Our Best (of the Web) Foot Forward
August 21, 2013 4:39 PM   Subscribe

What's so good about MetaFilter, and why should people join?

I think most of us are here because we've found something great about the place that keeps us coming back. However, in my circle of IRL friends, I rarely think, hey, this person would like this website. On the rare occasions it does come up, I find it difficult to explain why this place is so great. What part of MeFi would you point to as "this is why this site is awesome," what events do you remember feeling "this is why I'm a member" about?

For myself, obviously, there's Russian saga and attendant MeTa, the community reaction to the holdkris hoax, and personally, the tsunami thread for how much support was given in the thread, and how helpful the site was, not only to find out that people we've come to know through the site were okay, but also how it came to be a valuable source for information in the days and weeks after.

What would you point to as a "This is why you should join." kind of thing?
posted by Ghidorah to MetaFilter-Related at 4:39 PM (180 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I've found that it's best not to ask people to join MetaFilter. If I know someone who I think will be a good fit for the site, I'll send them a few links every now and then and if they reply back, "This is really cool. How do I join?" then I help them join. MeFi is not for everyone. You have to want to be a member. Also: community. Because you guys are great.
posted by ColdChef at 4:44 PM on August 21, 2013 [50 favorites]


Is there some other website with fascinating articles on a huge range of topics accompanied by comments by an exceptionally well informed and intelligent crowd of members, which ALSO has a green page where almost any question one can pose gets a great answer, a snarky gray page which is guaranteed to make you either snort or see red, another page of fascinating projects, and IRL meetups, not to mention Tshirts, truly funny in-jokes, a friendly bunny MetaChat cousin page, and a genuine sense of community?

No? Then maybe $5 is worth the price of admission.
posted by bearwife at 4:44 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


bearwife: "Is there some other website with ..."

Parts of Reddit. I'm serious about that.

Anyway, I just send people links. If they ask, I tell them about how Matt gave me money for my thesis. Which turned out amazing by the way.
posted by theichibun at 4:46 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


During Hurricane Irene, my fiancee, dog and I were trapped in our 900 sq. ft. apartment for several days with two houseguests (my soon-to-be brother- and sister-in-law) and my two octogenarian grandmothers who were evacuated from Coney Island. One of them had pretty full-blown dementia. Facebook and the web in general were full of fearmongering. If it weren't for the MeFi and MeTa threads keeping me informed and entertained, I'm pretty sure I would have lost my shit around the point when grandma sundowned and drank some shampoo.

So, I guess the answer is a community you can trust in a crisis.
posted by griphus at 4:50 PM on August 21, 2013 [20 favorites]


We sort of created BestOf as a place where you could highlight some of the things that people like about MeFi (usually good comments but occasionally good posts or really fascinating questions) that would make sense to outsiders.

As much as I am proud of how the Russian saga worked out, I don't really think of it as a thing that would make easy sense to outsiders and is not a thing that I talk about often. I often talk about how it's the place I go to get more in-depth links and discussion about difficult topics in a place online that is less awful than most of the rest of the internet. And honestly I think Ask MetaFilter is one of the better general purpose Q&A sites out there in terms of utility for the askers and I'll bring it up a lot when I discuss how I know how other people have solved problems, if that makes sense.

For people with my particular "I am a Martian on planet Earth" personality, it's a really good place to learn about a whole bunch of different sorts of people in a generally decent environment, and that's what I say when people ask. It's also a very good place to work.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:51 PM on August 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


"They charge $5 because all the dumb, annoying people aren't willing to pay that much. So, are you willing to pay it to get in?"
posted by Drinky Die at 4:52 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Elizardbits
posted by Annika Cicada at 4:53 PM on August 21, 2013 [35 favorites]


The one person I dragged over, IIRC, I told her "I think you'd really like it - I think it's a good fit." Then I bought her a membership.

I also encouraged my gf to join, but she doesn't regularly read and just weighs in very occasionally if I point her at threads that require her expertise.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:53 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am not a regular contributor, but I do ask the occasional question, sometimes anonymously. I am, however, a regular, almost daily, reader. Every once in a while, I'll post an answer to a question.

The reason I joined is that it's very handy to have someplace to ask general interest questions or get advice from disinterested people that are pretty damn smart.

That's amazingly valuable.
posted by nedpwolf at 4:54 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


What if there was a website where everyone was smart? There is.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:00 PM on August 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


When I recommend Ask MetaFilter to friends, I tell them that a one-time $5 fee gets them a lifetime of weekly questions and an incredible pool of experience among those who answer. You ask; they'll help!

Case in point: Did you guys not find the mystery soldiers of WWI? Yes, yes you did, and convinced a new person to join the site in the bargain. So much awesome, right there.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:04 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I usually talk more about the discussions that arise on certain topics than the links themselves. Metafilter's link content is hard for me to summarize, but how people talk about things here is what makes this site what it is for me.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:05 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drinky Die, that's almost word for word what I said last night.

Coldchef, that's sort of what I'm looking for, links worth showing. I haven't been on much recently, and to some extent, there's a login sure I've missed. My friend has heard of the site, but was wondering why I think it's so good.

Another thing I told him that made me like this site were the discussions about language and why certain words don't belong on the site. This site has actually changed the words I choose in real life.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:07 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


The one person I dragged over, IIRC, I told her "I think you'd really like it - I think it's a good fit." Then I bought her a membership.

And let me tell you, she is super grateful!
posted by KathrynT at 5:16 PM on August 21, 2013 [17 favorites]


The free entertainment. Seriously, that metatalk from yesterday or the day before about sharing academic papers? Splenetic genius the likes of which I have rarely seen elsewhere. Simply brilliant.
posted by dfriedman at 5:24 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, the wit and repartee and riffing and so on. When I was a kid, I was sad that I would probably never be part of something like the Algonquin Round Table but man this site is more than I could have hoped for.
posted by griphus at 5:32 PM on August 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


I don't necessarily try to talk people into joining, though I do send out a lot of links. It seems like there is a particular kind of person that thrives here, and gets a lot of bang for their five dollars. For most, just looking at the cool stuff is plenty.

I lurked for years myself, but was drawn in by the culture. The interpersonal dynamics fascinated me - the breadth and depth of knowledge the user base possessed, wit, the in-jokes, the vibrating overlords with fish in their pants. I joined when I got a chance because it seemed like a place I wanted to hang out.

I am still trying to talk mister into joining. He introduced me to Metafilter, but won't join even though I have offered to pony up on numerous occasions and told him that there were people here who know exactly whether on not it is safe to eat that. Sometimes I will even catch him reading a thread, mumbling "I wish i could tell these people.." and I tell him "WELL YOU CAN" but he still hasn't. One day.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:47 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've kind of thought that the "you have to find it first" self-selection is sort of a feature. If you don't read deeply enough to discover the value, you might not be a good fit. But hey, I work in publishing, academic publishing even, so I suppose I have gatekeeping proclivities.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:52 PM on August 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


I started reading Metafilter more than a decade ago, while I was in middle school. The site has variously been my Harper's, my CSPAN, my Nature-- it's been the lazy afternoons spent paging randomly through the set of encyclopedias I never owned. And it's been more than that. It's been a place where I've refined my writing, my ideas, my politics, my abilities to argue and persuade, to advocate and to play devil's advocate. And it's been a confidant. Hell, it even helped set me to my life's work.

Whatever erudition I have-- whatever culture, art, or opinion I've experienced, Metafilter's never been too far away.

Like telling someone else about a friend you've had since childhood, it's hard to really communicate to people the extent to which I've been shaped by this site. More often than not, I'll just shell out the $5 and buy 'em a membership.
posted by The White Hat at 6:06 PM on August 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


Interesting. I, heh heh, actually don't recommend it to friends, really. I'm somewhat ashamed to say I feel like mefi is my thing and I don't want to share it...

There are a lot of reasons for this, I suppose. Forgive my self-indulgent answer in advance.

Firstly, I don't think many of my friends would be a great fit. Only maybe 4 or 5 I can think of, and realistically only 1 or 2 that might be members of the community as opposed to "users" of the site, if you know what I mean.

So what stops me from siccing these friends onto the site? I'll be frank: I am an introverted person; though voluble, I am private about myself, who I am, how I feel about things. I have been accused of being "aloof" in first impressions. The person that I am on this site is different to who I am in real life.

And I won't lie: the person I am here, however flawed, is an idealised version of myself. A version with the luxury of thinking before speaking. I'm not saying that I am some kind of saint here, but I consciously make an effort to be less judgemental, more compassionate, more thoughtful, responsive, respectful, honest. I don't always succeed, but I have a good crack at it. I'm also more honest here about my feelings, my life experiences, how they've informed me and how I dealt with them.

This schism between my identity here, and the identities I have in my "real" life discomfits me. I worry that people with access to both might feel betrayed, or confused as to why I give things up in mefi - with ostensible and actual strangers - that I rarely speak on in the wider world, not even to people I have known for years. They might question why I feel comfortable blithely dispensing advice in ask.me on wide-ranging topics that they don't feel I'm qualified to pass comment on, or directly contradicts behaviours of mine in real life, or advice and opinion I have shared with them. They might feel I am presenting a persona here - a mask to make myself feel good but one that is ultimately not representative, hiding insecurity, judgement, all kinds of negative things. That my participation here is, at heart, selfish, at the expense of a community.

And I'm not sure if they would be wrong, you know? I wouldn't want to put it to the test. The thing is, though, I spend so much of my time on mefi, who's to say which mask I wear more often? Sociologists talk about The looking glass self, and this is a reflection I invest a lot in.

My partner is the only one who really knows how much time I spend there. I've always said she's welcome to join because she knows who I am, more than anyone else, and also who I want to be. I don't think she would perceive so large a gap.

So, no, I don't want to recommend the site to anyone, because, selfishly, I want to control how they experience me, and my thoughts. The way they think I think about things - especially things they are emotionally invested in - is not always how I think about them, especially in regards to family matters, which I touch on in Ask.me with regularity.

I can certainly talk about things I love about the site however. A rich intellectual discourse, peppered with genuine experts in the topics at hand that educate, entertain, enrage. A fantastic window into internet news and meme dissemination. A real community that helps each other - and me - with a vast panoply of problems ranging from the trivial to the insane. And, dare I say it, at least on my part, people I genuinely consider as friends, and look forward to discussing with things with. It's hard to articulate how much I value this community - especially to people that don't understand online communities (who are the vast majority of my offline friends) so I generally don't.
posted by smoke at 6:10 PM on August 21, 2013 [59 favorites]


I have the opposite reaction - I like to think of MetaFilter as my little secret wonderful place that I don't have to share. I suck at sharing.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 6:28 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Smoke said it much better than I could have.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:32 PM on August 21, 2013


People should join if they want to. And so many of them don't seem to want to. I truly don't understand, what are other people doing with their time?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:34 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Too young to have been a habitué of Studio 54, so I settled for metafilter instead.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:35 PM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


If it makes you feel any better smoke, I feel the same way.

Also, I'm glad of the person you are here - selfish and all.

Also also, I'm glad I don't know you - not that I would shy away from you or otherwise not like you - I'm just glad that I only know the digital versions of some people - because I know that we'd all like to be the version of our self that can sit back, think about something and write an expert opinion on it, reflectively re-edit our last statement, and then go on and write OOOH KITTENZ! on our next comment. It is good to simultaneously be allowed to be the best versions of ourselves, and be able to slide into inanity without social pressures of people on work on Monday.

In many ways it is like a kitchen. On one night, or one thread, we may fail. We may get out from under ourselves. But tomorrow, or the next thread - we have potential to be heroes. (Especially if someone is trapped in a room without a doorknob or someone is potentially about to be duped into the sex trade).
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:36 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


I tried to get my sister involved. She was "not impressed". I'm not sure which one of you is responsible, but I'm very disappointed in you.
posted by bleep-blop at 6:37 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Man, I gave her a banjo and everything.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:41 PM on August 21, 2013 [32 favorites]


I first met Metafilter in the winter of aught six. It was hunkered by a fire near a ramada now in ruins. I led my broke down mule with a hackamore of belts I had taken off the corpses.

tiene agua?
Si.
tienes pan?
Si.
Pero no puede pagar.
Si

I lifted the bucket. Water dripping in the dark. I drank. The mule nuzzled my elbow.

The next time I met Metafilter it was a stevedore working the tramp steamers. I led my mule through the portico with a hackamore made of human hair. Metafilter had a hunk of knife wrapped in twine and one boot. I fetched metafilter aside the busted chifforobe set on the sagging veranda and clawed for its eyes.

Por qué estamos luchando?
Dunno, you started it.
Hay lobos.
Aint no lobos here.

The lobos howled in the darkness.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:47 PM on August 21, 2013 [13 favorites]


I love that Metafilter is a site where it is valid to explain that complaining in a hip-hop thread about the basics of hip-hop is like complaining in a feminism thread about feminism 101.
posted by Mizu at 6:57 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Holy shit, that's cool! Where on Earth did you find it?"

"Metafilter."
posted by zarq at 7:01 PM on August 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


"I started reading Metafilter more than a decade ago, while I was in middle school."

This is freaking me out, man. Freaking. Me. Out.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:03 PM on August 21, 2013 [28 favorites]



"Holy shit, that's cool! Where on Earth did you find it?"

"Metafilter."
posted by zarq at 10:01 PM on August 21


Potentially that's self-linking for you zarq.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:06 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Haha, I started reading in middle school as well, Ivan. The person I am currently unleashing on the world, you formed.

I think the easiest way to "sell" Metafilter would be to link someone to 5 great songs in Music and explain that $5 gets you the ability to download all of those - that's a model people are familiar with, rather than having to pay (???) to read stuff on the Internet (?????)

But I have never tried to get any of my friends to join. After all, then where would I be able to go to ask things my parents/friends/advisors couldn't help me with? Nah, better leave this my little secret.
posted by estlin at 7:18 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't been on much recently, and to some extent, there's a login sure I've missed. My friend has heard of the site, but was wondering why I think it's so good.

If there's a particular subject your friend is interested in, either send them a link to a tag of that subject or find a few links to send their way about it.

Metafilter is really strange to outsidrs. A few of my net savvy friends, nerds who send me several links about interesting things every day find Metafilter "weird", "strange," or they "don't understand it." When I asked them to further explain, it's generally hard for them to do so but it seems to come down to the ingroup nature of the regulars, their intensity and their silliness (in jokes?). Most are just looking for interesting posts, not conversation and when they do see the latter, it's often hard for them to join in because they don't know any of the people who clearly know each other.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 PM on August 21, 2013


Firstly, I don't think many of my friends would be a great fit. Only maybe 4 or 5 I can think of, and realistically only 1 or 2 that might be members of the community as opposed to "users" of the site, if you know what I mean.

I'm assuming "users" means "people who read stuff but don't post? That seems a little unfair. It's been a while since I've checked the infodump, but my memory is that there are quite a few accounts with roughly no activity. And we had that MetaTalk thread. So let's give some credit to people who like to read cool stuff, and maybe just want to spend $5 to endorse a thing that tells them about cool stuff to read and then go along for the ride. (There are also lots of folks who only contribute to one part of the site, which is a pretty interesting phenomenon too.)
posted by Going To Maine at 7:24 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, also, I like this place because I have no friends so no one tells me about cool stuff.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:27 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Smoke, it's kind of interesting that you'd say that. We had a meetup last week, and Mrs. Ghidorah was kind of freaked out by the idea that I had invited people I've never physically met before to our house. I tried to explain to her that, in a way, I •do• already know them, because I've interacted with them through the site. I have yet to meet a mefite whose personality didn't at least sort of match my online impression of them, not that I've met a ton. Seriously, Flapjax at Midnight is exactly the person IRL that you'd expect.

I guess I worded this wrong. I was kind of hoping to see links to threads or posts that people thought, hey, that's why I'm a member because of.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:28 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nanukthedog: " Potentially that's self-linking for you zarq."

Heh. Too true. I actually sent an ex-co-worker a link to this post once, without telling her that I had posted it.
posted by zarq at 7:29 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reading other people's questions on AskMeFi over the last 2 years has taught me more than the last 5 years of knowledge gained elsewhere. I often send people links to questions they might be interested in. I'll steal the occasional FPP to throw on FB too, so I look all cool and hip and smart.


My husband (Mr. Fig) actually introduced me to the site; I have since purchased him a membership. I also had my friends tell me that one of our mutual friends also 'talks about that Metafilter site', so I bought him a membership as a birthday gift. Both giftees are mostly lurkers, but do appreciate the site.
posted by Fig at 7:31 PM on August 21, 2013


Ghidorah, you should check out cat-scan.com. Lots of great stories about what makes MetaFilter frickin' great.

But yah, the folks I've sent towards the site have basically used it for a day and then left it behind. MeFi is not for everybody, as difficult to fathom as that may be.
posted by carsonb at 7:35 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is a buffet for my mind; and it is too bad that some folks can't get past the belief and political leanings to enjoy the nutritional aspects.
posted by buzzman at 7:36 PM on August 21, 2013


I'm assuming "users" means "people who read stuff but don't post?

I actually meant people that might sign up but only check in 2-3 times a year, don't really read comments, never get familiar with norms etc.
posted by smoke at 7:37 PM on August 21, 2013


I'm primarily on the Green. I LOVE advice columns -- always have. AskMe is a continuously updated advice column, and there I can occasionally answer someone's question, so I feel like I'm giving back.

Based on some of the comments I've seen about Ask, I guess it's easy to see only the drama and BS. But there is so much earnest goodwill on AskMe that my heart swells at least 3 or 4 times a week. If you combine the sheer amount of knowledge I've picked up (both through my questions and others' questions) and the crazy amount of joy I get when the OP follows up and says "My dog's going to be okay!" or "I got the job!" or "I finally left my abusive partner" it's worth far, far more than the $5.
posted by kimberussell at 7:53 PM on August 21, 2013 [17 favorites]


This primary value of this place for me is the perspectives it gives me into other modes of thought, other opinions, other ways of living and being human in the world. It is fantastic to have conversations with people who have totally different life expleriences than my own without those differences being in the fore. I'm a white middle-aged Australian hetero woman living in a conservative region miles from the nearest town. Here on metafilter, I get to discuss with, or just listen to, (for example) a young black trans person who grew up in a trailer park and worked their way up to a minimum wage job. And we get to talk about things that have nothing to do with our gender, education, skin colour, musical tastes, or any of the things that might socially join people together in meatspace. It's like being disembodied and yet self-selecting our cerebral companions.

The other reason I like it here is that if I have any issue (my latest was a buzz from my laptop to my sound system), I come here first, do a search, and almost always find either a direct answer to my issue, or the language or links to find the answer for myself elsewhere. Metafilter is a compendium of so much information about so many things that I can't believe people aren't queuing up in their millions to join. (I now have an image of an old-style door-to-door encycolaepdia salesperson going around knocking on doors selling metafilter memberships).

That said, I don't tell many people about it, and even when I have, nobody has joined or looked at it. My friends just don't get it.

PS: thanks for all the music FPPs. If it wasn't for them, my partner would totally hate metafilter and the amount of time I spend on it. But every now and again there is something that he really enjoys and it salves any trouble he has with my metafilter affair.
posted by Kerasia at 7:56 PM on August 21, 2013 [16 favorites]


Something occurred to me when we started talking about meetups.

Have you ever noticed you can always figure out where the meetup is? Even in a crowded place, with no signs, I can always identify the Mefites.

In fact, the last meetup I went to, the hostess saw me and said "You must be with the Metafilter group."

I don't know if it's a look, or a vibe, or what, but it's a thing.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:56 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's good here. But nobody "should" join.
posted by Namlit at 7:58 PM on August 21, 2013


I don't know that this is a reason to join metafilter, but right now I have both a home and a job directly because of this website.

So thanks, guys. You know who you are.

I'm really awkward about talking about metafilter around non-mefites.

"It's... like... this website? Where people share cool stuff? But it's not mean like reddit or stupid like youtube or fake marketing chatter like twitter...?"
posted by Sara C. at 8:01 PM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's funny--I've tried. I have several IRL friends who I know would love the site if they'd just sink their teeth in, but despite even buying one of them a gift membership, nada. The other forum I belong to has a couple non-member regular readers who say they'd be way too intimidated to ever post or comment here, and it baffles me. A Humble Nudibranch's sister (I don't know how she found us) & I worked together in the same room every day for almost 5 years, and we talked about metafilter a lot, but nope. I know literate people, musicians, actors, train conductors, scientists, cave biologists, painters, who would all make fabulous members if they could just lay down the goddam Facebook and listen to me, but nope, nada. I kind of quit trying.

Fact is, I've made a goodly number of IRL friends out of MeFites, but have made no MeFites out of IRL friends. People just have to find it--they can't be told.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:02 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks, carsonb, I'd forgotten about the catscan.com makeover.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:04 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was kind of hoping to see links to threads or posts that people thought, hey, that's why I'm a member because of.

I wouldn't have found Who Wore It Better without the MetaFilter post on the topic. A lot of the content on the site is just that: interesting esoteric stuff from one domain or anothe. Every post in which there are lots of links to topics on a theme makes me happy, even if I don't intend to read all of them. They were an immediate part of the site's appeal. (e.g. Tree Houses and Hotels) I imagine other sites support that kind of thing, but I don't know about them and no longer care to, thankyouverymuch.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:10 PM on August 21, 2013


Our Best (of the Web) Foot Forward

Trapped in a world he never made™, Howard puts his web foot forward.

 
posted by Herodios at 8:14 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


One should join, because the vengeance of the quidnunc kid is terrible and mighty, and you really don't want to be left out on the sidelines of that. Ringside seats are the only way to go. Otherwise, you'd be all 'Who is this quidnunc, and why is he making me wear this necklace of red-hot axeheads before forcing me to eat my own innards, like I was some kind of 17th century Jesuit martyr?' If you're already on Metafilter, you wouldn't have to ask that question, because really, otherwise? -- you'd look like an idiot.

So once again, I call on everyone to vote #1 quidnunc kid in the coming election.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:25 PM on August 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


People shouldn't join. Getting bloated already.

Yeah, I know it's not really *my* lawn.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:35 PM on August 21, 2013


"You can join if you want to, you can leave your friends behind…"
posted by Nomyte at 8:36 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


At dawn the quidnunc kid left the reeking remains of the mule in the ashes of the ramada. He lashed his 30 aught over his shoulder with a length of hide and set out across a great plain of pumice. That night he ate cold biscuit and lit no fire. He dreamed of great pale lobos with yellow eyes. Ten days out he saw the great column of grit kicked up by Metafilter as it trundled across the plains.

This ends book two of The Online Trilogy. Look for part 3, entitled Mefites of the Plain, this Christmas.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:40 PM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Simply put, as a community, we care. We care about each other, we care about doing what's right and we damn well care about grammar.
posted by arcticseal at 9:15 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've always described this site as, "remember back in the 90's before the World Wide Web was a thing, when the Internet was still entirely text-based and people still knew how to spell?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 PM on August 21, 2013 [17 favorites]


O, also: the CD swaps. When I only lurked I would read through those CD swaps and think, "Man! If only there was a way I could get in on that..."
posted by Going To Maine at 9:37 PM on August 21, 2013


As ridiculous as it sounds, MetaFilter is the classiest joint on the web. The 5$ combined with active moderation combined with a culture that nurtures and is nurtured by intentionality and reputation (collective and individual) equals an online experience that is a bit elite (in the good sense) and a bit more permanent than your average eBear. There is an extravegance to having so many identifiable, thoughtful people actively exploring what they find interesting.

Reddit is cool - I've come around to it, I love that I can go there and geek out about the West Wing or the Red Sox or pinball, but I don't feel like I rise above anonymity there, and for whatever reason I don't really feel like anyone else does either. It all feels disposable and impermanent. And the fact that I have to self-curate into the specific places there that appeal to me feels intellectually bereft. I already knew I was interested in Harry Potter - I didn't know I was interested in Hilda. But without that self identification Reddit is deplorable. So much terrible stuff by so many assholes. Not close to all, or even most, but it doesn't take too many roaches before I'm not interested in finishing my dinner.

On MetaFilter I genuinely feel like I know people. Not all, but many. And I feel like, to some degree (much less than so so many) people know me. Or can. I feel like the level of discourse, even in topics I am uninterested in is so high that I am comfortable identifying and allying myself with it, even when 'it' has nothing to do with me. It's hard to participate poorly here.

MetaFilter is an object, to me, a specific work that being created rather than a stream that is rushing by. I am proud of it, and of my small part in making it.

So, uh, I guess people should join if they like to spend their time thinking about, talking about, and reading about, broadly nteresting things, and want to do so in a place that they don't have to be ashamed of. I'm not speaking (just) of Reddit - EVERY general community besides MetaFilter is full of garbage to some large degree. MetaFilter is really not.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:38 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


You should join because, if you do not, Bryan Cranston might kill you with a crane and chuckle.

You should also join Metafilter because it is an achingly civilised place. The Mods are mighty 24 Hit Dice Reasonableness Elementals.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:41 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've always described this site as, "remember back in the 90's before the World Wide Web was a thing, when the Internet was still entirely text-based and people still knew how to spell?"

The site I spent a ton of time on from 1999-2003 (which is lamentably gone and the net will likely never again see its like), which shaped most of how I interact with the internet, was populated with people who had zero tolerance for poor grammar and spelling. Thank god.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:42 PM on August 21, 2013


I mentally berate myself every time I see a typo in one of my old comments. Even the edit window has not entirely saved me from my wracking guilt.

I'm trying to be better, I swear.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:49 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've always described this site as, "remember back in the 90's before the World Wide Web was a thing, when the Internet was still entirely text-based and people still knew how to spell?"

At the same time, if you do make the occasional spelling or grammar mistake, it's unlikely that you'll be called out on it (unless it's specifically a spelling/grammar thread). Yes, I know the difference between "it's" and "its," between "your" and "you're," and yet, once in a while, I use the wrong one anyway. And when I do it here, I trust that people will still understand what I meant, and address the substance of my comment, rather than harping on my mistake which doesn't affect the argument I was making. It's a wonderful balance in that regard.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:53 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


What if there was a website where everyone was smart? There is.

http://html5zombo.com/?
posted by juiceCake at 10:14 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I truly don't understand, what are other people doing with their time?

Letting Mark Zuckerberg's customers sell it to them.
posted by flabdablet at 10:14 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


You should join Metafilter if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by planetesimal at 10:22 PM on August 21, 2013


Sometimes I read a comment that really gets me nodding along, feeling understood- or like I understand- and then I get to the bottom and see that it was posted by someone whose comments have really resonated with me before, or that I've seen "like" my comment before, or even just who has made me laugh before, and I get this great feeling, like "oh, yeah! That's my pal, yesss! We're on the same team!" Even though I've never spoken to them or even sent them a memail because I'm kind of awkward and shy, even online, and I don't totally get how that whole being friends stuff works, and I almost feel like I'm internet-friends with them anyways and like they just gave me a high five, and it's awesome. Like if you could read your favourite author and mutually know that, in some way, you get each other.

Also questions. I has lotsa questions.

TL;DR: it's like having imaginary friends that are real. Or something. That- that's probably not the best advertisement though...
posted by windykites at 10:33 PM on August 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


What if there was a website where everyone was smart? There is.

Everyone's smart but not, you know, in a douchey way.

Trapped in a world he never made™

This is my parents' favorite phrase. I'm not sure why they're in any way interested in Howard the Duck, but they like the idea of an existential superhero duck. Anyway they say "trapped in a word (you/he/she/they) never made" a lot. Usually when someone manages to get stuck behind furniture or something.
posted by NoraReed at 10:47 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


People should join MetaFilter because even just lurking here leads to self-improvement and self-realization.

AskMe is also sort of an ersatz Chamber of Secrets so if you're careful with your questions you can bare your soul and nobody from Real Life need ever know.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:50 PM on August 21, 2013


I have a lot of friends, a beautiful wife, a fascinating, fulfilling job and it all pales in comparison to the experience and connections I have here. Like sometimes, some celebrity's all "blah blah blah" in my ear at a fabulous party I'm at and I'm thinking "my metafilter friends would tear this jerk-off a new one."

Also, I got a really cool tote bag when I paid my $5.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:05 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


For me the 5$ line was crossed when Scott Adams of Dilbert rolled into a thread ~200 comments deep to flex on mefites saying harsh facts about him. Scott Adams was obviously used to winning bouts with anonymous commentators online -- the guy writes fun-sized insults for a living, so he has some chops for sure -- but goddamn did he get ground to dust by the mefites on that day. I still get chills thinking about it.
posted by serif at 11:17 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fwiw: Someone offered to buy me a membership. I had never heard of metafilter. I asked why I should want one, what would it do for me. I remember him talking about the community. I said ok.
posted by Michele in California at 11:26 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


tote bag?

One thing that's good about it is that there aren't _too many_ members; it's manageable with the moderation model it uses.

So don't feel you must evangelize.
posted by amtho at 11:32 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've always described this site as, "remember back in the 90's before the World Wide Web was a thing, when the Internet was still entirely text-based and people still knew how to spell?"

The dream of the 90s is alive on MeFi.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:12 AM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, I got a really cool tote bag when I paid my $5.

Where's my tote bag?

All I got were immediate (gentle) recriminations for misidentifying Plesiosaurs as dinosaurs.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:15 AM on August 22, 2013


MetaFilter: it is not for everybody. Thank goodness.
posted by Cranberry at 12:31 AM on August 22, 2013


MeFi is not for everyone. You have to want to be a member.

You're saying it's a sort of Lemarchand's box in text form?

We are explorers in the further regions of the internet. We have such links to show you.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:59 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The single best reason for joining Metafilter is that it make you a more interesting person. I don't mean that in a showy offy go-impress-your-friends sort of way. I mean that if you engage with the site you learn stuff you'd never have found yourself, thought to look for yourself, or thought about in a specific way.

AskMe is a gem in its own right. Reddit and more open forums may have more users but the effort answerers put in to help people for little reward is astonishing.

That said, MeFi isn't for everyone. To my eyes, there is a growing expectation that in order to engage on social topics and come out the other side in one piece, you have to be au fait with and often agree with a particular kind of liberal American thinking. The sanctimonious, hair splitting pileons in metas that often follow rarely do the site credit and expose an at times ugly intolerance for minority or discordant views in the belief that being right and/or fighting apparent ignorance or bigotry makes it OK. In short, they're resembling Israel-Palestine threads more.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:50 AM on August 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah, you have to say "minority or discordant views" because actually saying what those views are- disgusting racism and sexism- would expose how utterly full of shit you are.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:20 AM on August 22, 2013


Yeah, you have to say "minority or discordant views" because actually saying what those views are- disgusting racism and sexism- would expose how utterly full of shit you are.

Some views might be disgusting racism and sexism, sure. And deserve the reception they get. Not all minority or discordant views are and characterising deviation from the majority view as disgusting, or being full of shit is why these types of posts on the blue or grey are cesspits.

In particular the assumption of bad faith is a major part of the problem.

Your response, Pope Guilty, makes exactly the point I was referring to.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:33 AM on August 22, 2013 [18 favorites]


There's a notion that if you spend years of your life reading lots and lots of good books, you have a better chance of becoming a good writer.

Similarly, if you stick with MetaFilter, which has a higher quality threshold (posts, comments, debate, writing) than many other places online, there's perhaps - hopefully - a notion that your own online content may nudge up on any quality scale.

Alternately, for some of us there is a quiet satisfaction in constructing well-formed FPPs.

And alternately, the snark is often both intelligent and very funny (compare with e.g. snark on YouTube comments).
posted by Wordshore at 3:39 AM on August 22, 2013


So remember to tell your friends that the juicy drama is all on the gray part.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:41 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe we don't need to have any insultomatic knife fights (or a bunch of "here's what sucks about Metafilter") in the "What's so good about MetaFilter, and why should people join?" thread. Maybe?
posted by taz (staff) at 3:42 AM on August 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Isn't the REAL problem with MetaFilter the overuse of rhetorical questions???
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:00 AM on August 22, 2013 [20 favorites]


Don't compare anything to YouTube snark. It ain't fair - by default.

I just remembered that I actually was hauled into metafilter through another member. So technically, it could be done.

(Well, sorta. Said other member is my SO)
posted by Namlit at 4:01 AM on August 22, 2013


That's easy. We have cameras.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:18 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had never heard of MetaFilter, because I'm just not cool enough. I paid my £3.31 to post an AskMe (where the hell is my tote bag?) and while I waited to ask it and then waited to read the answers, I started reading some posts. And then some more. And just a few more. And then I was addicted. I was only a member of one other online community before, but I didn't feel I fit in. And, my God, the grammar! Stumbling across here, I felt like I'd found my t'internet home. I merrily got my profile up, started commenting all over the place - and then realised I had basically crashed the cool kids party which many people lurk around and wait outside for years to join. Oops... I'm from a small place, and much more liberal than most people I know, and I'm hard pressed to find people I can talk to about a lot of things. So to find a place where people are talking about racism, sexism, language, privilege and, uh, cats everyday is just amazing. And the genuine care that strangers have for each other on AskMe really moves me.

I love it for the fact that I can read this thread and then go right on over to this one. I'm now constantly starting sentences with "I was reading this thing on MetaFilter..." I think my brother is the only person I know who would love it here, especially the Music section, so I've sent him links but he hasn't bitten yet. Gift membership, you say? Guess I know what he's getting for Christmas.
posted by billiebee at 4:19 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, you have to say "minority or discordant views" because actually saying what those views are- disgusting racism and sexism- would expose how utterly full of shit you are.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:20 AM on August 22 [+] [!]


Piss... let me see now... up a rope? Yes, that's it.

In less fighty news, Metafilter is a place where you will get a hearing.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:38 AM on August 22, 2013


I've always described this site as, "remember back in the 90's before the World Wide Web was a thing, when the Internet was still entirely text-based and people still knew how to spell?"

I laughed. I describe those times as: When you met someone online and you knew that they had to be smart, employed, and an adult, because Internet access cost money, and had to be configured*.

*...next, open up Trumpet Winsock...
posted by kimberussell at 4:49 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've always been curious, because I have been on this site pretty much every single day that I've had internet access since 2004. None of my IRL friends who were fellow five dollar n00bs have remained here with any constancy. Over the years, I've convinced half a dozen people to join (0 activity), and have encouraged many more to do so, and none of them have taken to it. (Yes, I'm aware they could have accounts that I don't know about, but I don't think that's a real possibility with the people I have in mind.)

The site is admittedly not for everyone, and it has its frustrations at times, but I'm always puzzled when people don't become enraptured by it. So much good stuff.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:01 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's so good about MetaFilter, and why should people join?

Most people everywhere (in real life and online) are pretty nice to others, and there are lots of smart and interesting people everywhere. Relatively few people are stupid assholes. Unfortunately, those few can make life (real and online) tedious for everyone else.

The difference between other sites and here is that MetaFilter won't put up with the stupid assholes. If you go into MetaFilter to be a stupid asshole, MetaFilter will fix you or shut you down or just kick you out without even giving you a refund. That's the important filtering mechanism in MetaFilter. We can go elsewhere online to find interesting things to talk about, but MetaFilter filters the people you'll be talking with.

There are still dicks here, but they're rare and they're only dicks compared to the other people you see on MetaFilter, not compared to the people you'd run into elsewhere.
posted by pracowity at 5:05 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


To my eyes, there is a growing expectation that in order to engage on social topics and come out the other side in one piece, you have to be au fait with and often agree with a particular kind of liberal American thinking. The sanctimonious, hair splitting pileons in metas that often follow...

Some views might be disgusting racism and sexism, sure. And deserve the reception they get. Not all minority or discordant views are and characterising deviation from the majority view as disgusting...


When was the last time someone expressing a conservative-but-not-racist/sexist/etc. viewpoint resulted in a MeTa callout? Because I don't see that happening much, if ever.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:08 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are other threads where we can talk politics, guys.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:25 AM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


If this was Tumblr I'd probably post a gif of Luna Lovegood saying "It's like having friends" because that what Metafilter is for me.

But I'm not sure I'd recommend the site directly, most of my enjoyment comes from the comments and not everyone likes to read. Maybe a link to AskMeFi if they are having a problem.
posted by Memo at 5:48 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


They shouldn't. If people I know start reading this site, they might realise that my trenchant wit and brilliant insights are not, strictly speaking, all my own work.
posted by metaBugs at 5:56 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


What's so good about MetaFilter, and why should people join?

I disagree with your premise: people shouldn't join. They have already basically ruined the rest of the internet.
posted by gauche at 6:00 AM on August 22, 2013 [8 favorites]



Not sure how I came across Metafilter in the first place. It was years ago. I think it was when I became much more interested in what was going on in US politics and it became one of my goto sites during and after 9/11. I lurked for a long time and eventually signed up under another username though I didn't post much. I was active on several other sites. Life happened and for a time I didn't do much with any discussion boards. I went on a bit of an internet discussion sabbatical.

After that I came back a re-visited a lot of my old sites and Metafilter was the only one that I felt like participating in again. By that time I wasn't even sure of my username and the one of the ones I would of used experienced complete password fail. I also lost access to the email I would have used so I just signed up again. This is my metafilter 2.0.

I've talked quite a bit about discussions and information I've gotten from here. Especially with my Mom who over the past year has really gotten into what's happening in the US politically. She knows it as "My discussion board, or that discussion board I'm on." I've told her that it's one of the best places, if not the best that I've found to have serious and silly discussions about just about everything without lots of crap. It reminds me of the type a conversations and atmosphere I'd have with people, some I know better then other over a beer. Yes sometimes things get heated and some people make me roll my eyes over some topics and opinions but it doesn't get all assholey and full of internet type vitrol and stupidity like so many other places.

Also, though I don't have any clue about the actual ratio it feels to me to be more gendered balanced in both members and participation then many other boards I've been on. So many seem to skew one way or another. To get all touchy feely it's one of the only places on the net that I feel free, just to be me and not be concerned about a lot of crap women can experience on the net. Especially if your a female who has opinions about things. For example as a female gamer the Mefight Club offshoot of this site is an absolute dream.
posted by Jalliah at 6:07 AM on August 22, 2013


I was recently traveling and had the opportunity to stay with some friends overseas. When I came home people ask about my trip, whether I had a good time, and how I meet such wonderful people in far off places. I don't always answer "Metafilter," but often that is the source, even if the friendship is once or twice removed.

I like meetups. I rarely have the time to participate in this site at the level some do, but whenever I travel I try to attend a MeFi meetup. So my favourite part of the site is the people behind the pixels.

Now if anyone in the UK can sponsor me for a work visa, I am all ears.
posted by terrapin at 6:18 AM on August 22, 2013


Opposite side of the ColdChef method:

Lurk without joining, send your friends links to awesome threads, refer to the site enough that friends no longer need to know which forum you mean, lurk more, link more, then join in a panic when you realize you are the last of your friends to do so.
posted by skrozidile at 6:20 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are no tote bags!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:43 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


(BUZZ)

What was the phrase that set off the great NPR Riot of '85.
posted by griphus at 6:44 AM on August 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


People should not join metafilter, we have enough people. More cats should join because we do not have enough cats. There are not enough posts made presenting the cat pov on important cat issues.
posted by elizardbits at 6:45 AM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


There are no tote bags!

Oh, have we got a video?
 
posted by Herodios at 6:53 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love it for all of the reasons mentioned above. But I will also mention another reason: MetaTalk.

What I'm getting at is connected to the community aspect, but it's more than it, I think. It's also about the way in which users of this site establish norms of posting and commenting, and work together to maintain the site's culture as a place we want to be. It's above and beyond, and better in my opinion, than traditional moderation of community websites. I think it's a fabulous model of governance, and participating (or more often, just reading) the discussions that take place there make me a better and more thoughtful participant, critic, and human.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:02 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, have we got a video?

It's a video nasty!

It's a carpet, farty!

You just can't get this scintillating repartee on other sites.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:04 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are no tote bags!.

Well then someone ripped me off. Fucking tote pirates.
posted by mullacc at 7:09 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I paid my £3.31...

Hey, why do the English get a break on admission?! Honestly, Matt I think we could afford higher quality Brits around here.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:12 AM on August 22, 2013


Trapped in a world he never made™

This is my parents' favorite phrase. I'm not sure why they're in any way interested in Howard the Duck, but they like the idea of an existential superhero duck.


Going by profiles, I am probably in the same cohort as your parents, so there is that.

I come here because, compared to the big room with the blue ceiling: On balance, these usually outweigh enduring the ongoing undergraduate politics seminar / Struggle Session.

*Like, has anyone noticed that the summer stand-in for White House press Secretary Jay Carney is named Josh Earnest -- which basically means 'kidding on the square' or maybe 'to serve BS with sincerity'?
posted by Herodios at 7:17 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Going by profiles, I am probably in the same cohort as your parents, so there is that.

They also had quoted the Spanish Inquisition sketch so much that I pretty much had it memorized by the time that a) I'd ever seen it and b) I had any idea what the actual Spanish Inquisition was. Is that standard for your cohort, or is that just them? (They also showed me Life of Brian when I was too young to get the jokes, knew absolutely nothing about religion, and they had to explain Biggus Dickus to me.)
posted by NoraReed at 7:20 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seconding that it's a community you can trust in a crisis, particularly because of the anon function. Y'all are amazing and kind and have saved lives and sanity by offering compassionate advice to people stuck in scary and messed up situations.
posted by spunweb at 7:23 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also you are a funny bunch with good taste in music and books.
posted by spunweb at 7:24 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


One thing that I love about Metafilter is the non-superficiality of the moderation here. No one cares if you say "fuck" but they do care if you're a disingenuous asshole.
posted by octothorpe at 7:25 AM on August 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


Totes are only available at the $25 level, or as part of the combo pack at the $75 levels.

You only get a curt email at the $5 level---they don't even bother with a paper receipt.
posted by bonehead at 7:29 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


No one cares if you say "fuck" but they do care if you're a disingenuous asshole.

Well, they do care if you're being a fuckwad who's fucking with the site or members. You do that or discuss the fuckability of a muthafucka, they'll mutter "for fuck's sake" and you're fucked.

So keep it classy, you fuckers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:35 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a green American expatriate, having just arrived in Europe in February of 2001. The 9/11 thread made me feel not so lonely on that day.
posted by rocketpup at 7:37 AM on August 22, 2013


Well, I'm here for one thing.
posted by The Whelk at 7:40 AM on August 22, 2013


Not everyone likes that.
posted by planetesimal at 7:41 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some blog I read kept linking to AskMeFi.

I kept finding the links useful.

I had $5 and ponied it up.

I haven't left since.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:50 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


What would you point to as a "This is why you should join." kind of thing?
I send Metafilter links to friends; if they like the place, if it strikes some chord in them, they'll join. Mostly, they don't spend as much time on the Web, so it's a non-issue. Being on MeFi means I'm relatively current with what's going on on the Web and I have some familiarity with different ideas about current events. We really don't need to proselytize - most USians will find MeFi on their own. Not sure about the rest of the world, and it would be interesting to know how members from other countries found the place. Matt has grown the site carefully, reducing noise and letting signal be heard.

Good spelling and grammar makes MeFi readable in a way that few sites approach. Thank you, everyone.

I agree that we need to listen carefully to minority or discordant views. Assumption of good faith enhances understanding. The tendency is to snark 1st, ask questions later; the easy zinger is rewarded. It has to be safe to disagree with one (or more) of the 'cool kids.' Still, there's more genuine discussion here than any other site I've known, so I keep coming back. Each member makes it a good or not-so-good place to be, and it's usually a pretty good place to be.
posted by theora55 at 7:55 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


You only get a curt email at the $5 level---

Yeah, I used to work with that guy. His father was a French jewelry maker, his mother a German ettiquette coach.

[My parents] quoted the Spanish Inquisition sketch so much . . . Is that standard for your cohort, or is that just them?

It is quite a common malady among a certain age group, I fear.

They also showed me Life of Brian when I was too young to get the jokes

My brothers introduced our father (b. 1920s) to Life of Brian a few years back; he was not too old to get the jokes, and positively ROARED at the graffiti scene. Some humour is or can be mutli-generational.

[I] knew absolutely nothing about religion, and they had to explain Biggus Dickus to me.

OK, here's a MeFi thing: I read that and for one beat I'm thinking, "religion . . . Biggus Dickus . . . wait, was there a joke there I've been missing for thirty years? Nah!" But you had me wondering for a moment.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:59 AM on August 22, 2013


I like how Matt has let the site grow and be itself, and not tried to monetize us to the gills or treated MetaFilter as a brand.

I like how the mods are reasonable and smart and active, and a lot of what is good about the site flows from that. It's hard to underestimate.

I like that it's not a tyranny of the able-minded able-bodied twentysomethings.

I like what Devil's Advocate talked about, how MeFites know and care about shallow things a lot, but also are mature enough to address the substance. The corollary is that MetaFilter can call out the dissemblers. I like that too.

I like that sometimes people try to understand that there are real people on the other side of usernames.

I like that MetaFilter users skew humane. To some that probably looks like left-wing bias.

I like that it tries to be a safe place where people can sometimes let down their guard.

I like to think there are people here who share my weird/dumb/off sense of humor and I like to imagine I've made anyone laugh, ever. I like that it's made me laugh a lot.

Those are the things I think are good about MetaFilter. Caveat-free, it's pretty sappy list!
posted by bleep-blop at 8:00 AM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, I'm here for one thing.

Cookies? I was told there'd be cookies.
posted by arcticseal at 8:21 AM on August 22, 2013


The site forces me, with great regularity, to revisit assumptions and to try to understand the world through somebody else's experience. In particular, the recent threads on the experiences of transgendered people have been extraordinary opportunities for me to get to know the day-to-day experience of trans people, and the various ways they think about their experiences, and the ways my experiences might interest with theirs. I'm really grateful for discussions like that.

Additionally, the site has repeatedly caused me to revisit the way I interact with people, and pushed me to becomes somebody who wants to contribute meaningfully to a community. And, as so much of the web is dominated by snark, by put-downs, and by a gunslinging attitude toward conversation, I'm glad there is a place that encourages this.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:25 AM on August 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


I generally just say, "It's a site that gathers all kinds of neat stuff from the web, the people in the comment threads are smart and use complete sentences, and the $5 to join keeps the riff raff out." I've convinced several people to join, but only one of them is an active poster. Several others are lurkers though.

Also:

MetaFilter: less awful than most of the rest of the internet
posted by brundlefly at 8:38 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like reading stuff that challenges me and my long-held ideas. (This happens a lot here, too.) And I love it when I read something I agree with, only to discover it was written by someone who I often disagree with. :7)

Also, Secret Quonsar is awwwwwesome.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:40 AM on August 22, 2013


I'm getting a little tired of the "MetaFilter is so, so liberal and no other point of view is listened to" trope that's been getting so much air on the site recently. Let me explain that although I post intermittently and had to struggle early on with the choice between reading ALL the MetaFilter and living the rest of my life, resolved by learning to resolutely look away from a lot of interesting things here and skimming sometimes, I do look a lot at the political and breaking news items. And I'm tired of this criticism.

Because although it is true this site breaks left, I'm from a different camp. I started off my political career as a young libertarian, became a conservative Republican, and then gradually over time became a true moderate. I am comfortable these days saying that the Republicans left me, I didn't leave them, but I'm still an independent, not a Democrat or anything further left.

And, although I don't always engage in all discussions --for example, I feel no need to drop into the Manning thread to say no matter his good motivations or his difficult personal life, I think he got a deservedly serious punishment for serious criminal behavior -- I've had some good and respectful ones here. I've learned a lot. I think MetaFilter has moved me further left since I joined, but via reason and information, not hectoring or intolerance.

I've learned plenty of other things from this site, but I'd add that sharp discussion on political and social justice issues is not the same as intolerance or not listening. This is a place where people can actually respectfully disagree.
posted by bearwife at 9:02 AM on August 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


No particular thread, but I love the human drama--and frequent generosity--of Ask and Metatalk. And never thought I'd find such a great group of people to talk with--feels like being back in college, in the best way.
posted by mlle valentine at 9:03 AM on August 22, 2013


now I want cookies.
posted by The Whelk at 9:04 AM on August 22, 2013


I love reading through people's questions: I learn so much about the world and the way other people think from both what they ask and how they ask it. (And then there's all the actual *answers* - the things people people up on in someone's question that I didn't notice, or the things they say about what helped them.)

I recommend it - especially the green - to people who have the kinds of questions search engines aren't very good at answering. (The times when you really want a dozen people's personal experience, coherently written.)
posted by modernhypatia at 9:08 AM on August 22, 2013


I bet the cabal has tote ba
posted by windykites at 9:11 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


People usually are interested when I tell them about the private bittorrent tracker--I've said too much
posted by entropicamericana at 9:23 AM on August 22, 2013


This MetaTalk thread.

Why?

Because it starts off like so many MetaTalk threads: a fairly harsh criticism of site culture, phrased in a way that usually guarantees pushback. And, for a while, it's an argument that gets pretty hot.

But as you read through the thread, about two-thirds of the way through, it starts to turn into something else. The heat moderates, and it turns into a genuine discussion, with back-and-forth from multiple people talking about their lived experiences. And not only that: it also turns into a historical discussion of how these lived experiences fit with other peoples' lived experiences in history.

And most of those people are women.

It's hard to overstate how unusual this is on the Internet, and even with the $5 bar to entry, MetaFilter has attracted its fair share of assholes. There have been any number of chances for that thread to go completely off the rails and turn into a mess.

But it hasn't. And it most likely won't. And that's exactly what MetaFilter is at its best: a place where the community and the standards come into alignment to become greater than either alone. It is an expression of community that has waned substantially in the United States as confrontation has become the default mode of communication. And it is rare.

Threads like that are why I come here, and why I keep coming here, even when I get frustrated. Because those threads are us at our best, and make up for a whole lot of us at our worst.
posted by scrump at 9:49 AM on August 22, 2013 [18 favorites]


What was the phrase that set off the great NPR Riot of '85.

The other day, when I was describing the difference between reddit and metafilter to my cats, I said, "reddit's comments have the underlying tone of combative condescension; mefi's comments have the underlying tone of an NPR story about self-actualization"
posted by Greg Nog at 9:57 AM on August 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's hard to overstate how unusual this is on the Internet, and even with the $5 bar to entry, MetaFilter has attracted its fair share of assholes.

And MetaFilter has certainly attracted its share of visitors! The malcontents and hipsters were coming here as early as the late 1990s to trade with the bloggers. In fact, "MetaFilter" is a blogger name. It is pronounced "Meh-tah-fill-terr," which is technorati for "the good land."

Anyway, some of those "assholes" have been here before the paywall was erected "to keep the riff-raff out."
posted by entropicamericana at 10:02 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also: community. Because you guys are great.

Easy for you to say ColdChef. People around here actually like you.
posted by slogger at 10:07 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


To answer OP's question, though, what I value most about mefi is all the wonderful people I've met through it. Facebook and myspace and friendster have all been social networks that reified already-existing relationships, but mefi's created entirely new social networks, and my life is immeasurably better for it. I have metafilter to thank for at least half the friends I have IRL. It has so many extraordinary people, and it is absolutely a blessing in my life.

Also, I think insofar as I ever write anything good, it's almost always based on something else someone writes, whether that's an argument or an agreement or a joke based on a really perfect set-up. Metafilter is an endless source of cool written things, and keeps me feeling alive and intellectually-engaged instead of ossifying or closing down into a little solipsistic vortex.

That said, I think I've only ever suggested like two people join, and I think only one of them did. I bought him a membership, maybe? Maaik, are you reading this? Hi Maaik! Hello!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:08 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh also if your S.O.'s on the site it is a rich and hilarious source of some really sweet-ass gossip
posted by Greg Nog at 10:09 AM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't actually know why I'm here. That's not a knock against Mefi, as if I'm only here out of habit - it's just been such an integral part of my daily internetting for upwards of twelve years (!) that I think it's kind of difficult to disentangle the specifics. My day is significantly nicer, on average, for reading and commenting (in like a 100000/1 ratio) and I don't think there are many websites I can say that about without hesitation.
posted by emmtee at 10:10 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh also if your S.O.'s on the site it is a rich and hilarious source of some really sweet-ass gossip

You know it.

I like you, slogger.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:16 AM on August 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


MeFi has actually made me a better person in real life, so there's that. It doesn't seem like it sometimes, but MetaFilter actually does a really great job of telling you when you're wrong, which is an important thing in life I think.

Also: you guys.

Also: there seem to be fewer and fewer places on the internet that don't give me this wave of "oh god why am I filling my brain with this." My facebook, full of smart folks as it is, is overwhelmed with The Top 10 Things You're Doing Wrong in Bed and 100 Cities With the Best Pancakes. Sometimes I feel like the message behind a lot of aggregating-type websites is "Be Dumb and Be Anxious," and MetaFilter isn't that.

But I don't really tell people to join, for much the same reasons as smoke. At my old office sometimes they would see me with it open (professional white background) and someone would roll their eyes and say, ah, The Filt. It isn't for everybody, which is why it's good.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:29 AM on August 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


slogger: " Easy for you to say ColdChef. People around here actually like you."

I like you, too. FWIW. :)

BTW, I just (belatedly) favorited a post you made earlier this year that has brought me a lot of joy and that I didn't even realize you had posted. It let me expand the menu of dishes I can serve my vegan friends and extremely picky mother. Are You Experienced was about J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's post of 60 Vegan recipes. Also, I love creamy tomato soup, but many brands of the premade stuff have a very high sodium content. Upwards of 650-700mg or more. The recipe Kenji gives is quick, delicious, and can be easily altered to diminish sodium content to a more manageable level.

So thank you for that, and for introducing me to Kenji.

One of my favorite things about Metafilter and Reddit is how they introduce us to things that we might otherwise never have known existed. Perspectives we might never have heard. Opening our eyes to the world around us.

Slogger, just think: that post is probably not the only one you've created that had an effect (good or bad, minor or major) on people (OK, just one person in my case,) without your being aware of it. :)
posted by zarq at 10:37 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, Greg Nog, don't keep us hanging - are your cats going to sign up?
posted by maryr at 11:09 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Trapped in a world he never made™

This is my parents' favorite phrase. I'm not sure why they're in any way interested in Howard the Duck, but they like the idea of an existential superhero duck. Anyway they say "trapped in a word (you/he/she/they) never made" a lot. Usually when someone manages to get stuck behind furniture or something.


Trapped behind furniture? Or something? Are your parents actually mildly intelligent dogs? I think there is more to this story than you let on, as I have never seen someone get trapped behind furniture, except for very young children, often at the crawling stage of life.

(I would have asked if your parents are actually babies, but that would make no sense at all.)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:18 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The baby is parent to the parent I am completely quoting that wrong.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:22 AM on August 22, 2013


I've given up on telling people to join. Most of the regular friends I have are already on here, from new folks I met in LA to even some high school buddies that joined independently. MeFi gets enough press that if it's a thing you're into, you'll probably find it. If not, hey, that's cool too.

"that's a model people are familiar with, rather than having to pay (???) to read stuff on the Internet (?????)"

You don't pay to read it. You pay $5 to tell someone else they're reading it wrong.
posted by klangklangston at 11:32 AM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Lutoslawski: "y facebook, full of smart folks as it is, is overwhelmed with The Top 10 Things You're Doing Wrong in Bed and 100 Cities With the Best Pancakes. Sometimes I feel like the message behind a lot of aggregating-type websites is "Be Dumb and Be Anxious," and MetaFilter isn't that. "

My favorite thing at the moment is The Top 20 Signs That You're an Introvert. I've seen a couple variations of that recently, and it seems like a lot of people want to talk to each other about how introverted they are.
posted by brundlefly at 11:39 AM on August 22, 2013


Yeah, that never happens here.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:46 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


MeFi just introduced me to Taylor Swift rapping, which was worth the price of admission right there.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:59 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nthing much of what smoke so eloquently says.

What I love about AskMe is the absolute integrity, genuine thoughtfulness, respectful difference of opinions and internet hugs. People here be smart and kind and generous of spirit. And I've been able to talk about intensely personal things here that I'm not going to share with my family or friends. There's safety in anonymity.

What I love on the flip side, and I mean this most sincerely, is that I like to feel useful and helpful. And over the years, it's been an incredibly satisfying feeling to see a struggling MeFite and know that I can offer some perspective. I don't always get to do that in my real life.

MeFi I love because I know that I can check in and find something really cool, something silly or provoking, and I always know that the ensuing conversation will make me laugh aloud and/or consider a subject in more depth.

I can't articulate clearly why this is, but I don't like to share MeFi with my friends. It's my thing. I want to keep it my thing.
posted by kinetic at 12:19 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter is like the wise grandparent who's seen it all. Chances are, whatever's going on, MeFi has been there before, has some interesting and relevant insights to offer, and is happy to tell you when you're making an ass of yourself, but then offer kind and genuine help to recover.

My default approach to starting research on pretty much anything I don't know much about, from insurance to obscure sciences to tiny indie video games, is to check whether there's a thread on MeFi/AskMe about the topic - and there always always is. A bunch of kind, intelligent strangers on the internet have taught me - among so many other things - how to buy a house, maintain my bike, cook in cast iron pans, and keep perspective during disagreements with my girlfriend - then fiancee - then wife.

And then there are jokes about butts, because a wise grandparent just has to be wildly inappropriate sometimes.
posted by Rallon at 12:36 PM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


YES WE'VE GOT A VIDEO
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:01 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was Sir Lurksalot for years, and happily so. Then, someone made a post about a topic dear to my heart, and there was a good discussion going. Usually, if I waited long enough, somebody else would make the comment I would have made if I had been a member, but this time nobody did. So, I jumped in.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:15 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Um, I know this a little weird, but one of my absolute favorite things about MetaFilter is the Music subsite. Yes it's very low-activity but also amazing and creative in a way that I find very difficult to explain, I just know that I like it there a lot.
posted by Doleful Creature at 2:48 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]



I have another reason. The thread about role playing games, led to hooking up with 3 other mefites to play a game online in a week or so. It's something I've wanted to do again for some time. I can be all excited about getting to pretend be a goblin for a few hours one afternoon and won't get tons of "OMG what is wrong with you nerd woman. U so stupid and dumb." Cause lots of people here understand how fun it can be pretending to be a goblin for a few hours.
posted by Jalliah at 3:21 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a couple of friends, both of gentle disposition, who purchased MeFi memberships, but stopped participating after being treated kind of roughly by other posters.

MetaFilter is kind of an acquired taste, not one that I would push on other people.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:29 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can be all excited about getting to pretend be a goblin for a few hours one afternoon

That nerd enthusiasm thing is what really does it for me. Having a place where, when I read about something like the last radio transmissions of the Titanic, I can be sure that either people have already seen it before (and know things about it that are fun to learn about) or do not know about it and will be as interested as I was to learn about it. Now I have to go make that post...
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:31 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I joined because I like telling other people what to do and I had to pay $5 to do that on AskMe.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:45 PM on August 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


MetaFilter: Come for the epic rap battles, stay for the nerdthusiasm.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:50 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I commend the chat room to your lordship too.
posted by ersatz at 4:09 PM on August 22, 2013


Ersatz hush. If everyone shows up, we might have to behave.
posted by Michele in California at 4:11 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


My seven-year old son recently told me he has decided to write a story about the hobbits before they moved to the shire. I don't know many people IRL who would quite get why that made me happy.
posted by Area Man at 6:00 PM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I tried to explain the site to my best friend a couple weeks ago. He replied, "Oh it's topical stuff." And... so much for that.

My sister joined! That is the ultimate vote of confidence, as far as I'm concerned. [waves at suburbanbeatnik]
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:02 PM on August 22, 2013


I bet the cabal has tote ba

Indeed.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:18 PM on August 22, 2013


People should join MetaFilter because it's a great way to meet interesting people and read what they think; because it's well moderated; and because the New York crowd will probably be funny until the site shuts down. The site as a whole may not be for everyone, but I think anyone could find something to like somewhere here.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:21 PM on August 22, 2013


Metafilter: truly funny in-jokes
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:40 PM on August 22, 2013


I joined because I correctly intuited that 11 years later boo_radley would post GIF DANCE PARTY. I regret nothing.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:38 AM on August 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I joined because I got the impression that this is where the smart folks hang out. I'm not disappointed.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:12 AM on August 23, 2013


Amazing links, check.
Interesting conversation about said links, check.
People actually asking for advice, check.
Gossip about site interactions, check.
Music, projects, real life interactions, check.
Arseholishness discouraged, check.

I love this place. It's first place on my tabs. It gives me the shits and teaches me and makes me question things and encourages me and I love it like I love my family.
posted by h00py at 7:06 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find MetaFilter frustrating, outrageous, ridiculous, amazing, and addicting. I just can't quit coming back. It's really like the red pill, you have to take it to understand and once you do you can't go back.
posted by Kimberly at 7:27 AM on August 23, 2013


Just a reminder, I still hate every one of you.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:03 AM on August 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


I joined MetaFilter so eyeballkid would hate me. Any attention, any attention at all...
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:11 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's what you tell me over and over and over again, my friend. But I can't believe 'cause you're the EvaDestruction.
posted by maryr at 9:24 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Eva is apparently my oldest son. Or his clone.
posted by Michele in California at 12:37 PM on August 23, 2013


Metafilter is a one-stop shop for art, literature, music, pop culture, human drama, politics, world events and current events.

It is the best of the web and the world.

And best of all? It's people talking about all of that. Obsessively and minutely. Examining every bean on the plate! So that by the time you're done, you know what that bean really means. I think it's the discussion that does it for me. There's always a disagreement or discussion, no one ever takes anything for granted or without thought. It can get obsessive, but people don't just swallow anything and everything, they always debate it. You can't just post liberal and have people blindly agree with it, anymore than you can post conservative with blind agreement. And all of this comes with good spelling, grammar and punctuation too.

I don't recommend Metafilter. It's not to keep it private, but for me, it's not like a book or a movie. It's a community. If people want a community, I'd recommend it in a heartbeat. But for most people, I just recommend this link or that link.
posted by stoneegg21 at 1:16 PM on August 23, 2013


I may have missed it up thread, but does no one else recommend Metafilter on the basis of its professional white background?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Must be just me then.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:15 AM on August 25, 2013


Yeah, I'm kind of happy that no one in my meatspace knows about the site that I know of.
posted by Renoroc at 3:42 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyway, some of those "assholes" have been here before the paywall was erected "to keep the riff-raff out."

Hey, I resemble that remark!

I've never been able to explain MeFi all that well. The husband unit knows it's the place I pick up some of the cooler things I talk about, but he doesn't get the community aspect. Which is a little weird when you realize that he and I met playing (ahem) EverQuest, but there you go.

I'm sort of in the "I don't tell anyone, it's my little secret" camp. It's been a long, LONG time since I joined, so I can't remember how I found it. And oh boy was I an idiot at first; I was young(ish) and was coming from, like, Fark.com or something, so I hadn't figured out how to craft my comments well. And I was here through some of the "boyzone" days, when it was sometimes a pretty hostile place, before moderation. I love AskMeFi, I love that if I came here with a problem, you guys would help if you could. I love that when the damn dog got cancer, there were already bunches of threads I could read without having to type up a whole big thing while crying (which I'm kinda doing now because we had to put him down Thursday).

It's hard to explain all that, but if I were going to try, I'd say: It's a collection of very, very different people, some of whom are subject matter experts in a huge variety of areas, that find some of the most interesting stuff on the internet, post links, and talk about it. It's a place where I learned more from 1999-2002 than I learned at grad school those same years. It's a place where when someone comes in saying she's in a shitty relationship but literally doesn't have the money to pay for food, never mind GTFO, scores of complete strangers came out of the woodwork with offers to paypal money, links to foodbanks, and offers of places to crash without hesitation. It's the best stuff I have ever found on the web anywhere, and the only website I first started reading in 2001, left for many years, and have come back to, because there just isn't anything else like it out there.

And my god, that Scott Adams thread was gold. I'm sorry I missed it; damn this busy life thing.
posted by jennaratrix at 1:09 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't the REAL problem with MetaFilter the overuse of rhetorical questions???
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:00 AM on August 22 [18 favorites +] [!]


Gets my vote.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:05 AM on August 27, 2013


I like you, slogger.
posted by jessamyn



That's why she's going to ban you last.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:09 AM on August 27, 2013


I joined because: Google, and Ask.Metafilter, and for all the other internet askers.

I'd google questions that came into my head (best way to do this, what happens if you x), all the time, and Ask.metafilter.com came up all the time. All the time.
It got to the point where I'd just start searching Ask.mefi
It's like the Wikipedia of human questions.
And then... then, there were the unanswered threads. Or the ones where there was an obvious answer that had been missed.
But I couldn't edit the wiki!

So I bought a membership, so I could add answers to this pool of human knowledge.

I actually showed up on a list of slowest commenters initially, because that's how I used the site. I would research a question, using Mefi, and other sources, and if I felt I had something to add, I'd go comment at end of the thread.
Some of my favorite commenters were gone from the site before I even joined.

I kind of worry that I don't use Mefi like that so much - did I get more into the interaction with people?
Worse, the high of the occasional favorite? And old comments don't get favorites, and it bothers me to think I'm influence by that - for every commenter, there are hundreds of lurkers, just reading these posts, so maybe it's still useful to them. It is still really satisfying to me when another commenter or poster specifically calls me out as useful.


I do try and use Mefi less now, though. It was taking up too much time, and I think I'd get a little dependent when my problem-solving brain was feeling irritated with problems that I can't currently do anything about, so I'm answering questions on Ask.mefi because they *are* solvable problems.
(Flashbacks to sitting in the library as a kid, feeling like if only I could just find the RIGHT book, I'd be able to fix everything)
My life is both going better, in that I mostly have less of those unsolvable problems, and I can more efficiently use my energy towards them, rather than surfing online.


I do feel I use Mefi in a more superficial way now - browsing most popular comments, or using a browser addon to only show top fav'd comments on a long thread, which tends to pick out wittiest comments, rather than necessarily solid.
It's still a very friendly, supportive community which I'm happy to be part of, in some small way.


Oh yeah, and it's odd to think of RL friends reading these comments - so much unintended insight! Ooops.
posted by Elysum at 4:33 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


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