On Dec 23, 2019, Monica posted on her GoFundMe page that she has no further need for donations to cover legal expenses. She linked to the Stack Exchange Meta post where SE says they have come to an agreement with Monica. She has been invited to reapply to be a moderator but has declined, citing issues with the appeals process.

SE admitted it made a mistake but is not fixing its mistake by simply reinstating her.

It seems like there will be nothing further in this dispute: Monica and SE will go their separate ways. There will be no libel trial. But there will also be no Monica administrating the forums.

Does that mean all our striking moderators go permanently offline? What's the plan going forward?

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    $\begingroup$ They have come to an agreement but neither could comment ''for legal reasons''. I guess it's still not settled. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Dec 26 '19 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ The announcement from both parties makes it clear that it is settled between them. There just won’t be any public discussion. @Vincent The legal reasons would be a standard NDA as part of the agreement. $\endgroup$ – SRM Dec 26 '19 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ I've written down some of my thoughts on where we stand so far; not sure how other folks feel. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 26 '19 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Vincent it seems to me it is settled. At least in legal manner - part of the agreement seems to be SE's retraction of criticism in exchange for Monica not suing for defamation. The specifics are, of course, unclear and I'd not like to speculate but silence on both parts and retraction from action is what you usually see in a settlement out of court. Whether or not that's "it" for everything else I can't say. It seems like SE's official message regarding Monika is not very well received. So, I'd say that we've not really budged much either way overall. Some damage undone, but not all. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Dec 26 '19 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ @VLAZ I guess my question is this: if this is the end of the legal action, and SE doesn't intend to take further action on its own, is our community ok with going back to normal operations with SE? Or do we somehow push further even though Monica herself won't be pushing anymore? $\endgroup$ – SRM Dec 26 '19 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ Again, I can't really say. It seems like the communities continued despite the protests. So, if we continue as now (as opposed to "as before") then nothing much changed. However, I think SE is threading on thin ice here and at any point they could slip up again causing even further fallout with the community. The crowd sourced Q&A system created for SO is resilient since it's still around despite the major problems SE had. It will survive this. But might not survive further blows to trust. The whole fiasco might be the beginning of the end for the SE network. Time will tell. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Dec 26 '19 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ They didn't actually admit to making a mistake so much as "regretting" that they shot themselves in the foot. Owning up to a misdeed means you "regret hurting someone" not "regretting the fact they have suffered some harm". $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Dec 27 '19 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ This should be on Meta. $\endgroup$ – CJ Dennis Dec 27 '19 at 6:32
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    $\begingroup$ @CJDennis It is on meta. Do you mean the main SE meta? I've never posted there, and I'm mostly interested in the small WB community's path forward. $\endgroup$ – SRM Dec 27 '19 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM-ReinstateMonica Yes, I meant Meta.SE, not WB.Meta. If someone from Mi Yodeya has the same question how will they know to look here? What about the other sites where Monica was a moderator? It has affected all sites, not just the ones that Monica participated on. This question is about all of SE, not just Worldbuilding. I can't see how Worldbuilding could have a different take on it. As cegfault answered, you either keep going or you don't. This applies to all users of all sites. $\endgroup$ – CJ Dennis Dec 27 '19 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ I feel like it's okay to keep the question here (especially as I believe variants have already been asked on Meta Stack Exchange, though I haven't been able to pull any up just yet). I think Worldbuilding as a community has been affected more than the vast majority of sites on the network because Monica was a mod here, and because almost all members of the mod team have resigned or suspended activity, so I think it's reasonable that we might get unique responses here. Though I'm curious to wait and see. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 27 '19 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ I'm one of the mods who resigned (from The Workplace). I wondered about this as well, and honestly, I don't know what it means. I haven't yet asked for my diamond to be returned because frankly, I don't think there is a clear resolution yet. There may not be anything else public at this stage either, but everything seems to indicate that Monica will not be reinstated and she won't submit to the appeals process. So I guess my diamond stays off, which is sad, as I was a mod for over four years. But my trust in SE is eroded to the point of not wishing to even engage in my communities anymore. $\endgroup$ – Jane S Jan 1 at 5:10
  • $\begingroup$ Hopefully it means people will put their names back to normal and I can go back to thinking SE is somehow different then the rest of the world at large. Or at least, I won't be constantly reminded that it isn't. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Jan 3 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM I guess my point was that we don't know and might never know what really happened. Therefore we have to take a decision without having the proper information to do so. It's based on assumptions, we might as well flip a coin. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Jan 3 at 16:11

Reading between the lines, it would appear there has been some legal settlement between Monica and SE. It's standard practice for such settlements to include a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA); that is, both parties agree to no longer talk about the issue in any public forum. Because this was handled privately between the parties (likely between their lawyers), there will be no public lawsuit, and hence no public documents or disclosure of what the agreement is.

Moving forward, each moderator who resigned has the option to reapply or not. Users can continue using the sites, or not. Everyone will have to make their own decision going forward; there is no consolidated "movement" in the sense that this was never a movement with clear leadership that people were following. All who resigned, stopped logging in, or left the site, did so of their own free will and not under anyone's direction.

I know there are at least two projects to create alternatives to the SE network (Codidact and TopAnswers), and these seem to be gaining support. There might be others. I only mention this because it doesn't seem like the issue is "going away" because Monica has reached a legal agreement. There's enough tension for people to be pursuing alternatives, but even in pursuing alternatives there isn't one approach or "movement" in that sense.

Again, everyone will have to make their own decisions going forward: reapply for moderator status, stay permanently offline, abandon ship, or find some compromise in-between.

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    $\begingroup$ I think one of the things to take forward from this is, for those who don't take that approach, to consider going back to the old school ways of never using your real name on the internet. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Dec 30 '19 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix given our respective usernames I would emphatically agree. However, this isn't always practical. More employers are wanting to see prior work - writing that's publicly available on blogs, programming contributes to open source projects, etc. For some (not many, not even most, but still some), even if your real name isn't used, their contribution on SE have been requested and/or used by employers. $\endgroup$ – cegfault Dec 30 '19 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ In other words, even if you don't use your real name, some people will still want a link to your usernames/profiles. So damaging a fake identity still causes damage, just not as much because it's possible to hide the damage. So yeah, I agree, but I also respect that keeping your real name out of it isn't a "solution" $\endgroup$ – cegfault Dec 30 '19 at 12:26
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the info about the proposed replacements for StackExchange. $\endgroup$ – Jasper Jan 2 at 5:50

I made the personal decision to set my username back, removing the " - Reinstate Monica". I think that fight is lost.


I personally am going to keep the "- Reinstate Monica", as the "apology" did not actually do anything. Yes, they said that they will "consider" allowing her back, but we all know how this works (they "consider", and then say "Nope!!!"). All in all, SE's "apology" was just them doing the absolute minimum necessary to keep Monica from suing them for libel.

-99999 to SE.


I intend to leave my username as is - I chose a slightly different suffix " - Justice for Monica" and while the two parties may have reached an agreement I do not believe that the result is a just outcome.

I am a relatively new user but with the circumstances as they are I would not be interested in taking on moderation duties should the opportunity be offered to me. I'm content to remain and answer questions for the time being, because I find it satisfying to do so, but at the same time I will keep my eye on Codidact and other emerging alternatives, and if any appear to offer both a worldbuilding community with the potential to be similarly engaging and also a sounder set of governance processes than SE then I will likely migrate there and encourage others in the community to do likewise. SE have certainly not earned our loyalty.


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