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Stack Overflow Admits It Hasn't Been Welcoming To 'Newer Coders, Women, People of Color, and Others'; Outlines How It Plans To Change That (stackoverflow.blog) 618

Paul Fernhout writes: Jay Hanlon, executive vice president of culture and experience at Stack Overflow, penned a column on the company's blog last week in which he admitted the "painful truth" that "too many people experience Stack Overflow as a hostile or elitist place, especially newer coders, women, people of color, and others in marginalized groups." Hanlon, added, "our employees and community have cared about this for a long time, but we've struggled to talk about it publicly or to sufficiently prioritize it in recent years. And results matter more than intentions." The post adds: "Now, that's not because most Stack Overflow contributors are hostile jerks. The majority of them are generous and kind. Sure, a few are... just generous, I guess? But our active users regularly express their frustration that we haven't done more to make outsiders feel more welcome. The real problem isn't the community -- it's us:

We trained users to tell other users what they're doing wrong, but we didn't provide new folks with the necessary guidance to do it right. We failed to give our regular users decent tools to review content and easily find what they're looking for. We sent mixed messages over the years about whether we're a site for "experts" or for anyone who codes."

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Stack Overflow Admits It Hasn't Been Welcoming To 'Newer Coders, Women, People of Color, and Others'; Outlines How It Plans To C

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  • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:27AM (#56529549) Homepage

    "Now, that's not because most Stack Overflow contributors are hostile jerks.

    But they are.

    • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:33AM (#56529595)

      "too many people experience Stack Overflow as a hostile or elitist place, especially newer coders, women, people of color, and others in marginalized groups."

      New coders maybe, but are there people creating handle like "chick coder", "black overflow", "wheelchair windows", and other such names that tell everyone that they are a woman, person of color, or in some marginalized group?

      This just sounds like more pc bullshit. It reminds me of the NY Times headline for the apocalypse "World ends tomorrow. Women, children, & minorities hit hardest."

      • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:40AM (#56529667) Homepage Journal

        Firstly - yeah, how do you tell. StackOverflow doesn't have avatars and the poster's name appears underneath their comment. You'd have to really go out of your way to find out if someone was a women or gay or whatever unless that user is screaming it.

        Secondly - what are "newer coders" doing in that group. That's not a protected status or marginalized group (unless they are suggesting that it's got more minorities in it than the rest of stack overflow, but I see little evidence of that). From a business perspective, obviously they need to find a way to engage that group without frustrating more experienced contributors - but that's not really in the same category as being more inclusive to people of color.

        • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @12:01PM (#56529843)

          'Newer coders' on SO should be asking questions...after verifying that the question has not already been asked and answered.

          Even when already asked and answered, in my experience, the question will be more or less politely referenced to the correct thread, often with terse instructions to 'search first next time'.

          Where the abuse starts?
          When a reference to thread isn't 'good enough', the user obviously wants his homework done and compilable.
          When someone posts an incorrect answer, then gets defensive and abusive when corrected and voted down.

          But also note: I don't have an account. It's just a resource, typically it's the place to go (via your favorite search engine) when you suspect a doc is wrong or API is broken.

          I have noted a bunch of non-technical _bullshit_ in the recent active threads list. There are people using it as a chat room, some are clearly SJW air thieves, looking for fights. They find them, no surprise.

          • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @01:25PM (#56530723)

            Too often the "correct" thread is full of incorrect answers. Saying "asked and answered" is being hostile, especially when the question is not exactly the same and is seeking detail or clarification or is questioning the answers. Sometimes it feels like the substitute teacher saying "we already had a vote that two plus two equals five, so stop asking about it!"

            Ie, I often see things like "How do I do in C?" and they are pointed forcefully at a C# answer. Or "how can I do without using Boost libraries", only to be given answers about how to use Boost.

            Because stack overflow is a social media site where people earn points by answering and can be voted up and down, it's a competition to get in the most answers or comments, right or wrong.

          • We failed to give our regular users decent tools to review content and easily find what they're looking for.

            That is the real crux of the problem. By "review content" here, he means "search", and he's absolutely right.

            Coders use many different words to talk about the same concepts and the search system sucks at taking this into account. Unless you just happen to hit on the right keywords, you can spend an hour searching for an answer that is there, finally post a question about it, and get slammed by some elitist for allegedly not searching. After a few times, you just avoid SO.

            People who've learned the particular

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          Secondly - what are "newer coders" doing in that group. That's not a protected status or marginalized group (unless they are suggesting that it's got more minorities in it than the rest of stack overflow, but I see little evidence of that). From a business perspective, obviously they need to find a way to engage that group without frustrating more experienced contributors - but that's not really in the same category as being more inclusive to people of color.

          I think that "newer coders" being abused (just like any forum anywhere, really) is the actual problem at hand. Identity politics shoves its nose under the tent only because some of those "newer coders" are also not evil white males - perhaps disproportionately so, given recent efforts to ramp up the number of female coders.

          Given that no one can tell you're a dog on the internet", but everyone call tell you're a newb, it sure seems likely the latter is the actual problem.

      • ... now that's damn funny, I don't care who you are.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Yes, quite often it is apparent what someone's gender or skin tone or disability is on SE. Aside from the not uncommon use of real names over there, on some sites like Workplace and Interpersonal these attributes are often quite relevant to the question itself.

        The statement that some groups are particularly affected by this is based on their yearly survey data, going back many years.

        • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

          SO is driven by the community. If you suspect you won't get a good response if your gender is known, don't make it known. I don't think I've ever made mine known. Certainly not on purpose.

          Any large group of people is going to contain bigots of various sorts. Just like in the physical world, you just have to learn to ignore them or avoid them. At least on SO, you can be as anonymous as you care to be.

        • Who takes the time to try to look up someone based on their real name for a question on an internet website? However, this begs the question as to why people are using their real name on the internet to begin with though. That's just basic common sense.

          I'm also not sure how readily apparent someone's gender or ethnicity are from most user names either. For example, people have often assumed that you're female based on your username (or maybe it's just the constant feminism), but they're wrong from what y
      • by spikesahead ( 111032 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @12:40PM (#56530259)

        Click on your username at the upper right

        click 'options'

        go to the 'Exclusions' tab

        click the box next to msmash

        click save.

        Enjoy a social justice free slashdot!

        Thankfully this nonsense made me aware of the fact that I wasn't logged in.

      • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @12:53PM (#56530395)

        New coders maybe

        And by new coders I cannot tell if they mean "new coders" or "people asking for homework answers"

      • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @03:40PM (#56531955)

        Anybody going into such a situation with a handle that screams "I AM MINORITY/FEMALE! I AM BETTER THAN YOU!" gets what they deserve. I have zero compassion for this particularly nasty species of jerk.

    • Re:Wrong emphasis (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:43AM (#56529705)

      'To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.' — Douglas Adams

    • If it's anything like the other Stack forums, that seems highly likely. And that includes the mods.

    • Re:Wrong emphasis (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AlanObject ( 3603453 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:59AM (#56529823)

      But they are.

      I understand where this is coming from. I have use SO for years and built a reputation, but just the other day I posted a careful question of the type I had been doing for years and got downvoted with an "does not show research" justification.

      That was irritating. Then I got some answers and it got upvoted again and the answer(s) I got were very useful. As usual. So my latest went from -1 to 0 and the answer I got is now a 3. So the downvote was clearly either disregardable or not justified in the first place.

      From repeated experiences like this and complaints I see in places like quora I have the following take on it:

      1. There are a lot of jerks with high reputation on SO who just seem to delight on stomping on newbies or actually anyone they can just for the ego stroke.

      2. There are a lot of low value posts on SO that actually do deserve to be downvoted simply because they are obviously some junior student programmer who doesn't understand their homework and are hoping that someone will do it for them. I can understand an reasonable veteran getting annoyed at this and responding by acting like a jerk even if they really aren't.

      3. SO should implement a "Homework" tag and encourage new users to use it so their posts can be judged by a different standard and filtered out by those who don't want to see it. Or maybe just have a completely separate site for them which is more focused on mentoring than individual Q&A wiki-like articles.

      Hostile or not, many of my programming question google searches end up with a SO link and I will continue to use the service. I wish I had the time to contribute more but I don't. At the end of the day I don't care if the guy who answers my question is a jerk or not but over they years SO has given me exposure to some pretty amazing people.

      • many of my programming question google searches end up with a SO link and I will continue to use the service.

        Despite having an account, a Google search is really the only way I use the service.

      • So... humans being humans, is it not?

      • Re:Wrong emphasis (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DrSpock11 ( 993950 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @01:20PM (#56530683)

        I'm glad SO management is finally taking this problem seriously. I have a good reputation on the site (~5000), and the situation has gotten so bad that I literally cannot post a question without it being overwhelmed by trolling "administrators" (other users with too much rep for their own good) within a few minutes. And the worst part is, they barely, if at all read the question before downvoting or trying to close the post.

        Some do a search for questions with similar keywords and mark as duplicate and close even if they don't understand the topic area well enough to distinguish the difference between similar posts (same keywords != same question). Even for carefully written, well researched questions, some ask for an impossible bar of pre-preparation, such as making an entire open-source repro project to demonstrate the issue you're experiencing. When you're working for a company making propritary software under tight deadlines, this is an impossible request to fulfill.

        And then, of course, once you have a downvote or two, the non-hostile person out there that might actually have the answer to your question no longer gets it highlighted in their feed and never even sees it.

        All in all, asking questions on SO has become an absolutely miserable experience.

        My vote is to completely eliminate the moderation privileges and downvotes for users. Make the site purely based on positive reinforcement (upvotes) rather than downvotes, or one of the many moderation tags (duplicates, offtopic, unclear, etc). Only offensive questions should be able to be moderated.

        • by ruir ( 2709173 )
          If there is effectively no moderation, then how will you search for answer in the middle of all the questions? If some questions are upvoted, and your not, have you considered for a while the problem may not be moderation?
  • How? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:34AM (#56529603) Homepage Journal
    How do you know what race or gender anyone is on StackOverflow? Do you have to submit a DNA test? How do they know their demographics? Are they spying on their users somehow?
    • I should type faster. Now you'll get the insightful and I'll get the redundant.

      But I'll claim that I'm a foreigner and can't type fast in English, that should do. Try to prove me wrong!

    • by jetkust ( 596906 )
      By their username or avatar. Unless you are 100% aloof, you can very often assume country of origin, sex, race just from the username they choose, and it can be as simple as using their actual name. It's not rocket science. No spying required.
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      You cannot. SO is pushing a propaganda lie here, possible due to having been exposed to some corrupting SJW influence.

  • by zugmeister ( 1050414 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:36AM (#56529613)
    It's like that for everyone. You don't get to be special from behind your keyboard.
    Flip this on its head. Do you think (just as an example) a white male coder asking a question is coddled and treated with respect?
    Maybe the culture of elitism / hostility should change, but let's not try to look at this as some SJW cause...
  • I get that a newbie can be easily identified; but how do you the if posters are " women, people of color, and others in marginalized groups" unless they say so? My guess is that that "most Stack Overflow contributors are hostile jerks" is probably not far off from the mark; because the internet no one cal tell if you are a dog. Recognize the fundamental problem, which is a community that has decided to do things a certain way. I have found, at least in technology oriented forums, there are far more people
    • I guess they must assume "hostile jerks" means they must be straight white males. This makes no sense to me. Unless they are spying on their users, how would they know their race and gender?
    • Yes and no. There's that kind of person, but there's also the jaded geek that spent half his life on the relevant boards, answered every single question that comes again and again until he burned out and it just pissed that people can't be bothered to use the search function.

  • Stack Overflow is a Q&A website how can you know the identity of the person on the other side to be rude based on the above mentioned criteria? Seems to me like its more of a Jerk problem than a "rude to women, people of color, and others in marginalized groups." But I guess using these terms is whats new hip and trendy right now to make the teens smile. like back in the 90's everything was "extreme"
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:37AM (#56529623) Homepage

    How am I supposed to determine a person's race and gender from their stackoverflow posts? In that context why does any of it matter?

    • "Hi i am ramamurthy23 please intimate me on this question"
      That's, for example, how you can determine someone's race and gender.

  • when you can't even answer a question or append a comment without already having a "reputation", yet you can't get a reputation without having answered questions, then the site is blatantly restricting it to those who know how to game the system for reputation points rather than actual knowledge on a particular topic.

    I'll still use it, but I've given up trying to figure out what the hell it takes to get them to let me comment on something.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Once again Slashdot shows why it's design is genius.

      SE displays everyone's rep publicly, and so becomes an MMORPG where people try to game the system as much as possible while hampering other people's efforts to compete with them. It also leads to low quality answers being posted just because, like Slashdot, first post often gets more attention and sets the tone for the whole thing.

      Slashdot keeps karma mostly private. You can kind of infer it by seeing if people get a karma bonus, but it's pretty opaque. Ev

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:39AM (#56529657)

    How do you know someone is black, a woman or in any other "marginalized group" on the internet UNLESS of course the person says so?

    Which doesn't even tell you whether the person actually is in one such group, only that they claim to be. Because... hell, how would you determine that?

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:41AM (#56529679)

    I agree that most of the stuff I read on Stack Overflow is pretty high quality. Although it does tend towards the curt. That in itself is no bad thing: when I want an answer, I just want an answer - what buttons to press, I don't want to be lectured on principles, alternatives, the respondent's preferred alternative or what is in vogue that month.

    But there are many people who reply, who seem to be mostly concerned with displaying their own talents for creating complexity out of simplicity, (imagined) superiority and opinions-as-fact. Few of them actually contribute anything worthwhile, but they do create a toxic environment that I can see, would deter people less thick-skinned from coming back.

    • Yes, KISS isn't quite the forte of many Stackoverflow-respondents. I mean, yes, in many cases they are right and their approach is the correct one in larger setups, but when someone asks how to best configure a linux DNS server for their home network, lecturing them about the pitfalls of zone transfers isn't going to help them and probably a problem they won't even remotely touch.

    • I agree that most of the stuff I read on Stack Overflow is pretty high quality. Although it does tend towards the curt. That in itself is no bad thing: when I want an answer, I just want an answer - what buttons to press, I don't want to be lectured on principles, alternatives, the respondent's preferred alternative or what is in vogue that month.

      But there are many people who reply, who seem to be mostly concerned with displaying their own talents for creating complexity out of simplicity, (imagined) superiority and opinions-as-fact. Few of them actually contribute anything worthwhile, but they do create a toxic environment that I can see, would deter people less thick-skinned from coming back.

      The couple of times I used Stack Overflow the questions I posed had fairly obvious answers, I just hadn't thought of them yet. The answers were rather curt and borderline offensive but gave me enough to figure out I was being an idiot and find the answer to my question. I could see thinner skinned being offended by the responses but I got my question answered and don't particularly care about the tone.

  • I call bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zmooc ( 33175 ) <.ten.coomz. .ta. .coomz.> on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:51AM (#56529749) Homepage

    Too many people experience Stack Overflow as a hostile or elitist place, especially newer coders, women, people of color, and others in marginalized groups.

    While I can readily believe it might be a hostile place to newbies, if it is experienced as a hostile place by "women, people of color, and others in marginalized groups" I guess that has nothing to do with Stack Overflow and everything with these people. Why do I believe that? Because gender and skin color are usually not obvious or even visible. Therefore they cannot influence how people treat members of these groups. Some people do use their real names, but due to the international character of Stack Overflow, even for many of these, it is not clear whether they're names for boys or girls.

    Also, I can imagine the culture on Stack Overflow to be heavily influenced by Software Engineers - people that are used to giving and receiving no-nonsense feedback by the shipload; you cannot do code reviews if you're going to make a politically correct story out of them. Others may find this direct to-the-point approach to be "hostile". They just cannot handle the truth. Now I happen to be Dutch and apparently we're the most direct people in the world and I feel quite at home on Stack Overflow. I do NOT feel at home with people and cultures where "you are wrong" is considered an insult when in fact it is just a fact. Deal with it, people. It's efficient. Stack Overflow is meant to help your neocortex, not to comfort your cerebellum.

    Now that I've RTFA, apparently that's exactly what's going on.

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      This. Some people seem to make a hobby out of being offended, and finding offense in everything.

      There is certainly a grey area there, and there are kind and less kind ways of stating a fact, but what some people get offended over is more of a mental health issue than one of rudeness.

  • Stack Overflow is operated by more than one person? WTF?
    • I was also surprised at the "our employees" comment. Apparently they have 250 employees!
    • and that#'s perhaps what the problem is - it stopped being a little company running a Q&A site and started to become a silicon valley activist SJW hobby for people with stupid job titles such as "executive vice president of culture and experience "

  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:53AM (#56529765) Homepage

    I've used StackOverflow since it was created. It's definitely hostile to people who don't do any amount of effort before posting a question (maybe that's newcomers?) You can't be a contributor on that site for long without getting frustrated at seeing people post homework questions again-and-again. It's even fairly hostile to people who do their own research before posting - if you can't figure something out and you post your question you'll definitely get a "you're doing it wrong" answer, and you'll often get an, "if you'd architected your software completely differently you'd never even have a problem like this" kind of answer.

    However, I've never seen racist or sexist content there. Ever. Where did that data come from?

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @12:20PM (#56530059)

      Could someone hand that guy a mod point or two? He's spot on.

      This is basically what's going on here, and with similar sites where people can ask questions and get them answered. It works that way everywhere. People ask questions, other people who know the answers answer. This goes for a while, sometimes months, sometimes even a year or so. And then the people answering start to crack because it's always the same questions, and on top of it you get people who get angry with you when you try to help them because you don't answer their question in a way they understand or, my personal favorite, because your answer isn't what they wanted to get.

      That kinda burns you out.

      And yes, that means that you'll eventually get to hear "Dude, we answered that a million times before, care to find the field up there labeled search? Effin' use it!"

  • by bracktra ( 712808 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:55AM (#56529777)

    I don't go to stack overflow to be welcomed. I go there to get answers to esoteric library and build errors that make no sense, or to copy pasta code that I could figure out myself but I don't want to.

    I don't care in the slightest what the color, gender, or sexual persuasion of the person answering the question is. I don't even much care if they are nice or condescending so long as I get an answer.

    Stop "white knighting", Jay Hanlon EVP of Culture and Experience of Stack Overflow. Your rhetoric won't get my questions answered more correctly, will probably lead to a degradation in the overall quality of the site, and your job title sounds made up.

  • "Well, the nice thing about problems that relate to how people feel is that finding the truth is easy. Feelings have no “technically correct.” They’re just what the feeler is telling you. When someone tells you how they feel, you can pack up your magnifying glass and clue kit, cuz that’s the answer. You’re done. "

    ORLY? What if someone is simply offended by everything? You can't stop at feelz... you have to determine a reason. You'll end up making a bunch of changes and the com

  • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock@ p o etic.com> on Monday April 30, 2018 @12:05PM (#56529887)

    I regret that I didn't join The Well (well.com) in the '80s when I had the chance. It is home to some of the most interesting minds on earth. I could join today, as member # ten million or so, but I would not ever get to interact with those interesting people. They have access to a different area of the site where they can conveniently share their thoughts with other elite members. Common folk can't go there.

    And it has to be that way. If I were among the elite, would I want to be bothered by common rabble? I think not! I would go elsewhere in a hurry if that happened. Thus it has always been. Hollywood and sport celebrities and successful musicians all have ways to mingle with each other without the bother of fans and hangers-on.

  • by www.sorehands.com ( 142825 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @12:14PM (#56529993) Homepage

    As judge said to opposing counsel, grow thicker skin.

    The world is not always nice. I don't remember seeing race or sex indicators on post. I see people asking stupid questions and getting roasted, so what? If you don't want to get roasted, don't ask stupid questions.

    I had a tech support person who I worked with, I would roast him when he asked stupid questions. After a while, he would come to me with the solution and have me confirm it. Or at least without a solution, he would have come with what had been ruled out and provided useful information that shows that he thought through the problem before coming to me.

    Did I mention he was a white male? Or should that matter? Should I treat a woman or a someone of a different race differently by being nicer to them? Should I be nicer to someone based on their race or sex? Isn't that discrimination? Shouldn't I be an asshole to everyone equally and not discriminate? If someone is a dumb ass, treat them so regardless of sex or race?

  • I gave up on SO (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @12:36PM (#56530213) Homepage Journal

    The SJW issue aside, as I don't think that will ultimately affect the fate of SO. Too many times reasonable debate on a technical topic is squashed or the wrong answers are accepted. The way the site is structured and its policies means it doesn't iterate on finding the best answer. SO was a good experiment, but without a massive correction it's unlikely to be relevant.

    People who are active on the site are rewarded and allowed more power and thus able to be even more active. This would be fine if their actions were always positive and valuable. But really any activity even stupid actions or early enforcement of site policy to the detriment of closing the topic is rewarded.

    Luckily this is the Internet and a bit of search engine foo can turn up good leads to answer a question. Even a bad SO with a wrong answer can at least have some leads, so it's not totally worthless. But I frequently have to dig up proper papers for new coworkers who erroneously trust the content on SO.

    • Luckily this is the Internet and a bit of search engine foo can turn up good leads to answer a question.

      Admittedly this is only tangential to this conversation, but - I don’t generally go to Stack Overflow or any other specific site when I’m looking for an answer to a technical question, build problem, or whatever. I do a web search. Sometimes that does lead me to SO, but just as often it leads me to some random person’s blog post explaining how they solved the issue.

      I’m guessing people who go straight to Stack Overflow are looking as much for community as they’re looking for tec

    • by RobinH ( 124750 )
      I don't think you remember what it was like before StackOverflow. Remember ExpertS-exChange.com? Or all the forum threads that end with the person who asked the question saying, "Thanks, I figured it out!"
      • Yeah, I remember it (our id's are only a couple hundred apart). Never found use for sites like experts-exchange. I ended up going on IRC and asking questions because I couldn't get a straight answer out of advertisement driven websites. You could go to #c for C questions, probably have to deal with a lot of attitude from the regulators but maybe you'd get lucky and your question was interesting enough for someone to throw you a bone.

        There were (are?) some technical forums that were helpful too, but usually

        • I see all the time answers to very old questions being updated on SO. Sometimes even the questions themselves, with sufficient privilege you can edit that to be more relevant also...

          In fact I would say SO is VASTLY more a living document than Wikipedia, because Wikipedia is tainted by rich like moderators that will brook no change in a page that does not match a given ideological construct, evar. Meanwhile SO answers that are visited a lot get a lot of care by a lot of different people who just want the q

    • by jetkust ( 596906 )
      My experience with SO is this:
      1. Google Search
      2. Click on link that happens to be stackoverflow
      3. Generally ignore the green checkmark
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      That bad, huh?

      Well, with a few exceptions, I now post technical stuff that may be helpful to others on my own website. Google finds it, the occasional email thanking me or suggesting real improvements comes in and other than that I am not getting bothered.

      Well, mostly. I had some "alpha poster" jerks from some hardware forum recently email me that I was advising dangerous stuff. Turns out I was not and they were clueless. I dealt with that by referencing their claims, adding a comment why they were wrong an

      • My website, my rules and no corrosive SJW bullshit.

        That's probably the best way to handle it. I get that some people want to participate in a community by joining up on things like SO. But to have the greatest freedom running your own website or blog is probably for the best. In addition the tiny fraction of us still using RSS readers might already be regularly reading your site. I guess I tend to favor decentralized anti-authoritarian models, either because of my politics or because I don't like there being a single point of failure. If SO can't greatly im

    • by DeadSea ( 69598 )
      You have a point.

      The StackExchange sites have a weak spot for late answers. The voting and sorting system reward mediocre answers that are posted early over great answers that are posted months or years later. That means that the best answer is sometimes half way down the page and may never reach the top.

      It is often problematic that the person who asked the question gets sole control over which answer is at the top via the green check mark that "accepts" the answer. I've seen them choose some
    • by RyoShin ( 610051 )

      People who are active on the site are rewarded and allowed more power and thus able to be even more active. This would be fine if their actions were always positive and valuable. But really any activity even stupid actions or early enforcement of site policy to the detriment of closing the topic is rewarded.

      This is the primary problem with SO, and any other sites that use aggregate scoring to grant privileges that affect other users.

      Due to the nature of the internet, and the people who use it, as you state

  • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @01:19PM (#56530659)

    executive vice president of culture and experience at Stack Overflow

    uh huh. Man that sounds like a bullshit title. Well, as a primarily crowdsourcing site, that's actually right up Stack Overflow's alley. But... they made a position for this? They literally hired a guy to say these words. What else do you think he was going to say? You know how business people talk a lot about "best practices", ie, doing what everyone else does? "reaching out" is the current established best practice.

    [SO is a] hostile or elitist place, especially newer coders

    Yeah, I'd have to agree in part. It comes from being down in the trenches on the front line of customer service. And that's what it is, don't bullshit yourself. You're working a help-desk, for free, for magical internet points. And you're damn right I covet those magical points. I lie awake at night scheming how to get more. Respect and acknowledgement of my peers is right up there on Maslow's heirarchy of needs. Anyway, dealing with clueless idiots who don't even know how to ask a question about what they don't know is a pain in the ass and the typical stance is going to be "too broad, closed", and when they do ask a decent question about why they're fucking it up, it's going to be "don't do it that way, do it this way" and they're not going to like it. It's hard being ignorant. You have to work at fixing that. But there really should be a constant reminder to the contributors of SO that... you know... go easy on the idiots. You were an idiot when you started too.

    women, people of color, and others in marginalized groups

    Full stop. WHAT? How exactly does that happen when the grand sum of identiy on SO is a username? Sweet jesus, no one even KNOWS if you're a woman, person of color, from a marginalized group, or a fucking DOG. Unless you tell them. In which case you've made an effort to play the race card, marginalized card, dog card. And that's a dick move. Because it shouldn't fucking MATTER.

    . . . Wait, through this entire thing he never comments on just exactly HOW this would be happening. Just "they report it as such". ....damn dude, if anything that's a rough sociology lesson that... certain groups complain more than others.

    "Now, that's not because most Stack Overflow contributors are hostile jerks. The majority of them are generous and kind. Sure, a few are... just generous, I guess?

    Bingo. He nailed that one. You know how people get PAID to work help-desk and put up with people's bullshit? You're not doing that here. You are depended upon people's generosity. You just kinda have to hope they're not assholes. Because you're not paying them to not be assholes. You want to enforce kindness? Fuck you, pay me.

    where it’s practically impossible to find a single slur – our community takes them down in minutes. We don’t tolerate our female users being called “sweetie” or getting hit on. But we weren’t listening. Many people, especially those in marginalized groups do feel less welcome. We know because they tell us.

    hmmm, he's repeated that a lot. Remember that, just because they tell you something doesn't mean it always reflects reality. There are people out there that will ALWAYS comment that they feel marginalized because they have a victum complex. Not many. But anything as big as SO will attract the long-tail of crazy. At this scale you have to look at percentages as a sociological construct. Assuming the rate of batshit insane in society is 3%, if less than 3% of the user-base are complaining about something, hey, you're beating the curve, congrats.

    Users aren’t “too lazy” to search; searching takes less work than posting. (No solution suggested, he's just stating it makes him sad)

    Haha, wut? Dude, no, you don't get it. Some people SUCK at readi

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