I wanted to share with you about who the people that work on our Community are, and how we are organized. For context, I am the head of Product, Community, Design and Engineering, a combined Chief Product and Technology Officer. I joined the company in mid January and report directly to Prashanth Chandrasekar, the CEO. Both of the following teams are members of the organization that I lead.

Our Community Team endeavors to ensure the wellbeing of our sites and that the needs of our users are heard. That means focusing on things like facilitating communication from our users to the company, and making sure our users are well aware of initiatives coming from inside Stack Overflow. We also are responsible for the trust and safety for our users, and supporting our moderators and curators.

The Community Team includes:

We have recently renamed the product development team that builds our public Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange sites to the Public Platform Team. You may see questions and/or answers from members of this team here and across the sites.

Our Public Platform Team includes:

Yaakov Ellis, a developer on the Public Platform Engineering team, has recently taken on an additional role as Community Advocate. He now spends approximately 25% of his time working on community projects including policy and communication. He also leads a group of employees throughout the company that are or have been active members of our community called the Community Members at Large. This team of about 10 are volunteers who care deeply about the community and provide feedback around policy and communications.

We have created a Community Leadership Team that works to coordinate and prioritize our policy, communications and work that impacts our community. The members include Sara, Juan, Tim, Yaakov, Des, Stephanie (who keeps everything on track) and me. We meet weekly to review all tasks on the Community pipeline, review deliverables, and discuss relevant priorities.

These teams work together to give feedback from different viewpoints with the goal of ensuring that we arrive at the best possible outcome and prevent avoidable mistakes. Depending on the nature of the policy, process or communication, it is reviewed and feedback is given by some or all of: the CLT, Community Managers, Community Members at Large, and the Moderator Council. Many important items are also previewed to the moderators (in their private Teams instance) before they are made public.

I hope this gives you some insights into who we are and how we work together. If you have questions or if there are any clarifications I can make, please put them in an answer and we’ll try to respond as best we can.

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    While there is already a lot of other terms in here that I have zero idea what they mean, I particularly stumbled over the terminology in "...leads a group of employees throughout the company [who] are volunteers..." I assume they are "volunteers" in the sense of volunteering to take up this additional task inside their employer SE. Or is this trying to say something else? Also what does "are or have been active members of our community" mean in that sentence, especially what is "community" there? If it is the employer SE, then how can those members "have been" active if they're employees? – Christian Rau Jun 11 at 17:39
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    @ChristianRau "volunteer" - they want to participate, not something part of their normal job description, "Community" = Stack Exchange network sites. There are a number of employees who have been active on the network for years. Almost everyone on the Community Members at Large has been active for a few years on the network (for most, preceding their employ at Stack), with tens if not hundreds of thousands of cumulative rep. – Yaakov Ellis Jun 11 at 18:20
  • Seems like I just saw this. What is the "Community Members at Large" group and how were its members chosen? Is there another announcement about that group/process that I have missed? cc @YaakovEllis – TylerH Jul 1 at 20:12
  • The Community Members at Large are comprised of members of the the company who are interested in being more active with promoting positive interactions with the Community, and serving as ambassadors to the rest of the company in trying to achieve and maintain this company value. They are former Moderators, Community Managers or active users with a strong passion for the sites and the community. We ask these voluntary team members to review policy, provide feedback, and most recently, serve as mentors to others in the company on our Community-a-thon. – Teresa Dietrich Jul 9 at 14:14

Is the size and composition of the CM Team planned to stay as it is right now for the near future? A significant number of CMs were fired or resigned, but the workload probably didn't get any smaller. A lot of institutional knowledge about community management and the internals of how many SE systems work behind the scenes were also lost at that time.

From my observations, the CMs also aren't exactly good at stepping back and relaxing, I've seen them plenty of times at the weekend or at various odd hours. There's probably a higher chance of burning out as a community manager as the community can't really scale their demands to the workload.

Most recent initiatives to improve community relations seem like good ideas to me. But a lot of them also create more work for the CMs, but the team only got smaller. There are some good parts here like making Yaakov's role as Community Advocate official, that could help with some of the CM workload. If SE doesn't plan to increase the size of the CM Team again, I hope there's at least real progress in automating some of the routine stuff and improving the tools. As otherwise I can't really see how the workload could stay manageable.

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    We currently have ongoing discussions about both of these topics. What is the right way to scale and determine the number of CMs that we have based on community data? We are working on this so we can know how many we need and will need in the future. We are also working on identifying actions that can be automated and/or turned into a tool in increase efficiency. First we need to come up with the answers/solution, then we will work out a path to implement them. – Teresa Dietrich Jun 12 at 15:03
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    Its felt like after its peak, its generally been a team that's taken a hit every downsize. The promises of further automation and efficiency are nice but we've been hearing them for years as a response to every downsizing or request for additional resources. The recent "realignment" was a kick to the gut too. At some point, its tempting to try to throw more tech at the problem but a large extent of CM work's dealing with people at a human level.We've just heard it often enough that it feels... insufficient and somewhat less meaningful than it needs to be. – Journeyman Geek Jun 13 at 5:35
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    @JourneymanGeek I mostly mentioned that part because I consider it more likely that this can be sold to SE management compared to increasing the headcount of the CM team. But yeah, I wouldn't count on this to happen given how often we've talked about that already. – Mad Scientist Jun 13 at 8:20
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    The big problem with automation isn't that it won't help, @Journeyman - it's that it's expensive. Even more expensive in the short term than hiring more CMs. It is a good long-term investment... But when money is too scarce to hire more staff, it is likely also too scarce to cover enough automation to make up for the lack of staff. – Shog9 Jun 15 at 22:06
  • Well you have the inside view - but simply even if SE had the money, you just can't automate dealing with people. That and it's been the promised solution for years. At this point I don't see any benefit that couldn't have been realized if it was really a solution – Journeyman Geek Jun 15 at 22:14
  • @JourneymanGeek The automation is for the part that isn't actually about people, so mostly vote fraud and routine support stuff. You can't automate the hard part, but vote fraud, vote invalidation and similar stuff should really be at least partially automated. I've no idea how much of a CMs time is taken by that kind of stuff, I'm only guessing here, but I don't think it's insignificant. – Mad Scientist Jun 15 at 22:20
  • I don't even need an inside view for this; you can look at any number of organizations that've tried automating their way out of skilled labor, @Journeyman. The choice SE is facing isn't between hiring and equivalent automation; it's "some" automation or nothing: tasks just getting dropped because there's nothing & no one to do them. Both have already been happening for 3 years, as you well know - and you can probably guess at the relative proportions of each. – Shog9 Jun 15 at 22:50
  • And well over the last 3 years and more, I am increasingly convinced that strategy might be harmful. It's downsizing stuff that has worked well for the community, on the promise of automation lowering workloads. – Journeyman Geek Jun 15 at 23:22

Hi Teresa, thank you for posting this! We have wanted a clear picture of company structure for a long time, and this is a simple but clear explanation.

One question: do you have any oversight over the marketing/blog people? Because they can have an impact on our sites (for example, choosing non-representative questions, acting as if they determine site scopes), and it can take a long time to get their attention (three months for one of my requests).

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    I would say right now we have a partnership with the marketing team. In not so recent past, it has mainly been reactive. We are working to put process into place that includes reviewing content directed at the community, but its a challenge with the existing workload and number of team members to cover everything we want to. – Teresa Dietrich Jun 12 at 15:13

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