To the Community Team and those behind them.

To the developers and those who assist them.

To any Stack Exchange employee who might have read something I said out of anger and took it personally.

I am sorry. I let my anger and frustration get the better of me, unaware it's directed at the wrong people.

This tweet from Shog has opened my eyes:

Seven tweets by Shog9: 15 Jan 2020

I have to say something. I don't want to, but I fear my silence is harmful here.
Some of you are angry, hurt, afraid. I feel that way too. It is natural.
But please, be careful how and when you express those feelings.

My former colleagues have an amazing skill: they are able to understand what people are trying to say. To read between the lines and see, not just what is written, but what is meant, what is felt. And to respond accordingly, with care and empathy.
They can communicate.

And right now, they are being told not to use that skill. Told that they MUST not use that skill.
I know this because I was told this. It has been ratcheting for over a year now: more and more "musts" and "must nots" - "say this AND ONLY THIS."

At this point, they are operating under an unbelievable amount of pressure.
And you have seen the results of this: "they gulped out fine folly about dignity and acquiescence".

You may think, in expressing your anger, that your words will reach and influence those behind the scenes, those calling the shots, writing the words that MUST, eliding those that MUST NOT.
But know that the influence takes only one form: yet another click of the ratchet.

Your anger will be held up as evidence of toxicity. Your frustration as evidence of noncooperation. Just as it has been for so many months past. My dear ex-colleagues will be blamed for failing to control you, and another rock will be laid on their backs.

Please don't do this to them. They didn't sign up for it, they do not deserve it. Whatever this thing is that is happening, it has more momentum now than ever before; I do not wish to see it roll over them as it did me.

(Image version)

I trust Shog with all my heart. Those things hit their mark.

Thanks for the awesome work you're doing under impossible conditions, and I hope others here will follow my path.

Anyone is welcome to leave their own reflection of this, and their own thoughts.

  • 21
    This is eye-opening. Thank you for sharing.
    – AAM111
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 0:36
  • 30
    ? Sorry, what are you trying to say? Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 1:00
  • 16
    @Stormblessed I said things like "SE is evil" and the likes of it, implying those working for it are bad. For that I apologize now. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 1:04
  • 18
    To any that haven't, please read the full thread here: twitter.com/shog9/status/1217542885605662720 There's much more than what is shown in the screenshot, and it is frankly eye-opening. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 1:31
  • 116
    I think I empathize with the sentiment, but I don't really agree with this apology. So, since SE's management is imposing what their employees have to do/say, we can't express disagreement?, frustration?, anger?...SE is now free to do whatever with no repercussions from their user base?. We invested so many hours of free work here and now we should just shut up?
    – Lamak
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 1:40
  • 6
    @JJforTransparencyandMonica way of taking a common expression and converting it to something I clearly didn't mean.
    – Lamak
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 1:48
  • 22
  • 5
    @jscs and while that's nice marketing, it's not really true. I hope people will see that. None of that's legally binding. All contributions are licensed to SE and they make money off it. That hasn't changed, it's just become more apparent. Just weigh the evidence for yourself, look at what's happening. And remember, you're just repeating words, recall what the D in DPRK stands for. Words don't necessarily reflect truth.
    – JJJ
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 1:56
  • 7
    The distance between the words and the reality is exactly the problem, yes. It used to be a much much smaller gap. And it was on that basis that a lot of people decided to donate, or invest, or whatever we call it, their time, expertise, and writing.
    – jscs
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 2:00
  • 18
    @ShadowTheBurningWizard SE is still evil for forcing silence incarnate on all their employees. It's so silly and devilish to play with words the way they play. Because of their terms, and the company's will, all those employees simply cannot voice the truth, or express the truth, or what they feel. If they do -- they're served what Shog9 was served. Isn't that depressingly oppressive?
    – SpiritBob
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 7:46
  • 8
    @SpiritBob if the "You must not talk" order came from the CEO then I'm totally with you. But... Shog made me realize that's most likely NOT the case, and the order came from the outside. Heck... SE is being held hostage and they're not allowed to tell who hold them. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:18
  • 46
    @ShadowTheBurningWizard That’s a very strange reading of Shog’s post. As far as I can see, Shog is saying that the orders come from management higher up the food chain than lowly CMs, yes, but there is no reason to think they are from anywhere but inside the company. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 10:05
  • 8
    Responsibility for one's actions comes to mind. If they [The Corporation] doesn't want to bear stones on their back, then perhaps they should stop picking the stones up and placing them on their back.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 12:31
  • 9
    There's something rotten in the state of Denmark. Users are pointing it out. The CMs may feel "targeted", but only insofar as they are part of the whole mess. They could stop doing what they are doing. They could speak up. They could leave. I wonder what such a "blanket apology" is supposed to achieve. Of course, the generals and colonels who are giving the orders are not in the trenches. This post once more shows the futility of reiterating the question that will never be answered: Who is to blame?.
    – Marco13
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 2:11
  • 11
    @Trilarion Unfortunately we don't assume good faith anymore here Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 21:22

15 Answers 15


I have to voice my objection.

First, keeping silence achieves nothing because it filters out the voices of only those who care. Only the most angry, disappointed, hurt will remain. Moderate opinions will disappear, extreme opinions — I'm sure everyone heard them by now — will dominate the Meta. Being silent will only achieve the opposite, the company will see the Meta as becoming even more toxic and it'll be easier justify their plans to get rid of it.

Second, if somehow keeping silence actually works, the company, instead of dismissing the opinion of the community on the basis of toxicity, will dismiss it for some other reason, like the previously disagreeing part being an irrelevant tiny minority or even the community finally accepting their ways and agreeing with the company. There's no message in silence. If you do nothing, you agree.

Third, if you're forced by your employer to do something you absolutely don't agree with for a whole year, it's time to make a choice. If you don't do it, don't be surprised that the community associates your actions with the company. Users don't need to apologize for thinking the way they think. If employees choose to agree with the company's rules, they must face the consequences. Actions speak louder than words.

Sorry for being harsh, but this had to be said.

  • 14
    Who said that we shall be silent? And I think the apologize is not about speaking up. It is about presuming intention in other people. And sorry to disappoint you, I upvoted your answer.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:34
  • 3
    @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC. From Twitter thread: twitter.com/edgue42/status/1217549630650691584
    – Athari
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:39
  • 20
    I think ... everybody is right to a certain degree. It isnt helpful to become rude. But staying silent isnt a valid option either.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:47
  • @MisterPositive It started low. But now my asnwer isn't even the harshest.
    – Athari
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 15:23

This hints at an important insight:

That SE sees its community managers' role not as nurturing the company's most important asset, but as "controlling" a resource.

When I've worked in voluntary activities I've often seen problems when managers from a commercial background arrive and start trying to manage volunteers the same way they would employees. This doesn't work, because if volunteers don't like what they're doing they will stop, and go away, and not return. It feels like that is a lesson that applies to SE right now.

  • 27
    The bet is clearly that the ship will stay afloat without the core community that was so emotionally invested in the place (some of us possibly too much so), just thanks to its sheer size and the prestige it commands in the developer community. And, hey, it might even work! In the real world, the asshole gets the girl often enough, there is not necessarily a just ending to the movie. Those who were deeply invested will have to decide whether they can still go on under the new regime, and if not, cut their losses, walk away and watch from afar. Anything else is futile at this point, IMO.
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 11:14
  • 5
    @Pekka the prestige only exists because of the efforts of the passionate users. I am skeptical that the prestige stays if the basis of that prestige leaves.
    – Chris
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 15:47
  • 1
    I admit, I can feel very powerful when I volunteer -- for a local SF con, I changed departments to avoid someone -- when told that my department was now under that someone, I said "Do you want a [dept I was now running] or not? " (I mean, I actually said how I thought the New Dept was a bitter fit under XYZ dept than ABC due to XYZ logistics, but I also let them know that some of it was just personality clash: nothing to fix except keep us apart. I can work away from her, or I can just -- not work." I wish I could do magic like that IRL in dayjob land. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 21:22
  • 1
    @Pekka If an unsavory character "gets the girl" then the girl has gotten herself an unsavory character, it's transitive. Similarly, I am honest during job interviews, which has cost me several job offers I really would not have wanted to have. That is also transitive, isn't it?
    – Carl
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 4:03


The only question is "Where were you (and what were you doing) when the dragon came?"

If your company is doing bad things (in your field) and you're told that you MUST NOT object it -- you MUST object.

  • Google employees striked against their company military programs. And they won.

  • Soviet dissidents striked against their regime, spent 10+ years in prison, but they won.

  • A LOT (you know, right) SE community moderators resigned when all that story with Monica happened.

And our CM team members are doing terrible things, lying to public, writing nonsense from their names, going against their ideas, et cetera, just because they will be fired otherwise? At least this is what I've understod from Shog's tweet?

You cannot do bad things and explain to the public that "my manager told me to do this". You either stand by your own actions, or you leave your company.

Maybe if our community managers had enough courage to stand up for their principles (at least not weaker that our volunteer moderators), things would be better now.

  • 7
    Maybe. But more likely, they would just get fired earlier. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 14:58
  • 2
    This is what I would actually say if I didn't care about my account at all :p Major props to you! Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 20:11
  • 7
    Maybe they (the CMs) are doing what they are told because inside they keep hoping things will get better for the Community. Or maybe because they think they can help us from within in their own way, while they could not do so if they get sacked. Or maybe because for now they have families to feed and they can't afford to lose their job just yet. I agree with the point you are making, but things aren't always black or white, we are navigating in a sea of shades of grey at the moment.
    – Laf
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 20:42
  • 14
    Things will not magically "get better for the Community" if you (here is a poster with pointing finger) don't do something about it. Collective ignorance (a.k.a. "I am doing what I've told") can and will lead to disaster.
    – Arenim
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 20:45
  • 6
    It is easier to Be Bold and all that ethics stuff when you have a viable alternative. For us users, it's an alt-site finishing its development, for the employees, it's either another job or Already Be Rich. I'm sure many are searching. (I personally have had a compromise - I didn't think I'd ever accept a job that required daily security scans and all that. BUT it's still not connected to DoD, and it's a gov't-connected job that is on the whole, providing more help in the world. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 21:25
  • 2
    It is easier to Be Bold and all that ethics stuff when you have a viable alternative. Yes, in any given relationship dynamic, the party with more options either potentially or actually controls the relationship. Knowing this and reflecting on it, warns you to avoid wherever you can getting involved in a dynamic where you have significantly fewer options than the other party.
    – Rounin
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 10:51
  • 1
    Here is why one keeps going twitter.com/shog9/status/1218614546069196800 Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 20:13
  • "I was only following orders."
    – jpmc26
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 5:49
  • @AprilSalutesMonicaC. It doesn't matter how hard it is. We must find the courage to be bold. If we are not willing to sacrifice anything personally, we will never be able to oppose injustice. This is what I refer to as the spirit of Patrick Henry, who was willing to sacrifice his life rather than live under evils, even if meant gaining nothing or even if it meant others would be the only beneficiaries of that sacrifice.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 5:52

I am sorry. I let my anger and frustration get the better of me, unaware it's directed at the wrong people.

In the end, we are all humans. We are all responsible for our own words and actions.

That also means: I am not responsible when SE Inc. management

  • puts pressure on their employees
  • has decided to abandon transparency, and instead acts and communicates with hidden agendas

Yet, I care about our communities, and I care about the many hours of work I "invested" in this place. And as we lack other means, a lot of venting happens here, on MSE, on MSO, and probably other meta communities. That is natural, and unavoidable. People care, so in times of conflicts, people are upset, and maybe lose their temper.

But even then, the big majority of users stays polite. Just see that answer by Juan M where SE Inc. made him say "we invest in the community". There are plenty of comments where people apologize for downvoting. Telling the OP that they fully understand the situation he is in.

Also note that there is a different aspect which was raised months ago: when you get the feeling that your employer forces you to do things that go against your convictions, well then it is again the responsibility of the affected employees to make the right decision. Back then, I rejected suggestions that "people of conscience at SE Inc. should all speak up, or just leave". But in the end, that is one valid option, too.

So: I think most users here aren't the ones creating that pressure. Most users here stay polite, and when someone steps the line, sanctions come in quickly. I misspoke once some weeks back, and I am perfectly fine that I was thrown out for a week.

Long story: take responsibility for your own words and actions, but also accept that it is not the community that is the "root cause" of aforementioned pressure.


(I know I will be downvoted. But.)

Seriously, if a company decides to betray its employees (former and running CMs) in a blatant way, throwing them over the deck and using them as a shield against its managers, it's a toxic company. The remaining CMs should understand it, and the users shall understand it as well. However, the users have their rights, including the right to raise their voice.

So from my point of view, what we should not do:

  • Be aggressive towards whatever contact we have with the Powers.
  • Forget about anyone's dignity.
  • Misuse power that we are given (especially delete votes).

What we should do:

  • Ask about the future of Stack Exchange.
  • Ask for explanations of past events.
  • Defend the dignity of people who were hurt by the company.

Finally, the remaining CMs do have a hard job, I acknowledge that. Still, they work for the same company that decided to fire M.C., to ignore any appeals, etc. Continuing their job at Stack Exchange is their decision.

  • 2
    For us volunteers, leaving is easier -- there's literally NO MONEY ON THE LINE. I don't know the CM's life-situations, but unless you're already rich, leaving a job without another lined up just to take a stand isn't a viable option. (Especially since in the US Healthcare access is linked to employment.) Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 21:27
  • 3
    @April--Un-SlanderMonica That's an important point, thanks for raising. And I understand that the excuse by Servaes is only an excuse and we're not in their shoes. Still, deciding to leave need not mean leaving immediately. (I, for one, would not be surprised if the other CMs announced quitting within thr next couple of weeks. Note that there's very little activity from J.E. and T.P. on MSE recently.)
    – yo'
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 23:56
  • 3
    I kind of agree with this - for all that SE views us as toxic, all of the evidence to date points to them actually being the toxic ones. There's a maxim that goes something like "if you want to know what an irrational person is doing, look at what they're accusing you of" that seems to apply here. Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 11:16
  • 2
    Dammit, I didn't expect this blind shot to become a prophecy :(
    – yo'
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 23:15

Curtailed staff

It is a mistake to not let your employees make mistakes. It will result in staff without freedom, confined to do only what they are exactly told to do, not allowed to think and utilize their full capacities. And as a result the end product might be working very accurately within certain specified boundaries, but it is a stifled end result and only a shadow, not at all a reflection, of the full capacities of the employees team.

I have suspected such dynamics and commented about it under the question

Why haven't the statements to the Register been retracted?

7. Because staff is following very strict orders from management.

What I see in several comments from staff members is that (when we read in between their lines) they indeed seem to understand the issue, but also they seem somehow restricted to adequately respond to it.

To me it feels a bit like the analogy that I made in that other question. A waiter in a bar or restaurant that behaves in a peculiar unnaturally and unpractical way because they are told to follow rules strictly/exactly (and are not allowed to use their own intuition, knowledge, social talents and other capacities to handle the various situations in a more flexible and a less narrowly defined way).

Higher Up

I like the relatively open (seemingly unrestricted/unordered) responses from higher up as this one from Anil Dash (board member), or this one from David Fullerton (CTO).

We need more of this. Stack Overflow/Exchange is (used to be) a community. This requires the managers to join in the crowds in order to have the captain(s) connect with the feelings of the community.

Besides the low quantity of comments from higher up... it is a pity that the comments are still covered by a layer of non-disclosure and denial and refusal to acknowledge that something is wrong internally.

Stack Exchange (Inc) is not a community anymore (but a company)

Stack Exchange has a big problem. They have to cater for several groups simultaneously. There's:

  • investors who like to see the company as profitable as possible
  • customers for product like 'teams' who just want a running Q&A engine
  • staff who want nice work
  • and there are volunteer contributors who want to share and gather information (questions and answers) on an open network and keep that network running

Recently, a lot of turmoil is plaguing the website and community. Or at least it is undeniable that there is a lot of talk about 'turmoil' when you look at statistics:

accumulated occurrences of the words 'anger' and 'turmoil' in posts on meta as a function of time. We can see a clear bump in the recent months.

increase of talk about turmoil

For the company (investors and customers) the networks and communities Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange do not seem to be that important, but they are the boss. That's what's creating a difficult situation.

So, how should the community respond? Should we 'shut up'?

No hard feelings towards the staff, who seem to be mostly the messengers. But without sufficient communication from the managers/bosses higher up, it is very difficult for the community part of the business/organization to calm down and settle (and thrive again).

Currently, the only connection between the company and the community are staff members like the community team (who need to perform an impossible task, and have performed tasks that are probably outside their job descriptions).

The frontline is missing a general who is standing in front of the troops.

But this realization, about the vulnerable position of the frontline, can not mean that the anger and turmoil is now over and can not be expressed.

Your anger will be held up as evidence of toxicity

I have several double feelings about this.

  • It is an opening for a loaded question ("Anyone is welcome to leave their own reflection of this"), because it presupposes that the reactions on Stack Exchange are anger, and unnecessarily toxic. But we should stop for a moment and consider whether this description as 'anger' and 'toxic' is really true. We should not automatically 'accept it' and go straight ahead towards a (non-)discussion how to solve it.

    Are all the questions 'anger'... or is it also mostly disappointment, concern, self-defense, etc.?

    Especially the description as 'toxic' can be used as a strategy that allows to completely avoid to consider the causes of the "anger" and is placing blame somewhere else (like an over-reactive community). If the commenters on meta are compared to an angry mob then this there might be two causes of this, either the commenters are truly an angry mob, or the comparison to an angry mob is exaggerated.

  • It is not so clear what the best way is to move forward. It is not so clear to me what the twitter posts suggests or what the solution is. Does it suggest that we should shut up? That convenient outcome for the company, 'be silent, and don't express your criticism about us', would be a bit of an awkward suggestion (and maybe that's why it is not stated explicitly).

    I am sure that a silent, non-critical, inarticulate community is the best outcome for the company Stack Exchange Inc. The problem is that they are not giving the community a good chance to consider shutting up as a good option. It is only more and more people that start feeling that the alignment between the interests of the company and community is going downhill faster and faster (insert obligatory lemming comic).


I don't know if you're reading this Shog, but if the situation got that bad, I think that few people would think that it was not due to an avalanche of mistakes performed by management. If I was in such situation, my crystal ball would clearly point out that enough is enough and that I should leave the company ASAP.

Enduring the storm when there is no sign that it will fade before your ship break and sink is not a smart decision. If I were working on SE with that heavy rock on my shoulders, I would just hush for the lifeboats instead. Doing that is not cowardice, it is being wise.

Further, I see no hope at all for SE. SE run on top of venture capital and need to make money quickly to pay it off. However, the truth is that SE is not financially sustainable and without being able to transition to a financially sustainable model, SE's management, out of panic, is crazily seeking this "we will continue to grow" motto and performing worser and worser lunatic and fanatic actions to desperately try to make it happen somehow. Add to this, the complete lack of understanding of the very thing that they are supposed to manage, and a lot of arrogance, cynism and overconfindence and then the great truth shows up: SE won't grow at all. In fact, SE is already in an unreversible downward spiral leading to its demisal. We shall call this as "the ApocalypSE".


I sincerely apologize to other users, moderators and CM team if anything I ever said came out as personal attack, because it was never meant to be that way. I did have some less than pleasant interactions and I always tried my best not to take things personally either.

Beyond that, I cannot offer my apologies to anyone else. I can only sympathize with people that have found themselves in bad place without that being their fault and people acting in good faith.

However, this is the only place where I can express my thoughts, opinions and feelings about recent developments and if the choices that will not hurt anyone else are just leaving or pretending nothing bad is happening, I am sorry to say, but I cannot do that. I have to speak up.

I don't expect that people in power will ever read my posts, nor I expect they will change course because of them. But still I have to at least try to make the difference.

The rest of my thoughts is pretty similar to what GhostCat said (even if parts are conflicting with what I already said - I am kind of divided inside and at times I am having completely opposite stances on some topics).

  • 3
    If I can make even one person to rethink and change their behavior... I achieved more than I can hope for. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 10:28
  • Well said, matches what I was about to answer with perfectly.
    – Neo
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 15:12
  • Thanks for this. I agree.
    – yo'
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 20:34

The question has a tag. I hope it's okay to ask this:

So, who told @Shog9 and his colleagues to "say this and only this"? The new CEO has only been here for a few months and this censorship has apparently been going on for over a year.

Knowing who's pulling the strings might help a bit in understanding this trainwreck in slow motion.

  • 19
    I think pointing a finger to blame a person is exactly the opposite to what shog intends
    – Luuklag
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:05
  • 20
    @Luuklag There are already so many good employees gone and so much damage done, the community should at least be able to understand what's really going on. You're right, pointing fingers is usually not helpful. But when "the other side" is fighting with libel, damn lies, censorship and layoffs, it's also not helpful to not do anything and say "please don't point fingers". Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:09
  • 16
    Board of Directors, people who are not familiar with SE, but paid 40 million dollars in the past to keep it alive. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:16
  • 1
    Its your view that it is damage, another view could be that it was a necessary decision that had to be made. SE has always relied on angel capital to keep afloat, at some point that runs out and a company has to stand on its own feet. Such a transition can be painfull for all involved.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:34
  • 6
    @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC. techcrunch.com/2015/01/20/… - that's where the end started. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:54
  • @ShadowTheBurningWizard Ah, sorry, I got it the wrong way. I read your comment like "the board members received 40 millions".
    – GhostCat
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 8:57
  • 1
    @ShadowTheBurningWizard And they've indicated this year a new round of (VC) investment is required.
    – Mast
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 9:07
  • @Mast, got any reference for that?
    – Luuklag
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 9:41
  • 4
    @Luuklag Sure, on meta or directly.
    – Mast
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 9:50

You were caught in a moment of frustration. Well, I shouldn't say "moment" - this is something that's been boiling over since October. Things don't feel like they've been going the way you want them with the site and with the company, and you're obviously hurt and upset in some capacity to that effect.

This reminds me of an answer, which was a better retelling of my own, pithy answer. In that, it's clearly outlined that it's possible to be angry or upset or [insert convenient emotion here] about a situation without making it an attack on the person or people who are delivering the news about the situation. In this, one can take solace that it's perfectly okay to be upset about what's happening with the company without lashing out at the individuals who happen to be delivering that message.

I say it's fine to be upset, but it's also good to see that you don't want your ire to be directed at individuals. For the most part...I think this bit of self-reflection is fine.

I note that I too responded to that Twitter thread. I get that the messengers are innocent, but there's a breaking point to be had here, and I'm not so confident that even the ire directed at the circumstance will be sufficient enough to get the message across.

  • 3
    I did try always to not direct it at specific people, but what Shog said made me realize it's not enough. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 7:31
  • 12
    I'm...hesitant to interpret his tweet as one where we shouldn't be upset at all...since that's not really tenable.
    – Makoto
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 7:40

To use one of Shog's favorite comparisons... the management team has become the tomato blight.

If we do nothing about it (stay silent) it will destroy our garden.

If we remove it, we may once again yet prosper.

However, this tomato blight isn't the normal kind. It is not only on the tomatoes, it is in the soil, it is in planters, it has even spread to tools. Heck, the gardeners themselves seem to be sick.

For those that care about the garden, we must be willing to take this on and find a way forward not sit back and watch it overrun. The problem is to eradicate this blight, the whole farm may have to go. Which, I admit, is a scary thought, but there is a reason question pertaining to alternate sites have been popular lately.

The garden is dying, what do we choose to do...


I hope I never came across as trying to offend someone or wishing ill, but maybe I did because of the way I speak and phrase my thoughts. If so, I apologize. I'm trying my best to do good, and I don't always succeed at it. I'm going to be forever learning to improve.

This issue is something I cannot keep silent about. I sincerely hope those on the short end of the stick of it will understand where I'm coming from, and why.

If you saw this whole multi-year long development describing some other rando company on Workplace.SE, what would you personally recommend to those involved? What would you expect the other answers would say? I think most of that would still apply here, but with an important difference: This is not just any other rando company. Some way or other, this company controls a product about which we think of first thing when we look up some programming question daily. The importance of the work here is above and beyond mere profits. This is akin to Wikipedia or a major search engine. What we all do here collectively helps everyone on this planet, directly and by extension. And now our growth is being held hostage by a small group of "higher ups". How did this happen? What do we all do now to prevent this from ever repeating?

While I understand the purpose of the plea, and I can sympathize with the good employees who are limited in their actions, I cannot in good conscience ignore that the result of the prolonged stay in a suppressive environment is the loss of potential progress and effort that brings high quality answers to people worldwide (sort of a greater good), that would be possible to offer much more easily in a different place. This is just something I cannot stop thinking no matter how I try to recalculate this whole mess.


TL;DR = Dude -people can't easily quit anything due to $$ and insurance, why parts of the company that loom large to us may not bother them, and I'm cool with employees deciding to stay or go.

I just want to answer the people who are saying "Well, they should have just quit given these issues."

First, maybe most of their job's function & mission were awesome! Like being a janitor at a library -- it may not be the most prestigious daily job, but it's a LIBRARY -- the collection and sharing of all human knowledge, targeted for a community! Amazing mission, and probably 90% of it is no worse than being a janitor elsewhere.

So the CMs (or whoever) may have gotten to work with technology, doing something that daily is 90% the same as what they'd do at any other company when in that role. AND the original mission of SE is pretty awesome - like an interactive library, right? So I fan see that being a decent draw for inertial forces to make it less compelling to leave.

But the biggest two things are that it's a JOB. So leaving means they'd need to find 1) Money, 2) Healthcare.

If you're not in the U.S., you don't realize how limited and expensive everything medical is without insurance (and often even with it. And insurance comes through two sources: a family member, or your employer (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employee_benefits#United_States -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_insurance_in_the_United_States#History -- basically due to WWII Salary Caps, employers competed on benefits instead. ) Usually the family member's is from an employer as well.

(My now-husband joked when we were dating, "Marry me, marry the college" (because he was called in for emergencies). I asked what the benefits were. ;) Salary lower than a private industry job, but I feel very comfortable due to the safety cushion I have from his benefits.)

So first, any employee who wants to take a stand has to have a good alternative insurance source. Often a spouse can only add you to their plan if there is a "Major Life Transition" (such as a death or gaining a child, normally not firing) -- so one could strategically wait until the one window per year during which this spouse-with-potential-insurance could change their settings to add the ex-SE employee on.

(Technically there are gap insurance options for being between jobs, or for self-employed, but it's often very expensive.)

Reason #2 = Money. We just spend time here (and apparently less and less of that.) The employees need the money for supporting themselves, their families (and lots of Millennials and Gen-Xers are sandwich-caregivers -- aging parents and their own kids). Seniority stacks with many years on the job, and they may have accrued perks that would be more difficult to match elsewhere.

I hope that all current and recent employees of Stack Exchangerview are reading AskAManager.org - perhaps starting with https://www.askamanager.org/category/resumes , so they can feel stronger in seeking another position.

But I also get that they may not feel that this is all worth leaving over. If they want to save their passion for something else, that's cool with me, too.


This reminds me of the movie "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". In the end, in situations like those - there is no course of action that will not be misrepresented by those who wish to do so. Like being locked up in an insane asylum even if you have all the nuts and bolts attached. You respond with anger? Clearly psychotic. Your are restrained? Clearly trying to manipulate the good doctor. Deadpan? Clearly a pathological lack of emotional response.

When all courses of action lead to the same result, the better one is the one that preserves as much of your integrity as possible. You (we) can find a new online Q&A community, but you have to live with the integrity you've got.


I'll share my own feedback about this, in response to many comments and answers challenging my apology, and maybe rightfully so.

First and utmost: I do not, by any means, justify the actions done by SE the company. I am angry at SE for those actions. I want SE to act in a very different way.

But, at this point I believe the bad decisions are not coming from within the company. Not even the CEO. Sure, they can protest, strike, and rebel against those decisions. But the only outcome will be shutting down the whole place, hurting anyone and everyone.

Maybe some would not be sorry to see SE shut down. Even I thought this way in the beginning and after seeing the recent layoff. But thinking a lot about it, I came to the conclusion that it will do more harm than good. Apart of the hundreds of good people working in SE that will be hurt financially, the world will lose the best Q&A site it currently has. There's still no good alternative to SE.

Bottom line: based on the above, I stand behind my apology, and I don't apologize to those making the bad decisions, but well aware they're not reading this anyway, I don't care. I just hope those who do deserve the apology read this.

  • 8
    "I believe the bad decisions are not coming from within the company"... Where are they coming from? Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 2:01
  • @Andrew those who gave/give SE money, it was $40M several years ago and now SE needs more. Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 11:02
  • 3
    SE shutting down will provide more incentive to create a good alternative.
    – user630245
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 2:47
  • 2
    Also; getting paid to make and/or execute bad decisions does not make it good. Not suggesting the situation is simple, but the excuse of "just following orders" only goes so far.
    – user630245
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 2:50

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