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I'm reposting this from Photo Meta because it has gotten no response in over a month, and we are in a situation where other users are asking Is the Photo-SE community effectively dead? — it sure feels like we are getting the exact opposite of increased support.

I expect the same thing applies to other, non-programming sites on the network, so escalating from the site-specific meta to the central one seems appropriate.

Can we get some official responses?


It's been more than six months since this post promising

Generating revenue from non-technology sites will enable us to dedicate more resources to meeting your needs so this is good news.

(Emphasis original)

... and thirteen weeks since the last update from anyone on Stack Exchange staff to What can Stack Exchange do to better build a photography community of practice here?, which was my attempt to be practical and positive rather than cynical.

On that last post in September, a Stack Exchange staff member said "Updates to come soon." Can we at least have a little update, please? I'm swinging back around to cynical on this.

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    Well if you read the first post in The Loop it sounds like they forgot about all the other sites. SO is the priority. – David Dec 14 '19 at 15:36
  • They are extremely busy, short staffed, and running on holiday schedule. Others have used the 'Contact' link for things one might expect a form letter reply, and received none. – Rob Dec 14 '19 at 15:38
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    @Rob I'm sympathetic to holiday schedules, but have they been on holiday schedule since September? And, I also get busy and short staffed, but the whole point was the promise of more resources — kind of the opposite of that. – mattdm Dec 14 '19 at 15:41
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    Well, this is interesting. If I disable my entire suite of ad blockers, I don't see any ads on Photography. – Makoto Dec 14 '19 at 17:27
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    From Megan Risdal's blog post after leaving SO staff, a handful of devs at max for q/a system. Truth is community building is not anymore even a concept in SO mindset nowadays – Tensibai Dec 14 '19 at 22:22
  • @Tensibai What blog post are you referring to? – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 14 '19 at 22:47
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    @Light, this one. @​matt, sorry, you have been tricked. Stack Exchange may be communicating about diversity, but they still understand where the money comes from. – Frédéric Hamidi Dec 14 '19 at 23:33
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    Thanks @FrédéricHamidi, wasn't aware of that and couldn't find it Googling. As for being tricked, yes even the diversity drive is mostly a case of "we need to improve our image to make money". That in itself isn't an evil thing, as you have to make money, and the side effect is in theory a positive one. But there's a way to go about it, and hypocritical militancy (without a shred of common sense or, god forbid, actual expertise on the subject) is not it. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 15 '19 at 16:27
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    Wow, yeah, Megan gets it. 👍👍👍 Sorry that her voice was drowned out by rampant militancy. It's telling that her employment didn't even last a year. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 15 '19 at 16:33
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    4 programmers are working for all public Q&A sites, I think. Maybe a few community support people, a few researchers and project managers on top of that. Maybe say 10 to 15. Not sure though. – Trilarion Dec 15 '19 at 17:19
  • @LightnessRaceswithMonica it's as though, internally, SE is "mentally draining", well, the public Q&A team at least... Hmm, where have I seen that those accusations being levied before (rhetorical)? It almost seems like they were projections... – Script47 Dec 15 '19 at 23:32
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I will not feed any conspiracy engine; I'll only present my opinion based on what I've read and seen over the last three months.

By and large, the support we get is on a "when people can actually be pulled in to focus on a thing"-basis. I could never have read an announcement like the one you linked as a means to increase the attention or support that a tiny site like Photos had, since ad revenue isn't a major revenue driver.

Like, at all.

That is, when we compare it to Stack Exchange's actual enterprise offerings, the likelihood of ads making up the gap to pay salaries is slim to nil.

Then, we have the circumstance of a shift in focus and priority. As you cite, The Loop is currently predicated on focusing on Stack Overflow, because that's what keeps the lights on everywhere.

There's also been a couple of departures very recently, and I would argue that, with likely litigation looming, they have other things to deal with right now.

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    So, basically, you read the quoted statement about dedicating resources as meaningless? – mattdm Dec 14 '19 at 17:42
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    It felt more like the idea that people aren't going to react all that well to a site having ads which may or may not be relevant to the subject matter that the site is about, and one way to make that pill go down a bit easier is to offer the cookie that it can lead to more resources for that site, or at least make it somewhat easier to get resources for that site. While that's not untrue, as an engineer who's worked on websites which had ads (and VC capital), I don't recall the adverts ever being able to pay for more than maybe one of the servers we ran. – Makoto Dec 14 '19 at 17:45
  • So, is it meaningless? No. But it reads like a stretch of the truth, to me. – Makoto Dec 14 '19 at 17:45
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    The ad revenue was 16 USD million in 2018 (out of a total of 70 USD million). – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Dec 15 '19 at 6:00
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    @PeterMortensen: Huh. Well, that'd imply that the ads (on Stack Overflow) could pay for the infrastructure. We don't really know anything about the ads on other network sites, since I believe that actually hasn't been done before. – Makoto Dec 15 '19 at 6:40
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Some thoughts on this:

  1. We love and value all of the different SE sites and are committed to continuing supporting all sites moving forward as best as we can
  2. We have a very crowded roadmap of different features that we are planning on implementing for Public Q&A. Almost all of these should provide benefits to all sites on the network. Examples of this include (but are not limited to) ongoing work connected to the Close UX, work on review queues, and improvements to the question asking process
  3. However, due to the small size of our team and to the amount of work that we have (both currently and planned), for the time being we are unable to devote resources at this time towards implementing features that are unique to individual SE sites
  4. We will continue to do our best to address urgent bugs that affect any SE site
  5. Our Community Management team is still on-call to assist site moderators with guidance, site-configuration or customization within the bounds of what is already possible, and to support them when facing new or unfamiliar challenges.

In summary: we’ll do what we can to support community-led initiatives, including those on Photo.SE, within the constraints outlined above.

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    Is this a change from the earlier statement, which literally promises that resources will be dedicated, or is it a clarification that the earlier statement was not actually honest? – mattdm Dec 17 '19 at 12:57
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    And I'm not asking this to be snarky. Back in 2012 we had some awesome initiatives like this one, and SE staff would routinely participate actively on meta. I don't expect that particular program to be reinstated, but it seems like as the company has grown it wouldn't be out of the question to actually pay attention and, well, dedicate more resources towards meeting our needs. – mattdm Dec 17 '19 at 13:01
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    Yes, this is a change from the earlier statement, which was made honestly and in good faith. As far as being able to dedicate more resources towards meeting your needs, my answer tries to address this. – Yaakov Ellis Dec 17 '19 at 13:33
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    Thank you. I'm disappointed that circumstances have changed for the worse, but I appreciate the good faith statement and your eventual followup here. I do wish I hadn't had to come seek it out so aggressively. – mattdm Dec 17 '19 at 13:35
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    Saying "as best as we can" and "we are unable" in the same post is not quite a contradiction, I'll admit. But it feels a lot like spin. – user-2147482600 Dec 17 '19 at 15:39
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    It's a broad question that would be mocked by a simple answer, @user-2147482600: consider something like a warning / guidance for folks asking about a certain topic: if that topic can be readily identified by, say, title keywords ("what technique is used for ..."), then we can readily assist in adding such a thing; if it requires complicated analysis or human review ("question is about homework"), we probably can't. That may change - maybe we build a homework-identification engine for SO and can re-purpose it or something - but we'd be negligent to promise such a thing, to give false hope. – Shog9 Dec 17 '19 at 18:53

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