Just a few random thoughts.
We have [..] north of 100k new users signing up to the public Q&A each month (coders are everywhere!)
Indeed they are. So, perhaps using the term "north" to mean "increasing value" is not very welcoming. Are users from the southern hemisphere less valuable? Let's use a term other than "north" to mean "good", because that's a very Americentric/Eurocentric idiom.
For a community, debt can take many forms: Long-time users can be surprised by things changing out of the blue for reasons they don’t understand,
Let's try to avoid categorising viewpoints from your long-term community members (read: the people who created your monetisable content) as people who "don't understand". Just because somebody doesn't agree with you, doesn't mean that they "don't understand". That's important to, well, understand.
we have come to the realization that we need to do more in order to sustain, serve and support a much larger community and keep it growing and thriving.
Yes I think that this is a good point.
We want to address all these things and be transparent about how we’re paying down some of this community debt.
Cool! Paying down debt is awesome.
A month ago we formed cross-functional teams of Stackers (employees of Stack Overflow)
Ah, my bad; I thought "Stacker" was a term meaning a user of Stack Overflow. I stand corrected.
It’s been inspiring to see people from our Community Management team work hand in hand with folks from Engineering, Sales, and Marketing to come up with solutions for our community’s most pressing concerns.
Genuinely, those people are great and they have done and continue to do a fantastic job!
Over the 10 years that Stack Overflow has been around, the way that we collect user feedback has changed significantly. [..] This shift happened quietly, and many Meta users felt understandably concerned that we weren’t listening to users or making data-driven product decisions.
Yes, you are correct. This came from direct statements that you would not be doing that any more here. That was directly communicated, thank you.
We’ll share regular updates about what we learn through our research, as well as create a new working group of users that we’ll lean on for regular feedback. This working group will be made up of a diverse group of folks excited to see Stack Overflow grow.
I am glad that it'll be diverse and exciting.
Overall, both anonymous and registered users are highly satisfied with Stack Overflow and tell us that their favorite things about our community include finding solutions to their problems, vast access to information, and the knowledgeable people who participate.
I thought everybody hated it, because of the long-term contributors being rude and racist?
I'm glad they've enjoyed the fruits of our freely-provided labour, though. We put a lot into that!
With our new mixed method research approach, one thing we lost was regular, in-depth conversation with a group of folks highly invested in Stack Overflow’s growth.
Yes, you opted out of that.
We also wanted to keep seeking out feedback from a broad range of perspectives.
No, you removed (or otherwise made feel unwelcome) the people whose perspectives you did not like.
We’ll hand-select folks of diverse backgrounds who are excited to chat with us regularly about everything from new ideas to features, to how we communicate with the broader Stack Overflow community.
I am once again glad that diversity and excitement is going to be involved.
We’re looking forward to hearing from representatives from different types of users and backgrounds starting in 2020 and regularly thereafter.
Cool! Will you be responding to that feedback?
But wait, there’s more! Moderating communities is a skill, and one that’s too often poorly documented, poorly understood, and pursued without robust best practices.
Again, lambasting your selfless volunteers as lacking understanding is probably not the best way to begin a moderation council, but let's work with it...
We’re going to create a new system to offer training for our moderators.
Training, or indoctrination?
The training will be a great way for new moderators to learn the ropes, and will be available to all moderators seeking help as they struggle to make important decisions, learn the tools available to them, and plan how to move forward on sensitive issues involving race, gender, and sexuality.
Alright, that answers that.
As an aside, I actually think it's the directorship that needs a lesson in handling these things with due care and sensitivity, but whatever.
When conversations about Stack Overflow started to happen on Stack Overflow, our founders invented a site called Meta. Meta Stack Overflow was created as a way to talk about the website without distracting us from the important things: questions about programming. Since then, it’s become almost a catch-all for everything: bug reports, general complaints, feature requests, and ideas about the site. With thousands of accumulated bug reports and feature requests, it’s a lot of community debt.
It actually isn't the debt at all. It's a sign of the debt. It's a signal.
Don't shoot the messenger, folks.
You can't fix the deficit by defaulting on your debt then letting it rack up again. But whatever.
It’s hard to capture structured feedback on Meta. There are now so many conversations that we aren’t often able to participate.
Again, you opted out. You literally said that you were going to do that.
On Meta, there are discussions, some that go on for a long time without a clear answer.
Like when you illegally relabelled the licence agreement on all our content, then ignored all attempts to communicate with you about it? Yes, I agree.
Meta tends to exclude people that aren’t super immersed in the Stack Overflow/Stack Exchange culture.
Everybody has access and is welcome. Literally all you have to do is click on a link.
Meta requests don’t integrate with any existing ticketing system, so our Community Managers need to prioritize the best they can and answer the threads deemed most important at the time.
That's true — a proper issue tracking system would be much better, and I applaud the engineering team for handling Meta-posted bug reports as best they can.
We analyzed data on how Meta is being used, who is using it, and all the functions that Meta serves. [..] We looked at the three data points—how Meta is being used, who is using Meta, and the functions—and determined if our users are best served by keeping the function on Meta or if our users are best served by moving the functions to other tools and processes.
Okay, this is starting to sound like "let's get rid of the community's most prominent individuals because they have been critical of us; how can we make a new meta-community that excludes them". But, unlike the company, I still assume good faith so let's continue...
We plan to transition things like bug reports, user and customer support, user feedback, and company announcements off of Meta over the course of next year.
I love this. A+++ would non-Meta again.
In machine learning, there is a concept called “Human in the Loop.” Some processes can’t just be done by machine alone; instead, a human adds value to the feedback loop.
Yes, we've been doing that for free for over a decade, to generate company revenue. You're welcome!
Through your help and feedback, we’ll have the best opportunity to build a better future together.
We’re compiling a small diverse group, including new users, power users, and moderators, to be a constant partner for feedback by Q1 2020.
Good, glad you're taking genitals and skin colour into account because that's an important factor when it comes to people's ability to form ideas.
This is our initial step, your voice matters here, and we want to hear it.
We have spoken many times. Please respond to the thread about licensing.
We want to work with you to move past focusing on what’s wrong in order to strengthen the things that are right and build the future we want together.
Yes, we want to move past what's wrong as well.
The way to do that is: fix what you did wrong.
This plea to completely ignore all the ways in which you have done serious, significant and flagrant harm not just to groups of people but also to individuals, cannot simply be swept under the carpet because you say you want it to be.
You need to take the first steps, and I appreciate the nice words and pleasing promises in this blog post, but until you actually resolve the problems that you've created, it's all meaningless.
We know that during times of change, communication is important; you’ll be hearing from us the entire way.
Thank you; as such, I look forward to communication regarding the extremely serious issues that have so far not received an acceptable level of interaction from the company.
Let's get this ball rolling and move into 2020 with a renewed sense of co-operation!
Over to you!
tl;dr ignoring everything, making a system to get rid of us, then asking to move on from "the past" is offensive when you haven't fixed what you did wrong.