25

I’ve just posted my Stack of the Stack blog post for Q2 . I cover the Prosus announcement and address questions you’ve raised about what this means for Stack Overflow & Stack Exchange. I also share what the team has been working on over the past quarter. I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

8
  • 15
    I apreciate you took the time to respond to some user concerns, but I think the most discussed concern is this one, that could do with a more detailed answer then it currently has from your team. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/365074/…
    – Luuklag
    Jun 16 at 14:11
  • 19
    @Luuklag a more detailed answer should be forthcoming very soon
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Jun 16 at 14:28
  • 4
    Thats great news @YaakovEllis, if they post it within 6 days they can sweep up a sweet bounty by rene
    – Luuklag
    Jun 16 at 14:30
  • 6
    @YaakovEllis beat me to it, he has a great answer coming shortly.
    – Teresa Dietrich StaffMod
    Jun 16 at 16:49
  • 17
    Thank you for explicitly acknowledging the distinction between the company "Stack Overflow" and the site "stackoverflow.com" in your blog post (and explicitly enumerating the contents of the "public platform" as SO+SE). It's been pretty common for the two meanings to create confusion for people, and most communication from the company has failed to be proactive about this which has always felt like a bit of a slight to the non-"stackoverflow.com" parts of the site (clarification has been forthcoming on Meta, but people shouldn't have to ask every time). Jun 16 at 17:38
  • 5
    @BryanKrause thanks for the feedback, yes, i was trying to create clarity and put a stake in the ground with this blog post on several topics, including that one. Glad to see it resonated.
    – Teresa Dietrich StaffMod
    Jun 16 at 17:53
  • 2
    Some members of the community are concerned about Nasper's tainted past. Eg, meta.stackexchange.com/q/366211/334566 and physics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/13609/123208 It would be good to hear something from Stack Exchange on that topic.
    – PM 2Ring
    Jun 17 at 0:09
  • 7
    @Luuklag I just posted a more detailed answer concerning data privacy and the acquisition.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Jun 17 at 13:46
35
+500

You claim:

In my one and half years at Stack Overflow, we have never discussed putting a paywall in front of the content that the community has created and curated over many years. We have no intention of ever doing this and understand just how damaging this would be for everyone.

But yet:

The Stack Overflow home page

Where are the questions?!

This is the home page as it currently stands. The design has been modified slightly over the past year or so (this is what it used to look like), but all of the designs for the past several years have had one thing in common: there is no evidence of free public Q&A anywhere on that page. None of the questions or answers are visible anywhere. Just a bunch of marketing.

This is what people mean when they say "paywall". There's a wall in front of the content. It seems to want you to pay. Or at least create an account before you are allowed to participate. (And, as we all know on the modern Internet, you are the payment. Specifically, your data.) So, yes, this is a paywall. This is precisely what people hate. You already have a paywall.

For reference, this is what it used to look like:

Old Stack Overflow home page, showing actual programming questions

Note that there are at least two things there:

  1. An "ad" banner of sorts, describing what Stack Overflow is, how it works, and how to sign up.
  2. A list of programming questions, freely visible and accessible.

Both of those things are important; neither overshadows the other. This is what people mean when they think of a site without a paywall.

The ship has already sailed, Teresa. You can call it back into port. Will you?

19
  • 12
    It took me 10 years of daily use to sign up for an account. ANY PROGRAMMER KNOWS Q&A is at SO. They don't need a front page to find that out.
    – bad_coder
    Jun 16 at 18:16
  • 26
    There are new programmers minted every minute, @bad_coder. And the only reason programmers know that is because, for years, the homepage showed free public Q&A. If the current state of affairs goes on in this way, then the next generation of programmers will not know this. Inertia is a magical thing, but you need to realize that it is what is carrying you; otherwise, you will fall out of the sky.
    – Cody Gray
    Jun 16 at 18:19
  • 10
    I wonder who that page is really even for. It's not for registered users, they see something more like the "old" site. It's not for people casually finding the site or those new programmers, they're coming from Google directly to Q&A. Maybe it's for investors? Could be that's obsolete now if the purchase means SO isn't being actively shopped. Overall, the front page doesn't seem that consequential to me, however it looks. Jun 16 at 18:20
  • 13
    The home page is for new users, @Bryan. Anyone who hears their colleagues talk about Stack Overflow, anyone who hears or sees reference to Stack Overflow at a conference, trade show, blog post, newspaper article, or whatever. You're right that it's not for registered or veteran users. It has no impact for us; we see the same site that we always have. Which is part of why I consider this to be so insidious a change, because it was almost entirely hidden from the content creators, the people who are actually driving traffic to the site in the first place.
    – Cody Gray
    Jun 16 at 18:21
  • 17
    @CodyGray I guess I am skeptical that many new users actually reach the site that way. People don't learn about Stack Overflow because their colleagues talk about it, they learn about it because they've been Googling their programming, software engineering, biology, etc questions and keep ending up here. Jun 16 at 18:23
  • 9
    But why should people have to be "smart enough" to uncover the secret? The only way to unlock the secrets of this oracle is to backdoor into it via Google? This doesn't make sense to me. What if I want to enter through the front door?
    – Cody Gray
    Jun 16 at 18:24
  • 4
    @CodyGray I agree, it doesn't make much sense. I don't really see how the advertising on that page is leading to any paying customers (e.g., paid Teams subscriptions), either. It just kind of seems like it doesn't matter much. My preference would be the same as yours, to have it look like the old version/registered user version. It just doesn't seem super critical to me or anything even approaching what a true paywall would mean for the site, so that comparison feels a bit hyperbolic to me. Jun 16 at 18:51
  • 18
    We have hard stats on home page visits, from a blog post in March of 17'. At the time, only 1.31% of non-automated traffic was to the home page. For unregistered users, that number drops to 0.72%. I truly think the homepage is a non-issue, for quite literally over 99% of users by traffic.
    – zcoop98
    Jun 16 at 19:06
  • 5
    Even though it feels weird that the "home" page doesn't prominently display the questions list, it needs to be noted that SO's "home page" doesn't really function as a traditional "home page". It's not the gateway that any substantial group of users uses to access the rest of the site, and as a result, I don't think we have to treat it as one.
    – zcoop98
    Jun 16 at 19:08
  • 12
    @BryanKrause Do you remember ExpertsExchange? Specifically, do you remember how, if you landed on one of the Q&A there via a Google search, you could read the answers for free because they had to make the content available for Google's spider to crawl, but if you landed there by any other means, the content was paywalled and not accessible? That's what this is akin to. And precisely the situation that you and others seem to be endorsing: as long as you can get to it via Google, it's all good. I disagree with that.
    – Cody Gray
    Jun 16 at 19:15
  • 14
    I don't know about y'all, but when I tell people about Stack Overflow (which I've stopped doing, because I'm largely ashamed of what it stands for nowadays), the first thing they'd do would be to go to their home page. (Technically, the first thing that most people would do would be to Google "stack overflow" because most people have forgotten that the Internet is anything other than a search engine. But that's besides the point here, since Googling those terms would give you the Stack Overflow home page as the first result. And therefore, this dilemma of "WTF is this?")
    – Cody Gray
    Jun 16 at 19:17
  • 3
    @CodyGray Never used that site, but I don't know that I agree with the way you're describing the current SO home page. None of the main links asks you to pay anything, they ask you to create an account on SO (or view the questions), create a free Team (or learn about the teams product). It's maybe a bit buried that you can browse SO questions without creating an account, and sure there are issues with registered users being saleable data, but as a regular user I'd rather encourage visitors have accounts, too - it opens up a lot of the site to them. Jun 16 at 20:05
  • 16
    "This is what people mean when they say "paywall"." I beg to differ. It may be a wall but you don't have to pay to get to the content. It's more like a labyrinth though. There are many paths and only a few lead somewhere. And yes, it's a shame nevertheless, but one unrelated to paywall.
    – Trilarion
    Jun 16 at 20:45
  • 25
    Folks seem to be missing your point in this discussion. This concern doesn't arise because of the homepage, anymore than you expect to die because of the arthritis you start to feel in your 40s. No... We expect the decline and fall of SO because that is the way of all the earth; the homepage is merely a reminder that SO is not immune to the factors which have doomed so many previous sites. And like the middle-aged person feeling that twinge of stiffness and pain... The company and site has to choose each day between giving into decay or striving anew to forestall the inevitable.
    – Shog9
    Jun 16 at 21:28
  • 4
    @Trilarion "It's more like a labyrinth though" — have you considered the term "deceit"?
    – Levente
    Jun 17 at 11:51
12

The CM role's been open a while - I'm pretty sure it's been a fair bit more than a month. In my tradition of asking about CM hires: What're the main blockers in actually finding the right people for the role?

8
  • 2
    In your shoes I would communicate with TPTB in private, and if that were not possible, I would take the hint.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 17 at 9:44
  • 1
    You forgot this request as well: What does a community manager need to be?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 17 at 9:45
  • 9
    That was entirely intentional - I had half a dozen drafts trying to split the two issues. I think the "getting hired" issue is... well not worth chasing at this point. Folks in the company are pretty aware I wanted the job, and we're fairly aware of the blockers there. Frankly I'm worn out in that respect. The general 'issues'/'attracting people to apply' is a mostly orthogonal issue, especially with the history of the CM team, that I'd very much want SE to think about and consider hard. Thats a more important thing right now.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Jun 17 at 9:48
  • 3
    In that light, your request is certainly valid, and many users and moderators alike would probably be interested and/or benefit from knowing what the company is really looking for in a candidate but maybe they need to keep that private. In any case, isn't the description of the role contained in the announcement? EDIT: It is. Evidently, the right person has failed to show up.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 17 at 9:57
  • There's links to 2 roles there, one's the older one that I'm referring to, and a new associate role with a slightly different scope. The actual description of the former's the same curator team role that's been up a while. "We currently have two additional open positions on Curator Support and Community Operations." is the exact wording, with links to the roles in question
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Jun 17 at 9:59
  • 4
    I did find this promessing: "and just recently welcomed a former team member back [into the CM team] from within the company." Did I miss that announcement, or hasn't it been made yet?
    – Luuklag
    Jun 17 at 10:48
  • 5
    That would be Abby Hairboat
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Jun 17 at 12:10
  • @JourneymanGeek ah the side by side markdown view tricked me there. I thought they changed their name, but it was rather a different person.
    – Luuklag
    Jun 17 at 13:49
9

I've been attentive to the product changes the company has been making under the new management (as certainly many of the readers). One thing I seemed to notice is the quarterly roadmaps prioritizing followed the survey results published in "Introducing “The Loop”: A Foundation in Listening" on November 25, 2019. (Which were also summarized by Aaron Hall.)

The outdated answers, downvote survey, improving the review queues - which are still ongoing - seem to have been following the main concerns the community had expressed. (The graphic is included below for ease of reading).

Does the company, at this time, have a rough estimate (in terms of quarters) of when another survey will be conducted reflecting the many developments and changes since late 2019?

horizontal bar graph of responses to the satisfaction survey

3
  • 2
    This data came from our Site Satisfaction Survey which on a continuous monthly cycle. We look at the results regularly. Are you asking us to share what the current feedback is in a future "The Loop" Blog post?
    – Teresa Dietrich StaffMod
    Jun 21 at 13:29
  • @TeresaDietrich Yes, I'm asking new survey data be published in "The Loop" when there's a consistent change in user satisfaction that can be correlated to work done in the roadmaps. (For example, the review queue redesign and Dark mode should eventually cause "site design" to drop below 2nd place in the graphic...)
    – bad_coder
    Jun 22 at 4:21
  • 3
    Got it, thanks. I will queue this up for a future The Loop blog post this year. Thanks for the feedback.
    – Teresa Dietrich StaffMod
    Jun 22 at 13:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .