According to plan, SE Inc. has released a lengthy blog post about "the loop", and their vision of a new "community feedback" system. Or something:

TLDR; We’re going to be sharing our product development process with you, from feedback loops to timelines. We’ll be doing so through our new series – The Loop. You can give us your thoughts on what you’d like to see us do by filling out this survey: Through the Loop. We’ll also be releasing Moderator Training and some new feedback mechanisms to help us form decisions as we grow.

What does the community think?

And in case you want more specific "boundaries" for your answer:

  • Do you see that "the loop" can work and lead us to a "place" that works for "us" community?
  • If so, how does your vision "on top" of "the loop" look like?
  • If not, what are your main objections?

I understand that this question is pretty broad, but honestly: the topic itself is pretty "broad", and I do think: broad discussions are going to happen anyway. So why not "bundle" that stuff in one place. And as soon as more distinct topics arise, those will surely be addressed in distinct questions.

  • 51
    Well, we can all answer the survey with how we are troubled by the way Monica Cellio was treated, as well as by other SE decisions. Maybe they'll listen this time. Nov 25, 2019 at 17:43
  • 85
    "We’ll ... create a new working group of users that we’ll lean on for regular feedback" ... "By the end of this year, we will have completed discovery for the working group of users and will have identified the people we would like to recruit.". The user working group is selected by SO employees, not nominated by/voted for by the community. It's also not clear what sort of process there will be for choosing the members of the moderator advisory team, or how much input mods/users will have when a team member is replaced. So... I'm not optimistic.
    – AJM
    Nov 25, 2019 at 18:01
  • 45
    @AJM-Reinstate-Monica spoiler alert: "advisory group" will be a cherry-picked set of employees most loyal to the king and nobody else, with the subtext that if you're not part of the group it's because we want to sack you in a year. Nov 25, 2019 at 18:06
  • 90
    people from all corners of the developer community Stack Overflow and programmers are apparently the only thing that matters even though there are 100+ non-developer communities. Typical.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 25, 2019 at 18:39
  • 76
    I am completely lost. Look again at the infamous survey question #5 about which racial background(s) you identify with. Doesn't it look a little short? I mean, if you're going for racism, why leave black people out? Nov 25, 2019 at 19:00
  • 37
    It's weird to me that they state that the "current Code of Conduct" was published in 2018 and link back to the 2018 blog post announcement rather than the ACTUAL current CoC announcement which was, what, a month ago? It could be a simple editing mistake, but it needs to be corrected either way.
    – Giuseppe
    Nov 25, 2019 at 19:24
  • 66
    They apparently want to cut us out of the loop.
    – Luuklag
    Nov 25, 2019 at 19:27
  • 29
    Hey All - thanks for the feedback here we're reading through all of it. The demographic questions should not have been mandatory, the survey has been updated. Appreciate you pointing that out. Nov 25, 2019 at 19:47
  • 119
    @SaraChipps Err, I don't care whether it is mandatory or optional. It is plain wrong, doesn't belong in any survey written in 2019. Yet, kudos for showing up here.
    – GhostCat
    Nov 25, 2019 at 19:52
  • 45
    My last statement for today: given that SE Inc supposedly invested plenty of time and preparation, and actually moved out this announcement a few days ... I am wondering how terrible and bad the initial material must have looked. Un-f....ing-believable.
    – GhostCat
    Nov 25, 2019 at 19:55
  • 70
    @SaraChipps Interesting that your demographics questions ask about "race", and do not ask about nationality. Do you assume all users are from the US? If you don't want the question to be offensive, and yet want the statistics for some reason, why not ask about nationality/ethnicity, and leave the thing open, rather than multiple choice? Nov 25, 2019 at 20:15
  • 32
    @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica This mess is created by sheer incompetence and a childish view of the world, what else can it be?
    – dfhwze
    Nov 25, 2019 at 20:35
  • 64
    This isn't diversity. It's the US interpretation of diversity. Big difference. Nov 26, 2019 at 0:51
  • 50
    @SaraChipps Why does the survey not ask about our religious affiliation? Surely if there's one aspect of people's identity that is likely to cause them to be discriminated, it is religion? Does SE not care about under-represented religious minorities? How could you have missed this opportunity to put us into an additional box? Nov 26, 2019 at 2:33
  • 61
    In Europe, this kind of race question would be flat-out called for what it is: discriminative. You don't need that information; requiring it (or allowing to optionally put it in) is at best noise in the data, at worst a way to filter behind the scenes. Nov 26, 2019 at 8:03

36 Answers 36


I love the fact that, at the time I'm writting this, the loop has absolutely no comments.

For something that is supposed to enhance communication, that is incredibly ironic.

  • 5
    It has probably "pending" comments: twitter.com/carnivivre/status/1199041153871613952
    – GhostCat
    Nov 26, 2019 at 15:32
  • 8
    Oh, they're definitely cherry picking comments there. My mildly sarcastically criticism of the "working group" plan didn't pass moderation.
    – jmoerdyk
    Nov 26, 2019 at 17:04
  • 4
    @jmoerdyk Neither did mine saying this was a terrible idea.
    – T. Sar
    Nov 26, 2019 at 17:21
  • @jmoerdyk See my thoughts: meta.stackexchange.com/a/339173/285661
    – GhostCat
    Nov 26, 2019 at 18:21
  • 1
    @jmoerdyk or mine asking if the race question in the survey was suppose to be a "nationality" or "race" question and was going to be split or not. As of this writing, every single comment is praising the idea (which seems impossible just based on a quick sample of older blog posts)
    – LinkBerest
    Nov 28, 2019 at 3:11
  • 1
    Yes, the comments on the blog either have an overwhelmingly positive reaction to The Loop, or they are not really relevant. There’s an enormous disconnect between the published feedback on the blog and the feedback here, on Meta. I assume that’s what staff is referring to as the “toxic” or “non-inclusive” Meta community. Is this SE’s idea of “inclusivity” — avoiding any criticism? This is exactly what escalated this entire mess. Yet another indicator that SE doesn’t care about the community at all, if you ever needed one. Nov 29, 2019 at 2:29
  • @jmoerdyk: You may have to make it very subtle (like TechLead (YouTube)). Nov 30, 2019 at 2:54

Looks like they are trying to shut down dissent.

Note how the last few big changes were not posted on Meta. SE staff gets destroyed by downvotes and criticism on their horrible ideas. They don't want real feedback anymore.

Unless we contact their employers and convince them of the imminent threat to the SE network their money, this place will turn into another internet dumpster in a few years and we will be completely unable to prevent it.

  • 2
    Re "their horrible ideas": But the problem is they would also get downvoted for fantastic ideas. The meta crowd is also at fault for being extremely conservative, resisting change (no matter what it is) to an extreme degree. Nov 27, 2019 at 8:10
  • 10
    @PeterMortensen could you provide a couple of examples of the good ideas that got downvoted?
    – user
    Nov 27, 2019 at 8:13
  • The recent weight change to question votes was public. But that is of course not a big change. Nov 29, 2019 at 23:54

Long-time users can be surprised by things changing out of the blue for reasons they don’t understand, ..

So can short-time users. It wasn't so long ago that SE was insisting that people who do not regard themselves as traditional she or traditional he should not feel excluded, and to ensure that, promulgated a Pronoun Policy (since somewhat modified) and demoted and libeled one of SE's most respected moderators (still not corrected.)

And that mess (The Mess) goes on.

Now the first question in SE's latest missile to the troops asks: are you a she or are you a he?

What happened to inclusivity? Are gender-specific pronouns now OK? Is Monica going to be reinstated? Was The Mess just a bad dream?

  • That does not look fair to me. Actually the question is: are you a he or a she or not or something else or a combination of the above? Nov 26, 2019 at 15:30
  • 2
    @Stop harming Monica It is possible that I read it too fast. It is also possible that SE changed it after I read it (about 08:30 EST 11/26/19) and before you read it.
    – user540056
    Nov 26, 2019 at 17:45
  • 3
    Maybe. Looks like it was written in a hurry and then repeatedly corrected after the release. Nov 26, 2019 at 17:53

What does this have to do with "We're rewarding question askers?"

The recent blog post which announced the change in reputation gains for question upvotes hinted at the release of this feedback mechanism, but I somehow got the impression, from both the context and comments here that you'd, like, give feedback to people who are relevant in that discussion: the people asking bad questions. A nice start on the path of working with the community is trying to fix issues we want fixed, like the flood of low-quality questions, rather than giving us a new feedback mechanism which won't even let us point that out.

That blog post is hence fairly misleading, and I was hyped because I thought we'd get better moderation tools and instead we get a message that the company will cherry-pick people who will give them advice.


I'm fine with this...this gives us some insight into what their plans are and how they're planning on improving Stack Overflow.

I should quantify this - from the announcement this looks like it concerns Stack Overflow at large, as opposed to the rest of the Stack Exchange network. This makes sense since that's what keeps the lights on the network on, and is easily the most influential network site by several orders of magnitude, no matter how you wanna slice the data.

From a value perspective, it's logical to invest into something which will provide more money or pay for other investments elsewhere. To put it in another way, there's no reason to spend $1,000 on a pet project when you can't make rent.

To answer the questions you posed...

Do you see that "the loop" can work and lead us to a "place" that works for "us" community?

It can, but there's a lot of calcified views out there. The big thing to balance (and this is a hard thing to balance) is that there are at least three perspectives to keep in mind at any one point in time - the community who uses the site (asking questions, getting answers and that's about it), the community who maintains the site (upvoting, downvoting, other moderation activities) and the company who, somehow, has to keep the whole thing paid for.

The issue I see is that there's a lot of noise in with the signal. I get that not a lot of us are happy that the company kind of disappeared on us for years at a time, and a lot of change has happened. I'm no stranger to that sensation.

However, the problem that needs to be solved is not an easy one - how do we make this community work for users who just want answers to their questions, users who want to maintain and encourage good questions, and the company who has to keep the lights on? On top of that, how do we balance the perspectives of all involved parties who have an obvious stake in this whole matter such that everyone can walk away feeling satisfied?

That's a process that needs time and effort and commitment from all parties involved. There's no silver bullet for that.

If so, how does your vision "on top" of "the loop" look like?

The big thing is that there will have to be compromise on all sides. The group of curators isn't always going to get their way, nor is the company or the group of others who ask questions, get answers and disappear. It's going to take time, and it's going to take a lot of energy to see and effect real change.

But it'll be slow. Not a lot of people are going to be satisfied with "slow", but I don't see this moving any faster than that.


Let's face it, Meta.SE is dysfunctional for communicating with SE staff (and also for SE users who are not hugely familiar). No matter what SE staff post, the community is going to pile on and mercilessly yell at them.

It's a hostile and toxic environment for SE staff, and it's plausible that OH&S regulations regarding mental health come into play. SE staff have taken steps to involve the community in a somewhat-democratic way that reduces the harm to their own mental health.

It's not fantastic, but the days of SE staff being our chums are gone. It's better than being ignored entirely.

  • 6
    This is a decent point, but (for the most part) activity on meta's involve criticising ideas, and as long as the line between attacking ideas and personal attacks is made clear (and appropriate action is taken when the line is genuinely crossed), I don't see how points can't be pulled out and improved upon (or even just talked about by the community and staff members). The outrage is happening because the community is feeling like it's not being listened to, and it seems like The Company are content with tightening the feedback loop in order to avoid what it may lead to anyway: a mass exodus Nov 26, 2019 at 3:25
  • 15
    See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/337013/…. Albeit that announcement also came a bit late, and could have gone to MSO, positive feedback, constructive answers. And if you want to see something nice: search my answer there and read what the SE staffer has to say about it on Twitter. Also note for example that the apology MSE entry by David Fullerton first received hundreds of upvotes, before that turned around. Thus your premise about merciless yelling is a at least oversimplified, if not misleading.
    – GhostCat
    Nov 26, 2019 at 3:45
  • 5
    "Meta.SE is dysfunctional for communicating with SE staff" on the contrary, because of the constructive feedback on the survey, SE staff have taken swift action to update their latest survey (missing options, missing ethnic groups). Also be reminded that SE staff are adults, not infants; they are able to deal with criticism and dissenting reactions.
    – dfhwze
    Nov 26, 2019 at 6:08
  • 1
    Re "No matter what SE staff post, the community is going to pile on and mercilessly yell at them": Yes, that is the crux of the matter. It should not be difficult to design a better system for meta (a Q&A system with immediate voting on every post is not a good fit). But it will (unfortunately) probably be closed down entirely instead. Let us hope it will not be replaced by something substandard. But I would really like to see Stack Exchange set a new standard for different kind of sites than Q&A sites, including meta sites. Like they did with the original software in 2008. Nov 26, 2019 at 6:21
  • 13
    "No matter what SE staff post, the community is going to pile on and mercilessly yell at them" There was a time, just a few years ago, when it was pretty much the opposite: whatever choice SE inc made, people were only delivering words of praise. And they are exactly the same people. So maybe (just maybe) the backlash they experience now happens because they became completely disconnected from their community. It didn't come out of the blue. And the disagreements really mean something: it's certainly not just because people now like to complain.
    – dim
    Nov 26, 2019 at 8:29
  • 4
    While I too think Meta turning into a place hostile to employees was mostly the company's own making, it is certainly true that it has been dysfunctional for a long long time and an overhaul something like this was long overdue. It's just that for me personally, the past few months destroyed so much trust, I can't have any faith in the new process. And a hard time seeing why I should contribute to it, because while I accept SE staff can't be our chums any more, there is a wider community to include, etc., as a volunteer I expect the company to stick to a basic standard of decency.
    – Pekka
    Nov 26, 2019 at 8:44
  • Yes meta is dysfunctional but surveys are no replacement. Getting rid of the Q&A format for meta and replace it with more traditional forums like Reddit etc where you can keep track of discussion threads would work better.
    – Lundin
    Nov 26, 2019 at 8:59
  • 1
    I can't really downvote that answer, because that would look hostile but I also can't upvote it because I disagree. I think I remember upvoted posts from company employees in the last months. I'm relatively sure that if company employees would have posted and explained more in the last moths, they would have gotten a much better reception. Nov 26, 2019 at 10:54
  • 3
    @Trilarion Just so you know, down-voting is not considered hostile just yet.
    – dfhwze
    Nov 26, 2019 at 11:53
  • 8
    Hard disagree with this. When the CTO came out and gave an announcement that resonated positively with people, it got what it deserved: praise. It turns out it was a whole load of horseshit, but that's a different matter. Nov 26, 2019 at 13:32
  • 9
    'No matter what SE staff post, the community is going to pile on and mercilessly yell at them.' - This is utter nonsense and is just plain and simply WRONG, and provably so too. Look at how the new post rollout was taken. Try sort questions by the highest voted and see how many (ex) staff posts come at the top. As is with all posts, good posts get acknowledged and bad posts get critiqued. I'm not even going to touch the allegations of MSE being "toxic" because it would just take too long.
    – Script47
    Nov 26, 2019 at 13:50
  • 2
    The demotion of Monica plus the subsequent tone-deaf reaction of SE followed by the total deafness of SE caused a tipping point.
    – user540056
    Nov 26, 2019 at 17:32
  • 2
    You want to know how people will stop criticizing SE, Inc's every move? If they stop doing shitty things! Do you think if SE, Inc's CEO would step forward and write a heart-felt apology about how sorry he is that the communication with the community is not working and adds a plan on how to fix it, the community will pile on him?
    – MechMK1
    Nov 29, 2019 at 11:47

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