or, Is Stack Overflow beginning to prioritise profit over all else?
Edit: No. No it is not. There was a brief hairy period, but it's still the Stack Overflow we all know and love. I no longer agree with the contents of this question.
There have recently been some notices that have caused a lot of controversy. In order of me noticing them:
- Notice about the change of TOS that potentially misrepresented the arbitration clause included within. Perhaps a necessary evil...
- Addressing of the arbitration clause... ish.
- Clarification of why the arbitration clause is important including lots of misleading statements. Deliberately so?
- A banner appeared at the bottom of every page of every site. GDPR-related, probably. Hooray, notification of the cookie policies!
- Text Ads were proposed to be introduced, which seem great for the first quarter of the post...
I'd like to draw some attention to that banner. Here it is, written out in full:
For those of you who don't know, Stack Overflow collects some information about you. You can see what information they've got about you here, and opt-out by the same link.
This banner is shown to all visitors of the site, not just those who are signed in. And I'd like to draw your attention to the first sentence, which has finally tripped my internal heuristics for whether to trust a site:
This message is shown to users who aren't signed in. Is Stack Overflow really collecting data on users who never explicitly consented and are unable to opt out without creating an account, then using this data to target advertisements? Using cookies for this purpose, as opposed to just for authentication, strongly suggests that Stack Overflow is, indeed, collecting data about unauthenticated users. If anybody had asked me three months ago, I would have given Stack Overflow the benefit of the doubt... but now I'm not so sure.
The bigger picture
There's a trend here. Every single one of these changes benefits Stack Overflow more than it does the rest of the community. Some of them seem to have honourable intentions, such as the Text Ads, but the majority go against the perceived ethos of the community as a whole or are directly detrimental to the community or the resource we are creating together.
Please don't continue this trend. As much as I never wanted to say these words, I want the old Stack Overflow back. And I don't want to wait before that's not possible.