If you follow meta.stackexchange (meta.SE), you'll have seen the huge number of posts about the new Code of Conduct (CoC), about Monica Cellio being removed as a moderator from multiple sites, about many other moderators resigning in protest, and about inclusiveness and pronouns.  This post is a summary of what's going on and will be followed by another post about what impact it has had or might have on ServerFault.

This post by Monica is probably the best place to start:


Monica is widely considered to be an excellent moderator and community builder; someone who communicates well and is helpful and inclusive.  Her removal led to a flurry of resignation by other moderators who think that there was no valid reason for her removal and that the way it was done was appalling.

Here's a summary of all the resignations, with links to most of the individual posts each moderator made explaining their reasons:

Firing mods and forced relicensing: is Stack Exchange still interested in cooperating with the community?

When it comes to information posts, the SE Q&A format isn't ideal, so if you want to get the full picture, you'll have to follow a lot of the links, expand the comments and read them, etc.

This post that is an attempt to put together a neutral summary of everything, but again, you need to do some work following links, reading answers and comments:

Summing up the main issues (The Story So Far)

Monica's own summary of events is much easier to read, and I can vouch for it being unbiased.  She mentions discussions in chat that seem to have led up to her removal, and I went back and found and read the relevant transcripts and I think her summary is fair and accurate:


In that post, Monica refers to The Teacher's Lounge (TL), an SE chat room for moderators and to the "Stack Moderators Questions" Teams site on SO (Teams sites are essentially private versions of SO that companies can pay for).  Only moderators and staff have access to the TL chat and the Moderator Teams site, so I'm not going to bother including links to them here.

The first public reaction from Stack Overflow (the company, not the site - SO Inc) was this post:

An Update to our Community and an Apology

As can be seen from the answers and by the fact that it's the most downvoted post on meta.SE ever, that was a terrible non-apology.    A few days later, the CTO of SO Inc. posted a better apology, but again, the answers make it clear that it wasn't enough to resolve all the problems people had with the whole sequence of events:

An apology to our community, and next steps

From here, it gets harder to follow because not that much is happening.  As you can see from Monica's posts, she was contacted by the CTO, but wasn't satisfied with the response and there hasn't been much followup.

Many of the moderators worked together to draft an open letter to SO Inc. expressing their grave concern about what happened, what led up to it, and suggestions for moving forward.  Here is the meta.SE post announcing the letter:

Dear Stack Exchange: a statement and a letter from your moderators

And here is the actual letter, hosted externally:


A few days after that, SO Inc. released a new version of the Code of Conduct that all users are expected to follow.  This was announced in a blog post with a follow-up post on meta.SE of an official FAQ about gender pronouns and the new CoC:



You'll notice that the FAQ about the CoC and pronoun use is the second most downvoted post on meta.SE indicating that people are not entirely happy with it (has since been deleted).


The new CoC specifically mentions that when writing on SE site, everyone should avoid using incorrect pronouns and if someone requests that a certain pronoun be used, everyone should be sure to it.  Some people want to be referred to in a gender-neutral way and want the word "they" to be used instead of "he" or "she."  This usage of "singular they" sometimes sounds awkward (e.g. it can't always be dropped in as a direct replacement for he or she), but it is proper grammar.

As mentioned in Monica's timeline there were multiple discussions about the use of pronouns and one issue that Monica brought up is that she didn't like the use of singular they and preferred to "write around" it - to use other sentence structures or to refer to people by name.  She was already doing that and felt that her writing was completely respectful of other people and that avoiding singular they should be ok.  During these discussions, it was stated by SO Inc. that it was not acceptable to avoid using pronouns in some cases but not others.

Monica asked questions and presented her views in order to try to make the case that it should be ok, which led to her being removed as a moderator from the sites where she was one.  In my opinion, although Monica was adamant in saying that she wouldn't use singular they, she was respectful in everything she said to explain why she wouldn't.

This question - which includes my opinion and a range of other opinions is worth reading:

How can the prohibition on pronoun avoidance possibly be enforced?

Further reading

Nothing major has happened since I started writing this post a few days ago. If you're interested in how the situation unfolds you'll need to go to keep an eye on meta.SE and/or the company blog.


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