Friends, over most of a decade we have, together, built an amazing community. Last year we pulled together to explore some of the "side corners" of our scope. New and newly-active users joined in and became part of the community, names we recognized, people we got to know. We finally shed the noxious "beta" label and added to the moderator team. Our community was thriving.
Sadly, though it pains me deeply to leave my communities, I have decided I must leave the Stack Exchange network. Fortunately our community has another place to gather, but it's still very sad to leave a place I invested so heavily in.
I became a user on my first SE site in 2011 when Mi Yodeya launched. For most of the time since then I've been an enthusiastic participant and power user on the SE network. I evangelized SE to friends and colleagues. I almost became an employee. The SE platform did, right, things that other sites did wrong. It was a great place to be, and I built strong community connections and learned a lot. Over time SE the company paid less and less attention to us, which was sometimes frustrating, but we got by even with benign neglect.
Then things began to change. In spring 2018, a single blog post scared someone at SE enough to kick off a new "welcoming" initiative. I was concerned by how they approached it but wanted to believe in the goal nonetheless. A few months later, in October 2018, a single angry tweet prompted hasty changes and public criticism in tweets from employees, which led me to write Dear Stack Overflow, we need to talk.
I remember somebody at the time saying something like "she's too invested in that relationship; he's just not into her". I wasn't listening. I was too into SE, even as others began to leave.
I really wanted to believe that SE wasn't that bad, just a little misguided. SE whispered sweet nothings in our ears, made promises to us that I desperately wanted to believe. I stayed, blind to the warning signs.
Things did not, in fact, get better. Already an employee had admitted that the company was no longer paying attention to feedback from core users, and in July 2019 another advised employees to avoid meta because it upset them. We users were in a relationship with someone who had checked out, stopped listening, seemingly stopped caring about us.
I stayed anyway, because I really love my communities (and maybe I'm too susceptible to the sunk-costs fallacy). When I saw that post in July, a part of me thought we could nonetheless still effect change, could help get things onto a better, collaborative path. I thought we users could mend the rifts in our collective relationship with SE despite evidence that SE wasn't interested. I didn't see the warning signs because I didn't want to see them.
As a dedicated user, I stayed in an abusive relationship for the sake of the kids. I told myself that it would be ok in the end, that it didn't hurt that much, that it was only a bruise.
Sometimes it takes a powerful blow to finally wake up. For me that blow came two weeks ago today.
On January 13, SE abruptly fired Shog9 and Robert Cartaino. Shog9 and Robert, along with Jon Ericson who left a few days later, were long-serving community managers who really get the communities. They were our champions. What we didn't know until recently is that they were being hobbled, forbidden to do what they do so well, forbidden to help us. They, too, were helpless, and Shog and Robert paid a dear price.
We can only expect the rate of damage to accelerate. As a long-time user, I remember what was and know what could have been. Today, our communities are being deeply harmed instead of being helped and supported. It's worse than just being abandoned; we are not allowed to govern ourselves and not allowed to be helped by the dwindling community team.
The company has chosen to go down a very different path from the one I thought we were on. I have lost any hope that this will change. I've passed through denial, hurt, anger, and bargaining, and have now arrived at tearful acceptance. I can't change this. It's painful to keep trying. I give up.
I dearly love my communities here, but, sadly, I can't bear to stay on Stack Exchange any longer.
Our communities are much more than the platform that hosts them. The people are what matters. I hope I can stay connected to the fine people of my communities even if I don't do it here any longer. SE wasn't the first Q&A platform and it won't be the last. Just as Stack Overflow was created out of dissatisfaction with another platform, other platforms will be created out of dissatisfaction with SE. I hope to see y'all in a better place, one we'll build together putting communities and people first. I'll refrain from specific links here after seeing an employee spam-delete a post on our own meta about another Writing site, but -- look around.
I've added contact information to my profile, and I've posted some information about my future plans. I won't be deleting my accounts.
Be kind to each other. Protect yourselves. Remember Shog and Robert, maybe even me. Let's stay in touch. Let's build the next great thing together.