Monica Cellio, an active and valued member here for years and a moderator on several other sites, was abruptly dismissed last month, without any reason given but apparently because Stack Overflow (the company) wrongly thought she was in breach of a new policy on pronouns. This was unfair (not just my opinion, but an admission and apology by the relevant manager) and possibly illegal, but Stack Exchange, despite promises, has taken no action either to reinstate Monica or any of the other moderators across the network who resigned in sympathy, or to clarify whether users can in future be banned because an SE employee thinks they might do something that the company does not like. It appears the managers have completed their investigation, and are hoping that if they do nothing the fuss will die down.

I am not suggesting that every ELU user should support Monica (though you can probably guess where my sympathies lie), but I do think all users should be aware of the problem, if only so as to understand some otherwise-cryptic network occurrences. The "Monica situation" has spilled widely across Meta Stack Exchange; this post is a good place to start, particularly if you're thinking "This doesn't affect me. SE is basically a good company and if I behave properly, nothing bad will happen".

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    In short, what do you suggest ELU users should do to support Monica?
    – Gio
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 21:27
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    @marcello: 16k rep, and 193 posts. User 8816 if you wish to look her up Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 9:46
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    @Gio (and others who may be interested in supporting) - There is also a gofundme page.
    – J.R.
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 16:15
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    To quote Mark Fisher: "nothing plays better on MTV than protest against MTV." All this support Monca stuff only funnels more traffic to SE. I only learn about the issue because they are hyping it as a "Hot Network Question," etc. This lawsuit is meritless. If they give her money, she should spend it on constructive ways to funnel traffic away from the site, like promoting social interactions in the real world, where pronoun policies aren't especially necessary.
    – user31341
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 3:04
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    @jlovegren can you please indicate one Meta post that is or was on the HNQ? Even if the question is no longer present on HNQ it is recorded in its history. I ask because Meta posts never appear on HNQ, it's part of SE's policy.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 7:37
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    @jlovegren I have seen more intolerance, bigotry and small mindedness in the last four weeks than I have in six years in EL&U, and yet these users who spout pure nonsense and show how mean-spirited and "unwelcoming" they are in their posts do not have SE employees publicly denouncing them on several sites across the network. How come? Instead their posts get immediately deleted, and if they persist to spout intolerances they get a warning, maybe two, and if they persist then earn a suspension of a week.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 7:52
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    @Mari-LouA I appreciate your passion but the comments of this question is not the right place to hold this debate. Also because I know you’re curious, Monica among others has said the TL transcripts proper were leaked on Reddit, so they’re somewhere out there on the Internet. You might be able to find them.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 11:06
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    I don’t think the leaked transcripts would be helpful to anyone trying to figure out what Monica did that was so bad - even the moderators that have access to all the transcripts don’t really agree on what exactly the violation was and SE isn’t willing to clarify. Those transcripts contain things that uninvolved people never expected to be shared with the public, so it would be better to let the leaked transcripts remain hard to find. My take after reviewing the actual transcripts is that Monica was not blameless, but she was unfairly singled out and the punishment was draconian.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 18:04
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    @Gio You won’t get that answer from the transcripts. Only SE can provide the answer, and they are unwilling. I could speculate, but I can’t read minds so I don’t think it would be helpful.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 19:59
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    @jlovegren good. You got your facts right about HNQ, and we shall see whether the 16 people or so who resigned and the many others who have chosen to suspend their activities were completely mistaken. You're the first user I've met in 5 weeks who has said that SE did nothing wrong.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 6:26
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    @jlovegren: If this were only about removing Monica as a moderator, it would be soon forgotten (unpleasant but not illegal). Doubling down with unsupported claims of "repeatedly violating our existing Code of Conduct and being unwilling to accept our CM's repeated requests to change that behavior" is unacceptable (and legally defamatory). Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 10:04
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    @jlovegren you need to read the whole story. Monica was accused of misgendering, a clear accusation, it is in the newspaper article The Register. The Director accused the former moderator of violating repeatedly the updated CoC, before it was enforced/published. The CTO agreed with the decision to fire Monica and said so in a public announcement. I call that defamation without just cause. I suggest you read this judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5193/…. I won't comment any further.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 15:27
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    @jlovegren It's not a "consumer" dispute, it would be a civil claim for professional and personal harm. Comments of yours like "This lawsuit is meritless" and "They didn't defame her" suggest you're either grossly ignorant or you're trolling us. Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 15:10
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    @WBT wow, seriously? Ugh. But, sadly, not surprising in the current climate. The powers that be at SE need to be "right" more than they need to be just. // Since mandatory arbitration came up, just wanted to mention that I opted out of that. I am legally entitled to sue without needing to dissect the conditions in the ToS. Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 23:06
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    @MonicaCellio Yes, good for you! This is a good example of why it's a good idea to always opt-out of those arbitration clauses as a routine matter when the option is available. Also, seriously yes to the question.
    – WBT
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


Since this question has not been closed or deleted, I'll offer an answer.

While visibility of the problem is (kinda) important, if you really want to support persons who have been treated poorly by owners of a particular network, remember that old saying that "money talks". Visit the donor page(s) of persons who have been treated poorly and open your wallets, because that is what persons who have been treated poorly will need to prevail against a particular network in a defamation lawsuit.

"He said/she said/they said" won't really amount to a hill of beans compared to money.

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    This was actually already stated in an upvoted comment. But how long will it take before the lawsuit is over? and in the meantime what shall we do?
    – Gio
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 17:35
  • @Gio - Ah, sorry. Jumped into the water without gauging its depth. In the meantime... keep donating a bit at a time. I'm not sure "we" (all of SE users) can accomplish anything if all that we've tried has failed to date. Personally, I think lawyers might have a lot to do with the silence of TPTB. Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 0:53
  • Thank you for this--and I'm super happy to see you active again, which is more than I can say for myself over the past few years.
    – phenry
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 22:54
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    @phenry - I'm not really active here any more, though I stuck it out for a couple of years after the election. You are still one of my heroes and I was wondering if I'd ever "see" you again. Fond memories of you stirring things up for the better. :) Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 1:09
  • Your post might be edited by SE: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/338270/… Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 15:58

An obvious requisite step for all reasonable parties to gain understanding about this kerfuffle is to hear Monica’s side of the story. This podcast interview ala Tyler’s Tech, in which Monica is given full reign to explain what happened, is excellent.

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    That video confirms what Monica has said from the beginning. I have never in my life seen such a bunch of idiocy for something so silly. The misprision by the company and its minions is astounding. How can something so simple become such a political nightmare? And even suggesting she go through some reinstatement procedure is laughable. She did nothing untoward to begin with. They should reinstate her forthwith and be done with it.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 22:54

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