We are posting this to add our names to the chorus of unhappy moderators across the Stack Exchange network about the sacking of Monica Cellio. If you haven’t already come across the controversy, there’s a lot of material to read: but in summary, she was, in our opinion, unfairly removed as a moderator across multiple sites, and then Stack Exchange unjustifiably criticised her in a statement to the press. They are now failing/refusing to withdraw either of these actions, several weeks later.

To be clear, we fully support the recent Code of Conduct changes, particularly as clarified by the excellent FAQ based on one put together by a moderator on another SE site. We are not complaining about “coerced speech” or pronoun requirements.

We are solely complaining that Stack Exchange has treated Monica abominably and the senior management responsible for it now appears to have retreated into its shell and there is no visible activity to fix it. The recently announced “reinstatement process” is by no means adequate for solving this specific situation.

We continue to have the highest respect for the Community Managers who are responsible for the Stack Exchange network day-to-day. We can’t pretend to know what they are thinking about the situation but we doubt that the relative silence on these topics is by their choice.

Our user pics and names now reflect our support of the campaign to apologise to Monica and reinstate her. We plan to leave them like this for the foreseeable future unless the situation is remedied. At this point we are not planning on resigning as mods.

Ganesh Sittampalam and JoeTaxpayer

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    Thank you for posting this. I don’t share your “full support” of the new thought-crime CoC, but I absolutely agree that SE made exactly the wrong decision by firing one of the finest moderators on the network and then made a bad situation intolerable by repeatedly defaming her.
    – Ben Miller
    Oct 31, 2019 at 12:56
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    Who's not complaining about coerced speech? I'm complaining about coerced speech. That's a way more important issue than reinstating Monica.
    – user91988
    Nov 4, 2019 at 18:25
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    For a practical way to help Monica, see Monica's GFM page
    – ab2
    Nov 21, 2019 at 3:38
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    @ApologizeandreinstateMonica "Who's not complaining about coerced speech?" The post says "We are not complaining about “coerced speech” or pronoun requirements." and it's signed Ganesh Sittampalam and JoeTaxpayer, so the plain reading is that Ganesh Sittampalam and JoeTaxpayer are claiming that they're not complaining about coerced speech. Dec 10, 2019 at 22:56
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    @Acccumulation Sure, but why would SE management care about 2 individuals' opinions? What a waste of time. I was thinking this was more of a community letter they were asking others to sign.
    – user428517
    Dec 13, 2019 at 16:42
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    @ApologizeandreinstateMonica they might have cared a bit more because we're moderators (and because lots of moderators of other sites have complained too). But apparently they don't, or at least not enough to do anything. Regardless, the letter serves as a clear statement of our views for users of this site to read. Dec 13, 2019 at 18:40
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    the one question I would ask is if the new code of conduct was even warranted. On the sites I frequent, I have yet to see a single instance of racial or sexual discrimination. I can imagine that in politics or religion sites, tempers may flare more than on mathematics or software engineering sites; either the mods are doing a great job at hiding the problems, because I can see any, or the policy change wasn't warranted in the first place. Monica's firing destroyed the sense of community I always saw on stackexchange and brought it back to the reality of a politically correct commercial site.
    – Thomas
    Feb 1, 2020 at 12:06
  • @Thomas yes, I believe it was warranted and there had been a number of instances of behaviour that should not have happened. Feb 1, 2020 at 17:59

2 Answers 2


From what I can see, Monica had heard a proposal for a potential policy change, disagreed strenuously, and was trying to sway the proposal with a reasonably cogent argument. Which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and something I would have done myself.

It sounded like a discussion, and Monica discussed.

I think Monica was unaware that powerful people had already fully committed to the policy, and this was not a discussion at all, a point on which those people had not been forthright/honest. Monica was misled to believe it was an open discussion and that this was a safe space for that discussion.

However, those people already knew it was a done deal and forgot Monica did not -- seeing Monica's resistance not as reasoned dissent to a proposal, but as defiance/disloyalty to a decided policy. And acted quite emotionally, moreso than a professional should.

In essence, Monica "pissed off the wrong person".

Everything since has been justification.

I suspect the "those people" in question are owners, because it's difficult to imagine anyone else having the juice to fast-track the "proposal" or holdfast against such a bad decision.

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    I don't think it was the owners, but rather the people mentioned in meta.stackexchange.com/questions/334551/… - and once the bad decision was taken, SE as a whole found itself stuck in a hole and unwilling to take the steps it would require to extricate themselves properly. Nov 13, 2019 at 7:33
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    I wouldn't say the situation would've been much better had it been clear they've already decided from the start. There's almost always the possibility of someone's mind to be changed, especially since this just concerns a specific part of the CoC, not all of it. Also, if I recall correctly, part of it may just have been asking clarifying questions, which should always be acceptable and encouraged. Had they not wanted people to raise concerns (or for Monica to stop discussing and just accept it), they should've explicitly said as much.
    – NotThatGuy
    Nov 24, 2019 at 13:37
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    "Everything since has been justification." I think you mean "rationalization". Dec 10, 2019 at 22:57
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    Note that the specific point that Monica was pushing back upon was ultimately agreed to by SO. "Universally and indiscriminately avoiding personal pronouns" is called out as an acceptable behaviour in the final form of the CoC and associated FAQ. Obviously this further undermines their firing and reinforces the interpretation of "she annoyed the wrong individual".
    – Brondahl
    Dec 14, 2019 at 10:15

For those new to this mess, it's worth noting that there have been a wave of moderator resignations or reduced activity levels over how this matter was handled, leaving several communities with no active moderators at all, or one heavily overworked moderator. Question/answer quality is degrading in places. With the loss of several well-regarded community managers many users are feeling even more unsettled.

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