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I'm leaving Crypto.SE indefinitely. (Also the rest of Stack Exchange, but I'm at best a supporting actor in any other scene on this stage.)

I've temporarily withdrawn from SE addiction before. This is different. It's been fun, and I've learned a lot, and I hope you've learned a lot from me too, but our corporate stewards at Stack Exchange, Inc., are evidently aligned with profit, not with community—sustaining a living community is an inconvenient means to that end, not a goal in itself. And I don't want to remain personally invested in what will be just another asset for data and eyeballs to be monetized and traded by private equity firms.

I appreciate the care that the people at Stack Exchange, Inc., have historically put into establishing community and subject-matter focus at the same time, attracting and cultivating real expertise to make a repository of knowledge, unlike the shallow but wide Answers.com and Yahoo! Answers. And I appreciate that Stack Exchange, Inc., has kept it open to everyone, unlike Quora, with Creative Commons licensing, a public (if infrequently updated) archive, pseudonymous contributions, and low barrier to entry.

Originally Stack Exchange was run by the love of a benevolent dictator on modest profits. Early on, though, the benevolent dictator made a Faustian bargain with venture capital, despite prior reluctance. The free money made growth easy, and may have been great for founders who could cash out and walk away. But the benevolent dictator model is unsustainable, and Mephistopheles will come knocking soon enough. And rather than setting up technical, social, and legal barriers to parasitism by the VCs, or working to distribute real governance to the communities, Stack Exchange, Inc., is instead growing increasingly hostile to its communities.

I make five policy demands for Stack Exchange, Inc.:

  1. Remove mandatory binding arbitration and class action waivers from the terms of service.
  2. Reject mass surveillance of readers—forbid fingerprinting ads and trackers. Commit to basing any advertising at most on the content of the page being viewed, and particularly not on who is viewing it.
  3. Reject animated ads.
  4. Adopt a process for license changes with community input.
  5. Establish a governance structure by which elected representatives of the community have decision-making power equal to or exceeding the funders. The funders may have provided short-term money, but the community provides the long-term value to the world, and the governance structure should reflect that.

I also ask that, in the short term, Stack Exchange, Inc., reinstate Monica and make amends for throwing her under the bus in the Code of Conduct kerfuffle. Perhaps if the people in charge at Stack Exchange, Inc., make a good-faith effort to reorient themselves as stewards of infrastructure needed by the community, not as agents of capital sucking monetization out of the community, I will return. But for now…

So long, and thanks for all the bones. If you need to find me, well, why would you need to do that? Maybe I will be around conferences or other communities, or maybe not!

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  • $\begingroup$ Hold on, there are indefinitely many more to learn from them. Will miss their corrections, links, and satire, and the fight for their belief. They can find me with a vulture t-shirt. Everybody knows - Leonard Cohen - YouTube $\endgroup$ – kelalaka Dec 24 '19 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks Squeamish - you've taught me loads while I've been on Crypto.SE. We'll all miss you! $\endgroup$ – Legorooj Dec 24 '19 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ If you don't find the format of reddit too cumbersome, you're always welcome to /r/crypto. While reddit has its own issues, the individual subs like ours are mostly independent, and less affected by such site wide politics. In the long term we might all need some more decentralized forms where we aren't dependent on some central gatekeeper, but to date I haven't seen an alternative that's ready for mass adoption. Let's hope one arrives in a not too distant future. $\endgroup$ – Natanael Dec 25 '19 at 13:19
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    $\begingroup$ I feel you… welcome to the other side. $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Dec 25 '19 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ Bye. I appreciate all of the detailed insights into cryptography. I appreciate the time. $\endgroup$ – b degnan Dec 25 '19 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ Have a good journey outta SE! You've always been helpful so for sure you leave a notable hole in this community. Hope you come back someday, the sooner the better $\endgroup$ – kub0x Dec 25 '19 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ You're my absolute favorite poster at SE. :( $\endgroup$ – Erik Aronesty Feb 6 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ This is such a shame. To lose someone who always went above and beyond for people new to crypto, I could always tell that you were a passionate contributor. Thank you for all the knowledge you have shared with us. I hope something changes, so that you can come back. Have a great life, mate $\endgroup$ – WeCanBeFriends Feb 17 at 13:59
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Squeamish, you will be sorely missed. You've been the most prolific but also one of the best contributors to this site with regards to quality. Feel free to return to the site at any time. Or to the side channel of course, if you feel like talking to any of us.

As for the politics of the site: I can feel the frustration myself too, and I have often considered to stop as moderator because of it. In the end though it is the community that counts, and I think that's worth supporting regardless of the politics of the SE team and company. I can only hope it gets better; implementing a competing site may be tricky after all.

If and when you come back, I'm sure you will have many additional reputation points because of the answers you've left behind. I sure do hope that you leave your bone eating avatar around.

Good luck with any other endeavors that you are persuing and hopefully we have the opportunity to meet in person in the future.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree from the mod point of view - if I had that position, I'd only stay in because of the community. They're always worth supporting. $\endgroup$ – Legorooj Dec 24 '19 at 22:48
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We'll all miss you. You've been an excellent contributor and always leave me in awe with your extreme attention to detail and the clarity your answers provide (and putting citations in all your links has been very helpful!). Although I doubt SE the company will change, I fully agree with your sentiment.

My selfish hope is that you won't be able to stay away and will continue to contribute in one way or another, as time goes by, but I totally understand if you want to distance yourself from SE the company.

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I join the chorus of people that will miss you and your contributions, from various standpoint including technical, acid humor, and general wisdom like in this question.

I've been pondering about how reasonable it is to keep contributing to (crypto.)SE. It clearly became business-oriented, with moderators and contributors a free taskforce attracting a monetized audience. For now, I still feel like I benefit from the system as is: the magic of improving one's knowledge by the Q&A game is not dead. Thus I do not quit, yet, despite monetization, unilateral rule changes, and even the despicable handling of the Monica case.

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You will be missed immensely. The quality of your all answers was outstanding. Your investment was second to none, and anyone having spend time on Crypto.SE learned a ton from you and owes you a lot.

But the decision is yours, and it’s totally understandable. Thanks again for everything you contributed, and hopefully see you soon, here or somewhere else.

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Squeamish's answers are so detailed and thorough, the writing impeccable. The whole package is absolutely extraordinary.

I learned so much. They are right: the surveillance on this website threatens to kill the buzz. However, it might be best to cultivate a positive attitude and try to make more of a contribution (especially since it is difficult to stay away.)

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for all the help Patriot. Thanks for keeping your answers available and if you ever want to return we'll gladly welcome you back. $\endgroup$ – Maarten Bodewes Sep 17 at 18:20

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