Does the Stack Exchange team serve at the pleasure of the community?
If so, what can the community do to hold the Stack Exchange team to account?
If not, are there any plans to give the community the ability to hold the Stack Exchange team to account?
Recent actions of Stack Exchange Inc have come under a lot of scrutiny.
The users Stack Exchange aims to protect have reported a "lashing out at members of the LGBTQ+ community". The top response to the apology send out by Stack Exchange Inc. calls it "meaningless" for refusing to come clean with respect to one of the aforementioned actions.
$$$ > community?
Meanwhile, the new chief executive officer of Stack Overflow promotes the company to investors by citing revenue projections:
practically ubiquitous — and lucrative, with the company claiming an annualized revenue run rate of $80 million, a measure of how much revenue it projects to generate in the next 12 months if current conditions hold.
In fact, the advertisement mentions variations on the word business 9 times, featuring the word community only 6 times. I get it, you need to satisfy investors but as noted in the Business Insider article, you can't do it without the community and it'd be a shame to see these communities (because Stack Exchange is more than just Stack Overflow) break apart over mismanagement by a few executives.
Now, this may seem like harsh criticism to those passing by, surely the Stack Exchange team is doing the best it can? I can't really answer that but I do know they often like to take their sweet time.
For example the latest theme update on the English Language Stack Exchange, the fourth largest site by traffic in the Stack Exchange network, was rather poorly received (the second most downvoted question in ELU Meta history). Users are still not satisfied with the results, but alas, the Stack Exchange team has moved on to new adventures.
I think you've mistaken the request for input as an actual request for input instead of what it really was.
I know this is just one example and I'm sure there are many.
Oversight & scrutiny, the key to sustainable progress?
All this leads me to think there should be a mechanism for keeping employees, the executive if you will, to account. Site-specific Metas are a great place for voicing issues affecting a specific site but they're ignored easily by the executive.
I'm not sure what such a mechanism should look like or if it already exists, but I think it's a real shame to put off veteran contributors over something as minute as site design (or some other matter unrelated to the goal of sharing expert knowledge). It just seems that if the Stack Exchange team works for the benefit of the community then the community should have some checks and controls.
To make it a bit more political without making it too partisan political, let me end on this quote from Parliamentary Oversight for Government Accountability:
Yet parliaments must have not only the tools but also the political will to oversee the government. Only then can they move from formal to liberal democracy because liberal democracy requires effective oversight implementation and not just oversight potential. The major challenge for the international organizations concerned with the promotion and consolidation of democracy is to identify and promote the conditions under which parliaments and parliamentarians are more likely to engage in effective oversight of government activities.