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In future years, please provide an option to opt out of donations made on a moderators behalf.

If you didn't fill out the form but were a moderator on the day the form was closed, a donation was still made on your behalf, just distributed evenly among the charities. source

It has just come to my attention; in 2019 donations were made on my behalf while I was strongly opposed to doing so. Stack Gives Back 2019 vs 2018

Edit Per comments: Why do I care?

I joined the group "breath of fresh air" a long time ago when it was growing, doing great things and my support made the air fresh for everyone.

Over time, the group focus changed, and the group is more like "Abusing volunteers for fun and profit", they still produce fresh air as a sideline, but abusing volunteers and making money is the focus. I stick around because I still need fresh air and there are no better choice, and the other people who need fresh air benefit by what I do here.

Back when it the group was focusing on fresh air, I felt good about everything associated the group "breath of fresh air", now that the direction has changed it gets harder and harder to keep coming back and helping people get fresh air, I do it for the people who need the air, if there was a way to help those people and separate from the group "Abusing volunteers for fun and profit" I would, but that option does not currently exist.

It is common knowledge in the group, that "Abusing volunteers for fun and profit" has no regard for the volunteers, they believe that harming the volunteers will ultimately increase profits, this is clear by uncountable decisions that they have made in the last few months. Now "Abusing volunteers for fun and profit" has gone to great lengths to keep a good public image, and doing at the expense of volunteers has become part of the business model.

In one more effort, to keep the good public image they gave away some money, with some lies about appreciating the volunteers. In all likelihood they spent more money on legal fees defending themselves from the volunteers who they have been trying to harm, then they donated to worthy organizations.

I do not support "Abusing volunteers for fun and profit" I don't believe they appreciate moderators. I don't believe they even believe they appreciate moderators. But it makes good public relations to pretend like they do.

I object to being used as a count in propaganda that is clearly untrue.

If I am still here next year. Give me the option to say "don't pass money or lies on my behalf"

On a final note; There have been some recent promising communications, that imply the the days of abusing volunteers is ending, I remain hopeful that past wrongs will be righted. But there are some wrongs that are very easy to fix, and they remain wrong.

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    Technically you can opt-out. It is called "resign". I hear they have written down a process to re-instate former mods as well. So you could in theory ask to get your diamond back after they determined the tally. Rinse and repeat each year.
    – rene
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:18
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    I would be more open to this idea if you were making an argument that you were opposed to the mission of all five the charities listed. Being opposed to the donor, especially as you remain a mod here, makes no sense to me at all. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:21
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    I am astounded that anyone would object to any company donating money to one or more several good causes. Did they badger you into donating a sum? Did they invade your inbox with plees and supplications? I think not. You were left alone. Relax, this is not the hill to wage your battle on. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 19:45
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    I find this post ironic. If you strongly disagree with a company's operations, isn't getting them to donate going to be a better action, since they're losing money? Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 19:55
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog why do you think that those donations = a loss to the company? Charitable Companies: 5 Benefits of Corporate Giving They understand business and their focus is on profits. They gave away enough money to fund a good part of staff they recently fired. In the last few months other then this, have you seen anything that implies, this donation is anything other then buying goodwill and advertising expenditures? Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 20:10
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    Even if the count decreased from 544 donations to 543, it wouldn't have any impact on additional money received from goodwill and advertising. That money would pretty much remain static regardless of the exact number of donations. In the end, it's just an extra $100 in their pocket on top of the money they are already receiving. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 20:15
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    Could you elect to donate the money to Stack Exchange Inc.? That seems equivalent to opting out. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 7:04
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    FWIW, all that stuff about the group "breath of fresh air" is a bit confusing, IMHO. It took me a while to decode it; at first I thought you were talking about some charity group. It may be even more confusing for readers who aren't native speakers of English.
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 7:04
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    It's mostly just a wording problem. The message should get the "on your behalf" removed and everything is fine. The company can do as many donations on its own behalf as it likes of course. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 8:32
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    @Trilarion I am beginning to realize that this is probably the main pull. It is a phrase that works, but when it comes to donations it has a different meaning. If they would say "in your honor", the true intent they are trying to convey is there. These donations are most definitely in the company's name, but in honor of the mods who made it possible to donate.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 12:47

6 Answers 6

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In future years, please provide an option to opt out of donations made on a moderators behalf.

I get your point, but sorry, it feels slightly confused. Err no, I feel really confused.

You see: you are willing to "work" for SE Inc. by providing your time and energy to do "virtual housekeeping" on their behalf. Sure, you are probably motivated by supporting the user community you moderate, but still: you are willing to give your time to SE Inc. for free.

Now SE Inc. wants to give back some of the money (that manifests in part because of your volunteering efforts), and associate that give back with the moderator community.

Yet, when that activity by SE Inc. gives you such a headache, I am wondering if that isn't just a symptom of a deeper conflict ... that has nothing to do with giving back or anything. Maybe you are still upset and (too) fed up with the "3Q19 crisis". I don't intend to further speculate, but I really wonder about the true nature of "conflict" that the question implies.

Meaning: if you don't want to be associated with SE Inc. donating to charities, why exactly would you want to be associated with them at all?!

Edit:

I object to being used as a count in propaganda that is clearly untrue.

Sounds, that in the end, you want to have your cake and eat it. Won't work. I think the steps towards resolving your conflict can't come from SE Inc.

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    Thanks for this answer, I have updated my post, hopefully that update clarifies your confusion. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 19:53
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    I did update my answer now. Not sure if that helps you with your request ...
    – GhostCat
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 7:20
  • The issue may not be dislike of SE and their efforts but dislike of the charity's efforts/politics. I think it's a false equivalency. Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 20:54
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I'm curious as to what your objection here is.

If you don't want your name associated with SE, then (as I understand it) it's not; there's just money donated according to how many moderators there are (# of mods x 100 = total donations for that year). Moderators can either choose to have $100 sent to the charity of their choice, or have it spread across the whole gamut if they don't specify where they want it spent. There's not any indication who directed them to give that money, so there's no reputation at stake for you.

Basically, I think this is would be adding unnecessary complexity into something that really doesn't need it.

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    Why do you think this was a choice? "Moderators can either choose to have $100 sent to the charity of their choice, or have it spread across the whole gamut " It was not a choice I was offered. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 17:54
  • I'm not a moderator, so I don't know the exact specifics, but from what I gather there was a form made available to the moderators which let them pick a charity for SE to send its donations to (and correct me if I'm wrong on that). The choice offered was where you'd like SE to send some of its donations to, or to not fill it out and they'd just spread it around. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:06
  • Again "or to not fill it out and they'd just spread it around" this is not a choice. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:32
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    @JamesJenkins It's not your money. SE can donate the $100 to whatever charity they choose. You cannot choose to stop them doing whatever they want with their money. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:37
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    And more importantly, why on earth would you? It's donating to charity; there's literally not a downside to it Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:38
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I think you are looking at it wrongly. The company is using the count of moderators in order to spread their donation rather than individual names. Those moderators could choose a charity or they could abstain and SE would spread it to all as Flapping stated.

Are you saying that you would prefer SE not give 100 dollars to charities using your 1 in the database?

It wasn't in your name, it was in your honor. They wanted to do something that showed that they appreciated moderators by giving to organizations. I get not supporting the company due to recent actions, but how could you be against the company giving to charitable causes regardless of how they derive the number?


Based on your edit it appears that you dislike the company and don't appreciate that they are giving their money away saying that it is in honor of the mods. Unfortunately (and I can't emphasis the amount of sarcasm I say that with), you are part of the reason that the company is successful enough to be able to make the donation at all.

While it looks good in PR and the donation helps their books the end all be all of it is that it is a donation. They don't have to, they choose to. And the fact that they let moderators decide the charities they would like to see SE support, and even allow them to direct how SE donates its funds is all way over what they need to do. They could just give the money out, but they go out of their way to include the mods in the process. And if you don't want to be part of the process, they still give that money away rather than keeping it for themselves.

Being brutally honest, the idea of a mod being able to withhold SE's donation because they dislike the company comes off as selfish. You are responsible for the success of the network, and the network pays it forward. I do not agree that mods should be able to block the network paying it forward.

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    At the time of the donations, this year, there was no indication that SE appreciated moderators. I am not sure how anyone can even make that claim. And yes I would prefer SE not donate to charity using me as 1 in the database or by name. SE does not do things for moderators, they just like to say they do. At least that has been my experience over the last few months. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:07
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    @JamesJenkins To reiterate: You would prefer they not give their money to a charity, because you don't like them? Are you going to make the donation on your own behalf to make up the difference? It seems pretty selfish to want to withhold charity funds based on your feeling towards the company.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:10
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    The company is free to make what ever donations it likes. It is not free to imply that I directed them to make that donation. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:14
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    @JamesJenkins "Each year, Stack Exchange donates $100 on behalf of each of our volunteer moderators." Very first line of: stackoverflow.blog/2020/03/09/stack-gives-back-2019/?cb=1 - I get zero impression that they were directed to make the donation by you or the other moderators. In fact, the exact opposite, considering they have been doing it for 11 years, almost as long as the company has been around.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:18
  • It appears in 2018 that made donations on behalf of 570 of 577 moderators "This month our 577 incredible community moderators selected from five charities to which we will donate $100 on their behalf (that’s $57,000!)." I suspect that in 2019, selections were low, and SE changed something. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:30
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    @RageFoxx that's basically what I was going for. This seems like it's overall 100% positive, and doesn't affect the moderators and community in any way unless they choose for it to. If they were soliciting donations from mods, that would be a completely different story, but as it is this is SE giving away their own money for various good causes Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:33
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    @JamesJenkins or that they just picked a nice, round number and went with that. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:37
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    @JamesJenkins Even in there, the first paragraph says: "To recognize our amazing community of moderators, we made small contributions to six nonprofits." It later goes on to say what you have quoted, but I still did not get the impression that you directed them to give the donation, just that you could play part in the calculation used to come to the final numbers to give to each charity.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:37
  • @JamesJenkins Also this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/344971/… - It appears that all 577 were counted, and if you add them up they equal out to 57,700 for 2018. It doesn't seem that the process changed between the two.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:48
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    @JamesJenkins I suspect that in 2019, selections were low, and SE changed something. - Quite the contrary. We were tracking the responses as they came in because we changed the method of contact about it and were worried that people would miss the notification... but in fact we had many more of them, sooner. It was a good thing to see. As others have said, the money that represents any mods who don't respond gets allocated evenly between the charities.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 18:52
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I was upset enough with SEI to resign my moderator status. I, too, felt my hackles rise when they expressed that the donations were an expression of appreciation for my volunteer moderating. But, seriously, what does that have to do with the people/organizations that need funds to, you know, like, save lives?

MSF (Doctors Without Borders) were on the front lines of the Ebola Crisis (the big one) along with medical missions organizations. They, not the CDC or the WHO, were trying to save lives and came up with the life-saving treatments. I don't care who is donating the dollars. It's all good.

It boggles the mind that someone would withhold dollars from the needy because of what seems like a grudge.

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    SE can choose to donate as much as they want. They can add another $100,000, completely their choice. Just don't do it on "My behalf" if they want to lie about why they are doing, it pick a different lie! Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 14:33
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    @JamesJenkins - "The lie" is what seems to be a grudge. The charities know noting of the politics around here. If SEI bothers you this much, trust me, the relief you feel when you dissociate from them (resign) will be great. Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 16:06
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+50

I agree in principle to giving mods the option to opt out, but for different reasons.

As the blog post says, these donations are made "on behalf of each of our volunteer moderators". Stack Exchange is of course free to make whatever donations it makes, but if a moderator does not with a donation to be made on their behalf, even anonymously, then I think Stack Exchange should not do so. Stack Exchange can still donate however much they want to, but a moderator who opts out should be excluded from the count of mods in any Stack Gives Back announcement.

The specific concern I have is that it is possible that in a future year there would be no charity that I would feel comfortable having a donation made on by behalf, either selected by me, or even just $20 distributed between all the charities. While Doctors Without Borders has been one of the options for many years now, if for example in a future year all of the charities were local US charities I would not want a donation to be made on my behalf. I am not suggesting that mods be able to nominate other charities; SE is completely free to choose whatever charities it wants. But if it chose only local US charities for example, while they may be worthy causes, I would want to be able to opt out because I believe things like clean water initiatives and fighting malaria are far more important, and I think supporting only charities where the beneficiaries are limited to US residents is problematic, and I would not want to be associated with it.

To be clear, all the opt-out I am envisioning would affect is the count of the mods as announced in the blog or elsewhere. SE could still donate however much of its own money as it wants. Just let us opt out of it being "on our behalf" if we so choose.

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    "On your behalf" is a bit of a misnomer. It is in honor of the mods. They are giving their money away and instead of just sending it out, they give the mods the ability to direct that money as a courtesy. The donations are likely sent as lump sums with SE's name on them, not as donations from the mods. The mods are given the allowance to direct where it goes, and if they choose not to, SE gives the money to all of them. You are not personally tied to it other than being a mod at the time. If you choose to abstain is irrelevant to the process unless you want to withhold the funds.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 4:25
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    @RageFoxx "Honor" is your language, not SE's. I can't see it in any of SE's writing. "On behalf" is what SE wrote, it's not a misnomer. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 4:30
  • Do you get a receipt of the donation with your name? If not then in terms of donations the donation was not "on your behalf" or in English: "as a representative of or a proxy for". However, it was in your honor, or: "as a celebration of or expression of respect for". If your name is not on the list of donors to the organizations, then it 100% doesn't matter if you don't choose to direct how SE donates to any of them or if the money gets distributed between them all.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 4:47
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    I don't think receipts are required for it to be made on our behalf as they said they were made. Either way, I think we should be able to opt out if we don't want them to express their respect for us in particular ways. Again, this does not mean I think they should not donate whatever they want as your answer implies an opt out would mean. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 4:48
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    The only way to "opt out" in this scenario is by saying that you do not want SE to give its money away to any charities. But you say "SE could still donate however much of its own money as it wants" - That is what they are doing. They are donating their money the way they want and giving all the charities a portion of the $100 they allotted for your direction. You can absolutely choose the "no selection" option and let SE do what they want with their money. The previous year didn't include the "behalf" verbiage, and I agree that they might want to stay away from that going forward.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 5:00
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    @RageFoxx No, that's not the only way. I'm suggesting that instead of SE saying "We donated X on behalf of 100 mods" they say "We donated X on behalf of 99 mods" (if 1 mod opted out.) They can also say "we also donated Y" if they want, or not. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 5:07
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    But why make it complicated with no gain? What is the win in that scenario? They do not name anyone already - just the number of moderators - and they are going to donate the same dollar value under their own name. This just seems tedious for no purpose. It's their money, and they are going to donate how they want to.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 5:20
  • Could they not donate but just as a donation from SE ? As part of a large company we often donate to charity but it's always on behalf of the company name, no need to mention numbers of said employers. It would be quite easy to send a payment saying on behalf of SE. Either way I'm not effected it's just my opinion of a very simple solution
    – Dan K
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 10:03
  • @DanK The donation is almost definitely in the company's name, not the individual moderators. I went to Pursuit, a charity they donated to last year, and it states that it is supported by SO. It would be odd of the company to not donate it in their own name. The names of the moderators are not included, just how many there were.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 12:41
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    @RageFoxx but why mention the amount of moderators at all this is what I think the original OP was getting at, most charities don't care how many people you have working for you or moderating for you. The only reason to mention the amount of moderators is to boost the ego of said employers.
    – Dan K
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 6:15
  • Expect that 1 mod that opted out to be witch hunted. We have learned how civil this community is when it smells drama.
    – rene
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 7:47
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    @rene Why, and how? The Stack Gives Back is one of the few times when the exact number of mod is actually revealed. Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 8:08
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    You would be amazed how inventive users will become only to cause grieve.
    – rene
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 8:16
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    @DanK They mention it in the blog post 1) As a method to show how they ended up at the math of how much they are donating and 2) Because they are attempting to show appreciation for all of their moderators that make it possible to continue to exist. It baffles me why the number of moderators is important to be modified. There is a way to reduce the number of moderators they count if you don't support the company supporting nonprofit organizations - resign. I'm at a loss as to why this is a point of dissension. There are zero losers in this scenario as is.
    – JFoxx64
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 14:01
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Nobody should ever do anything on your behalf without your agreement (setting aside minors and similar situations).

Unless donating on your behalf is on the agreement moderators sign when they get their diamond or any other agreement like submitting the form what Stack Exchange is doing is immoral at best and illegal at worst.

You might wish to donate yourself 100$ to your preferred charity to quell the arguments against you. But your actions are correct even without it. Using a charity as an excuse to act on your behalf without your agreement for publicity is shameful.

A good action (donate to charity) does not excuse a bad action (donating on your behalf without agreement).

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