Recently Stack Exchange posted a new question about a policy on AI generated content.

What is the network policy regarding AI Generated content?

The post was made as a fake question, with the actual policy posted as an answer.

You can obviously see the result. While it is possible to "answer" to a post posted as a question, the same post posted as an answer can only be "commented". And we know that comments tends to magically disappear sometime... If you want to add a full fledged answer you need to answer to the fake "question" the staff posted.

This trick isn't new, it has been used before quite recently indirectly, maybe involuntary when someone found out from an online article that "Stack Overflow Will Charge AI Giants for Training Data" - in that case Stack Exchange opted to post a reply on the post instead of a far more visible question that user could have provide feedback to by answering.

Maybe I am just overthinking things but this behavior annoys me quite a bit for a two reasons:

  • first, I get a fake question and have to find the "official staff post" with the actual content as an answer, and then I get other answers commenting on that one. It could just be me but I don't find this very natural: in my humble opinion having a "question" with the announcement and "answers" with feedback worked great so far and there is no need to add noise
  • secondly and more important, this seems to show off what many users recently feel: I get the feeling that trying to remove our ability to answer you is a deliberate decision, not a random thing. Maybe not an intentional decision but still an action that betrays an utter disregard for hearing "answers" to your announcements.

Later the Staff removed multiple (dissenting) answers to the post, with the justification that usually "we don't typically host answers on policy posts". I think that this makes things clear: the format of the post was deliberate and they were not interested in any form of feedback.

I am therefore posting these requests:

  • post things you want to get feedback to as QUESTIONS so that we can answer instead of having users creating secondary posts that only clutter the question list.
  • have the courage to fully lock any post you aren't interested to discuss from the beginning, in a way that does not rely on users to remember that "mod-agreement-policy" is actually a short version for "this post will be posted in a confused way and while you can post answers we will delete them someday because we are not interesting in discussing this and we are just letting you know what we already decided". First, it avoids people like Cesar having to get the blame for censoring answers afterwards. Seconds, it makes user not waste their time when you don't plan to actually listen to the community and be deaf on the topic. I suggest a new type of lock can be created for this: let's just call it "not interested in hearing from you". Locks have another great advantage: people can't vote (or more probably downvote) the post, so that form of feedback is removed too.

Notice: since posting this post I discovered that the issue was even bigger. Apparently, under the explanation that "we don't typically host answers on policy posts" multiple answers were deleted from the "announcement" post I mentioned before.

This should be quite an evident proof that the "trick" as I called it before is deliberate and not just an unfortunate coincidence. I therefore made some small changes to the post based on the new more complete viewpoint I got, you can see the original version in the history.

  • 4
    It is also not unusual to post both the policy (in question form) ánd a discussion post, and link the two: meta.stackexchange.com/q/336364/369802
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 11:11
  • 7
    You don't want it locked, as that would prevent voting. Currently, there is no tool that would lock a question from receiving answers but not other interactions such as voting. (Well, there's closing, but... that'd be even weirder.) Ah, I guess you cover that, though, with the "new type of lock". Did you know there's an emoji specifically to convey this sentiment? Commented May 31, 2023 at 11:24
  • 2
    @Mithical the announcements tag wiki says "For questions about Stack Exchange announcements" and this question is about announcements, why did you remove the tag? Commented May 31, 2023 at 11:46
  • 18
    @CodyGray while I didn't realize that locking the post would also prevent voting, I see that as a feature. If the whole idea is to show that "we don't care about your voice or feedback", voting is useless too. Commented May 31, 2023 at 11:47
  • 3
    My impression is that "not interested in hearing from you" seems to be the current company's policy. Along with "sometimes we pretend we want to listen, but all feedback will be ignored and we'll do whatever we had already planned"
    – hkotsubo
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 11:51
  • 1
    @hkotsubo I've been saying the later point for long long time, even almost got suspended for that. Now when this explodes in everyone's face, I can finally say "Hah! Told you so!". Commented May 31, 2023 at 12:01
  • 3
    Also, they are interested to hear from us, but they just take what they want from it, and never responding to things that make them uncomfortable. Commented May 31, 2023 at 12:03
  • @Sha - Good point, I was remembering when the announcements tag was special cased
    – Mithical
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 12:52
  • yeah I was surprised when my answer post got deleted because it was my first time seeing a mod-agreement-policy Q&A (ok I've seen past ones, but never deleted answers on them since I'm under 10k rep right now). It's my first rodeo, but there's no way it's the CMs' first rodeo. In my mind, they should've known to lock out answers from being postable right after posting the Q&A.
    – starball
    Commented Jun 1, 2023 at 7:59


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