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stackoverflow.com and stackexchange.com are websites where online communities ask and answer questions.

Communication is important for communities. This should also include communication with the company that keeps the website running (Stack Exchange Inc.).

So it is natural to ask the question:

Where does the company that runs the websites communicate with the community that generates the questions and answers?

There seem to be several channels: there's an 'official' blog and a Twitter channel and there are (former) employees/owners from Stack Exchange Inc. with their own channels on twitter or they use blogs, and there is this general meta site as well the meta sites for the individual sites.

Is there an introduction or handbook (or could it be created here) that groups all these different channels together? Say that somebody wants to view messages/opinions from the new CEO, where should they go?


I see that there used to be a lot of activity from the previous (co-)owner of the company, Jeff Atwood, who was an active member of the community itself. But he left / got removed (and now also several active community managers have left / got removed). This question is about the current state.

*A related question exists. What are the effective communication channels for effecting change to SE?. This question is about the very simple facts and creating an overview. Where is the communication. Are there newssites that I am missing? Should I create a Twitter account to remain up to date, where the latest talks from the CEO are, etc.?*

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    I would like to make this question 'community wiki' but I do not see options here. – Sextus Empiricus Jan 15 at 10:23
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    It frustrates the hell out of me when I see SE managers making community-wide announcements on the SO Meta. I suppose that's not really an issue now that the various are now being systematically ignored, but it always spoke to me of a dysfunctional communication mentality – Richard Jan 15 at 10:25
  • Is this really a feature request, or intended as discussion? (at this point I couldn't care less about where/how SE Inc communicates. What bothers me is what they communicate, or not communicate). – GhostCat Jan 15 at 10:26
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    @SextusEmpiricus you can flag for moderator attention. You can only make your own answers CW. – Glorfindel Jan 15 at 10:27
  • I assume you expect the community here to curate that list, right? Or do you have hope someone from SO, Incs Communication department will chime in? – rene Jan 15 at 10:30
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    @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC. not really a feature request (yet). I am hoping to gather all information in a single space about communication channels used by the company. (but a feature request for an RSS feed that brings together all information/communication from the company would not be bad) – Sextus Empiricus Jan 15 at 10:30
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    No need to communicate with anyone. If SE wants your input you'll be offered to participate in a survey with ambiguous questions in due time. – yivi Jan 15 at 10:33
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    Tim's answer to a very similar question, a year and a half ago. – Rob Jan 15 at 10:40
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    They didn't leave. They were made to leave. There's a difference. The blog should have an RSS feed but its so much garbage that you'll just know how bad a coder Ben Popper is. – Journeyman Geek Jan 15 at 10:53
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    @JourneymanGeek I made the text more clear. Regarding the blog, yes we can argue about the communication and fill many cynical meta-pages full of it, but this question is simply about ordering the different channels of communication (instead of the content of the communication). I am thinking about a place where contributors on SE/SO can add links/webpages when they notice this is important communication channel from the company SE/SO. Currently it is very difficult to follow the events and development. – Sextus Empiricus Jan 15 at 11:15
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    I am a bit dissapointed that there are people that find this question not useful. We do not want an easy place for fellow contributors to find information/communication from the company? (Ideally this should be placed in the helps page, but SE/SO uses a lot the meta for this purpose, or a page like stackoverflow.com/company/press) – Sextus Empiricus Jan 15 at 11:19
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    I told you : most likely, a majority of readers really does not care about the channels that SE Inc is using. The house is on fire, and then the color of your doors isn't perceived that important right now. – GhostCat Jan 15 at 12:00
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    Communication channels used: firing notices, the press, twitter. – Sébastien Renauld Jan 15 at 19:33
  • A lot of the answers on meta.stackexchange.com/questions/342650/… focus on communication channels. – Nemo Jan 22 at 13:35
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Stack Exchange interacts with the community via The Loop, a system whereby hand-picked individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds who are excited about the growth of Stack Overflow are given the opportunity to provide feedback about some parts of the Stack Overflow functionality.

The other Stack Exchange websites are not currently represented.

You can read more about The Loop on the Stack Overflow Blog.

Technical bugs and issues for all Stack Exchange sites are currently raised on Meta Stack Exchange (this site), but the above article explains that this will eventually be phased out in favour of a bug tracking system.

This move parallels the way that interaction with the community used to take place on Meta Stack Exchange, but was phased out in favour of The Loop, which is more diverse and prioritises feedback from those who are excited about the growth of Stack Overflow.


The company does maintain a presence on Facebook, which relates only to the Stack Overflow Teams product and does not indulge in community engagement:

Screenshot of Stack Overflow Teams advertisement on Facebook

…but does occasionally share links to questions on Public Q&A, presumably in order to drum up traffic:

Screenshot of Stack Overflow question shared on Facebook

As for Twitter, some of the Stack Exchange staff do use it to retweet things relevant to the site on occasion. There is also the occasional gaslighting in the press, which could be considered interaction with the community if we assume that at least some Stack Exchange users read the news.

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    Do we have any confirmation that a group of community representatives has actually been formed? I see plans to do so, but crickets on implementation. – Scott Seidman Jan 15 at 13:34
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    @ScottSeidman It was/is under discussion. I've always felt though this should be in addition to, not instead of a more robust CM team. – Journeyman Geek Jan 15 at 14:23
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    @JourneymanGeek -- it just feels to me like all the optics would be better if the next stage of communication with the community at large was being built up at the same time as the previous stage is being torn down. The way it's going, the next stage feels like lip service. Could be that the intentions are good, but the company is simply misunderstanding (or not placing much importance on) the optics. – Scott Seidman Jan 15 at 14:30
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    @ScottSeidman if you mean the comission of users they wanted to form, they said they wanted to have recruitment done by new years, so you can assume it's been formed. As to who is on it and what they recommend, they'll probably keep that secret. – Magisch Jan 15 at 15:01
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    What really baffles me is the well-crafted subtle lawyering in releases from the directorship (e.g. [paraphrasing] "from those who are excited to see Stack Overflow grow" -> we want to interact only with people who share all our viewpoints and goals because we believe these are necessary in order to make money and pay the bills; everyone else can do one). Why include this dig and thinly disguise it? Why not just leave it out? It's like every release is full of passive aggression that we're supposed to be able to just about make out if we're looking closely enough. Why? Hateful. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 15 at 15:31
1

[Under development]

Meta Q&A Sites

The meta sites are (or used to be) the main channel for communication back and forth between the company and community (citation needed), but the activity has declined and the atmosphere is being debated (citation needed). Plans have been made and are on the way to phase out meta in place for a more dedicated bug reporting system and a different platform for met discussion and sharing ideas (citation needed)

Meta Stack Exchange

Since the the beta version of Stack Overflow there has been a place where users can discuss, share ideas for the site (make feature requests), and place bug reports. Initially this was at a third party site stackoverflow.uservoice.com (archived version) but this has been moved to meta.stackoverflow.com eventually the function as network wide discussion platform has been moved from meta.stackoverflow.com to meta.stackexchange.com and meta stack overflow is a meta site specific for stackoverflow.com and not the other sites in the network.

See more: How does Meta Stack Overflow work?

Meta Stack Overflow

Meta other sites

Chat

Help pages

Blogs

The most frequent kind of announcement comes with a post on a Stack Exchange blog or on a meta site, linked from the sidebar of the relevant sites. Some blogs have had a comment section for a while.

Stack Overflow blog

Jeff Atwood's blog

Twitter

Twitter accounts can be linked from a user's profile and many staffers have one. Some users have made lists with over 100 members: ErinCorleyGray, bethanymarz.

Critics complain about Twitter-driven development after a case which made users wonder What are the effective communication channels for effecting change to SE.

Facebook

Other social networks

Instagram has some posts at #StackExchange including some from staff but seems rather quiet.

Some relays appear to exist at #StackExchange on Pinterest but it's not clear whether any discussion happens there. Little is found searching Stack Exchange on Weibo.

News articles

Occasionally there are press releases by Stack Exchange Inc.. News pieces about Stack Overflow are rather common and sometimes contain statements from the company with information not previously provided to the community on any Stack Exchange site.

Surveys and panels

Surveys have been conducted several times to collect user feedback in a way that feels more structured than meta sites. As of 2020, the most recent attempt is the 2019 announcement of a (permanent?) survey named The Loop and possibly the creation of a survey panel to enable a longitudinal study or otherwise regular and quick data collection.

A site satisfaction survey and a moderator advisory team or "small, self-replacing council of moderators" were also announced at the same time.

  • Jeff Atwood's blog would be for the past communication channels, right? – Nemo Jan 18 at 13:56
  • @Nemo yes I am planning to map very broadly all communication. For instance, I believe that Nick Craver's blog should also be in the list. Of course, there are different types (level of officialness, age of information, on the website itself or via secondary sites, etc). – Sextus Empiricus Jan 18 at 15:52
  • Indeed, there are many blogs which can be interesting for specific or historical information. (Although we don't know how many of them are read inside SE Inc.) One could also make a blog planet. – Nemo Jan 19 at 7:43
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    Not sure how to include it, but "Connect the team with end users. [...] I always included a user quote in the team’s weekly company-wide report" mrisdal.github.io/blog/posts/reflections-on-stack-overflow and meta.stackexchange.com/a/340703/248268 – Nemo Jan 19 at 9:03

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