This question is inspired by two answers that in many ways reach the core of what the community is discussing right now. First,

I think that is the fundamental divide that SE does not seem to understand and why their whole "welcoming" move is met by so much resistance and frustration.

On one hand, we have the technical sites. Those are there to answer User1248346's programming problem. Background is not required nor requested. Whether that user is a man or woman, in the Swiss alps or at an Indonesian beach, married or single, we will never know. Because it does not matter. In fact, sharing that information would be weird. Their compiler will always work the same. Put in the correct code, you get the correct result.

- nvoigt in response to "Are there specific issues with unwelcoming behavior toward LGBTQ persons on Stack Exchange?"


Do you think it is staying on topic if someone comments on a question "this is why women shouldn't be allowed to learn JavaScript?" It's not, is it? And a mod would remove that comment, right?

So when women tell you that those sorts of comments (and other slightly more subtle ones that last longer) hurt them and contribute to driving them out of the industry,

- Kate Gregory in response to "Why taking responsibility for other people's feelings doesn't work"

Broadly speaking, a lot of the recent discourse seems to have two predominant viewpoints:

  1. Sites on the Stack Exchange network (in particular technical ones like Stack Overflow) should focus on high quality technical questions and answers. Ensuring the continued development of high quality content should be the primary concern.
  2. Sites on the Stack Exchange network need to acknowledge the content creators and consumers more. As a result, the development of social aspects of the sites is necessary even if it may impact how questions and answers are written.

It seems like everyone supports moderators ensuring users are cordial with each other (ex., reprimand mean comments, ban bad actors, ect.) but it seems like lines are being drawn over the primary content of the questions and answers.

As such, it appears that directly discussing the question is needed: fundamentally, what should a question and answer site look like?

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    IMO at least it's not even clear that the SO inc. wants to have a Q&A site (focussed on content) here. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 17:25
  • I mean all sites of the SE network. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 17:26
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    LOL! Yeah that seems to be a good reasoning to sell to their potential investors, but not to keep a community of volunteers contributing. I think you know about my least post here regarding that. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 17:31
  • Point 2 doesn't seem to be justified by Kate Gregory's quote. If nobody knows you're a woman, then they can't attack you on it either. Maybe other quotes would illustrate the point better. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 17:41
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    Ended the silence. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 21:03
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    Jerks can offend anyone, not just women. Problem is that jerks will use any ammunition they can at particular moment. If you are woman, they will use that against you, if you are not they will find and use something else. Point is, don't let random jerks spoil your experience anywhere, no matter who you are. Flag if there is something flag worthy and move on. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 21:18
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    SO, circa 2013.
    – user212646
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 23:43

2 Answers 2


There is definitely not a definitive answer to this question available. It's more a YMMV thing. If you speak with employees from Stack Overflow, they would surely say that this here is the real thing. Somebody else might say something different.

Things that this network got right:

  • emphasising quality (relative to other sites)
  • emphasising topic centered communities
  • up and downvotes

Things that this network got wrong:

  • wrong expectations for newcomers
  • not listening to the community anymore

Things that are debatable:

  • profit and ads versus non-profit and donations
  • ownership versus collaboration (writing your own answer vs. writing with others on the same answer).
  • how much social network is needed

You can pick your version. I envision something that concentrates on high quality content while having a special section for beginners, a happy community just being nice to each other and an ad free possibly non-profit business model. Who knows if this even exists.

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    wrong expectations for newcomers agreed
    – wada
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 0:18

I view "rigorous technical answers" and "being welcoming, not rude or unkind, and respect people" as two worthy, but orthogonal, objectives. I don't understand why they are seen as being in conflict with one another.

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    Because controlling bad content from new users if done powerfully enough to be effective is seen by some new users as being unwelcoming. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 22:06
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    @IanRingrose frequently it is; but it doesn't have to be IMHO, with a modicum of empathy.
    – Flyto
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 23:02

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