Because My “WHY” Is Stronger Than Your Excuses — Part 2

Man, it continues to be a challenge writing a comprehensive and meaningful post on the issues I see that are barriers to inclusion at Stack Overflow (part 1).

Why?

BECAUSE EVERY SINGLE DAY THERE’S YET ANOTHER EXCLUSIONARY CIRCUMSTANCE THAT IS BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION!

Jay Harlon recently wrote an article to address some of the concerns currently being discussed Stack Overflow isn’t very welcoming. It’s time for that to change.

Here are screenshots of my main concern when I first read this post:

That was until individuals using #causeascene got my attention with examples like this:

Check out the full text of what led to this individual being “kicked from”, it begins at 4:31pm. This is the Stack Overflow community. This is not an isolated incident as those who challenge the experiences of the excluded claim. This is the direct result of a lack of leadership that has created a culture which enables individuals to feel that it’s not only ok to talk this way but ban those who question.

All of this has raised further concerns for me, the list just keeps growing, some of which are addressed in this video:

At its core, Stack Overflow is a game; a game of privilege (access), to be accessed, like most games, only by those who understand, know the rules, and can use them for their benefit in winning. As with most games, it is not in the best interest of players, the privileged, to explain the rules to outsiders because that’s often considered unfair or against the spirit of the game. Outsiders are expected to figure things out and those who are most successful are held in great esteem. So the problem is not the “gaming nature” of the platform, the problem is that it’s fundamentally exclusionary and doesn’t align with, and often actively opposes, any efforts at inclusion, which requires a radical shift and essentially means the end of the game as currently played.

THIS IS A SYSTEMS PROBLEM AND THE SOLUTIONS CANNOT BE CROWD SOURCED!

I’ve highlighted these same issue as experienced within the NodeJS community as keynote speaker at the 2017 NodeJS Interactive Conference.

Also, after reviewing the bios of the Stack Overflow leadership team, it concerns me, but I’m not surprised, that it is not a reflection of the inclusive community they claim that they aspire to be. But more troubling, is that it appears that no one in a leadership role has the subject matter expertise at guiding organizational change or establishing inclusive organizational culture. This is where the rubber meets the rode and where the services of an individual or team, who specializes in these matters should be sought.

Bonus video just for Stack Overflow leadership:

Joel Spolsky — CEO @spolsky

Jeff Szczepanski — COO @inscitekjeff

David Fullerton — CTO @df07

Jay Hanlon — VP of Stack Overflow @JayHanlon

Michael Pryor — Co-Founder & Member of the Board of Directors @michaelpryo