The Green Should Be White March 5, 2007 3:32 PM   Subscribe

Ask MetaFilter should default to a white background for new users and those not logged in.
posted by anildash to Feature Requests at 3:32 PM (533 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

Why?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:34 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Green is white! White is black! Cats and dogs sleeping together!
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:35 PM on March 5, 2007 [9 favorites]


I am an unapologetic fan of AskMe, and consider it to be one of the greatest sites on the web. I've written at length about what an accomplishment it is, and I'm frequently asked to speak about things like web community and use it as a positive example.

With increasing frequency, though, I find people who are unfamiliar with the site questioning the legitimacy of AskMe, and of the answers therein, because the default green/yellow color scheme doesn't look "professional". Typically, these are fairly web-savvy individuals, who are used to using various Google or Yahoo services, and associate a white background, or possibly a grey/black background, with "real" websites.

I'm completely fine with a green background option being made available for those who want to keep the current scheme, but visitors who come in from search traffic should be able to tell that the site is a compelling resource without being distracted by the unfortunate default aesthetics.

(I welcome the inevitable debate here, but "...but we call it The Green in MeTa!" is not a valid reason to not make the change.)
posted by anildash at 3:36 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


...and pardon my slow "more inside" typing. :)
posted by anildash at 3:37 PM on March 5, 2007


anildash writes "With increasing frequency, though, I find people who are unfamiliar with the site questioning the legitimacy of AskMe, and of the answers therein, because the default green/yellow color scheme doesn't look 'professional'"

We don't want such stupid people.
posted by peacay at 3:38 PM on March 5, 2007 [125 favorites]


I find people who are unfamiliar with the site questioning the legitimacy of AskMe, and of the answers therein, because the default green/yellow color scheme doesn't look "professional".

Oh, ok.

No. The site looks great. It has hundreds (thousands?) of contributors and tens of thousands of readers. Why should the site change just because your friends are too lazy to bother to read it?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:39 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Or, on preview, what peacay said :-D
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:39 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was going to snark, but peacay did it more eloquently than I could. Professional iff black on white? Pfah. That's like people who only think it's art if it's in a frame on a museum wall.
posted by Plutor at 3:41 PM on March 5, 2007


Goddamn, that's the stupidest reason ever to change something. People also seem to like American flags and frybread, by the way.

The one thought I've never had when looking at AskMe is that it looks poorly designed or amateurish. It's as utilitarian and elegant as a scalpel.
posted by docpops at 3:44 PM on March 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


These are the same people who wouldn't buy a personal computer until IBM put one out.
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:45 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Throw that filthy bathwater out the window! There. Say, has anyone seen the baby?
posted by fandango_matt at 3:46 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Remember how once upon a time all computers were a boring shade of beige?

Then a computer company brought out computers that were all candy coloured green and pink and blue. And everyone loved them!

I don't know what my point is. Also, I haven't touched a Mac since 1997. But if all this Web2.0, appealing to "web-savvy individuals, who are used to using various Google or Yahoo services" bullshit means we need a white background and rounded corners and little reflection graphics, then call me Web1.0 thank you very much.

Why do we want to attract peopel who value style over substance?

What have they got against coloureds?
posted by Jimbob at 3:47 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


You know who else thought green was unprofessional?




That's right, Miss Piggy.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:47 PM on March 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


This isn't Metafiltr, we don't need to worry about not appearing Web 2.0 enough.
posted by hugsnkisses at 3:48 PM on March 5, 2007 [17 favorites]


These are the same people who wouldn't buy a personal computer until IBM put one out.

Exactly. And there are a lot of them, and we're a self-selecting group that can't look at the situation objectively because we're involved in/used to it.

There are a lot of good arguments against this proposal (as well as many for it) -- tautological statements about personal preference that are impossible to separate from conditioning aren't among them.
posted by j.edwards at 3:48 PM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


I find people who are unfamiliar with the site questioning the legitimacy of AskMe, and of the answers therein, because the default green/yellow color scheme doesn't look "professional".

Do these people salivate on their own foreheads?
posted by grouse at 3:48 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


These are the same people who wouldn't buy a personal computer until IBM put one out.

Or, as some of us like to call them, "normal" people. I guess I had presumed that some here were interested in attracting new members, as well.
posted by anildash at 3:49 PM on March 5, 2007


Dogs and cats aside, what they said. AskMe certainly isn't having any problems attracting readers and contributors—last we heard from Matt, it's the most visited part of the site, and the biggest problems people have noticed are with too much growth.

Pointedly stripping away a big part of the identifying character of the site to serve the questionable purpose of making it more attractive to people who would avoid it for not looking blandly professional seems like a bad move.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:49 PM on March 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


I guess I had presumed that some here were interested in attracting new members, as well.

HAHAHAHAHAH. If there's anything held uniformly in the hearts of Mefites (other than that declawing cats is very very wrong), it's that n00bs are teh suck.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:50 PM on March 5, 2007 [15 favorites]


What everybody else said. If they can't figure out it's a worthwhile site without a white background (??), fuck 'em.
posted by languagehat at 3:51 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I guess I had presumed that some here were interested in attracting new members, as well.

I'd rather be able to post a question every week again.
posted by grouse at 3:51 PM on March 5, 2007


Metafilter is blue: blue representing the great unknown oceans of the interwebs. Metatalk is grey: the grey area between reason an isanity (inanity also). AskMetafilter is green: green representing nature and the Green Man or Khidr, the hidden prophet who comes to the aid of seekers of true knowledge. I thought everyone knew that.

Someone help me out with the colors of the other sections of the site, please.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:52 PM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


"HAHAHAHAHAH. If there's anything held uniformly in the hearts of Mefites (other than that declawing cats is very very wrong), it's that n00bs are teh suck."

I think cats and n00bs should be declawed.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:52 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


to people who would avoid it for not looking blandly professional

Ah, see, there's a real reason for changing the color of the site: a site that's white would probably be less noticable on the desktop of a worker bee screwing their employer out of productive work time. I absolutely do not think the site should change, but if I were going to make a MeTa post on the subject, that's how I'd go at it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:52 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another data point: I almost agree with anildash. Although more from an utilitarian perspective (it's hard on my eyes). Not terribly fond of the gray and blue color schemes, either, for that matter. But it's never bothered me enough to be worth mentioning before, or to keep me from reading, either. I guess if it were up to me, I'd recommend muting the hues rather than losing the color schemes altogether. White would be too generic.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:52 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


To be a little more productive: If, as is possible now, you could set your background to be the current green/yellow (and I could leave mine with the white/lofi setting) but new users would see white/lofi by default, would that be objectionable? Everybody who sees green now could continue to.
posted by anildash at 3:53 PM on March 5, 2007


I can see how the white color scheme might attract the more, um, corporate folks, but the site's overrun as it is. How long do you have to wait to post your next question these days? It was three years or something the last time I checked, I think.
posted by Devils Slide at 3:54 PM on March 5, 2007


Change is bad.

Haha. Just kidding. THE PROPOSED change is bad.

You know what might improve site traffic? Search Engine Optimization. Let's do that. Everybody be sure to type Britanny Spears at the end of their comments over and over and over again. Also, more wikipedia links!
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:55 PM on March 5, 2007


For reference: The plain text setting in your profile lets you see AskMe in white.
posted by anildash at 3:55 PM on March 5, 2007


The backgrounds of all three of the winning entries in MeFi Redesign Contest are white.
posted by event at 3:55 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


If the site can be a valuable resource to more people, and can easily increase in reputation through some easy cosmetic change, I think it is wrong not to consider it. I kind of agree that the colors can be initially a little offputting. And I have alot of respect for Anil, too. He's not just talking about a couple of people. Of course it's up to Matt, but I wouldn't dismiss this out of hand as a suggestion made to infuriate us -- he's trying to help!

But, you know, snark, snark, snark, because his favorite MeTa sucks.

BTW FWIW, I just want to say that I think this request is heads and shoulders above other MeTas that ask for changes or ponies because an individual has a strong personal preference for something. This is a MeTa that has been made from personal observation of a bunch of people and applies to more than the poster.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:58 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


anildash, I'd still think it a deeply weird and counterintuitive thing to do, yes. There's a sense of identity to the green that is, I think, emblematic of some of the character of the site. That may tread dangerously into the area of emotional that's-the-way-it's-always-been territory that you'd like to dismiss, but I think it's inescapable: an Ask Metafilter rendered devoid of the identifiers that make it AskMe and not Corporate-Friendly Q&A Site is not the one I want to hang around at.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:58 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


(And I say this as someone who rocks the plaintext scheme at work.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:59 PM on March 5, 2007


because the default green/yellow color scheme doesn't look "professional"

Yes. What's your point?
posted by cillit bang at 3:59 PM on March 5, 2007


I agree with anildash. Most people who are commenting in here refresh AskMeFi 100x a day. Your opinion, though valid, is mildly biased toward maintaining the status quo. Otherwise, wouldn't more people have created MeTa threads in AskMeFi's 2 years and some odd month's history addressing this issue?

The entire site isn't "professional". It was never meant to be. But now that AskMeFi is getting national and international recognition, it might be time to make it mildly more traditional to appeal to a larger audience. And Anil is suggesting that an option exist, not that the entire site change irrevocably. I think that at least giving people that option is fair.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:59 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


If the page seems unprofessional, I suggest it may be for reasons other than the color scheme.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:00 PM on March 5, 2007


ThePinkSuperhero: "If there's anything held uniformly in the hearts of Mefites (other than that declawing cats is very very wrong), it's that n00bs are teh suck."

And that's coming from the mouth of a lowly 17.7ker.
posted by Plutor at 4:02 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cortex, in one way or another most all of us are indeed constrained to rock the plaintext scheme at work. Alas.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:05 PM on March 5, 2007


But now that AskMeFi is getting national and international recognition, it might be time to make it mildly more traditional to appeal to a larger audience.

To what purpose? Is there no greater goal for the site than bland approachability? Are we bucking for a Yahoo bid? Of course that sort of thing is ultimately Matt's call, but I think a lot of folks would be shocked if he decided to embrace the path of saleability.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:08 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've never been totally sure about the color scheme, it's good for reference (as I move between MeFi and AskMe and MeTa) so I changed to plain text as a result of reading this discussion. It hurt my eyes.
posted by ob at 4:08 PM on March 5, 2007


"I find people who are unfamiliar with the site questioning the legitimacy of AskMe, and of the answers therein, because the default green/yellow color scheme doesn't look "professional"."

Fuck 'em.

"Why should the site change just because your friends are too lazy to bother to read it?"

You forgot 'stuck up'. Goddamn coloristas.

Also, Jobs is already the "white" "professional" facet of MetaFilter. As a person of mixed heritage which includes about 50% Black, it's no wonder I hang out mostly in MeTa and Music/HiFi. I mean, HiFi rocks and all the suburban white kids will be copying it in 5-10 years. And MeTa, well; people are just so surprised when there's a quality MeTa post. And yet all they can say is: "Oh, that post is so well-written." Or: "It's so amazing that poster didn't get drunk and flame out," as if that's all that we, the Grey, are good for. "Go post more to music!" they tell us. "Do a little tap dance and we might buy you a sock puppet." Yes, suh; no, suh. How come we can never be as good as the rest of the site, they ask us? Why don't we work harder, get ahead, make something of ourselves? But they don't want that. They want the violence, the vitriol, the hatred, the flameouts; and, as these prophecies have a way of self-fulfilling, that's what they get. Is it any wonder that The Grey is so looked-down-upon, neglected, sometimes outright hated; even in this day and age?

And so I ask you, my brothers and sisters of all races, colors, creeds, and stylesheets, to unite with me in a boycott of every Metafilter subdomain which excludes the color black from its palette. Because I have a dream, that one day, all MetaFilter sites will be treated equally, whether black or white, blue or green, grey or... whatever color that other site is... what's it called, projects? It's like, red or purple or something. That all these sites could coexist in peace, with an end to the flameouts, the pitchforks, the lynchings, the threads about dios, and all of the host of logical fallacies whose epithets are hurled about like so many slurs, laden with degradation and sorrow on the morning after. Join me, my fellows, and post all of your best content to the Grey, and the Black, so that some day we can live as one, in peace.
posted by Eideteker at 4:09 PM on March 5, 2007 [18 favorites]


Peace is the final refuge of the dead.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:12 PM on March 5, 2007


anildash, have you got any ready quotes or is this just a cumulative thing? See, you say 'normal people' have some problems perceiving legitimacy with the site because of the colour scheme but to me, it's the techy design freaks who would be more likely to come to such a spurious conclusion and the 'normal people' are either here or will be thankful to find the resource when they arrive. So, what's your sample space and what are the backgrounds of your so-called 'normal people'?

We like wearing the burka.
posted by peacay at 4:13 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


*trys to think of parallel issue of utmost inconsequence to facetiously bring up for ostensible humor creation, fails; also fails to be surprised that actual thread devoted to actual issue of utmost inconsequence is chugging along at a comment a minute for the first 40 minutes*
posted by Kwine at 4:14 PM on March 5, 2007


I'm sorry, I'm confused. You love MetaFilter, I'm assuming you find the overall mechanics of the site user-friendly, but...you think the site should be reworked to appeal to people who use background color as a prime determinant of legitimacy?
posted by lalex at 4:15 PM on March 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


People who gain stature and success in a field -- in this specific example the field of the web community -- can fall prey to projecting their own beliefs and biases further than what more casual observers see as reality. Less circumspectly, I do not think Anil Dash has his finger on the pulse of the web-using community with respect to its interpretation of color schemes quite to the extent necessary to draw the conclusions made by him here.

Snce he is a known friend of Matt Haughey, this could make one wonder if the issue was already raised with Matt privately, but no matter. For myself, I think the reasons given for the color-change suggestion lack merit.
posted by mdevore at 4:20 PM on March 5, 2007


To what purpose? Is there no greater goal for the site than bland approachability?

The same reason why we make MeFi customizable. There are many people here with various tastes and customization allows users a greater UI experience. This, IMHO, is no different. I don't see the harm in allowing visitors a more visually appealing site. Fact is, we want more visitors, who might eventually become members, who might eventually contribute to the site's knowledge base. What's wrong with appealing to people who like plain vanilla sites? Are we so arrogant that we think that those who dislike the green background are people we don't want here anyway?

Are we bucking for a Yahoo bid?

I think this move would attempt to tap into a more mainstream audience. I'm starting to see why there would be resentment to this idea. Most people here probably don't consider themselves mainstream, and likely (this is just a guess) have a mild bit of contempt for the mainstreamers. I agree that we probably don't want to dilute the community too much, but appealing to a general audience isn't all bad.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:20 PM on March 5, 2007


Your associates are making specious judgements regarding professional design. Good day to you.
posted by boo_radley at 4:21 PM on March 5, 2007


See, you say 'normal people' have some problems perceiving legitimacy ...

What peacay said. Can you expand on your definition of "normal"? Keep in mind, it must somehow account for the popularity and existence of Myspace.
posted by vacapinta at 4:23 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


This reminds me of a book I'm reading right now called The Accidental Investment Banker. In one chapter he talks about how management of the big banks convince all their bankers that individually, they are all in the top 20% of banking. He talked about a specific example where everyone had their head down and a manager (or instructor, I don't remember) asked people to raise their hands if they thought that they were in the top 10% of bankers intellectually speaking. Then he said, top 5%? By the end, everyone except the author had their hand raised.

It seems like most people here (who are commenting in this thread) fit the same profile. We all think we're special. Kudos to Matt for a job well done. :-)
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:24 PM on March 5, 2007


When Google, or Yahoo, or any of the nuevo riche bloggers buy Matt out, they can change the color scheme.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:26 PM on March 5, 2007


Are we so arrogant that we think that those who dislike the green background are people we don't want here anyway?

The proposition was not that these unidentified "normal" people dislike the green background, but that it causes them to question the legitimacy of the site. And yeah, if they are so quick to judge based on the color of a web site, I don't think I want them.
posted by grouse at 4:30 PM on March 5, 2007


last we heard from Matt, it's the most visited part of the site

Then what we should do is make Jobs be green and all the links that say AskMeFi lead to jobs to confuse people and help the other subsites profit from the success of ask me.
posted by micayetoca at 4:31 PM on March 5, 2007


I think this move would attempt to tap into a result in more cat questions due to a decidedly more mainstream audience.

I generally respect anil's advice but this one gets a big wtf?
posted by dobbs at 4:31 PM on March 5, 2007


Well, I for one am positive that I'm in the top 5% of bonkers!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:31 PM on March 5, 2007


I have nothing particular to contribute here, other than my belief that any suggestion made in obvious good faith by a longtime member of the community should be duly and deliberately considered.

That said, I would love to have Known Friend of Matt Haughey on a t-shirt.
posted by bradlands at 4:32 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Anil: I love you like I love no other blogger. But I vote to keep the green.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 4:33 PM on March 5, 2007


"When Google, or Yahoo, or any of the nuevo riche bloggers buy Matt out, they can change the color scheme."

Only if they give us a cut.

And by "us" I mean the cabal.

Which of course does not exist.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:33 PM on March 5, 2007


If anyone but Anil Dash had proposed this the tarring, feathering, and running-out-of-town-on-a-rail-ing would have already been done with nothing else left to do but to clean up stray tar and featherage.

One of the things that makes the Meta family what it is, for me at least, is the backgrounds just the way they are. White backgrounds are boring. There are enough of them out there as it is. And as a wise person once said, if it ain't broke don't fix it.

It ain't broke.
posted by konolia at 4:34 PM on March 5, 2007


Fact is, we want more visitors

No. We don't. That's why you're seeing everyone mocking this idea.
posted by hugsnkisses at 4:39 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know who else has a professional design and white background?
posted by boo_radley at 4:41 PM on March 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


Is the suggestion really that the site looks unprofessional because it's different than OMGWEB2.0R00LZ? If so, that's just crazy talk. As has been stated in this thread, AxMe has no problem with participation. The section hit the ground running and hasn't stopped. It isn't difficult to read. It isn't difficult to interact with, even for newbies who don't frequent MeFi's front page.

(I welcome the inevitable debate here, but "...but we call it The Green in MeTa!" is not a valid reason to not make the change.)

Neither is: "Let's make it white so it looks more like Y! Pipes/Flickr/Google/etc, therefore it would be 'professional.'"
posted by eyeballkid at 4:42 PM on March 5, 2007


The same reason why we make MeFi customizable. There are many people here with various tastes and customization allows users a greater UI experience. This, IMHO, is no different.

Your equivilance isn't. Making MeFi customizable is catering to various tastes; changing the face of AskMe to all unregistered users is catering to a different taste, period, and that taste is Wonderbread.

The problem that anildash is proposing to solve—generating growth for AskMe—is not merely non-existent: the space where it would be is actually occupied by its goatee-bearing evil twin brother. The site is goddam hopping. I can't believe that lack of growth can be taken as a serious impetus for this, good intentions aside.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:42 PM on March 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


Okay, the green is ugly. There, I said it. :)
posted by anildash at 4:45 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


AskMe is not professional, therefore it does not need white.

I have spoken. You may now close this thread.
posted by Salmonberry at 4:45 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


And from another perspective, the casual web surfer who gets linked to a compelling thread on Green Background AskMe, a subsite they've never heard of a site they've never heard of, will be left with this: that neat green-colored question site.

The same first-time visitor to homogenized White Background Askme: that question site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:45 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hey, way to make me look like I'm backing a goon, Anil. :-)

Tar and feather away, folks. He is no longer worthy of defense...
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:47 PM on March 5, 2007


In the wintertime, my skin turns AskMeta green. I guess I'm ugly, too. ::cries::
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:51 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sweet!

*sharpens pitchfork*
posted by eyeballkid at 4:51 PM on March 5, 2007


Poor ThePinkSuperhero. Be gentle, eyeballkid.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:53 PM on March 5, 2007


The green has a great personality.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:54 PM on March 5, 2007


I meant it for Anil, but now that you mention it... green skin... Frankenstien's monster... That's more of a classic pitchfork use isn't it?
posted by eyeballkid at 4:54 PM on March 5, 2007



Are we so arrogant that we think that those who dislike the green background are people we don't want here anyway?

The proposition was not that these unidentified "normal" people dislike the green background, but that it causes them to question the legitimacy of the site. And yeah, if they are so quick to judge based on the color of a web site, I don't think I want them.


What grouse said.
posted by juv3nal at 4:58 PM on March 5, 2007


We don't want such stupid people.

I was all prepared to unload with the most devestating of snarks, but peacay nailed it with such surgical precision, succintness and utter frankness I am humbled and shamed.
posted by loquacious at 5:03 PM on March 5, 2007


He talked about a specific example where everyone had their head down and a manager (or instructor, I don't remember) asked people to raise their hands if they thought that they were in the top 10% of bankers intellectually speaking. Then he said, top 5%? By the end, everyone except the author had their hand raised.

"By the end?" More of them thought they were in the top 5% than the top 10%?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:04 PM on March 5, 2007


AskMe can't be white because Jobs is already white. Sorry, Anil, you missed the boat on this one.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:07 PM on March 5, 2007


Slow day at sixapart.
posted by justgary at 5:08 PM on March 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


Poor word choice, Armitage. At the end, those same people who thought that they were in the top 20 and top 10 also thought that they were in the top 5. Lesson was: all bankers are self-obsessed, delusional, ego maniacs. But it can apply to other occupations (and groups of people, which isn't to say that this site is really as bad as a bunch of i-bankers, but as far as interesting parallels go, I think this is a good one).
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:09 PM on March 5, 2007


Only if they give us a cut.

I wouldn't hold your breath on that, big guy. AskMe is built on the broken back of slaves.
posted by Dave Faris at 5:11 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I read the whole site as black-on-white and I like it a lot better that way. Maybe we should at the very least make it more obvious that there are two styles to choose form. Now that the site is getting all ajax-ified, maybe a style switcher button someplace obvious would be a good compromise.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:13 PM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Lesson was: all bankers are self-obsessed, delusional, ego maniacs.

No, only the top five percent.
posted by grouse at 5:13 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I like being able to tell the difference between which part I'm reading and I find the color choice soothing. And black on white makes my eyes bleed. But sure, go ahead and make it clear to people they can have it ugly and cornea-burning if they want to.
posted by dame at 5:18 PM on March 5, 2007


Well said, jessamyn.

But remember, if we make it easier for John Q. Corporate Straightguy to change it to plain white, how are we going to spot MeFi's distinctive colors in instances like the Frontline sightings?

The Metafilter colors are themselves, in a sense, an established brand. I'm wholly serious about this, and it is without a doubt a bunch of happy marketdroid horseshit, but it's more or less true.

There's very little else distinctive about MeFi. Take away the background colors and you just have plain text. The banner at the top is only visible for the brief moment you're not actually reading text down below.

Anyway, just a thought.
posted by loquacious at 5:23 PM on March 5, 2007 [18 favorites]


My concern is that while the "market" of "web-savvy individuals" that anil refers to might love a professional white background...ask.metafilter is already full of web-savvy individuals. Questions regarding technology and the web get loads of responses - that's always been Metafilter's core userbase.

If we want to attract more people, surely we want to attract more normal people - you know, people who might be experts on gardening, or fishing. And normal people - the great unwased masses - have shown repeatedly they don't care about crazy background colours.
posted by Jimbob at 5:29 PM on March 5, 2007


The original reason for a non-white background (at least, what I presume was the reason) is still the best one -- it fits with the experience people expect from MetaFilter as a whole. The fact that so many users defend the green so staunchly speaks to a real value that it has.

Presumably, though, everyone here views AskMe when they're logged in, right? Anil's not saying to change it for that situation. And it's hard to say whether non-members value that consistency of experience in anywhere near the same way, let alone respond to it. So I'm not sure that anything of real value would be lost.
posted by mattpfeff at 5:29 PM on March 5, 2007


With increasing frequency, though, I find people who are unfamiliar with the site questioning the legitimacy of AskMe, and of the answers therein, because the default green/yellow color scheme doesn't look "professional".

Really, how many people are we talking about here?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:39 PM on March 5, 2007


With increasing frequency, though, I find people who are unfamiliar with the site questioning the legitimacy of AskMe, and of the answers therein, because the default green/yellow color scheme doesn't look "professional".


I believe that the easiest solution is for all those unfamiliar with the site to familiarize themselves with it by reading some questions and answers.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:42 PM on March 5, 2007


anildash: "Okay, the green is ugly. There, I said it. :)"

So this whole post was based on an entirely subjective opinion. Ah ha. Well, it makes sense. I strongly suspected that the "normal people" you met who were saying they didn't like the look of AskMe "with increasing frequency" were a product of your imagination. Now that that's been confirmed, maybe you'd like to go back and notice that AskMe conforms to every available internet design standard to a T.

Also, someone should probably point out to you that you sound like a tremendous asshole when you say "I do seminars on AskMe, and the look's not performing well in the focus groups." Understand that thusly you have stomped on civility in three ways: first, you've been pretentious, claiming some sort of authority over the people who provide the service of AskMe by proxy of your having been "asked to speak about web communities." Second, you've insulted Matt's design, however, backhandedly, which I think everyone agrees is relatively good, even if it isn't to their taste. Third, you've shown that you really have no authority at all when speaking about AskMe by showing a blithe ignorance of the basic problems of the site, which are ongoing and controversial around here, and the chief of which is scalability. "I guess I had presumed that some here were interested in attracting new members, as well?" Do you know anything about AskMe and its administration? It's not meant to be a splinter site, and everyone around here generally agrees that making it one will be awful for it. I guess you missed all of those conversations.
posted by koeselitz at 5:42 PM on March 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


Or: a simple "I don't like the green. We should change to white in AskMe." would have sufficed.
posted by koeselitz at 5:44 PM on March 5, 2007


THE GREAT ANIL DASH, A-LISTER, HAS SPOKEN
posted by keswick at 5:55 PM on March 5, 2007


We're losing sight of the goal here, folks. It's time for some tarrin' and featherin'!
posted by languagehat at 5:57 PM on March 5, 2007


Have asavage et al test whether the myth that "black-on-white is more professional" is busted, plausible, or confirmed.
posted by CKmtl at 5:58 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]




Agreeing with loquacious -- changing the colors would dliute the brand identity of the site. This is not just another bland black-on-white site.

From anil: "... I find people who are unfamiliar with the site questioning the legitimacy of AskMe, and of the answers therein, because the default green/yellow color scheme doesn't look 'professional'"

I'm waiting to hear who these people are and on what basis I can judge their opinion. Everybody's got an opinion. How do I know these are worth paying attention to?
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:04 PM on March 5, 2007


I suppose koeselitz's post is as good as any to do a little dissection on to show a few of the errors (in both logic and rhetoric) that are plaguing this thread in particular. I'm not going to do the "quote, rebut, repeat" format because it's subjectively insufferable.

Anil's admission that he thinks the green is ugly is not mutually exclusive with his assertion that these hypothetical "normal people" exist. This is also not about web design standards, it's about web design which despite its name is neither synonymous nor strictly a super- or subset of the other.

Additionally, (and I could say "you sound like a ... et cetera" here), Anil is a respected member of the community with a well-known (and fairly public) background and as such, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. While it might make your counterargument easier to assert that he has no data to back up his claim, that doesn't make an argument against the point he's attempting to convey, it merely reduces his support, assuming we accept your assertion against someone whose job it is to form focus groups and discuss community websites.

Your "three ways" are in fact aspects or facets of the same basic statement, which is "you don't belong in/understand our community," which is itself a pretty shocking display of ignorance regarding the history of Metafilter and of the so-called blogosphere, but is an even more shocking logical fallacy in its implication that you do (this ignores the frankly pathetic invocation of mathowie as authority). I'll reiterate that arguments against this can't hold to potentially subjective preference (e.g. "everyone agrees is relatively good," presupposing "the basic problems of the site"), and that there are perfectly good arguments (a few of which have been voiced in this thread). They aren't yours, though.
posted by j.edwards at 6:05 PM on March 5, 2007


the green is "ugly", purple site man?
posted by judith at 6:09 PM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


If we change it to look more professional, we'll get even more "say, do you think this festering gunshot wound is serious?" type questions. While there are some professionals answering questions, we don't make our profession out of AskMe. Well, except for jessamyn and mathowie, but they don't answer festering gunshot questions.
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:10 PM on March 5, 2007


These people accept the legitimacy of black-on-white websites, and of the answers therein, without question? Give me their email addresses, I think their bank needs to verify their credit card numbers!
posted by nowonmai at 6:10 PM on March 5, 2007


Let me just say that I take the opinions and observations of outsiders seriously, because I'm so far into this beast of a site that they often have completely fresh perspectives on things I've never thought about. Towards that, I've gotten two major world-changing bits of feedback from outsiders (random people on the street, family, people doing work for me like lawyers and accountants). They're all sharing opinions of their first time seeing the site, which many of us have long forgotten.

1. the site is a bunch of weird colors, chunky fonts, and wall-to-wall text.

2. People don't know how to get to the comments. Think about it, it's a tiny 10px line below a paragraph, just a small "68 comments" link. For the size of the entire page, those little links are hard to find for someone seeing the site for the first time.

I've long considered doing something to make the site easier to read and hopefully, more polished looking. I always loved Eris' design here, but it lacked a little personality and was too clean.

I will probably eventually redo the "plain" theme to be a bit nicer looking and maybe someday that'll be the default, though of course, everyone with the existing design could keep the colors via the preferences.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:10 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not to distract from the ongoing efforts to tear anildash a new arsehole ("Bob" knows I'm up for that, should the conversation continue to move in certain directions), but where exactly are we getting the idea that he's running focus groups on what ask.metafilter looks like?

Or is that something I'd have to care about a-listers to know about?
posted by Jimbob at 6:13 PM on March 5, 2007


Stupid feature request, stupid reason for asking for it.
posted by interrobang at 6:13 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Stupid feature request, stupid reason for asking for it.
posted by interrobang

I will probably eventually redo the "plain" theme to be a bit nicer looking and maybe someday that'll be the default...
posted by mathowie


And yet his wish is granted.
posted by justgary at 6:16 PM on March 5, 2007


The white background of Livejournal and Vox has attracted the internet's most professional posts about mascara and emo.

"But now that AskMeFi is getting national and international recognition, it might be time to make it mildly more traditional to appeal to a larger audience."

Don't think of it as selling out— the label just wants a few more singles before they release the record, and it's not working for the target demos, dudes.
posted by klangklangston at 6:18 PM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'd love -- love -- for every new user to have to go through a "Why do you call it 'the green' when it's white?" phase. It'd be just as much fun as "What does '.' mean?". Ohhh, yeah, good times.
posted by mendel at 6:23 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


You're a bunch of status quo minded twats.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:24 PM on March 5, 2007


Green is my favorite color. Can we make the rest of the site green too?
posted by mullacc at 6:26 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


At the risk of having everyone call down fire on me, I agree with Anil. Kinda.

The green shades bother me. They seem sickly. I wish there was more blue in them.

But it's the colors that make MeFi distinctive. I'm not a big fan of white backgrounds (especially since the rise of the LCD has opened the door to dark backgrounds), but I understand the reasoning. Still, the colored backgrounds themselves are part of the brand imaging.

But one thing that annoys me even more is how... old the design is. It feels dated, and I think part of the UI problems mathowie mentioned (e.g. where do you comment?) stem from a collision between the current c.2000 UI and 2007 user expectations. (The irony, of course, is that it's Anil's baby that may be causing some of these design expectation problems.)

I like what Matt is hinting he's going to do. I also like Jessamyn talking about a style switcher. But what if we went one step further -- a unified, semantic structure and the ability for us to upload our own stylesheets into our own profile? I'd love to do my own stylesheet. We already have some flexibility with fonts etc., but why not just give us the run of the place style-wise?

Just a thought.
posted by dw at 6:30 PM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


we have ~49671 members, a bunch of which probably don't even exist, a fraction of which are regular readers.

I remember the debates about "opening the floodgates" before the new user signups (the 17 & 18k+), and I recall a lot of people were leery about all teh n00bs.

Then they came in and all was well, for the most part; I was one of them.

But as for "attracting" new members? Who cares. The ones that really appreciate what we have here will fork over a five dollar DO-nation, and join us. The rest can do what they please.
posted by exlotuseater at 6:31 PM on March 5, 2007


dw: Anil's baby is pretty much old and busted compared to Wordpress, tbqh.
posted by keswick at 6:35 PM on March 5, 2007


mattpfeff!
posted by gleuschk at 6:38 PM on March 5, 2007


I think both the background and the text should be white. Maybe that'll keep people from bitching about how rapidly questions scroll off the front page.
posted by the_bone at 6:42 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Aaand we're on to mentioning the a-list, using "that's stupid" as an argument, non-sequitirs about "Britanny Spears" and bashing my day job. You guys are right -- the existing color scheme's way better! And to think I wasted all that time studying propositional calculus.
posted by anildash at 6:44 PM on March 5, 2007


Actually, this is a great idea. It really got me thinking.

1. The Financial Times should be printed on regular white newsprint. No more of that weird salmon-colored paper. People unfamiliar with the paper have told me that they question its legitimacy. And anyway, is it appropriate for a bastion of the capitalist bourgeoisie to appear vaguely. . .pink? I'm just saying, is all.

2. There should be no more yellow pages/white pages divide. All pages should be white.

3. The "purple pill", the "little, yellow, different" pills--no, no, no. All pills should be white.

Seriously, consider these three points. First, the legitimacy of AskMe comes overwhelmingly from its content, not its appearance (beyond a certain minimal level of design competence, which it exceeds). Second, as others have pointed out, the color itself provides valuable brand differentiation, if you want to put it marketing terms. Or, if you don't, the odd colors just gives it memorability and distinctiveness. This itself helps increase legitimacy, because to the extent that people remember getting good answers here, they will trust it again in the future. Third, it strikes me as especially odd that, when traffic has been increasing rapidly, this increase would be cited as a reason for changing a feature so as to shore up its legitimacy. Evidently that color has not proved to be an obstacle so far; why would it be now?

Um, that said, the green is pretty damn ugly.
posted by chinston at 6:46 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


A ton of what determines whether a website's design is how well it uses the conventions users are accustomed to to tell them what they're looking it. Just like, if you watch old movies, scenes and dialog and music and other elements that were moving and affecting to audiences of their time seem utterly stilted or labored or cheesy to viewers today.

People here are accustomed to MeFi's style in a way the users Anil is talking about aren't.

2. People don't know how to get to the comments. Think about it, it's a tiny 10px line below a paragraph, just a small "68 comments" link. For the size of the entire page, those little links are hard to find for someone seeing the site for the first time.

For a non-member, the other links on that line (username, categories) are also probably just noise, and better not linked on the front page. Links in the body of a question on the front page are also probably confusing. (They confuse me for a second, sometimes. And I think according to some Internet test I once took, I'm only 95% dumb. (The other 5% is cat.))

Also: graham!
posted by mattpfeff at 6:47 PM on March 5, 2007


Erm, that should be: whether a website's design is 'good'.
posted by mattpfeff at 6:50 PM on March 5, 2007


You know who else preferred websites with white backrounds?

That's right. Drew Curtis.
posted by Cyrano at 6:55 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


whom.
posted by owhydididoit at 7:00 PM on March 5, 2007


dw: Anil's baby is pretty much old and busted compared to Wordpress, tbqh.

Not really. Lots of "Horses for courses" going on -- WP for personal sites, MT for larger corporate sites. (Based on my experience with MU, it makes more sense to use MT for multi-blog installs.)

Also, it's really easy to knock over a WordPress site, thanks to the pain that is PHP4 and poorly configured installations of mySQL. MT has its problems, too -- it really doesn't scale well when you get into thousands of posts.

Both have security holes you can drive a truck through.

That said, I ended up with an MT license and stuck with it. I may be moving to WP soon (just because I need a fresh start on the personal blog), but MT has done me fine, even with the licensing BS of a few years ago.
posted by dw at 7:08 PM on March 5, 2007


I'd missed some questions up-thread. "Really, how many people are we talking about here?" I'm basing my assessment on probably a dozen people I've talked to in various conversations and at different events, largely in follow-up to my post about Ask Me vs. Google Answers.

And Keswick, it's been a few years that you've tried to shit on nearly every conversation I've tried to participate in on the site. You should revisit one of your earlier threads. (I was gonna take a cut at klangklangston's "selling out" lunacy, but he's still in college, and at that age you can still see things in such clarity. God bless ya.)

Back on topic, I was mostly kidding about the "green is ugly" thing -- if that were my only objection, I wouldn't care because I already have my preferences set to show the site in black & white. I'm actually quite surprised to see people so unwilling to welcome new members.

dw touches on the larger point -- MeFi's design doesn't speak to the sophistication of its content or community, current conversation notwithstanding. What changes *would* be acceptable to make the site more approachable, even if only to current users?
posted by anildash at 7:11 PM on March 5, 2007


Aaand we're on to mentioning the a-list, using "that's stupid" as an argument, non-sequitirs about "Britanny Spears" and bashing my day job.

And you misspelled "sequitur" and "Britney". And your idea is stupid, and the only reason it's being taken seriously is because you're friends with Matt Haughey.
posted by interrobang at 7:12 PM on March 5, 2007 [10 favorites]


anildash, do you not see how the original framing of your argument looked? People are said to measure the legitimacy of the site by its colour?!!? W.T.F.?!

There was no need for the (few) personal attacks to be sure but you have been given the impression that you weren't particularly bothered with furthering your argument and I sense that you and those older-but-usually-silent-member supporters were just serving up luke warm fodder in something of a premeditated way. This feels planned. #1, what say you?
posted by peacay at 7:14 PM on March 5, 2007


Goddamn coloristas.

Yeah. This yet another attept by whitey to keep us down.
posted by jonmc at 7:15 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Some of the white background schemes in the aforementioned Mefi redesign contest look pretty sweet. If we switched to a white background but made the links blue/green/gray instead of yellow throughout, our shorthand lingo would still make sense, and each section would still be distinct.

On the other hand, I hate n00bs.

(Yes, I'm filled with self-loathing.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:16 PM on March 5, 2007


"(I was gonna take a cut at klangklangston's "selling out" lunacy, but he's still in college, and at that age you can still see things in such clarity. God bless ya.)"

You're free to give it your best shot, considering that it was offhand snark. I'd, in fact, love to see you try.
But hey, you've got a goatee, and that gives your opinions such gravitas, god bless ya.
posted by klangklangston at 7:19 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


(Oh, and since I failed to preview, I'd like to mention that I supported some of those redesign ideas. But don't listen to me, I'm just in college.)
posted by klangklangston at 7:20 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


This seems like a lovely time for a rant with only the most tenuous relation to the subject at hand!

Where have people gotten this idea that dark-on-white text is "more readable?" (I'll ignore the "more professional," which is frankly just silly — as pointed out upthread, any color scheme can look professional in competent hands, even the FT's pink.) It's contradicted by the data (and this other study, where the conclusion is called "surprising"). Yet web usability "gurus" persist in decrying light-on-dark color schemes (like those of MeFi, MeTa, and AskMe). Usually we get to hear about how we should do it that way "because that's how books are printed." Nota bene, web usability gurus: books do not glow. Looking at a matte white surface is nowhere near as unpleasant as looking directly into a white light for hours at a time. And paper is white due not to the extensive usability research of the ancient Egyptians and Chinese but because it's a hell of a lot easier to make a dark mark on a white surface than vice versa when using animal and vegetable dyes.

Bright-white backgrounds on websites can be fine — they work well enough for functionality-centric sites like Google, Flickr, and the like — but they're awful for sustained reading.

So sure, modernize the layout, make the shade of green a little more subdued if you think it will help address the terrible dearth of web-savvy individuals on MetaFilter, but please don't make it white. Maybe I'm a reactionary who spent too many of his formative years looking at DOS and bash prompts, but I find this one of the most readable sites on the net.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:28 PM on March 5, 2007 [18 favorites]


VOTE 'SKINS' ON MEFI BALLOT 13786!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:28 PM on March 5, 2007


I sense that you and those older-but-usually-silent-member supporters were just serving up luke warm fodder

lukewarm, I am your fodder.
posted by jonmc at 7:30 PM on March 5, 2007 [15 favorites]


I thought all the cool kids used RSS feed readers anyway. Who gives a crap about the color of the site the content actually resides on?
posted by Dave Faris at 7:30 PM on March 5, 2007


The white background of Livejournal and Vox has attracted the internet's most professional posts about mascara and emo.

I fucking hate it when people post about how they just did a spit-take all over their fucking monitor, like I should give two shakes of my skinny ass, but christ-on-a-speedboat, my monitor be wet. Thanks, klang!

And your idea is stupid, and the only reason it's being taken seriously is because you're friends with Matt Haughey.

I love to disagree with interrobang, but it gets pretty hard when he's right.
posted by Kwine at 7:32 PM on March 5, 2007


Anildash writes, in a pompously self-serving tone, "And to think I wasted all that time studying propositional calculus."

In that case, Anil, I'll put on my top hat, monocle and lab coat the next time I tell you you've got a bad idea.
posted by boo_radley at 7:35 PM on March 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


Fact is, we want more visitors, who might eventually become members, who might eventually contribute ...

What do you mean we, white-background man?

And if MetaFilter defaults to a white background for new users and those not logged in, what do you suppose will happen when those new users log in? We'll see a never-ending stream of questions (probably on AskMe, of course) wondering why the site has unprofessional-looking colored backgrounds all of a sudden. Do we want that? On preview, I see that somebody does want that, so I'll just say: I don't want it.

I notice that the user numbers have disappeared. It's starting!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:36 PM on March 5, 2007


And you misspelled "sequitur" and "Britney". And your idea is stupid, and the only reason it's being taken seriously is because you're friends with Matt Haughey.

The misspelling of Britney was a quote. And yes, my latin spelling is atrocious, I'm sure. I hadn't mentioned that I'm friends with Matt, so if people are reading that into my suggestion, that's their prerogative -- it'd be relevant if I'd somehow made that part of my argument. I'd submit that some of the people who are taking the idea seriously are doing so because I do know a little bit about this kind of thing, and because I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you. Which means I've seen what it takes to attract new people to the site, including yourselves.
posted by anildash at 7:36 PM on March 5, 2007


And now they're back. I'm going to bed.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:37 PM on March 5, 2007


cortex writes "Are we bucking for a Yahoo bid?"

Sweet Jesus on a rubber crutch, for the love of god Matt please don't sell out to those bastards.
posted by Mitheral at 7:37 PM on March 5, 2007


anil, go invent the permalink or something.
posted by quonsar at 7:37 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


permalink 2.0
posted by quonsar at 7:39 PM on March 5, 2007


posted by anildash I'd submit that some of the people who are taking the idea seriously are doing so because I do know a little bit about this kind of thing, and because I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you. Which means I've seen what it takes to attract new people to the site, including yourselves.

Did your membership come with free pomposity, or did you develop that all on your own, you special little snowflake?
posted by fandango_matt at 7:42 PM on March 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


AskMe green is people.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:43 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't bust anil's balls so much. He's just a n00b is all.
posted by jonmc at 7:43 PM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Aaand we're on to mentioning the a-list
posted by anildash

and because I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you. Which means I've seen what it takes to attract new people to the site, including yourselves.
posted by anildash

posted by justgary at 7:44 PM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


(gary, look at my usernumber. I was making with a little levity)
posted by jonmc at 7:46 PM on March 5, 2007


Hey, I'm going down to Opa Locka next weekend for a reunion of the Brigada 9266; a CIA guy there wants to talk to us about maybe joining them down there in the fight contra las Coloristas.

This may be our big chance. No temais una muerte gloriosa: to die for MeFi is to live!
posted by breezeway at 7:46 PM on March 5, 2007


(gary, look at my usernumber. I was making with a little levity)

Sorry Jon, wasn't referring to your statement, just the two I quoted.
posted by justgary at 7:50 PM on March 5, 2007


Hey, is it true that Anil Dash invented the internet?
posted by Dave Faris at 7:53 PM on March 5, 2007


I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you.

Bite me.

I'm not listening to what you're saying because you're being completely arrogant about the whole thing.

Sure, you've been a member here longer than I have. But the last comment you posted was a year ago, the last post more than six years ago.

Maybe if you were less pompous and more active in the site, and refrained from exercising a "holier than thou" attitude towards the community--especially newer members like myself--I might take your opinion seriously.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 7:54 PM on March 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


I'd submit that some of the people who are taking the idea seriously are doing so because I do know a little bit about this kind of thing, and because I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you. Which means I've seen what it takes to attract new people to the site, including yourselves.

You've been a member of the site, maybe. But I doubt you've been a member of the community, because if you were, you would have known that a statement like that will not end well.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:55 PM on March 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


I guess this is as good a place as any to inquire about that ol' redesign contest. Some of those look pretty snazzy.
posted by puke & cry at 7:56 PM on March 5, 2007


posted by Dave Faris Hey, is it true that Anil Dash invented the internet?

No, but he was the first to log onto it and announce that since he'd been on it longer than anyone else, that meant he knew what was best for it.
posted by fandango_matt at 7:56 PM on March 5, 2007


"I'd submit that some of the people who are taking the idea seriously are doing so because I do know a little bit about this kind of thing, and because I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you. Which means I've seen what it takes to attract new people to the site, including yourselves."

So... they're taking it seriously not because it's a good idea, but because you have a lower user number?

But you're right— most of us $5 noobs did join because the white background made MeFi seem like the professional Type-A go-getter place that we felt we could trust with our venture capital.

Maybe, just maybe, you should have studied the propositional calculus of the heart, anil. Then you'd understand.
posted by klangklangston at 7:57 PM on March 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


It's a bit sad that Anil now only posts on the blue when the topic is about him.
posted by smackfu at 8:00 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anil's OK. I once split an order of calamari with him, (at least I think it was calamari, it was some kind of fried stuff that was very dipping intensive, at any rate) and he was friendly and encouraging. But I gotta admit that he's sounding an awful lot like Mr. Hot Shot Elitist Web Dude here.
posted by jonmc at 8:00 PM on March 5, 2007


I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you. Which means I've seen what it takes to attract new people to the site, including yourselves.

go eat a bucket of cocks. matt can do whatever the hell he wants with the site but if it's just to satisfy the whims of your faux-hipster friends - screw them. get over your pretensious ass and next time you feel like clogging up metatalk with your aggorant wishes, just pick up the MATT phone and call him. He'll shoot you down more graciously than any of us will.
posted by Stynxno at 8:00 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


I just tabbed over to CNN (and anil's website, out of curiosity) and what IshmaelGraves "rants" about is spot on. I actually felt my eyes strain in anger and protest.
posted by CKmtl at 8:02 PM on March 5, 2007


I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you.

Condescension is key when trying to get your idea across.

Trust me, I know.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:04 PM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Condescension is key when trying to get your idea across.

Indeed. In order to best convince your audience of an idea, make sure you alienate them as well. Works like a charm.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:08 PM on March 5, 2007


But I gotta admit that he's sounding an awful lot like Mr. Hot Shot Elitist Web Dude here.

Eh, Jon, you're right. But it seemed like half the responses were personal attacks, so I figured I'd try to go along with the flow and be a dick myself, but that's not working either. Sorry for that. :)

I find it fascinating that after all these years, MeFi still has people who can get this upset about somebody unsuccessfully suggesting a color change that wouldn't even necessarily affect people who are already members of the site.

As for my participation, I am definitely much more a member of AskMe than of the rest of the site, no question. Somehow (my fault, at least largely) this has become a referendum on me. So nevermind. If anybody's willing to do usability tests of one of the redesign contest winners vs. the current AskMe design. I'll chip in $100 to help pay for the tests.
posted by anildash at 8:09 PM on March 5, 2007


so I figured I'd try to go along with the flow and be a dick myself,

That never works, take it from me.
posted by jonmc at 8:10 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


And sorry to everybody else I took a shot at in the thread -- I should know better than to be thin-skinned when in MetaTalk. Does it make my apology less sincere if I mention this place is a machismo-filled boyzone?
posted by anildash at 8:10 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Anil is basically arguing that Metafilter should be designed in a way analogous to a screen-test, like a Hollywood blockbuster. Anil, in his presentations, has been screen-testing Metafilter, and his audience has found it wanting. Maybe they could take it a step further and suggest new areas of the site for mathowie to add?

All kidding aside, I think the idea is really, really bad. It's stooping to the culture of commercialism, and polling, and appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Metafilter has a personality. It's a unique place. To change it because some nitwits who attended Anil Dash's presentations didn't think the green was "professional" is just ... vulgar.
posted by jayder at 8:13 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by anildash As for my participation, I am definitely much more a member of AskMe than of the rest of the site, no question.

Then you should have been the first to grasp what almost everyone else here understands: People do not participate here to attract new users, and that fact you missed this simple fact speaks volumes about the experience and superiority you're trumpeting from your ass.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:15 PM on March 5, 2007 [10 favorites]


Well, now that that's settled, I had a hero tonight called The Animal: chicken cutlet, provolone, bacon, onion rings and brown gravy. It was delicious, but now I have heartburn keeping me awake. Entertain me.
posted by jonmc at 8:15 PM on March 5, 2007


::does a tap dance::
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:17 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


*hits gong*
posted by jonmc at 8:18 PM on March 5, 2007


fandango_matt is dead on.
posted by interrobang at 8:18 PM on March 5, 2007


jonmc, I have been eating hero sandwiches longer than you, which qualifies me to inform you the sandwich you claim to have enjoyed would attract more diners if it was served on a paper plate instead of being wrapped in tinfoil.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:20 PM on March 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


You suggested a change based on a ludicrous proposition. People rightly savaged the argument.......and eventually you. So don't walk off thinking that boyzone rejected a colour change. It rejected a completely stupid argument.

Now go along and write it all up with some considered reasoning and post it to your site. You know it will get posted here and a proper debate can take place. But don't miscontextualize this thread. Your original argument was void of substance.

For a weblog evangelist you really need to go to the jessamyn school of P.R.
posted by peacay at 8:20 PM on March 5, 2007


Enough. Anil did his thing, got stomped like Ted Nugent at a ALF rally, and then he apologized. All that's left is to goof around until Matt closes the thread.
posted by jonmc at 8:22 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


For the record, Boyzone sucked.
posted by dw at 8:24 PM on March 5, 2007


"I'd submit that some of the people who are taking the idea seriously are doing so because I do know a little bit about this kind of thing, and because I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you. Which means I've seen what it takes to attract new people to the site, including yourselves."

(Some of the people are taking q seriously) = p
(AskMe should default to a white background.) = q
(I do know a little bit about this kind of thing) = r
(I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you.) = s
(I've seen what it takes to attract new people to the site, including yourselves.) = t

The logical form is

1) (r&s) -> (p&t)

I think this entailment is sound, and r and s are perhaps true, jonmc and a few others excepted. What anil wants is q; can we derive q even if we charitably grant the truth of r and s? We can derive p by &elimination; does p entail q? Doesn't seem like it; people take all sorts of crazy ideas seriously around here. We can derive t by &elimination also; does t entail q? Surely not, unless it can be shown that those of us who have been attracted to the site were so attracted in spite of the green rather than because of it. The question is, can anil show that?

/not-to-be-taken-seriously-propositional calculus-filter
posted by Kwine at 8:25 PM on March 5, 2007


[image of elephant pissing on anildash]
posted by interrobang at 8:26 PM on March 5, 2007


Everyone's missing a pretty key element here: doing something about outsiders seeing the site for the first time and being turned off isn't about attracting more members.

If I could, I would turn off signups for a long time, though I know we miss out on a few great people out of the random hordes that flow in.

What I'm reading in anil's original request, and what I hear from family members and other people seeing the site for the first time is that it looks unprofessional and I don't want to remedy that to make them join, I want to remedy that so we don't give off that first impression.

The info in Ask MeFi is really amazing stuff and I'd love it if more people read it (lord knows we can't handle more questions or more answers from new members). It's a seriously useful resource and I'd love to make sure it looks the part.

And again, on the redesign, I tried out a modified version of fandango_matt's winning design but given some of the limits of CSS and the way markup has to work coming out of the coldfusion engine behind the site, it came out quite a bit more bland than the mockups and I eventually scraped it. There are elements in each of the top designs that could someday be worked into redo of the plain theme though.

In the future, having a standard markup and CSS style switcher/uploader/sharing thing would be one way to go. I've seen it done on other related community sites and it can get unwieldy pretty quickly (a drop down with 250 template choices can suck), I think we can come up with some sort of community gallery ranking the most popular and float the best that way.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:28 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


[image of ceilinganil]
posted by Jimbob at 8:29 PM on March 5, 2007


I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you.

You joined on February 23, 2000, yet only have 12 FPP and 574 comments. I joined two years after you but have 63 FPP and 2,190 comments. By your twisted logic I should have more 'authority' on this than you.

You, sir, are a twit.

Regarding the colors, I find the white text on Blue, Gray, and Green very easy to read. And since this site has always been about reading and commenting, I do not think making the site harder to read because some of your buddies don't think a green background is Web 2.0 enough is a good reason.

It is Matt's site and he can do what he pleases, but I would suggest to him to keep in mind that Ask Metafilter is only valuable because of the content users create there. Ask yourself what would be worse: losing members who answer questions or random non-members who don't think the site looks professional?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:29 PM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


People do not participate here to attract new users

Yeah. But it's totally within Matt's rights to want to attract new users. And press. And kudos for design. Really, why is the site so underappreciated out there? We post great links and have great discussions in AskMe, so why isn't it more well known?

I think this is like that golden era in high school where we loved obscure bands and then hated it when other people discovered our really cool bands and made them popular. It's nice for us to love our obscure band and feel all cool and superior about it, but the cool band deserves to be famous and loved.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:30 PM on March 5, 2007


Okay, there's just too many good comments in here to favorite all of them, so all of you get a big gold star from me.

Don't go changin'.
posted by yhbc at 8:30 PM on March 5, 2007


Chasing growth for growth's sake without some other more meaningful metric is stupid. Doing so by fiddling with presentation is even more stupid. Did no one learn anything from the dotcom era?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:30 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oops. Having failed to preview, just ignore that.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:31 PM on March 5, 2007


In the future, having a standard markup and CSS style switcher/uploader/sharing thing would be one way to go. I've seen it done on other related community sites and it can get unwieldy pretty quickly (a drop down with 250 template choices can suck), I think we can come up with some sort of community gallery.

I don't think we need 250. A dozen or so should suffice, so long as you give us CSS geeks the ability to put in our own stylesheet.

And we can, in the long-term, figure out how to share them with each other. Maybe the wiki, or MeStyle.
posted by dw at 8:33 PM on March 5, 2007


Opinions: Great in theory, bad if they're not mine.
posted by Derek at 8:33 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


You are correct; the site is unprofessional looking. It doesn't look like an ad agency had anything to do with it. Maybe that makes it charming and sort of insidery, and maybe that's why so many people seem to intuitively trust it. I have very delicate design sensibilities but have never been put off by the layout or color scheme of this site, since it doesn't seem to me to be an eye-candy type of place. A cleaned-up, slickified design would look better, but what would that communicate? I mean seriously, you can't even use an image tag around here.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 8:37 PM on March 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


I want to know when MetaFilter is going to use xml/xsl?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:37 PM on March 5, 2007


Wow, two things I need to restate:

1. Anything that ever changes for non-members would stay the same for existing members. If you like green, it would stay green. But perhaps first visitors would see the site being lightly colored with some green accents. Not that big of a deal, since your experience would not change.

2. I don't want new members. New members are a big drain on resources (admin time, processing cycles, getting everyone up to speed on what makes a good question/link). It's not about attracting new users, it's about making the site look professional and not like a 1999 personal weblog I made in my free time. I want the site to be easy to use by everyone, not just people that revisit often.

I don't see why this is so earth-shattering when I'm talking about a change to non-member experiences. It shouldn't affect anyone currently commenting here unless they wanted to switch to another template.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:38 PM on March 5, 2007


It rejected a completely stupid argument.

Amen. anil, really, come on, surely you've got to be able to see that the perspective in your original post was bizarre, to say the least. If someone you disagreed with used an appeal to anonymous "professionalism" like that you'd rake them over the coals.

And while I'm glad you've now realized that "slow day at sixapart" doesn't quite rise to the level of "bashing" your day job, the scorn for users who joined MeFi later than you did has just been dripping from your lips since the start.

Nice. Real nice.
posted by mediareport at 8:40 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I want to know when MetaFilter is going to use xml/xsl?

Why would I ever do that? Is there a compelling reason or major gain to me made? If not, there's no point.

I've built a xml/xsl system and it was a total waste of time and resources. The data model was something like database query to scripting engine to xml output to custom xsl template transformation to scripting engine adding final output to html. It added two or three unnecessary steps and was pointless: technology for the sake of technology.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:42 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tradition, man. The Blue is the Blue, The Gray is the Gray and The Green is the Green. Why mess with a good thing? Even my non-Mefiteco-workers, when I showed them a cool link, would say "You got this off that blue site, right?"
posted by jonmc at 8:43 PM on March 5, 2007


For a weblog evangelist you really need to go to the jessamyn school of P.R.

Sigh. I wasn't making the suggestion here as part of the professional duties of my day jobs, I was doing it because I wanted to help a site I like and participate in actively. No, I don't use the same tone of voice in MeTa that I do when I'm working -- do you guys? I'd absolutely have been much less opinionated and cranky if I were, you know, talking to customers. But I was making a feature request in MetaTalk, and used the same tone that's been used by dozens of others.

That's not to say I couldn't learn a lot from Jessamyn, in many ways.
posted by anildash at 8:43 PM on March 5, 2007


the scorn for users who joined MeFi later than you did has just been dripping from your lips since the start

aw, c'mon -- I thought that was the one part I did right! What better proof is there that I'm really a member of the community? :)
posted by anildash at 8:45 PM on March 5, 2007


mathowieAdmin writes "I don't want new members. New members are a big drain on resources (admin time, processing cycles, getting everyone up to speed on what makes a good question/link). It's not about attracting new users, it's about making the site look professional . . . ."

Well, surely if you make the site more appealing to non-members in general (assuming that a white background would do this), you will end up getting more of the new members you say you don't want. I mean, I take your points that the intent of the color change would not have anything to do with attracting new members, but I think people are worried about unintended consequences, is all.
posted by chinston at 8:45 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Matt, see if you can price a survey. Seriously. You're interested in establishing whether or not the majority of new visitors to AskMefi have more sticking power and more of a feeling of trust between its current presentation and a mockup. At the moment you seem to be relying on a few comments from yours and Anil's friends. Don't you think you'd better get a bit more certainty?

And Anil - I didn't mean anything about your original tone and I only brought up your job because, well, you did. You put up one original thing in your argument whereas jessamyn framed it in a more palatable, convincing, reasoned way.
posted by peacay at 8:51 PM on March 5, 2007


Well, surely if you make the site more appealing to non-members in general (assuming that a white background would do this), you will end up getting more of the new members you say you don't want.

Naw, it's not about being more appealing, it's about being easier to use and easier to read. I know people here enjoy the folksy look of it and that's maybe some small allure of signing up here, but there's a huge range in between the 1999-era blue background, large white type design and something totally sterile that looks like Google and Yahoo.

Somewhere in the middle we could get something easier to read and use that looked a little nicer, and maybe a bit more professional without selling out and without turning into AOL and without attracting a gazillion new members.

It would just be a refined version of the existing plain text theme, or you know, something similar to the redesign contest winners that everyone said they loved a year and a half ago (but suddenly don't want any part of because it would take away some personality or something).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:51 PM on March 5, 2007


Tradition, man.

Who, day and night, must answers all the questions-
name the kitty cats and find the movie name
And who, in the end, will bring in all the n00bs
and drive all out of our minds?

THE GREEEEEEEEEEN! The Green! Tradition!
The GREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN! The Green! Tradition!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:52 PM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


posted by anildash I was making a feature request in MetaTalk

Yours was not a "feature request", yours was a decree issued with the authority that you knew what was best for the community because you'd signed up A Long Time Ago. Perhaps if you really understood how this site operates, you wouldn't be issuing stridently absurd protestations against what everyone else has agreed doesn't need to be changed.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:52 PM on March 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


I've built a xml/xsl system and it was a total waste of time and resources. The data model was something like database query to scripting engine to xml output to custom xsl template transformation to scripting engine adding final output to html. It added two or three unnecessary steps and was pointless: technology for the sake of technology.

Databases can produce pure xml now without having to pass through any scripting; you can pass it right to XSLT to transform and get XHTML out of it, provided you're using a browser that can do it on the client-side (which most browsers can, but when you have content editors that don't know how to close a paragraph tag... shudder.) We've abandoned ODBC completely with my work site.

But yeah, horses for courses. XML-XSLT is great, but it's an HTML world.
posted by dw at 8:53 PM on March 5, 2007


Yo, fandango, that's cold. cold like Nanook's Nutsack, dude.
posted by jonmc at 8:54 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think this is like that golden era in high school where we loved obscure bands and then hated it when other people discovered our really cool bands and made them popular. It's nice for us to love our obscure band and feel all cool and superior about it, but the cool band deserves to be famous and loved.

But in this case, someone's demanding the obscure band change their style and release some more radio-friendly music so their parents will like them. Maybe they can record a song with Gwen Stefani or something - then they might get played on MTV!
posted by Jimbob at 8:54 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


As someone who usually reads the site on the fly and not logged in, I really think switching to a default white is a really bad idea. Don't make me log in to see the site as it currently is - which is unique. White is bland and, really, just like every other site on the Internet. Shoot for mediocrity (in design at least) and I'm sure you'll find it.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:54 PM on March 5, 2007


At the moment you seem to be relying on a few comments from yours and Anil's friends. Don't you think you'd better get a bit more certainty?

I'm basing it off hearing from people young and old, from my 13 year old cousins to my 65 year old accountant, from aunts and uncles that work from home and work in politics.

I've gotten feedback from tons of people from all walks of life and all the mefi sites look a little weird to them on first glance, and the design is confusing and they don't know where to start.

If I paid 20 people off the street to look at the site for the first time and tell me their thoughts, I bet I'd hear pretty much the same thing. Anil's post here just reminded me that I've had this in the back of my mind for the past two years or so -- as I talk to more people outside of the tech world, I get tons of feedback like this.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:54 PM on March 5, 2007


"What I'm reading in anil's original request, and what I hear from family members and other people seeing the site for the first time is that it looks unprofessional and I don't want to remedy that to make them join, I want to remedy that so we don't give off that first impression."

My experience with family is that the usernames are a much bigger flag of "unprofessionalism" than is the presentation. The essential personality of this user-centric community disqualifies MeFi from "professionalism" right off the bat. I empathize with your response to this criticism, but it's not really much different from a criticism that what you're doing isn't a real job because you don't go to an office and wear a suit. The criticism is all about style, cultural norms, and prejudice and accomodating those things should be way down on your list of priorities. Usability should be very high on your list of priorities. If usability would be enough increased to make up for the loss of personality, then it makes sense to go to a black-on-white text presentation. But not to accomodate people who merely think the site looks "unprofessional" as it is.

The truth is that MeFi, and especially AskMe, are successful as they are. As the color schemes are notable, I suggest that they might very well be an asset that outweighs the negative of that first impression of "unprofessionalism". You're always more likely to hear negatives than positives, and the "branding" (ugh) of MeFi via its color schemes is not the sort of thing you're going to get a whole bunch of unsolicited positive feedback about from acquaintances. But even if I'm wrong, I feel pretty sure that I'm right that the color scheme isn't so much of a negative in the long-run and sacrificing that important bit of personality to accommodate a mere stylistic bias is the wrong thing to do.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:55 PM on March 5, 2007 [10 favorites]


I hate to say this but.... I agree with Ethereal Bligh.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:59 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anil, I respect your long tenure on the web, and your savvy understanding of the medium, but I think you're trying to fix something that's not broken. If people associate professionalism with white/grey backgrounds, that's their hangup. If this were a business looking for venture capital, or with stockholders to satisfy, it would be a different story, but it's not (as far as I know).

MeFi stands out *because* of its background, not in spite of it. If someone asked on another question site "Hey, I'm not getting the answers I need here, nothing personal. I remember another pretty good question site, though, and it had a white background. Can anyone help me remember the URL?" they would get a bunch of different answers. If you replace the word "white" with "green", I bet someone would identify Ask MeFi.

Anil, have you tried pointing friends/colleagues to specific questions that you think might interest them? That's my usual method of introducing people to Ask MeFi, and it might induce people into ignoring the "unprofessional" color scheme.

BTW, folks, there's probably no one in this thread who doesn't want the best for Matt and the site, and that's where both the request and the responses come from. Y'all might want to consider dialing back the snark some, on both sides.
posted by booksherpa at 8:59 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


To summarize so far:

Anil: I think we should lose the green. "Other people" don't like it.

Crowd: WELL SCREW OTHER PEOPLE! WE ARE A SPECIAL EXCLUSIVE CLAN OF GOODNESS THAT PRAYS TO CEILINGCAT EVERY NIGHT!

Anil: Look, I've been around here a lot longer than you have....

Crowd: HOW DARE YOU USE THAT SPECIAL EXCLUSIVE TALK WITH US! YOU ARE NOT PART OF SOME SPECIAL CLAN! WE CALL DOWN CEILINGCAT TO DESTROY YOU!

Alanis: Wait, is that irony? Or is that a hole in the ground?
posted by dw at 8:59 PM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


this place is a machismo-filled boyzone?

That is sooo 2005. ::rolls eyes::

I like the idea of a redesign. We could still keep the accent colors. It could be done well. But, FWIW, the background of my livejournal is green.
posted by Roger Dodger at 9:02 PM on March 5, 2007


I think the word "professional" is setting everyone off. There are loads of great sites built by amateurs that look sharp but also look really refined and professional without that eliciting a "omg corporate rock sucks!" response.

Look at a random comment thread at one of the best designed weblogs out there, subtraction.

Yeah, it's plain and sharp, but it's easy to read the original post and the comments and it's really easy to understand who said what and when they said it. Leaving a new comment is easy to do.

The site is a little busy with the loads of columns, but metafilter would never look like that and the post area would take up a lot more width, but my point is that a DIY dude in his basement can make a site that's easier to use and looks trustworthy without turning off people and without inviting hordes of unwashed masses to the party.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:04 PM on March 5, 2007


I'm basing it off hearing from people young and old, from my 13 year old cousins to my 65 year old accountant, from aunts and uncles that work from home and work in politics.

Any of those 13 year old cousins complaining about the usability of Metafilter keep MySpace pages? ;)

I think most people tend to be slightly confused the first time they use most sites, the same way they might be slightly confused the first time they use any new piece of software. Based on my own sample points, I'm constantly teaching my family how to use Gmail, or online forums, or Ebay. And for the record, I think Metafilter is incredibly well designed and simple - compared to most weblogs today, that are full of trackback pings and little arrays of buttons to post to Digg or Del.icio.us or 15 other sites, and funny "Permalink" icons.
posted by Jimbob at 9:05 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


If I paid 20 people off the street to look at the site for the first time and tell me their thoughts, I bet I'd hear pretty much the same thing.

So, if you don't want new users, why do the opinions of these 20 non-mefites matter more than your user base? Why not just take a poll - force people to answer what color the site should be before they can make a new post or comment. Make it clear that the change would only be if they weren't logged in. Still, if you don't think it look professional enough and prefer white, just close this thread and do what you want to - it's your site. Personally, I liked it when Projects was brick red (even if it did cause migranes after 10 seconds).
posted by Staggering Jack at 9:06 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


If it's important to you that the site looks "really refined and professional", then that's what's important to you. I think that people are saying that it really isn't that important to the site's success unless it's a serious problem, which it self-evidently isn't.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:07 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


why do the opinions of these 20 non-mefites matter more than your user base?

Because we're so incredibly used to everything about the site that we don't have outside perspective that hey, maybe we should update an 8 year old design one of these days and maybe not rule out a white background for the default template and new members (not existing ones) would get?

Again, I don't think this is an earth-shattering deal.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:11 PM on March 5, 2007


You know who else had a white background?

That's right.

Hitler.
posted by brownpau at 9:12 PM on March 5, 2007 [9 favorites]


It's not about attracting new users, it's about making the site look professional and not like a 1999 personal weblog I made in my free time. I want the site to be easy to use by everyone, not just people that revisit often.

Be careful that you are not conflating two things here, Matt (as I believe Anil is doing, with what are no doubt the best of intentions), those two things being: professional appearance and usability.

Be careful also to unpack what 'professional-looking' means. If it means 'like a business', then, as many have said, fuck that. Why would you even bother to attempt that? If it means 'looking as if it was professionally designed' -- in other words, slick, beautiful, easy on the eyes, instantly useable with a minimum of thought and so on -- well, I would argue that it already does, to a great extent, and that that is regardless UNRELATED to the idea of the site as a business. Many 'business sites' have execrable design, from a graphical, useability, IA, whatever perspective. Many personal sites (and yes, weblogs) have exquisite designs, by all of those measures. I don't think the site looks like 'someone's weblog from 1999' -- I think it could be tightened up, sure, but I think the spare simplicity reflects the texty ethos of the site, as it should.

There is really only so much that can be done -- and yes, I know, design is infinite and all that -- with the material at hand. A list of threads, each thread being a list of comments with a textbox at the bottom. You and everyone else who's thought about it know that. The danger is being sucked into unecessary cruft, metadazzle overfizzle (I still love that phrase), all of that -- something that you've been pretty good at resisting.

That said, I like the idea of user-uploadable stylesheets and a bubbling-to-the-top of favorite ones. A LOT.

I don't mind if the logged-out colorscheme for Ask is plaintext+.

But I resist the suggestion that because some friends of Anil think white-on-green looks 'unprofessional' that that means anything other than they are conditioned. I think we should be trying to deprogram the Normals, not bow to their zombie desires. For what that's worth.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:12 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


New members are a big drain on resources (admin time, processing cycles, getting everyone up to speed on what makes a good question/link).

For the millionth time: prune the inactive accounts and the processing cycles will flow like rain!
posted by Kwantsar at 9:13 PM on March 5, 2007


I'd love -- love -- for every new user to have to go through a "Why do you call it 'the green' when it's white?" phase. It'd be just as much fun as "What does '.' mean?". Ohhh, yeah, good times.

Forgive me if this has been addressed, but a way around that might be to just invert the color scheme if you were unregistered/logged out, eg. Ask would be a white background with green text, MeFi would be white with blue text, etc.
posted by supercrayon at 9:15 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'd get a kick out of seeing a new design on Metafilter one day, myself. Surprise! bweeng.

Don't really care if it's white or not.
posted by furiousthought at 9:16 PM on March 5, 2007


Again, I don't think this is an earth-shattering deal.
I don't either but as with the URL changes to get better search results, a lot of this is about maintaining a healthy traffic into the future which is fair enough. But spending a grand now for a decent sized online survey might prove more beneficial in the long run. It would provide a good opportunity to learn some interesting things......book, lecture tour........politics!
posted by peacay at 9:17 PM on March 5, 2007


"But I doubt you've been a member of the community, because if you were, you would have known that a statement like that will not end well."

Bizz-urn.

"But in this case, someone's demanding the obscure band change their style and release some more radio-friendly music so their parents will like them. Maybe they can record a song with Gwen Stefani or something - then they might get played on MTV!"

You're not in college are you?

Matt: I think that honestly, you're on the right track in thinking about redesign to make the site more user friendly. I think that the small improvements that you've been making over the last year or so have been great (on the whole). I am curious about why you've stuck with ColdFusion for so long, though I have to say that I've never worked with it personally. But to reiterate, I think most of us would agree with what you're saying in your comments. Those are all fine goals to have. What a lot of us seem to disagree with are the specific arguments that anil has made, and the way that he has made 'em.
posted by klangklangston at 9:17 PM on March 5, 2007


If Matt wants the site to look spiffy, more power to him. Since he's not going after more users, it becomes more an issue of how he feels things need to progress. Sure there are changes that could be made, but for all intensive purposes the site works for it's user base.

That said: Damn the man, fight the power, save the Green!
posted by Derek at 9:20 PM on March 5, 2007


Yours was not a "feature request", yours was a decree issued with the authority that you knew what was best for the community because you'd signed up A Long Time Ago. Perhaps if you really understood how this site operates, you wouldn't be issuing stridently absurd protestations against what everyone else has agreed doesn't need to be changed.

No, I think that the design could benefit from some improvements, including to the color palette. I even suggested the same colors you did in your winning redesign suggestion. Perhaps if you really understood how this site operates, you wouldn't be issuing stridently absurd protestations against design changes that you've recommended yourself, which the community has already voted for an agreed should be changed.
posted by anildash at 9:21 PM on March 5, 2007


Bah - if ya change the background to white I'm leavin. Too much of a strain on me old peepers.

Also, if you make this website look like every other website you will attract the exact same clientele that every other website attracts.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:22 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's a bit of wisdom: which newspapers and magazines decide they need a redesign? Those doing well, or those doing poorly?

By itself, my implication is a tautology. But if you look at how these (mostly failing) publications redesign when they redesign, and contrast that against the design of the successful publications that don't redesign, then you see a pattern. The failing publications pursue the au currant design standard (or, worse, that mixed with cutting-edge) while the successful publications with long-standing designs follow the absolute core of good design practices while breaking many of the lesser important current standards. Also, tellingly, the core stuff doesn't change much while all the other stuff changes rapidly, according to fashion. The publication that hits the nail on this year's fashion will need a redesign in three years to not look ugly and dated. Meanwhile, the successful publication with good core design and good content just steams serenely on unchanged.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:22 PM on March 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


Those are all fine goals to have. What a lot of us seem to disagree with are the specific arguments that anil has made, and the way that he has made 'em.

FWIW, Klang, I agree with you. And the crack about college-age idealism was meant in something approaching a tone of admiration, though I understand if you don't take it that way.
posted by anildash at 9:22 PM on March 5, 2007


Also, Anil - for some reason I keep hearing Cory Doctorow's shrill, self-promoting, a-list retard voice every time I read your comments. I don't know why.

oh, wait.

"I'd submit that some of the people who are taking the idea seriously are doing so because I do know a little bit about this kind of thing, and because I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:25 PM on March 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


this place is a machismo-filled boyzone.

My Testicles thank you?
posted by Balisong at 9:26 PM on March 5, 2007


posted by anildash No, I think that the design could benefit from some improvements, including to the color palette. I even suggested the same colors you did in your winning redesign suggestion. Perhaps if you really understood how this site operates, you wouldn't be issuing stridently absurd protestations against design changes that you've recommended yourself, which the community has already voted for and agreed should be changed.

Perhaps if you really understood how this site operates, you'd remember the community overwhelmingly spoke out against a white background for reasons with which I subsequently agreed.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:28 PM on March 5, 2007


I notice that the user numbers have disappeared. It's starting!
And now they're back. I'm going to bed.


Just one of those little "character" features - user numbers don't show up when previewing comments. Very unprofessional, of course, but just one of those tiny things that makes the place what it is.
posted by dg at 9:34 PM on March 5, 2007


AskMe could be the next Yahoo! Answers and you Greenies are standing in its way!

You people are fools, blind fools!

Full disclosure: I only read and favorited peacay's first comment before scrolling down to share my bon mots, which've probably been said fifteen times already.
I'll read this whole thing tomorrow.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:34 PM on March 5, 2007


Posting in epic thread.


The colors must stay. Plenty of ways to redesign for awesome with this constraint. Importance of Frontline/24 spotting not adequately reinforced.
posted by 31d1 at 9:34 PM on March 5, 2007


Here's a bit of wisdom: which newspapers and magazines decide they need a redesign? Those doing well, or those doing poorly?

ALL OF THEM. Successful ones change their layouts just as much as failing ones. It's just the failing ones that get attention.

This medium is only 17 years old. Things have changed and will continue to change. Jakob Nielsen didn't write the be-all end-all book about web design in 1999. (Something we web designers thank $deity for every day.) We're still learning things. And things are changing. Like I mentioned before, the LCD monitor has opened the door for more dark backgrounds -- CRTs had contrast issues.

In short, don't dismiss the idea that MeFi needs, at the very least, a realign. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that this site is already perfect. And honestly, it's not.
posted by dw at 9:36 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think that if I was part of some focus group who didn't think that AskMe looked official enough, when asked why I thought so I think that the first thing I would mention would be the color. Not because the color is what makes it seem terribly amateurish, but because the color is such an easy target. The damn thing is so green, it's easy for someone to think that THAT is the reason why.

But if you plaintext the whole site, and take away the color (which I just did, thanks whoever mentioned that), it's not like the whole site suddenly seems more pro. It just seems less green. I bet if the green-ness of the site was no longer an issue, people would mention other reasons why the site doesn't seem "professional", like the lack of graphics, or the lack of ads, or the lack of big infographics set up to explain things, or any number of things that people are used to seeing on websites.

I think that whether people admit it or not, the real reason they think that AskMe looks "unprofessional" is that there's so much darn text, nearly all of it the same size, and very little else to break that up.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:44 PM on March 5, 2007


the real reason they think that AskMe looks "unprofessional" is that there's so much darn text, nearly all of it the same size, and very little else to break that up.

You're quite probably right, and that's exactly as it should be.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:47 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, guys - seriously, can we just attack the idea if we don't like it, not the poster? I know it's MeTa and all, but still....
posted by Lynsey at 9:50 PM on March 5, 2007


MetaTalk: we should be trying to deprogram the Normals, not bow to their zombie desires.
posted by Mitheral at 9:50 PM on March 5, 2007


"there's so much darn text, nearly all of it the same size, and very little else to break that up."

And yet Matt refuses to run animated gifs of my tumescent penis between posts. I give and I give and I give...
posted by klangklangston at 9:51 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


White text on white background would be awesome. A close runner-up is leaving things alone.
posted by peeedro at 9:51 PM on March 5, 2007


Oh, and having posted that, I'd just vote for what mathowie and jessamyn said - I like Eris' design, the "clean factor" looks good to me. Also like the idea of making it more clear how to change the look to plain text. Another idea - keep the color schemes for each site, only switch them, which would make MeTa be gray text on white, for example, but working within the Eris template.
posted by Lynsey at 9:56 PM on March 5, 2007


i liked the internet a lot more back in 1992

y'know, back before swarmy vc weasels who do little besides circlejerk with their buddies and get rich off other people's creativity showed up.

those were good times.
posted by keswick at 10:00 PM on March 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


* Googles "tumescent" *
posted by Jimbob at 10:04 PM on March 5, 2007


This thread is a litmus test.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:04 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Baby_Balrog: linking to Xanga? Man, that's just, like.... a trump card.
posted by chlorus at 10:06 PM on March 5, 2007


i liked the internet a lot more back in 1992

Yeah, well I was around back then, and it was no different than now. There was just less porn.

MetaFilter may be the Best of the Web, but with threads like this it's also the Worst of the Usenet.
posted by dw at 10:20 PM on March 5, 2007


Well, neither Matt nor Anil (nor anyone else, human or avian or otherwise, in this thread *sobs, sniffles*) is one of Yahoo's slightly bogus 50 Most Important People on the Internet, so it's all in vain anyway.

Though keswick's edgy contrarian stylings might rocket him onto the list soon!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:22 PM on March 5, 2007


I've used the plain text, black-on-white option for ages -- easier on the eyes, and if someone looks over my shoulder I'm less obviously fucking the dog.

The rare occasions I see it as green or blue, it looks odd and frankly kind of garish and hard to read. So Anil's suggestion does not strike me as radical, and I'd bet everyone would get comfortable with a redesign in no time. I am not convinced it needs it, but it seems to be not a big deal, and possibly a good idea.

And I liked Eris' redesign as well.
posted by Rumple at 10:23 PM on March 5, 2007


I could definitely see how some people would think that the site is unprofessional based on the color scheme. Think like a black page with tiny purple text (potato_girl eat your heart out). Of course, this site is much better than that, but I could see an association forming between light on dark and unprofessional.

Nonetheless, I am opposed to the change. We don't really want people who judge the site based on its layout alone, do we? We want people who will look at the content and assess the site based on that.

And speaking as a 40ker, I don't trust these new 50kers one damn bit.
posted by !Jim at 10:28 PM on March 5, 2007


keswick, anildash, two broken beer bottles, and a locked room.
posted by Jimbob at 10:31 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


stavros: unlike certain web personalities, im under no illusion of my importance. but i don't have half the internet tonguing my asshole on a daily basis, so that's not really a fair comparison.

jimbob: sounds fun
posted by keswick at 10:37 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think I missed the thread about dog-fucking.
posted by puke & cry at 10:37 PM on March 5, 2007


You can't remodel a dive bar without the regulars complaining that it's becoming a T. G. I. Friday's.
posted by painquale at 10:37 PM on March 5, 2007


Well, neither Matt nor Anil (nor anyone else, human or avian or otherwise, in this thread *sobs, sniffles*) is one of Yahoo's slightly bogus 50 Most Important People on the Internet, so it's all in vain anyway.

But #49 on that list could be along any second....
posted by Rumple at 10:39 PM on March 5, 2007


"But in this case, someone's demanding the obscure band change their style and release some more radio-friendly music so their parents will like them. Maybe they can record a song with Gwen Stefani or something - then they might get played on MTV!"

You're not in college are you?


lol pearls before swine.
posted by mlis at 10:43 PM on March 5, 2007


but i don't have half the internet tonguing my asshole on a daily basis, so that's not really a fair comparison.

Does Yahoo have a list of these people? Surely they are worthy of your wit and scorn!
posted by anildash at 10:46 PM on March 5, 2007


I thought it was important that everyone know that Vox killed my baby.

That is all.
posted by chrominance at 10:57 PM on March 5, 2007


i don't have half the internet tonguing my asshole on a daily basis

Holy smokes, if that's the Prize for getting on Yahoo's list, then, by god, I'm going to have to start taking this stuff more seriously!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:07 PM on March 5, 2007


I think Anil's idea is a great one. I have difficulty following lines of light text on a dark background and sometimes forget to log in to get rid of it. It certainly would make the site more welcoming and less elitist-seeming.

There is always room for improvement. To think otherwise is hubris.
posted by luriete at 11:09 PM on March 5, 2007


I'm chuckling over the image of Khoi Vinh as a "DIY dude in his basement."

But seriously, I like the lack of strong contrast that the colors provide and I find it easier on the eyes than black and white. That said, I don't care if the colors change as long as they retain the same hue as the dominant color (i.e., AskMe is still in some sense green).
posted by cali at 11:17 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


"There is always room for improvement. To think otherwise is hubris."

Good thing no one is thinking otherwise.

I, for one, am certainly not saying that MeFi is perfectly presented. There were numerous good ideas in the site design contest and there are persuasive arguments that black text on a white background is better than the status quo.

However, the objections to anildash's suggestion—and, I think, to matthowie's support of it—have focused on just how important the color scheme really is and why anil and matt are concerned with it. To wit, the former objection is that the color scheme is less important than many other suggested improvements and may, in fact, be at least as much of an asset with regard to one group of users as it is a liability for another. The latter objection is that redesigning the site to conform to a "regular" person's notion of "professional" is not necessarily an improvement. In short, the arguments favoring the redesign have been weak.

Speaking for myself very subjectively, I have come to be very suspicious of the desire to concentrate on presentation. I believe that beyond the boundaries of the core tenets of good, functional design, the rest is very superficial and mostly wasted effort. But it's often emotionally rewarding effort and so lots of folks spend lots of time on it.

More directly to the specific argument at hand, MeFi's design was good in 1999 not because it was good design in terms of what was expected in 1999, but because it is good design, period. It's clean and simple and, yes, it's a lot of text. That's what the site is. If you don't like to read text, there's no reason for you to come to MetaFilter.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:53 PM on March 5, 2007 [6 favorites]

And sorry to everybody else I took a shot at in the thread -- I should know better than to be thin-skinned when in MetaTalk. Does it make my apology less sincere if I mention this place is a machismo-filled boyzone?
posted by anildash at 8:10 PM PST on March 5 [+ 2 favorites]
[!]
Yes, your testosterone is still dripping from my brow.

Anil, don't act surprised that your corpse is dragged through the street when you're the dude that climbed up the precipice, put the noose around his neck, and leaped off clutching a crumpled up list of curses against the townspeople in his fist.

You're more than just out of touch.

Yes, it would probably be a good idea to do more partial-redesign things to empahsize comment threads and stuff like that. We're a little overdue, not having done any of it for at least a year. The community style-sheet contest idea is a good one.

But for god's sake, don't change the motherfucking richly-colored dark backgrounds to ghastly brightness. It's the core part of the site's design identity ugghhh. White backgrounds are not easier on the eyes for the vast majority of people. As was said before, printed pages don't fucking glow.
posted by blasdelf at 11:58 PM on March 5, 2007


I've gotten feedback from tons of people from all walks of life and all the mefi sites look a little weird to them on first glance, and the design is confusing and they don't know where to start.

Matt, I'm probably the dumbest occasional commenter here, and I had no problem navigating the site on my first day. And I liked the color scheme from the get go.

Because we're so incredibly used to everything about the site that we don't have outside perspective that hey, maybe we should update an 8 year old design one of these days and maybe not rule out a white background for the default template and new members (not existing ones) would get?

How about a compromise? Avocado, perhaps? kthxbye.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:03 AM on March 6, 2007


DOOD!! METTA FLTR SHLD TOTTLYY HAVE A WHITE BACKGROUND!!! TOTALL AWESUM WHITE BAKGRND ROCKS!! EVRY BUDY LUVS GOOD OLD WHITE BAKGRND, WILL MAKE EMM EFF RULE IN A MAJOR WAY DUDEZ!!! ZOMG LOL!!!11

LATER MAN.
posted by yohko at 12:53 AM on March 6, 2007


If you want to read MeFi in white at work, you can do that.
posted by yohko at 1:01 AM on March 6, 2007


Cogent, insightful comments, yohko.


You didn't read the thread, did you?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:17 AM on March 6, 2007


MeFi looks ass. I always get taken aback when I use a computer I haven't logged in to and lose my white background and serif font settings.

You know what else looks ass? Myspace.

If making it not-look-ass attracts more of the sort of people who like things to look good, why not? Unless you want to attract in the sort of people who don't mind things looking all sans-serif and dayglo and ass. Like myspacers.
posted by bonaldi at 3:43 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anil - you're all technique and nothing else - it's not Matt's fault using Vox is like wandering through a shopping mall 7am sunday morning, is it ?

He's good at community building, you're not.

Thanks for turning up and trying to make him feel small though.

Love,

Sgt.Serenity.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:48 AM on March 6, 2007 [7 favorites]


shrill, self-promoting, a-list retard

nutshell.
posted by quonsar at 4:35 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a little gratifying to know that someone as influential as Anil Dash, with such a powerfully low user number, and with friends in such high places, can be savaged as mercilessly as the rest of us internet proles.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:37 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


We don't want such stupid people.

*looks at 263 comments on what color the website should be*

yeah, we've already got enough of our own
posted by pyramid termite at 5:02 AM on March 6, 2007


this thread=why i left this shithole
posted by brittney at 5:11 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like that Metafilter doesn't look like every other site out there. Hell, I wish *more* sites bucked the, dare I say, boring black/white convention.

One primarily unspoken issue at play is the way that the community has changed since it got popular. There isn't the same sort of feeling of community as when it was far smaller-- and now we have a suggestion to deliberately try to get bigger? I like that we've not been treated as mere customers so far. I hope I don't lose that feeling.

With all that being said, I think the unwarranted personal attacks on Anil in here are appalling. The utter lack of civility and rudeness is surprising, even for recent standards. Isn't MeFi better than a place for a juvenile flamefest? If anything makes me rethink being a part of this community, it's not going to be the color scheme, it's the way that loudmouth "your favorite band sucks" hipsters can shout down others and get support while doing it. And then the new folks get the signal that they have to be even bigger assholes just to get noticed.
posted by norm at 5:19 AM on March 6, 2007 [5 favorites]


^ding!
posted by brittney at 5:20 AM on March 6, 2007


Ok. Nastinesses.

I am going to vote: redesign is fine, just please keep the colour branding because it's wonderful. It's really one of the best brands out there. While you're at it please make posting absolutely consistent between subsites.

Please keep the absolutely wonderful parts of the interface here, and in my opinion full-pagedness is one of them. Live preview is another.

I think you can have a very professional looking website that is, nonetheless, all blue or green or gray.

also, Vox is pretty. and pretty is good. Vox interacts really well with community sites like MetaChat. Thanks for making it and for your good contributions to AskMe, anil.. (Can you make blogging software that makes me go blog, please?)
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:23 AM on March 6, 2007


Random lurker's opinion: I really like the copious, abundant text. Better reading experience. I think the subtraction page Matt linked to is beautiful, but couldn't imagine reading a newspaper designed that way with content only a thin strip surrounded by gimmickry. Urg.

Although the colours are slightly dorky, they're functional. It might have been harder to create and enforce the different tone that prevails on the green without the stupid-obvious affordance of the green background. Definitely I'm not against redesign, but something getting lost is the price of redesign. I really hope it's neither the text-first focus, nor the superobvious sense of place in the various metaparts.
posted by ~ at 5:27 AM on March 6, 2007


Vice President of Six Apart (makers TypePad, Movable Type, LiveJournal and Vox), what the fuck does Anil know about web design... /sarcasm

Like Brittney, I stopped coming here for the same reasons.
posted by packphour at 5:52 AM on March 6, 2007


(a) Yeah, sure looks like you stopped coming here.
(b) We really, really, really miss you.
posted by Jimbob at 6:03 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jimbob: Linked here due to the absurdity that ensued after such a simple suggestion. Don't flatter your pseudo-insight, it's rather cloudy.
posted by packphour at 6:05 AM on March 6, 2007


Well, the fact that we have these sorts of noisy arguments daily, but you and brittney only show up when we decide to take on the might of anil kinda proves our point.
posted by Jimbob at 6:11 AM on March 6, 2007


this thread=why i left this shithole

Yeah, 'cause Fipilele's such an exemplary bastion of civil behaviour, right, brit? Not hardly, and you're in the lead over in Anil's sympathy thread, near as I can tell. We're all cock-knockers, darlin', including the people shaking their head and tsk-tsking over there.

The utter lack of civility and rudeness is surprising, even for recent standards.

Don't get all a-flutter, now. There's nothing like an 'utter lack' happening here. Quite a few people have been quite reasonable. This thread has seen an unhappy convocation of asses, sure, but then, there are always at least a couple of assholes in every room.

I will grant that there might maybe be a few more than one might statistically expect here, but it's not really as bad as all that.

And then the new folks get the signal that they have to be even bigger assholes just to get noticed.

This is a good point, true, and gives me the vapours. But what are you gonna do (other than try and be as reasonable a person as you're able)? I like it it here, more than anywhere else I've found thus far, anyway.

Vice President of Six Apart (makers TypePad, Movable Type, LiveJournal and Vox), what the fuck does Anil know about web design...

I don't know, to be honest. He might be a whizbang designer. His site is pretty enough, but I don't know if he designed it or not. But that's not the point. If you actually read what he said, it was "with increasing frequency, though, I find people who are unfamiliar with the site questioning the legitimacy of AskMe, and of the answers therein, because the default green/yellow color scheme doesn't look 'professional'".

So you know, it's not Anil that appears to think the colour scheme is suboptimal, it's 'people'. Which is fine and dandy, of course.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:12 AM on March 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


When I happen to browse the sight without logging in, what seems unprofessional is the big block of ads between the question and answer. I guess that's not going anywhere.
posted by smackfu at 6:15 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


My background is working for small companies (or myself!) with limited time, budget, worker-hours, and resources. I picture Matt being in a similar position. The issues of redesign and what the sites I worked on looked like -- in these circumstances -- almost always had to take a back seat to the "crisis of the day":

--The server crashes
--Something is broken
--Something is hacked
--Some user(s) have incredibly complex questions or issues that take up all my time -- and I can't get anything "important" done (and in the small company, it's usually a department head or the CEO)

And so on... Then I tell myself (on that last point) that satisfying my users is my number one job, and that I have to balance the needs they are aware of -- and for which they loudly demand attention -- and the needs that they don't know about. It all affects them, even if they don't know.

So... It's interesting to see so much heat and light expended on the way this car looks and how the dashboard is arranged, when there's clearly so many problems under the hood: the site's scalability issues, up-and-down time, Cold Fusion (really! still? always....?) I'm sure there's many more that I can't think of now.

Just my $.02... Having "been here" just about a year or so, yup, I'm still a MeFi noob -- though I, too, have been on the Internets since the early 90s, and in the bits-and-bytes racket since long before that. I've seen these discussions so many times, though it's fascinating to see it so public and (alas, but it's MeTa) so snarked.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:31 AM on March 6, 2007


Well, it seems that this "professional" affect is important to Matt. So let's all wear neckties when we log in - that should do it, right? Who's with me?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:40 AM on March 6, 2007


So let's all wear neckties when we log in - that should do it, right? Who's with me?

i tied mine too tight ... oh shit i think my balls just fell off
posted by pyramid termite at 6:52 AM on March 6, 2007


stavrosthewonderchicken: "I will grant that there might maybe be a few more than one might statistically expect here, but it's not really as bad as all that."

There's a room, filled with n (>0) people. You know that m (>0) of those people are assholes. Everyone begins shaking hands, shaking hands with no other person in the room more than once. As soon as at least n*m/4 handshakes have taken place, one of the assholes (we'll call him Mr. A) picks a door. He then closes his eyes, and the rest of the people in the room have to pick one of the two other doors. Marty Hall then incinerates everyone behind one of those doors. What are the chances that the other door contains an asshole Mr. A has already shaken hands with? Extra credit: What are the chances that Mr. A and Marty Hall have the same birthday?
posted by Plutor at 7:08 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be great if this all turned out to be a big deadpan setup for an April Fools Day Metafilter redesign in "2.0" fashion?
posted by brownpau at 7:13 AM on March 6, 2007


what are the chances that monty hall has a brother named marty?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:14 AM on March 6, 2007


Marty Hall, what an asshole.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:14 AM on March 6, 2007


I don't want new members... It's not about attracting new users, it's about making the site look professional and not like a 1999 personal weblog I made in my free time.

You've repeated this several times, but I still don't understand it. If you don't want new members, why the hell do you want to make it look more attractive/"professional" (whatever the hell that means)? Everybody who's here now can use the site just fine, and you say you don't want any more, so... what's the problem? As EB so succinctly put it:

The truth is that MeFi, and especially AskMe, are successful as they are.

And what stavros said as well:

I don't think the site looks like 'someone's weblog from 1999' -- I think it could be tightened up, sure, but I think the spare simplicity reflects the texty ethos of the site, as it should... I think we should be trying to deprogram the Normals, not bow to their zombie desires.

MetaFilter is all about text. Words. Writing. It is not about hip/slick/professional web design. The site you linked to, Matt, is indeed very nice looking. Kudos to whoever designed it. But I take one look at it and I think "this is not where I want to hang out." Sure, MeFi can stand some improvement (solving the downtime issue, for one), but it works as is.
posted by languagehat at 7:16 AM on March 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


OK, now I have a better idea of what this "unprofessional" business is all about , thanks to this article.
"If I went in my pants, that would be really unprofessional. If anybody saw me, you know, walking around — it would have froze. So I'd have icy urine on my pants."
Never mind the neckties - just don't pee on yourself.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:25 AM on March 6, 2007


Wow, this thread isn't closed yet?

The discussion was interesting, over all- cool to hear people's thoughts on the site design as it relates to membership growth, community accessability, etc. I am less opposed to design change than I was at the beginning of the thread. Thanks all for their insight.
posted by Stynxno at 7:26 AM on March 6, 2007


jonmc: Yo, fandango, that's cold. cold like Nanook's Nutsack, dude.

Having had my hand down an Inuit's pants, I can say that their nutsacks are surprisingly warm actually. Don't ask, it's long story.*

*
and completely fictional.
posted by CKmtl at 7:33 AM on March 6, 2007


MetaFilter is all about text. Words. Writing. It is not about hip/slick/professional web design.

But it is about usability and readability. And honestly, the usability and readability need some improvement on here BECAUSE this is a 1999 design, and eight years on we've learned a lot more about what and how people read on the web.

Khoi's design isn't about "being all hipster," it's about a clean, semantic flow. That's good UI design. Yeah, I have things in Subtraction I love to pick at, but it's well-done.

I agree it's all about words. But the words need to be readable. And they need to be flexible. Don't think redesign is all Ajax-enabled Flash-based XSLT-transformed gradients with a dash of coriander. It's about making the content be the center of things and accessible. The state of effective design has moved a long way in the last few years, and it's time those were looked at to help realign this site.

I hope Matt can round up a couple dozen people to UE test the current layout.
posted by dw at 7:34 AM on March 6, 2007


I WANT A FLAMEOUT
posted by Kwine at 7:38 AM on March 6, 2007


Yeah as I said somewhere up there, when I first came to this site I was a little put off with the colors but they've grown on me. I really don't like the plain-text as it's just too bright but somewhere in the middle that doesn't look too bland seems reasonable. Design change is good. Unless it's bad.
posted by ob at 7:41 AM on March 6, 2007


and eight years on we've learned a lot more about what and how people read on the web.

Like what?
posted by cillit bang at 7:50 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Look at a random comment thread at one of the best designed weblogs out there, subtraction."

Ick. Makes my eyes hurt.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:57 AM on March 6, 2007


Yeah, 'cause Fipilele's such an exemplary bastion of civil behaviour, right, brit?

On filepile brittney can put up pictures of herself and bask in the attention. That makes up for the lack of civility.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 8:02 AM on March 6, 2007


luriete writes "It certainly would make the site more welcoming and less elitist-seeming."

Making the site more welcoming is a valid goal but do we really want to make it less elitist? You rarely hear talk from Bentley, Tiffanies, or Rolex that they should try and be less elitist. And the elitism of the site is pure veneer, anyone can pony up $5 and start making a fool of themselves on the front page almost immediately.

bonaldi writes "If making it not-look-ass attracts more of the sort of people who like things to look good, why not? Unless you want to attract in the sort of people who don't mind things looking all sans-serif and dayglo and ass. Like myspacers."

I'm confused now. On one hand the current design is elitist and on the other tantamount to MySpace. We must have reached the perfect balance between the two.

brittney writes "this thread=why i left this shithole"
packphour writes "Like Brittney, I stopped coming here for the same reasons."

Yet here you are commenting in Meta of all places on the colour scheme of the site. Seems like a lot of investment for people who have "left". I don't think Matt should hang a lot of weigh on the opinions of how things should be done to people who consider the place to be a shithole. Such changes are likely to be to the detriment of active members.
posted by Mitheral at 8:04 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ha, stickem! Ha ha-Ha Ha Ha!
posted by breezeway at 8:16 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or does Subtraction feel like you're reading a giant Nutrition Facts label?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:35 AM on March 6, 2007 [8 favorites]


Not just you. The photo on the front page is pretty gratuitous too.
posted by smackfu at 8:45 AM on March 6, 2007


I tend to agree, Kwine.
And in this age of Firefox + Greasemonkey, it should theoretically be possible to create your own color scheme to load Metafilter through. The green could then be a whiter shade of pale, and the blue could turn into... purple.
Blasphemy, clearly, but a possible option.
posted by lilithim at 8:52 AM on March 6, 2007


Seconding Devils Slide; I came to MeFi from MonkeyFilter, whose layout is based on The Blue's, and had no problem getting into either - and I wasn't regularly on-line until 2000 or so, and didn't wander much further than internet cribbage and pix of Allyson Hannigan until 2003-2003 (Yeah, I'm that much of a n00b.).
MetaFilter and Blogger are the two web sites I regularly recommend to friends and family interested in 'that there innernet' because the straightforward interfaces reward intuitive usage and the learning curves are low. Granted, my opinion probably doesn't carry as much weight as Matt's accountant du jour, but...

And I agree with the suggestion that folks are having trouble with MetaFilter because cruft-ridden sites like MySpace, Livejournal, and Vox have conditioned them to expect cluttered shitholes - 'No radio buttons/constant log-ins/boatloads of confusing, pointless crap covering a third of the screen? How am I supposed to use this?!?'

Damn it, languagehat, I spent most of this morning trying to figure out how to articulate that point. And yeah, this isn't meant to be a cheap shot Matt, but the noon-hour lag says more about 'professionalism' to me than background colors.

brittney: If it's such a shitpile, what the fuck do you care? Don't waste any more of your time on us losers; I know I won't be wasting any on you.
Dash is a big boy and gave just as well as he got. If he's claiming that the response he got was unexpected, he's either being disingenuous or overestimating his involvement and familiarity with MetaFilter. If he says it's unwarranted, he probably needs to spend a little less time trying to fix what ain't broke and a bit more time working on talking to people, instead of down.

And I have more favorited comments than both of y'all times two, so nya, nya.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:13 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


And that Subtraction site looks like a TPS report.

The unexciting, can't read for more than fifteen minutes before I get a migraine kind, not the fun and sassy 'What ThePinkSuperhero Did This Weekend' kind.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:16 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


You've repeated this several times, but I still don't understand it. If you don't want new members, why the hell do you want to make it look more attractive/"professional" (whatever the hell that means)?

I'm guessing he wants more advertsisers or partner sites to bring in revenue, and with all the shithe has to put up with running the site I can't really blame him for wanting to make some more money off it. He's got a family after all.

Having had my hand down an Inuit's pants, I can say that their nutsacks are surprisingly warm actually.

You're an obvious Eskihomo. or if you're female, a Klondyke.
posted by jonmc at 9:19 AM on March 6, 2007


They have 36 different names for 'wang', doncha know.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:25 AM on March 6, 2007


You're an obvious Eskihomo. or if you're female, a Klondyke.

I think Klondykes generally don't want much to do with, uh, golden nuggets.

I'm going to pun hell now.
posted by CKmtl at 9:26 AM on March 6, 2007


If you don't want new members, why the hell do you want to make it look more attractive/"professional" (whatever the hell that means)?

Everyone knows you have to clean up the house and do all the major and minor repairs before you go to try and sell it.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:41 AM on March 6, 2007


Man, this thread kept going.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:49 AM on March 6, 2007


It may never end...
posted by ob at 10:03 AM on March 6, 2007


I like the site as it is. But I also understand that Matt can redesign it any way he sees fit.

Really going to have to work on my tone in MeTa.
posted by Jofus at 10:14 AM on March 6, 2007


this thread=why i left this shithole

that comment=why nobody cared.
posted by quonsar at 10:17 AM on March 6, 2007 [6 favorites]


Man, this thread kept going.

That's not the freaky part. The freaky part is that it has pretty much stayed on topic.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:19 AM on March 6, 2007


In response to much-earlier comments by matt, one of the things I genuinely liked about metafilter the first time that I saw it was that it was confusing. It gave the impression of being a place I needed to spend lots of time on, search through, trip over and make a fool out of myself in before I got to understand it. Transparency and newbie-friendliness is great if you're selling t-shirts. One of the great things about metafilter is that it's thorny. Please keep it that way.
posted by Football Bat at 10:39 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


You've repeated this several times, but I still don't understand it. If you don't want new members, why the hell do you want to make it look more attractive/"professional" (whatever the hell that means)?

Professional & attractive are loaded words. Based on Matt's descriptions, he wants to make it easier for people who are not members (i.e. people who can't post) to find, read and navigate the site. It's a good goal.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:42 AM on March 6, 2007


And to think I wasted all that time studying propositional calculus.

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by loquacious at 10:53 AM on March 6, 2007


If this site needs anything, it's an (optional) swearing censorer so that awesome threads like this don't get blocked by my work internet filter. I've noticed that the longer a Meta* thread gets, the more likely it is to be blocked at work, but at the same time the longest threads are usually the most entertaining.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:29 AM on March 6, 2007


dw: It's about making the content be the center of things and accessible.

Could you elaborate? The content on Metafilter already is at the "center of things," more or less. There isn't really that much room for innovation with the design. For example, the "posted by so-and-so at such-and-such time" is a web idiom that hasn't changed since 1999 because it works and, more importantly, users have come to expect it. In my opinion the layout of discussion threads here is miles above reddit, digg, phpBB or any number of group-discussion precisely because the content is the primary emphasis.

Simply put, Metafilter isn't difficult to navigate because the user interaction isn't all that complicated. More richly interactive environments like online email apps require more careful attention to design and obviously stand to benefit a lot more from it. But any changes to the functional aspect of mefi would in my mind have to be somewhat subtle; the inconsistency in posting across sites should probably be pretty high priorty.

The state of effective design has moved a long way in the last few years, and it's time those were looked at to help realign this site.

We've learned a lot about engineering in the last 5,000 years yet we still use the wheel.

The impression that the site gives to first-time visitors is another story. Frequent users here probably wouldn't be very good judges of this since the design should ideally become imperceptible for them. At the same time matt et al should take the input of "regular people" with a grain of salt. I'd agree that there is something seemingly "unprofessional" about the site, but I can't put my finger on what it is (verdana + the yellow links maybe?). Since the background color is the most obvious distinguishing characteristic of metafilter's design it's no surprise that that's going to be Joe User's explanation when pressed to explain why he feels that it looks that way.
posted by Frankieist at 11:33 AM on March 6, 2007


If this site needs anything, it's an (optional) swearing censorer so that awesome threads like this don't get blocked by my work internet filter. I've noticed that the longer a Meta* thread gets, the more likely it is to be blocked at work, but at the same time the longest threads are usually the most entertaining.

Hi. This is your fucking boss. Get back to work or you're so fucking fired you won't even know what or whom the fuck it was that plumb-fucked your shitter.

No, seriously, people. Stop trying to make MeFi work-safe or professional-safe. The fact that it is not is why I am here. Making this place all polished and non-thorny and work safe would be the quickest way to send me looking for weirder pastures. This may or may not be an incentive for you to do one or the other; I care not. I like you folks just fine, and I've made many friends, but it's the weirdness that keeps me coming back. Eliminate that or polish this thorny turd excessively and I'm but a footnote.

Also, everyone else. Look, it's real easy. You either get back to work and be a MeFi part-timer in your spare time, or you quit your job, drop out, glue your ass to a chair and keyboard and become a full-timer. (Jonmc doesn't count. Besides, he just got fired.)

Me? I'm actually looking for work and trying not to be a full-timer. I so wish I was just kidding, about any of it. Stay in drugs, don't do school!
posted by loquacious at 11:48 AM on March 6, 2007 [4 favorites]


No, seriously, people. Stop trying to make MeFi work-safe or professional-safe.

We should have a meeting about this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:53 AM on March 6, 2007


I'll prepare the powerpoint.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:01 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


And before anyone accuses me of a nasty case of the head-swells, I'm actually trying to articulate a point:

This is something that savvy web-dev and community builders have known for years.

You usually can't have your cake and eat it, too.

You can either create a free-form forum where it attracts lively, bright, interesting people such as myself and many others - attracted by the quality of discourse, the limber freedom of light and wise moderation and so on. A place a little wild and wooly, where great comments and discussions grow in a rich, loamy topsoil of the full, broad spectrum of life's weirdnesses.

Or you can have a nice, shiny, saleable widget that's polished and clean and sparkly-new, scrubbed free of any unpleasant realities or messy truths. Or opinions. Or any untoward or unusual thoughts of any kind.

Matt and jessamyn have admirably walked a fine balance between the two. Weird enough to attract the likes of myself, but straight enough to attract the likes of the davidmsc, dios and ParisParamus. To get such a diverse userbody on the same page, actually talking - if only arguing loudly - takes some doing. Either skill or luck or both, I know not.

That said, polishing MeFi excessively - for sale or whatever purpose or motive - will certainly end it for me. I know what attracts me to MeFi, and when/if it is gone, I'll be too.

So, yeah, it's a paradox. Artists and writers and creators in one hand, fame, safety, fortune and filthy lucre in the other. It is not a new tale at all, but a very old one.

If you want an intersting life, attract the former. If you want a comfortable, wealthy life devoid of meaningful content, attract the latter.

If you're skilled, attract and cater to both - but be aware of the very fine line you walk and stay in the sweet spot. Recreating it from scratch is nigh-impossible.
posted by loquacious at 12:04 PM on March 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


I got 'let go' not fired, and it was more-or-less willful. I'm a crafty motherfucker.
posted by jonmc at 12:44 PM on March 6, 2007


I have always felt that Metafilter was one of the most perfectly designed sites I'd ever frequented. I still feel that way.

The truth is I would trust Matt if he wanted to tweak some changes, but after visiting Anil Dash's site - Look, Mr Dash, I'm sure you are a really nice guy and all, but I hate your site's design. HATE it.

I have also always felt that Matt's original vision for this place is and was a lot more antiseptic than what we have evolved to here and now. The problem is that the here-and-now site is what we know and love. The internet is full of antiseptic corporate professional looking crap. We don't need to neuter Mefi to make it just one more.

This place is special, and in a very real way that specialness is incredibly fragile. Matt, please don't kill your golden goose. We love her even when she lays an egg.
posted by konolia at 1:18 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't know about the rest of you, but I think I'd like to hear anildash and fandango_matt on a future episode of the MeFi podcast together. I am not sure which one gets to say "Jane you ignorant slut" though.
posted by terrapin at 1:23 PM on March 6, 2007


MetaFilter: This place is special!

seriously
posted by Duncan at 2:13 PM on March 6, 2007


I'm a bit late to the party, but looking at AskMe and looking at http://www.dashes.com/anil/ for the first time, i know which one looks the more professional. Your website is ugly. There - I said it :)

Half-jokingly aside, maybe you should direct your friends to the amount of answers that have actually done some good in AskMe in spite of the design they don't like. You are an "an unapologetic fan" after all. What's more important? A site that does what it sets out to do, or something that looks pretty, but does fuck all?

Why does green != professional?
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:24 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


yeah. money's green, what could be more professional than that?
posted by jonmc at 2:33 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jessamny: These our witness, Aunty. Us suffer bad. Want good design. We want Thunderdome!

Aunty Entity: You know the law: Two admins enter, one admin leaves.

Jessamyn: This mathowie! Twenty men enter, only him leave!

Aunty Entity: Then it's your choice. Thunderdome.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:39 PM on March 6, 2007


Wow. How did I miss this funfest?

anildash - I have no clue who the hell you are, so don't take this as another piling on your because of some preconceived notion. Until this thread, I don't think I have heard heard or seen your name.

Here is a free protip: if you want to argue for something that the majority opposes, just state it once as best you can and get the hell out. Once you start to argue with the groupthink, you've already lost. Especially when you start stating things that make you flamebait. Metafilter has a disgusting habit of personally attacking and piling on. You can't fight it. So state your position once and leave it be.
posted by dios at 2:39 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


dw: It's about making the content be the center of things and accessible.

Could you elaborate?


I don't really don't want to give a lecture since I don't have time right now. But good web design:
-- Is intuitive
-- Isn't "in-your-face"
-- Is accessible
-- Is flexible
-- Is germane to the content

And that means you should be able to read content the way you want to read it. That means you can change the font size without blowing up the layout. It means RSS. It means multiple browsers, multiple platforms, you can still read it.

And MeFi works just fine, obviously. Like I said before, the background colors are part of the branding now; going to a white background would defeat that branding. But I would tweak a number of things. The Gray doesn't offer enough contrast, e.g., IMHO. I've already said my peace about the Green.

This is a 1999 design. Honestly, it was innovative for 1999. But the fact Matt is thinking about how to spruce things up suggests that things could be better.

We've learned a lot about engineering in the last 5,000 years yet we still use the wheel.

But do we still use wooden wagon wheels on cars? Log rollers?

Consider the tire. It's basically the same technology on my car as it was on the Model T. Except that it's not. I have steel-belted radials. On some cars, they have flat-resistant technology. We went through a long period back there where the white wall was popular.

I think a lot of people are locked into this design because it represents separation from the "pinks," that MeFites are better and smarter than everyone else and are "special." Suggesting that it may need to change is like saying "you must change, you must conform." This is a site filled with free-thinkers, nerds, and victims of high school violence. Change is never going to go over well, because people are going to interpret it as changing to meet everyone else's expectations. And if you look at the comments, that's exactly what you see. Screw the rest of the world, we are the Chosen Ones.

But you can change and tweak without losing your individuality. And you can make things better without making yourself into what others want you to be. Anil's suggestion isn't going to fly, but the larger issue -- people who would find AskMe useful think it's unprofessional and thus unauthoritative -- remains. That needs to be resolved if this site is going to continue to grow.
posted by dw at 2:52 PM on March 6, 2007


Metafilter also has a disgusting habit of picking its ass, smelling its finger, and falling out of a tree; it's also an aggressive masturbator and sometimes its nocturnal howls frighten the tapir. But it's so cute, and even through all the nonsense, very popular with school groups.
posted by breezeway at 2:56 PM on March 6, 2007


Dios said "Here is a free protip: if you want to argue for something that the majority opposes, just state it once as best you can and get the hell out. Once you start to argue with the groupthink, you've already lost."

Someone owes me a new irony meter, mine just overloaded.
posted by phearlez at 2:56 PM on March 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


I hate democracy almost as much as dios does.
posted by breezeway at 3:01 PM on March 6, 2007


Anil, I'm sorry about the crap you've been taking here for no good reason, but I have to agree with urbanwhaleshark—I don't find your website attractive, and if that's your vision of professionalism, I can understand why you think MeFi needs a revamping, and I hope it never gets one. I agree with loquacious and konolia. Don't mess with success.

That needs to be resolved if this site is going to continue to grow.

Matt. Does. Not. Want. The. Site. To. Continue. To. Grow.

posted by languagehat at 3:13 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Change is never going to go over well, because people are going to interpret it as changing to meet everyone else's expectations.

Change is always going to go over well or poorly in proportion to how happy we are with what we've already got. I think the response thus far is pretty fair indication of where we stand on that front.
But I do think it'd be pretty neat to be able to hack my own stylesheet.
posted by juv3nal at 3:17 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Matt. Does. Not. Want. The. Site. To. Continue. To. Grow.

But he doesn't want it to grow for very different reasons than others on this group. He thinks it's unwieldly. Many others think it's "special."

And that part drives me nuts, because I hate elitism. I endure a lot of BS in high school for being a nerd/geek/spazz, but I came out of it hating all cliques -- even the ones formed by nerds/geeks/spazzes.

If Matt wants to shut the door to admission, more power to him. But I still think the green is sickly. And I'm tired of the elitism.

There. Are. Four. Lights.
posted by dw at 3:21 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cogent, insightful comments, yohko.
You didn't read the thread, did you?

Well, he started to but, because she uses the black-on-white theme, his eyes started to hurt too much so she gave up.
posted by dg at 3:22 PM on March 6, 2007


Dr Dealgood:
"Welcome to another edition of Thunderdome!"

(turns to crowd)
"Listen on! Listen on! This is the truth of it. Different browsers leads to fightin' and fightin' leads to browser wars and that was damn near the death of us all. Look at us now, all broken code and everyone talking 'bout Vista."

"But we've learned, by the dust of them all, Metafilter's learned."

"Now when admins get to fighting, it happens here. And it finishes here."

Crowd (chatting in whisper and throwing feces):
"Two admins enter, one admin leaves."


Doctor Dealgood:
"And right now, I've got two admins with a screen full of errors and a belly full of Jolt. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. . .

. . .codin' time's here!"


"He's the server crasher, Coldfusion on foot, you know him, you love him! He's matthowie!"

(matthowie enters. crowd cheers and throws feces)

"The challenger, direct from out of the Wasteland. He's bad, he's beautiful. He's crazy! It's the man with no taste!"

(anildash enters, faces off against matthowie. crowd boos and throws shitty snark)


Jessamyn (watching from above with funky headgear):
"Remember where you are. This is Metafilter. Death is listening, and will take the first admin that does a onelink Youtube post."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:29 PM on March 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


You would really do well to heed Anil's warnings, you know.
posted by norm at 3:34 PM on March 6, 2007


If this site needs anything, it's an (optional) swearing censorer

it would only be a short time until some fvcking @ssh0le figured out a way around it
posted by pyramid termite at 4:00 PM on March 6, 2007


We don't need another admin
We don't need to use mySQL
All we got is ColdFusion and Thunderdome

posted by dw at 4:09 PM on March 6, 2007


My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted site. But most of all, I remember the moderator. The man we called "Matt". To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time. When the world was powered by Cold Fusion. And the internet sprouted great cities of green and blue. Gone now, swept away. For reasons long forgotten, two mighty schools of thought went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without answers, they were nothing. They built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked. But nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. The cities exploded. A whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear. Men began to feed on men. On the site it was an online nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage, would survive. The gangs took over the comments, ready to wage war for a background color. And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and smashed. Men like Matt. The warrior Matt. In the roar of a site redesign, he lost everything. And became a shell of a man, a burnt out, desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again...
posted by breezeway at 5:15 PM on March 6, 2007


This is a 1999 design. Honestly, it was innovative for 1999.

Well, Google's main page is a circa-1999 design too, isn't it? That doesn't mean it's crap. Sometimes people get things right the first time. Sometimes people get things right before the experts come along to tell them how they should be doing things. There's no point fixing things that ain't broke. You still haven't outlined what it is, exactly, about Metafilter that makes it fail the test. So lets look at your list.

-- Is intuitive

That is a fairly diffuse idea. I take it to mean "things work the way they expect them to". As one would expect, Metafilter lists posts on the main page in reverse chronological order, like every other weblog out there. Each post includes the name of the author, time, date etc. and a link to the "comments". This link to the comments might be improved by adding a couple of extra words, like "Click here to view comments", but I imagine the percentage of the population who can't figure that out already are in the very low single digits. There is a links bar at the top, spelling out very clearly how to get to other parts of the site, configuration, help etc. It's intuitive.

-- Isn't "in-your-face"

Metafilter isn't in your face. It's simple, functional. No flashing banner ads. Arrays of icons. No 72-point bold fonts with shadows and reflections.

-- Is accessible

Once again, a very popular and sometimes misused term. But, in my experience, I've been able to read Metafilter on my mobile phone, and in the Lynx text browser. The structure is so simple and linear that I doubt people with "screenreaders" would have any problems. Surely it's got to be better than multifaceted layouts like Digg and Vox and so forth.

-- Is flexible

The site works fine in all window sizes - the text wraps accordingly. There are options to view, say, dark text on white background. And it's easy to add more, as matt has suggested.

-- Is germane to the content

And content is king here. It's about text. It's not about videos, or photos, or threaded discussion, or cross-marketing, or social networks. It's about writing. And it accomplishes this well. There are lots of sites out there (people have provided examples above) that surround the content with multiple columns, and boxes of links, and boxes of icons, and pictures, and ads, so it's hard to tell where the bit you're supposed to be reading begins and ends. Metafilter isn't like this. It just presents the text to read, and avoids all the cruft.

If this is a "1999" design, then I wish more websites were stuck in 1999. This is the reason I carry out my discussions on Metafilter, and not on a phpBB forum, or MySpace.
posted by Jimbob at 5:21 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


He thinks it's unwieldly. Many others think it's "special."

And that part drives me nuts, because I hate elitism. I endure a lot of BS in high school for being a nerd/geek/spazz, but I came out of it hating all cliques -- even the ones formed by nerds/geeks/spazzes.

If Matt wants to shut the door to admission, more power to him. But I still think the green is sickly. And I'm tired of the elitism.

posted by dw

Disagreeing with anil's idea is not elitism. Agreeing with the majority is not necessarily elitism. Liking the site the way it is isn't necessarily elitism.

This statement:

and because I've been a member of this community longer than, well, all of you. Which means I've seen what it takes to attract new people to the site, including yourselves.
posted by anildash


...even if done in jest, is the clearest example of elitism in this thread. That you agree with his proposal doesn't make it any less so. Yet it doesn't seem to bother you at all. Funny, that.
posted by justgary at 5:24 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


But he doesn't want it to grow for very different reasons than others on this group.

So? He doesn't want it to grow. Therefore any arguments based on "if this site is going to continue to grow" are null and void.

And that part drives me nuts, because I hate elitism. I endure a lot of BS in high school for being a nerd/geek/spazz, but I came out of it hating all cliques -- even the ones formed by nerds/geeks/spazzes.

What justgary said. I hate elitism too, but it's quite bizarre to find elitism where you're finding it.
posted by languagehat at 5:33 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like the way the site is.
I would never leave because of the background color.
Especially if I could change it.
I trust Matt implicitly on the site design.
This thread is useless without the <> tag.
posted by grateful at 7:05 PM on March 6, 2007


i.e., " i m g " tag...
posted by grateful at 7:05 PM on March 6, 2007


I have also always felt that Matt's original vision for this place is and was a lot more antiseptic than what we have evolved to here and now. The problem is that the here-and-now site is what we know and love.

MetaFilter: Love the sepsis!
posted by staggernation at 8:32 PM on March 6, 2007


Okay, I commented once and stayed out of it, but here's my take after all is said and done:

The first and worst misconception in this thread, and one that has been repeatedly reiterated by many people including the poster, is that MeFites hate newcomers. This is pure fucking bullshit. If people like the color green, it doesn't mean they hate newcomers. If people don't think we should be encouraging growth, it doesn't mean they hate newcomers. No one has made a single snark about "n00bs" in this thread except as a joke, and nobody besides a certain person who shall remain nameless has talked about their user number as a point of pride.

That is all.
posted by koeselitz at 8:35 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: It's not broken but let's fix it anyway.
posted by mlis at 8:53 PM on March 6, 2007


Wow, even the folks I generally like are douches in this episode of Meta. Nice twist.
posted by pivo at 12:58 AM on March 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't worry pivo, everyone will learn their lesson and be happy by the last act, and when the frame freezes for the credits we'll all be smiling.
posted by phearlez at 6:50 AM on March 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


*smiles*
posted by Kwine at 8:48 AM on March 7, 2007


*stands behind Kwine, makes bunny ears*
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:58 AM on March 7, 2007


*hugs token black character*
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:59 AM on March 7, 2007


That character should be white green.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:46 AM on March 7, 2007




And then the new folks get the signal that they have to be even bigger assholes just to get noticed.

As a new user, I consider this to be a personal challange.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 10:34 AM on March 7, 2007


WHAT THIS PLACE NEEDS IS A BIG "TOP X PERCENT" GIF. AND A DUDE IN A PINK SHIRT HOLDING A MICROPHONE.
posted by quonsar at 10:40 AM on March 7, 2007


WHAT THIS PLACE NEEDS IS QUONSAR SPENDING A FEW YEARS SHITTING ON THREADS WHILE ADDING NOTHING USEFUL. AND A CHORUS OF PEOPLE EGGING HIM ON DESPITE THE EFFECT ON THE COMMUNITY.
posted by anildash at 12:47 PM on March 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's bad enough that you insult the whole community with your pompous statements about low user numbers and supposed knowledge of ideal web design, but now you take on and insult the village idiot? Is it that you want to be tarred and feathered, or are you just looking forward to the ride out of town on the rail?
posted by Dave Faris at 12:56 PM on March 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Anil:

So... you want to make the masses more comfortable on metafilter. Fine, I guess. But you go on to recount the story of this brouhaha thread on your blog, mentionning all sorts of "unfriendly" behaviour against you, while only describing your behaviour as "a bit combative"? That'll make 'em love metafilter for sure.

And aren't pink shirts unprofessional? I seem to recall business-savvy Mr. Burns highly disapproved of them.

But what do I know, I'm almost in the 47000s...

I kid, I kid... well, about the last two points at least.
posted by CKmtl at 1:21 PM on March 7, 2007


Anildash, with all due respect, you haven't really been part of this community for years, and as such have no clue what does or does not have an effect on this community.

quonsar is OUR loveable eccentric, and some of us feel strangely but compellingly protective of him.

If you want to come back, start commenting and posting with the rest of us for awhile, and BECOME part of this community again, we'd love to have you. Right now you are just an outsider who happens to have remembered his password and username from back when dinosaurs roamed the Green. I'd say most of the members here don't even have a clue who you are or were. That does not bode well for any acceptance of any of your opinions. Just sayin'.
posted by konolia at 1:25 PM on March 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't know why people think the blogosphere is an unfriendly place, when an honest suggestion to change the background color on one subsite of a popular community blog that I'm a huge fan of can inspire those kinds of delightful, well-considered reactions. At least there was only one vague threat of violence.

This proves my point. You have been gone so long you forgot that we are like a pool of hungry piranhas over here.
posted by konolia at 1:37 PM on March 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'd say most of the members here don't even have a clue who you are or were.

I had thought this was true! But judging by the fact the thread went to shit long before I went aggro, there were clearly a good number of people clinging to some circa-2002 idea that I'm a popular blogger or something? The reactions, especially the vitriol via email, are to some made-up persona for me, not to a guy who answers questions sometimes on AskMe and made a suggestion about colors. That's the truth.
posted by anildash at 1:49 PM on March 7, 2007


OTOH, some of the vitriol might be the perception that an outsider came in and wants to mess with our playhouse....
posted by konolia at 2:13 PM on March 7, 2007


"quonsar is OUR loveable eccentric, and some of us feel strangely but compellingly protective of him."

Kinda like how when you're related to a fat retard, you don't want the other kids picking on him, even if you slap him for humping your shoes.
posted by klangklangston at 2:16 PM on March 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by anildash The reactions, especially the vitriol via email, are to some made-up persona for me, not to a guy who answers questions sometimes on AskMe and made a suggestion about colors. That's the truth.

You didn't "make a suggestion," you decreed, "Ask MetaFilter should default to a white background for new users and those not logged in." You then gave several poorly-considered reasons why yours was a good idea, one of which was your low usernumber.

So you basically said, "This needs to be changed, because I think it sucks, and my opinion is worth more than any of yours ever will be, because I've been here longer than any of you."

Had you actually been participating in the community, you wouldn't have made that suggestion, but since you have, you shouldn't be surprised when we react to your arrogance and pomposity by telling you your idea is idiotic and we don't give a damn who you are or what your usernumber is.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:13 PM on March 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you want to come back, start commenting and posting with the rest of us for awhile, and BECOME part of this community again

Honest question here -- I answer questions on AskMe at least once a week, which I'd guess is the level of participation of most normal (i.e. not haunting MeTa obsessively) members of the site. Does that mean none of those other thousands of people have become part of the community either?
posted by anildash at 3:19 PM on March 7, 2007


Oh, and with regards to the post you made in your blog:

"One of my toughest critics in the thread had actually proposed a winning redesign in a contest on the site, an entry that featured a white background and was voted the winner by the entire community."

Wrong. The community neither voted on, nor picked the winner of the redesign contest. Matt did.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:38 PM on March 7, 2007


anildash, give it a rest already.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:42 PM on March 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


The flames had burnt out on this thread until anildash came back to stoke the embers. I think he likes the attention, even though it's abusive.

Eh. He's not so different from many of us in that regard.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:47 PM on March 7, 2007


I said "should" in the category feature requests. Doesn't that make it pretty clear that I'm advocating for a point of view, like every person that requests a feature? In my mind, there's an implicit "I submit the following:" preceding everything ever suggested as a feature. Similar to this request. Perhaps the entire thing would have been read differently had I simply said "[more inside]" or "[a rationale inside]"?
posted by anildash at 3:51 PM on March 7, 2007


Honest question here -- I answer questions on AskMe at least once a week, which I'd guess is the level of participation of most normal (i.e. not haunting MeTa obsessively) members of the site.

I think the majority of us were referring to the MetaFilter part of Metafilter. Not AskMetafilter.

And it's MeFi. MeTa is the part of the site we're in right now. You might know this if you had a normal level of participation in the site.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 3:53 PM on March 7, 2007


I never noticed you over there. I don't click on every question over there but I do spend a lot of time on questions that I think I can be helpful with-which most assuredly won't be the techy ones. ;-)
posted by konolia at 3:54 PM on March 7, 2007


Oh, and Anil, don't take the tarring and feathering seriously. It happens all the time. (Which you would KNOW if you'd been around here, but I think the dead horse has been sufficiently beaten by now.)
posted by konolia at 3:57 PM on March 7, 2007


CitrusFreak12, anildash referred to MeTa-haunters as the obsessives who frequent MeFi but haunt MeTa. Whether he's a recognizable member of the community anymore or not, he used all the abbreviations correctly.
posted by cgc373 at 4:04 PM on March 7, 2007


Perhaps the entire thing would have been read differently had I simply said "[more inside]" or "[a rationale inside]"?

But would that have made these grown-ups (I'm assuming) with whom you communicate that judge the legitimacy of the AskMefi site and the answers therein by its colour any less stupid?

No, no it would not have changed that, whether it was in a [more inside], dissolved in a rather full bodied glass of beaujolais or stuffed lengthways into a dead duck's entrails.
posted by peacay at 4:05 PM on March 7, 2007


CitrusFreak, Anil knows what he's talking about.

konolia, I don't think the fact that tarring-and-featherings are a regular occurrence really makes them OK. He made a perfectly reasonable, albeit controversial, suggestion.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 4:05 PM on March 7, 2007


To the "He doesn't know the secret password, he can't be our friend" folks— Anil's been a regular on AskMe enough for me to notice him (arguably because he's posted answers to some of my questions). So you might want to take another tack.
posted by klangklangston at 4:07 PM on March 7, 2007


Doesn't that make it pretty clear that I'm advocating for a point of view, like every person that requests a feature?

At 371 comments and counting, my guess would be "obviously not."

"... like every person that requests a feature"

Like fandango already said, you decreed. You didn't ask, you didn't suggest. Other people ask things. Like this post or this one.
You'll notice the key difference between those posts and yours are their tone and that your post has a pronounced lack of questionmarks. You didn't ask anything, you didn't request anything.

Just thought you should realize this.

cgc373: I can't seem to find him making any such distinction in his prior posts, but if I was mistaken, my apologies.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:08 PM on March 7, 2007


/edit: Someone just explained my mistake to me. Sorry about that!

Anyway. I see now that Anil most likely meant no harm, and it was just an error in communication. Anil phrased his suggestion all wrong and it gave off all the wrong signals and pissed a lot of people off. Ok. Hopefully Anil learned/will learn what he did wrong, and if he has any suggestions to improve the site in the future, he'll be able to go about it and have his opinion heard without accidentally angering the masses. And that will be good for everyone. Hooray!

Here's to a future with fewer faux pas.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:27 PM on March 7, 2007


"Does that mean none of those other thousands of people have become part of the community either?"

Yes. They're not really part of the community. If you'd been a part of the community here, you'd be aware that from the beginning of AskMe's burgeoning success, there have been concerns that the nature of AskMe—both that inherently it will draw people with limited interest in MeFi as a whole and that it was developing its own distinct community that avoided the rest of the site (many who don't like the rest of the site)—would be non-communal to MeFi as a whole.

I want to be clear here: I'm not saying that those who participate heavily in AskMe are not active members of a the MeFi community. They are, if perhaps only marginally assuming they don't participate elsewhere. But answering a question a week? That's not being a member of a community, it's just occasional participation. There's a difference. The difference has everything to do with all the various kinds of social and metafunctional activities that active communities engage in. A mere participant in activities that the community organizes is not a member of the community. He is a participant.

Heavier participants in AskMe end up inevitably socializing within the context of AskMe and thus form a rudimentary community among themselves, even if they don't participate elsewhere on MeFi. As implied above, I'm very ambivalent about that. But you don't even participate that much.

So. Coming over here to MeTa and making a suggestion is trying to be a part of the community, right? Well, yes. Yes it is. But that's not how you did it. What you did was make a suggestion authoritatively. And not in just one sense, but two. First, you implicitly asserted an authority in the form of assuming a mantle of senior member of the community when you made your suggestion in very bold terms. That this was implicit was demonstrated when later in the thread you made the explicit claim to seniority. That's how you think of yourself and, while it once may have been true, it no longer is. That you don't realize this demonstrates that you don't realize the difference between earned membership (and seniority) and having a low user number.

Secondly, you assumed the mantle of authority throughout by way of being some sort of design authority. That authority, if it actually exists (which is debatable) is nevertheless external to MeFi and external to the community. Asserting that authority by way of making suggestions to the group is inherently hostile unless one is securely and actively a member of the group, and even then it's going to draw criticism. But you did this completely without caution.

All this demonstrates, your actions demonstrate, that you're not a member of the community. If you were, you'd have known better. Furthermore, I'm certain that there are people who, like you, answer one or two questions a week who, nevertheless, lurk the rest of MeFi and would have known better and are, though lurkers, much closer to being members of this community than you are.

It's true that MeFi can be a hostile place. There's a lot of toxicity and that's why I'm not around much. And it's certainly true that this is a problem with the whole web. The thing is, though, that what has happened in this thread isn't really an example of this. What happened in this thread happened because you stepped on toes. That's going to annoy people anywhere: on MeFi, on the web, anywhere. More to the point of your grievance, your reactions later in the thread validated every suspicion people had when you stepped on their toes and they didn't react generously. You gave the impression that your social gaffe was the result of arrogant indifference, not an innocent mistake. And then you demonstrated that this impression was accurate. If not for the latter, you might have seen, as the thread evolved, a much more sympathetic response. But then, that's a counterfactual. You acted the way you did because you think about all this the way you think. Only in the future can you become less arrogant here and become a part of the community again. But that ain't the case now and it wasn't when you posted.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:29 PM on March 7, 2007 [7 favorites]


Lord we take ourselves seriously here. How dare you insult the holy quonsar! And the color green! We don't want new users! What are we, some sort of inbred stone-age clan that lives in the hills and goes nuts when an outsider approaches bearing new web design concepts? Don't answer that.

The vitriol in this thread is insanely out of proportion to anything that Anil said. (What? He pointed out his user number? How often do people do that?) It's embarrassing to see normally level-headed members of the community go nuts because of some perceived slight imagined because the guy suggested a color change.
posted by Mid at 5:10 PM on March 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


I said "should" in the category feature requests. Doesn't that make it pretty clear that I'm advocating for a point of view, like every person that requests a feature?

That's a completely rational analysis, but that'll do you no good: your presentation was completely tone-deaf, and Metatalk is, and has long been, extremely tone-sensitive. For good or ill, statements about how the site is or is not run or moderated or tweaked or etc. tend to be viewed with a great deal of scrutiny and skepticism. Anything with a presumptuous tone causes tremendous friction.

So you were making a feature request, and your being taken aback by the vociferousness of the response is understandable in that sense. On the other hand, the response captures in part just how blundering your presentation was on a part of the site where presentation matters. It's a rough crowd that way.

And the comparison to the thousands of casual answers on AskMetafilter isn't fair or transparent here—you yourself note the weird persona vs. person baggage that comes from you being "anildash, A-list oldschooler" in the minds of some (not, as you imply, all or nearly so) of the folks responding negatively to your suggestion or its presentation.

Some unknown user wandering in here to belch out a poorly-presented request would get tarred, as would a heavy user; either, presenting a reasonable suggestion well, would get a different thread. That folks who aren't as involved in the whole community process are more likely to blunder in their presentation shouldn't be a contentious proposition; I think metatalk regulars can be way too trigger-happy, for what that's worth; and you just have the unusual circumstance of being both an identifiable (and self-identifying) long-time member and an out-of-touch wallflower as far as mefi/metatalk politics and policy arguments go. That may be damned frustrating for you, but it wouldn't surprise you if you had been paying attention to the very things people are more or less blasting you for not.

Kind of a bitch, I know.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:11 PM on March 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'd quibble about anildash needing to be "less arrogant" to be a member of this community, EB. He's gotta be around a lot more than he has been, yes, but humility doesn't jibe with my sense of membership in MeTa/MeFi/AskMe and the rest.
posted by cgc373 at 5:16 PM on March 7, 2007


Yes. They're not really part of the community.

Buh. So being a part of the community is for those people who post so often they get recognized, shoutouts at meetups, etc.?

Well, practically speaking, that's probably how it works, with so many users now. But I wouldn't make such a value statement out of it... "Only in the future can you become less arrogant here and become a part of the community again"? I dunno, man.
posted by furiousthought at 5:19 PM on March 7, 2007


this isn't a community, it's a pool of sharks
posted by pyramid termite at 5:24 PM on March 7, 2007


It's both of those things, at least, pyramid termite. At least.
posted by cgc373 at 5:26 PM on March 7, 2007


"It's embarrassing to see normally level-headed members of the community go nuts because of some perceived slight imagined because the guy suggested a color change."

I've been my usual verbose self and thus am hesitant to respond to this...but I think your statement hits right at the point of disagreement and is most essentially wrong.

First, as I try to argue above, I don't think the slight was imagined. I think it was real. So do many other people. And it should be noted that there's a pretty much airtight argument to be made that if offense is taken, it was given. Even if unintentional. (And directly to the point: the excuse of unintentional offense is really believable when it is coupled with unfamiliarity with what is customary. Such a claim in this case is incompatible with the claim of membership in the community.)

Second, it's a big mistake to claim that suggesting a color change is a minor thing. It's not. From every relevant perspective, it's not. From the inside, the fact that we refer to the parts of the site by their coloring demonstrates how integral the coloring is to the identity of the parts, and the whole. From the outside, anildash's argument relies upon the idea that the color is important. He's being inconsistent when, in his blog, he argues that his suggestion was about something minor and relatively trivial. If it was trivial, he wouldn't have made the suggestion. He argues in his suggestion that it's important. Most of the people arguing against him think it's important.

And thus, not unlike the matter of offense, this thread demonstrates that the matter of coloring is important. Maybe it shouldn't be. Maybe it isn't to some portion of the community. Maybe it isn't to many non-members. Maybe anildash is wrong and it's not important to most non-members. But it's obviously important to a large portion of the most active members of the MeFi community, those who participated in this thread. At any rate, I'd argue that it is intrinsically important because it is distinct from most of the rest of the web and it is an important part of MeFi's "branding". Maybe changing this isn't as big of a deal as changing the naming of parts of the site, but it's not that unlike something of that magnitude, either.

On Preview:

"I'd quibble about anildash needing to be 'less arrogant' to be a member of this community, EB."

Yeah, I should have been more clear. I meant "less arrogant in this respect". Many of us here are generally arrogant, certainly not the least (and certainly among the most), myself.

...and

"Well, practically speaking, that's probably how it works, with so many users now. But I wouldn't make such a value statement out of it... 'Only in the future can you become less arrogant here and become a part of the community again'? I dunno, man."

I didn't mean to make it such a "value statement". More just a statement of fact in the context of being a part of the community in the sense of posting to MeTa, "The colors should be changed". A post like that, activity like that, requires a certain type or level of membership in a community.

In the sense that I claim that occasional contributers to AskMe aren't "members of the community", I don't intend that to be alienating. Their participation has value. Collectively, probably more value than that of the supposedly "full" members of the community. All that's another discussion and, when it has occurred here in the past, I've actually argued an extreme version of the, um, A-List's irrelevancy. So I certainly don't mean to validate exclusionary elitism and to be normative. I only meant to be descriptive.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:33 PM on March 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


a giant "top x percent" gif. hee hee.
posted by quonsar at 5:35 PM on March 7, 2007


posted by pyramid termite this isn't a community, it's a pool of sharks

I prefer to think of it as a snark tank.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:36 PM on March 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, that's a whole other kettle of vicious, fandango_matt.
posted by cgc373 at 6:15 PM on March 7, 2007


390 comments? Wicked troll, dude.
posted by breezeway at 8:13 PM on March 7, 2007


That you agree with his proposal doesn't make it any less so.

I love how you instantly assume that because I agree with Anil on this point that I must be in the Anil Uber Alles camp. Nothing can be further from the truth, but please, don't let that stop you from using that broad brush of yours.

Yet it doesn't seem to bother you at all. Funny, that.

There are two different kinds of elitism going on here: User Number Elitism and The Chosen Ones Elitism. They're quite different. And I oppose both of them. Anil demonstrated User Number Elitism. But there's the other side:

We don't want such stupid people.

It's like the immigration debate -- everyone wants to be the last one in the door because everyone coming behind them is out to destroy the community.
posted by dw at 8:43 PM on March 7, 2007


srly?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:02 PM on March 7, 2007


390 comments? Wicked troll, dude

Or brill marketing; my visits to his site went up 200%!!!

"Never to twice" is an increase of 200%, right? God, if only I hadn't poo-pooed propositional calculus.

Or basic consumer math.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:08 PM on March 7, 2007


I love how you instantly assume that because I agree with Anil on this point that I must be in the Anil Uber Alles camp. Nothing can be further from the truth, but please, don't let that stop you from using that broad brush of yours.

That you agree disagree with his proposal doesn't make it any less so.

Better? Doesn't change my point at all. You're the one making this about sides. I don't give a damn about sides.
posted by justgary at 9:09 PM on March 7, 2007


So let me get this straight, you all are wigging out over a proposed color change to a web site.

...a color change to a web site?

This startling idea is the reason to engage in personal attacks in multiple directions?

It is _this_ kind of crap that does far more damage to Me* than anything else.

Likely the biggest benefit to Me* would be to banhammer every poster in this thread for a few weeks, as it seems to have surfaced the worst in the community.
posted by Argyle at 12:40 AM on March 8, 2007


If you think this is the worst of this community, then you haven't been paying attention.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:59 AM on March 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


You haven't got it straight, unfortunately. Anil didn't incur the Wrath of The Shitters From A Great Height because he suggested a colour change.

He incurred their wrath because of the way he went about it. I had some degree of empathy with Anil at the SHITCOKC!!1 treatment he got, but seeing the way he's gone looking for sympathy in two places so far that I'm aware of, that's been diminished a bit. Not that I feel much empathy with the pooflingers -- they ruin things orders of magnitude more egregiously than his tone-deaf suggestion of a colour change ever could have.

The response was out of proportion but not, in any way to anyone who actually spends any time here, surprising.

cortex's comment about tone was spot-on (as were those of some others).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:00 AM on March 8, 2007


(that was directed at Argyle, of course)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:00 AM on March 8, 2007


We'll never make 400.
posted by languagehat at 6:30 AM on March 8, 2007


Wait, I was wrong!
posted by languagehat at 6:30 AM on March 8, 2007


And stavros is a wise wonderchicken.
posted by languagehat at 6:31 AM on March 8, 2007


dw writes "everyone wants to be the last one in the door because everyone coming behind them is out to destroy the community."

That's not true, much of the membership was here prior to the member with the most favourited comment joining.

Argyle writes "So let me get this straight, you all are wigging out over a proposed color change to a web site."

Nope, the attitude with which the change was proposed and defended.
posted by Mitheral at 7:28 AM on March 8, 2007


For my part, I can't help but wonder whether this was a setup. A demonstration of brand loyalty? A bet? Everything about this post was designed to inflame, from the anonymous professionals to the user number absurdities to the 'propositional calculus.' Whenever there was an inoffensive stylistic choice available, anildash took the opposite path. No one, least of all a seasoned web professional (is that what he is? who IS this guy, exactly? something to do with livejournal?) would make these sorts of appeals to authority without recognizing their likely effects. So I'm betting there's another motive at work. We'll soon see whether it was fun, buzz-production, or something more subtle.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:13 AM on March 8, 2007


Likely the biggest benefit to Me* would be to banhammer every poster in this thread for a few weeks, as it seems to have surfaced the worst in the community.

You know, there's something to that. There's over 400 comments in here, but there's probably only about 50 or 60 unique posters. There are what, nearly 50k members here now? Of those, probably 10k visit every month (in my based-on-nothing-but-hunch mind). Sure, there was a vociferous reaction here, but it's still nothing like 'consensus'.

My wayyyyyy earlier point was primarily to say that we've come to expect and reward churlish behavior here in a way that is really counterproductive. A few loudmouths with some toadies can generate the perception that the whole damn board believes a certain thing, or that acting like that is your way to get popular here. Going after someone who's well known and respected elsewhere gets more points from these same people (just to make it clear, I didn't like the suggestion; my point is not to defend it. Hell, I agree that Anil came off pretty poorly in some of his responses, too. But that hardly excuses the reactions.).

I think it would be kind of cool to periodically make the loudest of the mouths just disappear from time to time. Take the top-ten poster list every month and lose their registrations for the next month, maybe. Sure, that won't happen, but it's at least nice to dream about a community where people disagree in a bit more collegial manner.
posted by norm at 9:42 AM on March 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


There are what, nearly 50k members here now?

you know NOZZINK!
posted by quonsar at 10:02 AM on March 8, 2007


I'm late to this thread, and EtherealBligh has said most of what i think needs saying except one thing, which I don't intend as an ad hominem against Anil, but as genunine analysis:

Anil's presented himself to the threads as a web design/usability expert, by which I'm assuming he means he works for Sixapart. Although some snark has been made of this, no one's really seriously addressed the fact that Sixapart invented and then dropped the ball on what was once the best blogging software available (MoveableType), invented a Blogger clone (TypePad), and then reinvented the wheel, with clunky, hard-to-use software that does little to set itself apart from its competitors (Vox). It's perfectly legitimate for Anil to bring up his web experience, but Anil, if you're going to make hay of your web design/usability acumen, you might want to consider that the products your company makes are mediocre at best, and downright un-user-friendly.
In short, if you're pinning your argument's ethos on your work for Sixapart, I submit that it gives you less authority on the matter at hand, not more. You may have done better to buy a sockpuppet account to make your suggestion.

On a different note: I'm aware that usability as far as text reading goes calls for high contrast between background and text, and I'm also aware that the black-on-white text is not inherently more usable (e.g., people with asfedia have greater difficulty reading black-on-white).

I think MeFi is plenty usable, and as someone pointed out above, its debatable if even the small links to comments poses a usablity issue, and it may actually increase usability, since part of the function of design for a site like this should include acculturation, which, it could be argued, the current design does very well.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:33 AM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


The threshold here for ad hominem is pretty weak, especially when folks aren't attacking the argument for the arguer's assholery. They're attacking the arguer for being an asshole. Which isn't ad hominem, it's namecalling. Most of the people who were namecalling weren't so het up over the color idea, they were het up over Anil Dash's acting like an anile douche.
posted by breezeway at 1:40 PM on March 8, 2007


There are two different kinds of elitism going on here: User Number Elitism and The Chosen Ones Elitism. They're quite different.

Rumble.

When you're a User Number Elitist,
You're a User Number Elitist all the way
From your first cigarette
To your last dyin' day ...

Then you are set
With a capital U,
Which you'll never forget
Till they cart you away.
When you're a User Number Elitist,
You stay a User Number Elitist! ...

The User Number Elitists are in gear,
Our cylinders are clickin'!
The Chosen Ones Elitists'll steer clear
'Cause ev'ry five figure user's a lousy chicken!
posted by madamjujujive at 1:48 PM on March 8, 2007


Breezeway: classy.
posted by Mid at 2:34 PM on March 8, 2007


So I'm betting there's another motive at work.

Nope, I genuinely think AskMe as a site would benefit by improvements in its design, primarily among them the face it presents to newer members or first-time visitors who might have value to add to a thread that they found because of (for example) searching for a topic they're familiar with.

Anil's presented himself to the threads as a web design/usability expert

I'm by no means an expert in these areas, and would hope I've never presented myself as one. I was reflecting the honest experience of people I talked to, particularly after I wrote my post about how Matt and AskMe "beat" Google and Google Answers. I got the chance to talk to dozens of people who either hadn't visited the site, or hadn't spent much time there. Some were via email, some were at in-person events like the Northern Voice conference (an event full of bloggers) or similar conferences mostly around North America. I learned something that I thought was interesting, which was distinct from my own experience (because, as I've said, I *already* see the site as black&white, so that first impression hadn't even occurred to me) and figured I'd share what I learned with the community.

Unfortunately, I did so by making an assertion that I expected to earn some refutations. That's okay on other parts of this site, but apparently not here.

My phrasing of the feature request admittedly doesn't fit the phrasing most people use in MeTa. However, it's almost exactly how a great deal of AskMe questions are phrased. I mimicked the linguistic habits of the part of the site I inhabit. After people went for personal attacks, I responded, mostly because I know the most egregious ones were from people who've given me shit on this site for years. I'm not unwilling to take personal history into account with my responses, and that must have made them seem particularly out of bounds for those who don't know the history.

I could go into the whole a-lister/Six Apart sucks part of the thread, but christ that idea makes me tired. Whatever the perception of some people on MeFi, Movable Type has (while admittedly not getting enough attention from us until lately) introduced new audiences to blogging in the past few years, notably big businesses and enterprises, and to call TypePad a "blogger clone" is like calling a power drill a "screwdriver clone". Yes, it does some of the same things, but can do a lot more and is a lot more powerful.

I don't want to go into all the points there, and we certainly have a lot of work to do to improve all of our products, but we compete on a global scale with Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and AOL, and we're merely leaps and bounds better than any of the blogging tools they offer. I am comfortable with the fact that we haven't chosen to make Six Apart remain "cool" with the old-skool MeFi crowd, but I find it fascinating there's still such a lack of perspective from some corners. Would you be happier if everyone were using Yahoo! 360 or something?

Whenever there was an inoffensive stylistic choice available, anildash took the opposite path.

Honestly, I think it was a reaction to people doing the same while objecting. None of the people who pushed back said, "you should have phrased this in the form of a question". The fact that the thread became, at points, a referendum on the design of my personal blog, or random potshots at the work that my coworkers do, shows that some people really want to go above and beyond to be unpleasant. I mean, I may well have been an asshole, but people on this thread didn't merely say "you're an asshole", they dragged other parts of my off-site identity into it. I haven't done that to anybody else I've replied to.

And stavros, I'm far from looking for sympathy. I'm a big boy and have handled myself in a lot more strenuous flame wars than this one. But the truth of the matter is, half a decade ago, I could have made the same suggestion even with the tone of voice of an arrogant asshole, and people might have said "if you want that suggestion to fly, you should ask it more nicely". Boys making vague intimations about how they want to fight me with a beer bottle? HURF DURF BOTTLE BREAKER -- it's idiotic and lame, and far more deserving of the wrath and contempt of any decent community than any transgression I've committed.

The current tiny crowd of people that do a lot of the shouting in MeTa aren't representative of the 50,000+ member community, especially given that people on parts of the site like AskMe are so willing to give the benefit of the doubt to people who post. Unless "We don't want such stupid people."
posted by anildash at 2:43 PM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


if you run across the community on the road, kill it
posted by pyramid termite at 3:21 PM on March 8, 2007


I don't want to go into all the points there, and we certainly have a lot of work to do to improve all of our products, but we compete on a global scale with Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and AOL, and we're merely leaps and bounds better than any of the blogging tools they offer. I am comfortable with the fact that we haven't chosen to make Six Apart remain "cool" with the old-skool MeFi crowd, but I find it fascinating there's still such a lack of perspective from some corners. Would you be happier if everyone were using Yahoo! 360 or something?

I don't think you get to choose who your competition is, though. I think that mindset represents the disconnect between the people managing Moveable Type and many, many bloggers I know who quit using it a few years ago out of frustration: your competition is WordPress, and right when MT dropped the ball on features, plugins, upgrades, and most importantly, spam control, WordPress matured and has continued to grow in all the right ways.
Now, I was a MT loyalist; I gladly paid for a licesnce when the licensing fiasco happened, and I didn't complain. When MT 3 debuted, WordPress wasn't ready. But when MT 3.2 debuted and I lost the ability to manage spam with the Blacklist plugin and my inbox became flooded with hundreds of spam comments on a daily basis and I was told by the MT tech support folks that it was my fault, I switched, and haven't looked back.
I did keep watching to see if there would be an improvement, but nothing happened, and then nothing and then nothing. Meanwhile, WordPress continues to mature and become more robust and flexible and usable.

And here's my point -- not trying to tire you but to point something out: it very well may be that Sixapart has become a competitor to the likes of AOL and Microsoft. But those companies make shitty software. If if turned out quonsar was Bill Gates and he came on MeTa with security advice, well, I doubt his suggestions would be welcome. (though if quonsar were Bill Gates, I'd have more respect for Bill Gates...)
So, sure, Sixapart is making money catering to corporate types, and if this were a discussion about how MeFi could sell more pancakes to corporate types, then your perspective would carry more weight. But this is (supposedly) a usability discussion, and I'm sorry, but speaking as a former fan of Sixapart and a person who used and loved MT for half a decade, Sixapart doesn't score very well in the usability department, and it doesn't have its finger on the pulse of non-corporate net users anymore.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:25 PM on March 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


MeTa's been like this for a long, long time, and AskMe answerers aren't just inclined to give the benefit of the doubt, they're required to, and because MeTa's always been a place for inappropriate spillover from MeFi and AskMe, namecalling has been a big part of it since 2001 at least.

For what it's worth, my namecalling a few comments ago was more about me enraptured with my own sophomoric cleverness than with what I think about anildash, and more about a demonstration of namecalling as opposed to ad hominem argument. I'm sorry, Anil, it was unnecessary and rude, and if I had reflected on what I was saying, I would have left out the insult. Rest assured, though, my comment only served to lower my own esteem.

As far as the phrasing of this post is concerned, it's more appropriate as a resolution for debate than an AskMe question. And before the debate is even joined, reasonable arguments are being dismissed out-of-hand.

The current synopsis presented by anildash is faulty in the same way most of his arguments are faulty: he's saying the MeFi sites should be more like other sites without recognizing that many or most MeFi users use MeFi because it's not like other sites. It's also as if he's thought up three possible counterarguments to his idea (or been presented with three that he found either most distasteful or easiest to counter) and wedged everyone who says "I like green" into them.

And when people say, "You're an elitist blah blah," he says he certainly never meant to come off that way, begging the question. And then says that a place he doesn't visit often (MeTa) should change back to a way it never was, or change to be a way it wasn't intended to be. "I don't want to go into all the points there," but there are a good dozen crazy, argumentative things he's doing here that are disingenuous and serve only to extend the argument and embitter his opposition. Like a really good troll.

I really am sorry for making fun of your username, anildash, but I'd love to know why you'd put up such a good troll here and stick with the trolling so long. It's crazy!
posted by breezeway at 3:33 PM on March 8, 2007


HURF DURF BOTTLE BREAKER -- it's idiotic and lame, and far more deserving of the wrath and contempt of any decent community than any transgression I've committed.

I couldn't agree more, Anil. You know, we've had words in the past -- a long, long time ago, and because I flew off the handle as I recall -- but I've made a conscious effort to try and leave that behind in the years since and be as friendly as possible when our virtual paths have crossed. I tried to take your suggestions seriously in this thread. I recognize as a relatively well-known figure in the weblogging world you were probably in for some target practice from the shouty brigade no matter how you suggested major changes here, but I still think you've gone about it pretty badly, during and after. C'est la vie.

Also, I really like Movable Type (bar the handling of spam comments), and I very much enjoy what you have to say at your own site, which I read regularly.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:48 PM on March 8, 2007


Also also, I've promoted a lower assholery tolerance for probation and bannination in the past, but I don't think Matt's ever going to go there. It is a decision -- assuming it is one, and assuming that my guesses about why he doesn't want to go there are correct -- that I respect.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:51 PM on March 8, 2007


After thinking about it a bit, I realised that part of the reason for my opinion on this is that I see AskMe as by Metafilter FOR Metafilter. In other words, I do not care what outsiders think about it, I only care about what the community thinks of it.

So I wonder what was in Matt's mind when he created it-did he do this for us, or did he do this with the whole Internets in mind-and if the latter, do the rest of us need to worry that he'll sell it all off to some soulless Yahoo clone and break all our collective hearts? (That is, for those of us who HAVE hearts. )
posted by konolia at 4:29 PM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


did he do this for us, or did he do this with the whole Internets in mind

It seems obvious to me the Matt's motivation for AskMe since its inception has been to create a public resource. That's why the editing has always been stricter than the blue or grey.

AskMe's design is basically a quick edit of a weblog design Matt did eight years ago. I agree with Anil (and with Matt) that it could be improved.

And, while I think Anil might have sold his idea better, I'm appalled at the vitriol he received here.
posted by timeistight at 4:52 PM on March 8, 2007


So I wonder what was in Matt's mind when he created it

It had been suggested many times. Someone took matters into their own hands -- I can't remember who -- made an offsite Ask Metafilter thingy, and when Matt saw it he went 'hey, wait a minute! I'll do it! I'll do it!' and quickly threw together the Green and bango-bingo, we were off to the races.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:53 PM on March 8, 2007


However, it's almost exactly how a great deal of AskMe questions are phrased.

Dear AskMe: I told all of my friends that they should change they way they dress so that they would be more popular. Now some of them are shouting and screming at me, and I don't understand why they are offended. I was asking a question, right? Just making a suggestion, right? I didn't just bluntly tell them, "You should change the way you dress." Right?

Oops, I did. Maybe. I don't know. I'm confused. Dear Alex Trebek and all my idols, my post was not in the form of a question.

Can I have a do-over? Is this just a spat, or a is a major-breakup in the offing? Or will it just peter-out when all my friends get tired and move on to snark about something else?
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:05 PM on March 8, 2007


The green should be a slightly lighter shade of green. Less pea soup, more pastel. There, I said it.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:40 PM on March 8, 2007


Guy gets hired by Movable Type, thinks he knows everything.
posted by jayder at 8:03 PM on March 8, 2007


"...but we compete on a global scale with Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and AOL..."

Please. You have two foreign offices. You have a couple hundred employees. What are your revenues? Who knows? But certainly not competing on a "global scale" with MS, Yahoo, Google, and AOL. CMS, where your ambitions have been trounced, is a many-billion market. Blogging software is not. Put down the kool-aid.

Finally, MetaFilter isn't a wannabe anything. It is what it is, and it's among the creme de' le creme of what it is. It's not a little fish wishing it were swimming with the whales. It's a big fish in a small pond and it's great at what it's doing. It's a success by every metric. Including, um, the bottom line and no debt and no one to answer to except its users.

Matt doesn't need your advice.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:40 PM on March 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Not incidentally, anildash's comment by itself didn't deserve my previous comment in response. But he just keeps doing it. He says that he'd not intended to imply he's senior to the rest of us, and then he keeps mentioning the old days. He says that he'd not intended to imply he's got special expertise that lends him authority on this topic, and then he feels the need to again bolster his professional credentials. (To be fair, he was defending.)

Furthermore, eustacescrubb's comment about her MT experience is relevant because I think that in addition to anildash's throwing around of his weight as a web elder, there's in this thread revealed that SA has alienated people that before would very likely have defended anildash simply because they loved MT. Now, his appeal to his SA connection gets him nothing. Which, I suggest, also says something about just how much his asserting that connection should be seen as bolstering his argument.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:53 PM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


"they dragged other parts of my off-site identity into it. I haven't done that to anybody else I've replied to."

That's not exactly true, now is it?

You may be a great coder and web-thinker, but you're a shitty internet arguer. You should thank your stars for that and get out before the zombies eat your brains.
posted by klangklangston at 9:31 PM on March 8, 2007


even zombies have some standards
posted by keswick at 9:41 PM on March 8, 2007


But certainly not competing on a "global scale" with MS, Yahoo, Google, and AOL. CMS, where your ambitions have been trounced, is a many-billion market. Blogging software is not. Put down the kool-aid.

Yeah, I was imprecise here -- I meant competing in *blogging*, and only in that. We have more bloggers on our platforms than Yahoo and AOL combined, and I'm sure we're making more revenue on blogging than Google, considering they're probably making negative some large sum. I'm sure MS is doing a lot better than us.

Do we compete with WordPress? I don't think so, and I bet you Toni and Matt would agree. I have no doubt we've not focused our attentions on the old-school bloggers (though I think we'll be remedying that this year, but I'd rather show than tell) but if I have to lay out the blogging market, I'd say it's real blogging companies (6A, Automattic) vs. people who don't give a shit about the medium, like, say Windows Live MSN Spaces. (What I mean is, I think that team has a nice product, and is talented, but if they became even moderately inconvenient for a moment to the Vista team, it wouldn't be Windows that got shut down.)

I don't think we have any interest of playing in the general CMS market. But in enterprise blogging? Sure. And there's nothing that even comes close to us there, uncool as it may be to 1. point it out and yes, 2. be proud of it. But I am.

That some people choose to see the future of blogging as a battle between two little companies with a lot in common, instead of as one between two little companies and a whole bunch of giant companies with no vision or passion is unfortunate, but I'm hoping it can be fixed.

I'm absolutely willing to defend the work that my friends and coworkers do. I don't much care to defend my own personal skills in any regard -- the talents I have really don't have anything to do with the particulars of any of the conversations in this thread. Except maybe that I've ironically pissed so many people off who would probably like me if they saw me speaking in public. :)
posted by anildash at 11:16 PM on March 8, 2007


That's not exactly true, now is it?

Your profile indicates you're a student, from your email address. I honestly wasn't intending to offend you by pointing out your idealism and linking it to your stage of life -- someday when you are old and crotchety like me, you will probably appreciate it for the affectionate, nostalgic bit of humor I was shooting for. Until then, seriously, I apologize.

But perhaps a more appropriate analogy would be if someone pointed out the grade you'd gotten in (let's say) a group project in a high school art class and used that to show that your comments aren't relevant in the thread at hand. It was years ago, there were a lot of other people involved, it's not the core basis of either your argument here or your credentials today, and the only reason someone would bring it up would really be to be petty. That's more of what I was objecting to -- feel free to go after me, don't insult the work of people who happen to sit near me.
posted by anildash at 11:23 PM on March 8, 2007


No, really. Not closed yet?
posted by lilithim at 11:23 PM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I realised that part of the reason for my opinion on this is that I see AskMe as by Metafilter FOR Metafilter. In other words, I do not care what outsiders think about it, I only care about what the community thinks of it.

Sorry, meant to reply to this in the last one, but I think this is a key part of the disconnect. AskMe is demonstrably not only for MeFi members whose participation or membership predates or precludes AskMe's existence -- lots of people have signed up (and paid!) just to use the new site. It has a lot of distinct users (people who only read AskMe, and not Jobs or MeTa or whatever) and that might be part of the tension here.

Someone who only uses AskMe and doesn't use/care about the rest of the site isn't an outsider, to my understanding. Or at least to an ideal. Even if they just joined yesterday, if they're serious about asking good questions and giving good answers, how could they be outsiders? Now that AskMe has more readers and writers than the rest of the site, isn't that a sign that primarily-AskMe members are just as "real" as everybody else?
posted by anildash at 11:30 PM on March 8, 2007


The answers to those questions and more lie in the Metatalk archives. There has been a lot of talk about stuff like that, you're probably aware.

To save you time, I think you'll find that (as much as consensus ever appears here, which is not so much) the consensus tends to be that people who do not participate in any way in 'the rest of the site' are (I'll avoid 'outsiders' because that's a loaded word, and doesn't make sense here except as a strawman) in some sense not fully of the community. If they answer more than they ask, that's pretty much A-OK with most folks, though. If the opposite is true, well, sometimes Bad Things Happen.

It has always been the case that people cannot understand the norms of the community unless they spend some time lurking, reading, observing, getting a feel for things. If someone were to never read anything but Ask, that would most certainly be a bad thing for the site. They wouldn't get the place as a whole, quite possibly. Evidence has been that many new users are doing just that, though, and so there has been a feeling that, jessamyn's best efforts notwithstanding, the quality (praised far and wide though it is) has been slipping.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:43 PM on March 8, 2007


stavrosthewonderchicken writes "If someone were to never read anything but Ask, that would most certainly be a bad thing for the site. They wouldn't get the place as a whole, quite possibly. Evidence has been that many new users are doing just that, though, and so there has been a feeling that, jessamyn's best efforts notwithstanding, the quality (praised far and wide though it is) has been slipping."

I don't understand the logic that says that just because someone only participates in Ask, it is somehow bad for the site (the site as a whole? or just Ask? or are we talking about the stavros 'ideal'?). What do you mean?

If people provide answers in the customary manner that aren't noise and are generally helpful and have useful questions then they are contributing to the quality of the site. Just because they aren't in here snarking in every other thread like the relatively small multitude of us that regularly inhabit the grey, or aren't seen in the blue much if at all (a place that I think you've said stav that you rarely visit or read, or words to that effect), there's no logical extension to suggest that their participation in this sprawling phenomenon called Metafilter should be somehow devalued or judged otherwise as a negative influence.

I can agree that perhaps they aren't really 'community members' and probably wouldn't go to a meetup or the like but let's face it, the vast majority of the membership are quiet or not here or lurk and wouldn't be described as members of the community either, whether or not they'd read every thread in existence on all the sites.

If they behave like fuckwits, that's another thing altogether and they deserve castigation and organ probing with blunt large bore equipment. Same as for everyone.

And I must have missed discussion threads about the alleged sad decline in the quality of Ask due to blinkered Askophilic individuals lowering standards. Got links? You may be right - I am in there only haphazardly so I'm not going to argue it, but it's not something I'm about to agree with quickly on a single opinion. What be this 'evidence'?
posted by peacay at 12:57 AM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


How has AskMe quality been slipping? It seems top notch to me in the questions I read and answer.
posted by By The Grace of God at 12:59 AM on March 9, 2007


I don't understand the logic that says that just because someone only participates in Ask, it is somehow bad for the site (the site as a whole? or just Ask? or are we talking about the stavros 'ideal'?). What do you mean?

How was I unclear, peacay? I said that if people do not lurk a bit, do not check out any of the rest of the site -- even if it's only the FAQ -- then they do not know what the standards of behaviour are, and may transgress rules or unwritten standards like no shilling or self-linking, or be less than clear on what constitutes a 'good AskMe question'. Then people get angry, people get defensive, the torches and pitchforks come out, and nobody wins, other than maybe languagehat if there's a flameout. If you don't get that, that's OK, but I think it's completely uncontroversial. A tenet, in fact, of the community and the way it absorbs new users since almost forever.

How has AskMe quality been slipping?

You haven't noticed a whole lot more quipping and non-helpful discussion in AskMe threads, to choose an example? You haven't seen the multitude of MeTa threads about trying to slow things down, and the controversy about one a month posting in Ask? Perhaps it's just me then -- I thought it was also uncontroversial that it's scaling fairly well, but certainly not optimally, and that most of the success in scaling has been thanks to hawklike moderation.

Again, I thought it uncontroversial. If you disagree, fine, the last thing I want to bother with is arguing about it. I'm not too deeply invested in my conclusions -- I was merely attempting to help Anil out a bit with things I thought were not a matter of contention.

Stupid me, of course -- this is Metatalk, where everything is a matter of contention!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:41 AM on March 9, 2007


A tenet, in fact, of the community and the way it absorbs new users since almost forever.

Let me be more clear -- Matt is rightly proud of the fact that the community can operate with almost no 'rules' whatsoever, that people are trusted to be adults, show some restraint, self-police, etc. That's why Metatalk exists.

But the flipside of that is that new users must make some effort to get a handle on community standards (in the absence of a list of rules), and that makes integration of new users a bumpy process sometimes, because we operate differently than many other similar BBS-ey sites around the net as far as that goes.

This is one of the reasons that Metafilter has the reputation as the snarky, unfriendly place that it does -- it's an artifact of one of the fundamental community ideas that Matt has stuck by since day one (with a very few small rule-from-above exceptions like taking away image tags), and that gives MeFi the dynamic it has.

The fact that rules differ from Ask to Meta to MeFi make the quandary of the new user even fuzzier, and so all the more reason for people to take the time to participate and lurk and observe everywhere.

OK, enough, I hope. It's Friday night, damn it!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:48 AM on March 9, 2007


Fucksticks. By 'rules differ' there, I mean 'the prime directive (if there is one) and the loose cloud of accepted standards that a few fucking wackjobs hate with a hobbyhorse passion but most people think are reasonable differ'.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:58 AM on March 9, 2007


Furthermore, eustacescrubb's comment about her MT experience

I always wondered what would it would feel like to another user if I mistook their gender... now I know. Being mistaken for a woman oin the net is kind of flattering, actually.

Do we compete with WordPress? I don't think so, and I bet you Toni and Matt would agree. I have no doubt we've not focused our attentions on the old-school bloggers (though I think we'll be remedying that this year, but I'd rather show than tell) but if I have to lay out the blogging market, I'd say it's real blogging companies (6A, Automattic) vs. people who don't give a shit about the medium, like, say Windows Live MSN Spaces. (What I mean is, I think that team has a nice product, and is talented, but if they became even moderately inconvenient for a moment to the Vista team, it wouldn't be Windows that got shut down.)

All of this proves my point. You misunderstod my analysis as a critcism of Sixapart per se, when all I was doing is pointing out that in terms of your authoirty to speak on matters of usability, your credibilty is lessened by the fact that the products your company makes are mediocre. That you're able to make money off marketing said products to big companies is neither here nor there, because the standard for usable, well-written software isn't popularity or sales. The corporation that makes some of the shittiest software on the planet is also the biggest by far.
The very fact that you're discussing your market as evidence at all deomstrates that you don't understand what usability is about. That was clear when you first posted. It's also why you don't understand why people are so frsutrated with your reasoning.


I don't think we have any interest of playing in the general CMS market. But in enterprise blogging? Sure. And there's nothing that even comes close to us there, uncool as it may be to 1. point it out and yes, 2. be proud of it. But I am.

be proud of it. You get to make money off doing something that you enjoy. But my point wasn't to dog Sixapart, it was to point out that your experience with Sixapart does not qualify you as an authority on usability issues or on effective design, and in fact, may disqualify you from same.

That some people choose to see the future of blogging

See, I'm thinking there is a big communication gap. No one cares about "the future of blogging," especially not here.

It's very like if I posted to a discussion forum on robot-building and my critcism was "Your robots would be more popular and easy to use if you gave them strings and volume knobs and amplifiers. Right now it's really hard to play power chords with them."
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:08 AM on March 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


No one cares about "the future of blogging," especially not here.

Dude, are you drunk or dim or what? Do you have no clue whatsoever about Metafilter History?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:34 AM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I honestly wasn't intending to offend you

no, it's just a side benefit of being allowed in the presence of the mighty anildash, right?

(will you just quit? ... please? ... you're embarrassing us)
posted by pyramid termite at 4:40 AM on March 9, 2007


AskMe is demonstrably not only for MeFi members whose participation or membership predates or precludes AskMe's existence -- lots of people have signed up (and paid!) just to use the new site.

Yes, and those people have signed up (and paid!) with AskMe exactly the way it is now, without benefit of those amazing changes you think it needs.

What was your point again?
posted by languagehat at 5:44 AM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dude, are you drunk or dim or what? Do you have no clue whatsoever about Metafilter History?

No, no, and hard to say. Is there an official Metafilter History I'm supposed to read?

I didn't say no one cares about blogging, I said "no one cares about The Future Of Blogging™. It's a dumb conference topic, and, yes, the subject of one-link FPPs, but do I see anyone actually caring about it?

Almost as much as I see people here caring about Web 2.0™.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:32 AM on March 9, 2007


"I honestly wasn't intending to offend you by pointing out your idealism and linking it to your stage of life -- someday when you are old and crotchety like me, you will probably appreciate it for the affectionate, nostalgic bit of humor I was shooting for. Until then, seriously, I apologize."

Yeah, except that I'm 27, only four years younger than you. Which is why it seemed tone-deaf, frankly. I've grown accustomed to being treated like an adult, not as one of those kids with stars in their eyes. I don't mean to keep raking you over the coals for it, but it does sort of reinforce the idea that you're just some random jerk trying to be overly-chummy with people you don't know very well, which seems to be the source of much of the rancor you're experiencing.
posted by klangklangston at 6:48 AM on March 9, 2007


Wheeee! I'm late to the party...

Hoora for peacay's comment.

Oh, btw, white web page backgrounds waste energy anyway.

I work with "professionals" and I like the idea that they some of them are so shallow and facile that they wouldn't take advantage of a truly useful resource because it didn't look like something a "professional" would use. Thanks for confirming my on-going negative stereotypes about "professionals".
posted by smallerdemon at 7:14 AM on March 9, 2007


MetaFilter History 101 will be offered fall and spring semesters for 3 units.
posted by keswick at 8:07 AM on March 9, 2007


Of alcohol?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:00 AM on March 9, 2007


Yeah, except that I'm 27, only four years younger than you.

i'm old enough to be father to you both and GET OFF MY DAMN LAWN!!

speaking as a semi-old and semi-crotchety person, he's full of shit with his "stages of life", especially as it relates to idealism
posted by pyramid termite at 10:57 AM on March 9, 2007


<parent voice>
Don't make me revise my stereotypes, pyramid termite.
</parent voice>
posted by cgc373 at 12:11 PM on March 9, 2007


"I have no doubt we've not focused our attentions on the old-school bloggers (though I think we'll be remedying that this year, but I'd rather show than tell)"

A-Ha! At last, the actual reason for this thread. We've been Pepsi Blue'd!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:28 PM on March 9, 2007


Nah. Pepsi White'd.
posted by Mitheral at 7:43 PM on March 9, 2007


Ask MetaFilter should...
TL;DR
posted by lostburner at 8:00 PM on March 9, 2007


Sorry to challenge and run off stavros. I hear what you say. I guess I just disagree with the assertion that the place suffers from Askcentric newbies not reading the rest of the site. Some of the most disruptive and annoying behaviour comes from seasoned Mefi campaigners. People can be dimwits or bastards irrespective of the level of their Mefoteric knowledge. If they stay in Ask, their inherent site ignorance doesn't necessarily show.

{This is not to say that I disagree with the premise that it's better that people become aware and read the FAQ and around the site; nor that there isn't a level of disruption from time to time caused by casual transgressions from ignonance. I just don't agree with asserting this as an inevitability. But it's no biggy.}

So yeah, everything is contentious.
posted by peacay at 8:04 PM on March 9, 2007


Who would have imagined that a thread about changing a background color would spawn at least 450 comments? I guess I should have.
posted by grouse at 6:30 AM on March 10, 2007


Mefoteric

peacay, you magnificent bastard. That's a perfect single-serving neologism—so well-constructed as to demand use, but so self-consciously twee/clever that it should be retired immediately in the name of good taste.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:45 AM on March 10, 2007


"Mefoteric" only works if you're one of those heathens who pronounces MeFi "meffy," which you are, cortex. Otherwise, if you are an ordinary, decent regular MeFite, like, oh, say mathowie, it just sounds like a mess o' terrible. Down with MEH!
posted by cgc373 at 8:05 AM on March 10, 2007


Wait, unless esoteric has long-E pronouncers who defend their way, too . . . oh, my. It's another devil's bargain with the populace! Whatever shall I do?
posted by cgc373 at 8:07 AM on March 10, 2007


Wait, unless esoteric has long-E pronouncers who defend their way, too . . . oh, my. It's another devil's bargain with the populace! Whatever shall I do?

And! If you were to encounter one of those long-E-ers, you would no doubt recoil in horror at their butchery of the sound of the word. "EEE-so-ter-ic? Are you MAD?"

By analogy, then, "MEH-fie" is correct. Vindicated: suck it, haters!
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:13 AM on March 10, 2007


"MAD?" This is SPARTA!
posted by cgc373 at 8:25 AM on March 10, 2007


then if this is SPARTA! the colors HAVE to be green AND white

question settled ... that is ALL
posted by pyramid termite at 9:35 AM on March 10, 2007


Ah, MSU humor.
posted by klangklangston at 1:57 PM on March 10, 2007


I just heard Khoi Vinh speaking on grid-based design. I thought of y'all.
posted by dw at 2:19 PM on March 10, 2007


I've always thought it was mef-eye because it's a short e in the actual name and because "ee" at the end is just too damn cute and puerile.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:59 PM on March 10, 2007


Ya'll still don't get it, do you? It's pronounced "Mee" because it's all about Me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:24 PM on March 10, 2007


if you're one of those heathens who pronounces MeFi "meffy"

Man, I first heard that on the podcast and it made me want to die. I feel like I should have just redirected all the wrath on THOSE people.
posted by anildash at 10:36 PM on March 10, 2007


Can we clarify some phonetics here? When you people spell "meffy", do you mean "MEH-fee"? Does anyone pronounce it that way?

Or is "meffy" some (to me, horribly flawed) attempt to render "MEH-fie"?

I need to understand this, because it vexes me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:54 AM on March 11, 2007


rhymes with leafy.
posted by cillit bang at 6:50 AM on March 11, 2007


When you people spell "meffy", do you mean "MEH-fee"?

Yes.

Does anyone pronounce it that way?

Yes.

*places hand on holster*

You got a problem with that, podner?

We'll never make 500.
posted by languagehat at 7:02 AM on March 11, 2007


hifi
wifi
mefi
posted by quonsar at 7:30 AM on March 11, 2007


It pleases me to see that this thread is still a going concern, and I'm proud to push it onward and, dare I say, upward.
posted by Kwine at 7:36 AM on March 11, 2007


cortex, meffy is indeed shorthand for MEH-fee, as "skiffy" is dismissive shorthand for sci-fi.
posted by cgc373 at 8:39 AM on March 11, 2007


Waitaminnit "MEH-fee"? I can see the argument that the E is short because it's that way in MetaFilter, but how do you get "fee"? Do you say MetaFeelter through your handlebar moustache, or what?

"skiffy"? That's "shorthand for sci-fi"? I thought shorthand was supposed to be shorter than the original.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:18 AM on March 11, 2007


Okay, shorthand's the wrong word, Kirth Gerson. "Skiffy" is a pronunciation dismissal, a way to indicate how trivial such sf is compared to the Pure Hard Stuff.
posted by cgc373 at 10:01 AM on March 11, 2007


It's not even that, so much as a lighthearted way to distinguish between entertaining stories like Star Wars used to be before the prequels ruined it, and stories that are supposed to depend on a more rigorous understanding of science, like Larry Niven's "Inconstant Moon."
posted by cgc373 at 10:14 AM on March 11, 2007


I think it's marvelous that we, as a community, can visit, revisit, and re-revisit a debate, with all the wonder of Alzheimer's patients.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:28 AM on March 11, 2007


they say goldfish have no memory
i guess their lives are much like mine
the little plastic castle
is a surprise every time
it's hard to say if they are happy
but they don't seem much to mind
.
posted by cgc373 at 10:40 AM on March 11, 2007


Welcome to the Hotel MetaFilter...

By golly, I'm beginning to think we can make 500!
posted by languagehat at 11:29 AM on March 11, 2007


If you pronounce "MeFi" as "MEH-fee", how do you pronounce "Mefite"? "MEH-fee-Tay"?
posted by 23skidoo at 11:55 AM on March 11, 2007


Even if we miss 500, we can boost the favorite count on that "Hotel MetaFilter" parody. Thanks, languagehat!
posted by cgc373 at 12:37 PM on March 11, 2007


"MeFite" rhymes with "effete."
posted by breezeway at 1:21 PM on March 11, 2007


I don't think abbreviations and acroynms always keep the phonics of their source words/phrases. I personally pronounce "MeFi" as "mee - figh", but pronounce "MeTa" "meh-tah" (beause it makes a word, and that word means what MetaTalk means, and it's a pun) and AskMe is pronounced "ask me".

This is common in acronyms and name-shortening -- for instance, the North Amaerican Free Trade Agreement's acronym isn't pronounced "nuhf-tah", it's pronounced "nahf-tah".
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:45 PM on March 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


eustace, as always, is correct.
posted by anildash at 9:47 PM on March 11, 2007


I didn't get mefoteric until it was pointed out that it's 'meh-'. Now I like it a lot. There's no reason that the absolutely factually and indisputably correct MeeFie/MeeFight/MayTa/AskMee utterances (the way they are mentally pronounced by MeMeMeee, of course) cannot coexist in phonological peace and harmony with 'mefoteric', even if it starts out 'meh-'.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Also, the first book of my seven-volume opus, The Decline and Fall of the Metafilter Network will be available soon from your favorite bookseller. Pre-order today!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:03 PM on March 11, 2007


I say MyFy. Which makes no sense phonetically. But it sounds like a personal stereo for internet content. And also it rhymes.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:17 AM on March 12, 2007


onlyconnect doesn't connect. Sentences that by rights ought to be connected. Without full stops.

I comment only to increase the comment-count. Fragments don't bother me really. To 500!
posted by cgc373 at 12:34 PM on March 12, 2007


cgc373. I like. Your style.
posted by languagehat at 3:30 PM on March 12, 2007


To 500!
posted by languagehat at 3:30 PM on March 12, 2007


eustace, as always, is correct.

And all I did was offer an account of how I do things. Who knew that on the internets, opinions could become facts?
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:38 PM on March 12, 2007


I've been making my own facts since robots ate punchcards.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:44 PM on March 12, 2007


I used to make my own facts but gave up on 'em in favor of lunches. Lunches turned out to be more useful in my daily life than facts. Who knew lunch was such a good thing?
posted by cgc373 at 3:58 PM on March 12, 2007


Tell me more about these "lunches." Are they green and tasty, or white, and professional? Could one maybe have facts and lunch together, like fish and chips or salt and pepper?
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:50 PM on March 12, 2007


Frankly, you're all thinking to small. We've got to aim for the stars: 800, here we come!
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:44 PM on March 12, 2007


eh, this thread is now getting to "special". I have certainly done sillier things than helping to run up the comment count now.
posted by norm at 8:33 PM on March 12, 2007


You have nothing better to do and you know it.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:39 PM on March 12, 2007


right at about comment 498, I'm gonna post mean stuff about -om -ruise, and youse guys'll be screwed.
posted by popechunk at 8:46 PM on March 12, 2007


Is there a ban against posting facts about -om -ruise? Or are you just suggesting the -cientologists will file suit against MeFi?

Why is -om -ruise so fucking crazy, while Beck appears to be sane? Or is Beck crazy too and we just don't hear about it because he doesn't get on Oprah?
Do either of these chaps eat "lunch"?
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:50 PM on March 12, 2007


Ah. I see now. Crazy what you miss if you don't check MeTa every day.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:29 PM on March 12, 2007


Or every hour, some days, eustacescrubb. That's a fact.
posted by cgc373 at 10:44 PM on March 12, 2007


But is it "lunch"?
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:46 PM on March 12, 2007


I didn't make it and I won't claim it as lunch. Not unless there's a cyclops involved, in which case, yes, it's lunch.
posted by cgc373 at 11:14 PM on March 12, 2007


What's this "lunch" I've been hearing so much about? Does it vibrate?
posted by languagehat at 6:42 AM on March 13, 2007


*serves up comment #499 so someone else can be #500*

I say po-tay-toe
you say po-tah-toe
I say toe-may-toe
you say toe-mah-toe
I say meh-tah-filter
you say meat-tah-filter
I say mee-fie
you say meh-fee

let's face it, you're an id-ee-yet
posted by terrapin at 6:58 AM on March 13, 2007


Comment 500 should be comment 734.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:03 AM on March 13, 2007


Wow. That was anticlimatic. I was expecting fireworks ... or something.
posted by terrapin at 7:13 AM on March 13, 2007


This thread still has something like three weeks left before it expires due to, uh, ripeness or something. Just saying.
posted by norm at 8:28 AM on March 13, 2007


Well, when that time comes you could always jump to 13869, if you wish. Just sayin'.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:53 AM on March 13, 2007


Between the missing 13869 and K.T.'s babydaddy, I just feel so lost now. Carry on.

carrion?
posted by norm at 9:11 AM on March 13, 2007


*farts loudly so the duclod has something to snort*
posted by quonsar at 4:35 PM on March 13, 2007


*crickets*
posted by norm at 7:40 AM on March 14, 2007


*cicadas*
posted by breezeway at 1:13 PM on March 14, 2007


*beatles*
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:14 PM on March 14, 2007


*maggots*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:16 PM on March 14, 2007


*coulters*
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:33 PM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


*spirochetes*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:43 PM on March 14, 2007


*pinochets*
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:00 PM on March 14, 2007


*pirouettes*
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:10 PM on March 14, 2007


*flechettes*
posted by breezeway at 2:17 PM on March 14, 2007


*mefites*
posted by 23skidoo at 2:28 PM on March 14, 2007


*youtubes*
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:33 PM on March 14, 2007


*boobs*
posted by cgc373 at 2:36 PM on March 14, 2007


In the realm of free association, I am put in mind of the origin of the term "Sci-fi". As the (I'll note, white backgrounded) Wikipedia tells it:
Ackerman is also notable for having coined the term "sci-fi" by analogy with "hi-fi". Although many serious science fiction fans hated the phrase, considering it gimmicky and disrespectful, it gained widespread usage by the early 1960s. Harlan Ellison has derided it as a "hideous neologism" that "sounds like crickets fucking," a comment to which Ackerman fans responded by producing buttons bearing the slogan, "I love copulating crickets."
posted by norm at 2:39 PM on March 14, 2007


*BOOBS*
posted by cgc373 at 4:05 PM on March 14, 2007


That was wicked professional, norm.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:48 PM on March 14, 2007


MetaTalk: sounds like crickets fucking
posted by Mitheral at 5:13 PM on March 14, 2007


AskMeFi: I've been fucking Crickets for years, but Buddy has yet to look at me twice. What am I doing wrong?

Love,
Peggy Sue
posted by breezeway at 8:54 PM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sue . . . he's dead.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:56 AM on March 15, 2007


Eh, I got professionalism to spare.
posted by norm at 8:09 AM on March 15, 2007


That's why I pronounce it MyFy! The glorious crickets!
posted by onlyconnect at 11:26 AM on March 15, 2007


Since the latest OS X update (10.4.9), the first time you use "sudo" you get this message:
WARNING: Improper use of the sudo command could lead to data loss or the deletion of important system files. Please double-check your typing when using sudo. Type "man sudo" for more information.

To proceed, enter your password, or type Ctrl-C to abort.
In earlier versions, the message was this:
We trust you have received the usual lecture from the local System
Administrator. It usually boils down to these three things:

#1) Respect the privacy of others.
#2) Think before you type.
#3) With great power comes great responsibility.
Not as professional? Perhaps. But I think the old way was much more memorable and, thus, effective.
posted by timeistight at 2:47 PM on March 15, 2007


Just smile and nod, and listen for your name.
posted by norm at 9:28 AM on March 16, 2007


anyone home?
posted by terrapin at 6:50 PM on March 23, 2007


no-one here but us C-listers.
posted by mendel at 10:24 PM on March 23, 2007


we'll never reach 600.
posted by terrapin at 5:22 AM on March 26, 2007


keep on reachin' for that star.
posted by boo_radley at 2:11 PM on April 3, 2007


Has the longboat pulled up yet?
posted by drezdn at 2:55 PM on April 3, 2007


The catalogs from Ireland have paperweights in "40 shades of green". It might be possible to choose a more pleasing tint.
posted by Cranberry at 4:19 PM on April 3, 2007


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