Plenty of users were talking about "striking" lately, down to having a link to the first Meta question about the recent events in their profile like:

just strike

I didn't call it that way, but went "pausing all contributions" last week.

Simple question: does any of that have significant impact on what happens in the non-meta communities?

From what I have seen, "life" seems to be going on there almost as normal (maybe besides flag queues getting slower because a shortage of moderators). I briefly checked the 5 top year-to-year contributors on Stack Overflow, and they keep cranking out their usual amounts of answers all day long (this is not meant as attack, just an observation).

If at all, I rather assume that overall traffic probably increased, especially on the meta sites. Because so many people are showing up not being able to figure out what the heck is going on, especially after the news went public.

Thus: can anyone say if "the community" going angrily into "pause mode" is causing, well anything?

  • 13
    Do you count problems on smaller sites like Writing.SE?
    – Secespitus
    Oct 7, 2019 at 9:13
  • 4
    No, not much. At this point, even if the top 1000 contributors all over SE left for good, the net impact would be unnoticeable for non-frequent visitors to the site (moreso on the large sites like Stack Overflow and Mathematics SE). Stack Exchange is no longer a small town; it's a huge city.
    – user437611
    Oct 7, 2019 at 9:14
  • 5
    I guess such strike can have impact on smaller sites. I suppose that on SO nobody noticed. Also, SO has already turned into a swamp... a bit more mud does not mean too much. I am on strike, too, but this is more gesture of support for all moderators (even ones that didn't leave) and recognizing their hard work and for myself. Besides, that I don't think this will have measurable impact. On the other hand you never know, maybe there is significant amount people striking. Oct 7, 2019 at 9:20
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    Looking at the meta front page there seem to be more than the usual number of off-topic questions hanging around -- ATM I see 6.
    – Zev Spitz
    Oct 7, 2019 at 10:06
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    From what I have seen, "life" seems to be going on there almost as normal - yes, because some people miss the drama or avoid it. Others don't care. Provided a big enough mess though, it's bound to become impossible not to notice. We were only a week in before SE fortunately stepped in to avoid further escalation - had it continued, it's a bit like gravity: the more people stop and talk about it, the more they attract to do the same. But even then, some people will still continue until they're forced not to (i.e. nothing to do (no askers), site shutdown, etc.).
    – Zoe
    Oct 7, 2019 at 12:46
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    No. The cucumbers never read meta because that would be time away from looking for the next low hanging fruit. They don't even know that anything dramatic has happened. So answering questions (particularly at the lower end) is largely unaffected. Only a much longer lack of moderator activity would become noticeable. Oct 7, 2019 at 17:07
  • @Jyrki Lahtonen: As in cool as a cucumber? Oct 7, 2019 at 17:27
  • It felt good taking a break. It also felt good starting again this morning :)
    – user204841
    Oct 7, 2019 at 17:59
  • One effect of a strike could be lower quality overall. Less closings, less downvotes on bad questions or answers,less good answers or questions. This should all result in lower average quality. Now we only need to measure the quality of a contribution. Score may not be the best measure though. Oct 7, 2019 at 20:03

2 Answers 2


This SEDE query compares (on each main site) the number of questions and answers posted last week (Sunday September 29th up to Saturday October 5th) with the week before it. We've seen an 1.38% increase in the number of questions and a 3.48% decrease in the number of answers. My guess is that this is not significant enough to be an observable effect.

enter image description here

Whether there is a moderation strike is much harder to measure; less flagging / edit suggesting by the community leads to less review tasks being created, which counters any effects a review strike might have.

But here is an attempt: for First Posts (which are automatically generated and should roughly be proportional to the number of posts created) we have a decrease of 5.63% in completed tasks but also a 4.29% in created tasks. Again, not significant enough as far as I'm concerned:

enter image description here

More interesting is the increase in the number of completed Close Vote reviews: almost 25%!

enter image description here

  • 5
    One day I shall spent the time required to really learn how to use SEDE like that myself. In the meantime, I keep my fingers crossed that you notice my questions, and come back such great, helpful content! I agree, right now we dont have enough data points. Maybe we can look back in 8 weeks and see what effects appeared, and how long they lasted!
    – GhostCat
    Oct 7, 2019 at 10:48
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    The problem isn't numbers, "striking" wouldn't affect the number of visitors or the number of questions being posted. It's the quality of the answers, keeping the site "clean", reviewing posts, reopening questions that have been edited, editing posts, fixing tags, responding to flags, if you are a mod closing questions single-handedly, deleting comments that are no longer needed etc. Suspending abusive users...These are the things that help keep a site running smoothly and healthily. These are the activities that hi-rep users do. Oct 7, 2019 at 11:07
  • @Mari-LouA I am aware of that. I understand that. But it is also important to see if more/less questions get asked/answered overall.
    – GhostCat
    Oct 7, 2019 at 11:10
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    @GhostCat but "striking" wouldn't affect the number of answers being posted. Questions are normally posted by visitors and low-rep users in any case, and low-rep users would still post answers. Once you reach 10K rep, and have earned the most important privileges the gamification loses its appeal. Who cares about points and badges? You start caring about quality, and building a solid repository, well if hi-rep users (+10K) were to strike, the questions would still pour in but the crap would also begin to pile up. Oct 7, 2019 at 11:18
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    If every mod "striked", the sites would feel the effects after a week, after three weeks of no "modding" there would be bedlam. You cannot measure the effects of silent disobedience (for want of a better expression) by whether posts were submitted and answered. Oct 7, 2019 at 11:21
  • 2
    ...and even then, in the case that management has shifted its focus from quality to quantity then this strike would actually be good for their end goals as more users would be able to post questions and get answers without their posts being down-voted/close-voted. Less curators = More questions/answers = More users = More ad revenue
    – Script47
    Oct 7, 2019 at 11:25
  • @Mari-LouA That is an assumption, not a fact. A lot of questions asked by low rep users. They solely care for their problem. And most answers are written by people who focus on such people. They know a bit, and want to help, and turn that into reputation. In other words: one group of people puts in questions, and another one answers them. The majority of "answer" folks will still be able to figure quickly "nope, this answer isnt worth answering", and just answer ... others that are "good enough". Yeah sure, a lot of c..p content will pile up, but most of those users I mentioned ...
    – GhostCat
    Oct 7, 2019 at 11:25
  • wont care about. Or as @Script47 says, they will even enjoy to answer low hanging stuff that normally gets closed out as dup or too broad or whatnot quickly.
    – GhostCat
    Oct 7, 2019 at 11:25
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    @GhostCat Yes. So you're agreeing with me. A strike by veteran members, hi-rep users, and mods would not necessarily affect the number of posts submitted or answered in a site. You have to look elsewhere for the impact. Oct 7, 2019 at 11:28
  • @Mari-LouA Not necessarily, but it could still be different. There might be tags on SO for example that only few experts regularly look at. And if those few guys would happen to be "on strike", then sure, questions for that particular tag might see fewer answers.
    – GhostCat
    Oct 7, 2019 at 11:30
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    And the answers posted would be lower in quality Oct 7, 2019 at 11:35
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    Heads up: SEDE and reviews may be inaccurate
    – Zoe
    Oct 7, 2019 at 12:33
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    Many of us who don't frequent Meta.SE found out about this situation only after it blew up on the media, Reddit, etc and the mods started resigning. So I'd expect any drops in activity to have been concentrated at the end of the week - approximately Friday to Sunday. So this answer might understate the effect a bit.
    – mkt
    Oct 7, 2019 at 13:57

I ran across the Stack Exchange seven years ago by sheer luck, after doing a Google search. I reckon a lot of us started here in a similarly accidental fashion.

One thing I noticed right away: SE was different from other sites – and not just because the Help Pages said so. I noticed how people were serious about keeping the quality of the site high. Questions that showed little to no research didn't fare very well; answers that were shallow (or worse yet, erroneous) were called out quickly. Discussions stayed largely civil, and lengthy discourse in comments were sometimes suddenly pruned or else would evaporate altogether. I liked the quality control and it kept me coming back.

I wouldn't expect a measurable effect after a week or two of bedlam. Individual moderators who chose to remain "at their post" might have a little more work to do (fewer hands make heavier work), but, as the saying goes, the show must go on.

That said, I get the feeling that many of the more active folks who make this such a great place have become disillusioned (I count myself among them). The risk of losing those folks for good is real.

An optimist might maintain that such losses, though sad, would eventually be overcome by other capable members who would likewise stumble onto the Stack Exchange one day and find a home here, eventually growing from casual users to moderator candidates. A pessimist might argue that it's possible for the Stack Exchange to lose a critical mass of people who are committed to keeping a particular Exchange in good working order. And then, who knows? It's conceivable that a broken window or two here and there will make this a less appealing neighborhood, and perhaps fewer who stumble by will opt to stay for very long.

This week's drama reminded me of a quote I learned in my high school English class: Paradise contains the seeds of its own decadence. Sooner or later all good things must come to an end. Collectively, we have enough tech in our blood to know that today's Stack Exchange could easily become yesterday's Netscape or MySpace.

I think one of the main reasons tensions ran so high this week is because Monica is such a well-known and respected member of the community. To be frank, I had never even heard of Sara Chipps before last week (I usually stay in my little corner of the Stack Exchange), but Monica was someone I had heard of before. Our interactions had been limited, but she had definitely earned my respect. Of this much I was certain: It's people like Monica who make the Stack Exchange great.

One of our own got mistreated, and the community acted in solidarity. So, are there any observable effects of a “strike”? If we are merely talking about review queues, flagged comments that should be answers, and deleting the drivel posted by drive-by spammers, probably not. Fortunately for us, we don't get a whole lot of vandalism requiring prompt intervention. But at least we got an improved apology (Version 2.0, if I might continue the tasteless analogy).

For me, though, it's less about striking moderators, and more about what motivates the foundation of the community to keep contributing. When we lose sight of what made us great in the first place, it's only a matter of time before that greatness diminishes.

Only time will tell.

  • 2
    I took a break because I know that me interacting with the community when I’m upset is worse than me not being here at all. Having disillusioned active users hanging around might be worse than having an exodus, even if they keep working the review queues and flagging posts. (I completely agree with all you wrote here and wish I had written it :))
    – ColleenV
    Oct 7, 2019 at 17:42

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