Recently a post on Meta StackOverflow got unfeatured by SE employee, with the explanation that it was done because of some "legal concerns."
Given that:

  1. similar posts exist on main Meta and are featured there, and
  2. the problematic post is still present on MSO, only that the "featured" tag got removed from it

What kind of legal concerns might cause such an action? If the post content is problematic, only removing the post (or the problematic part) would help. Featuring posts is a responsibility of moderators, who represent the community, not the company, so I don't think there is a risk of treating the post (or its being featured) as a statement coming from company. So what concerns might be present here?

1 Answer 1



Assuming there the post has or, more likely, has the potential to become a legal liability then not having it featured reduces the risk of that occurring or the consequences if it does because fewer people see it.

For example, assume that a hypothetical post potentially exposes SE to a defamation suit. Reducing the number of people who see the post reduces the chance that the hypothetical poster ever sees it. Further, damages for defamation depend on the extent of damage to reputation - all else being equal, the more people who see it the more damage is done.

So why not get rid of it and eliminate the risk altogether? Because legal risk is only one sort of business risk. SE has a reputational risk issue right now and the consequences of being too heavy handed may outweigh the legal risk. Some risks just have to be accepted.

  • How could this post result in a defamation suit? As far as I'm aware, the company hasn't said anything bad about Shog9 in public. Jan 17, 2020 at 5:47
  • @aparente001 I used defamation as an example. The company doesn’t want this widely ventilated for reasons - only some of which may be legal.
    – Dale M
    Jan 17, 2020 at 6:31
  • I get that. But I would like to understand what the legal issues might be. // Republican bellicose presidents like to use "national security" as the justification for everything under the sun. I'm trying to figure out if the current situation is analogous, or if there really are potential legal land mines, and if so, what they could be. I don't mean in a fictitious company, I mean in this company. Jan 17, 2020 at 6:31
  • @aparente001 well, assume a defamatory post was made in an answer- “featuring” it could be argued as endorsement of that post by SE. A bit of a long shot but a 63 year old non-tech using judge might agree with the argument.
    – Dale M
    Jan 17, 2020 at 6:41
  • I do understand what you're saying about defamation. But I don't understand how that is relevant in this situation. Is there anything else besides defamation that might be a legal issue? Jan 17, 2020 at 6:43

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