State of the Stack Q2 2021

We have had an exciting couple of months here at Stack Overflow. As you know, earlier this month we announced that Prosus intends to acquire the entirety of Stack Overflow the company, which includes Stack Overflow, Stack Exchange, and all of our paid products. You can read more details in Prashanth’s blog post. I have been fielding questions from our team and our community about what changes as a result of the acquisition. Our 2021 product and community strategies, our roadmaps, our hiring and financial plan will not change; we will continue what we set out to do this year. Stack Overflow will continue to operate independently after the acquisition closes, and I don’t expect much will change day to day for our teams or our users. 





As we begin planning our 2022 product and community strategies and identifying opportunities to invest and innovate, I am excited to collaborate with Prosus to increase the value we deliver to our public platform (Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange) and Stack Overflow for Teams users. We will leverage our user research, backlog of product ideas, and feature requests to define opportunities for deeper impact for all our users and customers. We are excited about the possibility of working with Prosus companies like Codecademy, Udemy, Skillsoft, and Brainly. As these opportunities develop into plans, we will share them through our blog posts and roadmap updates. 





I have read a number of concerns and predictions, both around the acquisition and beyond, which I wanted to specifically address:





  • In my one and half years at Stack Overflow, we have never discussed putting a paywall in front of the content that the community has created and curated over many years. We have no intention of ever doing this and understand just how damaging this would be for everyone.
  • We also have no intention of limiting the number of copy and pastes for users from our public platform sites. Yes, we did this as an April Fool’s joke, but only because that is just how ridiculous we think this possibility is.
  • We have conservative and restrictive advertising and third-party data usage policies because we understand how important this is to our users. Though we ran an experiment on real-time bidding for ads in 2019, we do not use it currently and have no plans to in the future, and all of our advertisers buy directly from Stack Overflow to ensure quality and relevance. We have limited the level of animation and distractions that advertising on our sites creates for our users and investigate any ads reported by users to ensure we maintain high standards. 




We have no intention of changing these strategies or policies. We believe that democratizing technical information empowers the world to develop better technology and innovate faster. Keeping the site open to all has always been core to our values and to our business, and an acquisition doesn’t change that. The team and I are really energized by the impact we have made in the last year and what the future holds for our products, community, customers, and company.





Public Platform





We kicked off Q2 with our April Fool’s Day prank claiming that in order to copy and paste from Stack Overflow you needed to purchase “The Key.” The content and screenshots around this prank were widely shared and hopefully enjoyed as much by our users as it was by our staff. It also taught us some interesting things about how people use our site. 





In May, we launched our 2021 Dev Survey which streamlined both the questions we ask as well as the process to analyze and share the results. As the second quarter ends, we are wrapping up the final phase of our large investment in improving and updating our Review Queue functionality. We have been working on improving content health through research and data collection on closed questions and outdated answers. I look forward to potential improvements based on our learnings which we will share in future roadmap blog posts. We are in the planning phase of user and product research on improving the new user onboarding and overall experience. 





Community Management





We have been focused on growth and renewal in Community Management this year through investment in people and tooling. We have welcomed three new team members who have been introduced to the community on Meta. We have kicked off the search for a VP of Community Management and just recently welcomed a former team member back from within the company. We currently have two additional open positions on Curator Support and Community Operations.





The team transitioned into three sub-teams earlier this year: Community Operations, Curator Support, and Trust and Safety. The creation and focus of these teams enable us to ensure we are on track to meet the fundamental needs of our community. Everyone is settling into their more defined roles and responsibilities, and with the addition of the new team members, we are making real progress on delivering more timely support to our users and reducing our backlog of improvements. 





Reach & Relevance





We are focused on building and operating product features that address real user needs while giving technology vendors and employers the ability to build awareness and engage with interested users on our sites. We have invested months of user and customer research over the last year to innovate and inform how we build new features and functionality. The entire company is excited about what we have been working on and looking forward to sharing more with you; stay tuned for more news later this month. 





To support this, we are focusing more on customer employer branding and company awareness needs, and moving away from job slots and direct hiring. We have begun to wind down the sale of some of our Talent products, namely job listings. We will give our users and customers plenty of notice before we sunset products. More details on this change can be found here.





Teams 





We launched our freemium Stack Overflow for Teams product in March after months of planning and hard work across our company. User response has exceeded our expectations!  In Q2, we have surpassed 25,000 free teams created, which nearly meets our goal for the entire year. Our previous investments from creating product onboarding, messaging, and work within the product and engineering to build high performance and efficient scaling were instrumental in enabling us to launch our Freemium Teams product tier. We are continuing to invest in our product-led growth and SaaS transformation through improved analytics and ongoing engagement with users to inform and educate them about the product. 





We are just getting started with user research on our Basic and Free Teams tiers to understand how we can provide more value to smaller teams and organizations. We are continuing to investigate how and where Public Platform content can be integrated into the Teams experience. We just launched Unified Search on our Enterprise Team tier to allow each customer to decide whether they wanted an integrated search experience or not while ensuring users knew whether they were leveraging internal or public content to help them solve problems. 





Conclusion





Taking a broad view, I see some important themes are emerging in our work. We are investing deeply in research across many areas to understand where our users and customers see the most value and how we can make the greatest impact across the communities, products, and platform that make up Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange. We are seeing real impact in the areas we have focused our investment. The announcement of our planned acquisition means we can lean into the strategies we committed to in our roadmaps for this year with increased confidence and speed. We remain committed to building an open, public platform that allows anyone to share and find knowledge. We’re building for our users and customers so they can build for the world.





Please share your thoughts with us on the MSE feedback post.


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sources news post: stackoverflow.blog