On October 6th, moderators, ex-moderators, and members of the community published two open letters to Stack Exchange Inc.. These letters have, as of today, been signed 768 times (general letter) and 173 times (Lavender community's letter).

On October 8th, SE's Director of Public Q&A commented:

I said this in the thread on Teams but wanted to say here as well. Thank you for getting this together, we are working on a response. – Sara Chipps♦ Oct 8 at 2:32

I pinged @SaraChipps a week later for an update and this was her reply:

Hi Nate, we are working on the draft now. We want to be thoughtful in how we approach just as you were all clearly very thoughtful in putting it together. Some of that involves changing how we do some things, so we're getting our ducks in a row to make sure we can back up any commitments we make. – Sara Chipps♦ Oct 15 at 18:49

Then, on October 17th, @CesarM posted a partial response to the letters, basically stating that SE heard our concerns, and promised to respond more fully later (emphasis mine):

Thank you for writing to us about this. This isn’t our final response here, but in the interest of being transparent and keeping lines of communication open, we wanted to respond with something as soon as possible. While this isn’t the answer you’ve been looking for, we wanted to update you on some of what we have been doing and what we have been working towards as an answer to these letters. ...

It has now been more than a month since this last post, and despite many pings to Sara, there's been no answer if SE is still planning to respond further, or about an ETA of when that response might come. (To be fair to Sara, she's had zero network activity since that last comment, so it's possible she hasn't seen the pings).

In mid-November, however, SE has posted they're removing links and discussion about a certain fundraiser, and for legal reasons are unable to answer any further questions. Some have speculated that this may also apply to any further response to the open letters, but so far SE has not clarified that.

Therefore, the question is,

Is SE Inc still planning to respond further to the community's open letters? If not, why not -- have SE's lawyers advised you not to? Or if a response is still planned, when might we expect it?

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    Just to update, Sara did have some sort of network activity, as it was her who wrote the blog post stackoverflow.blog/2019/11/13/…
    – roberrrt-s
    Nov 14, 2019 at 21:49
  • 1
    I recall someone on Writing Meta showed up late to the party and was unable to add their name to the letters, so I think the signing service broke some time ago, at least for the main letter. The 768 might be higher if that hadn't been the case.
    – Troyen
    Nov 15, 2019 at 0:27
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    I just want to point out that it's amusing to post an open question to SE to ask them whether they would answer other open questions.
    – VLAZ
    Nov 15, 2019 at 10:44
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    I sometimes feel like our SO/SE community is like the boyfriend/girlfriend who has long been dumped and not really realized it yet while the ex is talking shit about them behind their backs. There's still that hope they will text back... but the truth is, he/she is already seeing new people in a new scene. Jet set. Investment bankers. $100 bills used to light cigars, that kind of thing.
    – Pekka
    Nov 18, 2019 at 9:29
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    I think the line "This isn't our final response" was only included to preempt criticism of how inadequate the response was. It's literally true, inasmuch as every action SE takes from here on is to some slight degree influenced by having read the open letters, so you can call all future actions "responses" is some sense. But I believe that is the only direct response we will ever get.
    – Wildcard
    Nov 18, 2019 at 11:13
  • @Wildcard, perhaps that's true, but Sara's earlier direct response implied otherwise. Either way, I'd like an official response from SE on this, if they're willing to give it.
    – Nate S.
    Nov 18, 2019 at 21:04
  • @VLAZ, I'm aware of the irony, but I don't know of any better place to ask the question, and a non-response is still pretty telling.
    – Nate S.
    Nov 18, 2019 at 21:05
  • @SaraChipps, please feel free to answer this question if you're so inclined.
    – Nate S.
    Nov 18, 2019 at 21:05
  • @CesarM, since you posted the initial response to the open letters, I'd like to invite you to answer this as well -- is the further response that you alluded to in your first response still something that SE plans on following through on?
    – Nate S.
    Nov 18, 2019 at 21:11
  • FYI, Nate, you can't ping someone with @ mention unless they've either commented here or edited the question. So neither Sara nor Cesar will have gotten your pings.
    – Wildcard
    Nov 18, 2019 at 22:09
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    Your question implies that they were at some point planning to answer. I don't think they were. They are hoping it will go away. It will go away; the unhappy people will stop coming and contributing and the site will dissolve into mediocre homework help.
    – RedSonja
    Nov 19, 2019 at 7:23

3 Answers 3


A member of staff just posted:

This has taken a legal turn and we want to be as transparent as we can. Under guidance from our legal team, we are not able to respond to anything regarding Monica's situation. We will not be answering any questions or comments about that going forward.

So I guess that's a no. Though as the letter concerned more than just Monica's situation, I cannot conclusively say so. But since it plays (at least some) part in it I would not hold much hope.

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    The letters dealt with far more than Monica's situation, depending on how that is defined, so this is not conclusive. Nov 14, 2019 at 19:13
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    I would imagine the legal issues pretty much preclude any detailed responses to the letters.
    – user102937
    Nov 14, 2019 at 19:14
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    As far as I understand, current policy is "Don't answer to anything"
    – T3 H40
    Nov 14, 2019 at 19:15
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    I'm aware of that statement, but the letters are about much, much more than Monica's situation. Indeed, the Lavender letter doesn't even mention it at all, and SE keeps claiming they're trying to make the Lavender community feel safe, yet they're being lumped in with Monica and ignored.
    – Nate S.
    Nov 14, 2019 at 19:16
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    They barely responded to anything to begin with, as if they were expecting to get sued from the beginning. :/ Had they been more open (at the cost of slightly higher legal risks), the situation could've been very different. Nov 14, 2019 at 19:21
  • The question already had a reference to the JuanM/JNat post meta.stackexchange.com/questions/338270/…, so your answer didn’t add much Nov 16, 2019 at 11:14
  • At the moment, they can weaken their legal position, when they contribute to the discussion, so they probably won't answer at the moment. The only thing that would help to get them to answer would be more external pressure. When they need to answer to bad press to avoid a shitstorm, they will answer even despite the process. But I cannot currently see any shitstorm outside of meta, so they probably will stay quiet as long as this is not settled.
    – allo
    Dec 5, 2019 at 13:33

The unfortunate truth: nobody here can say.

Your question is another one, in a lengthy lists of requests to a company which said of it "we are listening". To a company that right last week made statements mentioning our respected moderators and working hand in hand with the community.

Yet, what we can observe here: a few crumbs here and there. Nothing substantial, nothing addressing the various, well written, polite requests from the community. Nothing.

Leading to endless speculations, and more and more sentiment within the community.

I think the German author Bertolt Brecht wrote a matching poem almost 70 years ago, named the Solution:

After the uprising of the 17th of June
The Secretary of the Writers' Union
Had leaflets distributed on the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could only win it back
By increased work quotas. Would it not in that case be simpler
for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

From that point of view, I fear the answer you are looking for will be reduced to

along with some new feedback mechanisms we will be announcing next week

(from the already mentioned blog post announcement on question-weight changes)

Edit: me personally, I am convinced by now (December 2019) that there will be no more answers. SE Inc. has shown us that their priority is on "the loop" now. No more pesky open public questions, letters, discussions, nothing like that.

Just individuals sending them nice little one sentence feedback, to be processed behind closed doors.

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    Ohh so that's where the "we need to find us a new people" came from! Been looking for the quote. It's fitting because that's definitely what SE is doing here - finding itself a new community more in line with the new, more corporate values. Let's face it, though, it's possible they will be successful 😁 probably most of the site's users don't even know about any of this (although not so sure about power users) and, more saddeningly, a good chunk of mods may also not really care beyond co-signing a strongly worded letter? At least that's what their current (in)actions suggest. Oh well.
    – Pekka
    Nov 18, 2019 at 9:18
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    @Pekka, finding a new community more in line with the current corporate values is one thing. Having that community be as much involved as the existing one in menial tasks such as curating the site might be more of a problem. Nov 18, 2019 at 9:25
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    If SE wants a self moderating community on the one hand, they should not impose their values/beliefs on the other. Either instate paid moderators or give the community more freedom in expressing or assessing their own values/beliefs.
    – dfhwze
    Nov 18, 2019 at 9:34
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    @FrédéricHamidi Having that community be as much involved as the existing one in menial tasks such as curating the site might be more of a problem. not disagreeing, but hard to see what else could be their long term bet, the way they are currently behaving. The state we are in now can not be attributed to human error, incompetence, etc. any more. It's got to be a deliberate result. The messiness and drama was probably not intended, but the general direction.
    – Pekka
    Nov 18, 2019 at 9:35
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    @PekkasupportsGoFundMonica Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. The CoC term for stupidity might be "incompetence" or something.
    – GhostCat
    Nov 18, 2019 at 9:36
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    @Pekka, I totally agree this is the direction the company is taking. Whether they succeed or not remains to be seen, but I'm not overly optimistic about that -- the community they appear to be aiming for does not have a tremendous track record for putting their time (or money) where their hearts are. Nov 18, 2019 at 9:42
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    @FrédéricHamidi I read somewhere (to my great surprise tbh) that they have a turnover of somewhere around $70 Million a year... I guess the bet is "might is right", that their sheer size and financial prowess and #1 position will see them through. Plus that there is an audience that'll feel made welcome by the figurative beheading of a mod and super stringent speech rules that will more than make up for the problematic rabble-rousers leaving the place. Hard to imagine, but who knows. Big world out there. I guess we'll see!
    – Pekka
    Nov 18, 2019 at 9:46
  • @Pekka supports GoFundMonica: USD70 million in revenue. Source. 44 USD million in 2018 plus 16 USD million in 2018 in ad revenue (mostly for Azure). (Yes, it does not appear to add up.) Dec 6, 2019 at 12:49
  • They are moving in the direction of a help desk (to avoid closing and downvotes). Hopefully it will not be mixed up with the knowledge base. A merge with Glitch might also be a possibility - "Glitch focuses on being a friendly, accessible community". Dec 6, 2019 at 12:55
  • @PeterMortensen I am really curious how this will work out for "us" folks using MSE, MSO, and other metas. But time will tell ...
    – GhostCat
    Dec 6, 2019 at 13:13

There is the beginning of an answer to that over here:

We did post an answer to the mods' letters, @Zoe: in it we made reference to our next steps "entail[ing] structural change, [and that] it may take a little while." As Sara noted at the very bottom of her latest blog post, though, we're hoping to be able to share some progress on that next week. – JNat♦ 54 mins ago

(I bolded what I believe to be the important part).


In a later comment, JNat (tried to) clarify and said:

Sorry, @terdon-stopharmingMonica: I didn't mean to say that we'd answered the letters — I said an answer, as in we engaged in conversation, and as far as I know have no plans of ignoring it. Sorry if that wasn't clear enough. – JNat♦ Nov 14 at 20:45

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    So that part of the blog post talks about "new feedback mechanisms" and "an exciting start to working hand in hand with the community to build a better Stack Overflow". Hmm. Why do I have a bad feeling about this... Nov 14, 2019 at 21:10
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    @user56reinstatemonica8 Because this is slowly starting to feel like one reactor chamber exploding after the other until it hits the core and the entire thing explodes into a radioactive mess. These changes have not had the best track record in terms of reception, and if it continues in the same trend, it won't be good Nov 14, 2019 at 22:24
  • Interesting. Though later in that same thread, @Jnat goes on, "Sorry, terdon-stopharmingMonica: I didn't mean to say that we'd answered the letters — I said an answer, as in we engaged in conversation, and as far as I know have no plans of ignoring it. Sorry if that wasn't clear enough. – JNat♦ Nov 14 at 20:45"
    – Nate S.
    Nov 18, 2019 at 21:01
  • @JNat, are you able to clarify if that's an SE official position, that further response (to the letters specifically, not just general community engagement) is still planned?
    – Nate S.
    Nov 18, 2019 at 21:02
  • @NateS-ReinstateMonica Thanks, I updated my answer accordingly :) Nov 18, 2019 at 21:08

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