Edit, October 12: When I originally wrote this post, I misunderstood something about the JAMS option described Stack Overflow's Public Network Terms of Service. Now that I've understood better where we stand, I am revising my answer accordingly.
There is a formal arbitration option, open to any SE user who feels they are in conflict with Stack Exchange
My original intent with this question was some kind of informal dialogue, with the help of an experienced mediator. I wasn't thinking in legal terms. It was more along the lines of My neighbors have their dog in their back yard, barking whenever a car goes by, while they're having dinner every evening; but that's the time when my kindergartner goes to bed. We need some help talking this through.
I still think that could be worthwhile, but I also found a more formal option at the company website, in the Public Network Terms of Service. I've done some excerpting (without ellipses) and reformatting for easier reading. To read the original just click on the link.
You agree that:
With respect to all disputes between you and Stack Overflow or its
affiliates or its officers, directors, or employees with regard to
your relationship with us, including disputes relating to
you and Stack Overflow shall first consult with each other to attempt
to resolve such dispute in a manner satisfactory to both parties.
And that if a resolution is not reached within ninety (90) days, then
the dispute shall be referred to and resolved by binding arbitration
under JAMS, INC.’s rules for arbitration of consumer-related disputes.
And you and we hereby expressly waive trial by jury.
As an alternative, you may bring your claim in your local “small
claims” court, if permitted by that small claims court’s rules.
You may bring claims only on your own behalf.
This dispute resolution provision will be governed by the Federal
Arbitration Act and not by any state law concerning arbitration. In
the event JAMS, INC. is unwilling or unable to set a hearing date
within one hundred and sixty (160) days of filing the case, then
either we or you can elect to have the arbitration administered
instead by the American Arbitration Association.
Judgment on the award rendered by the arbitrator may be entered in any
court having competent jurisdiction.
You agree that regardless of any statute or law to the contrary, any
claim or cause of action arising out of, related to or connected with
the use of the public Network or these Public Network Terms must be
filed within one (1) year after such claim of action arose or be
You agree that, notwithstanding anything in the foregoing, any
arbitration proceeding between you and us will be conducted in New
York, NY, USA, that the language of the arbitration shall be in
English, and that all arbitration proceedings shall be considered
confidential in nature.
The contact address is provided as
Stack Overflow, Attn: Legal Department, 110 William Street, Floor 28,
New York, NY 10038 or by email notification at team (at)
JAMS, INC. has published at their website a Demand for Arbitration Form for US complainants as a pdf, and another pdf form for international complainants. Wikipedia describes JAMS like this:
JAMS, formerly known as Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services,
Inc.1 is a United States-based for-profit organization of
alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services, including mediation and
Note: in my experience advocating for my son, who has Tourette Syndrome, ADHD and OCD, I've sometimes been able to get things unstuck --not resolved completely, but definitely unstuck-- by contacting directly the organization's attorney.
Looking at the leadership team page, I would guess that the person who could put you in touch with Stack Overflow's attorney (if you wish to give that a try) might be Jerry Raphael, Finance and Operations ("responsible for the financial health and culture of the company; he oversees the accounting, finance, revenue operations, corporate legal, people, and employee experience teams"). Or, Jerry might bring a common sense approach to the problem himself and get things unstuck. I haven't found specific contact information for him. But he looks like a nice guy:
Notes about the arbitration form
For complainants in the US:
For a consumer complaint in the US, there is an administrative filing fee of $250 except for complainants who live in California or Washington, DC.
The company is responsible for the remainder of the filing fee.
One may request Expedited Procedures. The company may agree to this but is not required to.
There is an optional checkbox which states, "If mediation in advance of the arbitration is desired, please check here and a JAMS Case Manager will assist the parties in coordinating a mediation session."
The instructions say to "serve" the completed form in person to the company. This means that the complainant sends the completed form to the company by mail, FedEx, etc., using some method that will result in written proof of delivery. Then, the complainant would fill out an affidavit of service. I think a notarized signature would be needed but I forgot to ask about that. Here's an example of an affidavit of service:
The form must be submitted in two copies, by mail, FedEx, or the like (not by email). It must be accompanied by the payment, the affidavit of service, and the proof of delivery.
The primary question posed in the form is
NATURE OF DISPUTE / CLAIMS & RELIEF SOUGHT BY CLAIMANT
For complainants outside the US:
The form may be submitted via email.
I haven't studied the international form yet, so I can't outline additional differences at this time.
The list of JAMS offices is here. I was told that one should submit the form by mail to the closest office. Also, I read some fine print (Consumer Arbitration Minimum Standards) and saw that "The consumer must have a right to an in-person hearing in his or her hometown area."
In my initial call to JAMS several days ago, the intake person was not very helpful, but then referred me to a specific person higher up, whom I was able to speak with after a couple of days of phone tag, on October 10, and again on October 11 with follow-up questions. I found out that an individual who has questions about the process may use one of the phone numbers listed here, or may fill out only the required fields (marked with a red asterisk) in an online general form, and hit "submit." The appropriate staff person will then reach out to the individual directly, to provide clarity about the process.
They are a money-making money-hungry corporation now and we mean nothing to themwhile this seems to be somewhat true, at least truer than it used to be, I don't think the convictions that led to this specific crisis are money-driven or in some other way not genuine. A lot of the criticism of SO's actions in this is VERY justified but this seems unfair