The new Stack Overflow CEO has started interacting directly with the community. There was a blog, a podcast, and even some direct responses to user questions. Those are all great starts, but one of my main takeaways from it is that Prashanth is sterotypical boss. Here are some examples:

Scripting the Future of Stack Overflow

What does this even mean? The title of the blog post

As we enter a new decade, there are tremendous forces converging—cloud computing, big data, AI, ML, and an increasingly diverse group of young coders from around the world.

This sentence is packed full of mostly unrelated buzzwords. From the opening line of the blog post

My style is to show, not tell, and I wanted you all to be the first to know when I shared a vision with our larger community.

You say that, but literally all that's happened so far is talk. From the question on MSE opening the discussion

Now I get it, buzzwords have their uses. I also sometimes need to talk to senior stakeholders who don't really know any details and just want the big picture. This type of language is great with them. But we are not those senior stakeholders. We are tired of the corporate PR language that SO has been pedaling our way for a while (e.g. the first apology, the second apology, the third apology, etc).

So my request to you is: when you communicate with us, please be direct, clear and jargon-free. Talk to us as you would talk to a peer. I think this is especially important in this period of "show don't tell" and "trust rebuilding"; if the words you say make it sound like you can wriggle out of anything, I won't put much stock into them.

I also want to be clear that your communication is greatly appreciated. These steps are positive. This post is meant to help you improve your communications with us, not to be another tally in the 'meta users are toxic' list.

  • 22
    I was just mulling over this exact concept, communicating with meta is great but the flowery corporate language is what we've been getting for the last 3 month in all the "apologies" and other postings. At this point I think we're starved for something technical, direct, and measurable.
    – Culyx
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 22:14
  • 1
    @Culyx Thats a good point, we've been getting the PR treatment for a while. I'll add that Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 22:15
  • 1
    You can't please everyone, but you can strive to please the majority (those that are out of the loop)
    – Kevin B
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 22:16
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    "My style is to show, not tell" - at this stage I think I'd prefer "do". Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 22:25
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    @MaximusMinimus I want to make sure we are not being pedantic or unfair to Prashanth. Colloquially show and do are the same in this context, and I do not want to discourage him from talking with the community. I just want that form of communication to not sound like it came from the PR department. Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 22:27
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    I think it would add a lot of weight to this plea if you add examples of direct, technical quotes from previous announcements and official communications from previous years by a number of different employees as something to strive towards. Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 22:30
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    I strongly suspect that most CEOs can't communicate without using buzzwords. It's like asking a bee to stop buzzing
    – Richard
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 22:31
  • @user1306322 That would be great and I totally agree, but it's almost midnight for me and I don't want to do the research on that right now. Would you mind editing in some examples? To address Richard's comment, the previous CEO did exactly what you are talking about (not to mention his whole personal blog), but there is a rich history of other examples. Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 22:35
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    A plea to water: stop being wet.
    – canadianer
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 0:32
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    Um...I'm not a coder, a developer, a venture capitalist; I'm nearly completely tech illiterate, but even I understood what he was referring to/saying. Can you manage to sound a bit more...considerate? Like, maybe, the message being more important than your opinion of the choice of words? (Not that I liked the message. I didn't.) Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 2:04
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    @Richard Bees carry honey/nectar while buzzing. That's usefull. The buzzing in that blog is just a way to cover up that one has actually tremendously little to say. Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 3:42
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    "Talk to us as you would talk to a peer" I guess you never heard two CEOs talk. I agree with your message, but you need another example here because this is how CEOs actually talk.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 5:34
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    "Much ado about nothing" kind of summarizes many of the words of corporate speak, I'd say. But then there must be a rationale reason for this. I don't know it. Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 9:40
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    I didn’t like it when there was a title talking about “tapping into” the coding abilities of refugees and migrants. But I haven’t yet tried to express why I don’t like the title. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/341974/… Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 12:09
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    @AndrewGrimm They are the same because unfortunately SO delete both of them, hence they both link to the question saying why are they deleted. Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 20:02

4 Answers 4


The buzzword bingo in that post is entirely relevant for the target audience: people who might buy or invest in Stack Exchange. It wasn’t written for the users of the sites at all, despite any pretence to the contrary.

Being frustrated that a CEO puffing their business up to secure investment won’t speak plainly is like being frustrated that your pet rock can’t do long division.

I’m not saying you’re wrong to be annoyed, just wasting your time. Sorry.

  • 1
    You're probably right, but it's still a bit depressing to see. Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 9:36
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    It's just another magnum opus that's completely tone-deaf to what is actually going on. Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 10:13
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    @voodoo-burger that level of tone deafness is precisely why I don’t think internal customers/users are the audience. I’m giving the Stack Overflow company leadership the credit for not being that stupid.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 13:34
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    Being frustrated that a CEO puffing their business up to secure investment won’t speak plainly is like being frustrated that your pet rock can’t do long division. Speak for your own pet rock. My pet rock (mostly silicone) can absorb lightning to do math for me, and is indeed capable of long division.
    – Magisch
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 15:17

A plea to the new CEO: drop the marketing buzzwords


The buzzword bingo in that post is entirely relevant for the target audience:

I disagree.

A really clever speaker adapts to the audience.

It would be perfectly reasonable (and actually: a really smart move) for the CEO and his leadership team to do the following:

  • internally develop a vision (and a roadmap) into a future that say, combines the idea of growing SE Inc, whilst also re-connecting to the community
  • to then talk and work with that user community, using language that resonates with us
  • and to talk and work with investors, journalists, analysts, big customers, ... using that buzzword riddled dialect of the English language known as "business talk"

But of course, framing all message for that second audience is less work, and avoids the risk of some investor reading "internal" MSE communications and getting confused. And what risk lies in annoying this community?


Buzzwords are confusing - especially when communicating with an increasingly diverse audience of potential non English speakers. Even English speakers have difficulty, we think we know what Prashanth means but it may mean something to us but translates differently for others. Say what you mean and mean what you say. - Di lo que quieres decir y significa lo que dices. (Google Translate)

  • 1
    The GoogleTranslate example makes sense for those who speaks English and Spanish. I don't know if it will make sense to the SO CEO.
    – Rubén
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 21:53
  • @Rubén Exactly!
    – MT1
    Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 12:58

While I empathize with your sentiment I also think that asking someone to talk different isn't nice, specially if they aren't asking for opinions about that.

Some companies hire Community Managers to "translate" the CEO messages to users of social networks / forums (in a broad sense) and viceversa.

I'm wondering if someone already did a translation for us, the users of Meta SE and I hope that soon will be a translation for the users of international sites Metas.

  • 3
    Yes, Athari has made such a translation there.
    – dim
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 15:18

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