I am a regular AU user for five years. I have observed that the quality of questions and answers (and comments) has dropped dramatically recently (let's say during the last two months) in AU. Is this deliberately done as a part of the ongoing strike? Or is this a result of the natural decline of all Stack Exchange sites? Is there any plan for actions to reverse this?
I sense that a lot of people who ensured the quality of the site are now staying away. I suspect because it's hard to take this platform seriously any more, and staying here is a frustrating experience.
It's not done deliberately by the striking people. If you visit the AU chat, you will see that a number of people are expressing their frustrations regularly, and are scheming to restore site quality as soon as the strike ends.
What the striking community is doing is not purposeful sabotage. They are just mirroring the company in taking an unsustainable stance. And we are not in the position of giving the strike up, as the demand of the company —making untolerably low-quality and low-relevance AI bullshit part of the site— is not within a range that is sensibly acceptable.
(I mean it could be accepted, but that would cause me to lose interest in this site; I would not be motivated to come here any more, and to me, the site would be lost. It's especially tragic and harmful, because I did not come here and did not invest hundreds of hours into producing the content I posted to have fun; I created my account and invested my time to contribute to the sustained well-being of the Ubuntu project. Which now suffers.)
Additionally, allowing organic, natural low quality to proliferate, demonstrates what an immense effort human volunteers invested here to uphold that quality. This also demonstrates to SE what values they are now trampling on. This shows them what their platform would be worth without the countless hours of persistent volunteer contributions.
Is there any plan for actions to reverse this?
In the AU chat you will see that yes, people are planning their actions to clean up.
A remark: until the beginning of June 2023, AI content had been weeded out, and site quality been upheld to the desired standards.
If an opportunity arose for the AU SE database to serve the community in good health ever again, it would be possible to look at the timestamps of the posts, and focus cleaning up the ones starting from June 2023. The rest before that, I take, is good.
... is this a result of the natural decline ...?
SE operates as a capitalist organization aimed at producing profit for its owner.
Capitalism, throughout its history, seems to be intertwined with exploitation and betrayal. The "successful" capitalist could not rise without others delivering the necessary contributions for that.
Capitalists harvest a disproportional amount of the fruit of others' efforts, and let those exerting the efforts down. Then they gaslight their victims into contributing to a next round.
Until now, SE lived on "investments" from corporations, implying, promising, that there will be returns. Soon they will have to deliver on those promises.
And that is leaving its mark on the platform.
With AI on their side, they seem to believe that they soon can either leave us human contributors behind, or deal us a new, different role in upholding the platform. In any case, we now seem to have even less leverage than before.
Will things on SE turn to the better?
Look at their recent communication 7 weeks into the strike: They never even acknowledge the community-driven counter-spam solution (which was taken offline to support the strike). They are talking about taking over the task themselves, without ever even acknowledging that a community-driven solution exists (and that they had enjoyed its advantages throughout several years).
This kind of posting seems to allow an insight into their perception and intentions.
There are multiple aspects where I am grateful for the current elevated interest in AI; one of those aspects is how we got collectively introduced to the concept of alignment, in the context of a potentially emerging Artificial General / Super Intelligence.
I recognize that this concept of alignment can also be applied to further contexts.
Equipped with this awareness, and also with insights that I obtained from reading and interacting with the meta.SE website, I can conclude that Stack Exchange Inc. appears to be in a significant misalignment with the community of volunteers who produce(d) and maintain(ed) the content on this platform.
(Those past tenses are meant to convey that SE, apparently through their own actions, continuously loses the participation of incredibly talented, incredibly sophisticated, noble even, contributors, network-wide. SE's sustained lack of acknowledgement of the community is easliy percieved as downright toxic.)
In the meanwhile I maintain my suggestion to decouple the success of the Ubuntu project from the SE platform.
With end of the moderation strike, I hope everyone here (and not only me) can see the quality of the site content starting to improve again.
If you want to help out, please see my answer here with suggestions on how everyone can help improving the site quality.