I honestly feel discouraged.
This is a negative take, so read into it what you will, but it's been about a year and change since these changes and communications have come to grace our attention, but I haven't felt like the community has benefited or moved forward in any quantifiable way in that time frame.
What I've observed from the sides is that the improvements the community has been asking for have been moving too slowly compared to the gains that the corporate product has been. I get it, the lights need to stay on, but it does feel like those lights shine just a bit brighter.
With the addition of a curator team, it seems like the company is going to put in place some policies that could inhibit how curators actually operate. I get that there are some improvements that could be made, but the chief source of my discouragement is that the improvements being suggested or implemented come from a source of stakeholder that does not actively use the service. So that terrifies me.
Lack of clarity on the sorts of curation that are valued
Editor's note: I compiled the following three sections from Makoto's clarifying comments in response to a question on the section above.
Can you share more about the policies you're concerned we'll enact through the curator team?
Let's start with the not that thinly veiled sentiment against curators that exists at a level that most curators choose not to engage at - on social media. You don't have to go very far to find a post railing about how someone's question was closed, or people sharing experiences about how their experience on Stack Overflow was amplified because they got their question closed or downvoted (or both). I get that both of those actions can lead a person to feel bad; I sure felt some sting when I got my first downvote.
The issue with this is that for better or for worse, that's the crowd that gets attention. (ref. Twitter-driven Development). They say to you guys that their experience is bad because of such and such reason, and their question was closed and/or downvoted, and they don't like the community for that. Sour grapes all around.
To complicate the emotion, Stack Exchange has been obtuse about what their intentions are around downvotes and other curator-like activities. The overwhelming public signal exists that this activity is unpopular and/or unfavorable, and the position we have taken (which was one that was left some eons ago) is that we should strive to have high quality questions and answers on the site, and while we kinda sorta feel for the person that has to get work done, them trying to outsource their work on us for free just doesn't work.
The company hasn't been direct with us on what it is they actually expect curators to do or what role they are expected to fill. To further add to this, the not-public support for it hasn't been what I wanted. To put it another way, I think over this last year the "top cover" for curators has essentially evaporated. That's why I said what I did about the downvote research post.
Curator team, curator isolation
So then there's talk of a "curator team". Cue PTSD. The team would consist of people who haven't been around as many of us, who don't share the same insights or wisdoms that we do, nor have as deep an understanding of the nuances of what curation actually is. But this belies the bigger issue - curation is happening pretty much for free, and the people who have been inspired to do it are doing so mostly because they choose to, not because they feel any sort of obligation to.
I was one of those people who wanted to curate the site because I felt like it was the right thing to do. I do that much, much, much less nowadays. I couldn't just stop because I still have that muscle memory to deal with duplicates or poor questions. But I don't feel like there's much point to it because it doesn't feel valued within the company.
There's another angle to this. I would be shocked if this curator team both consisted of less than 20 people and was wildly successful. Content curation is a full-time effort and needs to be supported as such. Anything less than that is going to doom this effort. Shog made some points that only Shog could make about re-orgs, and while I don't know any further details, I can only hope that you can expand your team massively to both fill the need and as a show of taking this kind of thing seriously.
What I genuinely fear is going to happen is that you're going to nerf the very tools that you've given the community due to some signals you're getting from those who dislike getting downvoted. I haven't seen any indication that you're not going to, nor any indication that you're committed to strengthening them, either. The people who knew how to strengthen them aren't with the company, and realistically speaking, the suggestions and recommendations to do so are worth more than volunteer time, so I don't know if you'd get them for free. So, I just feel like we're stuck at an impasse.
People will want to improve the site and they'll have their own motivations to do so. However, I really don't think that this will work out unless you actually have proper veterans who understand the network and how things work actually taking input from the community at large.
Conclusion: confession of bias
I acknowledge and own that this is a pessimistic position. The problem is that I don't think I can be talked off the ceiling. You're going to have to show me that the ground isn't lava, for reals this time.