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In this recent blog SE lists out some of the problems with meta. They make some great points, but this one in particular stood out to me:

  1. 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.

Given the silence around licensing concerns, empty "apologies", Monica's situation (of which they have time to actively remove links to her legal fundraising page, but not to talk to her), and (ironically) concerns about the loop feedback survey itself, is it now safe to say these issues have been deemed not "important at [this] time"?

If so, when will they become deemed "important"?

If not, they why are they not being addressed? Especially the irony of concerns about the survey itself, is that not important to address at this time?

I think it would be helpful if we could get some clarification from SE: what exactly is the priority queue?

  • Are these issues coming from C-level desks, or are they left up to the individual community managers?
  • If these issues are not deemed important, is there a way to make them important to SE?
  • If so, how do we go about that?

Without direction, feedback, or responses from SE, we don't have a lot of opportunity moving forward.

It's important to emphasize - we really want to work with SE, it just seems like they don't want to work with us!

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    The licensing post has a reply from Tim Post, the 'empty apologies' were written by SE staff, they can't comment on Monica's case anymore as the post on removing links points out, but I've seen them make comments before, and I've seen staff engage on concerns about the "Through the loop" survey... Do you have a better example? – Tinkeringbell Nov 27 at 14:50
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    @Tinkeringbell the apologies were written by staff, but no follow up happened and nothing else came of it. The only commentary on the survey we got was on technical aspects of it via a developer, none from the actual people behind it, and that they "can't talk about monica's case anymore" is their own description and does not hold any weight. They choose not to. – Magisch Nov 27 at 14:52
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    @Tink, and Tim's answer on the licencing post was lip service at best and fails to answer the question. – Frédéric Hamidi Nov 27 at 14:54
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    "we really want to work with SE, it just seems like they don't want to work with us" I think this won't hold true for much longer. Every decision of late coming from up top seems designed to lower engagement from the community. – Mena Nov 27 at 14:55
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    I think it's admitting they can't handle the feedback from meta, nothing else. – Mast Nov 27 at 14:55
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    @Magisch the apologies got the follow up stated in there: an official process for removing moderators. And I don't doubt that means the internal post-mortem happened too, to determine what this process should look like. The responses to the survey were also to make demographic questions optional, and adding more options.. that does sounds like a bunch of prioritizing to me already. And like I said, I did see people react to posts about Monica too, before all this went legal so it's not too far stretched to believe people when they now say they can't. – Tinkeringbell Nov 27 at 14:58
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    I stand by that these aren't examples of things deemed 'unimportant' like the post attempts to suggest. – Tinkeringbell Nov 27 at 14:58
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    @Tinkeringbell That was irrelevant to the concerns and outrage that led to the apologies. I don't think they've done a single positive thing on an organizational level since the whol fiasco started. The process for reinstatement is laughably abusable by any manager to get rid of any mod they want in a private and unaccountable process. I'm sorry but this reeks of post-facto justification. I mentioned it in the feedback post too but the bare minimum would be external arbitration. – Magisch Nov 27 at 15:01
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    Drown us in enough new things and decrees that the old things waste away as the "toxic" Meta users walk away from fatigue so there is no one left to hold corporate to any questions or concerns – random Nov 27 at 15:08
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    @Tinkeringbell Tim's response to questions about the license change is an excellent example of ignoring a concern. The concern is "how can you unilaterally change the license on existing content". Tim's post is 8 paragraphs and doesn't address the issue once. – De Novo supports GoFundMonica Nov 27 at 23:04
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    @Tinkeringbell "The licensing post has a reply from Tim Post" No, it doesn't. I concede after a few weeks he wrote some words under it, but to date nobody has replied to it. – Lightness Races with Monica Nov 28 at 15:53
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    (And certainly nobody has resolved the problem that it pointed out) – Lightness Races with Monica Nov 28 at 23:36
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    For what it's worth, I contacted legal@stackoverflow.com on multiple occasions with legitimate concerns and legal requests, yet all were ignored. – jhpratt GOFUNDME RELICENSING Nov 29 at 6:53
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Here's how I see it.

Stack Exchange doesn't see any of your concerns as "winnable." They've tried apologizing with the usual corporate-speak (why companies think that kind of verbiage is anything but demeaning, revolting and insulting is beyond me), but they're fixated on this idea of "social equity," and they can't let go of it, even though they're monumentally bad at executing it.

Since their platform actually has real problems that need to be solved, and they've apparently concluded that these problems can't be solved by engaging with the community (some of them might not actually be), they've chosen a different road.

That's all there is to this. If you're expecting any more meaningful communication about the new CoC or summarily kicking a mod to the curb that didn't deserve it, or any of the other issues that seem important to us, don't hold your breath.

Remember, at the end of the day, the people who frequent meta are a tiny percentage of the user population on the Q&A sites. We're probably not representative of the "general population;" we still believe in things like quality Q&A.

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    I've heard many people say "stay and fight", but it sounds like you're saying fighting is futile. While I think it's time to work on alternatives, many people don't think so. Just out of curiosity, what would you say to the "stay and fight" crowd? – cegfault Nov 27 at 15:26
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    @cegfault 'what would you say to the "stay and fight" crowd?' - I mean, if they're fighting to try and make SE seem reason then: Walk away, it was nice while it lasted. Help work on the alternatives if you can. – Script47 Nov 27 at 15:27
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    What would be the purpose of "fighting" anyway? We're supposed to be working as partners, but we're trying to partner with an organization that is no longer interested in doing the same. – user102937 Nov 27 at 15:34
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    I don't know, I feel like there was some (belated) meaningful communication about the new CoC from Cesar, Catija and others, and there was some real progress. The two areas where there has been no progress (actually, significant negative progress) are 1. treatment of Monica and 2. systematically excluding users who disagree with staff from meaningful discussions (of which the treatment of Monica is one very extreme example), leading to repeatedly blundering into avoidable failures because no-one raises concerns until it's too late. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 27 at 15:38
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    @cegfault Maybe fighting is futile, but leaving is not an option. – Resistance Is Futile Nov 27 at 15:39
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    @Resistance: I hear there's a new kid in town. – user102937 Nov 27 at 15:41
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    @RobertHarvey there's a related question about the MS Q&A with a link to a github issue asking why they wouldn't just use SO instead, and one part of the dev answer to that ticket basically says "SO is too restrictive in what kinds of questions they allow". That doesn't sound like it could be an alternative for anybody concerned with question quality. – l4mpi Nov 27 at 15:43
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    @l4mpi: SO is probably headed in the same direction. I don't see how question quality (if there is still any left) survives if you remove downvotes, negative scores and constructive criticism, and I think that's what SE eventually wants to do. They want unicorns and rainbows, not serious answers to interesting questions. – user102937 Nov 27 at 15:45
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    @RobertHarvey IMO SO was moving in that direction ever since "too localized" etc were removed. Not saying SO is better, just that MS isn't an alternative. – l4mpi Nov 27 at 15:48
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    @cegfault Because, I cannot take my contributions with me. – Resistance Is Futile Nov 27 at 15:55
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    @ResistanceIsFutile so what if that's a concern to SO? I don't care about SO traffic, I care about having a great Q&A community for experts and enthusiasts. I don't see SO being concerned over their traffic leading to them rolling back all the detrimental changes they did over the years. And you can take your contributions with you - all SO data is (a) CC licensed and (b) available in batch form via the data dumps; any fork of SO can choose if they want to start fresh or if they want to import some of the SO users, questions, answers, and comments. – l4mpi Nov 27 at 15:59
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    Unfortunately, every time someone proposes to build an alternate Stack Overflow, they always choose some wretched platform like PHP, Python or Ruby on Rails. They want the quick fix, when what is really needed is industrial strength. – user102937 Nov 27 at 17:48
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    @Draco18s: To be clear, I think the corporation believes Meta to be toxic, and the community to be out of alignment with their goals. – user102937 Nov 27 at 19:04
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    @RobertHarvey Oh, I know that. I just think its amusing that one can solve a problem by perpetuating it. Meta is viewed as toxic by staff because SE staff doesn't participate (surely that can be fixed by not participating!). – Draco18s Nov 27 at 19:12
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    @RobertHarvey Wikipedia is based on PHP, and I'd call Wikipedia "industrial". I'm no fan of PHP, but I wouldn't rule a competitor out just because they use it. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Nov 27 at 20:46
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I've never been a particularly active user on metas, so, perhaps, I'm missing a lot of things. Anyway, here's my humble take on the subject.

Priorities

The main priority is right there at the top of the blog post. Here, I added emphasis to the first paragraph:

Since the early days of Stack Overflow, our community has seen a lot of GROWTH and change. As we reflect on 2019 and start thinking about 2020, our company also continues to rapidly GROW. We have new leadership, amazing partners using our Stack Overflow for Teams product, and north of 100k new users signing up to the public Q&A each month (coders are everywhere!). GROWTH on the business side of our company enables us to do more for our community, like relaunching the Stack Overflow podcast, creating a newsletter for developers by developers, and launching new features like authentication with GitHub, which is exciting for everyone. With so much change and GROWTH, we have been reflecting on how we can improve our communication paths to and from our community.

The subtle message is that Stack Overflow is growing. It's growing very, very fast, no doubt about that. The growth is tremendous, super, fantastic. I've never seen anyone or anything growing that fast in my life. So much growing, folks. Did I mention that SO is growing? Also, SO for Teams.

The takeaway here is that Stack Exchange is a private company and the Company's main priority is to inflate its own value to potential buyers. To inflate this value they need to show not only that SO is growing, but that the growth accelerates over time.

Posteriorities

Recent skirmishes on MSE don't have any short-term effect on the majority of users on SO. Most of the users are not even aware of the existence of MSE.

Some things to note:

  • Most of the sites on the network don't bring profit. Hence the focus on SO and only on SO.
  • SO has a search-optimized database of ~20 million questions. It generates ~11 million page views every day. It will continue to bring a steady supply of new users, even if the quality of questions/answers declines.
  • The training for moderators is going to be expensive. The Company doesn't have a business case for spending additional resources on growing the network.
  • Only ~2% of users visit Meta sites (the concrete figure is old, but it shows the scale).

I strongly believe that feedback from moderators and MSE users is crucial to the long term improvement of the network in the most idealistic sense. However, their voices don't have a direct impact on the bottom line. The Company can afford to spend most of its resources elsewhere.

The calculation is simple. The sheer amount of traffic from SO will ensure that the Company will have enough user feedback through any channel they deem appropriate. And a lot of poor tortured souls willing to do menial tasks (SO is moderated by YOU!) in exchange for imaginary points. They've been doing it for 11 years, there's no reason for them to stop now. Over the years SO evolved into a frighteningly beautiful system of behavioral control.

This calculation is based on multiple assumptions. For example, that the lack of feedback from active users will have a negligible impact on the well-begin of SO. But even if this assumption is wrong, the effects will not manifest themselves immediately.

So, back to your questions:

Questions

Are these issues coming from C-level desks, or are they left up to the individual community managers?

Neither? We don't have any indication that these questions are going to be addressed. There's little to no reason for the Company to care about them.

If these issues are not deemed important, is there a way to make them important to SE?

Yes, to do this, one has to build a business case for improvements and present it to someone in the Company. Or, alternatively, figure out a way to somehow damage the Company's growth indicators. Frankly, none of these options looks like a good use of one's free time.

If so, how do we go about that?

Sorry, I don't have a working solution at the moment. It'd be nice to have a comparable non-profit Q&A site, though.

P.S. I'm terribly sorry, everyone, just couldn't resist.

tweet

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    "The post about Monica's situation was viewed a laughable 16K times." True. But it's been viewed by those most invested in the health of the network. Big things come from small amounts of people. Would SE survive without them? Without a doubt. But quality would drop, precipitously, if a critical mass left simultaneously. It may kick off the spiral into oblivion; without enough people to shovel the crap, the crap will overwhelm everything. – fbueckert Nov 27 at 21:00
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    The post about Monica's situation was viewed a laughable 16K times -- Yeah, but this one was viewed 156K times. I know it's not a contest, but the post you chose isn't necessarily representative of the overall interest. – user102937 Nov 27 at 21:01
  • @RobertHarvey Yeah, that was a poor choice of example. I've edited it out of the question. It was never my intent to downplay the scale of MSE resistance. Thanks for the heads up! – default locale Nov 27 at 21:11
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    You know, you should claim that Twitter handle. The Fake Meta Stack Exchange are reading far too much into allegations of misconduct. We are fighting for the future of ALL MINORITIES and our VALUES. Other than that, we would actually like people to be happy. Our lawyers are respected and have stated that WE DID NOTHING WRONG. We would love to have redacted and redacted and many others post on meta but it is a Fake Site. NO DUE PROCESS. This Witchhunt should not be allowed to proceed! – JJ for Transparency and Monica Nov 27 at 21:12
  • @fbueckert Yes, I didn't consider the worst-case scenario. I assume that SE didn't consider it as well. I see your point, thank you! Also, I removed my poorly thoughout reference to this post. – default locale Nov 27 at 21:17
  • @JJforTransparencyandMonica :) I'm too inept at social networking. This handle appears to be free, someone willing to go in this direction can claim it. – default locale Nov 27 at 21:19
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    @defaultlocale yea, I don't think I have the time that's needed to properly produce these tweets at the level that's required. Think of the Devin Nunes parody accounts, it's almost a day job to keep up with the original figures (in this case both SE policymakers and the Glorious Leader). I'll keep it to a few comments every once in a while. The parallels are certainly there, thanks for bringing them to our attention. ;) – JJ for Transparency and Monica Nov 27 at 21:27
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    Re "Hence the focus on SO and only on SO": Which is odd, because the whole point of taking VC money was the landgrab of areas outside of Stack Overflow (get big fast in those areas to get the network effects before others (e.g., like Facebook)). Also at 21 min 07 secs. Organic growth is more than enough for Stack Overflow (no need for a land grab). – Peter Mortensen Nov 29 at 2:16
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They actually really don't care.

There's a big polarising bias happening here on meta, both ways, but if you look into the blog of one the founders, the future direction of the company becomes pretty clear:

https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2019/09/24/announcing-stack-overflows-new-ceo/

we want to make it possible for knowledge workers everywhere to use Stack Overflow to get answers to the proprietary questions that are specific to their organizations and teams

They're after the enterprise customers now. They don't seem to particularly care about the free communities that actually got them initially famous. Sorry, but that's just the truth as I see it.

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In a way. They say the important issues for SE are the issues that are important for the users. They made a survey and summarized the results:

enter image description here

Apparently not many people complained about SE infringing on their copyright or publicly maligning mods, or al least not according to SE's interpretation of the data. So no, these are not important issues for SE.

Now this has taken a legal turn and that means that SE has to pay some attention to these issues, but that also means that they won't talk about them. And probably they will do nothing unless the legal turn forces them to.

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    SE seems to have taken a "lowest common denominator" approach. They haven't tried at all to sell the idea that "quality Q&A" is a good thing, instead opting to listen to some subset of all users, a significant majority of which know very little about the platform (i.e. reputation below 100). – user102937 Nov 27 at 22:30
  • @RobertHarvey Sure, making those users happier and attracting more of them seems to be the main goal now. "Quality Q&A", at most nice to have. – Stop harming Monica Nov 27 at 22:48

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