Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Stack Overflow reduces global workforce by approximately 15% (stackoverflow.blog)
245 points by nsoonhui on May 8, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 187 comments

I understand they had to do it (I'm sure we—their users—understand), but I can't understand the need for bullshit business-speak.

Just say, "Due to circumstances you all familiar with, business is slow, so I have to let go of some people from X department."

Putting up bullshit like this is like adding insult to injury. Especially, since their user demographics are mostly people who don't like bullshit.

When Spolesky brought on this guy, I was shocked. He had no profile or activity on Stackoverflow. He wasn’t even a developer and his resume indicated he was just generic management talking head. Given how much Spolesky emphasis “product person” to be in charge as opposed to white label MBAs, none of that made any sense. I’d to only imagine he was cashing out and part of the deal from investors was to place this guy who they trusted to grow “enterprise” business. Just why every beautiful startup must make their owners billionaires while getting ruined?

> Just why every beautiful startup must make their owners billionaires while getting ruined?

That's literally there in the definition of a VC-backed business model. You get a lot of money now, in exchange for some amount of ownership and expectation that the business will grow, whether it makes sense for it or not. The investors want a return on their investment, so they absolutely will push the business past the point of breaking; if they can extract their return before it burns down, then they win.

Or, in short, from investor PoV, startups are cattle, not pets.

I feel like putting a talking head in charge of SE risks limiting growth. SE is a business that benefits greatly from leadership that understands their core demographics.

I'm sure they still still grow, because SE is an incredibly useful product. But I think a bad leader poses a serious risk of constraining natural growth by pushing monetization too hard and driving away organic growth.

It's quite clear that Spolsky simply cashed out and went home.

The best way forward is for someone with a good reputation to take the content and launch a new server, as Spolsky himself always said should happen when SO one day jumps the shark.

Maybe people (Spolsky, others) want to work on other things? Or retire? Or focus on family? Or angel invest?

So they find a buyer for the business, transition things, cash out and go find something else to do.

I think he was very clear about the reasons why he is looking for a new CEO, in his blog post announcing that search.

The investors set a goal and Joel executed it.

I'm shocked that people continue to be shocked that this happens under Capitalism.

I worked for a company with a horrible PR/communication department. The CEO was making a clear, precise, sometimes intense statement.

Gave it to PR. Then the CEO dealt with other stuff.

The weak communication department had meetings after meetings, internal drama shows, delegation games and then a) either nothing was communicated at all b) business b#llshit speak came out.

Communication is just as strong as it's weakest link.

Do you know of any corporate PR & communication primer? Extra credit for wisdom on how to assess someone's PR-fu.

Your comment makes me now realize I have no idea what "marcom" actually is.

I've worked with two superior marketing people in my career. One was also superior with "marcom" (short for marketing communications, their term). I just got lucky. I have zero idea how I'd find, recruit another.

I've worked with some messaging people for activism, politics. Most notably David Domke [1]. But again, other than seek out a recognized expert, I have zero idea how to judge someone's efforts. While some of the notions may transfer to other domains, I'd just be guessing.

[1] Previously http://www.com.washington.edu/domke/ Currently https://commonpurposenow.org/david

Fully agree.

I've been using SO since it's inception, several years ago. But with the whole moderator thing, the switch to a ridiculous buzzword homepage, and all the damn bullshit corporate speak, my trust in SO is at an all time low.

How did it get here from the straight-talking, community-orientated feel it used to have under Spoelsy and friends?

Spolsky cashed out and left.

> How did it get here from the straight-talking, community-orientated feel it used to have

The same way as every other community on the Internet that got popular.

Imagine you’re on the CEO career path.

What behaviours are you going to exhibit in order to pad your resume for the next position?

You don’t really care about the company or the people who work there, you care about the next CEO position that pays more.

I’m just thinking about the big tech companies and which CEOs would think long term.

Out of the big 6 tech companies, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix are still run by their founders.

Microsoft is not run by a founder, but it’s run by a company man with deep understanding of their culture and market.

Apple’s CEO is not really technical, I don’t think he has a clue about what customers want, but at least he’s efficient and understands the operations side. But I do think he is more numbers and investor focus than Jobs was. He does know his weaknesses and it seems like he defers to his VPs - a good thing. I think he at least cares about the company.

Google has never been able to execute outside of advertising so I’m not sure whether it would matter if the founders were still in charge.

Apologies for the delayed response: your comment did get me athinkin’.

> He does know his weaknesses and it seems like he defers to his VPs

I reckon, if I ever find myself in the unfortunate position of being in charge of anything that might matter to people in a significant way, either financially or personally, that’d probably be a reasonable way to go about things: defer to your advisors and direct reports.

I mean: that is why they are fucking there.

At the extremes there are outliers who happen to have been in the right place at the right time to have either been a visionary, or a massive cunt, and succeeded.

But, on average, the average leader is fairly fucking average, and would, on average, make better decisions by allowing other, more well-informed, people make decisions for them.

Perhaps. Maybe. Some of the time.

Counterpoint: Sometimes "I don't know, what do you want to do?" is exactly the wrong response from a leader, because it leads to delay, confusion, and incoherent and conflicting actions by different people. In my professional life I've been in situations where I was either happy to have a manager who simply made a decision, or unhappy to have someone who deferred them, because having a fast, clear process was more important than making the optimal decision.

Exactly, no one wants to be the odd one out when doing things that could be bad for public image.

eps. given the fact that this site is a product for developers, i.e. people specifically allergic to marketingspeak.

It's cute that people think this way, but probably not wise.

How hard do you think you are to bullshit, when you go around telling people how to bullshit you? How do you think so many startups sucker so many skilled engineers into doing so much for so little and odds-on getting screwed at the end of it? How did Stack Overflow bullshit you (probably) and me (for sure, years back) and a million other people into collectively doing millions of dollars of work for them for free?

Engineers are susceptible to a very different brand of bullshit, which is why there is often tension between engineering and business management.

Well, the were in a social contract involving the sharing of millions of dollars of work between engineers. Thy violated the contract and learned that they weren't getting things for free.


(Now they have a heavily trafficed landing page trafficed only by people who wouldn't recommend doing anything with them.)

I initially wanted to say that, but then I realized they have other Stack Exchange sites :)

The Stackoverflow CEO and/or PR team is guilty of what journalists call “burying the lede” but the following quote from the message is quite good in my opinion:

> This week, we reduced our global workforce by approximately 15%. Most of the affected employees were furloughed, except for employees and contractors in regions where furloughs were unfortunately not an option. These actions primarily affected sales and customer success teams within our Talent business, which is dependent on the hiring environment.

TLDR at the top perhaps? Communication is hard. Enterprise sales and service will suffer as the world comes out of pandemic lockdown. As we go through this “Great Pivot”, we have to embrace the engineering concept of “good enough”. The content in this message could be better but it is good enough given the circumstances.

This is a quarterly update on the entire company, and I don’t think the main purpose of this update was to announce layoffs. I’m sure there were internal communications about the layoffs that were more pointed and had a different tone.

I agree on the paragraph you pulled out. This writing style is more formal and “corporate” than preferred, but it’s not inherently terrible.

I do not have data to back this claim. But the tone of this blog post makes me feel that, the new CEO is an incompetent person who decided to use the vehicle of the covid virus to announce job cuts that he has planned a long time ago.

With the crap ton of marketing buzz in the post, and the casual mention of the layoffs, I don't think the CEO or the new board seem to care all that much about the laidoff employees.

Again, this is my personal feeling and may not be the truth.

> new CEO is an incompetent person who decided to use the vehicle of the covid virus to announce job cuts that he has planned a long time ago.

Why would that indicate the CEO is incompetent?

Doesn’t it stand to reason that management would and should take advantage of the whatever is happening in the wider scheme of things to advance their narrative, and that doing so is indicative of competence within their frame of reference?

Layoff peoples can be a competent CEO decision, so is using an event to do so.

But the way you do those layoff is part of the CEO responsibility. And from this perspective, doing so with marketing bullshit sounds bad as your demographics are mostly engineers.

With that, CEO doesn't seems to know what peoples are using its services so it use "generic" (aka marketing) line.

I think the CEO may be smart enough to know that whatever reactions people have to their bullshitty language, this will blow over and in few months nobody will remember any of that. Unlike lawsuits that could happen if he was actually honest.

This is the general explanation for why companies keep being seemingly so bad at PR: they know that this kind of reputation doesn't matter at all.

Take a look around this comment section. This move isn't being received well by anyone and nobody is buying his bullshit. That, and mass layoffs are typically an excellent indicator of incompetence.

I think you’re missing my point.

The CEO likely doesn’t give a hoot about HN’s opinion.

They probably care about their bonus and how it all advances themselves on their career path.

> They probably care about their bonus and how it all advances themselves on their career path.

That doesn't sound anything like the priorities of a competent CEO. I think you're missing my point, too.

Layoffs are generally received quite favorably by the investor class.

Imagine he planned these layoffs a month after he started. Why would he keep paying these people 6 extra months until a pandemic offered a chance to lay them off under cover? Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to quietly let small groups of these people go every month if they were long-planned?

I can’t imagine why a CEO would plan layoffs for a time in the distant future rather than executing them as shortly after the decision as possible.

Aren’t they mostly furloughs?

I was kinda confused why covid-19 is effecting StackOverflow. After reading it, a good portion of layoffs is the Talent team with the reason of planned long term hiring freeze so they won't need (edit) this product offering for the near future.

Side note, the original title of the posts is "A message from our CEO: The Way Forward"

This is referring to StackOverflow's Talent product, which is a software engineering focused hiring platform. Seems like they furloughed the sales and marketing team for this product, due to an expected slowdown in market-wide hiring.

Ohh I misunderstood, I thought that's what they call their recruiting team

Yes, this is what happened. Though only a portion of the team related to Talent was furloughed, not the whole team. It is still an active product, but sales has taken a big hit related to the downturn of the overall hiring environment due to Covid19.

I don't really know much about this guy or his business, but I can't help but comment that the tone and phrasing he uses comes off as "I'm an asshole."

I know that's less than civil, but that was just what I gleaned. It struck me as someone who doesn't care but wants to sound like they do.

Sorry, but can you explain why? Impugning someone’s character like this seems unfair if you can’t point to anything more concrete than a vague feeling. What makes you think this guy is an uncaring asshole?

Also, to be clear, this is a quarterly update on the entire business, not a lay-off announcement. I highly doubt that anything related to the layoffs was news to anyone in the company. That was likely covered in internal communications over the past few weeks.

Have they hired a alien attack movie scriptwriter? - Since then, we have entered a new era, and societies in every corner of the globe face a historic challenge. We are reminded that for all of our advances as a civilization, nature can be a powerful force which we must adapt and innovate around.

Hate to see this business speak from a company I admire. Bad market to be in as a software engineer, with so many talented folks available.

Could not finish reading through it. Could have kept it straight to the point rather than convoluting with unnecessary details.

Would it be uncharitable to suggest that perhaps that was the goal?

SO has really become a toxic place which is run by politically correct people. Just look at this corporate speak blog. I don't understand how the corona virus would impact them so hard they have to cut jobs, seems like a bullshit reason to just cut people off imo. Every company should be prepared for bad times.

I have no sympathy for the management. They have obviously done a poor job.

At first, I did not understand either how Corona would affect them. But they explain it in the article: a big part of their revenue comes from job listings. Since very few companies are hiring right now, that revenue is down significantly.

The only thing SO was ever good at was SEO. They muscled their way into the niche that Usenet was filling and did a worse job of that to begin with.

How is StackOverflow negatively affected by the Pandemic?

Is it that their customers go under, or see the services as nonessential so they get less revenue?

It seems like it should be one of those Netflix-type companies that do better when everyone is remote, than they do otherwise.

Their main revenue is from two things. Firstly from their job boards which will be significantly reduced as few companies are hiring. Then secondly from advertising which will also be reduced during times of recession.

The product you think of as stack overflow that will probably is really just a way for them to drive the right kind of traffic to those revenue sources.

Very plausible reasons indeed, but is it probably the same for many other companies? Just wondering if a chain reaction has already started.

That chain reaction is called “recession” and yes, it has already started. Expect more and more similar announcements from here to Christmas.

SO gets most of their revenue from companies doing hiring.

Nobody's hiring. Hence, no revenue.

i guess ads are down

this makes me reflect that almost everything online functions only because of ads, which is quite sad

either ads, or selling PII to companies that do ads

> These actions primarily affected sales and customer success teams within our Talent business, which is dependent on the hiring environment.

Is there a good third-party article we can change this to? Bad-news corporate press releases are notoriously difficult to read.

"We're all in this together..." Except you, because you're laid off.

Is it time for SO 2? Lets be real, many articles are out of date with answers being for older versions, the culture is getting worse and the company is looking to cash in on the thing. Could we use a blank slate?

Conceptually, Stack Overflow did something amazing for its time. I agree however that after all these years there are now visible shortcomings in the approach, and simply starting the same thing from scratch wouldn't solve the problems.

The primary format of SO is Q&A. Some Q&A is timeless, as in the answer is still relevant today as it was 10 years ago. Some Q&A invalidates quickly and would probably need to be touched up every year or so. How to account for both?

Another issue SO strongly struggles with is the same entry-level questions being asked again and again, in different wordings. I wouldn't really put the onus on the newcomers here, as they're often new to programming to begin with and thus couldn't know what's a problem other people might have already had, how to search for things etc. But the tooling to help them avoid those situations is crucial. Currently, possibly related questions are shown when writing a new question, but the problem still persists. How to better avoid this problem? Is this simply a matter of nailing down on the related questions algorithm or is there a better approach?

And lastly, the company. There are many very real cases where the change in management has hurt the SO both as a site and a community. I think the answer lies somewhere between SO, MDN and Wikipedia - with all the ups and downs it offers. Clearly, making a global knowledge base and then tacking on investor interest later doesn't work out all that well. To date, I don't think this problem is really solved, as Wikipedia also has a number of issues it struggles with. Without addressing this core issue, the rest are more or less irrelevant with time.

Some Q&A invalidates quickly and would probably need to be touched up every year or so. How to account for both?

I’ve seen answers regarding my two major areas of interest - AWS and .Net Core being updated by the original authors as new features came out and new versions of the framework are released.

While this is one approach, I think it's only a partial solution. Stack Overflow has a huge user base and many users who were once active are now either occasional visitors or have moved on completely. I think something akin to a stale vote would work, because trying to organically out-vote an answer that has gathered hundreds of votes over the years but is now out of date doesn't really work. Another alternative is Stack Overflow's "community owned" answers, but those bring another layer of politics into play.

You might be interested in codidact.org. With a significant portion of SO/SE mods going on strike as a result of the company's missteps in the past months/year, the push for an alternative site was strong, and it's being built right now.

For people working on maintenance of old systems, a lot of those out of date articles are quite useful.

I don't get it, how are they affected by COVID

According to the post, it’s due to contraction with their talent sourcing product:

> This week, we reduced our global workforce by approximately 15%. Most of the affected employees were furloughed, except for employees and contractors in regions where furloughs were unfortunately not an option. These actions primarily affected sales and customer success teams within our Talent business, which is dependent on the hiring environment.

What I find notable is that close to 15% (at least 7.5% if "most" means what everyone thinks it means) of the workforce is sales and marketing for a service that is not even core to their business.

Pretty sure that Talent is over 50% of their revenue. The primary way they monetize Stack Q&A websites is through job placements.

There are other websites that are surprisingly monetizing through this, like AngelList.

What percentage of a newpaper's employees in the old print days did ad sales vs doing reporting?

Yup they took the money and now they need to grow grow grow and they’ll suffer for it.

Companies are cutting down on advertising and non-mandatory spending. Plus paid job ads are probably not making much money right now

The post directly says they are seeing growth in their advertising business.

Does stackoverflow have ads? I would imagine that a large percentage of their technically savvy user base would be using an ad blocker.

They have job ads and "normal" ads. You get an opt-in if you have enough rep.

You would be surprised how much Stack Overflow charges for job pages :)

Their advertising business is growing. But not for job ads. Job cuts are focused on the job area. (According to the article.)

Better unemployment benefits for those affected.

advertising revenue seems to be down for a lot of company

Source? The article clearly states the opposite in two separate sentences.

Assuming there was enough runway for a rainy day, this could be a great time to invest in some R&D projects that will pay off dividends when the sun starts to shine again.

If those projects are worth investing in, why weren't they invested in before COVID?

It's not that the engineers have nothing to do - it's that there is little revenue, and no amount of features they ship is going to change that.

On a related note, I see big tech still hiring and picking up a lot of the best people who are either laid off or taking a pay cut.

Can one of the many commenters decrying this as "bullshit business-speak" explain to me what is so terrible about this? I'm genuinely asking.

My theory is that this is a good example of why HN discourages editorializing in titles. The current title here ("Stack Overflow reduces global workforce by approximately 15%") sets you up to think that this is a layoff announcement by SO. But from reading the first paragraph, I think this is just an externally-facing quarterly update on the business overall. I suspect that nothing about the layoffs here was news to anyone in the company, and they had plenty of internal communications around it already. And even here, the language about layoffs seems fine to me:

This has been a tough week at Stack Overflow, and taking care of each other is more important than ever right now. Like companies large and small, we have had to make difficult choices in order to reflect the market conditions. This week, we reduced our global workforce by approximately 15%. Most of the affected employees were furloughed, except for employees and contractors in regions where furloughs were unfortunately not an option. These actions primarily affected sales and customer success teams within our Talent business, which is dependent on the hiring environment.

We made these decisions with great care and only after assessing and leveraging all other options. We’ve paused all non-critical hiring, suspended our travel budget for all of Q2 and Q3, and cut marketing and software costs significantly.

Reducing our headcount was a painful but necessary decision, of no fault of the employees affected, and one that I take full accountability for as the CEO. We did this in order to ensure that we can serve our customers and community in the long-run.

What is the problem with that, specifically?

The rest of the post reads like a perfectly normal update, written in a slightly formal tone, which seems appropriate to me. If you're running a business with hundreds of employees, tens of thousands of customers, tens of millions of readers, and other stakeholders like partners, vendors, and investors, you probably are going to be a little more formal with your tone. It takes uncommon skill to write the kind of updates that Buffet or Bezos manage to pull off. Just because this is anodyne doesn't make it "bullshit" or this guy "incompetent" or "an asshole".

Can someone point out anything specific that they found so off-putting about this quarterly update on the business?

Personally I don't think it was that bad -- however it's so much text and words so I couldn't read all of it. It could have been 1/4 it's length?

I could probably understand why they did this,as hiring will be non existent for the upcoming months,but pages upon pages of BS about core values,culture, viruses,and whatever else comes along just left bad taste in my mouth.

For a second, I thought this title claimed that stack overflow reduces the need for software engineers by 15%. Now I’m curious what the actual number might be, given the productivity boost that it provides...

I don't get it. It is as if Zoom would announcing job cuts "because COVID-19".

Stackoverflow is an internet service providing answers to questions, why would they get lower counts of traffic?

If Zoom had a division that went around doing Zoom room installs in offices, I can easily imagine them having cuts or furloughs in that group.

It doesn’t matter if the traffic is lower or higher if advertising revenue is down.

Yahoo was struggling as an independent company from the initial dot com bust until it was acquired and it was one of the top ten most visited websites.

They aren't getting lower counts of traffic. But QA traffic is not their primary revenue source. Job ads and SO for teams are.

People pay for Zoom, StackOverflow is free.

Less advertising / business deals maybe?

But there will be countless companies that will use the virus as a scapegoat.

An aside: Anyone else finding themselves adding site:github.com rather than site:stackoverflow.com to their Google searches more now?

Yes. As a frontend developer, my default mode now is to almost always go straight to searching issues in the GitHub repo of an npm package I'm using.

I only end up on SO when googling very generic questions about React, TypeScript or JavaScript (and sometimes CSS). Also, the top Google results from SO are often from ~2017 or earlier which puts me off

Or !gh instead of !so with DuckDuckGo?

In this time of uncertainty, wouldn't be more humane to just reduce the salary 15% to everyone?

From a business perspective it would be a bad idea. If you have three revenue streams (Advertising, Enterprise communication product, hiring product/marketplace), of which two are doing very well and one is not doing well (hiring) you need to continue investing in what is working and stop burning money on what is not working. Otherwise you will lose your competitive edge in the areas that are working well.

In the end, the responsibility of the CEO is not to give every employee the best life possible but to ensure the long-term success and survival of the company. If this is ensured, it also means job security for everyone not laid off!

This is a one off shock, they don’t need to do this

One of, if not the, largest shocks in history. Already bigger than 2008. This time in history isn't a minor outlier.

I agree with the other responses. But to add on, when you do an across the board cut, your best people can find another job leaving only your lower performers at the company.

This is true even during a normal recession. This time it’s different though. The entire job market has collapsed except for big tech and a few other companies.

>> Fireside Chat

How did this term make it to the buzzword bingo? What does it even mean?

it’s a quite famous US historical reference.

Come sit on my lap and let me be patronizing

So many words for a very simple thing - we just cutting down headcount

What is stack overflow's work force? The devs of website? Admins?

don’t understand the complaints. this is a quarterly news update. hence the tone. there’s nothing wrong with it.

the defect is that the layoffs are just a paragraph in passing. on its face it appears highly insensitive, but come on. i’ll give benefit of the doubt that it was dealt with internally much better. it only gets an inch of print in this report because it’s a very small factor in the general news of the company.

actually the main defect here is that the HN title is highly editorialized.

Pretty tone deaf.

> We are facing this situation together.

Well, approximately 85% of you are.

Fwiw just how many of the people posting negative comments on here are paying SO users? It's still a business that needs to make money. Just saying...

> This is a key moment in our company’s history, as the whole world is dealing with significant uncertainty. Know that you are not alone. We are facing this situation together. Our goal is to stay focused on living our core values and actively connect with teammates, our community, and our customers.

The phrase "We are facing this together" must sound really hollow if you're one of the people who has been laid off...

This reminds me of a quote from Jack Mah, the founder of Alibaba, from a few months ago.


Translation: During Alibaba's 20th anniversary celebration, Jack Mah expressed a wish of his: "Thirty years later, I hope that we at Alibaba can export, with commendation, at least 1000 Alibaba-rians that are >10 years seniority, to society each year, so that they can participate in the building of our society."

If you think Jack Mah was talking about annual layoff, you aren't the only one. Needless to say, people are impressed (sarcastically) that he even made layoffs sound so patriotic.

Wow, so they see employees as replaceable cogs that should be changed regularly.

That's incredibly inhuman. Who would ever want to work at such a place?

If I build a company, I want it to be so interesting and fulfilling that people never want to leave.

It's a place filled so much drama, dwarfing all its peers.

Sadly, there are still countless people dream of working there.

And even more sadly, people don't want to leave, so they regularly fire people and then they can abuse the rest even more.

Every big company sees employees as cogs. Most just wont admit it.

But see Netflix. “We are a professional sports team not a family.”

The whole letter is really tone-deaf. First paragraphs of guff about "stay focused on living our core values", "Let’s all continue to take care of each other", and then whoops, we just fired 15%!

Then again, they've got a solid track record, in a previous moderation kerfuffle they pulled their initial "apology" after they racked up north of 2000 downvotes.


Also the 15% layoff is mentioned pretty much like a side-note between tons of text about new features, free basic tiers, the dev survey, usage stats, and what not. Spin-doctoring can go too far at times.

“We’re laying you off. The whole world is dealing with significant uncertainty, we’re not alone in layoffs, you’re not alone in being laid off, so you probably won’t find a job elsewhere either. Good luck.”

It's becoming a meme, like a viral tweet said

> I like how ads have gone from “buy a toyota” to “this is a difficult and uncertain time for us all...buy a toyota”

Like when ever company says how we are in this together or how emphatetic they are in these difficult times it just fills me with dread, the opposite of what they were aiming for, it's clear that talking about the crisis is now just another trick in the PR department of almost every single company so there is no way to make those words not feel empty, so I rather don't hear them say anything about it at all.

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”


This comment isn’t a rebuttal — I agree with you and every time I mull on these things I am reminded of the memorable saying from the movie Network.

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore. I'm buying a Toyota!

On edit: wait, I don't even have a driver's license!

It quickly became the new "Thank you for your service"

Welcome to Costco, I love you.

yeah, but that's just funny and was meant to be satirical. the other phrases are just empty words used in a way to fake sincerity. (maybe fake is too harsh for "thank you", but if you were really sincere, you wouldn't be using a catch phrase)

At least with luxury cars, the commercials aren't necessarily to encourage you to buy a new, say, Lexus now, they're to remind Lexus owners that they made the right choice.

It's also just hard to write creative, these days.

Yeah a lot of advertising nowadays is just a keepalive between brands and your hippocampus.

I would have thought better of Stack Overflow than this business speak.

They've been like this since Joel left and the new CEO stepped in. Obviously their mission is nothing but to increase their valuation by tenfold now.

Edit: This is not my guess, it has actually been said by Joel Spolsky, the founder and the previous CEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMfxd9y0cMY&t=952

Hopefully they're careful going down this road. Remember SourceForce? Experts Exchange? If I were them, my secret (because what gets measured gets gamed) metric would be how many tech workers list their Stackoverflow profile on their resume/website/Linkedin. It's a proxy for reputation, and that's the thing they need to protect.

That seems like a terrible thing to list on a resume to me.

Why if I may asked? Non technical people don't care, and I've gotten recognition by some hiring engineers by it. One even started an interview with "I gotta thank you, your SO answer helped me out recently".

As a hiring manager I can tell you the sad truth about this and github links.

No one reads them. Seriously. No one reads them. There’s simply too many resumes to look at. Having it something extra to look at, and it’s cognitive load is a hell of a lot more than anything else, because now I’m supposed to understand some random code dropped in my lap, or whether some rando’s answers on SO are quality, or not. (Points just tell me about how quickly it was answered, not necessarily quality.) Finally, assuming I did all that work, now I have to compare this to someone that didn’t list it, because they don’t care enough about SO to create an account (raises hand), or simply have hobbies outside of coding.

It’s easier — and fairer — to simply judge the resume based on the the actual resume, and then follow up with interview questions if appropriate.

Disagree - this is "your sad truth", maybe yes.

Personally I've looked at it, even if very briefly, almost every time it appears on candidate profiles.

One of the most important traits I look for in mid or senior devs is the ability (and eagerness) to explain and teach complex concepts to people who don't have that expertise yet. Bonus points if they also do this in a rapid, friendly, and humble way themselves.

I doubt recruiters would even look at it, but if you're trying to land your first job, it can signal areas you might already know. The interactions are also a lot like a job--how you ask questions and how you answer questions.

You haven't been paying attention then. Check out the ridiculous series of non-apologies over the Monica Cellio debacle.


So painful to read a fluffed up speech about standing together while firing 15% of workforce during a crisis. If you need to fire people, own it.

85% of us are in this together.

He could have stopped with everything before...

“Despite the impact to our Talent business...”

Why mix in a lay-off announcement with a marketing spiel?

I definitely read this as Stack Overflow was responsible for there needing to be 15% less developers/techies.

when the guy firing you says

"We are facing this situation together."

how distant from reality can someone be?

Yeah, they brought this guy in to be the hatchet man. Executes just as expected.

Does this mean more or less rude comments on this toxic website?

Who's going to do all the flagging as duplicate now?

SO is gonna be gobbled up by Github Issues altogether.

The only certainty with Stack Exchange, is that it's going to end up in the belly of one of just a few possible tech companies: Microsoft, Oracle, Google, Salesforce, etc.

They'll slash most of the communities away (even if they initially lie about their intentions and pretend they won't do that) and keep the focus on the tech part of the network.

Knowledge services are not great businesses, they're almost entirely incompatible with the venture capital model. Those that take VC all eventually get force-liquidated, without exception. Stack Exchange is still pretending to be a knowledge service. As they took on more venture capital they pivoted to being primarily HotJobs 3.0. The only way they were going to avoid that outcome, is to 1) never take major venture capital 2) stay super thin operationally; they did neither, so they get liquidated, it's only a question of time now.

The Internet will need to replace Stack Exchange with a new platform in the near future, as it'll combo rot and most of the communities will be killed off after SE is sold. I'd advise someone/s out there to get started on replacing SE right now, as by the time you get a new platform up to speed (assume a few years), SE as it has been thought of over the prior decade will be on its last legs and the new platform will be in prime position to step in. And please, do it right, do not take venture capital, which is a devil's bargain for knowledge services: they will kill you in the end, guaranteed, every single time. I've been closely watching this stupid story repeat in the knowledge space for over two decades now. Go the non-profit route ideally, or alternatively go with the wikiHow approach and stay thin (it's the sole viable option to survive long-term as an independent knowledge service business).

Codidact (https://codidact.org) has been born out of all the recent (and not so recent) drama over at SE. It is looking to do exactly the things you describe.

> Closed. This message is off-topic.

Am I the only one who interpreted this headline as: The global workforce of programmers would be 15% bigger if it weren't for Stack Overflow. ?

I have some karma to burn, so here it goes:

Be shitty to people and they will turn their back to you.

I am ashamed to admit it, but I am happy to see companies that embrace being shitty to users, fall like a house of cards.

Yes, SO embraced being shitty to users and creating a toxic environment for far too long, despite their latest weak attempts to fix it.

I hope eBay, Paypal and Yelp are next.

Also somewhat Reddit. They are ok for consuming data, but if you try to post anything it's pretty user hostile.

> I hope eBay, Paypal and Yelp are next.

For ten years I sold things on eBay about 5-6 times a year. It wasn't a business at all. Basically if I had an old phone or a laptop, I'd put it on eBay and get a few bucks for it.

Around 2008 or so, I noticed that eBay's policies had shifted, so that sellers were at the mercy of the buyers.

My last straw was when I sold a phone to someone. I'd paid $500 for the phone. I'd used it for a year. I sold it on eBay for $40. I'd spent $15 on shipping. If everything went lick clockwork, I'd make $20 for the sale, which was peanuts since I'd spent 2-3 hours posting the ad and shipping the phone.

The person who bought the phone couldn't figure out how to turn the phone on. I got their email, and I responded to their complaint in exactly nine minutes. In the span of nine minutes, they raged out, and clicked some button on eBay to complain about me.

Like, I get it, if I ignore your email for a week, that's not cool. I responded to them in nine minutes.

Their complaint resulted in my perfect eBay score being lowered, and they got a refund.

Stuff like that just completely burned me out on eBay. They only seem to be interested in maximizing the number of customers on their platform and don't seem to care about keeping their sellers happy. And without sellers, eBay wouldn't exist.

> I noticed that eBay's policies had shifted, so that sellers were at the mercy of the buyers.

I listed an old video card with something like "FOR PARTS" in the title but accidentally tagged it as used. The buyer complained, I said the title and verbal description clearly said it's broken and for parts. eBay ruled in the buyer's favor.

Admittedly, it's awkward because I had a listing mistake, and the buyer probably thought they found a deal (the card was half the price of a working one) and didn't read, so we were both in the wrong, I guess, but the buyer and eBay didn't see it that way.

I wish I could really quit eBay, but instead my threshold for something being worth my trouble is now about $60.

about 10 yrs ago, i went through my old tech and thought to myself: maybe somebody can still use any of this stuff? things like a joystick, old ddr-ram for the first gen iMac and similar. i expected to make no money from it at all, basically just wanted to give it away.

people did bid on it, so i thought to myself: nice, i don't have to feel bad about throwing working tech in the bin...

well, after the second article with retarded complaints about shipping (i used old packaging from amazon deliveries iirc) i just thought to myself: screw this! I cancelled all other pending auctions and threw them away. Just not worth the effort. especially if you're only doing it for moral reasons.

You think mean comments are a SO or reddit problem? The fact that anonymous online discourse gets rude and heated has been known since the days of usenet.

There was even some of this on BBS forums, but that was a more civilized time, likely because we knew the people we were talking to were within our local calling area in most cases.

None of this is new. It's a humanity problem, not a technology problem.

> You think mean comments are a SO or reddit problem?

No. They mean a hostile attitude form the company towards the users and the volunteer moderators.

> None of this is new. It's a humanity problem, not a technology problem.

When you put it that way though, maybe technology can address it by somehow humanizing the communication more. I bet people are researching ways to do this.

FWIW, StackOverflow have (as mentioned in the blog post) deployed a machine learning system for detecting unfriendly comments.

It's a community problem. And more specifically a growth problem, when a community grow too fast it's hard to educate all new members about the community policies. Once those new members get moderator status without first being educated, the community is doomed.

If you think it's possible to "educate" everyone participating in an anonymous online discussion you have failed before you even began.

Agreed. I have been an active SO user for years, but I significantly reduced my contribution after the latest screwups and their attempts to fix it with corporate/legal speak.

What are you talking about?

If I had to guess, Stack*'s opaque moderation and user hostility.

This seems like overinterpretation. I don't disagree with your feelings but we don't know to what extent this was a factor and it's hardly as if SO is shutting down.

Furloughed, mostly

please, don't drink their kool-aid.

it's fired, not furloughed.

it's to be able to not lose ability to generate profit, not "to be able to serve our customers"

it's to save 85% who we think are more worth, not "we are all in this together"

I'm confused. You think they're lying when they say the employees were furloughed? They might be lying but I don't see any reason to belive that. Having been furloughed during government shutdowns myself I understand the situation a bit.

Not losing the ability to generate profit is a key requirement to be able to serve their customers. They are not a charity but a for-profit company.

That's a whole lot of bullshit for a proactive backlash protection.

I will totally fulfill that HN clichee of people in disbelief that any tech company has employees... But: TIL they have 250 of them. It's a fully automated site, huh.

This blog post illustrates the nuances of changes at the scale of StackOverflow (really all of StackExchange) https://nickcraver.com/blog/2017/05/22/https-on-stack-overfl...

I'm usually wondering about what everyone does at a company. But 250 doesn't seem like an high number to me for what SO has for products.

When I was at eBay, I wondered what 35.000 were doing.

<non-sequitur> 35 whole people with no fractional people isn't that large o a number. If you use a period for the thousands mark, what do you use for the decimal part a semi-colon?

I would guess a comma.

That’s the locales for a bunch of countries:

> Argentina, Austria, Belgium (Dutch), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia,[44][45] Denmark, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, Spain,[46] Turkey, Vietnam.

Quoted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decimal_separator

In Europe, the "." and "," characters in a number have the complete opposite meaning to when used in US/UK/Australian etc. numbers.

Not everywhere in Europe, it’s something country specific.

Also, a funny note: In Switzerland we have 3 formats depending if it is a currency, not a currency, or hand written :p

Commas have been mentioned, also ' is used in some places.

A comma.

Every site with user-generated content has an army of employees of various sorts, trying to make sure it doesn't descend into a morass. The natural un-moderated state of any community site is complete and total garbage.

Except on StackOverflow all of those are unpaid voluntary community moderators. There are less than ten people being paid by SO in community facing positions as far as I know. Also, they recently fired two of their most long-standing community managers.

But StackOverflow (the company) is more than just public Q&A, and in fact public Q&A is not primarily how they make their money. Job ads and SO for teams seem to be the main revenue sources.

One man's trash...

Well "trash" is a matter of opinion, but profitability isn't. If a community is left unmoderated, it gets so toxic and extreme that advertisers won't go near it with a 10 foot pole.

I find most answers on stack overflow to be useless and a lot are just garbage.

I feel the whole site needs a big banner "PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS IN PRODUCTION"

Chance of getting a meaningful reply on any technical question which answer does not simply involve providing the documentation for the given framework or language involved:

- Stack Overflow: 1% - Reddit: 8% - The Daily WTF forum: 81%

This is internet is broken. I want the old one back.

I think it strongly depends on the tags of the question. In particular I think you will poor quality answers on popular, high volume tags like JavaScript.


This is the question I'm talking about. Apart from people posting funny memes there's some genuine helping going on. Same question on SO: no response. Same question on Reddit: one serious response.

People can downvote me all they want but I see that decentralized bulletin boards seem to work a lot better even in 2020.

If I have legitimate professional questions I need to find a forum for it, because that's where people hang out that are actually interested in the community instead of rep or likes.

I think any company that lays off people at this time are scum, they should be embarrassed and rescind this.

There are loans available in the us and uk to keep people employed.

I won’t use stack overflow for the rest of may, it isn’t much but fuck them.

They know the people they let go can’t get another job at the moment.

How easy is it to get those loans? I know in the US the PPP seems easy to get the bigger you are, otherwise if you don't have a tight relationship with a bank you probably missed out.

If they missed out then the ceo should resign, it is basic business sense

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact