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One of my goals as a meta moderator has always been to try to nudge the company in the right direction and to try to help keep ties between the company and community strong. I've pushed for a good many things and I feel like I failed there.

With that said, it is clear that the direction the company is taking is not aligned with the community, and with the removal of Catija, V2Blast and ... god knows who else, strong internal community voices are lost.  We literally seem to have lost multiple people we trust: Shog, Robert and Nicolas, and now Cat and V2Blast almost at random. This isn't something that builds trust or shows care for the community.

These are mistakes and ones that hurt us as a community. The company seems intent on repeating the same cycle of chasing distant dreams and forsaking the community that built it up to where it is.

Staff are also users of MSE and I feel that if the company doesn't protect its own staff, and preserve the community interests, I cannot in good conscience remain as a moderator on meta. I don't feel like I can continue to clean up the messes the company makes, and the damage it does in the process to the community.

The community's voice in many ways is clearly ignored, and these actions are not an investment in the community.

To our community members and customers reading this note: you are foundational to our success. Thank you for your continued partnership as we enter this next phase.

We certainly don't feel that way as we've lost advocates and parts of the community within your company.

I do care about my communities — and while I don't see SO inc as being a good steward of it, believe that staying active as a user, and remaining as a moderator on Super User and Pets is the right choice for now. I may revisit that based on future actions.  

I'll continue to be active on Meta as long as energy, spoons and life lets me, though clearly until the company sees the light, I can't promise how effective I'll be.

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    We'll miss you, thank you for your service :( Oct 16, 2023 at 15:29
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    Link for context: Community notice: October 2023 layoff announcement
    – Mast
    Oct 16, 2023 at 15:33
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    I'm remaining as a SU and pets mod, so spammers will still need to fear. Oct 16, 2023 at 15:41
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    I am sorry to see it come to this. I stepped back a while ago from SE because it's really hard to be fully engaged with a community that is dependent on a company that doesn't really value that community. Certain people within the company do, but it seems like they're the first ones on the chopping block whenever there's an opportunity to fire someone.
    – ColleenV
    Oct 16, 2023 at 15:47
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    @ColleenV honestly, I've been thinking about this a while. I've had a few related conversations and while I enjoy community work, and moderation (which is why I'm staying on with SU and pets), having to balance the interests of staff, the company and the community is... stressful . It clearly isn't giving me joy, and unless there's marked changes in attitude, that won't change, so I'm putting down this burden ;) Oct 16, 2023 at 15:52
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    It took a while for me to come to grips with the fact that we only can interact with a small portion of the company, and every advocate we lose from the CM team makes it more impossible for us to be able to shift SE culture at all. My impression from the outside is that it's similar to when I worked at Kodak. A bunch of good people trapped in a dysfunctional environment that they either fight to change for until it boots them out for rocking the boat, or they burn out. Sometimes it just can't be fixed, and it's not anyone's fault. It's just momentum.
    – ColleenV
    Oct 16, 2023 at 16:03
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    You forgot one thing. "We literally seem to have lost multiple people we trust, Shog, Nicolas, and now Cat and V2blast almost at random. This isn't something that builds trust or shows care for the community" - this not only is a loss for us. It also looks like a very deliberate action that aims to remove a very specific worldview in the company.
    – SPArcheon
    Oct 16, 2023 at 16:21
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    With my current headspace, I think there's enough wrong that I don't want to deal with potential deliberate malice when there's so much... other issues going on Oct 16, 2023 at 16:23
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    I totally understand this decision. That said, I do want to share my faith in the remaining Community Management team to advocate for and do right by the community. They're good folks, and however you may feel about the company or its decisions, I believe that the CM team is doing their best in a difficult situation.
    – V2Blast
    Oct 16, 2023 at 16:37
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    And that's an interesting problem I guess. I keep losing the people I have close working relationships and trust. I don't know how long before the next round, or who has the time/desire to work with us the way we need to. If the company won't do right by the CMs, what hope do we have for effective advocacy? Oct 16, 2023 at 16:51
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    I've pushed for a good many things and I feel like I failed there.. Wow, hold on. You've failed nothing, nor did the people you interacted with. Leadership of SO Inc. is failing by not making The Right Choices™. That pattern is familiar for the last year or so. I don't have high/any hopes the C-level will change course but that doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't advocate for our communities. In that context you've helped / organized us in effective ways. I'll veto your request to step down. Sleep over it and then reconsider, please.
    – rene
    Oct 16, 2023 at 17:50
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    Don't forget the loss of Jon and Robert as well.
    – TylerH
    Oct 16, 2023 at 18:22
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    @rene Its a result of many conversations over the last few weeks. I do intend to continue to advocate for my communities - but frankly doing 'the work' when the company doesn't appreciate it gets tiring after a while. There's a few conversations in private spaces that contributed, and I've been thinking about this a few weeks at least. This merely tipped the scales for this decision. Oct 16, 2023 at 19:54
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    I hope this gesture will be felt beyond the community. Pity to see such a relentless developer of this community and platform step down. Thank you for your innumerable contributions!
    – Joachim
    Oct 16, 2023 at 20:42
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    I don't feel like our definition of partnership and community align with his in this respect Oct 16, 2023 at 20:50

5 Answers 5

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Thank you Journeyman Geek for all those years spent to help this Community. I am not the most active user on Meta.SE, but every time I opened a discussion in here, your answers were always helpful, and insightful.

To me, you represent what the Community should be. Care, patience, open to discussion, friendly, those are the qualities that comes to mind when I think about your contributions here. You have shown to many users how we should interact on this network. You mod presence will be missed by us all.

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It seems that there are no good news left in the box. We are going from one disaster into another with no end in sight.

Thank you for all the good work you have done here and all the energy you put into trying to make things better. Quite often when everything looked dark and hopeless, you haven't given up and this alone made me stick around at times I was too tired to fight.

I am glad that you will stick around, because what you post here in the public is way more important than you being a mod at this place.

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Thanks for all the time and effort you spent on moderating this community. Besides the actual moderation work (of course), what I really appreciated was your ability to find ways to bridge the gaps between company and the community, especially when that relationship was particularly frayed. Even though we may not have always agreed on everything, I was thankful for your ability to keep a level head and allow folks to feel heard while keeping them from crossing the line. Meta Stack Exchange will definitely feel the impact of losing you as a moderator.

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Thank you so much, Journeyman Geek. Even though I don't recall ever having a direct conversation with you, I have been inspired by you so many times. As a frequently nervous person who struggles with writing letters, I took inspiration from your words and advice for others. Every time I took interest in something and one of your well-written answers was there, I tried to read it through the whole way and to understand the motivation behind it and where those words were coming from. It helped me to understand people as a whole.

Your complete dedication to the community here is an inspiration for so many people - I certainly know it's not just me. Truly a role model and voice of reason and cool ideas, always - through day-to-day MSE life, through the strike. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Hope you can 'put down this burden' - as you put it - and relax a bit more. If it's not giving you joy, perhaps it's the best for your own personal wellbeing. We will all miss you as a mod here on MSE - I know I certainly will.

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Thank you for all of your time and effort you spent here as a diamond moderator. My main initial experience, although only indirectly, was with your work during late 2018 and into 2019 dealing with various major issues back then, e.g., the COC (Code of Conduct) changes, Monica's "firing", the posted content license changes, etc. However, we survived that, with things starting to look up again shortly afterwards.

There are several interesting parts of your answer to Contest: what was the most impactful change on Stack Exchange in 2020? regarding that time period. In particular, there's

I spent most of 2019 firefighting.

Thank you for your work containing and putting out all those many "fires", so they didn't spread and do even more damage.

You also wrote there that

I would say practically the root of the most impactful changes for 2020 are realising that past choices were wrong. We're not quite at an entente cordiale or what I would term 'a symbiotic relationship' - but we're also not quite in a situation where employees are scared of, or encouraged to avoid, meta. It's something that could inform the direction of the network if the company is willing to keep at it, and invest back into the community.

We have a foundation for something better - but I am still uncertain to whether that's a foundation of sand or stone we are building on. In between then and now, SE's occasionally made a few community-hostile decisions - but on the whole, I'm not constantly resolving some monumental, fresh mess up.

Unfortunately, it now appears that foundation was made more of sand than stone. Nonetheless, I still hope the situation will improve again, similar to how it did after 2019, but perhaps more permanently this time.

Even though you wrote here that

I've pushed for a good many things and I feel like I failed there.

I don't believe you failed, as such. There's only so much a user and moderator of this site can do. I believe you did the best you reasonably could, and I doubt that anybody else would have done much more, if any, than you did to nudge the company and keep the ties strong.

I'm glad you decided to remain active as a user here. I've read many thousands of posts on this site, with many of yours being among the most pertinent, interesting and informational. I hope that we can continue to benefit from the high quality of any new posts you write. Also, you never know, but perhaps the company executives may even start paying more attention to them, so they then start to make appropriate positive changes, such as those which will improve the ties between the company and the community.

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    I'd say the latest bouts of downsizing are a sign that... nothing's been learnt. There have been a few other contributing factors, and one of the things that the CMs who were laid off was - they were advocates for the community to staff and vice versa. Oct 18, 2023 at 23:46
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    @JourneymanGeek Unfortunately, I agree that it doesn't seem much has been learnt. Nonetheless, at least for now, I don't want to lose hope that things will improve again, such as what happened after 2019 as I mention in my answer. Oct 18, 2023 at 23:49
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    I've a very clear idea of what that looks like - and frankly it doesn't look like it now , and right after an event like this, its hard to see it happening until the smoke clears. It also means a good many things I've been pushing for are at least a quarter away from happening and will have less of an impact that I'd hoped. It also, for what its worth, results in a lack of confidence in the decision making process in the company. Oct 19, 2023 at 0:00

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