Stack Overflow bans users en masse for rebelling against OpenAI partnership — users banned for deleting answers to prevent them being used to train ChatGPT


Stack Overflow, a renowned online forum for programmers and developers, is facing significant backlash from its community following its decision to collaborate with OpenAI to analyze and utilize forum posts for training ChatGPT, an AI model.

Many users are taking action by deleting or modifying their questions and answers to prevent them from being used in AI training, resulting in penalties from the site’s moderators.

One user, Ben, shared his frustration on Mastodon, recounting his experience of editing his most successful answers to safeguard them from being exploited by OpenAI. In his thread, Ben highlighted the broader concern that content posted on such platforms could be monetized without users’ consent, reflecting growing unease about data privacy and usage.

Ben’s sentiments resonate with other Stack Overflow users who are also participating in the protest against the AI partnership. They question why ChatGPT cannot attribute the source of its answers, which would enhance transparency and credibility. However, this approach would require revealing the inner workings of language models, potentially undermining their perceived intelligence and reliability.

The situation is further complicated by legal considerations. While users argue for their right to delete their own content under laws like the GDPR, Stack Overflow’s Terms of Service assert the platform’s ownership of user-contributed content. This discrepancy highlights the tension between user rights and platform policies.

Users are particularly outraged by Stack Overflow’s swift change in policy regarding generative AI. Previously, the platform prohibited the use of AI for generating or altering questions and answers, with moderators utilizing AI detection tools for content review. However, the recent shift in stance, as endorsed by CEO Prashanth Chandrasekar in a quarterly blog post, has left many users feeling blindsided and betrayed.

Overall, the controversy underscores the complex intersection of technology, ethics, and user rights in the evolving landscape of online platforms.