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Today is Jay Hanlon’s (aka Jaydles) last day at Stack Overflow. Since I’ve been working with him for nearly 7 years now, I wanted to take a minute to wish him a public goodbye.

Jay joined us way back in the day as one of the top users on Area 51, where he was super excited about helping propose and create new Stack Exchange sites (and also briefly super annoyed when we cost him a bunch of rep by changing how it was calculated on Area 51).

After he joined the company as VP of Community in 2012, we worked together on a bunch of important projects, including:

I’ve enjoyed working with Jay a lot through the years. I remember one of the very first conversations I had with him, where I told him he had one of the most important jobs at Stack Overflow. I was responsible for engineering, but he was responsible for the entire community, and we were nothing without our community. I know Jay took this to heart, and really cared deeply about supporting and growing the Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange communities.

So I’m sad to see him go, but I also know that we’re better equipped than ever to carry his work forward. I’m 100% committed to Jay’s vision of a Stack Overflow community that is both an amazing, high-quality resource for programmers all over the world, and a place where everyone who codes feels welcome and able to contribute. We have a lot of work to do on both fronts, and we’re staffing the team up to handle it. With Jay leaving, we are hiring a new VP of Community who will be focused full-time on the community and lead these efforts (if you’re interested, get in touch!)

On a personal note, I’ll miss working with Jay every day. In the ~7 years we’ve worked together, he’s been not just a great coworker, but also a good friend. Internally, he has always been just as passionate about our company and making it a great place to work as he was about the community. That made him the kind of person you always knew you could go to when you needed help, or advice, or just someone to listen to you when you were having a bad day. That kind of thing isn’t always seen outside a company, but it was a huge part of Jay’s impact on the company and on me personally.

So, Jay, thanks for everything you’ve done. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you, and you’ll be missed.

  • 56
    We never had an Occam, and now Hanlon's gone. Whose Razor are we gonna use now? :( – Margarine Mar 13 at 19:47
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    @M.A.R.ಠ_ಠ Microsoft's. – Adam Lear Mar 13 at 19:48
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    What do upvotes mean on people-leaving announcements on meta? You got mine because I agree that Jay was a wonderful person to work with and I'll miss him. – Jon Ericson Mar 13 at 19:52
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    I mean, any counter reason to that would be considered unkind and likely deleted. – Kevin B Mar 13 at 19:53
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    Whoa, that's gonna leave a big hole! Thanks for everything, Jaydies! – Monica Cellio Mar 13 at 20:13
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    Enjoy the next big thing you get to do @Jaydles! You'll be missed. – Rory Alsop Mar 13 at 20:54
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    Thanks for everything @Jaydles! You will be missed! – Steve Kelly Mar 13 at 21:09
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    The impression I always had, listening to the Stack Overflow podcast, was Jay was the one guy really trying to do good things for the community, in the face of, well, a bunch of people with other priorities. – Steve Bennett Mar 13 at 21:19
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    nooooo our jaydles! 😱 – Jeff Atwood Mar 13 at 21:36
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    @Jon it does not mean "Yes, I agree and happy to see them leaving", if that's what you're afraid of. ;-) – Shadow Wizard Mar 13 at 23:39
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    That begs the question: Where is he going? – Peter Mortensen Mar 14 at 0:07
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    @Peter doubt they'll tell us now, but you can follow his LinkedIn profile and at some point he'll update it. :) – Shadow Wizard Mar 14 at 0:19
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    So long, and thanks for all the cheese <3 – Journeyman Geek Mar 14 at 6:52
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    @JonEricson the bigger question is what do the nine (and counting) down votes mean? – David Mar 16 at 2:42
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    @shadow, sorry for the radio silence - I’m on a family vacation with healthy, spouse-and-kids-enforced caps on screen time. But I’m truly beyond humbled by everyone’s kind words here and will absolutely post a proper answer in a coupla days. – Jaydles Mar 19 at 0:09
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Woah... this is very surprising. You were an integral part of the development of what we are today. Your contributions to the Stack Exchange network are nothing but pure evolution towards a better overall community. Let's hope that your replacement will be worthy of filling your shoes, they have gotten pretty big.

However, let this not be a major letdown. Even though you have now left, your work is preserved and will hopefully be the base for something more magnificent. Seeing your projects, I'm really unsure if we would have been where we are today without your part. Let's all hope that our future will be better than our past.

Apart from being one of the best and most important employees Stack Exchange has ever seen, you were also a caring and supporting person, and the care you've given over the years is evident in the structure and organization of this network, something not all forums and Q&A communities can achieve in such a great level.

Sure, you've had your share of disagreements, but, do you know what? Everyone does, don't underestimate yourself. Nobody's perfect. At least from what I've seen over the years, you did your best to make SE a better place for people like me to ask, answer and search for questions they're interested in, trusting that things will never go awful and that peace will always ensue.

Wherever you are, whatever you do, I wish that you get the success you've had working for this network all these years, and, why not, a greater success, and that you'll advance in life peacefully and gracefully.

Farewell and good luck, Jay.

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    Weird. Someone snuck into my office and chopped a bunch of onions while I read this answer. – hairboat Mar 13 at 22:51
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    @hairboat Ouch, bad. Um... sounds like someone used your desk as a cutting board? – EKons Mar 13 at 23:04
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    Ekons, this meant a ton to me. Thanks so much for taking the time to share such kind words. – Jaydles Mar 21 at 22:52
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Jay,

I'll be honest. I don't really know you. But I saw what you did, and the way you did it is admirable.

You took hard decisions while being well aware they won't be popular and will cause lots of people to be angry at you and at the company you represent. Yes, I talk about the Welcome Wagon. And here it is now rolling ahead, thanks to you.

I don't know where the Wagon will lead Stack Exchange to, but surely to a better place than it was headed before. And that is thanks to you, and I'm pretty sure someone else wouldn't have the guts to roll something like that and face the outrage.

So, as someone once said... So long, and thanks for all the fish!

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    Thanks so much for the kind words, Shadow. But to be clear, you'll be getting a bill for the fish. – Jaydles Mar 21 at 22:51
  • @Jaydles I know, $42 – Shadow Wizard Mar 24 at 9:06
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Thank you Jay, for everything you've done.

I remember when you reached out after I complained about the lack of women's t-shirt options, wanting to make things better. That small gesture meant a lot to me, and it's entirely in line with so many of your other contributions to the community.

Best of luck with wherever you go next!

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    Amber, I'll always be grateful for your note because it helped us realize we needed to make changes to ensure that someone as helpful as you (and others like you) weren't made to feel unappreciated or unseen over something entirely fixable. Thanks for your kind words then and now. – Jaydles Mar 21 at 22:41
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Hi Jay,

I really admire the work you have done over the years here at Stack Exchange. Your voice on meta was always one of sound reason and always led the community to a better place.

While it may be hard from meta alone to see all the hard work you have done, I think it is evident in the way you present yourself here as well as the immaculate way you have worked towards improving conduct at the site.

You will truly be missed, and I greatly admire the work you did at Stack Exchange and the goals you set for the community.

I hope your next job appreciates the amazing person they are getting in having you with their team.

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    Travis, the admiration is 100% mutual. You're a thoughtful and generous contributor, and you've been kind to me personally when I needed it. – Jaydles Mar 21 at 22:42
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Thanks so much for all your kind words. They truly mean the world to me. It has been an incredible honor to work on these sites.

I consider myself unbelievably lucky in SO many ways to have worked at SO over the past seven years, but the things that I value most about it are clear:

  • My colleagues have been beyond amazing. There’s basically no one I’ve worked with regularly at Stack Overflow that I wouldn’t trust to watch my kids. (And I like my kids.)
  • My job was to try to help serve what might be the world’s most effective community of helpers. Let’s talk about that a little.

I was deeply enamoured with the idea of this community - and what you all do here - well before I worked here. As a user, seeing how much energy and passion you all put into helping and teaching others just blew my mind. And that was before I even knew about the efforts y’all put into review queues, meta, and essentially pursuing a healthy, supportive system of self-government. And don’t even get me started on our Mods. I can’t say enough about them. Or any of you. You are amazing, and it was an amazing experience getting to try my best to support and serve you where I could. (I didn’t always succeed, but I never stopped trying.) And that brings me to a coupla things I want to leave you with:

  1. The company truly values you. And I don’t just mean the Community Team. I know, it’s not always obvious, but from the President and CEO on down, there is not a single department here that doesn’t understand that without our community, our company has no mission, no purpose, no business model. And that appreciation is increasing. Executive meetings now literally start with our top two priorities - overall financials (like any company) and community updates (trust me - this isn’t normal) before we cover all the other areas.
  2. Be kind to our employees. Look, a few of them annoyed me too sometimes, so I get it. But they’re all actual humans, and every one of em is working hard to try to make this community continue to grow, and scale, and evolve. So when a new PM proposes something you don’t agree with, tell them why you don’t, but remember that their primary motivation is almost definitely aligned with yours, and that they cared enough to come try to get your buy-in. Remember that a design you may righteously hate was probably painstakingly made by a designer with a good heart and a ton of talent, who simply wasn’t weighing some of the inputs you may be. And please don’t ever lose sight of how hard the Community Team works for you every day.
  3. Keep an open mind to new ideas and new users. Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange are amazing. It’s not lost on me how many of the important decisions made early in our life are key to our community’s strength. But as we continue to grow and scale, we need to remember that some of what got us here is critical to keep, but some things will need to change and evolve to bring in the next generation, or to bring in folks we accidentally left out last go-around. Let’s not lose anyone who wants to help.
  4. Don’t lose sight of what brought you here in the first place. Just today, I got a notice for a comment that said, “I joined this site just so I could give you a +1 for this.” It was just a small lifehack I posted, but that notice reminded me of what first lit up inside me as a user on the Stack Exchange network. Like most of you all, I love the idea that I can contribute to something bigger than me. Something that can help others in need, in a way that’s much more effective scalable than the things that came before. That’s what brought many of you here. And you stayed because you felt like you were really helping, like you were making a difference. Because you were. And you are. Don’t let the debates, the arguments, the other stuff kill that joy. The helping is what matters. And you’re awesome at it.

I tried my best, where I could, to leave this place just a little bit better than when I found it. Where I failed at that, I think I mostly learned from it. And where I succeeded, it was in large part thanks to all of you, and all of your efforts to make this crazy experiment keep working. Keep teaching. Keep helping. Be kind to all my friends at the company. I’ll see you all on Meta.

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    @Jay just a quick reminder to edit your profile, hopefully with a hint where you're headed next... ;-) – Shadow Wizard Mar 24 at 11:11
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This comes as a surprise to me. As I am less frequent on meta.stackexchange and meta.stackoverflow we haven't exchanged any ideas. But I knew Jaydles was working hard implementing the ideas of Welcome Wagon.

I came to know Jay on Apr 19 '18 at 15:20 when he edited the preface of my answer to reduce odds it (inadvertently) comes. That tiny help made a huge impact on the acceptability of my answers. Since then I have kept on using the same verbatim for the preface.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, I wish you all the best for your future endeavours.

Farewell and Good Luck...Jay !!!

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It's real. Not all heroes wear capes, and some wear a smile to serve the community. I just read this today, and it left me in awe to know that someone out there really cared this much for the other developers. On behalf of students, starting professionals, and hobbyists: thank you for everything.

Best of luck, buddy. I know, and we all know, that you will create a huge impact in your next endeavor.

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As a huge fan of the podcast I loved the banter and interaction between everyone but it always seemed held together by Jay and David. I realize you don’t know me but I feel like I know you. I wish Jay the best going forward, and I’m sure when the next episode of the podcast drops cough cough it will be different,... but still super interesting and entertaining. Best of luck Jay!

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Jay, you're the best! That is all.

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