We used to get one or two Unicorn Meta Zoo podcast posts per month, but this seems to have abruptly stopped in late September, with the last one being significantly more poorly-received by the community than the others.

What happened to the podcast? Is it gone indefinitely or will it be returning soon? If it is gone, why?

  • Was it discontinued because the most recent episode was so poorly-received by the community?
  • Was it discontinued as a direct result of the recent drama on Meta Stack Exchange?
  • Was it only ever planned as a mini-series, not to be continued into the fall or winter?
  • Are key staff involved in the podcast currently unavailable (e.g. on vacation, medical leave, temporary reassignment), and the podcast will return when they come back?

This is not a duplicate of Stack Overflow Podcast on SoundCloud because this is a question specifically about whether the Unicorn Meta Zoo series of podcasts will continue. The other question is a support question on how to download historical episodes of a different podcast from SoundCloud.

  • I suspect they were all recorded at once. Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 17:18
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    @JourneymanGeek: You can test your suspicion by looking at the *.md files in the episodes directory on GitHub. I added recording date in the YAML section. Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 18:42
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    the last one being significantly more poorly-received Note that it was actually decently received when it was originally posted. After the first week it was at+23/-12. Then "other things" happened, and the downvotes came pouring in. I think it is pretty unlikely that it was coincidental.
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 1:15

1 Answer 1


I do have another episode that I've recorded with Abby and Juan. It is, perhaps ironically, about how to avoid burnout. I haven't released that episode or recorded new episodes because of a confluence of factors:

  1. Abby and Juan have taken on new responsibilities within the company. I purposely made the format low-commitment, but I wanted to let everyone get settled into their new positions before resuming our conversation. Unfortunately, that hasn't really happened. In some ways it's been less settled this fall (with a new CEO and other personnel changes) than it was a few months ago.

  2. I took a sabbatical this summer and spent some time thinking about the podcast as a communication tool. It felt very one-directional, which doesn't fit with what I hoped it would be. So I decided to start interviewing moderators as representatives of the communities behind our sites. Because I'd already interviewed fellow CMs, I felt this format could work. But scheduling interviews with people from across the globe can be a challenge even with shared calendars. I intended to use the episodes I'd already recorded to keep my (every-third-week) publication schedule while I built up a backlog of recordings.

  3. I had several moderators lined up to interview this fall but most of them changed their minds right around the release of episode #9. (I don't fault them for this by the way.)

  4. I'd noticed people were annoyed enough about the way episodes were featured in the sidebar to downvote the announcements. (Or at least that's the message I received from those downvotes and comments. It could be people didn't like other aspects of the episodes.) In my estimation, the main driver for listeners was the sidebar, so I was in a bit of a Catch-22. Should I stop featuring the episodes and not have people listen (other than the small number of subscribers) or continue to feature the episodes and annoy people who didn't care?

  5. The official Stack Overflow podcast returned on Oct. 15, which happened to be the day the next episode of UMZ would have come out. I didn't want to confuse things by having a competing podcast show up on the same day, so I didn't publish. Again, I only have one episode in the bank and didn't have a recording schedule to fill the gap.

  6. I know why it happened, but I was really discouraged by the downvotes on episode #9.

  7. Between new responsibilities, a company meetup, moving to a new house and personal struggles, I didn't have the energy to record another episode or publish the episode I have already recorded.

It's a bit of a shame since I was excited to interview moderators (and other people who use the sites), try out the automated transcription service shoover demonstrated, use the secluded office in my new home as a recording space and improve my interviewing skills. Still, I have a moderator who has volunteered to be interviewed and this question showed at least some interest, so I might start UMZ up again next year.

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    The title of the last podcast was ... unfortunate ... but nothing you could have done or known about it when you recorded or posted. If anything, it is good to have an alternative way to absorb information from people you tend to know so well but only by their writing. Giving these avatars a voice does have merit. I encourage you to give it another go. Your new angle on it seems interesting enough.
    – rene
    Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 18:48
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    Thank you @Jon for sharing your struggles and considerations with us. I think our struggles are an important part of who we are, but yet are rarely shown. So thank you!
    – Luuklag
    Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 19:04
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    I think podcasts deserve their own separate visibility area, which (and this should be made clear) never takes away available featured slots from meta posts or other announcements. Part of the negative reaction was probably users who thought podcast announcements were used as a way to reduce visibility of other featured posts by taking away those slots, though it's just my guess. Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 14:50
  • Now that you are not working on SE anymore, will that recorded unpublished podcast ever be published or it will be more likely to be forgotten in the thrash bin forever? Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 16:27
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    @VictorStafusa: I have to talk with the other hosts (Abby and Juan), but I think it will be published. I have the files and there's really no reason I can think of to not publish except that I'm in the middle of transitioning to a new job and am somewhat overwhelmed. Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 21:50

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