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!

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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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 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 Jan 7 at 22:47
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    I stopped contributing and helping on queue review. If there's a better platform, am jumping ship. – James Wong - Reinstate Monica Apr 17 at 5:35

35 Answers 35


I was Reinstate Monica.

Monica has stated that she cannot comment on the situation for legal reasons. If I were in here position, I'd want to move forward, and forget about this whole mess.

There are still a significant number of users who are using her name, and campaigning for her. I considered keeping my username unchanged, until we get Monica reinstated, but I also considered whether Monica would wish for us to continue. If she wanted us to drop the matter, she wouldn't be able to tell us, because she is legally bound to not comment on the matter.

This is why I took the decision to revert my name. I don't wish to attract any unwanted attention to Monica. Stack Exchange clearly don't care about any negative attention towards them, so I'm unsure of how much good applying more pressure will do, now that Monica and SE have reached some kind of agreement.

We will never get an update from either side, so I decided this was a good place to draw a line under it.

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Are you satisfied with that legal agreement?

I'm a kind of regular user in the network, but I have followed up to certain point what is happening. Honestly, I'm not satisfied with the situation since the "apology" and "resolution" was locked:

Update: an agreement with Monica Cellio

It's not about keeping bad attitudes against the people in "charge" of Stack Exchange, but if something I've noticed is that there is no democracy in any decision at all.

The people in charge of the organization, they can randomly change any rules like it was the case of Monica and most importantly, the negative actions that they took against her. It was more pressure from us that moved the ship to take some actions, if Monica would have been alone in this, she would have been just ignored. Also, previously the case of the licenses.

Now, after many months we had that "apology" that no one is clear what happened as a resolution, since Monica needed to be silent about the agreement (which is fair up to certain point). I cannot say that I'm satisfied since this situation has split the community and until, some terms of the agreement are known and Monica is reinstated properly, this situation is just going to keep growing.

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'd say the people are free to keep them as long as they want, since this shows the lack of support of us, the users in Stack Exchange, the ones who contribute with our precious time (something that cannot be recovered) to keep this ship afloat. Stack Exchange needs to realize that these actions are just damaging their image and trust around us and sooner or later, their business is going to be affected too.

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    I think that the only reason SE Inc. settled ... was the fact that Monica sued them in the first place. Thus I doubt that our words achieved much. What really caused "change of course" ... that gofundme campaign, the money flowing there, which allowed Monica to start the legal fight. But I really appreciate that you brought in that point of view! – GhostCat Jan 10 at 15:14

With so many answers already written, and this one coming so late after the question was posted, I doubt this will get much attention. But I've removed the Monica-related language from my accounts for a couple of reasons:

  1. Monica herself did so. I recognize that this is likely due to her agreement with SE, but I was following her lead in the first place. I see little reason to deviate from that now-- whatever is in their agreement, it was clearly acceptable enough to Monica to make the change on her own profiles.

  2. It has become a meaningless protest, in practical terms. SE does not care about a phrase in our user names like this. Keeping a protest message like these gives the illusion of action and tenacity, but I'm not sure that, for me, it provides anything beyond that illusion. SE really doesn't need more practice in ignoring its users, and I feel that these additions to user names will cause SE to care about its users even less than it already does.

  3. I think that it's self-defeating with regard to newer users as well as those that have not followed the controversies. If existing users care about these issues, but not enough to affect anything more readily perceptible than a user name, then the user name protest messages will seem to be inert. At that point they just give the impression that the issues at question are deserving of mild complaint and nothing more.

To be clear, I have no complaint with people who want to keep those messages in their user names, and I fully support their doing so. But for me, I personally don't go in for low-key, persistent, symbolic expressions of disappointment. And since I, personally, feel that that is all keeping such a message in my own user name would accomplish, I chose to remove it.

I'm onboard for other actions, should the community pursue them (such as a regular participation strike, or something similar). But I no longer feel that this avenue has much to offer.

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  • Yeah talk about feeling powerless. The "best" I could do was to block ads by SE Inc the other day on Facebook. That should teach them?! – GhostCat Jan 28 at 2:55

I'm happy because there's an agreement, which means both parties are happy with what was agreed.

From the moment I've heard of the agreement, i removed right away from the name and description information regarding Monica Cellio's cause, but left all my upvotes / downvotes.

Yet, I'm a little afraid something similar might happen to other user and the same user doesn't get the same support from other members as Monica Cellio did.

I feel there's high chance for the user to be doomed because i believe what lead to the agreement was the support Monica Cellio had in the GoFundMe, the profiles, QAs, comments, ... from fellow users which pressured SO into considering Monica Cellio's side.

SO tried to sweep it under the carpet. This saying, even though this case was solved, it remains unclear what SO is doing get users' trust back. One thing i know, if nothing is done, something is being done (that would reveal they don't really care about the users). If nothing is done, then I'm not even sure where this could lead; i could see even space for all this valuable content to be made private.

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  • It is logical from the fact Monica had the possibility to escalate that further within legal boundaries. – Tiago Martins Peres 李大仁 Jan 6 at 12:29
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    We dont have a "if A then B" relationship in this case. There are plenty of options like "she is really happy about the outcome" and "she hates the outcome, but she assumed that this is the best to hope for". It is fair to say "hopefully this means she is happy", but you sound like you spoke to her and she told you exactly that she is happy about the outcome. Which I somehow doubt. – GhostCat Jan 6 at 12:34
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    The fact that Monica now supports two products meant to compete SE tells me that she is not happy. – vikingosegundo Jan 6 at 12:44
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    @VikingoSsaysReinstateMonica Well, those are also two different things. She could be happy about a quick settlement with SE Inc, and her name being out in the open like that ... but still unhappy about the way SE Inc handles the small communities these days, and thus decide to invest her time and energy elsewhere. – GhostCat Jan 6 at 13:23
  • This was tense situation, of course there would come damage from it. Does it really matter the nuances you're mentioning? Both parties, who measured all that up, reached this agreement and reaching a fair agreement was what Monica always wanted. So, i still think we have enough grounds to assume a win-win situation came from this agreement. – Tiago Martins Peres 李大仁 Jan 6 at 14:52

It's great to know that an agreement has been reached, but at the same I feel confused because it's like playing a game that you don't know if it's over yet. But anyway, I'll be supporting Monica through my profile name until we have a formal and clear announcement that we can move on.

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    We've had a formal and clear announcement. They settled the potentially libellous statements and Monice has decided not to go through the reinstatement policy. It's done. – Richard Jan 13 at 21:50

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