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Jarrod Roberson
Jarrod Roberson

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Stackoverflow Moderators Strike - History Repeats Itself


“All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again.” – Number Six (Battlestar Galactica)

This is tagged "beginners" and "codenewbie" as a warning to those that might not know the history.

Jumping the Shark

Back in the mid-2010's Stackoverflow was on the ramp "jumping the shark" and fully by 2014-2016 depending on how poorly you think they nailed the landing.

Some background

I was in the the 0.3% of the Java tag at the time and I did not just delete my account, I requested that my name be disassociated with all the content I had contributed since 2009. I had a very low 6 digit user id om the >200K if I remember correctly. The site had long gotten where "rep" did not mean knowledge, it just mean you spent more time gaming the system than others.

I had quit posting answers by probably 2012, questions a couple years before that. The questions I had never went answered, they tended to be very specific and very advanced questions. The few answers I would usually get were wildy incorrect to the point I think they were answering a different question; or they would be ChatGPT answers today.

There was a minor revolt when the charter of the site went from "quality to quantity" but it was very long and drawn out and fairly minor in effect. People like me just quit doing anything but "community moderation", meaning we were just unappreciated janitors for a uncaring corporation.

I quit doing even that by 2016s when the "Monica" incident happened and the quiet part was no longer quiet, it was just said out loud. And they fired the much respected community leaders that were actual employees, and replaced them with shameless yes people, that would just say what they were told and shut up otherwise.

They also pulled the "end of the day right before a major holiday" stunt then as well, I think it was the second time they did it. When your users are geeks, there is no "PR down time" it seems, as in both cases it was noticed pretty quickly and made things even worse.

Bitter end

I unfortunately stuck around on meta, after that because I was invested in the site and would post in meta occasionally up until 2019 when it was abundantly clear that the users that built the content for the site for the first 10 years were being actively pushed off the site.

Graduating to MySpace/Yahoo irrelevant

Now here we are in 2023, almost 4 years later, diamond mods complaining about the exact same treatment; lack of tools, being made the scape goats for unpopular policies, etc. Making the policy changes "end of day right before a major holiday" shenanigan's as the icing on the cake.

The complete irony that the current issue is about banning ChatGPT answers because they are "low effort/low quality" and they are both those things mainly because they are based on "learning" from Stackoverflow is lost on the striking mods and the corporation. The irony is that the chatbot entries are easily detected because the grammar and structure of the text is too high quality and consistent compared to the normal questions and answers from people!

And the conflict is because the corporation is desperately trying to stay relative because another company "OpenAI" is using the data they built their business on; from unpaid volunteer labor, is making them irrelevant. So they think the stop gap measure is to let that system feed back into their site to keep "engagement high".

uBlacklist Extension is your savior

It proves what the first generation of Stackoverflow was saying all along; they took quality out of the charter because they cared nothing about whether the information on the site was accurate or not; they just wanted views to sell eyeballs.

Now, allowing people to post ChatGPT source data that is almost universally flawed and misinformation at best, that was sourced from the site to generate content for the site, is jumping the ocean the shark was in.

Go dig around on for yourself pre-2019 and you can see them behaving the same way; doing one thing and saying another, gas lighting everyone, firing people, retaliating against people to and making the them the scapegoats and villains to the point of being sued for defamation and settling. They did the same, day before a holiday stuff the last time, they have not changed, because it worked last time and there was no actual consequences. They just needed to double down until a new crop of idiots that did not know what had happened came along to abuse, and it looks like they waited it out successfully, until the new generation got fed up for the same reason.

Personally, I find all this cathartic in a Cassandra kind of way, I just accidentally came across this latest unpaid employee revolt, at least 17 days after the fact, probably more. It will end the same way as the 2016/17 one.

Top comments (3)

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel ( • Edited

I had no idea about what was going on at StackOverflow behind the scenes.
I had lost interest in stackoverflow as a lurking user
Then I stopped coming back without really knowing why.
Now it all makes sense.

Yep you can do high volume or you can do high touch but you cannot do both.
You can be starbucks or you can be le café du village
Le café du village is the place that has become my unofficial coworking space in Paris.
You cannot find it elsewhere because unlike Starbucks it's unique, in both senses of the term.

You can do high volume or you can do high touch but you do indeed have to make a choice.
Fools that try to do both will discover that ChatGPT will beat them at their own game
Because ChatGPT is the ultimate tool for fools that don't want to choose and instead are obsessed with flooding the world with bullshit. Fast.

jarrodhroberson profile image
Jarrod Roberson

the recursion of ChatGTP vomiting up the a soup of the worst of SO and then SO accepting it so that ChatGTP can ingest its own bile is just mindblowing stupid. And people are worried about "AI" (which is not a thing btw) taking jobs? or taking over the world?

ChatGPT is the incarnation of Garbage In / Garbage Out ...

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (

I use ChatGPT like "What are the 10 things people generally say about Esperanto" to know what to refute. I find it useful this way.
But yes for the lazy ones, it's about doing garbage in / garbage out like before, but faster.