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It brings me no joy to write this post.

Just over a month ago, Stack Overflow announced their most recent round of layoffs for the 2023 calendar year. Following that announcement, Philippe (VP, Community @ Stack) posted a follow-up in which he solicited questions & comments from the community & promised follow-up. In the second post, Philippe writes:

I’m expecting this post to spark many questions, and we’ll do our best to answer as many as we can. If we answer that something is confidential, please don’t take that as an opportunity to speculate.

On the 16th (the day of the lay-off and of the post), Philippe posted responses to several questions. On the 18th, Philippe responded to another tranche of questions.

Unfortunately, the company stopped responding after that.

I've gently and not-so-gently nudged for more responses, but have been incredibly disappointed.

There are a few highly-upvoted, high-quality questions from community members (myself included), that really deserve a response from the company, and it is disheartening to see the flow of responses simply stop.

My expectations

Based on Philippe's own words, I've been hoping to see responses to more of these questions, even if the response was "Sorry, this is confidential, so we can't answer directly," or some other acknowledgement of the question, even if it can't/won't be answered.

The company's failure to meet expectations

Philippe was quite direct in saying that we were to expect responses from the Company. From the appointment of multiple official spokespersons, to the mention that official responses from other Staff/CMs would not be made, everything signaled that the post would remain an open line of communication between the Company & Community.

I was hopeful that given 2023's rocky path between Company & Community, this post could be a valuable tool in re-focusing and re-validating the company's commitments to its core values, notably and specifically being transparent & community-centered. Screenshot of StackOverflow.co's home page, where the company's core values are listed

Unease with existing answers. Lack of transparency.

Even when responses were made, several of them strike me as disingenuous. In a response on Oct 19, Philippe says:

Yes, management was impacted, up to and including at least one VP.

However, one Senior Director wrote a farewell letter that begins:

I wanted to let each of you know that I have chosen to be laid off today

Given that managers self-selected to include themself in the layoff, I don't think Philippe's original statement was truly transparent. If Management had not had the opportunity to add themself to the layoff, would any VP-level staff have been impacted? Signs point to no.

Additionally (it's been pointed out too many times for me to even cite), of the four official spokespeople who would be responding to questions on that post:

  • Lily Toy (Chief Legal Officer) does not even have an account to respond with.
  • Prashanth Chandrasekar (CEO) rarely engages or even logs in on the Network.
  • Jody Bailey (CTO) rarely engages on Meta.
  • Philippe Beaudette (VP, Community) is left as the only "real" spokesperson who has responded to any of the Community's questions.

After a long intro, my questions:

  • Does the Company plan on responding to any more of the questions asked on Philippe's post?

  • Can the Community expect engagement from Prashanth, Lily, or Jody? Or will Philippe remain the sole contributor to responses on that post?

  • Does the Company feel that it is fulfilling its obligations & promises to the Community?

  • Does the Company feel that it has lived up to its core values of transparency and being community centered in the way in which it has handled communications related to the most recent layoff?

I look forward to hearing a response from the Company. I'm not mad, just disappointed.

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    I would argue, not only does this follow a pattern of failing community expectations, that it also shows a pattern of the current strategy (which from the outside, isn't that different from the past) reflect a failure to meet their own expectations, with collateral damage. This isn't the first time the company blamed layoffs, and cutbacks to public Q&A on their other products failing to meet expectations. Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 0:00
  • Related Time for SE Volunteer Labor Union?
    – Rubén
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 15:00

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