I wanted to bring my concerns into the public eye. I doubt if they'll stay here long, but maybe I'll foster something approaching a constructive, democratic debate on the issue.

I have emailed the Stack Overflow team with the following message a few minutes ago:

"Stack Overflow is a great site where programmers can help each other by sharing tips and information. Politics should rightfully stay out. I'm Christian and I'm deeply offended by your "Rainbow" Stack Overflow symbol when I saw it this morning. Would you put a Cross next to the Stack Overflow logo? What would the media fallout be for that? What would the user fallout be? Please consider your status as a respectable site before you start taking sides in the future. I'd also respectfully request that you remove this offensive addition to your logo. After all, you might have noticed that not everyone agrees that the Supreme Court's decision was constitutional, never mind representative of public opinion."

I'm not a troll. I am asking that my rights be respected same as that of the Gay community. As I say above, you wouldn't put a Cross next to the S.O. logo, nor the Confederate flag. Why the double standard?

  • 4
    I cleaned out the comments. It's one thing to voice your objection or support for our actions, and both are welcome here. But comments that suggest the existence of gay folk OR Christians is destroying society isn't cool.
    – Jaydles
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:11
  • 2
    @Jaydles - You cleaned out the comments? You disagree with them? You find them offensive/not cool? I thought they were VERY neutral. See what I did there? Stop hiding behind neutrality and actually BE neutral by not addressing the topic at all. Please. That's neutrality - when the topic is taken as non-existent as irrelevant to programming.
    – justian17
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:17
  • 10
    What's neutral or not is a reasonable debate here. Here's what's not up for debate: Comments suggesting the existence of gay people destroys families, or that Christianity leads to incest and poverty WILL NOT BE ALLOWED.
    – Jaydles
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:22
  • @Jaydles. I apologize for making you angry, but what you're feeling is a tiny shade of what I felt when I logged into S.O. this morning. What I'm still feeling. I just want you to be aware of this. S.O. is not a neutral site. If it is not neutral, some will interpret it as good and some will interpret it as evil. I mean, obviously it's up to the Owners/Moderators here whether they want to deal with that, but as long as they know this and understand this, it's all good.
    – justian17
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:25
  • 6
    @IliaKoulikov, sorry: I'm not angry, but see how the SHOUTING made it look otherwise. Just wanted to be clear that attacks on groups (vs. our actions) in either direction had to stop ASAP. Most choices we make ort influence, including "normal" ones like what's on/off-topic upset some users. We work hard to find the right balance, but as I said in other comments below, I truly appreciate your feedback and candor. Making users feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unappreciated is one of the things we fear most, whatever the cause.
    – Jaydles
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:32
  • Just in response to "Would you put a Cross... what would the fallout be": as a non-Christian, if SO or any other site changed their logo to, for example, a cross on Easter, my reaction would be nothing more than "Wasn't expecting that, but hey, it's their site". I'd continue my day like nothing happened. You'd probably get some people from other faiths asking "So will my religion get the same on our special day?" (which is probably why few do it), and maybe one or two easily-offended people might complain - but most people wouldn't blink Jun 30, 2015 at 17:28
  • @user568458 When we're dealing with a tiny graphic of no consequence, I agree with you (the infamous "purple sandwich" example). When we're dealing with an issue of world significance, and S.O. is not the only one to display it, AND the constitutionality of the decision is under question, AND it offends millions of Americans quite deeply (not to mention other nationals)... it is impossible to walk past. Democracy is the duty of every Citizen, and so it was my place and is my place to comment on this issue.
    – justian17
    Jun 30, 2015 at 17:33
  • @user568458 As for being easily offended... well, you'd be pretty offended by the swastika. Imagine that some people feel very strongly on this issue and feel that they have not been represented by the process. That other people decide for them how they should live. When a community I care about, such as StackOverflow, join in this process, I take it personally and I'm not alone.
    – justian17
    Jun 30, 2015 at 17:34
  • @user568458 I am pretty sure that comparing the rainbow flag to the swastika is probably offensive to you as an idea on its own... which is why my argument is that none of these issues should ever be assumed to be neutral. It's safe to say that if there's a flag or symbol it's probably political. The only safe symbol is "StackOverflow" (unless you hate StackOverflow, you site-ist).
    – justian17
    Jun 30, 2015 at 17:49
  • I simply pointed out that very few people would be offended by a Christian symbol during celebrations of a Christian event, if a site was run by a Christian. Communities celebrating things that matter to them are fine. That's a good thing, right? I honestly don't understand how you got from there to Godwin's law territory Jun 30, 2015 at 18:06
  • @user568458 Without straying too far from the topic, at my old university, they allowed a pro-abortion club, but not an anti-abortion club. You can find a person to be offended by anything. Second of all, this, as I understand it, is the first "community" celebration that StackOverflow decided to take part in as a site, which makes it special. It would do well to remember that while one community celebrates, another community mourns. When both communities are large segments of the population (and of S.O. user lists), it behooves S.O. to be infallibly, invincibly neutral.
    – justian17
    Jun 30, 2015 at 18:09
  • @user568458 no one debates, seriously, that the swastika is offensive. Yet if S.O. users voted to display it (like they would've in Nazi Germany, in 1939), would you have been equally unconcerned? I felt concerned, so I spoke up. I feel strongly enough to say that the rainbow flag's interpretation in history will change pretty dramatically from what it supposedly represents now. Just because "most" of the community feels one way, doesn't mean that they represent me, or have the right to speak for all.
    – justian17
    Jun 30, 2015 at 18:12

3 Answers 3


I'm empowered to talk for the company a fair bit (even though we rarely have an "official" view), but you can take this post as my personal take.

We didn't share thoughts, feelings, suggestions for how the justices should vote, etc. while this was being decided. We only shared in the celebration after the fact. But here's what's more important, I think:

I don't view this is as taking a side.

You and I have different beliefs. Which is cool. My best friends and I have different beliefs. As do my wife and I. I respect that you believe in things that I do not. I think diverse thought is one of the most valuable things to have if you're trying to do or build great things.

I'm proud to work in a company where devout Christians, observant Jews, and gay, bi, and lesbian colleagues can ALL feel comfortable telling me (and each other) what's wrong with our respective product ideas, while still respecting each other as individuals. And where they sometimes all sing karaoke together.

I'm proud to live in a country that won't let me stop you, and like-minded others from embracing, worshipping, and expressing your beliefs, whether or not they fit me, so long as they don't interfere with my or others' pursuit of a happiness or fulfillment.

And I'm a lot more proud of my country today than I was last week, because I think everyone should have the right to believe and do what they want to be happy and fulfilled, so long as it doesn't hurt others. You don't think some of those people should get married. But I assume that's because you actually care about them, and truly believe they'll be more happy someday if they don't. We disagree on that point. Which is okay. I think they should be able to do what they want, and that you should be able to not do that, AND be able keep your belief they shouldn't, share it, etc.

Yes, we were explicitly celebrating an event that I think lets more people enjoy happy, fulfilled lives.

"Sides" implies that my supporting the idea that our government shouldn't stop two people in love from getting married pits me against you, or Christians. And I'm neither.

  • 1
    Thank you for your response. You might have noticed here, and meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/297859/… that many people don't view S.O.'s decision as neutral, and never will, no matter how much we debate. That said, I understand that as far as S.O. is concerned, I'm powerless to do anything but talk, and let you guys know how I feel.
    – justian17
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:02
  • 8
    You're welcome. And thank you for sharing your take, especially knowing you'd get pushback. I meant what I said - this is a place where talk isn't powerless; we consider feedback, feelings and positions our users share in almost every decision we make. We don't always do what a given user hopes, and sometimes we don't even do what the majority asks for, but every piece of feedback helps us better understand the community's overall need. Let's keep talking.
    – Jaydles
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:07

Why the double standard?

The answer derived from Joels answer on MSO, is that the management think this is important. It is inspired by Joels own opinion. The SE team can do as they like, it is their site. If you agree or not, this is how it stands now.

  • 2
    "The SE team can do as they like, it is their site. If you agree or not, this is how it stands now." - Guess I'm going to go off and start an alternative S.O. and Google...
    – justian17
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:07
  • 3
    That, besides accepting it, is your only option. Jun 29, 2015 at 13:07
  • 11
    Don't forget Twitter, GitHub and oh, so many others.
    – Oded
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:10
  • I didn't. I don't use them as often as S.O. or I'd be commenting there too. Google, Youtube. You name it. And then they tell me that it's a victory for liberty.
    – justian17
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:18

A private company can do what it wants with its own logo and design.

Companies are entitled to free speech in the US. If you wish to argue that... well, I can suggest some court justices to write a letter to.

That a company has taken a stance on a social issue is not surprising. There are lots of them out there making statements on all sorts of things that cross the entire political spectrum. I am certain that you can find some to patronize that match your beliefs.

There are many things that people consider offensive. These also span the political spectrum.

No one is compelling you to attend a same sex wedding. No one is compelling you to marry someone you don't want to. That a state or country says "we recognize these partnerships and deem to consider them equally committed as the ones we recognized yesterday and thus entitled to all the rights and privileges due to them" - well, if that is offensive to someone, then... you are free to be offended. That doesn't impinge on the company's ability to speak freely and celebrate something they find significant publically.

  • I have no viable alternative to using Stack Overflow and you know it. It's disingenuous to create a site that includes everyone (equally and with utter neutrality) and then eliminate at least half (though I suspect much more) of your users emotionally. I understand that they're a private company. I am saying they made a bad decision, in my eyes and offended a lot more people than just myself, which is ironic, because they're claiming, in the face of Joel, to be utterly neutral.
    – justian17
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:34
  • 5
    The lack of alternatives does not compel the company to change their policy (it just means they've got a bigger megaphone than others). If you are emotionally attached to the image in the upper left hand corner, I would encourage you to write a greasmonkey or equivalent user script to replace the image. However, the company has as much right to free speech as you do and just as you can change your web page to whatever you want, so can the company.
    – user213963
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:39
  • 1
    Yes. I am aware of the company's rights. Tell me, what would happen, though, when I, as a free individual, would call someone an N-word to their face, on the street? How do you think I feel as a straight, Christian person now, on S.O.? I am offended. I want S.O. and others to know that I am offended. I also want to make it clear to others that there is support for their position, which happens to be against Gay Marriage. This is the nature of public debate.
    – justian17
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:42
  • 11
    @IliaKoulikov the branch of Christianity that I have most recently affiliated with has no problems whatsoever. That you chose to be offended is your response and not representative of the entire faith. I am sure there are many (not most - go read the polls) who agree with you. Your right to be offended does not impinge on the company's right to display its stance on social issues.
    – user213963
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:49
  • 1
    As I said, the company has all the rights in the world. I'm just letting you know how I feel, which is let down and betrayed by the lack of neutrality in a community-based site I long respected and participated in. As for Christianity... faith doesn't really allow for much debate, which is why I was okay when it stayed out of S.O. I would argue, in fact, that support for Gay issues is its own form of faith, very much opposed to my own. Not supported by objective knowledge, science, reason or anything else. A belief that gays should be able to marry.
    – justian17
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:14
  • 7
    Nobody was promised neutrality
    – random
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:16
  • Well if they don't try to be polite and inoffensive, why should I? Seems to me they crossed a line.
    – justian17
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:21

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