-30

Feature request: a Stack Overflow announcement account!

So as you all know, Stack Overflow manages a lot of the administration of the Stack Exchange network, so this is not site specific.

I just want to make that really clear, so I don’t get mugged.

So my feature request is for there to be a Stack Overflow announcement account for announcements people may not take too well.

Such as this one: Our Partnership with OpenAI

This poor staff has lost over 1K reputation in 10 days through over 800 downvotes.

It is not their fault that Stack Overflow has sent them out to announce their not-so-well taken announcement about the AI partnership.

An announcement account could have saved this record downvote flurry.

This ‘announcement account’ would not have reputation and could only be used to make announcements.

Think about it. This would be so much better for everyone!

16
  • 10
    That's something an individual member of staff can arrange for themselves, and doesn't require a feature request from us lot. The suggestion might get taken up though. But... it is a hazard of posting on main meta, downvoting to infernal depths. See: How do I post on meta and not die trying
    – W.O.
    Commented May 16 at 22:45
  • @W.O. OK, I guess that is true- but it is an issue that need adressing. Commented May 16 at 22:46
  • 13
    Is it? I'm not convinced that it really does. There are already "Community Bot" accounts. If they'd wanted what you suggest, they'd likely already have it. Mind you, the downvoting staff-posts is trending pretty hard over the last few years.
    – W.O.
    Commented May 16 at 22:50
  • Yes- but I just also want to know why they haven't? Commented May 16 at 22:53
  • 8
    This already sort of exists. The staff member could just dissociate the post from their account, as is done when a user invokes the CC license's clause to request it. Commented May 16 at 23:25
  • 8
    It's reputation (which is akin to "likes" on Facebook or LinkedIn, meaningless pixie points), not money. It's not like their level of reputation grants them privileges here or anything. And it kind of comes with the territory: announce unpopular things, win fun prizes. I'm sure they don't take it personally (how could they?), especially here, since it is not "punishment" for something bad, it is just disagreement. Like the down-votes you've received: they're not "Hey, you suck!" they're just "Hey, this is not a great idea." Commented May 16 at 23:33
  • 4
    The rep being lost is hardly the most painful part of having something you posted be downvoted to oblivion. At best this is just a bandaid and wouldn't actually have any real effect short of making the messages less personal by design... which is a step in the wrong direction. That's what making announcements on linkedin is for.
    – Kevin B
    Commented May 16 at 23:43
  • 8
    The community already complains that the staff at SO don't put in enough "face time" on the network. I can't see how making all announcements anonymous would help with that sentiment at all.
    – Robotnik
    Commented May 17 at 0:46
  • 6
    I guess what I want to know is what is this trying to solve. Is reputation the main problem? Staff can do many things without reputation, so reputation is pretty much meaningless on Meta. Commented May 17 at 2:57
  • how would anyone predetermine what post should come through this account (that is, what would be "received badly")? Just because a post has a lot of downvotes doesn't mean its necessarily bad, nor does something having many upvotes mean its necessarily good. Also why do you think reputation matters to a staff account anyway?
    – user13267
    Commented May 17 at 6:42
  • Well, I think the idea is all official posts go through that. There's one argument OP has missed, which is it ensures that official announcements and such are not tied to one user, but I don't think that designing for key staff transience, and a lack of job security for them is generally a good thing. Commented May 17 at 7:15
  • I wonder if the reputation cap works in both directions? Commented May 17 at 8:29
  • 2
    It does not Its been asked about before and you can lose rep all the way to 1 rep left. Commented May 17 at 8:31
  • I don't want to accidentally dupehammer this without oversight, but... I just realised that the reason I remembered that it had been suggested in the past was... I had - with this question. Personally It is interesting to see both the reaction to that and this, and my own changes in attitude about this. Commented Jun 1 at 3:55

2 Answers 2

20

It's been suggested in the past I believe and I'd argue that to an extent, it's a very bad idea precisely because it shields a staff member from votes in either way.

While some parts of the company look at the network in terms of 'millions' of users, much of the smooth running of the network does tend to rely on personal trust. Historically the company had staff at every level, interacting with the community via meta sites and other means. I'd had arguments with the then CEO/founder over content on my own site, and we worked out mutually beneficial compromises.

Creating a company/'bot' account to shield staff is harmful because while it does 'protect' them from unpopular decisions of the company, it also prevents many meaningful, direct interactions.

It also in some cases prevents personal responsibility for specific actions, and encourages a certain distance from the company and community, which considering SE's culture and history, would be harmful. We're strongest working together, though often the company seems to insist on its own way.

Before the last layoffs, I was lobbying very hard for community hires for the community team and elsewhere. I wasn't particularly successful, and the pool of willing candidates was more of a puddle. While this was unsuccessful, my secondary goal was to encourage closer, direct interactions with the community from staff. I'd say that this is an important reason why we need people posting.

These direct interactions, even ones that seem negative build trust and as long as the staff member follows up increases the respect people have for them, which in turn makes it easier to do their job.

Writing for meta is also a bit of an acquired skill. SE used to hire for it, and a good community manager needs it, as does anyone who works directly with the communities. Poorly received posts, as harsh as it sounds can be a learning experience company wide, and sometimes for the person.

To be able to handle criticism constructively and to use the platform effectively allows one to do community work better. It builds accountability and trust, and there's a reason people like Shog and Jeff are well loved and have had an impact long after they left the company. Some of these skills are not really transferable from elsewhere.

Where we can't get people with certain pre-existing skills in working with these communities, direct interactions as you build up the respect people have for you, and trust over time, enabling them to better use the skills they came in with. In a sense you exercise the muscles that help you carry your work, and the community's needs.

There's a small pool of folks who are very good at this within the company and they're effective properly supported by the company in communicating with us. I'd even argue that they're undervalued. Telling them they can't do things in their own name seems a little insulting.

A common company account - while admittedly acting like training wheels, prevents all this. It prevents a staff member from building their reputation with the community, and where the job involves dealing with the community, throws a veil over the staff member stopping them from doing so.

It just doesn't fit how we do things, and IMO does more harm than good.

0
2

I actually think this would be very useful. Not so much to protect employee rep, but more to make it clear that announcements are official. We have loads of important posts all over MSE that were posted by employees who are no longer working for SE. So these now look like the work of some random network user. For example:

These are just random examples I found by looking at posts by people who no longer work for SE. Sure, some of these still stand on their own because those folks knew how to make a good argument, but we also have cases where posts by ex employees are giving official company positions and they look like it's just random users.

So yes, having a company account would make sense here, even if it it only used after people are no longer with the company to salvage old staff posts.

6
  • 4
    TBF - that's partially a result of unfortunate staff turnover I'd love to see less of. Commented May 17 at 11:51
  • Sounds like a different feature request altogether - not making staff anonymous or hiding behind some generic account, but marking them as "staff-at-the-time" in some way. Also elaborated on here. Commented May 17 at 15:37
  • Heh, and that's a case in point since Catija is no longer an employee @testing-ma-lady! But my point here is that using an official "announcement" account would solve all of this. After all, staff members who post here don't do so to post their own views, or at least not always, but those of the company. So it doesn't make much sense to have them appear as individuals. Calling it "hiding" is a bit silly.
    – terdon
    Commented May 17 at 15:44
  • I was paraphrasing the aim of this feature request. Commented May 17 at 15:52
  • I'd say there's a lot of nuance- there's value in preserving the historical context something was posted in, and some folks names carry weight. A counter-reason might be that in some situations, it could be used to avoid responsibility for a controversial decision. I'd love a staff-emeritus tag, but that would be tricky where someone wants nothing to do with the network, or subsequently acted in a undesirable manner. Commented May 18 at 14:42
  • If I'd gotten hired, I was pondering having a separate work account if allowed, and when I'd left eventually just including the time I'd worked in my username. I'd also need a new dog to avoid my two accounts being confused :D. There's a lot of potential ways to handle this. Commented May 18 at 14:43

You must log in to answer this question.

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