There is a lot that could be done to protest SOPA/PIPA without closing the site.

Other than webapps.stackexchange (which has a small banner), there is no mention of SOPA/PIPA today on any SE site.

There's another question about shutting down StackOverflow/StackExchange, and Joel's answer about SE not owning the content and not wanting to take away access to the Q&As is a good one (and the right decision, to not shut down the site), it's also accepted implying that question is "closed".

So why isn't there at least a banner on all SE sites (seeing as today is about raising awareness to ordinary people, e.g. those who Cook or speak Chinese rather than the usual programmer, tech people who are already against it) linking to somewhere to sign a petition (like on the international Google.com homepage).

Better yet, for the remainder of the day make the background of all SE sites, including the trilogy black, and the text white.

~300 people complained (up-voted the post about it on Meta, in other words they disliked it enough to go to Meta and complain, which frankly is not a lot of effort anyway, and more people up voted Joel's post in favour of the banner) about the banner last time, that's less than 0.03% of Stackoverflow users, and people today are half expecting sites to be closed.

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    what about it? I know theres a banner, if you read the first (now second seeing as people aren't going to read it I put the most important line first) line of my question you'd know that. – Jonathan. Jan 18 '12 at 16:21
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    I missed that! Your title is somewhat misleading though. – ChrisF Jan 18 '12 at 16:22
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    Do a search for SOPA. That should keep you busy for awhile. – user102937 Jan 18 '12 at 16:22
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    Most of us are plenty aware, I don't see much value in annoying an audience of (most) programmers who are mostly all too aware of SOPA. Wikipedia and Google's protests actually reach people that don't know about it. – Ben Brocka Jan 18 '12 at 16:25
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    @BenBrocka, again another one who hasn't read, I'm talking about the whole network, and the majority of sites are not programming/tech orientated. – Jonathan. Jan 18 '12 at 16:26
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    @RobertHarvey, I know there are questions on Meta, I'm talking about mentions on the SE Network, the amount of people that visit Meta compared to the other sites compared is insignificant. Especailly when you consider the amount of people who come to SE sites from search engines. – Jonathan. Jan 18 '12 at 16:27
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    @Jonathan. While the majority of sites are not programming oriented, the majority of people on the network are active on the programming oriented sites. – yannis Jan 18 '12 at 16:28
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    Stack Overflow had a banner up in opposition to SOPA on November 29, 2011. Why did it take all those other sites nearly two months to join in the protest? – Bill the Lizard Jan 18 '12 at 16:28
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    I'm beginning to hope SOPA is revived and passes. – Anthony Pegram Jan 18 '12 at 16:31
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    @Jonathan. Although I see your point, and I don't mind the blackouts, I fail to see what a banner or whatever else Stack Exchange could do would help. The European Parliament opposed SOPA, and was ignored by its proponents. – yannis Jan 18 '12 at 16:34
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    @AnthonyPegram, ok then have fun not using StackOverflow (or any other stack exchange site), Wikipedia, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Photobucket, Imageshack, imgur, Youtube, Dropbox, Github, any site that lets you post something so news sites, No new internet startups (too risky investment), and more. Oh wait since "web 2.0" wear everything became interactive and "social" that most of the WWW... – Jonathan. Jan 18 '12 at 16:35
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    @Jonathan. I'm sure you are aware of the term facetious... it applies to Anthony's comment. – Andrew Barber Jan 18 '12 at 16:37
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    @Jonathan. ok then have fun not using StackOverflow Naive statements like these do not help the cause, and could potentially be extremely harmful. And of course, Anthony's comment wasn't meant to be taken seriously... – yannis Jan 18 '12 at 16:38
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    @Jonathan. its to get people to notice and in general create more noise. As an SOpedian, I would expect you favored signal over noise. – yannis Jan 18 '12 at 16:45
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    @BilltheLizard, because the more sites that act together the more notice it gets. You acted then, and no one else did, doesn't meant you stop and give up. The banner should have stayed until it gets stopped, but I can understand it would be somewhat annoying to have it there 24/7, and it would loose it's meaning. But a noticeable portion of the internet decided that today it was going to make some noise. StackExchange is smaller than Wikipedia, and the SO banner was tiny compared to shutting down, Such a big event created more noise than a small banner on a smaller site. – Jonathan. Jan 18 '12 at 16:50

First of all, yes, we hate these bills too!

Half the New York office was just at a protest (including the Stack Exchange mascot) in front of the New York Senators' offices. Our board member Brad Burnham spoke at that protest and he has been one of the outspoken leaders of the movement against SOPA and PIPA.

That said, I don't really like the format of these questions. "Why didn't Stack Exchange do this or that or the other thing for me."

As I said the first time this came up, this is a community decision. If you watched how Wikipedia and Reddit both got together as a community and collectively decided that their communities were overwhelmingly in favor of a blackout, that's what I'm talking about.

If you want a banner on Stack Overflow against SOPA, ask for it on meta, have a conversation, and vote. If you think we should black out the site, or white out the site, or make the site purple with unicorns, take a stand, state your case, bring it up, and convince the community. We're here to serve the community and we'll back you up whatever you decide.

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  • I didn't mean to come across as though I was asking for myself, so Im sorry if it did. I know you are against SOPA, which is lot more than some organisations which "dont support it", again sorry if it came across accusatory. If such a day like this comes up again, maybe a question could be created by a moderator on each meta site, with several answers each with a different proposal and the community votes on which proposal they prefer? I know for me I wouldnt have thought of posting something like that, because I would have thought it would get closed pretty quickly. Thank you for your answer. – Jonathan. Jan 18 '12 at 19:42
  • Don't take it personally :) – Joel Spolsky Jan 18 '12 at 19:47
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    Purple with unicorns? I sense a meta post coming on... – simchona Jan 18 '12 at 21:22
  • @jon We're also here to help lead. In this specific case, we already did a bunch of things to promote SOPA/PIPA activism. Doing more is a case of seriously diminishing returns (and not insignificant annoyance in preaching to the already converted). What needed to happen was activism on much larger mainstream sites, and the good news is that happened-- most notably on Craigslist, Wikipedia, and Google. – Jeff Atwood Jan 19 '12 at 23:36

In your question you point out:

~300 people complained (up-voted the post about it on Meta) about the banner last time, that's less than 0.03% of Stackoverflow users...

But in a comment you say:

...the amount of people that visit Meta compared to the other sites compared is insignificant.

So comparing the number of people who didn't like the banner (~300) to the total number of Stack Overflow users is a little bit misleading. Instead you should compare it to the "insignificant" number of total Meta users and you'll see that the proportion who didn't like it are much higher than the 0.03% you cited.

You go on to add:

How many times has Jeff/Joel/the site/etc said (ordinary) people coming from search engines are important, and that SE sites are like Wikis in the they provide information to anyone.

This is right, about 90% of users come from Google which is already displaying an anti-SOPA message.

Stack Exchange has been speaking out against SOPA since November on a number of the regular sites, here on Meta, on the official blog (where it's most appropriate, in my humble opinion), and through various Twitter accounts. I see no reason why they should be expected to put up another banner across all sites just because other sites chose one day, today, to protest.

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  • by insignificant I meant mathematically. I should have said the number of people who didn't like the banner, enough to come to Meta and complain about it. There were probably 100s/1000s more that didn't like, but not so much that they felt they had to voice their dislike. – Jonathan. Jan 18 '12 at 16:46
  • Outside the US, the message on the Google homepage is smaller than the previous SO banner, and thats if the user goes to .com, not their local Google site (.co.uk), while the sheer size of Google makes up for that, the more times the user sees it the more they will take notice of it. if you advertising something commercial you don't just put one ad out. Also many people don't use the Google homepage, but the search bar in their browser. – Jonathan. Jan 18 '12 at 16:54
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    @Jonathan. Why should anyone outside of the US display a SOPA/PIPA announcement at all? – Farray Jan 18 '12 at 18:39
  • @moguzalp Well noted that SOPA's impact will extend to other countries, however, people in other countries can have very little impact on SOPA. For better or worse, heightened awareness in Turkey will not hinder SOPA in the US. It makes sense that Google would not expend resources on areas that will bring negligible returns. – Farray Jan 18 '12 at 21:09

I understand about no banner but I wonder why more of the top users don't have a STOP SOPA gravatar. http://blackoutsopa.org

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As said in earlier discussions, each site needs the backing of their community. In terms, of StackOverflow, it would be a bit moot to place the banner up seeing that it has been placed up once before as well as the outcry on improper banner misuse. Doing so may further decrease the value of the banner on StackOverflow. Putting up a banner on Stack Overflow is tricky business, it's not something this community favors.

What you are asking for is some sort of executive decision which is not in the spirit of community.

Think of it this way, StackOverflow was so cool and placed their banner and support way in advance to show notice to SOPA. You're so hipster SO. In regards to other SE communities, that's something you are going to have to ask on their respective metas. For example, Math.SE folk don't hang around meta.so. Without data to back it up, meta.SO is a technical based community so the regular joe who comes here regularly knows about it. No need to bother them again.

Consider asking on the respective SE metas you think needs awareness and see if the community approves. It doesn't have to necessarily be today. But the point is you asked the community in question instead of raising a call for an executive decision.

As to why WebApps placed up a banner without asking the community? Who knows

Maybe the mod who placed up considered WebApps not as technically up to date as the Trilogy. Also seeing that any change to CSS would require asking the SE Staff which would go full circle telling the mod to ask the community first; the simplest way to "wave a flag support" in a similar fashion to say HackerNews or Google SOPA doodle, would be to place the banner.

But I am pretty sure SE staff must be sending a hit squad for that mod by now.

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