270

I've had the pleasure of working with some great community managers here. Cat is one of those folks who's always been cheerful, and deeply cared about this spot. We often nagged her to go to sleep cause she clearly seemed to be up and working with us for like 22-23 hours a day.

She also got hired instead of me the first time I applied, and frankly, I was happy.

Over the last five years, she's been through the metaphorical fires of hell, through some of the worst periods in the company, to some of the better ones. She handled it with good cheer, deep empathy, and all the best that I've seen of community managers.

I hate writing goodbyes for Community Managers, especially good ones.

There's folks who are pillars of the community, and one of us and I certainly think Cat counts as both.

Stack Overflow's clearly made a mistake, and I wish for Cat the best, as one of us and in many ways one of the best of us

18 Answers 18

145

Thanks for all the hard conversations, Cat

We both were members of Seasoned Advice, but didn't overlap much there; my first serious interaction with Catija was in 2016, when she wrote me for advice on how to better handle the thorny problem of ID questions on the Movies & TV site. Cat was an avid member of that site, and saw the moderator team becoming increasingly frustrated by the community's struggle with these questions - as on several other sites, they had become a large portion of the total questions being asked, but were often neglected, poorly-asked or poorly-answered. They were popular, but... Problematic. A state of affairs many of you will both recognize and sympathize with. We corresponded for a while regarding this problem, and I was struck by Catija's approach: she recognized the problem from the outset, and also recognized that the approach being taken by the folks on M&TV was divisive and ultimately unproductive. Rather than jumping in with increasingly strident assertions of harm, appeals to authority or just plain vitriol... She stepped back, sought to better understand the dynamics of the situation and the needs of the folks opposing her, and... Revived the conversations centered around what she'd learned.

I'd love to say that solved all the problems and those subsequent discussions were harmonious, but that's not how these things tend to go. I can say the next rounds of talks were much more productive, and the groups did eventually reach some form of compromise and a path forward.

That's been Cat's hallmark here: a willingness to persevere through the hard conversations even when success is dubious and the path to getting there winding and rocky. Whether those conversations concerned issues of topicality, moderator behavior, grammar(!) or the fundamental behaviors of the system itself, Cat would not shy away from discussion for reasons of convenience or comfort, but dive in and talk and listen and... Think really hard about what was said and what needed to be said next.

We're all gonna miss that, Cat - and we're gonna miss you. I will also continue to miss those carrot cake muffins you brought to a meetup years ago, but I suppose I could learn to bake those myself; replacing the rest of what you brought to the team won't be so easy, and I don't envy those who remain to try to fill your shoes.

So thank you, and good luck...

2
  • 3
    I'd love to roll an answer out here, but I think all thunder has been stolen from me ... I just found out talking with Cat in Mech's chat. Not happy about it, but I'm hoping it will lead to bigger and better. Leaving a comment because what you (Shog) and the rest have said, sums it up. Oct 23, 2023 at 21:29
  • Is this what you mean? Dec 11, 2023 at 17:22
101

I can confirm – as a regular user, a mod, and a CM – that Cat was an amazing CM. She's been consistently communicative and active on Meta, even when the conversations that need to be had are difficult ones, or when folks are more focused on venting than on actually discussing the topic at hand. I definitely tried to learn from her during my time as a CM (and as a mod before that). It's hard to express just how big an impact Cat had as a CM. The company has lost a major asset with Cat's layoff, and I wish the Community Team luck in moving forward without her.

3
  • 23
    Also, thank you V2Blast for helping the community. You were the only staff who I could easily talk with in private chat rooms and I'm grateful for that. You'll be missed here. I wish you good luck for your future. Oct 16, 2023 at 18:37
  • 4
    Yes, thanks you too @v2blast ! You had a presence and soo positive approach, it was a true quality for a CM
    – yagmoth555
    Oct 16, 2023 at 22:17
  • I appreciate working with you for that short amount of time on election business. Thanks for being responsive. Oct 17, 2023 at 19:51
72

I have too many things to say, so I'll keep it short.

I've been lucky enough to consider Cat a friend for quite a while now, since before she was hired and through the difficult times that we've seen in regards to community-company relations. The sheer dedication and effort that she has put in to community work, both from the standpoint of engaging with the community and internally advocating for the needs of the community, is astounding.

Whoever made this call doesn't realize just what it's costing the company, in terms of institutional knowledge and the clawed-back remnants of community goodwill. It's devastating to the community and the company in every way.

Cat, I'll see you around. I've found you;1 maybe now you can catch some sleep. We'll be here for you.


1 Link goes to a chat message by Catija on October 11, 2023, in a private room. The message says "I'm going before Mith finds me."

0
68

In some ways, when we went through this last time, you were the one thrust into the spotlight as the next closest thing to him. You became the most visible CM and the one we all turned to. You defended the company that didn't seem to value you at times, even when you were expressing your frustration with the company as well. You took the brunt of some actions that were not yours, and you stood up for yourself when needed. You were a voice of reason in some dark times.

When I became a mod in 2020, you were, more or less, the person we all pinged when we needed to know. Slate managed to wedge herself into that list (I guess she is the new "Shog9" now), but never replaced you.

Everyone has lamented this. It feels like nothing was learned. Two steps forward, three steps back.

You will be badly missed. In many ways, it felt like this was your show, even when we knew it wasn't

61

Like other decisions the company has made recently . . . this just stinks.

Catija and I first interacted in the middle of 2017. We were part of the Interpersonal Skills private beta, the start of the most challenging period of time I've spent on Stack Exchange. IPS's fundamental dependence on subjectivity was breaking the traditional SE model in a way few sites had done before. I remember we chatted (in July? early August? I can't find the room) about the challenges that would arise for whoever ultimately moderated the site. A couple weeks later, we found ourselves two thirds of the team facing those challenges. Go figure.

Moderating IPS felt like fighting a fire that was actively and consciously trying to burn you. We dealt with everything from chaos on the Hot Network Questions list to brazen bigotry to tensions between specific users to several incidents I'm not going to go into, but which pushed me to a breaking point. It required a deft touch, an ability to pivot from putting down a firm foot to being peacemakers for interpersonal conflicts on the site -- coming at a conflict with whatever tone was needed. That's really, really hard. Catija had -- and of course still has -- the right mix of qualities to deal with any and all of the above.

I'll ask you to trust that I'm not exaggerating when I say I think she may be the main reason IPS survived, and is certainly a big reason for the continued existence of primarily-subjective Stack Exchange sites. I wasn't remotely surprised when she became a CM; some of the best CMs I've been fortunate enough to interact with and learn from have those same crucial qualities. From all I could see, her tenure as a CM was marked with some of the same grace, calm and flexibility that made her successful as a moderator.

I have lots of other thoughts about the company's decisions that are not suitable for polite conversation. I'll simply say that the best assessment of someone tends come from how they act when everything is on fire. That alone should convince everyone that this is one of the crappier internal decisions the company has made recently. Catija, I hope that if you continue in community management elsewhere, that's how you'll be graded, because you do a dang good job at it.

0
56

With no disrespect meant to the rest of the team, Catija stood out, in a way that few people can.

Catija, first and foremost, was the bridge between the community/mods and the company. She understood both sides' perspective, and could communicate it effectively even when it felt like communication had otherwise broken down. She earned trust, and wasn't afraid to tell people (me included) when they were wrong. She had insight into underlying problems—what was working, what wasn't, and why. If there was ever someone who could convince me that maybe 1-rep voting was worth trying, it was her. And she was always there, ready to have that conversation, because she cared about doing the right thing, the right way. If she saw an angry mob, her first instinct was always to engage with them and persuade. That's not an easy thing to do, but she always did.

Any community would be lucky to have her, and removing her is a mistake for the future of the Stack Exchange community. What she brought to it will be dearly missed.

55

Catija interviewed me. During the interview all I could think was "Wow, if these are the kind of people I get to work with on a daily basis I really want this job." Catija didn't disappoint; rather she exceeded expectations.

She was my onboarding buddy, and I attribute most of my internal knowledge base to her. If I had a question on how to navigate the site or moderator tools she knew not only the correct way, but six different backdoors I could use to get where I needed to go. If I needed to know where certain internal documentation was, she had a link. If I needed to know who to talk to for a task I had, she made the introductions. We have a normal ramp-up time of six months for new CMs. I did it in three and that is all because of Catija.

Beyond that invaluable resource, what I will miss most is seeing my dear friend almost every day. It's not like there is a threat of her being forgotten. Catija has made an indelible mark on this site and company, and I am also surrounded with reminders of how wonderful she is.

On my desk at this moment I have the unikitty (unicorn/cat) stuffy that Catija sent me just because she thought of me when she saw it. I named them Reginald and they live next to the "funny saying" notepads she also sent to me. I love those notepads and use them every day, the sayings are pretty funny, but the one that reminds me of Catija says:

"I do not rise and shine; I caffeinate and hope for the best"

You see, I was always chipper during morning meetings and when I would say,

"Good Morningggg~~~~"

She would always return with,

"No!"

And then we would giggle. Those are the things I am going to miss.

I am going to miss our quick "temp-check" chats that turn into an hour of brainstorming and game planning. I am going to miss the, "sending this your way" pings when she would spot a T&S issue that she knew I needed eyes on. I am going to miss planning for Halloween (yes, I got more inflatables for my yard) and Christmas (no, I am not going to make those cookies this year), and promising each other to take time off, but I am not doing it because we can't seem to step away.

Thank you for everything Catija. You are brilliant and talented and whatever company scoops you up will be blessed to have you. I am going to miss you though. So much. <3

2
36

It's extremely difficult to overstate the professionalism, passion, and heart Catija brought to the table as a Community Manager here.

In Charcoal's operations, she frequently acted as a liaison between Charcoal admins and the Community Team in matters of spam/abuse across the network as well as technical challenges that SmokeDetector faced when interacting with SE's various systems. On Stack Overflow, she was a calm, articulated voice on matters of moderation and curation. In new sites, such as PLDI, she was the go-to CM for any and all things a new site would need (which were numerous!) — And in all those dealings, she was an absolute joy to talk to and interface with.

Catija didn't need to be all that she was. She didn't have to put so much passion into her role, but she did anyway, because she believes in the vision of the community and is always a voice we could rely on internally. For that, I don't think any amount of thanks could be enough.

Catija has been a Community Manager since 2018, and to suddenly wake up and find her access to hundreds of chatrooms and internal discussions severed and her job gone with zero notice or explanation is absolutely heartbreaking to me. I can't imagine how big of a gut-check this is to her. It's unbelievable to me that this was a decision that was even fathomable let alone actionable. Her tenure here did not deserve to end this way.

So thanks, Catija. I hope, wherever you go next, they're able to recognize the talent, experience, and drive that's just stepped in their door, and I hope that they covet it just as so many in this community have.

35

As one of Cat's coworkers, I wanted to share my gratitude for the opportunity to work with her and just put the colossal bummer it is in writing for things to have changed this way.

Cat always had this uncanny timing of slacking me about something I was working on that I was feeling uncertain about and offering clutch advice, direction, or insight about it. Her awareness of the community at large and our team's individual pieces of work and knowing when to direct some advice or good questions is something I cherish and try to model myself.

She also has this incredible ability to know when to check-in. The summer wasn't easy for us, but she has the emotional intelligence to know when to check in with people dealing with hard things to acknowledge what's going on and how hard it can be.

Since I started working here, I have admired her commitment to the community and her passion for everything she has put work into, whether this meant putting in the time to get something right or just asking the tough questions we needed to think about to do something right.


Thanks for everything, Cat. It's been a pleasure. Hope to see you around.

32

Back when Catija was hired, it did not surprise me that she was a regular and prolific community member and moderator beforehand - she just seemed to "get" the community aspect of the sites, something that seems to be slipping away from SE in recent years.

Every conversation and interaction with Catija that I've had/read, was well received, constructive, and in many cases her involvement was pivotal in smoothing out any ruffled feathers. I saw how she worked tirelessly to chase up community concerns, always making a point to respond even in situations where the answer was unknown/pending. She didn't shy away from bad news, but instead embraced it, tried to find compromises or explain why things were the way they were, in a way that treated other people as equals just having a constructive conversation, not as adversaries to be silenced or ignored. Every project she was involved in benefited from her positive attitude and ability to interact with both the positive and not so positive facets of the community.


@Catija - I am incredibly, deeply sorry to hear that your tenure at Stack Exchange has been cut short, and I wish you the very best of luck in your future endeavours.

30

Thank you from me as well, Catija. Your many contributions here were always spot on, to-the-point, and supportive, but I especially want to thank you for your help on Arts & Crafts, where we met: you helped shape the site and continued doing so. You also guided me when I got elected moderator, and I felt you were there when needed—so I'll just reaffirm Journeyman Geek's kind words:

Stack Overflow's clearly made a mistake, and I wish for [you] the best, as one of us and in many ways one of the best of us

30

Few things that I remember the most:

  1. Cat has habit of baking her own hats. (yes it was real.)
  2. Cat had the amazing ability to calm me down while scolding. Something my parents never succeeded in.
  3. My first comment addressed to her. nearly a decade ago, says: (found it using this SEDE query)

    @Catija haha, I'm honored :D

And yes, it is indeed an honor to know you, Cat, and sorry for all the times I upset you with my comments.

28

Catija, I haven't known or interacted with you as much as others, but I would still like to let you know that I appreciate the actions you took on Programming Language Design and Implementation to help keep that community civil and safe, before it had moderators. I'm sure there are many other communities you've helped out from their beginning. You were there for us. Thank you.

You've been a community manager here for so long, it's still hard to believe you've suddenly been removed with no warning.

28

Catija was likely the CM I had the most interactions with, whether it was part of normal mod/CM interactions, working on new projects for the community, or just chatting casually about different things in the TL. As a CM, she was a model for how to interact with users. She was excellent at deescalating things when tempers flared, trying to understand the root cause and address it, knowing how to word things (a skill I wish I had), and talking to people instead of at them. I learned a lot from watching her work.

Thanks for all your work over the years Cat. It was a great pleasure working with you, and you will be missed.

PS: Feel free to ping me in chat or discord if you have any Pokemon Go questions.

PPS: Can I get the recipe for those carrot cake muffins Shog mentioned? That sounds amazing.

27

I didn't always agree with Catija and we bumped heads more than a few times, but she was also one of the most productive, helpful, and devoted staff members. This network of communities is much worse off now.

You will be sorely missed. All the best with your future endeavours.

26

Cat, I've only been around for less than two years. I think the first time I really knew anything about you was from your unicorn meta zoo post. But since then, in that time, I continued to witness your responsiveness to the community, understanding of the network and its problems, caring about those problems and earnest effort to design and advocate for solutions for them, cheerful spirit, fairness, and humility. I got a chance to have a nice chat with you in the tavern recently about network problems and solutions.

The little interaction I've had with you, and reading of the things you've written left me so glad that you were a CM- like- "this person gets it". It... really sucks that you're not one now (honestly, the more I think about it, the more frustrating it is to me that this happened). I wished there was more of you in the company. Not less.

I hope to still see you around, though I understand if you just feel like moving on to other places. Thanks so much for everything you've done- the things I saw, the things I didn't see, for being you, for your toil.

25

I haven't known Cat as long as some of y'all - but the entire time I've been a mod she's been an ever-present rock. Always calm, always supportive, and seemingly always present (does she ever sleep?) - in short you rock Cat and you will be missed :(

22

Thank you, Catija. I haven't known you personally as well as many other people, but was always inspired by your contributions. As another PLDI member, thank you deeply for dropping in to The Garbage Collector time to time to add some insight and for upkeeping the site for so long before we got official mods. I truly believe you were one of the best community managers.

Again, thank you.

You must log in to answer this question.

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