So, I was looking around on Meta lately, and I saw a bunch of people with "- Reinstate Monica" in their usernames. What does this mean?


3 Answers 3


Long story short: Monica was a moderator on many SE sites, including World Building. She is regarded by many as having contributed a lot to the network, both in content, moderation, and mentoring.

There was a discussion about gender issues in a chat-room exclusive for moderators (that chat room does not belong to World Building, but to another site in the network). She was accused of causing problems due to misgendering and transphobia and lost her moderator status. That was a unilateral decision from SE, which was done on a religious holiday when she would not be online in order to defend her case.

A few days later, SE released a new code of conduct which is very specific about how to deal with the gender issues which caused the whole situation.

Monica's supporters are mad at SE and wish to have her reinstated as a moderator. There are two main groups supporting her as of now:

  • People who think that the way the situation was handled was wrong - Monica was accused without proof after all, and she could never defend herself against the accusations;
  • People who would like the new code of conduct to be rolled back, because they feel uncomfortable being forced to use people's correct genders. Monica herself said in some comment that she does not support this mentality and called those people trolls with an ugly a disgusting agenda.

Edit: the comment has seemingly been deleted (this was the link to it), there are only references now. But this one still survives:

@Renan incorrect. I'm being targeted by extreme bigots who want me to join their cause to make the world safe for straight white American men or the like. (Those folks tend to hate Jews too, but I guess they overlooked that.) I moderate anonymous comments on my blog (didn't need to before!), so trust me when I say that you are not seeing what I'm seeing. There have also been comments on SE (now flagged and deleted).

That was in response to me misinterpreting the target on the comment about a disgusting agenda.

I personally think she is innocent, since there is no proof of what she did. SE however is a private company ran by people who are very disconnected from the community running the sites, so I don't expect any changes to Monica's situation.

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    $\begingroup$ There is also a third vague group of supporters. Or a meta-group, perhaps. It's sort of similar to the first one in that they think that SE was wrong but this is their main focus. Monica's removal as moderator was a tipping point in a rising discontent stemming from actions SE is taking (or lack of some). So, even if some people personally don't care that much about Monica, it's a cause they'd champion in pursuit of getting SE to listen. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Dec 10, 2019 at 11:08
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    $\begingroup$ If by misgendering you mean using wrong pronouns (I think that's what most of us mean by it), then AFAIK no one accused me of that. Some people were unhappy because I said I write in a way to avoid gender and asked if I could continue to do this; one moderator in the discussion said this was bigoted and transphobic. SE never explained to me what exactly I'm supposed to have done. The posts I linked in a comment (meta, Mi Yodeya) provide more information. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2019 at 22:45
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    $\begingroup$ Also, publicly accused, including in the press. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2019 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ @VLAZ And we still don't have confirmation from SE that any of that had anything to do with Monica's removal since they have yet to say what violation of the Code of Conduct they believe she committed, despite repeated requests for that information. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Dec 11, 2019 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ I would add to the final paragraph: the accusation that SE slandered Monica in the public press has lead her to file a lawsuit... that, more than any amount of lobbying, may change Monica's status $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Dec 11, 2019 at 0:45
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    $\begingroup$ I would caution your use of this phrase: "Monica herself said in some comments that she does not support this mentality and called those people trolls with an ugly agenda." Monica supports the new code. Her disagreement had about the tone of the initial discussion Re gender uses leading to her sacking. While she may disagree with their tone she hadn't, to my knowledge, called them 'trolls'. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Dec 11, 2019 at 0:59
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, @a4android raises something I meant to. I'm not sure what you're referring to. I have no problem with a policy of not knowingly using wrong words (like wrong pronouns or deadnames), which people sometimes do to troll, and I believe all people deserve respect. My concerns about the initial version of the change shared in that private chat room were about implementation details, not the basic idea. $\endgroup$ Dec 11, 2019 at 1:12
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    $\begingroup$ Re your edit: the trolling I was talking about there was off-site, like blog comments. There were some on SE but, as I said, they were deleted. These comments didn't mention the CoC; they were more along the line of "you should join the right-thinking people over at $hate_site", from people who assumed I am a bigot who would welcome the overtures. The people who are visibly supporting me on SE are not the people who sent me those sorts of comments. Some people oppose the recent changes to the CoC; that does not make them trolls. Both pro- and anti-CoC people can troll; that's orthogonal. $\endgroup$ Dec 11, 2019 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ This answer is misleading. You present two possible explanations for using the tag when in reality there is at least one more: people who disagree with how Monica was dismissed AND disagree with the CoC in that they do not wish to be dictated to in terms of how they speak. I am happy to use a pronoun such as "they" when gender is indeterminate, but I am not willing to use a made-up pronoun just because a person asks me to. It's he, she, or they. I'm not using anything else, and that's ok. I am not doing anything wrong by making this choice, and SE should respect that. $\endgroup$
    – user428517
    Dec 13, 2019 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ And btw: We now have a policy for reinstating moderators. This should of course be applied to Monica. But SE is silent and deals with Monica only via lawyers. $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2019 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ @ReinstateMonica-M.Schröder going through that process would be agreeing with the accusation even if she is innocent, don't you think? And her reputation (personal, not site score) was harmed due to SE implying she would be a bigot. I think the reinstating process would be a bad move. $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2019 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan I don't think so. It would be agreeing that SE made an error. But SE doesn't care about Meta or the community anymore. The CEO does not use SE. $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2019 at 15:43

To add my 2 cents worth to Renan's answer, right after Monica was summarily dismissed, I made a point of looking at the chat conversation that appeared to be the source of the allegations against Monica.

Without revealing exactly what was said - it was a mod-only board - I can say that all I saw was some people getting into a somewhat heated discussion about what personal pronouns are appropriate, though in my opinion as a moderator, I saw nothing that would be grounds for even a warning, let alone a summary dismissal, from any party.

From what I saw, Monica had objected to the grammatical incorrectness of using the pronoun "They" when referring to a single person, since "They" is plural. The discussion became heated, and Monica chose to withdraw rather than contribute to any acrimony.

At no point did I see Monica state that she would be disrespectful to any SE member... in fact I believe that she said exactly the opposite.

In my experience in SE, Monica has been nothing but friendly and respectful to me and everyone else. Accusing her of CoC violations seemed to me akin to accusing Santa Claus of being anti-Christmas.

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    $\begingroup$ My two cents: 1-) they is singular, at least since 1350 AD 2-) Refusing to use it after someone asked to be called "they" is misgendering. $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2019 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan As I understand it, Monica never suggested that people not be called theit preferred pronoun: her objection was to the use of they by default for those who had not expressed a gender preference. Personally, I agree with your point 1, and am happy to use they-by-default: but I am not happy with the idea of enforcing they-by-default as a writing style on everyone. Monica privately raised the same qualms, through the correct channels, and was fired for it. $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2019 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ To me, as an outsider, it all reads like someone had the same misunderstanding as Renan there, got up on their high horse, fired her, and was then unwilling to climb down once it was pointed out how wrong they were. [Edit: heh, I used "they-by-default" here!] $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2019 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ Part of the problem is that English lacks a singular gender-neutral pronoun. In most conversation, a person's gender is obvious, but the internet has made that difficult to ascertain. However, I agree with @DewiMorgan that a knee-jerk reaction was made, and that rather than admitting that a mistake had been made, both the SE employee at fault and SE have compounded the error by their refusal to correct it. Had fault been admitted and the error reversed, this would be a non-issue, rather than the very substantial issue it has become. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild Mod
    Dec 14, 2019 at 2:40
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    $\begingroup$ "English lacks a singular gender-neutral pronoun" Please see my first comment. It's not just that it's English.SE, there are quotes from linguists and from Oxford U. There is a gender neutral pronoun, and it has been around for a long time. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2019 at 14:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan Here is Monica's problem with singular they. A lot of it has to do with how people are raised; some teachers teach different rules, like no split infinitives or no conjunctions at the beginning of the sentence, only because they were taught that that was correct. $\endgroup$
    – Bladewood
    Dec 19, 2019 at 1:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan The point is not whether singular "they" is correct grammar or not. The point is that most people old enough to use the Internet had the rule "always use a gendered pronoun when referring to someone in the singular" effectively hardwired into them by their English teachers at school. For those people - and I am one of them - seeing "they" being used as a singular pronoun just feels wrong; it's like when you read a word and then suddenly (for no apparent reason) stop afterwards, go back and re-read it, and realise it's spelled incorrectly. (cont'd) $\endgroup$
    – Ian Kemp
    Dec 20, 2019 at 23:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan (con'td) Your brain's built-in error correction is able to "auto-correct" that misspelled word to make it make sense in context, so that the misspelling doesn't actually matter, but a lower-level routine - the hardwiring I talked about - causes you to stop because something's WRONG. That sort of conditioning is incredibly difficult to overcome, and incredibly intrusive. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to overcome it, or that we can't, but it does mean that objecting to a word "because it seems wrong" is very much a valid thing. $\endgroup$
    – Ian Kemp
    Dec 20, 2019 at 23:52
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild : Well, actually, in English you use male pronouns when you don't know the gender. $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Jan 7, 2020 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ The big problem I have with "he" vs "they" is that Stack Exchange is an international platform spanning MANY different cultures and English dialects where one rule may be absolutely wrong in 1 region and the inverse may be absolutely wrong in another. To enforce one dialect over the other is cultural discrimination. While SE may be HQed in New York where They is the preferred pronoun. This is 100% wrong in many English dialects so forcing everyone to conform to thier culture is oppressive in its own way. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Dec 22, 2021 at 16:48

I'd like to put my opinion based on the fact that I rarely checked the meta, presumably like you, until this thing with Monica.

I lack a very deep understanding of the meta, procedures, and stuff. However, in the ~30 posts that I checked which started with Monica and continued on the ethics of that, and subsequent, actions, I noticed that:

  • Both sides, that is, the community and the SE staff, seem to use decent language. A neutral point in itself. But,
  • The community poses questions and positions, things with essence. Whereas
  • The SE staff posts are practically empty words, sometimes trying to trick the reader into thinking they apologised.
  • The number of upvotes on critical community posts and the number of downvotes of hot air SE posts are overwhelming.

Having lesser knowledge, I dare to trust the large number of people who pose points, rather than a few who say nothing.

It is sad, because I enjoy the content of SE. But due to this situation, I am just waiting for someone/a group of people to create another similar site, and I will be off there. The abuse of people who care has not only been huge, but is proven decidedly incessant at all times.

  • $\begingroup$ I am currently working on making one; I will make a meta post with a link once I am finished. $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Feb 14, 2020 at 15:35

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