keep your "Monica-supporting" nickname forever? Or do you consider the whole effort to be useless by now, to react by doing...?

Though I can't change my username on other sites too often, I am still a "Support Monica" [now a Support Shog and Robert] profile across the network. I am still waiting for Monica to regain her diamond or bring out a final statement otherwise.

I will keep this nickname until either

  1. Monica receives back the "replacement" diamond instantly.

  2. Monica formally declares that she is going to continue contributing without intending to regain her moderatership.

Update: Monica Cellio refused her opportunity for the replacement diamond and is departing the site for good. It has been posted on WorldBuilding meta

Stack Exchange exacerbated the problem a thousandfold by involuntarily terminating Shog9 and Robert, causing an unprecedented exodus and prompting me to update my username to "Mᛜ. Sᛜ. Rᛜ. needs a mulligan" until further notice. The M, S, R are initials of the three users that have been fired from their positions, and mulligan means "a second chance".

  • 6
    It is now difficult for me to think of a "moderator's diamond", I think rather of a moderator's cubic zirconia. No disrespect to the moderators; it is SE that has changed the role of moderators and users. – user540056 Jan 3 at 18:18
  • 2
    @ab2MonicaNotForgotten how long until we hit Lucite? – John Dvorak Jan 3 at 22:54
  • 1
    @John Dvorak CZs sparkle, so I suppose we hit lucite when SE has no sparkle. – user540056 Jan 3 at 23:01
19

I'm guessing the reason they don't just acknowledge that proper procedures weren't followed in Monica's de-modding and rescind it, is that they don't want to set a precedent where they would feel expected to reverse unpopular decisions on a technicality if someone can think of a reason why correct process wasn't followed. There might be a case in future where they have legitimate reasons to take action against a popular user, and they don't want all that user's fans to start rules-lawyering them.

But I can't see why the heck they don't just say so. Yes, they don't want to comment on individual cases, but they could easily write something like this, as, say, an answer on the "Moderator re-instatement process" question:

Note that we do require users to go through the moderator re-instatement process even if there is reason to believe that we screwed up and correct procedures weren't followed in the original decision. This is because we need to make each decision based on the suitability of each individual for the sites they moderate: we can't simply re-instate individuals "on a technicality". We will however do our best to expedite such cases, and take even more care to handle them with the burden of proof firmly weighted towards a presumption of innocence unless proven otherwise beyond reasonable doubt.

We need to be sure that if, in future, we had legitimate need to take disciplinary action against a popular individual, the conversation will be firmly about whether such action is necessary and appropriate. We don't want to create a precedent where that important conversation may be overshadowed by potential rules-lawyering about whether the initial process was followed to the letter. We're not saying that any such rules-lawyering has happened here, but it is something that has happened on other communities where necessary action was taken against a popular figure.

If we screw up and mishandle a difficult case again, we'll hold our hands up and apologise for it, but we'll never apply a "two wrongs make a right" approach and skip procedure in assessing whether the badly-implemented decision should be reversed.

We'll also try to do a better and faster job of admitting and apologising for the fault, too. As we've said before, we know we have fallen very short recently.

...and of course they desperately need to say something like this:

To avoid conflicts of interest, where possible individuals personally involved in the initial action will be recused from any involvement in evaluating the reinstatement process.

This applies to individuals at all levels. If a senior-ranking individual was personally involved in a particular case, and there is a danger that the people evaluating the reinstatement application might be (or, might appear to be) biased by that individual's professional authority, we will be careful to ensure that the process is entirely overseen by someone who all parties agree has no personal stake in the case - which may in extreme cases be an independent arbiter.

All in all, it feels like they've had literally hundreds of opportunities to sort this out in a fair way, and every time they've been thrown a lifeline, they've used it as a spade to dig deeper.

If there's an amicable resolution now, it's because they did the absolute minimum, extremely reluctantly, under the threat of legal action. And all because one individual didn't want to admit to simply misunderstanding someone's intent while under pressure.

They urgently need to do something to counter the lingering impression that staff won't lift a finger to repair harm they caused to users and sites unless forced to via >$20,000 of legal pressure. At no point in this have I seen any action to suggest that anyone ranked higher than community manager or developer even thinks of users as human beings - rather than merely troublesome, inconvenient, but expendable entries in a database.


While they won't do this, I see the problem as unresolved, and I'm still half-in, half out: minimal activity here, looking for a better-managed, trustworthy alternative network more deserving of my time elsewhere.

  • 6
    The simpler explanation is that SE management doesn’t think removing Monica was wrong, even though it might have been poorly executed, and they aren’t going to back down from that position or be transparent about why they have dug in their heels because none of it actually impacts the company. – ColleenV parted ways Jan 3 at 17:18
  • 3
    Maybe. If that's true, then that's completely unacceptable because it's clear from the statement that the only thing she could be said to have done wrong (beyond being misunderstood) was to ask questions a senior member of staff was unable to answer. – user56reinstatemonica8 Jan 4 at 8:52
19

For Monica's sake, I am pleased that she has reached an understanding with SO. They treated her appallingly, so it is good that she's got some sort of closure.

At the same time, I am dismayed that Monica has not been reinstated as a moderator, and I'm not satisfied that SO has addressed the wider issues. For these reason, I will continue to use Monica's name in my profile. By doing so, I hope to draw attention to the ongoing situation.

  • 5
    Small note: the text in your avatar is not readable at all, except in the profile page itself. If you want to use the avatar to send a message, better use one of the now-well-known avatars that already exist. – Shadow9 Jan 7 at 13:49
18

Monica's legal agreement didn't satisfy me, because Stack Overflow didn't do the morally right thing, and because it gave me no confidence they wouldn't continue making other equally serious mistakes. I had already considered changing my name to "Stop Harming The Community" before they fired Shog9, but that choice made my decision easy.

17

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

Like many others, I was very disappointed by the wording of said agreement. On the other hand, that is what Monica Cellio accepted. When she can move forward with that, then I see no point in further complaining. But let me say this: I very much enjoyed reading the second article by The Register, which makes it rather clear who messed up here.

In any case, what are your next steps?

As mentioned elsewhere, I would love to change my username to GhostCat thinks that SE should have reinstated Monica, but alas, too long.

Yet, that is what I think: SE Inc. acknowledged "it was a big misunderstanding". If they would live up to their neat words, Monica should have been reinstated. Without going through that dubious process which gives the company the upper hand (whereas the community members who voted in their moderators ... have no say in anything).

I honestly hoped (but didn't expect) that SE Inc. would live up to the great words written down in earlier apologies. But every time they had a chance to do the right thing, they took the wrong turn, and often made things worse. Their words turned into pathetic, empty slogans. Stuff that Europeans probably consider "out of this world", as if we were watching a comedy about cliche-like "really really bad US style people management practices".

Respect needs to be earned, even more so, when you frivolously lost existing respect by your actions.

And nothing we said, suggested, plead, ... for, nothing did change their mind. From that point of view, I consider this a lost battle. The community lost plenty of great moderators, and the company lost our trust, for good. This is a very bitter moment for everyone who cares or cared.

Do you for example intend to keep your "Monica-supporting" nickname forever?

As said, I do believe that Monica will never be reinstated. And I am not the kind of person who keeps kicking dead horses. But there is one more self-defined milestone on this network I am looking for. I intend to document "getting" there, so that "Monica C." will be mentioned there, too. For as long as MSE exists and those posts will be around. Similar to another user who worked very hard to get on the "winter bash 2019" top scores, so that "Monica" would show up on corresponding announcements.

So, for now, it is: "GhostCat salutes Monica C."

Regarding "contributions":

  • I really like participating on MSE these days. I learned a ton of things during the last three months, and I do think that I was able to make real contributions here more than once. I intend to continue, at least for a while.
  • I very much appreciate that people are actively working on a new platform, and that the former SE Inc "writing" community is trying to move to codidact already. I honestly hope that this works out, and that the new platform works better for any community that wants to move there.
  • Of course, in the past, my main focus was stackoverflow. And my motivation was to have a high reputation in that place. But now I am wondering if having a high reputation still matters, when the corresponding community loses its reputation as high quality "best place for programmers" day by day. I massively reduced my input and user-moderation activities on that site, and my motivation to get to 250K there and 50K votes or whatnot ... pretty much evaporated lately.
14

I am pretty satisfied with the legal agreement. I'm glad Monica reached SE company and made them to rethink of what they did. And if Monica accepted their apologies, it means this is over guys.

BUT

I am Ver Nick says Reinstate Monica. And I will be Ver Nick said Reinstate Monica.

I want to always remind SE of their mistake and make them remember what can happen (again), if they act in an inappropriate way.

14

I will be keeping mine (as little effect as it has) until Monica is actually reinstated, whatever form that takes.

I think it's ridiculous that "mistakes" can be made, and acknowledgement in the form of a legal agreement and an admission can be made, and yet SE have not offered a hearing on the behaviour as though she were still a moderator. Instead SE continues to push Monica towards a process which presumes guilt.

There is no evidence that this new process works, but if Monica were to choose to participate in it (which would make her a better person than I could ever be), and was successful in reinstatement then I would see that as being the bare minimum to absolve the situation.

  • 1
    I think you mix up things there. SE Inc offered her to participate in that new process, and she refused to do that. AFAIK, she would be open to be re-elected in her old communities again. – GhostCat salutes Monica C. Jan 2 at 7:55
  • 2
    @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica Yes, SE offered her to participate in that process as the only option to reinstatement, not re-election. Since any code she violated was not current a the time, that means her dismissal was inconsistent and so the process should have been one that was active at the time, not one that was invented after the fact. Being asked to actively participate in the rulemaking process should include the freedom to discuss the pitfalls of those rules and not to predict those rules. – tu-Reinstate Monica-dor duh Jan 3 at 8:21
13

I'm a bit late to the party, but as my views differ from what's been posted before, I'd like to share them.

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

I don't have a clue what that agreement is, as the details aren't public. For me, it's relevant to know:

  • The truth behind the reason Monica got unmodded (was it really just avoiding pronouns and requesting clarification? If so, how did that lead to the now retracted statements?)
  • If the retracted statements are false, how they could get copied and pasted over multiple days, and why they weren't retracted earlier
  • If there have been changes preventing slandering in the future
  • If SE has plans on rebuilding their relationship with the community and moderators, and if so what they are

This is all not answered to my satisfaction, and not part of the agreement.

I removed Monica from my name because she settled, and we won't know the details, but I assume that if she did, she got an offer that was to her satisfaction, and that's all we can wish for for her.

The problem is that the community got nothing out of that settlement, except for the retraction of certain statements without an apology or explanation.

In any case, what are your next steps?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

I don't expect there's anything to be gained by stretching this any further, and this will probably be my last post on the matter.

I've lost a bit of trust in SE and their ability to properly manage this platform and community, but it's still good even without proper management, and I will continue using it, though with a bit more pessimism than before.

13

Based on In sadness, it is time for me to go I have changed my user name from Reinstate Monica to Moving 2 Codidact. Codidact is a work in progress, and it will be a while until it is ready to be a functional alternative to StackExchange, but we're working on it. See you there.

(I'm keeping the hat - nice and warm in the winter.)

11

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

No. The agreement doesn't mean that Monica Cellio will be reinstated. Monica just said:

I can't comment further for legal reasons.

The agreement doesn't mean anything at all. It is not an apology, and it is not reinstatement.

In any case, what are your next steps? Do you for example intend to keep your "Monica-supporting" nickname forever? Or do you consider the whole effort to be useless by now, to react by doing...?

When Monica Cellio will be reinstated I will change my name to:

Victor celebrates Monica Reinstatement

or

Victor thanks SE for Monica Reinstatement

9

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

No, not really, although only a few people really know what is in it and what the real situation was. I strongly suspect that Monica was basically given the choice of 'this or nothing'. She had asked the community for $30k for the legal battle and got $25k over a couple months. The rate of increase was going down. If SE intended to drag it out as a strategy (which seems like a reasonable guess), she would have eventually lost.

What we do know is that she was not reinstated, and there was not a real apology. Likewise, the statement to The Register did not unambiguously state that she did nothing wrong. I find these results to be unsatisfactory.

In addition, while I find Monica and her travails very sympathetic, whether she is satisfied (I would hope so) is only part of this for me. My reading of the events is that this was a classic authoritarian move. The way to establish dominance is to find someone completely unblemished and make an example out of them publicly. Everyone else can see and say to themselves, 'if it can happen to her, it will definitely happen to me', and know not to cross the dictator. If Monica were satisfied, that aspect remains as SE has not reinstated her or provided a true mea culpa.

In any case, what are your next steps?

At present, I remain conflicted, but I continue to slowly feel more pessimistic, disappointed, and tired.

Do you for example intend to keep your "Monica-supporting" nickname forever?

Until she is reinstated, yes. (Note that, in the comments, Frédéric Hamidi asks if I would change it if Monica asked me to. I would, but it would probably still reflect my thoughts, just without her name.)

Or do you consider the whole effort to be useless by now, to react by doing...?

It depends on what you mean by "useless". I don't believe my actions will have any effect on SE's behavior. But sometimes you have to stand up for what you think is right even if you believe it will not work out in the end.

8

TL;DR: I added the " - Reinstate Monica" to my user name and donated to her legal campaign. I removed the moniker earlier this week.

I am a frequent user of one of Monica's former communities. I really wanted her back, but for me, it was about getting her name cleared. Getting her back as a moderator was something I saw as a long shot from the beginning, because I didn't think she'd want to come back to the org. When they publicly stated that they did not believe she acted with malice and (poorly) apologized for their treatment of her, that was the most I ever expected in the first place.

Monica is off to other, non-SE sites. If the alternative websites being worked on work out, great, but otherwise, SE is a tool I use and find valuable.

The fight wasn't lost, it just ended, like so many conflicts, in a blah compromise that gives everyone something and leaves a taste of bitterness behind.

  • 2
    Based on the change to my reputation score, votes are +6, -5 so far. This sort of discussion is where not showing both up and down votes is a real weakness of SE. – SRM Jan 5 at 15:45
  • Can't the upvote/downvote split be seen once you have enough rep on a given site? Also, if you're really interested, I think you can check both on SEDE. (ping @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC.) – Zev Spitz Jan 6 at 13:13
  • And just for the record: when I click into the vote count (like the "3" in your case, that turns into a +7 / -4 for me. So you can get to that count easily. – GhostCat salutes Monica C. Jan 6 at 13:22
  • @ZevSpitz I had no idea! Thanks! – SRM Jan 6 at 17:29
  • 2
    @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC. AFAICT you can only see the upvote/downvote count after clicking if you have 1K rep.. (The link is for SO, but presumably the same is true across StackExchange.) – Zev Spitz Jan 6 at 19:07
8

Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

Well, it isn't in the public domain and so reacting to that agreement itself isn't possible. All we know is that it was accepted by Monica.

Do you for example intend to keep your "Monica-supporting" nickname forever?

I changed back to my previous (and current name) from "Justice for Monica" and cleaned up my profile page the day I read of the agreement.

Or do you consider the whole effort to be useless by now, to react by doing...?

The whole effort was, in my opinion, certainly not a wasted effort. She got some sort of settlement, which I feel wouldn't have happened at all if it weren't for the expressions of support here and on the GoFundMe page.

On the flip side, it was (and is) disappointing to see

  • comments such as "no one died",
  • descriptions of what has happened as a "drama",
  • suggestions that what's past is past and
  • that we should learn from the past and move on.
  • 4
    I very much agree to those last points. I saw that one users wrote an answer at some point claiming that all ".* Monica .*" users must either be transhopbic or Trump supporters. Crazy stuff you see here, sometimes, unfortunately. – GhostCat salutes Monica C. Jan 6 at 14:49
  • 3
    @GhostCat Sheer Idiocy -- not you, of course, but the person you quoted! – user540056 Jan 6 at 18:00

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