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Please remove phrases like

We don’t run Stack Overflow. You do.

or

It's built and run by you

from your blog New 10k Rep Tools Now Available and tour pages. They are clearly misleading and make users think Stack Overflow would be interested in their opinion and they could influence things.

However, in reality you alone run the site and decide what we are allowed to say and what not. Critical comments and posts will simply be deleted. If you would value the opinion of your users, you would let votes decide which posts are appropriate and which one are not.

(I'd like to bounty away the rep I got from this post, I don't want to profit from the mess stackexchange created. If you have any suggestions of posts that deserve more attention, please leave a comment)

  • 13
    And this post will improve and resolve things how exactly? – Luuklag Sep 30 at 11:41
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    I don't think things can be resolved if all critical statements are simply deleted - stackoverflow should just be honest about their actions – samcarter Sep 30 at 11:44
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    @Luuklag it won't solve anything, but it at least clarifies what the site is from the company's point of view, determined by their actions. – Zoe Sep 30 at 11:47
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    While I agree that recent discussions here on Meta don't show the greatest interest in the community from the company, I still think it is misleading that you assume the company has no interest in the community and state that as a fact. A more neutral wording would be appropriate. I do understand the a lot of people are upset about recent events, but emotionally loaded posts (that is how I percieve this post) are not a solution. – Luuklag Sep 30 at 11:54
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    @Luuklag 'I still think it is misleading that you assume the company has no interest in the community and state that as a fact.' - How much more good faith do folk around here need to show? It never seems to be extended to us. Actions speak louder than words. – Script47 Sep 30 at 11:57
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    @Script47 I firmly believe in leading by example. So writing this post in a more neutral voice would be preferred. – Luuklag Sep 30 at 11:59
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    @Luuklag I don't assume anything. I saw several comments and answers deleted that expressed critical opinions from users. Silencing users can't be interpreted in any other way – samcarter Sep 30 at 11:59
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    'I firmly believe in leading by example.' - As do I... except in instances where I get trod all over. – Script47 Sep 30 at 12:01
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    There comes a point when leading by example no longer works... That point is way past in this regard. – Cerbrus Sep 30 at 12:20
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    I'm sorry... it's going to be a bit difficult for anyone to respond to this without any specifics. If this is about comments being removed, where? About posts? While some statements can be removed in specific cases, we don't generally prohibit or remove content that's critical of us. – Catija Sep 30 at 13:36
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    @Catija For example comments below meta.stackexchange.com/a/333968/237989 have been deleted. Another example are the various chat rooms like the Tavern or the meta room, where posts are deleted/moved to trash and many attempts are made to prevent all discussions. If there is a disagreement about statements, one could reply to them instead of simply deleting. – samcarter Sep 30 at 13:47
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    @Catija A very good example how users are silenced: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/334023/… – samcarter Sep 30 at 15:59
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    Eh, as much as I disagree with the actions, I can't really blame SE, @sam. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/333965/… Beyond that...well, I can't see how else you could organize it; it'd take making others aware of your intentions, and somehow that seems like self promotion, too. – fbueckert Sep 30 at 16:14
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    Meta room being frozen, chat messages being manually unstarred, bounty text being nuked and the Wayback Machine being contacted to remove the archived versions of it.... the request in the question is pretty specific. There are specific quotes in the site's blurb, that are specifically false, and should be specifically removed. – Lightness Races with Monica Sep 30 at 22:04
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    ^ users getting suspended for speaking up – Chris Sep 30 at 23:14
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In light of how the company acts for example by taking down bounties without notice, I change direction in this answer slightly. My tolerance for suffering marketing speak consisting of half-truths (or "lies" or dishonest statements) like this one is actually not as high as I thought and I think now it would be better to rephrase or remove it. The only problem is that the company would have to do it. I doubt they will.


While I agree that the statements are somewhat misleading and not completely true, they are within the realm of the usual marketing speak one gets from every company. Such statements should always be taken with a good portion of skepticism. I usually just filter these messages out mentally and ignore them or adapt them.

Want some other examples: "Don't be evil" (Link), "Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together." (Link), "We believe technology can and should be a force for good and that meaningful innovation can and will contribute to a brighter world in big and small ways." (Link)

The cases here are not better or worse. Don't only look on StackOverflow.com for information about it. A neutral description of what it really is may for example be found on Wikipedia (citing from it: "privately held website ... platform for users to ask and answer questions").

This is the site of the company and they can clearly publish information on it that's true or not so true. It's up to their discretion to decide what it should be.

I don't care because as I said I anyway filter or adapt marketing speak out.

  • 7
    But it is also wrong to explicitly mislead users. – Raaja Sep 30 at 13:00
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    The issue is that StackOverflow as a concept simply doesn't work without a great deal of manual human labor editing and hand-holding. Without this expert, unpaid assistance, the sites will all fall apart, as everything is buried under unsalvageable and duplicate questions. There is no way SO can afford to pay for the labor necessary to replace the work moderators and highly active users do. If the site isn't largely run by users. it doesn't work at all. – Conspicuous Compiler Sep 30 at 16:18
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    @ConspicuousCompiler True, but still it's misleading to say that the users run it. They contribute to it, but they don't run it. I'm a user, but I'm not the boss of it and have rather very limited say in it. Do you really feel like you run StackOverflow? – Trilarion Sep 30 at 16:25
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    @Raaja wrong, maybe, but that's marketing for ya. In the past i hoped SE would rise above that, but now it seems the marketing team is running the place. – Kevin B Sep 30 at 16:39
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    @KevinB I think whether it is marketing or anything, in many countries, to sell something lying about it is an offense ;) – Raaja Sep 30 at 16:52
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    I do not see how any of the three statements you link to are comparable to the statements quoted in the question. The statement in the question "We don’t run Stack Overflow. You do." is a statement that can be verified or falsified. On the other hand, the statements you quote express some wishes and may not be falsified. Calling lies "marketing" is a bit off IMHO. The technical term is "fraud". – Schrödinger's cat Sep 30 at 19:26
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    To be entirely fair, I have seen enough "marketing" on the SE network. They've been actively pushing their adgenda (pun intended). – roberrrt-s Sep 30 at 21:52
  • @Raaja "...in many countries, to sell something lying about it is an offense..." The question would be if it is also in the US, which is the relevant jurisdiction here. I doubt it. – Trilarion Oct 1 at 8:32
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    @Schrödinger'scat "The statement in the question "We don’t run Stack Overflow. You do." is a statement that can be verified or falsified." That depends a bit on how you interpret running. Running as in contributing, being part of or running as in being in control? I readily agree that it's a misleading statement, maybe even a lie, and in any case very dishonest, but fraud it may not be. Fraud is a legal term and did you really ever think that you are running StackOverflow? – Trilarion Oct 1 at 8:34
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    @Roberrrt Actually, I also have seen enough marketing in my life and when I say I don't care, I rather meant that I don't care much because I can ignore it. Even though it is quite annoying. I don't like them more because of it. – Trilarion Oct 1 at 8:36
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    @Trilarion So are you stating that, 1irrespective of users' jurisdictions, SE can make false claim just so that they can run their business since they are based on US?` Nevertheless, I must say that I have no idea about US laws. But I think it is an unethical practise to do so. – Raaja Oct 1 at 9:12
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    @Raaja The thing with the jurisdiction is that usually when you use a site, the terms of service defines one jurisdiction as the relevant one. That's just how it is. Unethical is fine, but that doesn't automatically mean illegal. Legality is kind of absolute. That law will either forbid it or not. Ethics is a bit more subjective. And we don't really buy anything from here. If anything, the advertisers buy from StackOverflow advertisement space. – Trilarion Oct 1 at 9:36
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    @Trilarion Thanks for the clarification ;) – Raaja Oct 1 at 9:48

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