announcement add tag
Jack Douglas
## The Problem with Stack Overflow

A focused Q&A platform, that keeps the signal:noise ratio high, is a great benefit to people looking for answers on the internet. For a long time this need has been well served by [Stack Overflow]( and its sister sites, but:

* Stack Overflow Inc is a for-profit company with shareholders, and won't ever be purely focused on the mission of building a library of knowledge on the internet. The profit motive is the powerful, and eventually it is going to push altruism into second place.

* Because there is no obvious profit in free, simple, focused, Q&A, a profit-seeking company is going to explore other avenues for generating revenue (like [Teams](, [Jobs](, etc). The Q&A then becomes the platform for promoting those other, profitable services. That is bound to mean a less pure focus on the Q&A itself.

* There is a large and comitted community of volunteers working on the Stack Overflow network, answering questions, clearing up junk, and performing many other essential tasks. There are also employees of Stack Overflow. Relationships are generally good between the two groups, especially because the Community Managers (paid staff who liase with the community) are well respected and liked. However there is inevitably a discordance between the two groups because their priorities are inherently different.

## How we think we can do better

TopAnswers is intended to solve these issues for the long term. Here, the aim is not to operate for profit. We aren't operating a 'loss leader' strategy, where we take all the costs until the community is big, and then try and leverage that community to make a profit.

Instead the aim is to **keep a pure focus on creating great content, as a community, for as long as possible.**

To that end, we promise that:

1. We will not go down the for-profit route, and will apply for charitable status as soon as any income from donations exceeds the basic level needed to run a CIO in the UK as well as paying our hosting costs. This is not a high bar.

1. We will not diversify into other profit-seeking areas and try to leverage the community here to promote them. If we branch out at all, those activities will:

   * be compatible with focussed Q&A and building a library of knowledge for the good of everyone (for example, services like [db<>fiddle](

   * also be not for profit

1. If you join this community and contribute your time and energy towards the Q&A here, we will never treat you as 'the product'. We want a real community with genuinely shared priorities.

1. As much as possible of the platform will always be open-source and publicly available, and most is currently [on GitHub]( now.

## Where to start

Some of this will have to be taken on trust to start with. There are also some blanks that need filling in, for example:

 * ~~What license shall we use for contributions?~~ *We are allowing contributors [to choose their license](/meta?q=18#a8) from a range of options*.
 * ~~And for the platform itself?~~ *We have [have picked the AGPL v3](/meta?q=28#a116)*.
 * [What Q&A communities will we host](/meta?q=211) and how will we decide that?
 * What about all the millions of other details, including those that don't look important until you start to scale, when they suddenly blow up in your face?
We'd like to work together with you, to answer these question and others like them. This 'meta' community is where we'd like those discussions to take place, and we promise to always be responsive to, and to listen carefully to, the community here. No other channel, *even Twitter*, will ever take priority over this one.

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