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Last year I announced a "site sponsorship" program aimed at industry and project-team leaders to help drive more support to these sites. You can read more about how Site Sponsorships work below:

Site Sponsporships — Bringing Resources Back to Stack Exchange


Today, I am excited to announce that Stack Overflow for Teams has become an official sponsor for the Software Engineering site. Typically, "sponsorships" are built from 3rd-party partnerships intended to work alongside the community to help drive resources to the site and provide solutions in that space.

But this sponsorship is going to be a bit different.

This sponsorship was set up to showcase how organizations can help support the community and highlight their role in that subject space. For the Teams role, it's a bit of dogfooding to learn how sponsorships work from the sponsor's point-of-view and to hopefully inspire more active development in our Q&A sites.

Stack Overflow for Teams selected Software Engineering because it is a successful community and a good demographic fit. Software Engineers often work in projects teams with institutional knowledge of their own, and we're looking for ways to increase awareness in the Teams Q&A product.

On a personal note, I'm hoping this first-hand experience will help inspire our developers to invest more resources in the Stack Exchange Q&A. Appealing to industry partnerships more broadly is just one way to create more value in what you have built here… for project teams AND the community.

How would a sponsorship affect this site?

Site sponsorships are administered much like the "tag sponsorships" you may have seen on other sites. Apart from the visual updates and site links, you should not see any significant changes in the scope or the operation of this site. Site sponsorship is essentially "strategic philanthropy" where industry partners can give back to developer communities by having a presence on the site and provide a place to help ask and answer questions.

Let's get a few immediate concerns out of the way

First —  a sponsor would not "own" the Q&A site. Sponsors work alongside our communities who ultimately build these sites. Communities ask the questions; communities conduct elections; communities moderate their own content as they do now. Any ads a sponsor might submit still have to go through our crazy-strict editorial process… as it has always been. Companies do not have access to personal data, and all Q&A content remains irrevocably licensed under Creative Commons for sharing and attribution.

I am energized about the potential for working with companies in this space to expand our sites' growth and to help bring in new communities and maybe even build out some new features for Q&A sites like this. Every site will ultimately benefit.

I continue to be impressed by just how attuned our marketing team and partners have been to the concerns of our Q&A sites. We will work hard to find organizations who are willing to cede so much control back to the community. It can be difficult to anticipate all the hiccups we might encounter along the way, but we remain steadfast in the guiding principle that these ideas should NOT interfere with the main experience of the Q&A, and the companies we have worked with to date seem to fit that relationship and expectation to a T.

Enjoy!

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    What could possibly go wrong? – MetaFight Jul 18 at 10:11
  • @MetaFight I’m sorry. I don't understand what you are asking – Robert Cartaino Jul 18 at 10:51
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    Sure, on paper the sponsors have no influence on the site content or development, but in reality they have leverage. They can always threaten to pull funding unless they get their way. I imagine at first these would be small, fairly palatable, requests but these type of things tend to snowball out of control. It is not inconceivable that the sponsor's money will eventually be buying things that benefit the sponsor and not the community. It's not like we haven't seen this pattern before in other places... – MetaFight Jul 18 at 11:08
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    Thank you for the clarification. For the sites already sponsored, I haven’t seen any problems even remotely like that. These partnerships are a means by which we support these sites, and I continue to be impressed by just how attuned our partners have been to the concerns of our Q&A sites when we discuss these issues; otherwise, we simply don’t work with them. I don’t know what more I can say about problems which have not occurred in actual practice except to remain vigilant. Thank you for the feedback. – Robert Cartaino Jul 18 at 11:46
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    I did not vote this down but I see that some folks did. Can't read their mind but possible explanation is that for last few years folks get used to think that nothing good comes from SE team. Consider investing some effort into building a more positive perception of the company among core users of SE sites – gnat Jul 18 at 19:59
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    It just underlines the thing that people like not to think about. You don't own your content. Someone else does and is selling it on. – Ewan Jul 25 at 12:04
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    @Ewan: There's nothing wrong with making money. Stack Overflow is a for-profit company; we've always known that they would monetize our content. That's how it works; they provide the platform, we provide the content, they make money. – Robert Harvey Jul 25 at 16:37
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    some would argue that profit is the difference between what you paid your workers and the fair value of their labour – Ewan Jul 25 at 16:46
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    @Ewan The Q&A website is sustained with advertising like any media service. But your content belongs to YOU, which you publish to share through a Creative Commons license. So trying to equate that to companies harvesting your information and content to sell elsewhere is simply incorrect and misleading. That is exactly what a Creative Commons license is designed to avoid. – Robert Cartaino Jul 25 at 20:36
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    @Ewan You don't own your content. Someone else does... You know that is simply not true. It's deceptive rhetoric meant only to be inflammatory. I share folks frustration when projects and policies take a bad turn, but let's call them out for the correct issues. I'm not going to feed this any further, so I'm out. Take care. – Robert Cartaino Jul 25 at 21:03
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    Surely this is a meaningless statement about money being moved from one internal Stack Exchange account to another internal Stack Exchange account with no actual visual affect on the real world. Or, to put it another way, why should anyone care? – TRiG Aug 1 at 10:47
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    I've read it. I cannot extract any meaning from it. Is anything actually changing? If so, what? – TRiG Aug 1 at 15:23
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    @TRiG There are no functional changes to the site. It is administered primarily as an ad campaign like sponsored links or display advertising. See the opening link describing what a Sponsorship entails. – Robert Cartaino Aug 1 at 15:28
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    With enough paranoia everything is bad. Lets focus on the present issue. SO wants programmers to be aware of SO Teams. So they stick us with an add that's hard to block. But at least it's over there in the corner not popping up between me and what I want to do. If it continues to behave I might not ever get around to finding a way to block it. Just please don't animate it. Be like a nike swoosh that people never think about until their kids ask what it is. – candied_orange Aug 13 at 23:48
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    Since SO is SO and SoftEng is part of SO, is this not basically just an ad for teams atop every page? It's SO sponsoring itself, noisily... – Lightness Races with Monica Sep 18 at 16:41
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Any ads a sponsor might submit still have to go through our crazy-strict editorial process… as it has always been.

Could you clarify this in light of the recent update around advertising rules relaxing?

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