On Friday, half an hour before Shabbat and two days before Rosh Hashana, Stack Overflow Inc. suddenly revoked my moderator status on all sites where I had it. I found this out while handling flags, when I suddenly got notifications for Marshal and Deputy badges (which moderators are ineligible to earn). They did this not because I've done anything to violate SE policies (which I have not done), but because they think I will in the future violate a thoughtcrime-style provision of a Code of Conduct change that hasn't been made yet.

Rather than just asking you to take my word for everything, let me quote something that another moderator who has no particular ties to me wrote:

Social life means being confronted to different points of view. This is especially true on in an international setting such as Stack Exchange where you get to encounter people from different cultures. When interacting with others, you need to draw lines — for example, racism is not acceptable, full stop — and within those bounds, you need to open up to diversity. Sometimes that means listening to multiple points of view, and sometimes agree to disagree, and sometimes compromise.

I have witnessed a disagreement between moderators where both sides made some good points. Both sides deserved and requested respect. One side was aware that their behavior could hurt even though no malice was intended and tried to get out of their way not to be hurtful. The other side demanded to have things their way, and did not care who they were hurting on the process. In this particular dispute, there was clearly a victim and aggressors.

Stack Exchange intervened, did not try to calm spirits, came firmly on the uncompromising side, and fired the victim in a very hurtful manner.

The behavior that Gilles describes happened in the Teachers' Lounge, a private chat room for moderators. I was the victim. Someone with a "director" job title had dropped into the room to announce an upcoming change to the Code of Conduct; unlike the rest of the CoC, this rule mandates specific, positive actions.1 I raised some issues with the formation of the policy and asked some questions, the vast majority of which were never answered. I was polite and was trying to work with others to solve a problem I have with the change as presented.

After a couple hours, the director responded, chastising me for raising issues and saying my values were out of alignment. I said I would leave the room to avoid causing problems, and did so. The Teachers' Lounge is a resource for moderators, but there is no requirement to participate there and many moderators do not. This appeared to be a TL-centric issue.

Two days later (Friday September 20), after a lot more discussion, a community manager instructed people to send email if they have concerns. I did so in the minutes before Shabbat.

On Monday I received email from a different CM explaining why they were making the change and mis-stating some issues I had raised. Concerned that I had not made myself clear in my haste to respond quickly on Friday, I replied with some questions. This was an amicable exchange; I thought we were having a productive conversation. I was promised a reply by this past Friday.

Instead, I saw my diamond disappear before my eyes and briefly saw an announcement from a CM in TL that contained false allegations against me. When I tried to respond I was booted from the room. Around this time I received email firing me. This email did not cite anything I have done wrong; this was a pre-emptive move that runs counter to how SE tells moderators to treat users when considering suspensions. (Moderators suspend in response to behavior, not speculatively.)

In TL and now in answers here and elsewhere, Stack Exchange employees made vague statements implying that I oppose inclusion and respectful behavior, which is false and adds insult on top of the injury already done. I suspect a profound misunderstanding is at the root of their behavior, but all of my attempts to resolve it have gone unanswered. It feels to me like the company prefers a scapegoat to a resolution.

If I had done anything to violate the Code of Conduct, I would apologize and try to make it right or bow out. I didn't violate this important code (and especially not the code currently in force!), and I find it especially offensive that I am being accused of behavior that is not welcoming, inclusive, and sensitive when these are things I strive for in all of my interactions on the network (and elsewhere).

Last November, in the wake of a different controversy around SE employees maligning moderators in public, Tim Post made a blog post promising moderators five things: trust, support, agency, accountability, and autonomy. The actions that Stack Overflow took in the last week and a half violate all five of those.

It has been an honor to serve this community.

1 Now that this has been made public elsewhere, I feel safe in saying more. The policy is an update to the Code of Conduct that requires us to use people's preferred pronouns (when known). What was posted in the TL wasn't polished language; I assume they're working on that. I completely agree that it is rude to call people what they don't want to be called; knowingly misgendering someone is not ok. But the policy was about positive, not negative, use of pronouns. I pointed out that as a professional writer I, by training, write in a gender-neutral way specifically to avoid gender landmines, and sought clarification that this would continue to be ok. To my surprise, other moderators in the room said that not using (third-person singular) pronouns at all is misgendering. The employee never clarified, and this is one of the questions I asked in email. In my email I said clearly that I'm on board with "use preferred pronouns when using pronouns", but from the fact that they fired me without warning (or answering the question), I conclude that that's not the policy. I haven't seen an actual policy, though I am being accused of violating it.

Related blog posts:

I still have not been shown what specifically I am supposed to have done wrong, though I am told that a community manager told other moderators I have been. Sara's privacy-violating defamatory accusations continue to cause me ongoing harm, which is actually the larger problem.

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    I would welcome a similar post on meta.stackexchange.com so we can express support there as well
    – mbloch
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 4:23
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    Thanks @mbloch; I'll consider that tomorrow. I didn't get much sleep last night nor rest today, so I'm going to (try to) sleep on that. (I'm likely to attract the same kinds of personal attacks there that I received in TL, so have to decide if it's worth it.) Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 4:26
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    Aside a few mods leaving recently for various reasons, several moderators have left across the network because of this (in protest). SE is going to feel this one
    – user17026
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 9:09
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    This has been referenced on MSE
    – user17026
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 15:21
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    Of all the people for this to possibly happen to, you are the absolute last person who I’d suspect of abusing mod privileges. You’ve been nothing but helpful and kind in your interactions on SE; while I mostly stick to MY, I’ve seen you in action on other sites also, particularly Worldbuilding, and see the same pattern there. I can’t believe this would happen, and know that you have our full support.
    – DonielF
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 16:29
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    Hey, Monica. I haven't been around on Stack Exchange much in the past few months. But from what I remember about your interactions in the TL, you were always civil and courteous even while raising objections to the norm or during the so-called arguments. You were certainly one of the ideal moderators on the network. It's extremely unfortunate that this incident happened. Nevertheless, good luck with all your future endeavors. Stay well!
    – user18981
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 17:56
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    In the political language, "diversity" means "conformity" - and siding with the aggressor instead of the victim, this is kind of behavior, which one can often find among narcissistic psychopaths. Their words simply do not match their actions. Don't try to understand them (for your own sanity), because there is nothing to understand - ze rak meshuggah.
    – user19835
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 20:19
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    I made a new account here just to write this - I'm appalled by this action and the lack of response forthcoming. As far as I'm concerned, this is nigh on unforgivable.
    – Magisch
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 6:11
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    Wow, that's.... I don't know what to say. Please know that you are by far the best person I have met that could be a moderator on any of the sites I have visited throughout my time here on the StackExchange network. StackExchange has done a lot of bad things in the past that I didn't like, but this...? This is on a whole different level...
    – Secespitus
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 6:48
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    "...my values were out of alignment..." Often enough it looks like StackExchange's values are out of alignment lately. Anyway, thanks Monica for your great work. It is always a nice experience reading your thoughtful contributions. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 8:47
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    Monica is the role model moderator - the exemplary moderator all other moderators should look up to. Can someone clear up this gross communication failure? Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 12:17
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    I'm shocked - I've always seen you as an excellent, even-handed moderator. I don't know the full context, but this seems egregiously unfair. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 13:35
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    Most often people represent their side of the story in self-supporting ways or with embellishments. To better understand what took place, I tracked through the comments in the Teacher's Lounge and found your recounting of things to be quite factual. I don't think you did anything wrong. Discussing new policies and expressing your opinion is what the chat rooms and Meta is all about. Through an open discussion, policies get clarified and improved upon where needed.In this case, it appears policies were enforced that have yet to even be announced. This seems very wrong and heavy-handed to me..
    – dan
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 0:47
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    This is not how I ever expected to earn Great Answer and Famous Question badges on meta... Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 1:03
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    Note for the non-Jews out there: The anti-negative (don't do the bad thing) rather than the positive (do the good thing) has Jewish roots. The most obvious example being the golden rule: "Do onto other's as you would like done to you" leads to logical issues (What if I like being hit with a stick? Should I assume you like the same? When I want dinner, should I buy enough for the entire world? What if you don't like the same food I like? etc), and therefore is given by Rav Hillel as "Do not do to others what is hateful to you." I can see gendering falling into the same logical traps.
    – yhyrcanus
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 16:02

14 Answers 14


I am appalled at this action by Stack Overflow, Inc. I urge them to reconsider, as this community, and I'm sure others, are significantly better places thanks to your past and ongoing impact. It's too late to wash this painful act from our memories, but it really needn't be too late to reverse its technical effects. I hope that if SO do offer to reinstate you as a Mi Yodeya moderator, that you'll continue here in that role, for the good of this community. If they don't, that will be, in my opinion, an ill-advised confirmation of a harmful decision.

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    Although I usually express agreement on Meta with merely an upvote (and I did so here), I'm allowing myself to also comment indicating my agreement this time, lest onlookers incorrectly think that a fellow moderator's not answering indicates something it does not.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 8:21
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    Although I don't frequent Mi Yodeia as often as I used to, I well remember Monica's helpful participation in the forum. I'm registering my protest here in the comments and pray this will be resolved in the near future.
    – Barry
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 17:50

I am shocked to read this. In nearly 4 years on MiYodeya I can only remember positive interventions from your side, welcoming new users, taking time to explain the site features, intervening in a highly balanced way whenever required, and generally acting as a force for good.

I cannot believe that anyone would see you as anything else than a highly positive contributor to the sites you helped moderate, and know you invested much time, energy and care to spur usage and elicit high-quality content on the sites you participated in.

I do hope this decision will quickly get reversed, and that you can go back to contribute as a moderator. No matter what, all the people you positively touched should in themselves be a reward for your investment.

In the end, gam zu l'tovah (a Jewish expression meaning: "this too will be for the best/may good things come out of this").


Monica, for all we both have fairly broad interests, they don't seem to overlap much. But the fact that you're a very level-headed and nice person is impossible to miss even without many direct conversations. Many times you had a nice word in situations where I would just have grunted, walked away or sent the other person off. You were the moderator that we all aspired to be, or should have.

It has been an honor to serve with you. Regardless of what happens next, thank you for everything you've done here.

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    Thank you for these words and for all that you have done for your communities. We didn't interact much, but I can see that you act with integrity, an important quality we should all strive for. Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 15:17

To whom it may concern at StackOverflow, Inc.:

This is not about whether Monica was correct or not regarding her position on the matter at hand. This is about how you responded. Your non-apology states that you (whether you personally or SE or whoever) "removed a moderator for repeatedly violating our existing Code of Conduct and being unwilling to accept our CM’s repeated requests to change their behavior," with no evidence to support this. All you apologized for was "shipping" on a Friday afternoon – an extremely condescending way to respond to a fellow human being, by the way – not for what actually happened. You have the courtesy to say you're "sorry to see [other mods resigning in protest] go," but to Monica you refuse to apologize and just stop short of saying "good riddance." Sara, I'll judge you favorably that you're just the messenger and it's not your message, but you should at least be ashamed that you had to deliver it. Certainly whoever gave the instruction should be ashamed of doing so.

Consider this post from not even a year ago when Monica was appointed moderator at Meta.SE:

Monica is an experienced moderator across the Stack Exchange network and we thought it would be presumptuous to ask her to step up yet again; that was a little short-sighted of us because she's been rocking it here and has the cycles to come on board.

These folks have quite a bit of moderation experience, some since the dawn of time the concept of pro-tem moderation itself. All of these individuals have been leaders on their respective sites, as well as leaders in the broader Stack Exchange moderator community. They're fair, even-keeled and most importantly, they're incredibly great at disagreeing with Stack Exchange!

You sing her praises, including that she disagrees with SE, yet when she disagrees with SE, you fire her?

While we're talking about that Meta post, consider this quote from a few paragraphs further:

Everyone that works at Stack Exchange is very passionate about what they do, which leads to very passionate discussions especially where there's criticism involved. Sometimes, we as employees need to disengage, or dial it back, or whatever euphemism you want to use for calm the heck down and think about the goals and the people helping you meet them.

Even now you can still "think about the goals and the people helping you meet them" – and reconsider those goals, too!

What's striking to me about all of this, as I alluded to earlier, is how cold you all were in doing this, and how quiet you've been since. Where's your passion for what you do, especially given all of the criticism involved?

Our appointed moderators will have full agency to correct any chain of correspondence that appears to be going off the rails, no matter who was originally driving the train. Sometimes it's better to let an objective party step in and handle things, we'll just leave it at that.

Shouldn't the same measure with which you expect moderators deal with the community be applied to the moderators themselves? Why was there no objective party involved in this decision?

For that matter, why was the mod action review process not heeded? If the other mods on the site(s) are to be brought into the discussion, by my count 21 separate moderators should have received emails related to this incident. I'd have thought that if they had, they'd have mentioned that alongside their support and their recollections of the TL transcript.

You might want to take a cue from Abby's statement here about constructive conflict:

I think as long as everyone is operating from a place of assuming good intentions, good faith on the part of the other person. So you know, I'm not fighting with you, because I think you're a dingbat who's trying to ruin the site. I'm in conflict with you, because we both really care deeply, but have different ideas about what could be useful here. I think that is a productive conflict. As soon as you get to a point where, you know, you've you've flipped the bozo bit on the other party in the conflict, or you think, you know, this is an evil person, and I have to vanquish them, to trounce them, vanquish this evil, then it gets a little less, less productive, less constructive there. But I think it can be really, really healthy for a community.

How timely.

Now, I obviously wasn't there when everything went down, but if this account is accurate, where was the assumption of good intentions and good faith here? That was a scarily quick leap to "this is an evil person, and I have to vanquish them, to trounce them, vanquish this evil."

To conclude on a more positive note: Monica, as I've said before, thank you for all you have done as a moderator here and elsewhere, and may you be reinstated quickly to be able to continue helping these communities as you have done so well in the past. As I commented on the OP:

Of all the people for this to possibly happen to, you are the absolute last person who I’d suspect of abusing mod privileges. You’ve been nothing but helpful and kind in your interactions on SE [...] I can’t believe this would happen, and know that you have our full support.

I'd like to further commend you for your incredible patience and calmness with which you approach this (at least publicly). You know where your priorities lie, and you're somehow able to keep a clear head during all of this. I specifically did not post this immediately, because I knew that if I did, this would be significantly more charged than it already is.

Chazal tell us that a mighty person is one who is able to conquer his inclination (Avos 4:1), and that being slow to anger is a prerequisite to acquiring Torah knowledge (Avos 6:6). They teach that Hashem is slow to anger both to the deserving and undeserving (Eruvin 22a et. al.), and we are commanded to emulate Hashem's attributes (Shabbos 133b). Hashem treats us the way we treat others (Sotah 1:9, which you yourself learned for the Siyum); may Hashem reward your patience by having mercy on you during this Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur season.

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    I love that this answer comes with sources! Yasher koach! Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 2:37
  • 3
    @Monica On a site like this, how could I not? And I believe I should be the one telling you teyasher kochaich. (I think that's the grammatically correct phrasing, anyway.)
    – DonielF
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 2:39
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    @DonielF IINM, the verb applies to the noun כח and therefore is always in the masculine: יישר.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 3:45
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    @DonielF the company is unlikely to read this here; did you also send it to them directly? Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 2:31
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    @MonicaCellio Yes, as if they’ll actually read it there either. I thought filing it under “appeal a code of conduct violation” was appropriate.
    – DonielF
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 2:35
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    Nice! I should do that too. Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 3:19

Writing from the Western US where the holiday has not yet begun. L'Shana Tova to you all.

I have been very lucky to serve alongside Monica for a brief time as moderators for Writing.SE. She has been an amazing mentor, not just for me but for other moderators, and always generous with her time and knowledge.

I actually agree with the new SE policy for mods and I'm a huge champion of diversity of all kinds. But the way SE has treated Monica (and by extension, all SE moderators) is appalling. They had an opportunity to carry out this process with respect and they failed on multiple levels, multiple times.

They don't seem to understand that treating a respected, hard-working, and experienced moderator worse than they'd allow any of us to treat a SE user spouting bigotry casts a pall over SE and shocks us all.

This is still fixable. They can turn her "firing" into a suspension and work on communicating the new policy and all its ramifications to every mod, not just to the one who spoke out (one who never violated it or even opposes it in spirit).

It's a good policy aimed at supporting moderators who have felt unsupported by SE. Scapegoating Monica is not going to help those moderators. It's not going to help other moderators feel safe (I sure don't anymore). And it doesn't help the community who has now lost at least 10 valuable moderators.


As a Christian I am now consider if I will every surport stackoverflow again, as freedom of speach and religion is important to me.

I have now written an answer on another question, outlining how keeping to what one groups says is their absolute and unquestionably right to enforce on me is not compactable with my right to chose to be a Christian. See https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/334636/132223

Update Sat 12th Oct.

The above linked answer has now been deleted by a staff member of StackOverflow as being offence, I will let people with enough rep to see a deleted answer decide for themselfs.

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    Totally agree, I'm a mod on Christianity StackExchange, this has seemingly had a chilling effect on our minute (compared to StackOverflow) userbase as the last 3 days have been mainly community bumped posts. I don't think many of our users can abite a code of conduct that discounts individual consciences in favor of liberal ideology. Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 16:34
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    @PeterTurner It's not even liberal ideology. I'm a liberal and am apalled by this behavior. This is some extreme left-wing nonsense, just as bad as extreme right-wing nonsense. Extremist views should not be the policy of a site like this. Sara Chipps appears to be the one responsible. I'm calling for Stack Exchange to fire her immediately for extremist, intolerant behavior.
    – user91988
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 17:22

I senior mod on another site with about the same reach as SE, so I've a bit more experience of these situations.

SE is nominally, a site that pays great respect for its community, including its volunteer mods. That respect seems to be missing here. The most up to date communication seems to be @Sara_Cripps reply to this thread, and frankly, if one of our mods wrote that to a community, there would be an uproar. As there has been on Stack Exchange. As there should be.

As this is a meta post, I hope it's okay to explain why.

We understand there are some folks upset about this decision.

Well, yes. And those people aren't posting because they want platitudes, or to hear tumbleweed. Engage them!

We aren’t going to share specifics out of respect for all individuals involved but this is a site reaching millions of people and we have to do what we believe fosters a spirit of inclusion and respect.

On a community site, if you find yourself asserting community standards to the community itself, and they're almost unanimously saying that you are wrong, then the odds are extremely high that that's how it is. The community themselves love inclusion. If Monica had bee lacking in terms of "inclusion and respect", you can bet there would be people saying so and arguing between themselves here.

Do you see that? No, you don't. Nor do any users.

Which makes it very very likely that Stack Exchange (the corporate side) is in the wrong here.

What this post did, was effectively splaining. Telling this rather mature and huge community of experiences SE-ers, whether it should feel community standards were kept. Well, the community feels SE has itself not acted in keeping with these standards. It's skeptical and asked for info to check those standards, with almost no dissenting voice.

I'd listen to them. Because from here, as a highly experienced mod of another site with an outreach in the 400m+ figure, I'm seeing a big difference between the talk, and the walk. Others might be seeing it that way too....

When a moderator violates that, we will always do our best to resolve it with them privately. When we can’t we must take action.

And if you get feedback it was incorrect, you "must" do something to reconsider.

This is always done based on what we believe is best for all SE users.


Maybe if "all SE users", or those you and the community trust, are unanimously telling you that it probably is very far from the best, perhaps you should stop. Listen to them. Reconsider. Don't just drop platitudes and 'splain to the community what it feels.

Please SE. This is my first ever post on a mod related topic. I wish it didn't have to be one like this. But I can't stay quiet either. It feels very wrong, and I'd like you to trust the community as SE professes.

Thank you.


I see here two mutually exclusive accounts of what happened. Someone is lying and I find it hard to believe it’s Monica. If I get booted off the site for saying so, that only relieves me of the difficult decision whether to delete my accounts or not. (And in response to the puzzling comment, if I do so, it will be because like others, I choose not to support the draconian behavior.)


Monica, I signed in after a good few months of inactivity just to shockingly voice my disappointment at this whole situation (I only learned of it from the sidebar on SO). I cannot recall a single interaction in which you were not the voice of reason and sensitivity at the same time. Mi Yodeya and Stack Exchange as a whole are a less friendly corner of the internet without your moderation.

(Going back into my cave again now. Still hope to be back someday.)


I debated whether to make this a comment, or even send a brief message via your personal blog ... but decided a brief "answer" suited best. I hope that's OK.

While reading Schechter's venerable Aspects of Rabbinic Theology, I ran across his citation of Avodah Zarah 5b, which includes:

אשריהם ישראל בזמן שעוסקין בתורה ובגמילות חסדים יצרם מסור בידם ואין הם מסורים ביד יצרם

... Happy are you Israel; when they engage in Torah [study] and in acts of kindness, their [evil] inclination is given over to them, and they are not given over to their [evil] inclination. ...

It seems to me, Monica, that your actions through this debacle exemplify this saying. Personally, I've learned from your Torah study, and been touched by your acts of kindness. Keep pushing back darkness!

!אלפי תודות


I felt the writing was on the wall for this kind of upper-echelon behavior when I first saw the Code of Conduct. I am entirely unsurprised that something like this would happen, and it seems to be in keeping with a sort of a trend in various organizational settings in the US recently.


Woa, Ididn't know why you were gone Monica. I miss you a lot. Reading what happened I feel sure it must be for something good in future for you because as so many others here have written, you are the best moderator on any site I've ever known.

I'm so happy to have been able to read what you wrote here. Thank you for making my corner of the world a little brighter on MY for all these years.


You have been made an 'example of'! It happens, generally, when big money comes in from 'special interest groups'.

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    'special interest groups' What is it?
    – kouty
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 13:00
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    Please search in Google 'special interest groups' and you will be able to get a good explanation. Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 15:29
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    @Mr.deSilva What proof do you have that some conspiratorial “special interest groups” are at play here? Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 22:50

I'm sorry this happened to you. It feels like you were targeted and I would certainly wonder why. A lawsuit seems viable in your case. They deserve to be sued. They earned it. If you did sue, I hope you got some recompense from SO, the corporation.

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