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TL;DR:

  • Our fourth Community-a-thon will kick off on October 13, 2023 and continue until October 18th, 2023.
  • This is an annual event where staff at Stack Overflow are encouraged to participate on the Stack Exchange network.
  • This year’s event will be a scaled-down version compared to previous years.

What is Community-a-thon?

This is an event we hold for the staff at Stack Overflow. During the course of the event, employees are encouraged to participate on sites in the Stack Exchange network, in order to increase their familiarity with the public sites and experience things from the perspective of a community member. This is the fourth year we've held the event, and you can see our previous posts from 2020, 2021, and 2022 for details on the past Community-a-thons.

The goals for the event are similar to those from the previous three years:

  1. Improve empathy between all Stack Overflow employees and our sites and communities.
  2. Achieve a high degree of participation during the event, that can hopefully carry on afterwards as well.
  3. Increase our collective familiarity with our core product and elicit useful feedback on actionable ways to improve our functionality and user experience.

Similar to previous Community-a-thons, the event will include a competition in which participants can receive points based on engagement and activities done on network sites during the contest. The point system will be very close to what we did last year. Like last year, we will not have a dedicated chat room for the event, but we are letting Stackers (what we call Stack Overflow employees) who are less familiar with the Stack Exchange network know about chat, so don't be surprised if you see some newer Stackers in the Tavern or in some of the site-specific chat rooms.

Also, similar to the last three years, some Stackers may be participating with their staff accounts, while others may be using brand-new accounts. We're encouraging staff to create new accounts or use accounts with low rep on sites so they can better understand the new user experience. Those participating, regardless of whether they are using newer or established accounts, are encouraged to submit their feedback, observations, and experiences over the course of the event.

What’s different this year?

Community-a-thon is scaled down in terms of timing and resources. We are doing this for a couple of reasons. Previous Community-a-thons were a bit of a lift internally, and pulled on engineering and other product resources. We didn’t want to pull people away from their day-to-day work of supporting and strengthening the platform. So, this year, Community-a-thon is primarily being driven by the Community Management and People Operations teams. We also wanted to be mindful of everyone’s time as participants, so the event is going to run for just several days (October 13-18th), rather than weeks as we have done in the past.

We believe that Community-a-thon is important, which is why we are testing it out on this smaller scale as opposed to sunsetting the event. Community is the core of Stack Exchange. This event is an opportunity for staff who aren’t as involved on the network sites to become familiar with them and the community. It’s also an opportunity for staff who are regularly engaged on the network to see things through the lens of a community member.

We’re also giving you more of a heads-up about this than we have in the past. The community has given us great feedback over the years around staff participation during the event. Similar to last year, we will have an internal info session for staff, and community managers will be around to help newer members out if they have questions. We also plan to post a recap here a few weeks after the event, as we did last year.

If you have any questions related to the event or its goals, feel free to ask below.

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2 Answers 2

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I love community-a-thon for all the reasons you've stated.

Previous Community-a-thons were a bit of a lift internally, and pulled on engineering and other product resources. We didn’t want to pull people away from their day-to-day work of supporting and strengthening the platform. So, this year, Community-a-thon is primarily being driven by the Community Management and People Operations teams.

I don't quite understand what this means. I thought it was always kind of guided by the CMs? Or does this mean that only CMs and People Operations staff will be participating?

We believe that Community-a-thon is important, which is why we are testing it out on this smaller scale as opposed to sunsetting the event

Why would sunsetting be a serious consideration? What has changed about the company this year that is long-term and not just for this year? Was it the layoffs? Is it the work on OverflowAI (and the crazy number of projects and tight deadlines)? I can totally understand a period of crunch with those two things happening in the same year, but... it'll be over eventually, right? And I hope for the sake of the staff that the layoffs+mad-scrambling-to-deliver-a-bunch-of-new-stuff kind of thing isn't going to be a chronic re-occurrence.

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    the event is for the whole company. Community Management and People Operations have been the two teams involved with getting the event up and running this year. We didn't want to pull Product and Engineering resources away from their work on the platform which is why it's a smaller-scale event this year.
    – Rosie StaffMod
    Sep 27, 2023 at 18:52
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    @Rosie historically, what involvement did Product and Engineering have in getting the event up and running?
    – starball
    Sep 27, 2023 at 19:10
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As of writing this post, Community-a-thon 2023 is still happening technically. The layoff was announced around a day ago.

Can Stack Exchange Inc. explain the impact of the layoff on the event?

The worst that I could imagine is an employee being laid off while they were participating in this event. On that note, when were the laid off employees informed that they are laid off?

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    "On that note, when were the laid off employees informed that they are laid off?" - that really is none of our business and moreso, nothing to do with the Community-a-thon
    – Rob
    Oct 18, 2023 at 6:43
  • @Rob Hoping and requesting for confirmation that they were given sufficient notice period is not a bad thing :) Oct 18, 2023 at 7:01
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    Hoping is one thing, requesting is another. None of your / our business and there's no possible benefit to anybody in knowing the answer, other than satisfying your curiosity. Also, still nothing to do with a post about the Community-a-thon!
    – Rob
    Oct 18, 2023 at 7:16

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