8

As an alternative to peddling ads, tracking, and Fortune 500 SaaS, Stack Exchange should investigate an optional tier of monetary support directly from its dedicated user base of public Q&A users.

Many formerly ad-based companies have recently added tiers of user support:

The main benefit would be to align the company's monetary incentives with building better public Q&A products, rather than products like Teams, Jobs, Collectives, etc. that the main user base is unlikely to ever use.

Benefits should be weighed and discussed, but could include things such as:

  • Profile aesthetic changes (hats all year?)
  • A larger network-wide "Association Bonus" (edit everywhere?)
  • Remove all ads and tracking cookies; save preferences to profile.
  • More daily votes or other minor changes

There would be pushback against giving paid users any "advantage" in the posting of Q/A, so benefits could be limited to minor quality-of-life improvements. This is not suggesting anything like paying for answers or a paid tier or paywall.

The main benefit would be turning new Public Q/A and curation features into a viable revenue stream for the site. SE-invested members would pay for this alone, without any other benefits.

Lower-traffic SE sites could self-support via their own member subscriptions, rather than relying on the scraps of Stack Overflow and the new business-focused initiatives such as Teams and Collectives.

Users' companies could also be encouraged to pay a goodwill subscription for the public Q/A that their employees use in their jobs, similar to how they pay for open source software.


Related:

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  • 7
    +1 for trying to find a solution. There's little SE can do without one if getting rid of tracking gets rid of necessary income for survival of the business. Apr 12 at 18:11
  • 5
    I support something like this, though am obviously not in any position of influence to make it happen. It would require significant research to determine how many people would use it and whether the cost-benefit ratio is high enough. Any time you introduce payments, you inherently have to pay for more support staff to deal with it. It's hard to predict how much adding this would end up costing long-term, but I think it's worth investigating.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Apr 12 at 18:17
  • 11
    A thing that comes to mind is the developer story. We had to discontinue it with the sunset of Jobs because it is a lot of personal information that requires significant resources to secure - it doesn't make sense to maintain it just because users liked it when Jobs was now gone. But putting it behind a paid subscription like this could help justify keeping something like that around, for those who like to use it. No bearing on the public site, but still of value to the user.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Apr 12 at 18:19
  • 11
    I think we should be very very careful about the sorts of things we let people pay for. A background image for their profile or a little icon showing they are subscribers? Maybe. A higher daily limit on votes or a higher daily reputation cap, absolutely not. I think the reddit thing of selling "awards" a user can spend on another user's post might be something that could be adapted to SE. I think "premium features" like the developer story that @animuson mentioned could work.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 12 at 18:40
  • 1
    pkamb, you suggest 4 premium features: Hats all year (upload a new profile picture), 2 "Animal Farm" styled more equal user and 1 that only affects privacy and convenience on one tiny place on the Internet: "Remove all ads and tracking cookies; save preferences to profile", that can be done on your end (for the whole Internet) with a free VPN or a browser with dedicated privacy features. --- You aren't safe from the ISPs collecting and selling the information even if the sites that you use offer you the ability to disable tracking and ADs, unless you block/hide your end. Pay for not.
    – Rob
    Apr 12 at 19:13
  • 3
    @Rob I'm suggesting exactly 1 feature: pay SE a donation to support the site we love, as an alternative to the site turning into something we don't love. I don't particularly care about the minor benefits they might give donating users.
    – pkamb
    Apr 12 at 19:17
  • ColleenV you didn't notice that the OP switched midstream (and back), but we'd prefer if @YaakovEllis or animuson would offer an official answer (in a few days?).
    – Rob
    Apr 12 at 21:58
  • @Rob neither of them are high enough in the chain of command. Unless they'll speak on behalf of someone who is, but the CEO himself does have account and even posted something in the past, I think. :) Apr 13 at 7:12
  • @Sha, collean and Yaakov reopened this so take your choice; all three are pingable.
    – Rob
    Apr 13 at 7:22
  • 5
    I definitely cannot give an official answer on this, and I don't think that there will be one forthcoming any time soon. I am however interested in some of the ideas here that relate to additional benefits that could be awarded in some subscription scenario (and perhaps having ways to earn them on the site as well through site activity), talking specifically about nice-to-have bonus features. (To be clear, I am not in any way talking about a paywall on content. I would leave the company before working on that, and I have never seen it seriously suggested internally, nor do I think it will be).
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Apr 13 at 7:26
  • @Rob that's correct but not really relevant to what I said before. Anyway, we should wait for answer from staff, be it directly from someone who can actually decide about what's being asked here, or someone who is "just" a messenger on behalf of management. Doesn't really matter. Apr 13 at 7:26
  • @YaakovEllis, my suggestion is that you could bring it up in the weekly meeting or email the appropriate person, and be the one to write the company's answer; or ask the CEO to write an answer. --- If this is going to remain open it should get an answer after some period of time, as opposed to various people commenting that they don't have an answer; and that the previous stated position isn't the current answer (not a duplicate).
    – Rob
    Apr 13 at 7:34
  • 8
    @Rob this is something that will be brought up internally. That said, this is a discussion, not a feature-request. I am happy to observe the discussion, and relay things that may be relevant to future project planning. But I dont think that we are going to have an answer along the lines of "we will or wont do this" anytime soon. And if anyone responds, it would be me or someone on the product team. The CEO isn't going to drop in here to answer this discussion.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Apr 13 at 7:45
  • 2
    Cosmetics? Fine... But let's not make SE "Pay to win" by paywalling actual functional stuff.
    – Cerbrus
    Apr 13 at 11:35

6 Answers 6

12

Okay, fine. Since the discussion apparently isn't something we've covered in the past and still thus has merit, I'll bite.

I am adamantly and aggressively against this proposal.

Exchange of money comes with an expectation of privilege or status. No exchange of money means that privilege or status is earned and/or everyone is established to have the same status or privilege. The chief exception is with reputation levels and privileges at those levels, but the thing about that is everyone can work at and earn those. Not everyone can bother opening their wallets.

Using your own examples...

...the list goes on. Effectively, you get something for giving something.

By tradition and definition, this is a Q&A site. The greatest appeal and greatest victory of Stack Exchange is that it has always remained open and free, and the users have not directly been obligated to (or even given the option to) give the company money directly.

Putting an option in my face to give Stack Overflow money, even if it's only optional would put me off from using the site, even if every search hit was at the top. It's not like the company is providing me the answers; they're just facilitating the way to get me the answer. Why should they collect??

This is not the way that Q&A is meant to be managed.

I'm not here to facilitate their bank account or fuss with how they spend money. While sure, I'd see some benefits to this in the increase in support or attention from Community Managers about some things that have been an issue for a really long time, I don't believe that just adding more revenue to that would "fix" it since the whole point would be for the company to also value it, and think it was worth investing to fix.


If Stack Exchange suddenly introduces this method, they're no better than Experts Exchange or any other paid site as a business. The only material difference would be that I could just export all of the questions and answers and put them somewhere else, as long as I abide by CC-by-SA.

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  • 8
    You're assuming the worst possible implementation of this, "Pay to Q&A". What if all that paying got me was a badge on my profile? Would that be so awful? I understand why you have a strong negative reaction to this, because it would be very easy for this to turn into something very bad, but it could also be something really good. Giving SE a stream of revenue that comes directly from the public Q&A community makes us (as a group) actual paying customers. That gives us more of a voice and makes it easier for certain folks to understand what we bring to the table.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 12 at 21:29
  • 5
    @ColleenV: I actually tiptoed around that. I never, not once specified that there would be paywalls to content. I suggested that suddenly, someone has a fancy badge on their profile because they dropped $100 on the table. I'm not okay with that. To your point about us becoming paying customers - let's be blunt here, this whole "benevolent dictatorship" relationship we have with the company as it is isn't likely going to soften to a "business partners" relationship once we start paying them; it'll be more of the same. When we stop, it'll decay to the way it was.
    – Makoto
    Apr 12 at 21:32
  • 4
    Maybe to put the last paragraph in another way, @ColleenV - I know how they treat me as a user of the site when I'm not giving them any money directly. I have no confidence that'll actually improve if I start giving them money. I know that it'll decay to the status quo once I stop giving them money.
    – Makoto
    Apr 12 at 21:33
  • 4
    Well, maybe you've just never seen this sort of thing work. I have. I support lots of indie dev houses who make products I love. They don't want to get into bed with AdSense or venture capitalists, so they offer some "I heart DevTeam X" virtual thingy for $5 up to some sort of diamond level "I paid $1000 dollars and all I got was this t-shirt and a very sincere thank you" package to their fans. It doesn't take away anything from the fans that might not be in a position to spend $s, and it helps keep the devs indie enough to follow their vision. (I know SE isn't close to being the same thing.)
    – ColleenV
    Apr 12 at 21:40
  • 1
    Yeah, we have had some ups and downs in our relationship with SE, but I think a lot of the community really loves the product. We've all invested in it. I think there's a way to make that investment more tangible for the people that are blessed enough to have the money to spend without screwing over the people who don't have the money.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 12 at 21:42
  • 2
    @ColleenV: Eh, you should be a bit more careful about that. I suppose my frame of reference is that I love the product that Stack Overflow has in the same way that I love Google Chrome (or twenty years ago, Internet Explorer). In my mind, the company doesn't have the clout left to try to pull something like this off to either a level that it's fiscally solvent or even appealing to the community.
    – Makoto
    Apr 12 at 21:44
  • 4
    @ColleenV: Maybe something else to consider - the company wants to roll out features that ask us to do a ton of volunteer work. We do that and we pay for the privilege?? What a deal! ಠ_ಠ
    – Makoto
    Apr 12 at 21:46
  • 1
    You're entitled to be skeptical. I'm not sure I understand what you're cautioning me against in your comment though... I've never regretted a penny I've spent supporting a team that makes something I like, even if they eventually went belly up (RIP Gaslamp Games). People will pay what something is worth to them. Something might be worth $50 to me and you wouldn't want it if it was free. As long as the transaction is voluntary, it will work itself out in the end.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 12 at 21:49
  • 1
    @ColleenV: Well, maybe the fact that the company isn't so aggressively shutting down the notion of this as they have done in the past has me all kinds of weirded out. It's almost as if they're entertaining the thought of this - something which they've stated many times before that they wouldn't do - which crosses a red line for me.
    – Makoto
    Apr 12 at 21:52
  • 1
    I mean @pkamb, if you don't want to be tracked, get really aggressive with your ad blockers and browsing habits. Firefox Focus, PiHole/pfBlockerNG and uBlock Origin are all a part of my deployed arsenal. I can set those up and keep my little pocket change. Or, pay those projects since they provide me some value - broad spectrum protection against tracking and invasive ads.
    – Makoto
    Apr 12 at 22:00
  • 3
    @pkamb: Oh, that ship sailed a long time ago when Careers was first introduced. Ever since then it hasn't just been about public Q&A. Doing this isn't going to get them back on your straight-and-narrow, either.
    – Makoto
    Apr 12 at 22:07
  • 6
    I actually think the biggest opportunity - perhaps missed opportunity - here would've been something close to what Twitter's doing... But instead of monetization, analytics and insights aimed at helping folks better understand how various technologies are being used. Which anyone can do with data dumps (to a point), but... Might not want to. IOW: pay for TIME.
    – Shog9
    Apr 13 at 0:12
  • 4
    Re "exchange of money comes with an expectation of privilege": true, the privilege would be 'no advertisements and no tracking'. Is that such a big threat to the free Q&A model? Re "why should they collect": SE develops the software and provides the infrastructure of the sites. This costs money, that is why they should collect.
    – Marijn
    Apr 13 at 7:20
  • 1
    @Tinkeringbell you are right about the proposal in the question. That proposal I also disagree with, I think reputation-based privileges should not be for sale. But Makoto argues against any form of paid subscription, my comment was aimed at the general stance of their answer.
    – Marijn
    Apr 13 at 8:35
  • 1
    @Makoto In that sense, maybe subscriptions/donations are also a necessary evil. And I don't see anything wrong with a badge that doesn't give you any additional rights or abilities being paid-only; it's literally just cosmetic.
    – Esther
    Apr 13 at 18:40
11

The main benefit would be turning new Public Q/A and curation features into a viable revenue stream for the site.

Sorry, I am already doing work for free. I do not want to also pay for it.

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  • 5
    An obvious oversimplification, but one that illustrates an inherent problem with this proposal.
    – Joachim
    Apr 13 at 11:37
  • 4
    I strive for this level of laconism one day.
    – Makoto
    Apr 13 at 14:59
5

Things that would upset me if they were paid features:

  1. Any type of boost to curation features, especially those that people who don’t pay have to earn, like extra daily votes, a higher daily rep cap, or a higher association bonus.

  2. Any type of access to information, especially information that people who don’t pay have to earn like the 25k access to analytics.

  3. Any sort of UI flexibility or additions. Under no circumstances should we have to pay for a usable interface.

Things I would be OK with as paid features:

  1. Anything purely decorative, like flair, avatar frames, or profile wallpaper. If we add flair visible outside of profiles, we should let people turn it off so they don't have to see it if they don't want to, like we do with hats during Winter Bash. If we decide to have flair that appears on the main Q&A pages, it should be disabled for people who aren't logged in.

  2. Features that let people expand their public profile, like a pin board to showcase their favorite questions and answers across the network (sort of a fancy bookmark list). A curated list of their favorite SEDE queries might be another example. Everyone might benefit from that sort of feature being available, and because it takes SE resources to maintain, it doesn’t seem that unfair as a paid feature.

(I’ll add more as I think of them)

We should think about letting people spend reputation to buy paid features. (Actually after thinking about the implications of this, I think it's too risky. We should let people earn some of the same types of things people can buy some other way, like by earning badges.)

11
  • 1
    While I agree nothing substantial should be added behind a paywall, I'm also hesitant to say I find your 'ok' examples great. SE is not a social media site, but the examples you mentioned are of a kind that put extra focus on the user and not the content of a site. They're pretty much the typical kinds of things you'd pay a social media platform for, or a mobile phone game, that come with ideas of 'rank' and 'status'. A 'rank' or 'status', acquired by money, instead of useful contributions, is not really something I would want to see on SE.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Apr 13 at 12:06
  • @Tinkeringbell Why do we let people have public profiles if we're just about content? I don't think those things represent "rank", especially if we can spend rep or money to buy them. Acknowledging that it is people that contribute the content, not some faceless group, is not going to turn SE into social media. I think letting people express themselves through their profile is a lot different from doing something like adding the ability to "follow" a profile (which I agree would be terrible). I understand your concern though. It could go very wrong if we're not careful.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 13 at 13:00
  • I think of the profile pages as a sort of honeypot for all things not 'allowed' on SE. For example, this post specifically mentions that stuff that doesn't belong in posts can go on profiles. Also, that profile is generally quite hidden. Anything that changes e.g. the part of you that's visible underneath every question to show that you 'pay for stuff' (flair, avatar frames, or hats as suggested in the Q) goes against showing just those very basics (an identifiable name/picture combination) to keep the focus on the post and not the user
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Apr 13 at 13:05
  • @Tinkeringbell I'm fine with limiting the paid stuff to the profile, although I really don't see the issue. We already allow flair that causes people to weight content based on who posted it. If the extra flair is obviously bought with money or rep, it's not going to taint things worse than the badges, rep, or mod diamonds that are already there in my opinion.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 13 at 13:10
  • And I think the rep system is flawed enough as is, I would really not like to see any sort of 'monetary' value tied to it. There are already enough misguided users that see reputation points as more than just an imaginary internet number supposed to semi-represent the quality of contributions, and attach some kind of status/rank to it, to the point that they go using sockpuppets or buy reputation on eBay. XD
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Apr 13 at 13:13
  • I think we just disagree then. To me, the whole principle of 'buying' things makes it worse than rep, badges or diamonds, as those are open to almost everyone with a basic command of English on these sites, while buying things is probably much more limited.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Apr 13 at 13:15
  • 1
    @Tinkeringbell I guess as a gamer, my experience with these sorts of systems has been positive (when done well). If we add profile wallpapers, for example, we could give some away for holidays or events like Pride Week, and we could make some of them cost $1 or some nominal cost. I think allowing people to "buy" items with rep is pretty risky, but maybe there's a way to earn them. Like maybe certain badges award a wallpaper, and everyone who's already earned the badge gets access to it.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 13 at 13:29
  • 1
    I agree, "as a gamer" I don't mind some of that either. I too play games where I may at times spend a bit of money on something silly like an easter bunny statue, or a subscription that makes the game easier to play. As a "StackExchange user" though, I'm not playing games and I personally do not want to see that kind of gamification, also not around me. Different circumstances, different priorities for me. Perhaps paid cosmetic perks could be implemented, but other users will have to opt in to see any of them. I don't think it'll sell well then, do you? :P
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Apr 13 at 13:41
  • I'm not going to tell you how much my husband and I spend on cosmetic virtual items for games, (my house in ESO is awesome though) but as long as we can see them and enjoy them, we don't care if others can. We treat it like art on our wall, not like a statement of status. My mom likes to say "There's a butt for every chair"; I think the chairs people are willing to buy might surprise you ;)
    – ColleenV
    Apr 13 at 13:46
  • You don't have to see it as a status symbol for it to be one. (I too often buy cosmetics on the games i most enjoy, particularly PoE, for example, where literally noone an see it anyway since i play solo)
    – Kevin B
    Apr 13 at 16:51
  • I buy cosmetics there as a form of... paying for the free to play game to support the people who make it possible. In this case, the money would be going to stack alone... not the community that makes it what it is.
    – Kevin B
    Apr 13 at 16:55
4

To me there's a humongous difference between 'pay for something in return (that's maybe visible to others)' and 'pay to support'. If I truly want to support something, there doesn't need to be anything in return. It's called a donation, not a subscription. "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:", was what I grew up with, and it's still pretty deeply ingrained. I like the idea of doing the good I do as anonymously as I can. A system where you get anything in return for a payment, goes from doing something for the sake of charity, to doing something because it's perhaps the only way for you to get a certain thing.

So there's two things to discuss here:

  • Paying for extra features/perks
  • Ways to support SE financially

And they're two totally separate things, and they shouldn't be presented in ways where they are easily confused.


First off, paying for extra features/perks.

In addition to the points from Makoto's answer, that I agree with, I have some more thoughts. First of all, I doubt whether there'd be enough interest in a paid product to even cover the costs of setting it up. Especially when the perks you get are mainly 'invisible' (and I don't think there should be highly visible perks, more on that later). A subscription system probably regularly needs new content for which you'll likely need developers, it will probably need some marketing and branding to attract enough paying users, and there's probably also extra costs towards accountants and lawyers and such to make sure all the taxes are filed correctly and you're not selling things to countries to countries you can't be selling to.

Giving people the ability to permanently turn off ads (and tracking, though as far as I understand it, that should already be possible by just limiting yourself to strictly necessary cookies, once some issues are fixed) for a small fee at first thought sounds innocent. But I'm still not sure if this should be something paywalled to begin with, as it's very close to putting the basics of having a site that's as usable as possible behind a paywall. Even if it were, it should be clearly labelled as just another product then, and not 'sold' as a form of support.

I think a majority of users simply don't care about cookies and tracking, and even less care about ads. From the ones that do, a part will use an adblocker and block tracking without wanting to pay for this. So, I think you're left with a pretty small group that will actually want this, and will be willing to pay for it. Either because they think it's a good way to compensate some financial loss, or because they want to 'join the club' of paying users.

So, if just blocking tracking and ads may not get you enough users to warrant setting up a subscription system, then you come to the part where you have to entice users with other perks. While I half-like the idea animuson dropped in a comment about e.g. keeping the developer story behind such a paywall, I wonder if it's feasible. It's still a piece of software, it will probably require some maintenance at some point, and if there's basically no 'free-tier' for people to get to know it, it's unlikely they will start paying for a mystery product they've never gotten to use. Eventually, you'll have to come up with new (deprecated?) stuff to put behind that paywall, to make the subscription worthwhile, or interest will die out again.

While I'm slightly leaning towards the former two things perhaps being okay as a thing you could pay for, as they can be useful to users, you also mentioned a few other things, like extra association bonus or extra votes. I'd argue against those for reasons mentioned before: Functionality of the site should never be behind a paywall. Also, is someone going to get a refund if they're suspended? I'd imagine quite a few messes/complaints/angry meta rants could arise from this. Like Makoto already said: Paying for something comes with expectations of entitlement.

As for the cosmetic changes, just 'no'. But that's more personal, because I really like the minimalism of SE right now: You get a name, an image, some reputation points and badges, and that's it. Focus on the content, not the user, and I really like that. Of course you could make such cosmetic perks only visible to users that opt-in to seeing them, but I wonder how many users will actually want to pay for something like it once they figure that out: Again, will it be enough to warrant the time and money spent on setting up such a subscription, and keeping it supplied with fresh content? I don't think so.


Then, supporting SE financially.

If this is the only end goal, what I'd settle for is a donation option that gives you nothing to show off with. No badges, no extra reputation, no extra votes, no profile customization options. If you truly feel that you're not supporting Stack Exchange enough by being here, by writing good content, by doing your part in the review queues, and you want to appease your conscience with money because you block tracking and ads, that's fine.

But in that case, I'd lean much more towards a donation option, probably something like Wikipedia has, but without the big banners. I guess a small (non-blinking!) button somewhere in the sea of whitespace that's the left navigation bar or in the footer will work well enough.

Again though, setting these things up often costs money, and I don't know if the revenue made through such a button will be enough to cover it.

3
  • 1
    If there's a "donate" option, it should be to a fund that does something more than paying investors.
    – Kevin B
    Apr 13 at 16:49
  • 2
    @KevinB I would argue the same should be the case for any subscription... But fair point.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Apr 13 at 16:59
  • Sorry, i was specifically responding to the last bit. Yes, subscriptions of course are a for-profit thing. If instead it were a donation for nothing in return... that's entirely different, and I'd expect that to more go toward community building initiatives or other things to support the community.
    – Kevin B
    Apr 14 at 14:35
3

I think there's a few important points here

  • What's the value proposition for both sides?
    • For the subscriber - considering how we're unwilling to gate out features for pay, this might be cosmetic. Considering many sites are waiting for themes, the only 'fair' way would be to have a small set of themes you can use (for example) or visible flare for being a subscriber. So a good question here is how we should balance "giving folks something more than a warm fuzzy feeling" with "just donating money to the company"

    • For the moderator - certain aspects of SE's paid products-Developer Story and teams accounts made deleting spammer accounts difficult. If we do need to suspend or delete a user with a paid subscription, how does that work?

    • For the company - is the additional revenue from this 'worth' the additional administrative and development cost? - SE's money making end is a pretty traditional SAAS setup

  • Is the money that comes in, and the benefits going to be substantial?
    • While its nice to assume we can pitch in say a dollar each, and fund a site "widgets.se! Brought to you by the community" - what're the overheads going to be like? What's going to be the best balance between affordability and minimal loss to overheads?

    • Users go from contributing time and energy, to "paying customers" - how does the dynamic between the company and these users change?

As an alternative to peddling ads, tracking, and Fortune 500 SaaS, Stack Exchange should investigate an optional tier of monetary support directly from its dedicated user base of public Q&A users.

Many of us can trivially block ads and tracking, and finding out a level we're mutually comfortable with is an ongoing conversation between the community and company. As for SaaS - considering they're selling a paid for, private version of the same software we use, it would be mutually beneficial as long as SE doesn't lose sight of the community that's built the network together. We've had these problems occasionally even without commercial considerations front and center.

2

In what way does profile background/flair improve the Q&A experience... if the flair isn't an indication of knowledge/experience?

We have various forms of flare on the site already, ranging from badges, to rep, collectives, but all of these (minus part of collective) are things you earn, they're an indication of knowledge/experience. Displaying additional flare just because the user is paying a premium doesn't improve the Q&A experience.

Why pay to remove ads when you can just install an extension?

If the current stance on ads is to remain, there would be no real value in removing ads with a paid subscription except for those in a situation where extensions can't be installed. Adding a paid subscription that removes ads may change the company's stance on blocking ads... if not near term, potentially long term.


There's better causes to donate money to than a for-profit business. If a paid service is to be provided, it should provide value and improve the product.

8
  • 2
    Decorations on my profile improve the Q&A experience for me, because I like looking at them. Why do people hang pictures on their walls? It doesn't make the house more energy efficient or convey any information you don't already know. If you don't think something is worth the price, don't buy it. We get a badge for filling out our profile, so I think a lot of folks are exaggerating how laser focused SE is on serious content. Meta has fun. A lot of the hats during the winter bash weren't indicators of knowledge or experience. April fools day didn't cause the SE world to end.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 13 at 16:13
  • It's clearly more than just you wanting to look at it, @ColleenV, as if that's all you cared about... you can do that with a userscript.
    – Kevin B
    Apr 13 at 16:18
  • It's more a status symbol hidden behind the guise of "cosmetic"
    – Kevin B
    Apr 13 at 16:24
  • 1
    You're a terrible mind reader. I think you should not assume that other people have the same hang-ups that you do.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 13 at 16:34
  • I don't think I need to be, to make this assertion. I'm not saying how you feel, I'm giving my interpretation of the result. Why would someone pay for cosmetics? clearly, for... cosmetics. It's a way to set your profile apart from the rest. To elevate status, that's literally what it is, for better or worse. No interpretation is needed.
    – Kevin B
    Apr 13 at 16:40
  • 1
    I buy those cute but overpriced shoes because I like the way they look, not because I think other people will know they were ridiculously expensive for what they are. My husband bought me virtual furniture for my virtual house that no-one ever sees but me and him and I loved it. I like looking at things I find attractive/cool/interesting, don't you? Don't even ask how much time I spend picking the perfect outfit for my game characters to go demon slaying in. Some people don't decorate things just to display status. I married an artist. Status is obviously not what I'm after lol
    – ColleenV
    Apr 13 at 20:58
  • 1
    Intent doesn't always match with reality.
    – Kevin B
    Apr 13 at 21:00
  • If you’re jealous of something I have, that’s your problem not mine. Regardless, I think people should be able to turn off the decorations, just like we can opt-out of winter bash hats. Maybe those things aren’t shown at all unless you’re logged in, so it doesn’t confuse the people coming from search engine hits.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 14 at 12:04

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