The question suggests that SE not repairing (perceived) damage to the community is a matter of not knowing how, of incompetence. Needing to learn how to repair and apologize first. If only they knew how, they would.
It does not occur to me as them being unable to repair or apologize, rather they are unwilling. If willing, it would be pretty trivial to repair almost all damage in a day or two. If I was CEO, I'd solve it all before the weekend:
- Reinstate Monica under a private agreement not to follow up legally.
Public apology statement here, also to the press. Seems a bold move,
it's not. Almost none of SO's users will know or care nor will
investors care. So why the hell not.
- Reverse silly loop feedback mechanism and undo plan to cancel Meta.
Assign one employee one day per week to make an inventory of top
issues and plug it into the ticket system. Once per month, communicate out roadmap. Which will include
statements on why some things will not be done. Difficult? No. Costly? No.
- Publish a toned down policy on pronouns that respects alternative views, languages, religions in a way such that any violation isn't immediately fatal. A more reasonable system with warnings and second chances.
- Relicensing: cannot be repaired so here I would play evil CEO and just forcefully push ahead.
This I'd do before the weekend. It costs nothing and risk is low. On Monday, I'd look at a few additional cheap actions to make moderators allies instead of enemies, because who doesn't want free labor and product marketing?
None of these steps require learning. They are child's play, straightforward and common sense. Not doing any of these repair actions to me means simply being unwilling to do them.
Come to think of it, I could actually assign a moderator to do the feedback cataloguing, even cheaper. In return I'd give them a crown emoji, this is usually enough to motivate free labor. I'm really growing in this role.
The brutal lesson learned between these cases is that GitLab cannot afford to ignore their community. Free users can migrate away from GitLab to GitHub or another competitor in a day. Free users next may influence their enterprise product success. The community has real leverage, existential leverage.
The second reason a repair action was inevitable is of a legal nature. Their move very likely violated GDPR. Fighting such an illegal move does not require some expensive trial by an individual user, it just takes a single person reporting the issue to privacy authorities, and there's a good chance an official investigation will commence. So it had to be done, regardless of community.
Community leverage is vastly different between the cases. The ultimate proof of that is in the plan to simply shut down Meta. Meta is a tiny vocal minority of an infinitely larger community. It has no existential leverage over the network. Apparently, it can simply be shutdown entirely, and 99% of the network will not even notice, at least not directly, or so the company thinks. Also, there's few to none interchangeable services to run to.