Fin de Siècle Metafilter
June 21, 2010 12:48 PM   Subscribe

What was Metafilter like at the turn of the century? Is it substantially different now? Do you have a favorite era or year of Metafilter?
posted by xod to MetaFilter-Related at 12:48 PM (174 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I liked its early stuff.
posted by dobbs at 12:54 PM on June 21, 2010


It's always been full of noobs.
posted by Elmore at 12:54 PM on June 21, 2010


Slightly worse kerning.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:55 PM on June 21, 2010


I remember it well. The turn of the century was a rough time to be on the internet, and Metafilter was no exception! Sure we can't bust heads like we used to. But we have our ways. One trick is to tell stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m'shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you'd say. Now where was I... oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn't get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:55 PM on June 21, 2010 [55 favorites]


I was reading Metafilter when it was just newspaper clippings tacked to the men's room wall at Dave & Buster's. Then Zach Braff came along and ruined it.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:55 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dammit, 2bucksplus, I wanted to do that pastiche!

But it was a good one.
posted by Michael Roberts at 12:57 PM on June 21, 2010


Those stone tablets were a bitch. Thirty second edit window? Try fixing a typo with a hammer and chisel.
posted by fixedgear at 12:59 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, there are those who think that it sold out circa 2002, and that the later output has been poor due to the excess of hookers and blow - but ignore them, they're just poseurs. MeFi's never shredded harder.
posted by djgh at 12:59 PM on June 21, 2010


Back in those days, cats frequently got stuck in scanners.
posted by mattdidthat at 1:00 PM on June 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


last year was a good vintage, imho
posted by infini at 1:01 PM on June 21, 2010


2bucksplus: "I remember it well. The turn of the century was a rough time to be on the internet, and Metafilter was no exception! Sure we can't bust heads like we used to. But we have our ways. One trick is to tell stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m'shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you'd say. Now where was I... oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn't get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones.."

I will paypal someone $5 to find the mathowie comment that says "once you've resorted to quoting simpsons, you've run out of worthwhile things to say". TIA
posted by boo_radley at 1:01 PM on June 21, 2010


I remember when it was all free text fields around here.
posted by Jofus at 1:01 PM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Several years ago, mostly before I was a mod, I was doing a sort of informal survey of the earliest threads on mefi from 1999; the few entries that got done are at refiblog.blogspot.com. It's armchair analysis stuff, but if you want to skip looking at the archives directly it's a glimpse of that very early stuff at least.

That said, I heartily recommend giving the archives from 1999 and 2000 a lazy afternoon's surf; it really is a weirdly different world back then, very very quiet compared to contemporary mefi (which I personally think of as having really come into existence more around 2001 or so, and really sort of stabilizing over the next few years). Many of the general community jargon and policy and guideline issues we take for granted to day were at best inchoate at that point, and there's just lots of interesting firsts and bits of cultural history to be found.

I don't really have a favorite era, myself; I've like mefi for as long as I've been paying close attention to it, and like it now as well as I ever have. I do think fondly of my own time on the site in 2006 as a very fun time when I was really engaging with the community more than I had previously and doing a lot of silly music, but that's more a question of me being happy about feeling like I'd found my place (and having a fairly good creative year in my life in general) than anything that was better about mefi at that time vs. prior or later periods of time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:02 PM on June 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Things started getting really bad about the second week of November, 2005. I think it was a Thursday.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:03 PM on June 21, 2010


Your favorite year of your community weblog sucks.
posted by nevercalm at 1:03 PM on June 21, 2010


boo_radley: "2bucksplus: "I remember it well. The turn of the century was a rough time to be on the internet, and Metafilter was no exception! Sure we can't bust heads like we used to. But we have our ways. One trick is to tell stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m'shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you'd say. Now where was I... oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn't get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones.."

I will paypal someone $5 to find the mathowie comment that says "once you've resorted to quoting simpsons, you've run out of worthwhile things to say". TI
"

This?
posted by Perplexity at 1:03 PM on June 21, 2010


I will paypal someone $5 to find the mathowie comment that says "once you've resorted to quoting simpsons, you've run out of worthwhile things to say". TIA
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:04 PM on June 21, 2010


in before rant rant img tag rant rant
posted by juv3nal at 1:05 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


posted by xod What was Metafilter like at the turn of the century?

Well, the sky was all purple, there were people running everywhere, trying to run from the destruction. You know, I didn't even care.

Party over. Oops! Out of time.
posted by mattdidthat at 1:05 PM on June 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


MeFi's first few albums were pretty good, but then they signed with a major label and got a real corporate sound. After that they got picked up by CMJ, then Spin, and pretty much sucked bad since then. I don't even bother to read their reviews on Pitchfork anymore.
posted by slogger at 1:07 PM on June 21, 2010


and now, China made a offer to buy them
posted by infini at 1:10 PM on June 21, 2010


Few people realize it was wood-fired back then.

And no amount of archive browsing can truly capture the essence of the "JRun Error".
posted by GuyZero at 1:11 PM on June 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


My favorite year?


2024ish.
posted by The Whelk at 1:15 PM on June 21, 2010


we got the odor tag and Beer Over IP, that was fun ...for a while.
posted by The Whelk at 1:16 PM on June 21, 2010


Back in those days, cats frequently got stuck in scanners.

But to this day no one knows how, or why.
posted by jedicus at 1:17 PM on June 21, 2010


Ah, GuyZero with JRun Error for the win!
posted by slogger at 1:17 PM on June 21, 2010


Shoulda been here 10 years ago, man. I mean really. Those were the days.
posted by Danf at 1:17 PM on June 21, 2010


Beginning of the end...

Bonus: Find my first comment ever, and subsequent calling out by #1!
posted by JoanArkham at 1:19 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Turn of the century Metafilter was a difficult time. Many things changing, political forces swirling, airplanes and atonality lurking. You think the circumcision threads are bad? You should have seen the women's suffrage and pants threads. Metafilter was still segregated and the whole thing really was just reaching a critical mass.

The 1920's was by far the worst decade for MetaFilter. Meet-ups were difficult and had to be held at Mathowie's secret McMinnville Speakeasy, where we bowled and drank rot gut and listened to jass music and smoked.

The 30's weren't much better. Not many could afford a computer in those days. This is when 'taters' originated, as taters were all most people had to eat.

The 40's we don't really talk about. We lost a lot of good MeFites in those days. Damn good MeFites. Activity on the site was slow and melancholy. Matt had to give up some of the servers to the government for raw materials.

The 50's were a boon for MetaFilter. Everyone was getting a computer, and questions on AskMe were all very easily answerable and no one had any relationship issues. Everything really was just perfect. We all moved out of town and never went into cities anymore, so we didn't have all those 'what to do in....?" questions. We solved problems like 'do you mow the lawn straight across or in diagonals?' and 'what's the best mixer to get my wife?'

The 60's is when things started to get interesting. MeFi Music was started sometime around then, with lots of MeFites just trying to play music and get along. MeTa had almost a grar free decade, with most call-outs being 'I love this user SO much, they are my cosmic internet mate.' Meet-ups were extremely interesting, and we all got to know each other much better and often for much longer than we had expected. The 60's was also when the color scheme of the site moved from black and white to a sort of tie-dye look.

The 70's. Well, that's when a lot of the so-called 'snark' started, with lots of youngsters joining up and uploading their music tracks that were basically them strumming their electric guitars as fast as they could as loud as they could and lots of people yelling at them to get off of their lawn so they all moved to Oakland. There was a lot of yelling. The first personal computers started to appear, though, so the number of users skyrocketed. There was an energy crisis, so user sign-ups were closed for awhile.

The 80's? That's when projects started, because everyone all of a sudden became extremely productive and wanted to talk a lot and do things and be really happy and everyone's ideas were so good oh they were so good just genius and we'd all stay up on MeFi all night talking about our project ideas and writing really long comments without punctuation and meet-ups were just out of control like fucking out of fucking control and Jessamyn came on board after Mathowie met her at a screening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and commented on the quality of her shoulder pads.

The 90's I think were strange for everyone. Very strange. People began to have an unnatural affinity for pictures of cats doing weird things. Jobs was launched in the 1990's, when there were jobs. Cortex joined in the 1990's after impressing Matt with his keen eye for the funny cat aesthetic.

And the aughts? Eh, it was pretty slow I guess. A disagreement here or there over something silly like polyamory or declawing, but the site has really come into its own, helping thousands of people dump their significant others, get therapy, escape locked rooms and get rid of dead bodies, to say nothing of the fascinating conversations we've had about cultural figures like Lady Gaga and Ayn Rand.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:19 PM on June 21, 2010 [68 favorites]


Dammit, 2bucksplus, I wanted to do that pastiche!

But it was a good one.


double dammit, and lack of preview.

posted by Lutoslawski at 1:20 PM on June 21, 2010


I award Lutoslawski 1 (one) Point.
posted by The Whelk at 1:22 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am *so* afraid that MeFi over the past couple of days just might send me over the brink into moving a continent or two...

*shakes head*
posted by infini at 1:23 PM on June 21, 2010


Although I *know* it has changed, one of the most remarkable things about the MeFi Empire is that despite the changes, it is still identifiably the "same" place as it was back in the beginning.

Changes I notice:

1. It was somewhat of a clique, at least a little bit. I felt at home here initially because it was a place to discuss things with people I'd already been reading, or otherwise had some kind of public-internet-profile. Remember this is before comments were widely available on people's blogs - so that was very cool. That's no longer the case, and in fact many of the once-blog-stars are no longer around here.

2. Scale - the scale is ridiculous compared to the old days. I used to read everything new, including often all of the comments, in a short break during the work day. You could keep current on pretty much everything new by doing that 3-4 times a day plus one more extensive review either in the evening or before work.

3. Cheaper - I have never paid a subscription fee ($5 or other), nor did I have to wait to become a member. (I did buy a mug and a tee at one point. Hmmm. I think I need a new mug or something...). LOLz

4. It was somewhat easier to get to know people on the site because I think that more people commented more often on more links/posts.

I have to say, it may be completely lame but I love my 681 user number here.
posted by mikel at 1:24 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


....In the event that I become a recognizable MeFi celebrity (unlikely; I lack the natural charm of the likeable ones, and I lack the bullheaded tenacity of the rest).....

-cortex circa 2004

Just wanted to point out, dude-you did.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:26 PM on June 21, 2010


The worst day in Metafilter history happened in 1919 ... that's when quonsar burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph, killing 21 and injuring 150. The event has entered local folklore, and residents claim that on hot summer days, the area still smells of molasses.
posted by crunchland at 1:27 PM on June 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


I liked Metafilter before it sold out and went electric.
posted by amyms at 1:28 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


People bitched about double posts, complained that it wasn't as good as it used to be, shit in threads, posted about how they didn't care about stuff, and claimed that the influx of new users ruined everything.

Nothing like it is today.

Seriously though, what I remember is that the quality of posts was a lot lower than they are today, but for the time they were considered fine. I think people today really strive to make great posts these days, for the most part. They put actual work into it. Back then, so much on the 'net was new that all you had to do was post to, say, the website for The Superbowl and end your post with "So what do you like about the Superbowl?" and that was ok. Something like that wouldn't fly today.
posted by bondcliff at 1:31 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, crunchland is talking about the quahar of '19, bad stuff there. There were bits of CSS and chunks of matted gore everywhere. HOWEVER we did have the beloved img tag.
posted by Mister_A at 1:33 PM on June 21, 2010


Perplexity: "This?"

Tremendous. I thought it was in MeTa for some reason. As discussed, your $5 reward is heading to the EFF.
posted by boo_radley at 1:34 PM on June 21, 2010


I can tell you one thing that's markedly different between early Mefi and current Mefi.

No one ever used to complain or question why their post got deleted, because posts never got deleted. Matt moderated (to much acclaim that I recall) with a much lighter touch in the old days.
posted by crunchland at 1:35 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


-cortex circa 2004

Just wanted to point out, dude-you did.


Who?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:35 PM on June 21, 2010


There is water at the bottom of the ocean.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:36 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't lay claim to a pre-Y2K account, but I think the proper milestone for what you're getting at is when membership was cut off for the first time, which I think happened some time in 2001. Some stuff that was different back then:

- Lower post volume. Matt even went on vacation at one point and shut the site off.
- Fewer epic discussions. Posts that got 100+ comments were few and far between, I think mostly because "current events" posts were discouraged.
- No AskMe, Music, Projects, or any of that.
- The site would go down regularly. Ah, JRun.
- I can't say for sure, but I want to say that MeFi skewed a bit older in the beginning.
- YouTube did not exist. Consider how often it's linked here now.
- IMG tags were allowed, which were occasionally useful but more often a sign that a thread had completely lost itself.
- There were practically no Meetups. I don't go to many, but I think they've grown the sense of community here tremendously.
posted by mkultra at 1:36 PM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


There is water at the bottom of the ocean.


posted by The Whelk at 1:38 PM on June 21, 2010


I can't believe it's been a decade since Kaycee Nicole passed away.
posted by George Clooney at 1:38 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't believe it's been a decade since Kaycee Nicole passed away.
posted by George Clooney


Just FYI, George, she wasn't really who she claimed to be.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:40 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, crunchland is talking about the quahar of '19, bad stuff there. There were bits of CSS and chunks of matted gore everywhere. HOWEVER we did have the beloved img tag.

Back then, we could have posted this picture to prove it, too.
posted by crunchland at 1:40 PM on June 21, 2010


That's a lot of fishpants to clear up. I hope there's enough penicillin to go around.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:42 PM on June 21, 2010


As with movie trailers from the turn of the century, Smash Mouth's "All Star" was inescapable on mefi at the time. Every music slyt post went to it. That was in the days before the rickroll, of course.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:43 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


SCREW YOU RICOCHET BISCULT FOR PUTTING THAT SONG IN MY HEAD AGAIN SCREEEEEEEEEW YOOOOU.
posted by The Whelk at 1:45 PM on June 21, 2010


For a long time, I used to go to bed early.
posted by grobstein at 1:47 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Banjo threads used to be about music.
posted by arcticseal at 1:48 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is my absolute favorite MeFi post of all time.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:49 PM on June 21, 2010 [17 favorites]


shakespeherian: This is my absolute favorite MeFi post of all time.

Oh my!
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:51 PM on June 21, 2010


Also: We have always been at war with Eurasia.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:51 PM on June 21, 2010


Back in the day, we used to regularly rag on Jason Kottke. He gradually lost the position to Cory Doctorow.
posted by Skot at 1:52 PM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


shakespeherian: This is my absolute favorite MeFi post of all time.

Oh my!


Oh My!
posted by The Whelk at 1:53 PM on June 21, 2010


SCREW YOU RICOCHET BISCULT FOR PUTTING THAT SONG IN MY HEAD AGAIN SCREEEEEEEEEW YOOOOU.

Maybe it will only take you One Week (Barenaked Ladies) to forget it?
posted by maxwelton at 2:04 PM on June 21, 2010


I shall burn your crops and salt your lands.
posted by The Whelk at 2:10 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know that the peoples have changed since I joined 5 years ago. I also know that one doesn't simply stumble on to MetaFilter through google, since I've never seen a link in all these years of searching for things online. I feel as though, for a moment, an opening was created in the space/time warp back in 2005 to show me the Blue.
posted by infini at 2:19 PM on June 21, 2010


I still recall with fondness the eight months or so when, for no apparent reason, nudity was all the rage. Despite my appreciation for the female form, I was most intrigued by the number of male MeFites that were uncircumcised; intrigued, and if truth be told, a little envious.

Oh, wait--that wasn't MetaFilter, that was South Dakota. Never mind, carry on.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:23 PM on June 21, 2010


> I also know that one doesn't simply stumble on to MetaFilter through google, since I've never seen a link in all these years of searching for things online.

What? I see MeFi and AskMe threads show up in Google results regularly.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:29 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wanted me to be their manager. I called bullshit on that.
posted by rhizome at 2:31 PM on June 21, 2010


What? I see MeFi and AskMe threads show up in Google results regularly.

Indeed.
posted by gman at 2:32 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


See also.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:34 PM on June 21, 2010


damn my google is fnucked

it also says Beta SSL right now

but honestly I never ever came across it but once, maybe its the types of searches I do?
posted by infini at 2:37 PM on June 21, 2010


Oh my!


Oh My!


Oh my!
posted by niles at 2:38 PM on June 21, 2010


How long can you last?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:43 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Born too late.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:49 PM on June 21, 2010


This no longer works.
posted by geoff. at 2:53 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


shakespeherian: "This is my absolute favorite MeFi post of all time."

*sputters*

*ejects monocle from eye*
posted by brundlefly at 2:57 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Matt moderated (to much acclaim that I recall) with a much lighter touch in the old days.

I agree with that, you could talk about stuff without a mod coming in with a couple of paragraphs every five seconds.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:28 PM on June 21, 2010


- Lower post volume. Matt even went on vacation at one point and shut the site off.

From the vacation message
The break will do everyone some good, you can get back to doing work during work hours (or do your best to endure those hours), you can start talking to your spouse again instead of hovering over a mouse hitting "reload" on your browser, and you can spend some time building new projects instead of wasting your energy here, in the black hole of a timesink that MetaFilter has become (kidding!).

Actually not kidding.

The logo on that page says "now wasting 12% more work hours." Hee
posted by jeoc at 3:34 PM on June 21, 2010


According to William Shatner, "It Was a Very Good Year."
posted by kirkaracha at 3:41 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is more related to 2004 on, when I started reading the site, but I assume it applies to back then too:

It's amazing how rude people were, and how much fighting there was. If you go back to those old threads you can see people just having big fights, calling each other "asshole" and such- the whole comment will just be a direct personal insult, and it didn't get deleted.

I didn't join for a while because of that, and when I did join i was afraid to comment for a while. For the last three years or so the site has been consistently awesome.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:48 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


hurrah for the nannystate.
posted by crunchland at 3:49 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


To me, the major difference between mefi-in-2000 (lurking since '99) and mefi-now is that people had much thicker skins back then. Guess this ties into the moderation thing mentioned above, but the let's have a callout because someone is meany-mean and/or said "cockroach", "gun", or "there is no God" thing was once blissfully unknown around here.

On preview: potato, potahto...
posted by vorfeed at 3:49 PM on June 21, 2010


Also there were many comments involving the words "fish and "pants." Historians of today believe they were considered humorous, although they have been completely unable to determine why.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:49 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: "There is water at the bottom of the ocean."
They're American planes.
posted by boo_radley at 3:49 PM on June 21, 2010


My favourite era was the few years after the launch of AskMe. The questions were a little more diverse and there was a lot less IANAL and DTMFA. And the responses then shocked and delighted. The capacity for AskMe to answer the strangest and most obscure questions is still a delight, but it's not the surprising thrill it was back then.
posted by fire&wings at 4:11 PM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


...there was a lot less IANAL...

yeah we're really gotten braver sexually since then. Wait, what?
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:35 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm so goddamn old now that I read this, and assumed you were making a joke about the year 1900.

sigh
posted by davejay at 4:37 PM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lutoslawski gives a pretty good summary, but it's the details that really bring it to life. For instance, the once notorious McKinley assassination thread (almost exactly a century before the 9/11 thread you youngsters may remember). There were a lot of bitter William Jennings Bryan fans around in those days, and one of them (whose name I shall not mention) dropped the entire Cross of Gold speech into what had been a reasonably respectful obit thread. My goodness, that set the ferret amongst the hens! There were threats of fisticuffs and at least one reference to a Civil War rifle in an attic, "kept clean and ready for varmint-pluggin'" (if I remember the phrase correctly). Poor Matt (Matt Senior, he was) had to threaten to steam out the place. The bad feelings left by that didn't really go away until the Great War, which introduced a new series of fractures (that's when Reddit broke off, as most of you probably don't know—this is the kind of thing they don't sidebar for your perusal).

I'd get into the whole Paphnuty mess, but I've said too much already.
posted by languagehat at 4:40 PM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Guess this ties into the moderation thing mentioned above, but the let's have a callout because someone is meany-mean and/or said "cockroach", "gun", or "there is no God" thing was once blissfully unknown around here.

I just picked January 2001 out of a hat and found these on a quick skim:

- complaint about US-centricism on mefi
- argument about deleting a post because of the sensitive topic
- conservative member frustrated by political bias and name-calling
- on tasteless jokes and threats of violence
- Matt starting a thread to declare his intent to ban someone
- worries about prompting racist comments on the site

People being sensitive about specific topics, rhetorical approaches, and metadiscursive boundaries on the site is not a new thing; neither is active moderative voices (and by contrast there's no way any of us mods would start a metatalk thread just to lay the law down on a specific user these days); neither is the argument about whether people are being too thin-skinned about stuff; neither, at last, is the notion that mefi had gone down hill, a concern first voiced despairingly back in late 99 or early 00.

The specific topics that people argue about may shift from year to year, and I have no doubt that the growth of the site over the last decade has caused incremental changes in the character and content of some of these complaints, but if you want to get back to a Metafilter where people didn't come to the grey to hold forth on what they don't like about other people's activity on the site, you need to aim for that brief period before Metatalk existed (back when people just yelled at each other on the blue instead).

I understand and appreciate that people have differing preferences on this stuff—how visible moderation/moderators are, where the line gets drawn between appealing to civility vs. growing a thicker skin, and so on—and insofar as the sight has slowly evolved and the userbase grown in size over the years I can dig a bit of pining for the fjords and all, but the site is more like it was eight or nine years ago than it is different.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:15 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


well I can use meself as a metric, when the site launched I was in High School In Jersey thinking about going to art school, maybe New York, Maybe California, and now I'm a published author and cartoonist with 2 books out, a DC project, a college drop-out who has been around the world and helped start a (world-wide!) business/art/DIY project and got to see all my favorite places bulldozed over and gets to go to parties where it looks like The Riddler may attack at any moment and I've hosted a bunch of charity projects and won lots of friends and well-wishers over the internet and met scores of amazing, interesting people and got to drink alcohol and have sex and smoke and play some awesome games and take part in some amazing discussions and be grown up enough to have a full suit made for me and to wear it an OPERA and I think I'm a better person for it but can still recognize the core being a futsy, over-enthusiastic dork about everything and anyone.

I assume Metafilter has grown in the same way.
posted by The Whelk at 5:20 PM on June 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


wear it TO an, got lost in there.
posted by The Whelk at 5:22 PM on June 21, 2010


Back in the day, MeTa was filled with people bitching about how favorites were going to ruin everything and I was using AskMe to help me get drunk.

Good times.
posted by joedan at 5:25 PM on June 21, 2010


and I still have the nagging doubt that I'm a lazy bastard who will never succeed at anything and dear god how did I trick people intro trusting me with these things I am a shaky baby deer where is the cool sheltering undergrowth...
posted by The Whelk at 5:29 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, back then we used to have way classier usernames and posts. I still miss the posts from The most Serene and Puissant Prince and Lord, Ferdinand the Third, elected Roman Emperor, always August, King of Germany, Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Arch-Duke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Marquiss of Moravia, Duke of Luxemburg, of the Higher and Lower Silesia, of Wirtemburg and Teck, Prince of Suabia, Count of Hapsburg, Tirol, Kyburg and Goritia, Marquiss of the Sacred Roman Empire, Burgovia, the Higher and Lower Lusace, Lord of the Marquisate of Slavonia, of Port Naon and Salines. Great geopolitical insight, even though they tended to be on the long side.
posted by qvantamon at 5:40 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


What Metafilter? At first, we didn't have Metafilter because "The website is having a massage," which we all knew was code for "Someone shut the closet door and the thing overheated and went tits up and Mathowie is crying tears of blood right now and the cats are sad and Quonsar has something new down his pants and NO WAY TO TELL ANYBODY."

Then we didn't have Metafilter because we got JRun errors, which was code for ... code. That was less funny, though the only real difference was that the cats were sad, Mathowie was bleeding tears of sweat, and Quonsar couldn't show us animals in the midst of micturition.
posted by cmyk at 5:45 PM on June 21, 2010


Yeah, cortex, you're right. When I said that no messages got deleted, I was undoubtedly looking back through rosy glasses. Messages did get deleted, though surely not with the frequency they do now. While arguably most of the deletions now are doubles (did Matt delete doubles back in the day, or did we just carry on?), hardly a day goes by without something getting deleted somewhere on the site.

And it's completely understandable. in 2001, Matt had his hands full just keeping the server up. Now, you and Jess's entire raison d'etre is to keep the place more respectable and less of a cesspit. And there's no doubt that in a lot of ways, through the gentle (and not-so-gentle) pressures applied by the mods, Metafilter is a much more pleasant place to be, especially if you're fat or a woman. No, just like the Lord of the Flies mentality still makes 4chan a place with zero respectable marketability, early-to-mid Metafilter was probably too rough and tumble for the more gentle men and women who are attracted to it now. (Unlike early, early metafilter, where it was a hangout for a lot of the a-list bloggers, who eventually got too busy making buckets of money from venture-capitalists to waste their time here.)
posted by crunchland at 5:51 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't say that people "didn't come to the grey to hold forth on what they don't like about other people's activity on the site", or that there was no moderation back then. Of course they did, and of course there was; however, the unspoken threshold seemed a lot higher back then, as did the amount of things which were dealt with in-thread rather than elsewhere.

As you said, this is most likely due to "incremental changes in the character and content of some of these complaints" rather than the actions of the SEKRIT CABAL, and it's certainly true that "the site is more like it was eight or nine years ago than it is different"... but nonetheless, this is the single most obvious difference between then and now, at least for me (and a few others, seemingly). Those incremental changes add up to a noticeable change in the site's tone and culture.

The other obvious difference between then and now would be AskMe, which almost makes up for all this, anyway...
posted by vorfeed at 5:55 PM on June 21, 2010


All the cool kids were at Memepool.

RIP
posted by msittig at 5:59 PM on June 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


On February 10, 2000, only 40 days after the Y2K Bujg didn't destroy everything, somebody calling himself wendell made his first post to MetaFilter, a kind of a stunt post comparing one tech story to another, the exact contents of which remain unclear because the two Yahoo News stories have long since gone totally deadlink.

But in the first of only two comments to that post, mathowie himself wrote "ha! good one foopster...".

I hope Matt has since learned a valuable lesson about being careful who you give encouragement to..
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:03 PM on June 21, 2010


Jesus. GYOFB, loser.
posted by crunchland at 6:07 PM on June 21, 2010


(did Matt delete doubles back in the day, or did we just carry on?)

At the very beginning not so much; there's early threads that are not just doubles but acknowledge doubles, some from Matt himself (including two posts by him in 99 to Fark). I'm not sure when the double proscription took form, off hand. Another rainy day project for my pile.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:11 PM on June 21, 2010


I'm still not used to 'turn of the century' to mean 1999 instead of 1899.
posted by delmoi at 6:40 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Based on Metafilter my ideas aren't as Fin de Siecle as they are Fan du Monde, dig?
posted by The Whelk at 6:45 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was a simpler more innocent time. Matt used to climb mountains at dawn and carve the post into it with his teeth. y2karl was y1karl then,dammit....
posted by jonmc at 6:53 PM on June 21, 2010


I also know that one doesn't simply stumble on to MetaFilter through google, since I've never seen a link in all these years of searching for things online.

I got here via a Google search in the first place (for what i do not recall.)
posted by desuetude at 7:20 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


#91
Sorry, but I no longer seem to remember how it was you got here.
posted by flabdablet at 7:42 PM on June 21, 2010


The phrase "turn of the century" took me completely by surprise, there, I must say.

Like, wow. This is how time passes.
posted by darkstar at 8:43 PM on June 21, 2010


Remember when is the lowest form of conversation ... but I was going through older Metatalk links and saw the frequent mentions of Plastic. Wow hadn't heard that name in awhile, and found the sad, sad Plastic.com homepage. Forgotten and left to die, the fact it all huddles on 1/3 of my monitor screen space is a testament to lower resolutions and fatter monitors.

The funny thing is, I don't think either Plastic or Metafilter have had any significant UI upgrades and the former feels so much more dated (though as a professional, I of course use the white professional theme).
posted by geoff. at 9:08 PM on June 21, 2010


On double deletion, here's a quick partial survey of comments from Matt re: double posts, over the period of 2000 and 2001. I just searched his activity for the word "double", so this isn't exhaustive.

2000/01/28: Matt shrugs off and comments in a double post

2000/04/15: Matt deletes a double for apparent stuntiness. Not clear whether it would have been deleted if it wasn't stunty. This is presumably that double, but back in the day deletions didn't stick around so there's not actually anything to see there.

2000/12/08: "This isn't a double post warning or anything..."

2001/02/03: "I'm working on the "this URL has been posted before" scripts, to cut down on double posts..." Not clear evidence of a proscription, but it's definitely on the radar as something to be avoided at least in some mild sense.

2001/04/06: Metatalk about a missing post, Matt reports that it was deleted for being a double. So by this point, at least, double posting was a deletable offense on its own merits in at least some cases.

2001/05/05: "I kill double posts almost daily (maybe 1 a day average, tops)..." Further that double deletion has become routine.

2001/10/19: Matt again mentions double-nixing as standard admin work.

I stopped looking after that date; it seems likely that an explicit proscription would have formed up some time in early 2001, though it's hard to say what form it would have taken—whether there was an official No More Double Posts statement or if it just became a known thing. I may look into the general Metatalk archives from that period and see if I can find anything more specific.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:36 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And let's not forget DoublePostGuy, whose posting history seems to run a nice chronological line to the evolution of the double post taboo above.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:39 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


2002/01/08: Matt calls out double callouts and includes a taut little howto "for fuckwits". Heh.

And here's a handful of Metatalk threads about doubles, from early 2001:

2001/01/27: Disagreements about reactions to doubles and followups

2001/03/05: On double post rubbernecking

2001/04/03: Bad day for double posts

2001/06/22: Proposing a statute of limitations on doubles
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:50 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


First there was the era when you couldn't sign up because everything was broken after the slashdotting (which was when I heard about it). I couldn't be bothered to keep checking back to see if it was working yet.

Then there was this crazy madcap crush at noon every second Tuesday (or something) when the first 20 people to click the link could sign up. I worked nights at the time, and I couldn't be bothered to wake up in the middle of my sleep cycle just for a stupid login.

Then I stopped paying attention for a long time. My rule was to only click the links, never read the comments. Just speaking from an outside perspective, it was fucking Thunderdome in there, every single thread, 24/7. "Hostile" is the word that comes to mind.

Then you could get a login if you wanted for only five bucks. But see above. I had no interest in participating in a bloodbath.

And at some point this moderation thing began, and let me tell you, it has made a huge impact on the quality of discussion.

So as long as we're reminiscing, I just wanted to say that I thought the middle years were terrible from a discussion perspective (although I kept visiting for the links). And things have really improved in recent years and the mods do a really amazing job and basically deserve a lot of the credit for why Metafilter continues to remain relevant, rather than disappearing up its own ass like so many of its cohorts.
posted by ErikaB at 10:07 PM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


And let's not forget DoublePostGuy, whose posting history seems to run a nice chronological line to the evolution of the double post taboo above.

RIP, Brad.
posted by norm at 10:32 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"What was Metafilter like at the turn of the century?"

Matt had to keep the boilers stoked by hand, and the whirring gears that powered the differential engines and Jacquard punch holes had to regularly have the bloodied pulp of crushed fingers blasted out pneumatically. A huge shrieking edifice, initially located in the seething opium dens of Los Angeles, then carried up the coast on the backs of what were then called "coolies" (Matt was a product of his time; don't judge him) to the sea town of Portland, where whores were had wholesale. While scientists investigating phlogiston had long proved the existence of cold fusion, it was Matt who finally put it to work, displaying thousands of printed tin sheets per second to render a rough likeness of cats on scanners.

What was it like? It was a thrilling time, a dangerous time, a time when Doctorow, E.L., was indistinguishable from Doctorow, C. And through the magic of Klang's Cut Rate Time Travails, you too can enter this mystical world: .
posted by klangklangston at 11:33 PM on June 21, 2010


Also: Hitler jokes weirdly prescient.
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 PM on June 21, 2010


All the cool kids were at Memepool.

That's right! http://www.memepool.com/Author/gen/
posted by gen at 1:20 AM on June 22, 2010


A number of people upthread have mentioned the JRuns, but without mentioning how truly bad it was. Back then, when you tried to log on and found MetaFilter was down, it was tragic. Refresh, refresh, refresh...sob....leaving you with an empty, unfinished feeling as if you had showed up for a romantic tryst only to miss your lover. This sometimes went on for days.

Nowadays, if the site were to go down, I have plenty of other places to visit-- most of them discovered via MetaFilter.

One other thing that is different: there was a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not Matt would continue to host his web site. A number of times he expressed his ambivalence because of the time and effort involved and frankly scared the pants off of us. In many ways it was very much like falling madly, deeply in love only to have the other person remain uncommitted. At some point we got married and now we are a lot more complacent.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:12 AM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


No one ever used to complain or question why their post got deleted, because posts never got deleted. Matt moderated (to much acclaim that I recall) with a much lighter touch in the old days.

I agree for the most part. Only the most egregious stuff got deleted and even then it stayed up for awhile. When someone went cray-cray, it was there for the rest of the world to see, for worse or for better. Most of the time, for better (entertainment).
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:07 AM on June 22, 2010


Don't forget the time mathowie deleted his own double, April 6, 2004.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:47 AM on June 22, 2010


Now, you and Jess's entire raison d'etre is to keep the place more respectable and less of a cesspit.

We also spend a lot of time doing n00b handholding, for better or worse. I feel that more of what we do is answering emails than actively moderating, but that may be because it's more time intensive. I'd be curious if the per capita moderating has actually increased or decreased since before I was working here. Matt used to delete comments back in the old days too [though not many] which was a bigger hit since the volume was low. And, obviously, AskMe showed up on the scene with a different moderation schema which meant that comment deletions increased a lot on that part of the site, though in MeFi they're still pretty low.

When someone went cray-cray, it was there for the rest of the world to see, for worse or for better. Most of the time, for better (entertainment).

This is probably the biggest difference that I see. There are no long torch and pitchfork flameouts in MeTa anymore, for the most part, and there aren't weird broken threads that stay open for hours before someone sees them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:57 AM on June 22, 2010


I think Matt's lighter touch was due to a much smaller active population. For several years it was almost easy to read every thread and to at least recognize the usernames of most people posting.

What was and wasn't acceptable changed as the site grew. It wasn't always criminal to self-link, although it did get that way pretty quickly. Something that doesn't matter too much when you have a hundred people posting regularly can become much more annoying when there's a thousand, or ten thousand.

One of my favorite MetaTalk threads was way the heck back when I was the newbie trying to figure out why the old guard hated us so much. I think that thread gets posted every year or two in every digital community that's ever existed, with slightly different actors playing the same roles.
posted by cCranium at 6:59 AM on June 22, 2010


I'm so goddamn old now that I read this, and assumed you were making a joke about the year 1900.

Depressed to report that I had the same reflex.
posted by aught at 7:16 AM on June 22, 2010


Only the most egregious stuff got deleted and even then it stayed up for awhile. When someone went cray-cray, it was there for the rest of the world to see, for worse or for better. Most of the time, for better (entertainment).

I'll try and see if I can do some sort of quantitative research into early deletion; I honestly feel like the notion that basically nothing but the very worst of the worst got deleted may overreaching as a description for anything but the very earliest underpopulated days, but since it's just a gut feeling on my part too it'd be good to dig in and try and actually figure it out.

Part of the challenge there is that early threads that were deleted aren't still around like modern deletions are, so we can't at a glance tell what was inside any given deletion. So deletion volume is testable, but that's about all. I have a couple ideas for improving that a little but am not sure how useful they'll be in practice. We'll see what I can pull off.

But, all that said, the amusement factor of big long-undeleted meltdowns I get. The part of me that's still a mischievous user and not a mod really, really remembers the appeal of an out of control thread with everybody throwing their underpants into the bonfire or whatever. But it's a mistake to read that as a change in policy so much as a change in resources—it's 'we' instead of 'he' these days, in addition to which pb has built a bunch of tools that make it easier for any given mod to be attentive to things-going-wrong in a prompt fashion.

And so long-running crazy meltdown threads are mostly a thing of the past, and if you like that Metafilter exists still that's pretty much something to be thankful for, even if you liked the old hijinks. Look back at Metatalk history between like 2001 and 2005 and you'll be reminded at how close Matt often was to basically saying Fuck It, in large part in response to the unmanageable effort of keeping up with that kind of stuff. He wasn't able to be at the site every single hour of the day and yet he pretty much had to be, and so inevitably the site would basically collectively lose its shit and simultaneously (a) leave a bunch of crazy shit in a thread gone bad and (b) send him a couple dozen emails wailing about how the site had gone crazy and where WAS he etc.

That shit went on for hours not because Matt's policy was that it was awesome for it to do so but because he wasn't personally able to live his life and keep mefi in check to the degree that he preferred, and shutting the whole thing down just to be done with all that bullshit and stress was a recurring notion.

With a bigger team and better tools we're able to distribute this work a lot more sanely, even as the userbase has grown slowly over time. One of the side effects of this is we close down problematic shit quick instead of letting fester. Again, the impish part of me totally understands and sympathizes about the loss of the frequent crazy bullshit. The rest of me is glad that running the site isn't hell for Matt and that "I think I'll shut it down" isn't something we have to worry about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:27 AM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just an aside, I wasn't complaining or anything. Mefi was sort of the wild, wild west back then and as the numbers grew, the odds of nuttiness grew exponentially. I always figured that if Mefi got bigger, something would eventually have to give (more moderation and reining in the nut-jobs). I think the evolution has been as smooth as can be expected and was inevitable. Personally, I loved the "old" Metafilter because it appealed to the nine-year-old in me. As it has evolved, it has those moments as well as a lot of opportunities to learn from some brilliant and funny folks.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:49 AM on June 22, 2010


Back in The Day, I recall that Matt's approach to the site was disclaimed as not being "moderation", and that this was an unmoderated community. This was never exactly TRUE, but I remember it being a threat like "I may have to introduce moderation if you kids don't stop kicking my seat".
posted by norm at 7:59 AM on June 22, 2010


Yeah, I didn't mean to come off grumpy or anything and maybe I ended up doing so, so apologies for that. It's more that I think there tends to be a disconnect between some of the It Was Better When stuff (which is a universal and understandable sort of human feeling) and the practical reality of what the whole picture was like back then, and I think when it comes down to nostalgic comparisons it's useful to keep in mind the implications of having those old bits of status quo stick around.

One of the things people don't really say is "I wish the site had stayed untenable and eventually collapsed under its own weight", but practically speaking that's what a lot of it comes down to when you play out the implications. I remember the early Maybe Metafilter Will Just Go Away stuff well and I think being really bothered by that proposition when Matt would mention it in the early years was when I realized for the first time that this wasn't just some website I liked clicking on links at, it was a place I had come to genuinely care about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:03 AM on June 22, 2010


Don't forget the time mathowie deleted his own double, April 6, 2004.

Wasn't there another time when Cortex accidentally posted an AskMe or MeTa to Metafilter (or vice versa), and people had a field day with it? He then deleted it with the comment U R SO BANNED or something like that. Don't know how to search for deleted threads, sorry...
posted by Melismata at 8:04 AM on June 22, 2010


It is commendable indeed (after reading the oldtimers share their thoughts) that a small community blog grew to the size it has and is yet alive. Sure things have changed, and probably the 2000-2005 changes were more dramatic than the last 5 years I have been on although I myself went through the "n00b who paid $5" shyness in the beginning but in the grand scheme of things, MetaFilter has managed to retain the core elements of what makes it the quality community website that it was and is and will continue to be. When you look at the skeletons littering the interwebz since we first came online or even from "web 2.0" days (I mean My entire 'blogosphere' has dissapeared from the heydays of early 2005, just a few diehards remain. ) and the flash'd, drop shadow'd MetFiltr stuff out there right now not to mention FB, you stop to think and realize THIS IS GOOD.

Thank you Matthowie.

And Jessamyn, Cortex, pb and Vacapinta too.
posted by infini at 8:37 AM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I may have to introduce moderation if you kids don't stop kicking my seat".

There's talk from Matt in the archives about implementing moderation in a crowd-sourced, Slashdot-esque sense, yeah. Actually, let me go digging here. Here's a grab-bag of stuff from Matt in, again, 2000-2001, from among occasions where he's used the word "moderation":

2000/01/26: pre-Metatalk comment discussing Matt's plans for site features including in points 1 and 4 a couple of mechanical-moderation issues.

2000/06/22: Matt talks moderation in the human sense—his inability at that time to do as much moderation as he'd like, his fear that moderation will lag behind site growth over time, his thoughts about involving human moderators to help him out, etc.

2000/08/21: Matt: "expect to see more admin stuff being done in the future" in reference to basic post deletion/editing stuff. An early example of "moderation" being used in the human-touch sense

2000/09/19: Metafilter thread about moderation/censorship with a bunch of comments from Matt on his perspective about the role of moderation in keeping a site going.

2001/04/06: Matt cooling to idea of Slashdot-esque moderation/karma system. The thread itself is a frustrated post by Matt about wanting to make some changes to mefi, too. (And hi, norm! Heh.)

2001/11/15: Matt against the idea of moderation as the enforcement of a large, highly codified set of laws, plus some thoughts about not wanting to jack up posting limits super high. See echoes of that in years-later discussions of tweaking the AskMe posting limit, come to think of it.

So a mix of stuff back then. I was surprised at how few hits I got for "moderation" in general, actually, but I think that's not so crazy especially given that when it was just Matt doing all the work there was not so much need for a handy non-individual-specific term for a moderator or for moderation—until 2005 or so when Jess was officially on staff it was just "Matt" and some variation of "what Matt did", probably. So unearthing some of that history may be being stymied just by vocabulary issues or more specifically my failure to guess at good search terms.

(The earliest use of "mod" in a Metatalk post's text is from mid 2005; there's an earlier hit from 2003 if you search but it's actually a new title from the backtagging project. The plural "mods" first shows up in a Metatalk post in late 2005; again there are earlier hits for titles added retroactively if you go looking. "mod" shows up a lot more, and earlier, in metatalk comments, but those early uses seem to be almost entirely in reference to Slashdot-type systems, re: mod points, mod-as-person-using-the-slashdot-system, mod as a transitive verb (mod this down!), etc. In any case it's several thousand hits so I'm not going to dig in right now. Parallel project here: use of "admin", "admins" in the same contexts?)
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:46 AM on June 22, 2010


Wasn't there another time when Cortex accidentally posted an AskMe or MeTa to Metafilter (or vice versa)

Good times.

Don't know how to search for deleted threads, sorry...

Easiest way is to just go to the Deleted Threads blog and search for likely keywords or usernames. Not a perfect solution depending on what you're looking for, but it's a good first stop. Barring that you can look at the Infodump's postdata files and search deletion reasons.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:50 AM on June 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


(And hi, norm! Heh.)

Man, that list looks pretty quaint now. Metatalk thread over 100 comments. Yeah, those were the days.
posted by norm at 8:57 AM on June 22, 2010


use of "admin", "admins" in the same contexts?

I'm sure it, or something like it exists. I have vague memories of a couple MetaTalk threads where some user would come storming in demanding this that or the other and people (probably including myself) saying things to the effect of "Hey now, slow down, this isn't any kind of service or anything, it's Matt doing what he can instead of work!" I've just lost much too much time scanning my own MetaTalk post history and can't find any examples or other conventions to suggest, though.
posted by cCranium at 9:11 AM on June 22, 2010


what? a deleted thread blogspot? capturing all my shame and horror *aaaaargh*
posted by infini at 9:17 AM on June 22, 2010


Thanks so much for that info, cortex! (Love the infodump font.)
posted by Melismata at 9:21 AM on June 22, 2010


Metafilter used to be big on "self-policing," before we got actual policemen. Back then, I think the community might have had a greater expectation that their opinion on how things were run here actually counted for something. In some ways, now that Metafilter, Inc. is an actual business, I think we've gone from being participants to more like consumers. When the community was smaller, I think the each member of the community had more of a feeling that we were all building something together and, assuming Matt could be convinced that something needed changing, there was a greater expectation that each of us made more of a difference around here. As it is now, though, many (though not all) suggestions that come up on Metatalk get a "we're not interested in implementing this" response -- and the "we" is not the community, but Metafilter, Inc.

In a generous retelling of this situation, it might be suggested that in the years pre-mods, the community was small, and managed to finely tune the site so that it now only needs minor tweaking, and that now that Metafilter has 10 times the number of members than it did back in the day, the things that come up in Metatalk now are suggestions from noobs who are asking for things that have already been hashed out, ad nauseum.

And, as someone mentioned above, what with the meetups and all, there may be an even stronger sense of community now than there ever was in the more anonymous early days.

I guess I've conveniently forgotten when Matt was so fed up, he was ready to pull the plug. Maybe I just didn't think he was serious, since he was obviously more dedicated to the place than any of us were. And people above are saying how scary a place metafilter used to be, but all the same, it was a popular place even then, with people begging to get in when the signups were closed. It couldn't have been all that awful.

So many things are different now, it's impossible to isolate the one decision that made all the difference.
posted by crunchland at 9:27 AM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter used to be big on "self-policing," before we got actual policemen. Back then, I think the community might have had a greater expectation that their opinion on how things were run here actually counted for something.

This is really important to remember if-- like me-- you actually went back and clicked on those links that cortex posted. I think we just really thought that "community weblog" had some real meaning, although someone always took pains to point out that it was Matt's site and he could take his ball and go home at any time. One of the things I think is really neat is how many of the posters back then are either still active here or that I still stay in touch with one way or the other. There is definite continuity, even if it isn't as intimate as it used to be.
posted by norm at 9:34 AM on June 22, 2010


There's a lot of sentiment that quality decays with the number of users. The more users, the worse things get.

I actually think it's the opposite. I think the steady influx of users over the years has served to dilute a lot of the petty jealousies and closely-held grudges. Which - to the outsider/lurker I was back then - was clearly what drove a lot of the comment nastiness.

People reminisce about "when everybody knew your name" or whatever. But there's a flip side to that, too! Maybe sometimes it's better if you don't really know who just posted that comment, so you take it at face value and respond from a neutral position.

As opposed to OH SHIT DID YOU SEE WHO JUST SAID WHAT??? or NOT THIS DUDE AGAIN CHRIST WON'T HE GIVE IT A REST???
posted by ErikaB at 9:54 AM on June 22, 2010


Maybe sometimes it's better if you don't really know who just posted that comment, so you take it at face value and respond from a neutral position.

I quite strongly agree with this. There's a chasm that MetaFilter crossed, from the bar where everyone knows your name (and buttons) to the beer tent where you're just another shmoe on the bench.
posted by cCranium at 9:57 AM on June 22, 2010


(And I hope none of my nostalgia implies "MeFi Used to be Better". I love what MeFi is now.)
posted by cCranium at 9:58 AM on June 22, 2010


Aw man, all this time I thought I was on Plastic.com.
posted by R. Mutt at 10:10 AM on June 22, 2010


It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and I'm wearing Milk-Bone underwear.
posted by norm at 10:13 AM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a chasm that MetaFilter crossed, from the bar where everyone knows your name (and buttons) to the beer tent where you're just another shmoe on the bench.

How you feel about the chasm may have a lot to do with where you were standing when it was crossed. And why would anyone want to aspire to being "just another schmoe?"
posted by crunchland at 10:16 AM on June 22, 2010


So they can cross the chasm to the middle majority?
posted by infini at 10:27 AM on June 22, 2010


Eh, there are plenty of users here who have sharp memories and can track and recognize a vast spectrum of other users and their contributions using nothing more than the POWER OF THEIR MINDS. Besides, if you read some old threads...well...most of those old-timers weren't really saying much.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:46 AM on June 22, 2010


How you feel about the chasm may have a lot to do with where you were standing when it was crossed. And why would anyone want to aspire to being "just another schmoe?"

Here there are some good answers about why a person should be concerned about privacy. They seem applicable. Sometimes you want to talk with more than just your usual crowd, where there's little history between you.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:47 AM on June 22, 2010


Regarding up/downtime, here's an old list from the (old?) wiki: Current Status. Gives a bit of an idea of how tenuous the MeFi server uptime was back in the day.
posted by carsonb at 11:23 AM on June 22, 2010


cortex's comment (or, specifically, his references to "Matt") got me wondering: when the mods talk in person or on the phone, do they address each other by screen name or IRL name?

Matt: Yo, cortex, what's up?
Josh: Hey mathowie, how's it going?
Matt: I was just going over some fixes with pb, but wanted to run them past you, vacapinta and Jessamyn first.
Josh: Jessa-who?
Matt: Oops, I meant jessamyn...
Josh: Oh, hey, look at this cat!!!

posted by slogger at 11:51 AM on June 22, 2010


The thing I remember best was how amazing some of the comments could be, I'm still amazed at how good and detailed and thoughtful comments here can be.

Back then I thought MeFi would *inevitably* have implement slashdot-style comment reputation rating because it could not scale. I'm glad I was wrong about that. It shows how cool this place is that that's never been necessary. I do remember that I could actually keep up with everything that got posted at one time. I used to follow the full RSS feed of posts. At some point I dropped that and lost the habit. I'm glad I picked it back up, even if I can't keep up with it all.

I remember a more downtime than there is now, but Matt was always so diligent and got things working eventually: a b.
posted by artlung at 12:05 PM on June 22, 2010


To me the MiguelCardoso era was almost a metafilter inside Metafilter. Still miss him.
posted by ouke at 12:10 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every time you say my name, they beat me.
posted by Paphnuty at 12:23 PM on June 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Let's not start talking about missing people. When I first moved out of my last continent but one i was so traumatized by the experience that I could barely write my thoughts on the blue without self censoring but Amberglow gave me the confidence to start getting out of that experience and learning to start speaking my mind on issues.
posted by infini at 12:32 PM on June 22, 2010


Oops
posted by Burhanistan at 12:32 PM on June 22, 2010


I liked it best when languagehat answered my question.
posted by everichon at 1:15 PM on June 22, 2010


Let's not start talking about missing people

It's missing persons. Sheesh. There's no use talking at all.
posted by everichon at 1:22 PM on June 22, 2010


As opposed to OH SHIT DID YOU SEE WHO JUST SAID WHAT??? or NOT THIS DUDE AGAIN CHRIST WON'T HE GIVE IT A REST???

Yeah, as a casual reader of MetaFilter and AskMe (and a non-reader of MeTa) at this point, one of the functions of the growth of the community is that it's really fractured. I think even people who follow MeFi as casually as I do now had more of a sense of the personalities involved (other than Matt and the mod squad) then. You could take this as good or bad. (I'd actually lean towards "good", in that I think finding a bunch of timewasting links is best when it's not riling me up with THAT DUDE AGAIN irritation, which was a real feature of the site for me circa 2002 or so.)

Also, there were more joke accounts.
posted by snarkout at 1:23 PM on June 22, 2010


ouke: To me the MiguelCardoso era was almost a metafilter inside Metafilter. Still miss him.

I do, too. He's been MIA for about a year, and had been dealing with some unpleasant circumstances.

Apropos of this topic, he asked a related question about 7 years ago, when the idea of stratification-by-user-number was creeping up in people's minds. Interesting to see the perspectives from them.
posted by mkultra at 1:34 PM on June 22, 2010


He's been busy, I guess, now that he's the most famous writer in Portugal.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:47 PM on June 22, 2010


Miguel really was a great addition to Metafilter. The site diminished the day he left us.
posted by crunchland at 2:02 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Migs WAS one of those "jeezus that guy again" posters. But he was fun to have around on that basis. Speaking of that phenomenon, I think my favorite MeFi moment ever from back then may well have been Stephen Den Beste's defense of the Oregon Vortex.
posted by norm at 2:21 PM on June 22, 2010


Speaking of that phenomenon, I think my favorite MeFi moment ever from back then may well have been Stephen Den Beste's defense of the Oregon Vortex.

I hate that thing where you want to go argue with someone but it's like nine years too late. Suffice it to say that the stated local-significant-gravitational-anomaly theory in that thread could not survive two minutes spent at the actual Vortex, even in the hands of someone who could manage to seriously entertain it in abstract. But check out that broom!
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:58 PM on June 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


oops?
posted by infini at 3:29 PM on June 22, 2010


I was at San Jose's Mystery Spot, where they kept the mostly adult tour groups lively with lots of jokes and wink-wink occult messages. The line I'll remember "or maybe it's on top of a volcanic spring releasing hallucinogenic gasses, which is a pretty good ideal for 20 bucks"

I liked it so much I bought a t-shirt, I am such a sucker a decent rap.
posted by The Whelk at 4:58 PM on June 22, 2010


Also I was watching Wonderfalls on DVD then and the tout guide was a DEAD RINGER for Jaye and I had in it my mind that yes, she IS a tour guide for a spot where a secret alien ship crash landed and is now giving off reality-warping effects from it's still-burning core. Why not?
posted by The Whelk at 5:01 PM on June 22, 2010


We had a facilitator and now we have moderators, thats the difference.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:26 PM on June 22, 2010


The Blue has always been about the cool links and thoughtful or wiseass commentary, and it still is.

The Green has always been about asking questions that have answers, and it still is.

The Grey, however... now that's a whole different ball of crazy monkeys flinging shit at each other.
posted by not_on_display at 6:44 PM on June 22, 2010


It's a monkey of a different color! Mostly the shit. Oh god the colors.
posted by The Whelk at 6:46 PM on June 22, 2010


This is now the point where we plant out music video DNA, I think modern Whelk was heavily influenced by having this and this stuck in his head at an early age.

Add in this and this and this and shake well. Stir. Serve with lime.
posted by The Whelk at 6:52 PM on June 22, 2010


please use this as your baseloine when calculating.
posted by The Whelk at 6:54 PM on June 22, 2010


I found MeFi through a search in 1999. Then I found MeTa and just wondered at the geekery. I feel it's not been the same since quonsar left, and then some other longtime members. I didn't actually sign up until relatively recently but I was here the whole time, reading it during my off hours at Batwings and other lovely establishments. Just seeing the blue glow in my beige cubicle, under the eerie glow of fluorescent lights, made my day just a little bit brighter. Plus, I was goofing off and thus, stealing money from The Man. Thanks for helping me become a closet loafer, MeFi. Shortly thereafter, I quit Corporate Land and started an odyssey that would later lead me to meet Jessamyn in Northhampton and then Cortex and Jessamyn at the Great Lost Bear, where I watched Cortex, Jesus-like in his demeanor, watch another MeFi member chow down on an Amazing Cheesus burger. Actually, I think there were two people eating those heart-attacks-waiting-to-happen. Then Cortex slid under the table, slippery fellow that he is, and popped up next to Jessamyn. But alas, no Matthowie has appeared in Maine, despite the bike-i-ness that goes on here, and so, we do the plate-of-beans Matt-dance every third Tuesday of each month, hoping he'll show up on one of our bike paths to stop at Silly's and chow down on some extra special vegan cake and quaff a local brew under the funky vintage lamps.

1999 is my favorite year and I will always party like it.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:11 PM on June 22, 2010


2001/04/03: Bad day for double posts

You're telling me. I was making a great living selling double posts for the longest time. I must admit, it always seemed too good to be true, too perfect to last forever. The margins were incredible. The parties. The sex. Oh, and the cocaine ... so much cocaine. then it all came crashing down that fateful day. Sometimes I still think about it and wonder if we could have kept it going just a little longer. But that's foolish. We're lucky we made it through alive.

Now I'm into hamburger futures.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:57 PM on June 22, 2010


I miss migs too. that and the gaslit monitors.
posted by mwhybark at 9:10 PM on June 22, 2010


ErikaB: "As opposed to OH SHIT DID YOU SEE WHO JUST SAID WHAT??? or NOT THIS DUDE AGAIN CHRIST WON'T HE GIVE IT A REST???"

The "10 years ago" link on the sidebar gives you a good example of that just from today's date.

"In all of this, though, what will be truly interesting is how Murray turns this discussion to narcissistic personality disorder.
posted by delfuego at 9:12 PM on June 23, 2000 [+] [!] "

posted by charred husk at 6:52 AM on June 23, 2010


The best moment was that time Matt got called Judas, then he came back and called the heckler a liar and then launched into a blistering version of Everyone Needs a Hug. It's all been downhill ever since.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:59 AM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


And there's no doubt that in a lot of ways, through the gentle (and not-so-gentle) pressures applied by the mods, Metafilter is a much more pleasant place to be, especially if you're fat or a woman. No, just like the Lord of the Flies mentality still makes 4chan a place with zero respectable marketability, early-to-mid Metafilter was probably too rough and tumble for the more gentle men and women who are attracted to it now.

I'm imagining this paragraph punctuated by crushing a beer can with your forehead or some other machismo evincing stunt.
posted by kmz at 8:40 AM on June 23, 2010


Nah. I'm a lover, not a fighter. A regular pussycat. Really.
posted by crunchland at 9:08 AM on June 23, 2010


The best moment was that time Matt got called Judas, then he came back and called the heckler a liar and then launched into a blistering version of Everyone Needs a Hug. It's all been downhill ever since.

I'm so slow that I just got this. Who was that guy backstage with the ax, though? Getting ready to cut the cables to the server? He had some serious ax to grind.
posted by fixedgear at 11:19 AM on June 23, 2010


Burhanistan: "How long can you last?"

Almost done with my second consecutive watching (at 17:13 at the moment). It started to get kind of good at about 3 minutes, at about 7 minutes it turned into kind of a head fuck where I kept thinking I could groove on the rhythm but I was getting it wrong, and at about 11 minutes in I started hearing various parts of the sound as a sequence of tightly orchestrated separate sound sources like some demented alien James Brown backing band. I plan to listen for a few more hours later and will update with any further insight.

posted by idiopath at 1:12 AM on June 24, 2010


Jrun error
posted by spilon at 8:48 PM on June 24, 2010


it was the best thing ever.
posted by fishfucker at 2:15 AM on June 27, 2010


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