Do not delete: StackOverflow bans users protesting their OpenAI partnership

Antonija Bilic Arar

StackOverflow users who have been deleting their contributions since the company announced its API partnership with OpenAI have been temporarily banned and warned not to delete content after they're back.

StackOverflow considers it against the collective collaboration nature of their community and causing significant disruptions to the site.

The freshly announced StackOverflow and OpenAI partnership will allow the AI company to “improve its AI models using enhanced content and feedback from the Stack Overflow community and provide attribution to the Stack Overflow community within ChatGPT.”. 

Translated from corporate lingo – the partnership will allow OpenAI to access the years and years of StackOverflow’s community contributions to train its AI model. Many users are unhappy with their answers being used to train AI and have started deleting them.

Some users have shared emails they got from StackOverflow, which banned them from the site for seven days because deleting contributed content causes “a lot of disruption” and warns them against further deletion. As much as the users are angry about it and claim they have the right to manage the content they created, StackOverflow’s Terms of Service contain a clause that states they have irrevocable ownership of all content members provide. 

The public announcement of the partnership does mention that it will enable ChatGP to provide attribution to the Stack Overflow community. Still, long-time StackOverflow users doubt the developer community’s sincerity regarding AI, as they have already changed their minds. 

For the last two years, StackOverflow has been trying to downplay the significance of AI tools and prove their supremacy in providing knowledge to developers compared to ChatGPT – they have even launched their own AI product, OverflowAI, in an attempt to counteract developers flocking to get instant answers from ChatGPT instead of searching on StackOverflow.

They have started praising the power of AI tools lately and a new set of new integrations and capabilities between Stack Overflow and OpenAI have been announced as part of this partnership that will be available in the first half of 2024. 

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