It seems that the simple "it is all about the business" explanation becomes more and more convincing, see the excellent analysis by George Stocker for example.
So, maybe, just maybe, this is all just because a few people want to become really rich over an IPO. You know, having breathtaking ideas, building an outstanding community and creating a high ...
On SO (in particular) there was a drop in activity during the end-of-year holidays.
The number of posts now is the virtually the same as last year -- now 18000 posts per week compared to what looks like an average of about 19000 for the whole of last year, and identical to this month last year.
The ratio of questions-to-answers doesn't seem to have changed....
As a user, I'm reasonably happy. Like you, I use SE to learn things by answering other people's questions, just outside of my comfort zone. And that works. But my involvement will stop there(*).
SE needs moderators and reviewers, but nothing forces anyone to do that job for free. And if everybody stops reviewing/moderating this place will lose a lot of its ...
In this podcast (which is not paywalled) Joel said they want to increase revenue -- after whch, an IPO.
He sold Trello (perhaps the kind of "sale" you might be thinking of) -- but not Stack Exchange.
See also this answer.
I will leave an answer here for others with the same question.
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I don't see an issue with the message text. You are being told to award the bounty to the best answer as soon as possible. If no answers currently exist, then "as soon as possible" will be after an answer is posted.