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State of MetaFilter
May 19, 2014 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Today I need to share some unfortunate news: because of serious financial downturn, MetaFilter will be losing three of its moderators to layoffs at the end of this month. What that means for the site and the site’s future are described below.

While MetaFilter approaches 15 years of being alive and kicking, the overall website saw steady growth for the first 13 of those years. A year and a half ago, we woke up one day to see a 40% decrease in revenue and traffic to Ask MetaFilter, likely the result of ongoing Google index updates. We scoured the web and took advice of reducing ads in the hopes traffic would improve but it never really did, staying steady for several months and then periodically decreasing by smaller amounts over time.

The long-story-short is that the site’s revenue peaked in 2012, back when we hired additional moderators and brought our total staff up to eight people. Revenue has dropped considerably over the past 18 months, down to levels we last saw in 2007, back when there were only three staffers.

We’ve considered fundraisers, Kickstarters, and Pro Accounts, but none of the numbers add up. Kickstarter specifically forbids campaigns for websites that are primarily about social networking and KS is also a one-time band-aid solution to a problem that is ongoing. On the subscription payment idea, even if 10% of the userbase started paying a few bucks a month for extra Pro-level features, we’d still be coming up thousands of dollars short each month. We even explored selling the site to new owners, with the goal of having someone else run the financial/advertising side of things while we run the community as-is, but those talks were unsuccessful in finding a good suitor despite months of work.

Where we are headed

The site is currently and has been for several months operating at a significant loss. If nothing were to change, MeFi would defaulting on bills and hitting bankruptcy by mid-summer. As a result, I’m having to make the difficult decision to lay off employees to make up for budget shortfalls. Starting June 1st, we’ll be operating with a smaller moderator staff.

Jessamyn, who has worked in some capacity on the site for almost 10 years and was instrumental in shaping the voice of Ask MetaFilter, is taking a voluntary layoff. She has been vital to the site since the day she started volunteering to help on MeFi and has continued to help guide MetaFilter as it grew in size and scope. It’s a huge understatement to say she will be missed.

Our two most recent hires, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane, are also stepping down; they’ve also been excellent contributors to the team and acted as thoughtful and fair moderators throughout their time here. You may see them pop up from time to time in emergencies or when the remaining mods are on vacation, but they won't be doing daily moderation after the end of this month. I’m glad to say that cortex, restless_nomad, taz, and pb will be staying on.

Resetting Expectations

The main takeaway for MeFi members reading this is to recalibrate expectations of the moderation staff. Fewer people will be working longer shifts and the current response times to contact form emails of less than a few minutes will increase. There’s a chance a bad post on the front page might sit for an hour on a weekend when people are out and about instead of being deleted more quickly. In the future, borderline comments that derail a conversation and require multiple moderators nursing a thread along for days on end may instead end more often in a deleted comment. We may give users a night off more often if they’re being problematic in multiple places in a short period of time instead of emailing individual users asking them what’s up and waiting to see if they dial things back.

We're also going to be looking to the Metafilter community to help us deal with tighter moderator resources by being sure to flag things and move on, encourage good behavior by example, and let us know via the contact form if something needs immediate attention.

Necessary Adjustments

As we adjust to these lower staffing levels, we'll be looking at things that can help us manage the site with fewer mod-hours. We've talked in the past about revisiting flagging, and we plan to look at that again and to consider modifying the flagging interface to make it more visible and easier to use to encourage active flagging. We'll be expanding our moderator toolset on the back end to help automate our workflow and improve our ability to monitor flags and trouble spots on the site. In general, we're going to be trying different things out over time with the goal of letting us continue to maintain and support the site and community as best as possible with less overall moderator presence. We really appreciate all of you being willing to roll with it as we do our best to adapt to the new situation.

Conclusions

I’m sad to have to cut staff positions, but I believe the members are what make a community great and I am looking forward to MetaFilter’s sustained presence online. We may have to make hard choices in the future as they come up, but the goal will always be towards having the best place online to share neat stuff, to ask and answer questions, and to have the kinds of thoughtful conversations that make this place what it is.

Update

If you've like to help contribute something to MetaFilter, we've made a dedicated funding page here.
posted by mathowie to MetaFilter-Related at 9:04 AM (1702 comments total) 114 users marked this as a favorite

I want to thank Jessamyn for a decade of patience and steady hand at the till. I am glad she will continue to be a valuable member of the community she helped nurture. Cheers.
posted by terrapin at 9:07 AM on May 19 [693 favorites]


.

Wow, please let us know if there is something we can do. I know that the value I get from the site (even just Jessamyn's value added) is worth way more than the NPR station I already gladly give an anual membership to.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:11 AM on May 19 [233 favorites]


Will the layoffs themselves save MetaFilter (money wise)? Or do you need more revenue?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:11 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


Thank you, Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane. You'll be missed terribly.

This is a special place, and I would be crushed if MetaFilter were gone. Matt, tell us what we can do further from the above.
posted by The Michael The at 9:12 AM on May 19 [96 favorites]


You guys are all great and make this website super great and this is really sad! Thanks to jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten for all their awesome hard work over teh years! I would totally pay more/monthly if you do decide to go in that direction.
posted by leesh at 9:12 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


I'm really sorry to hear this. All the moderators have been great. I will especially miss Jessamyn's wise and humane moderation. I really hope she sticks around.
posted by Magnakai at 9:12 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Does this take Metafilter back into the black for the long term?
posted by garlic at 9:12 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Since there isn't a pledge drive, I pledge to be nicer.
posted by Beardman at 9:13 AM on May 19 [89 favorites]


Thank you jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane, for all of your phenomenal work. If there is anything else we Can do to help this community remain sustainable mathowie, I also hope you'll let us know.
posted by anitanita at 9:13 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


> Thank you, Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane. You'll be missed terribly.

Seconded. I'm very sorry it's come to this, and I sure hope things pick up financially.
posted by languagehat at 9:13 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


*

A star instead of a single period for Jessamyn. Thank you!
posted by edmz at 9:13 AM on May 19 [76 favorites]


I also wish some NPR-like drive could be done
posted by angrycat at 9:13 AM on May 19 [12 favorites]


Wow I'm really sorry to hear that. It's hard to imagine MeFi without jessamyn. Will she still be around? Also LM and gnfti will be really missed. Count me in as another person who would gladly pay a monthly subscription for the value I get from here.
posted by billiebee at 9:13 AM on May 19 [21 favorites]


Wow, no idea that you guys were going through this. That sucks.

Good luck to Jessamyn, gnfti and LobsterMitten — I do hope all y'all stick around as members, at least.
posted by klangklangston at 9:13 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


I'm really sorry to hear this. Please do let us know if we can contribute financially. This place is worth a lot to me.
posted by ladybird at 9:14 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Fingers crossed, and thanks to everyone who works behind the scenes here.
posted by gerryblog at 9:14 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Jeepers. I know from the above the numbers have been run, but for what it's worth I would subscribe to this place in a jiffy, pro-features or no. And my pebble to the Ex-mod-love avalanche that is surely a-comin'.
posted by robself at 9:14 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Will she still be around?

Absolutely. I'll write up a longer personal thing a bit later but this is literally just "I am moving on in my professional life." MetaFilter remains my online home.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:14 AM on May 19 [495 favorites]


That's sad news. I hope the changes work and things get into an even keel.

I do see AskMe in google searches, but haven't paid enough attention to notice if that has change over time.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:14 AM on May 19


Will the layoffs themselves save MetaFilter (money wise)?

We'll be back in the black with a little bit of padding, so yeah, it will help for the long term unless something drastic happened down the line.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:14 AM on May 19 [44 favorites]


Needless to say, it's been a really weird and stressful last few months, with this as something that we've been really hoping we could find some way around and then not finding that route.

I have a lot of thoughts about all the different pieces of this, not least about how valuable I have found LobsterMitten's and goodnewsfortheinsane's and especially and almost inexpressibly Jessamyn's presence as coworkers.

For the moment I just want to briefly reiterate that as much as it sucks to be in this position where we're having to staff down, we're doing so because (a) it should for the time being make it possible to keep Metafilter operating and financially viable and (b) we really believe that, as bumpy as the transition to lower staffing and scarcer mod resources may be in some respects, we can keep the site functioning well as the place that we know and love.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:15 AM on May 19 [57 favorites]


I will sorely miss our departing Mods: they have all three been great assets. (And the podcast will be sadly diminished without our feisty, piney librarian!)

What can the mass of users do, finance-wise? Does buying swag/t-shirts/whatever help? Can you make some dough off the FanFare sub-site, which seems enormously popular?

I don't want to lose you people!!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:15 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I'm so sorry to hear this, I hope that we don't lose their voices from the community. Thank you, all of you, for the work you've done and continue to do to make this place wonderful.

Matt, I would gladly pay a subscription for no extra features. This place is my home on the Internet, the least I can do is help keep the lights on.
posted by arcticseal at 9:16 AM on May 19 [70 favorites]


Just FYI, I would pay for "special status" even if it just came with a little star by my name and nothing else (though we could tell all the non-cabal that it does).
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:16 AM on May 19 [16 favorites]


Chalk another one up to "Google is Evil" - their corporate policy is that the only commercial operation allowed to grow and prosper on the internet is Google. I mean, if there is a pure and platonic opposite of SEO spam, it's AskMe. De-indexing those pages for any reason does a disservice to Google's users - but as has been noted, those aren't google's customers.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:16 AM on May 19 [83 favorites]


Charge folks $5 to post an image?
posted by klangklangston at 9:16 AM on May 19 [62 favorites]


Data point of one, but I would pay $5/month for access to FanFare.
posted by jbickers at 9:17 AM on May 19 [22 favorites]


"Chalk another one up to "Google is Evil" - their corporate policy is that the only commercial operation allowed to grow and prosper on the internet is Google. I mean, if there is a pure and platonic opposite of SEO spam, it's AskMe. De-indexing those pages for any reason does a disservice to Google's users - but as has been noted, those aren't google's customers."

They likely encouraged Matt to create G+ pages for AskMe to ensure that traffic came back.
posted by klangklangston at 9:17 AM on May 19 [15 favorites]


:-(

My best wishes to the outgoing moderators. And to everyone on the streamlined team.
posted by zoo at 9:18 AM on May 19


Charge folks $5 to post an image?

$10 if the pic involves an elephant!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:18 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


5 dollars you can delete someone else's comment
10 dollars you can see all deleted comments
25 dollars you can undelete your own
posted by gerryblog at 9:18 AM on May 19 [36 favorites]


A salute to the mods stepping down. Also, I'd definitely be inclined to put some money down for MeFi to continue to thrive.

Also, will jessamyn still be on the podcast?
posted by griphus at 9:18 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]

"Charge folks $5 to post an image?"

"$10 if the pic involves an elephant!"
$20 for chicken fucking, Same As In Town
posted by Blasdelb at 9:18 AM on May 19 [20 favorites]


I am worried about you guys. Please let us know what we can so to help. Should we be donating? Buying memberships for friends who shouldn't cause too much trouble? It's hard to imagine things here without jessamyn. Please let us know how we can help, after you mathowie and the site have helped US so very much.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:19 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


$50 you can upload your soul to metafilter when that technology comes out
posted by angrycat at 9:19 AM on May 19 [36 favorites]


Oh my goodness. I hadn't been posting regularly in a while but it's hard to envision a Metafilter without jessamyn, and over the last few years goodnewsfortheinsane and LobsterMitten have become such invaluable and comforting members of our excellent mod tam.

I'm very sorry it's come to this - please let us know if we can financially contribute in some capacity. (Metafilter tote bags and stickers? Yes please.) Jessamyn and LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane: thank you for everything that you've done for the site, and you will be sorely missed.
posted by Phire at 9:19 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I would support a pledge drive.
posted by The Whelk at 9:19 AM on May 19 [98 favorites]


I don't know why I feel so gut-punched to hear this—I didn't lose my job.

It's just, this stupid fucking wonderful goddamn website has meant so much to me over the years, and I've taken its high moderation quality as more or less a fait accompli for the entirety of that time, that... shit. I don't know what to say.

I will be a flagging-and-moving-on machine, just you watch.

Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane: I'm saluting you from afar. God damn it.

And of course, I would pay for Metafilter. I'd pay five bucks every month.
posted by Sokka shot first at 9:19 AM on May 19 [153 favorites]


Might have choked up when I read that Jessamyn was stepping down. Might.
posted by Brainy at 9:20 AM on May 19 [36 favorites]


And add my voice to the chorus of people saying: I would totally "subscribe" to the site, pro-features or no, if that helps it stick around.
posted by Phire at 9:20 AM on May 19 [21 favorites]


Jessamyn and LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane, you have all taught me much about patience and good humor and giving folks the benefit of the doubt. Thank you for all your hard work and balance.
posted by mochapickle at 9:20 AM on May 19 [14 favorites]


I would be game for a subscription.
posted by mochapickle at 9:21 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Would pay a membership fee, would participate in a pledge drive, would buy Jessamyn a lot of drinks to say "thanks for your careful, thoughtful, loving work all these years". Cheers.
posted by ersatzkat at 9:22 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


Best wishes to our three imminently talented and valuable departing mods. I'm sure you'll happen upon new ways to be my fuckin' hero.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:22 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I've also been a bit inactive as of late but I still can't imagine internet life without MeFi. Thanks to all of the staff for all you've done and continue to do.

And yeah, let me know about that tote bag or button or subscription feature.
posted by spitefulcrow at 9:23 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I find this very distressing. I've never been the most active poster, but I have been reading and interacting with Metafilter for such a long time and on a daily (often hourly) basis. This place means so much. It is the area of the internet that matters more to me than anywhere else. Count me as someone who would happily donate, and it would make sense to me to pay a monthly fee to use FanFare.

I'm so sorry all the staff have had the anxiety of this for the last few months. This hit me like a brick. Long live Metafilter.
posted by meese at 9:23 AM on May 19 [20 favorites]


Goddammit, Sokka shot first, I didn't get choked up until you said you were...
posted by Phire at 9:23 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


yeah, the last time I gave metafilter any money directly was on signup. I already give money to public radio for no additional benefit, and to escape artists for podcasts that they give out for free, so why not a Metafilter pledge drive?
posted by garlic at 9:23 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


This place has become my internet 'home' too. I couldn't imagine not checking in here everyday, even though I am not a heavy contributor. I'm so sorry to hear you guys have been having problems. Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, goodnewsfortheinsane, you will be sorely, sorely missed.
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:23 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


This is so weird. Maybe we can work out a system where Jessamyn still sends me scolding emails from time to time.
posted by item at 9:24 AM on May 19 [133 favorites]


Just FYI, I would pay for "special status" even if it just came with a little star by my name and nothing else (though we could tell all the non-cabal that it does).

I should clarify this here, I don't even need a special snowflake by my name. I'd cut a donation or subscribe right now if someone posted a paypal link without anything in return other than what I've gotten for the last decade or so from this place.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:24 AM on May 19 [93 favorites]


Big thanks for all the good work goes to Jessamyn, gnfti and LobsterMitten. Thanks for stepping down voluntarily and hope you'll wear the mefi mod hat again soon.
posted by travelwithcats at 9:24 AM on May 19


Balls. Thanks for the help making this place better, Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane.
posted by COBRA! at 9:24 AM on May 19


Can we bring back adds for like three months and we all will click them like crazy to make some money???
posted by travelwithcats at 9:24 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I think "pay to delete another's comment" is a feature that should be explored. One thread on trans Israelis declawing circumcised Palestinian cats would fill a Scrooge McDuck swimming vault.

More seriously, I'm glad to hear that you didn't go down the lurching route of fundraisers and "buy more swag!" revenue, which is sustainable only by constant haranguing. I hope some more sustainable income stream can be found and I'm ready to accept some significant changes to keep the core of MF around in its current form.
posted by fatbird at 9:25 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Does this mean that I have to drive to Vermont and commit a minor crime in order for Jessamyn to continue to pass judgement on me? Because I'll do it!
posted by arcticseal at 9:25 AM on May 19 [33 favorites]


Crap, I was really hoping that this wasn't serious, even knowing that Matt would be the last person to do a bait-and-switch below the fold. I read the whole thing hoping for a punchline.

Thanks so much, jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane. And I'm further logging a perpetual future "thank you" to cortex, restless_nomad, taz, mathowie and pb as you make this transition.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:26 AM on May 19 [18 favorites]


I'll even click American Apparel ads if it will make a difference!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:26 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


We'll be back in the black with a little bit of padding, so yeah, it will help for the long term unless something drastic happened down the line

Well, in addition to the excellent and tireless service to MetaFilter that jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane have provided professionally, it seems that they have now laid down their jobs for their (MeFi) friends. Greater love hath no mod.

I also echo the words of those who would gladly contribute to MeFi's ongoing viability by way of payment for some inconsequential or entirely nominal benefit. I hear one dude made $1 million from selling pixels, surely a one-day-only "gold star sale" could raise some bucks for MeFi's wellbeing.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:26 AM on May 19 [42 favorites]


I'd be willing to see ads like a non-member if it meant someone could keep their job.
posted by GrapeApiary at 9:26 AM on May 19 [111 favorites]


Let's not get carried away, 10th.
posted by maryr at 9:27 AM on May 19 [15 favorites]


I am super sad but I know that this is a business and sometimes tough choices have to be made. FWIW, I'd definitely donate to some kind of fund drive if that does become an option.

I am disappointed that jessamyn won't be moderating anymore but I am glad she will still be contributing, I really value her input on the green.
posted by radioamy at 9:28 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I have so much love for Metafilter. For Matt, for the moderators, and for our community. I'm sad to hear the numbers haven't been working out and I hope this step stabilizes the finances. I also hope we take this feeling of loss and love and use it to self-moderate this a bit. We're all in this together, and everyone needs a hug.
posted by Nelson at 9:29 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


Thank you so much for all your hard work jessamyn, Lobster, and insane
posted by Strass at 9:29 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Count me in as someone who would welcome either an ongoing subscription to access either all of or most of the site. 5/month is a lot though. But 1/month or 20/year seems about right.

Also: I know this will be vilified by some but volunteer moderators for specific sections or tasks seems like a good ongoing solution to continued growth, especially in AskMe where its relative straightforward, or in FanFare where its probably a ton of work without much upside lol. I know people pooh-pooh the volunteer economy, but plenty of users love MF and would welcome the chance to help for free (as long as there was oversight by paid mods).

Anyway, good luck, I know I'm not alone in cherishing what I get from this site. And good luck to the departing (though still hopefully active) mods. Especially Jessamyn who I respect to infinity for her ability to respond to users with clarity and understanding while they are at their most apoplectic.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:29 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Sigh. Thank you for your openness about this. Layoffs suck. It's good to hear that this will hopefully be enough for financial stability.

Still...

It has always struck me as strange that the $5 fee is a one-time fee. Why isn't it an annual membership fee? I don't think that would drive many users away. It would still be the best bargain in the Interwebs.
posted by alms at 9:29 AM on May 19 [26 favorites]


"I hope some more sustainable income stream can be found and I'm ready to accept some significant changes to keep the core of MF around in its current form."

Yeah, well, the membership voted against fracking, so we won't be seeing any of those sweet petrodollars. Thanks, hippies.
posted by klangklangston at 9:30 AM on May 19 [51 favorites]


Volunteer mods are a damned tricky thing to manage, and not something we'd reach for first. At the scale we'd be talking about, we wouldn't be saving all that many man-hours, because they'd go into management instead of moderation.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:30 AM on May 19 [20 favorites]


"I know people pooh-pooh the volunteer economy, but plenty of users love MF and would welcome the chance to help for free (as long as there was oversight by paid mods)."

We can pretty much just have lyft drivers delete comments from their cars for tips.
posted by klangklangston at 9:30 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Count me in as another person who would be happy to pay an annual subscription fee!
posted by thomas j wise at 9:31 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Little pink mustaches by their usernames.
posted by maryr at 9:31 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Maybe a sliding scale for the subscription fee? But if we do an icon for subscribers, it should be the same for everyone. (I don't want an icon.)
posted by mochapickle at 9:32 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I saw a tweet about this and hurried over. My Mefi participation ebbs and flows, but this place is still my online home and always will be. I don't want it to go away, and I am genuinely sad that mods have to step down to keep it going.

If you decide to set up a (small) Poor As Hell membership tier, I am all over that.
posted by cmyk at 9:33 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


"The long-story-short is that the site’s revenue peaked in 2012"

We hit peak MeFi. =(

(seen as a logged-out user; DON'T CLICK IT WILL MAKE YOU SAD)
posted by Eideteker at 9:33 AM on May 19 [23 favorites]


I keep reloading this page, hoping it will change.

Many thanks to jessamyn, Lobster Mitten and goodnewsfortheinsane. You will be sorely, sorely missed.

Note: everyone does need a hug
posted by warm_planet at 9:35 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Oh wow, not what I expected to hear. I join the chorus thanking all the mods, I hope that you'll all still be around in some capacity!
posted by insectosaurus at 9:36 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


What about a cover charge for some of the social things, like Secret Quonsar -- you know, "A gift for you, a gift for me, and a little sumthin' for Matt"?
posted by wenestvedt at 9:36 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


At least the gap in moderation won't last long — Matt's pulling Fiona out of school to get her modding full time. He figures having her read every FPP is a better education than public schools anyway.
posted by klangklangston at 9:37 AM on May 19 [23 favorites]


Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear this, and I would subscribe or contribute to a pledge drive in a heartbeat.

Thank you so much for all your hard work, jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten. You've all been amazing.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:37 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I'm feeling so sad today, and this just makes me cry. I would pay a membership, monthly or annually, and I don't need anything extra. Metafilter is home.
posted by Malla at 9:38 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


This makes me incredibly sad. Both for losing such great mods and also to hear that metafilter is/was having financial trouble.

This community means a lot to me. You have taught me things. Both small and insignificant things as well as large, mind blowing things. I would be distraught if it went under.

Count me in as someone who would also pay subscription fees or special one-time-purchase access would it help.

Can I vote for a donate option?
posted by royalsong at 9:38 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane, thanks for helping make the site what it is now. I'm sorry to hear about your departures. We'll try not screw up all your good work.
posted by Jakey at 9:38 AM on May 19


Wow. Good luck professional to the folks moving on and I hope y'all will still be around here on a personal basis.

I'm sorry to hear things are tough, but kudos to Matt for making what sounds like a difficult but important decision.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:38 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Well, this isn't bad news; instead it's about the worst news I could imagine. I'm very sorry it came to this, and wish jessamyn, LM and gnfti all the best. Like others have said, it's going to be hard to even imagine the site without jess.

But, to everyone saying they'd support a subscription fee, etc. - I'm sure that if there was any way that could work that Matt would have tried that instead. Unfortunately, this is a business like any other, and sometimes businesses just find themselves stuck. Best wishes to all of you, and to us, and together lets just try to keep making it work.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:39 AM on May 19


You might as well open up a tip jar, allow Bugle style "volunto-subscriptions" or something. Otherwise people are going to figure out they can accomplish the same thing a lot more messily by buying extra accounts.

Some people would probably pay reasonable money for "I'm a moderation supporting superstar!" on their user page.

And, of course, many thanks to jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten. Your work will be missed.
posted by jedicus at 9:39 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Noooo! Guys, please consider some kind of subscription. I know you've done the math, I know you must be basing your numbers on how other community-funded websites and services have performed, but I really think Mefi is different. Metafilter has been around for so long and has so many loyal members... speaking for myself, I'd contribute a significant amount to keep this site healthy and well-modded.

Then there's also paid events, festivals, etc.
posted by adrianhon at 9:40 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I just want to thank Jess, LM and GNFTI for everything, from me, personally, so very, very, very much. It can get damn sticky and scary in the briar patches sometimes, and they've all gone above and beyond to help out a fellow mod, plus just being fun, nice, cheerful, funny, kind and wonderful. I hope there's somehow opportunity for the band to get back together in the future.
posted by taz (staff) at 9:40 AM on May 19 [31 favorites]


At the scale we'd be talking about, we wouldn't be saving all that many man-hours, because they'd go into management instead of moderation.

Fair enough, though I could provide some examples of sites that automated a good bit of mod tasks (deleting spam, vetting anon posts) that allowed for a minimum of Ubermod management.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:40 AM on May 19


There is the "donate" link at the bottom of the page. I know I'll be using it the minute I put on pants.
posted by arcticseal at 9:41 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I have to say, I'm looking forward to the unrestrained flaming that Jessamyn will unleash now that she's no longer paid to keep our bullshit in check. She probably has years of files, including "anonymous" questions, that she's just been biding her time on. "Yeah, well, that's exactly what someone with a third nipple WOULD say, Klang!"
posted by klangklangston at 9:41 AM on May 19 [72 favorites]


The advertising gods are not without a sense of humour.

(I am v sad about this.)
posted by Jofus at 9:41 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Although I don't think there's a chance in hell that it'll actually happen, I'm not (and probably never will be) at a place where I could afford any sort of subscription fee. As a member for 12 years, I'd be extremely disappointed to be left out of sections of the site or whatever just because I couldn't afford to pony up. I can't imagine I'm alone in the way I feel.

I'm all for a pledge drive type thing, of course, as long as it doesn't somehow make the long-running cabal joke a reality.
posted by item at 9:42 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Rev stream idea: Metafest. MaxFuncon meets SXSWi meets summer camp. 1 weekend/year at a resort in eastern OR.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:42 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


Yet another vote for a pledge drive here, if anyone's counting.
posted by Etrigan at 9:43 AM on May 19


Seconding item: Yes to pledge drive, vehement no to requiring subscription fees. That's been suggested a few times now but I would be very sad if it was under consideration.

I love MeFi but I often go for a long time between posts, and we have a lot of valuable members who are even less active than that. Moving to monthly subscriptions would make it a lot less likely that those members will stick around; it penalizes the people who are the least likely to contribute to the mods' workload. And I would hate to see the site become fragmented by making FanFare or other subsites accessible only to those who can pay extra.

Anyway, thanks to LobsterMitten, goodnewsfortheinsane, and especially jessamyn, for all you've done over the years. No online community is perfect, but you've helped make MeFi a shining example of how things can be done right.

P.S. It's too bad Kickstarter didn't pan out, but are they really necessary? KS is great for getting publicity, but their model is based on managing uncertainty, so that people don't end up paying for something that never reaches enough funding to get off the ground. With MeFi, we already know that our money will be well-spent on something that actually exists, so you might as well cut out the middleman and take donations directly.
posted by teraflop at 9:43 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


I think I'd ask for a more flag-happy userbase than I would for volunteer moderators. It would be so easy for the accusations of modding-in-poor-faith to start getting flung around.

Lest we forget the giant metatalk referenda we just recently endured, there are plenty of folks who think Metafilter moderation is just a smokescreen for $AGENDA-driven axegrinding already without adding a passel of unpaid mods whose motivations would be that much easier to misconstrue, willfully or not.

Let's just everybody try to make this a site that can get by with three mods, for now.
posted by Sokka shot first at 9:43 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


Branded action figures! Who hasn't dreamt of the mod's fingers clicking through a tense Israel-Palestine thread? The wrong deletion could blow the whole thing up!
posted by klangklangston at 9:44 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Even if subscriptions didn't solve the immediate problem of having to lay off valuable staff, wouldn't they at least help? If nothing else, to put money in the bank for rainy Google days to come.

Call it the "MeFi Beanplating and Marching Society" or something.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:44 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I am unexpectedly saddened by this, especially because MeFi has been such a good place to me when I've been at my saddest, even as a mostly-lurker, over the past 12 years. Thank you all so much for your service, and +1ing the desire to donate.
posted by avocet at 9:44 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


BTW when I say subscription, I don't mean it as something that would be required for posting - rather I'd see it more as a pledge. Perhaps you could develop extra subscriber-only features but I wouldn't want to end up costing more money than is generated. Maximum Fun network seems like a good model.
posted by adrianhon at 9:45 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I know this has been said often already, but if there's any way to just donate, I'd be in.

Sad news for us all. Much love.

.
posted by Stewriffic at 9:45 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Agreed that a MeFi Gold with extra features is a bad idea, but would strongly support the ability to voluntarily make ongoing pledges - this site is EASILY worth $5/month to me.

I'm still processing this - I'm at work, and literally said, "Oh my GOD!" out loud when I started reading the post. But best wishes and a million thanks to gnfti, LM, and jessamyn.

Christ, this sucks.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:45 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I have to say, I'm looking forward to the unrestrained flaming that Jessamyn will unleash now that she's no longer paid to keep our bullshit in check. She probably has years of files, including "anonymous" questions, that she's just been biding her time on.

Wait a minute, I think you've just solved the financial isses!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:45 AM on May 19 [24 favorites]


I just want to tell you all good luck. We're all counting on you.
posted by bleep at 9:45 AM on May 19 [28 favorites]


Ouch. I'm really sorry things had to come to this. Jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane have all done stellar work keeping MetaFilter on an even keel and they'll be missed, I have no doubt. (In that capacity; I'm glad they're not actually leaving us!)

Count me among those who would be glad to pay some nominal or more-than-nominal fee for MetaFilter Ultra Premium (with a super-professional taupe background) or to see the full suite of ads. Or if you just set up a fund drive and I could send you money that way.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:46 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


So, I know this is a touchy subject but I recently found myself heading over to stack exhange's new topic sites. Sometimes I don't get enough questiony-goodness in a day from askme, or have a super insider-baseball question that I don't think askme would get the best responses from.

Has any consideration been done to revamp askme into a "less old-school" looking and functioning site? Something threaded, a reputation system, more skimmable, less blocks of text?
posted by fontophilic at 9:46 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


"Seconding item: Yes to pledge drive, vehement no to requiring subscription fees. That's been suggested a few times now but I would be very sad if it was under consideration."

If they were going to do a subscription, the way that I'd structure it would be 1) for ancillary stuff like e.g. the podcast, and 2) have it essentially just grant a day's early access, i.e. hearing the podcast a day before everyone else.
posted by klangklangston at 9:46 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


All the love in the world.

.
posted by eamondaly at 9:46 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I'm really sorry, you guys. This must have been a really tough and stressful decision.

Count me in with people who would be willing to pay for a subscription or donate or buy swag or help in any way I can.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:46 AM on May 19


This is my saddest face. :(

arcticseal: "There is the "donate" link at the bottom of the page. I know I'll be using it the minute I put on pants."

Does it ... open a webcam?

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:47 AM on May 19 [23 favorites]


Oh wow.

This is sad to hear. This is my internet home. What can existing members do to continue the financial health of the site after the step-downs?

I'd like to join the chorus of people who would happily pay a monthly/yearly subscription.

Also has the idea of a permenant online tip jar been explored at all? Or is the admin for obe of those just not feasible?

On reading about the potential of mefi being sold, I felt physically sick. There is a community here I'd be very full of woe if that changed.
posted by Faintdreams at 9:47 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


In addition to adding my +1 to all the other sentiment expressed in this thread, I want to express my gratitude to mathowie for not sugar-coating this, or expressing it in some BS terms about "new directions!" and "best for everybody." Tough news is tough news, and thanks for giving it straight. I've always respected the hell out of just how much y'all respect the user base.
posted by Hadroed at 9:47 AM on May 19 [153 favorites]


It's a sad irony that Google searches are what brought me to Metafilter and ultimately become a user. There was a time where Ask MeFi results would be at the top of every search-for-certain-topics I did, so obviously the universe was telling me something.

I would be skeptical of a pledge drive in light of the gastrointestinal horror that PBS has turned into through that approach. In the age of the Internet, I idealize that there can be a better way.
posted by rhizome at 9:47 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Vote #1 pledge drive.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:48 AM on May 19 [66 favorites]


Agreed that a MeFi Gold with extra features is a bad idea, but would strongly support the ability to voluntarily make ongoing pledges - this site is EASILY worth $5/month to me.

Nthing that any change to "elite status" is certainly horrid, but I'd be glad to pay for the same exact prole-class existance I've got now, maybe even enough to cover a couple of other users along with me.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:48 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Wow. Sorry to hear it had to come to this. Thanks for taking care of the site, even though it was hard.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:48 AM on May 19


::raises a glass:: CHEERS to all the exiting mods. You are all sterling individuals.

Cheers also to all the remaining mods. I shall do my best as a single individual to make your lives as easy as possible whenever I use the site.

Cheers. All.
posted by Faintdreams at 9:48 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Has any consideration been done to revamp askme into a "less old-school" looking and functioning site? Something threaded, a reputation system, more skimmable, less blocks of text?

I would be very wary of Second-System Effect.
posted by rhizome at 9:49 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Dang, I'm sorry. You've been great mods.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:49 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


How much would it cost to have Cortex write a song about any one of us? Also, could we sell MeFi Music comps?
posted by klangklangston at 9:49 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Hey, this sucks. Thanks for all your great work, departing mods.
posted by RogerB at 9:49 AM on May 19


Oh no. Very sad news.

I can't even imagine this place without Jessamyn as a mod. :(

Jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane you'll be deeply missed. I hope you're all okay.

mathowie, Is there a way the userbase can donate money to the site without asking for anything in return? Would I just send to a paypal address? Am happy to pay a voluntary subscription fee every month without getting anything back. Swag, stars, t-shirts, tote bags etc., aren't necessary -- and donating money that way would mean that all of it can go to the site.
posted by zarq at 9:51 AM on May 19 [22 favorites]


Well that's not what I expected to read this morning.

Huge thanks to all the mods, extant and outgoing, you really made the site what it was. I'm especially going to miss Jessamyn's guidance around here, she's swell.

I'd be super willing to subscribe, basically regardless of price, perks or flair.
posted by Skorgu at 9:51 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


"Has any consideration been done to revamp askme into a "less old-school" looking and functioning site? Something threaded, a reputation system, more skimmable, less blocks of text?"

I could see some design updates, but a lot of that — threading, in particular — would be horrible and antithetical to how MeFi functions. There are plenty of us that don't want bacon in our peanut butter.
posted by klangklangston at 9:51 AM on May 19 [44 favorites]


This is poop.

I had thought today was going pretty good for a Monday. Now, all is poop.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:51 AM on May 19 [25 favorites]


"Has any consideration been done to revamp askme into a "less old-school" looking and functioning site? Something threaded, a reputation system, more skimmable, less blocks of text?"

Yikes, that's plain wrong. Mainstream is not a good look for Metafilter.
posted by travelwithcats at 9:51 AM on May 19 [21 favorites]


I mostly read and hardly comment/post, but even so I'd be willing to contribute monthly/yearly. Just put a PayPal link somewhere.
posted by dominik at 9:52 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Proposed: annual pledge drive where we all discuss Alone in the Wilderness.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:52 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I might be willing to pay a $1 every now and then to have my comments premodded; they'd still essentially be deleted, but I wouldn't look like an asshole in front of everyone.
posted by klangklangston at 9:52 AM on May 19 [49 favorites]


This is very truly news I never expected to read. MeFi is such a juggernaut in my life experience that it's hard to imagine that it could be suffering financially. I've been so incredibly blessed by this community, especially when hard conversations are happening. The ability of the mods to bring some "simmer" to touchy conversations is truly amazing. I've learned so much about how to work through hard things, apologize when I've made a mistake, and still respect people even when I really don't respect their opinion. I would be a different person without y'all.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:53 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


There are plenty of us that don't want bacon in our peanut butter.

I'm one.

That said, condolences to the ones getting the chop, you will be missed, thanks to mathowie for being level with us, and cheers to the userbase for being supportive and nice about everything.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:54 AM on May 19


Really, really sorry to hear this.
I was about to offer volunteer help before reading your take on that, restless nomad, which makes total sense.
Still, I could scrape together a few hours a week if you ever need something in a pinch.
posted by chococat at 9:54 AM on May 19


But yea, +1 for pledge drive, -1 for bonus features for paying-continually or Pro- users.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:55 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I had no idea MetaFilter was strapped. I'm so sorry. jessamyn, Lobster Mitten and goodnewsfortheinsane - you guys are so awesome. I'm so sorry to see you go. It's hard to imagine a MetaFilter without jessamyn. I'm a bit at a loss for words actually.

I pay money every month for Netflix and Spotify and use them far less than MetaFilter. Not sure if a subscription is a solution or whatever, but a one-time $5 fee is too little for what I get out of this place, and I would gladly pay more, even in exchange for no additional features.

Man, best of luck to you guys. Beers on me as always if you are ever in my neck of the woods.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:56 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


Thanks so much to jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten for always being such levelheaded, patient moderators. Your presence as mods will be missed, I hope you'll still be around as users.

As others have said, I'm in for any sort of pledge drive or subscription, though I realize that's more of a one-off burst of cash and probably not a sustainable business model.
posted by bondcliff at 9:56 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I have never known MeFi without Jessamyn as a mod, and it's hard for me to imagine. Jessamyn, you're part of what made Metafilter appealing to me; I can't say you're the reason I came here, but your voice was – and is – a big chunk of the appeal for me. Thank you for all your hard work, compassion, and firmness over the years. Here's hoping the transition to being merely a venerated and beloved community member is easy and pleasing.

LobsterMitten & gnfti, thank you so much for your patience and your dedication. Modding isn't an easy job, and I appreciate every day you've devoted to it. I'm glad MeFi draws mods from the community, not just because you're best suited to understand the community's standards and quirks but because it means former mods don't disappear, but remain as voices in the community.

I've taken a MeFi break while I put my attention elsewhere, but the Metafilter community has been important to me in the past and I expect to return someday. (Thanks to cortex for reactivating my account so I can be with the community during this conversation.) Matt, please let us know, now and in the future, what else we can do to help the recovery go smoothly.
posted by Elsa at 9:56 AM on May 19 [41 favorites]


Chickens better watch out!
posted by Jahaza at 9:58 AM on May 19


Wow, this really sucks. I hope that jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane stay on as members, and wish them best in their new ventures. Any thoughts on raising the membership fee and making it non-refundable except in dire circumstance? If we're going to have less moderators, it may be a good idea to up the bar for trolls and spammers as well.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:58 AM on May 19


Although a subscription model would extract some level of support from the current loyal members, it would create a barrier to new members. I can't believe that it would be a long term path to success.

The key would be driving more ad traffic, and that appears to be search engine related and not something to which there is an easy fix. If there was, they would have done it.

I wonder how any similar sized and trafficked sites have solved this, or if the dip in ad traffic was caused by something that affected MeFi more than others?
posted by Dip Flash at 9:58 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


This is distressing. I had no idea that this place was even subject to the whims of the market, and had naively thought that everything was moving steadily towards the inevitable result of Matt and co. someday ruling the internet.
posted by norm at 10:00 AM on May 19 [13 favorites]


An ongoing donation/subscription plan always has one benefit for the contributor: the contribution itself.

Being part of a community doesn't mean just reaping the rewards. It doesn't mean just benefiting without giving anything in return. Instead, to be part of a community is to offer, to encourage, to support, to repair, to actively help flourish. Up until now, there's only been one major way through which we Mefites could help Metafilter flourish: by posting, by commenting, by keeping the conversations going. But permitting some regular way for us to provide financial support would offer us another way. It would offer us the privilege and benefit of helping our community. That's a significant benefit. That's something I want to be able to do. Wanting to donate isn't a matter of wanting to get some extra perks or incentives. I want to donate because I want to contribute in a meaningful way to this community.

It makes me think of Andrew Sullivan's blog, and how he offers subscription plans. I think there are some perks involved there, but not many. I don't subscribe, and there's nothing I'm not getting that I miss. But notice, I'm not part of Sullivan's community the way that his subscribers are. When it comes to Sullivan's blog, I'm okay with this -- I don't really want to be closer to that community, I don't want to stand with it financially. But with Metafilter? Come now -- I want to donate, because I want to stand with you. I want to stand with Metafilter.
posted by meese at 10:02 AM on May 19 [68 favorites]


This saddens me. I'm not the most active member and I've only been a member since '08, but I lurk on this site like crazy. I have gotten far more than $5 use out of the site, and would be more than happen to donate, participate in a pledge drive, pay a subscription fee, anything.
posted by firei at 10:03 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I know I am not the most active member, but I have good memories of being steered by the mod community (and jessamyn in particular). My recent brush with modding my own forum made me realize how hard it really is. Thanks for eeerything, and I hope metafilter keeps rolling for a long time.
posted by jonbro at 10:04 AM on May 19


Shit.

Would turning ads back on for members be an option?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:04 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


Just a pony request, if we do go for a pledge drive, can we at least get Matt in a ruffled tux schmoozing with his celebrity pals on the podcast?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:05 AM on May 19


It's not too late.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:05 AM on May 19 [22 favorites]


On the About page there's a Donate link with the option for a recurring payment. For those inclined (myself included), get thee to that page.

Personally, I use NewsBlur and MeFi about the same amount, so I've rated the donations at the same level.
posted by deezil at 10:05 AM on May 19 [29 favorites]


Let me, too, express my thanks to all the mods, especially jessamyn, but definitely also LobsterMitten and gnifti, for all their work here. It won't be the same.

I'm unemployed right now, but would be willing to kick in for something once I take the NY bar and get a job again.
posted by gauche at 10:06 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


:( :( :(
posted by kmz at 10:06 AM on May 19


The key would be driving more ad traffic,

In that regard, I am sure turning off ad-blocking software for the *.metafilter.com sites would help.

What about a user preference to re-allow advertising?
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:06 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


I knew there'd be questions about ways to help. For now, rolling with the punches after June 1st is the best thing for us, and helping us along as we revamp some stuff around the site to make mod times easier.

On the giving money front, the best thing would be an optional monthly subscription (get a gold star, maybe an extra feature or two down the line) instead of a pledge drive, because pledge drives are one time deals that you have to push on everyone while the monthly trickle of subscription revenue would be better.

But running the numbers, we would literally need a few thousand people to pony up $2-$3 a month for that optional subscription, and I haven't met anyone in doing research on these that gets more than a few single digit percentage of their daily member visits converted over to subscriptions. My guess is a few hundred of you would pay for it, but that wouldn't cover a part-timer's monthly hours. I could be wrong, and I'll definitely take all these comments into account.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:07 AM on May 19 [42 favorites]


Since ads appear when we're logged out, could logging out daily, then logging back in later make a substantial difference?
posted by path at 10:07 AM on May 19


We need a douchebag jar.
posted by Beardman at 10:07 AM on May 19 [20 favorites]


I'm sad to hear this and wish you all well.
posted by agatha_magatha at 10:08 AM on May 19


Best wishes and thank you to Jessamyn, lobster mitten and gnfti. You will be missed.

I think, right now, that everyone needs a hug!

{{{{{{{{{metafilter}}}}}}}}}
posted by Lynsey at 10:08 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Just ponied up a few bucks here:

Donations To MetaFilter

A voluntary on-going donation option is a good idea (similar to a subscription). Really, I don't believe we as members need any special stars or recognition for it. If we do, we can ask for our usernames to be posted on the page linked above.

Until an on-going donation feature is put in, I'll be setting myself some monthly reminders to throw a few bucks their way. Maybe figure out a way to e-mail myself a cat gif or something.
posted by idealist at 10:09 AM on May 19 [21 favorites]


will jessamyn still be on the podcast?

Yeah, Jessamyn said that was one of the funner aspects of it and would be sticking around for future episodes.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:09 AM on May 19 [61 favorites]


Thank you, mods, both remaining and departing, for all you do.
posted by kalessin at 10:09 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Count me in as willing to do a small monthly subscription fee NPR style, no bonus features necessary.

Except public radio gave me an iron-on patch, so actually I might require an iron-on patch.
posted by Think_Long at 10:09 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Everyone talks a good game, but let's see if raising funds for the community is more important than being acknowledged for one's account.

How about people do this every so often:
1. Disable their account.
2. Sign up for metafilter again.
3. Choose a username that references the old name.
4. Pay the $5
5. Link to your old profile.

If people regularly did this, wouldn't this change things dramatically?

Especially all those peeps talking about giving every month, and those talking about annual fees.

So would anyone be willing to do this, or are your precious accounts not worth it?
posted by hal_c_on at 10:09 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Make an infographic of a tree*, place it somewhere semi-inconspicously on the site with "X% of ___ goal met", the tree lives, grows, or dies based on the weekly/monthly/yearly pledge drive numbers. Profit.

*Bonus points if you put a bird on it.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:10 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


That seems like a lot of work when there's a button that just lets you give $5 anyway.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:10 AM on May 19 [36 favorites]


I'd never noticed the donation link before. Just set up a monthly contribution, and especially with the debut of FanFare I'd say I'm getting a bargain.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:10 AM on May 19 [12 favorites]


What firei said. I've gotten so much more than $5 worth-- each and every time I've posted an AskMe. And that's just for starters.

Many thanks to all the departing mods and hope to still see you!
posted by BibiRose at 10:11 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


A year and a half ago, we woke up one day to see a 40% decrease in revenue and traffic to Ask MetaFilter, likely the result of ongoing Google index updates.

Can someone explains what this means? Are other sites having trouble because of this too?
posted by Melismata at 10:11 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Well, shit and damn. I'm sorry this has to happen.
posted by rtha at 10:11 AM on May 19


Bring back the BLINK tag for a dollar per use. "Blink for a Buck" could be just the ticket.

On a serious note, a majority of anything intelligent that came out of my mouth over the past decade came from seeing it here on the blue. Many a conversation in meatspace, book sitting on my shelf, or movie on my netflix queue began as something I saw here.

I would gladly kick in a little something something so that my online Cyrano stays intact.

A big thank you to our mods emeritus who kept order and made this place what it is.
posted by dr_dank at 10:11 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


Thank you Jessamyn for your years of labor. I understand the business of it all, but it doesn't make it any easier. May your future endeavors be successful!
posted by 6:1 at 10:11 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


mathowie: You are probably correct on the number of users who'd pledge, but not necessarily on the amount. I'd be willing to give far in excess of $2 or $3 and I wouldn't expect anything in return. Certainly spent more than that on hosting the wiki for a decade ;)
posted by adrianhon at 10:11 AM on May 19 [15 favorites]


If it's something you can discuss, Matt, what percentage of the revenue stream is new users as opposed to ads?

My guess is a few hundred of you would pay for it, but that wouldn't cover a part-timer's monthly hours. I could be wrong, and I'll definitely take all these comments into account.

It might or might not, but if it's enough to at least make a difference, I - for one - would be very happy to contribute if only to help up the buffer and avoid any future cuts. MeFi has been a huge, huge part of my life for the better part of a decade, and I regularly pay plenty of money for things that matter much less to me.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:12 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


i am sorry to hear this. i had no idea...

would it help if we occasionally clicked on random ads we have no intention of buying from?

if the original poster were granted mod powers for the comments in his/her post, it would take some of the burden off the real mods.

what would metafilter pro look like?

you could do an IPO and sell it to the membership. this would enable capital to take its natural course, which is ruling.

i'll get back to you if i think of anything else.
posted by bruce at 10:12 AM on May 19


Beardman: "We need a douchebag jar."

After five mod e-mails for misbehavior in a 24-month period, you must provide a credit card number, and metafilter will charge you $1 for every time they have to tell you to cut it out. It penalizes bad behavior while also putting the burden of greater moderation costs on assholes!

Kidding, obviously. Mostly.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:12 AM on May 19 [18 favorites]


And I know that we can donate right now, but doing it as part of a formal system would make it feel less ad-hoc and more organised.
posted by adrianhon at 10:12 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


jessamyn, you rolled through the Twin Cities a year or two ago and I was disappointed I had a conflict and could not go to the meetup.

You are exceptionally notable in your even-handedness and ability to foster open discourse on this site. And by exceptionally notable, I mean I may have never encountered someone as good at it. Tip of the cap to you.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:13 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


As this is part community, part for-profit, I know this is dicey - but perhaps a committee of some kind could be struck who could get a stronger sense of what the actual gaps look like and could brainstorm for solutions? A few thousand at $2-3 per month offers a lot of variance in terms of what the goal might look like.

There are a lot of people with a lot of time for this place and I think crowd-sourcing a solution could produce some results. Particularly, I know there are wonderful fundraisers from the non-profit and tech sectors from around the world here. There's a lot of resource that could be harnessed here if curated in some way.
posted by rutabega at 10:13 AM on May 19


Can someone explains what this means?

AskMe used to be a top search result on Google for a whole host of subjects. Then Google updated its page rankings and all of a sudden it wasn't. Less traffic to the site, fewer eyes on ads (these were unregistered users coming to AsMe through search results, so they saw the full set of advertisements), less money.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:14 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


This is a very special part of the internet to me and I am very grateful to jessamyn, lobstermitten, goodnewsfortheinsane and everyone else involved with keeping it that way.
posted by kat518 at 10:14 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Crappity crap. *pours out a can of beans for the fallen homies*

I second the voluntary ads for members idea. Every little bit helps.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:14 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


I would absolutely pay $5/month or more for posting privileges.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:14 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Ah bum. Much love and gratitude to jessamyn, Lobster Mitten and goodnewsfortheinsane.

I'll be off to donate, which I never knew about because I never look at the About page. It's not a business model, but since I never even had to pay the $5, I've got some catching up to do. (Btw, the monthly donation option is available from the link on the About page, but not the page idealist linked to.)

Has any consideration been done to revamp askme into a "less old-school" looking and functioning site? Something threaded, a reputation system, more skimmable, less blocks of text?

I bloody well hope not.
posted by holgate at 10:14 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


I promise I will start being less of an asshat to help lighten the mod load.

I guess I've never thought of asshattery as having a direct economic consequence. There's probably a Freakonomics podcast episode in this somewhere.
posted by slogger at 10:14 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Also in the FAQ: "If you'd like to place an ad on MetaFilter, follow the link on Google Ads to place one directly on this site."

So if you have something that needs advertising, I suppose that's another way to support the site.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:14 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


Thanks for the update, and thanks to the mods for all their great work & dedication. XOXO
posted by Pocahontas at 10:14 AM on May 19


And thank you all so much. I said that in my head but as psychic as you all seem to be, I figured I should say it out loud.
posted by rtha at 10:15 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


If you're not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:15 AM on May 19 [14 favorites]


I'll be honest, this was a punch to the gut. I think because it feels like a good-bye of sorts to people we care about. Also, because it's like finding out someone you care about is not doing so well health-wise.

I would absolutely donate if there was a way to do so. I've gotten so much more out of metafilter than the amount I spent on a Big Mac meal the other day.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:15 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


I'm up for a pledge drive. Mefi is still the best of the Internet, don't go away! Something important in my world would be broken!
posted by foleypt at 10:16 AM on May 19


Then Google updated its page rankings and all of a sudden it wasn't.

Updated it to what? Does it rank pages according to those who give them money, or something? I'm really not understanding this.

That's how I found this place, too. *sigh*
posted by Melismata at 10:16 AM on May 19


will jessamyn still be on the podcast?

Yeah, Jessamyn said that was one of the funner aspects of it and would be sticking around for future episodes.


Yay!
posted by bondcliff at 10:16 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


Have you thought about something like the Techdirt approach to memberships? Non-paying members lose nothing they have now, but people can pay more and get some benefits. It might not make enough to hire back all the mods, but it might at least give the site more of a cushion against further downturns.
posted by COD at 10:16 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Just set up a recurring donation - would be more happy to convert that to whatever formalized voluntary subscription model we eventually come up with. I've given more money to services I forgot to unsubscribe to than Metafilter, and that's just plain ridiculous.
posted by Phire at 10:16 AM on May 19 [21 favorites]


I was worried this might happen. Count me in as another potential subscriber.

If this place ever disappeared from the internet, I would be adrift.

You are all my internet family.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:16 AM on May 19 [20 favorites]


Count me in on the pledge drive. Is there any way to straight up donate now?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:17 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Shut up and take my money.

Thank you all for what you've done to make this place what it is.
posted by Brian Puccio at 10:17 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I just donated $20. I know it won't fix things, but I feel a little better.
posted by Xalf at 10:17 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


It was surprising to me that without ever changing its character this site went from a place that shut down for the occasional weekend to a place that was able to keep others employed. The present turn is probably part of that ebb and flow, and seems to be being managed as best it can. I was thinking about the business success of Metafilter the other day, after reading that thread about Britain's wealthiest and seeing that the guy that runs Mashable was on the list. I vaguely remembered that being just another blog talking about the business moves of Facebook and Myspace, and then suddenly it's all headlines about "10 Ways" to do this and the "5 Best" that, and the guy who runs it is worth a 100 million. Funny sometimes how value is measured on the Internet.
posted by TimTypeZed at 10:18 AM on May 19 [13 favorites]


Thank you so much, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane, and of course Jessamyn. You're all heroes, both for the job you've done every day, and for the honorable way you're going out as staff. Stepping down for the good of the site is just about the classiest thing there is. When it really mattered, you were there and did what had to be done.

And as for the rest of the heroes that work on MetaFilter - I really don't want to lose you too! If there's anything I can do as a user to help Mefi, I'll do it. Please just let us know how we can help.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:18 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Count me in on the pledge drive. Is there any way to straight up donate now?

PayPal donation link
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:18 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


Everyone talking about donating: There's a PayPal link at the bottom of the about page. You can make it reoccur monthly.
posted by bjrn at 10:18 AM on May 19 [12 favorites]


holgate, thanks for pointing me to the About page. It appears my google-fu is weak sans mid-morning caffeine.
posted by idealist at 10:19 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


*raises a fist at teh googles*


Since ads appear when we're logged out, could logging out daily, then logging back in later make a substantial difference?

SaveMetaFilter: Have you tried logging off and logging back in again?
posted by tilde at 10:19 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


I am also super glad that Jessamyn will still be on the podcast.
posted by Phire at 10:19 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


*

*

*
posted by tilde at 10:19 AM on May 19


Thanks, I just made my subscription recurring.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:20 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Matt, I would gladly pay a subscription for no extra features.

Seriously, we're into It's a Wonderful Life country here.

George! Mary did it! She told a few people you were in trouble and they scattered all over town collecting money. They didn't ask any questions, they just said "If George is in trouble you can count on me." You never saw anything like it.

posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:21 AM on May 19 [27 favorites]


First of all, this seriously bums me out.

Second of all, I like I have a winning solution I learned from Facebook.

MetaFilter: Pay to Fave.

$5 = 10 pre-favorites on any comment(s) you choose
$12 = 30 pre-favorites
$25 = 75 pre-favorites + 4 comments pointing to your comment of choice from other users saying "I totally agree with this" (BEST VALUE!!!!)
posted by Tevin at 10:21 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Oh man. This reminds me of when WFMU laid off a good chunk of their paid staff. Being an independent community means sticking to a hard, narrow financial path. Huge props to Mathowie and the mods for their unending work and dedication. I love this place.

Nthing the requests to find a way for the users to raise money, whether by a fundraiser, cake sale, car/bike wash, whatever.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:21 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


I just donated $20. I know it won't fix things, but I feel a little better.

Ditto, if for a bit less... we have some expenses coming up, sorry it's not more.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:21 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Yeah, never realized the donation page even existed. I don't know what the tax implications are, but I would call it an optional subscription and make it a small header at the top with the option to hide for everyone.
posted by Think_Long at 10:21 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


This news makes me so, so sad, and I do wish the best for Jessamyn, GNFTI, and LobsterMitten.

I am also having a really hard time imagining MetaTalk without Jessamyn's calm, understated, Real Talk. It has been one of my absolute favorite things about this site for years, and a large part of why I have stuck with it for so long. (Although I join those interested to see how her contributions around here change as a non-mod ;) I don't really know what else to say except that it truly feels like a blow.
posted by likeatoaster at 10:22 AM on May 19 [22 favorites]


I would gladly pay a $5/mo subscription for metafilter. It's the most used site here in the furnace.household, aside from maybe netflix.

If there's a way to make this automatic, and thoughtless, I'm down.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:22 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


A year and a half ago, we woke up one day to see a 40% decrease in revenue and traffic to Ask MetaFilter, likely the result of ongoing Google index updates.

Wow. That's an amazing indication of Google's power.

Did AskMe get swept up in Google's effort to de-emphasize wikipedia result in search?
posted by mullacc at 10:22 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Best wishes to Lobster Mitten & gnfti; they were swell mefites long before they became swell mods. Thanks for the work you've done, guys, and I hope everything works out for you in any future endeavors.

Jessamyn, geez. I've never known a MeFi without Jessamyn. While I don't know her personally and didn't have that many direct dealings with her, a lot of what I like about the site and think what makes MetaFilter Metafilter seemed to me a reflection of her personality and participation.
Thank you so much for all you've done, Jessamyn.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:22 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Melismata, Google is constantly tweaking its algorithms, partly for getting people "the results they really want" and partly just to combat spam (sort of the same thing but not precisely), and this can result in surprising systemic changes in search results, which web professionals at one time called the "Google Dance". If you're an SEO trying to get 6000 pages of placeholder content just right so they all get landed on occasionally, you just shrug and adapt. But AskMe is a community and the content matters to people, so our site isn't at liberty to do much adaptation to whatever changes Google wrought last year -- or might this year or next.
posted by dhartung at 10:22 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


There's a PayPal link at the bottom of the about page.

I do not normally look at the about page because I know what metafilter is about. This link should be in a more visible location because people want to give money and don't know how.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:22 AM on May 19 [35 favorites]


Can someone ELI5 how a "Google indexing" tweak can sink a website so hard, so suddenly, and with so little recourse?

Thanks in advance,
Peter
posted by peter.j.torelli at 10:23 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Would there really be such a difference between $5 one time fee and $5/year? You could make it $5/year to post or comment, so if you let your membership lapse you still get to favorite (which people like).
posted by shothotbot at 10:23 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Man, I feel like I'm being orphaned. This despite the fact that y'all are decades younger than me. I feel the loss and would happily contribute.
posted by janey47 at 10:23 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Here's the Donate link with recurring payment option, for others who are interested. The server upgrades link posted above doesn't give you that possibility.
posted by Phire at 10:23 AM on May 19 [23 favorites]


I think the downturn happened exactly at the same moment I stopped producing new Astro Zombies. I blame myself for all this.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:23 AM on May 19 [23 favorites]


I never realized how many sockpuppets mathowie must have and manage to make it sound like people are interested in donating so that others jump on the bandwagon.

Impressive.

/hamburger

This place really is pretty awesome, this thread proves it.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:24 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Yeah, never realized the donation page even existed. I don't know what the tax implications are, but I would call it an optional subscription and make it a small header at the top with the option to hide for everyone.

Absolutely this. Especially with the current situation, you'd be absolutely justified in moving the link to the front page somewhere. Maybe a separate link with the "recurring payment" box auto-checked, if that's a possible thing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:24 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


I just set up a $5 a month donation on Paypal. It'll probably still be donating long after I'm dead. If my heirs call in a few dozen years - show them this post. I want to continue supporting the site from beyond the grave.
posted by COD at 10:24 AM on May 19 [26 favorites]


Seriously, we're into It's a Wonderful Life country here.

Old man Potter'd better watch his ass!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:24 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Memberships should expire yearly. $5 to renew.

Implement crowd-sourced moderation (ala StackOverflow)

Reduce bandwidth costs by optimizing pages and shorten the length of the home pages.

Put links and images for mefi merch on every page.

Include a metafilter store that gathers all the amazon items referenced site wide on one page with referral links.

Etc.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:25 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Memberships should expire yearly. $5 to renew.

Implement crowd-sourced moderation (ala StackOverflow)

Reduce bandwidth costs by optimizing pages and shorten the length of the home pages.

Put links and images for mefi merch on every page.

Include a metafilter store that gathers all the amazon items referenced site wide on one page with referral links.

Etc.


Whoa there cowboy....
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:26 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane, thank you so much for all you've done to nurture my online home. And thanks to mathowie for not just saying "fuck it" and selling to the highest bidder. I had already planned to re-visit my budget this week; I'll be adding MeFi as a recurring payment.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:26 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I think what I will miss most about jessamyn leaving is the way she and cortex work together on contentious MetaTalks. Saying the same thing, but expressing it from different angles, it really seems to build a synthesis that helps people.

Off to make a recurring donation.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:26 AM on May 19 [28 favorites]




I don't know why I feel so gut-punched to hear this—I didn't lose my job.


Personally, reading this post I had the same chill-in-the-air, close-the-door-take-a-seat feeling I've had when there have been layoffs at my actual jobs.

Good luck jessamyn, gnifti and LobsterMitten. You're awesome and glad we'll still be seeing you around even if not in "official" capacity. Thanks mathowie for the post.
posted by sweetkid at 10:26 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Thank you dhartung, for that excellent explanation!
posted by Melismata at 10:26 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Christ.. I always figured Jessamyn was of founder/owner status like mathowie with her ubiquity and professionalism.

Thank you, kudos, and godspeed, Jessamyn.
posted by mediocre at 10:26 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Thanks jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane.

You don't have to shut up, metafilter, but you are now taking my money.
posted by inertia at 10:26 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


Sad news, but thanks Matt for letting us know what's going on. To the departing mods, thank you so much for your service to this community.
posted by FishBike at 10:27 AM on May 19


Can we bring back adds for like three months and we all will click them like crazy to make some money???

I don't think we ever saw much revenue from logged-in users clicking ads, though Matt would know the numbers better. But in any case, intentionally clicking a bunch on ads is the sort of thing that Google watches for and gets punitive about. The thought is well-intentioned but the idea is very much not one folks should pursue.

Bring back the BLINK tag for a dollar per use. "Blink for a Buck" could be just the ticket.

Though many browsers disable it by default now, we still support the blink tag. That is the sort of site Metafilter is, by god.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:27 AM on May 19 [54 favorites]


Like everyone, I'm saddened to learn about the situation MetaFilter finds itself in, I'm concerned about the departing mods, and I hope their future endeavors go well. I'm also really concerned about the ongoing financial health of the site and remaining employees, so I hope we or you are able to come up with some sort of revenue model that alleviates the problems.

I'm going to suggest that MeFites in cities across the nation take it upon themselves to challenge (a better verb might be "hustle") their local redditors to pub trivia events, with side bets that go fully towards funding the site represented by the victors.

We'll have a mod army, goddamit.
posted by LionIndex at 10:28 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


:(

If you do make a "Pro" subscription account thing, I would suggest making it pay what you want with some minimum amount.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:28 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Oh man, I don't have time right now to read this whole thread, but I just wanted to add my voice with a massive thank-you to Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane for all of your hard work and collective awesomeness. *sniffle* It's like parents getting divorced!

Metafilter has become my online home, too, and the support of this community has gotten me through a really dark time in my life. This place means a helluva lot to me. I'm in cmyk's 'Poor As Hell, Too' pricing tier right now, but I would absolutely support a subscription option, fundraiser, whatever. Please let us help if we can!
posted by cardinality at 10:28 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: George! Mary did it! She told a few people you were in trouble and they scattered all over town collecting money. They didn't ask any questions, they just said "If George is in trouble you can count on me." You never saw anything like it.

Merry Christmas you old circumcision thread! Merry Christmas plate of beans!
posted by dr_dank at 10:29 AM on May 19 [33 favorites]


Wow, and here I was feeling jealous of Metafilter and all their traffic. A few months ago I too was burnt by a Google algorithm adjustment that took my monthly ads earnings from low 5 figures to 3 figures. Ouch.

I like the idea of perks for paid members - maybe access to some sort of behind the scenes info, or benefits on the site (along the lines of Patreon.com). Showing how much the site needed to be financially viable (without having to get rid of the moderators) could provide an added incentive for all of us to help out.
posted by jaden at 10:29 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Has there been any discussion of what the Pro features would look like or is that horse blocking the cart?
posted by griphus at 10:29 AM on May 19


Also, LobsterMitten's on the road right now with spotty-at-best internet access, so she asked me to post this in here this morning:
I'm traveling this week, so have asked Josh to post this for me. Naturally I'm bummed that this is happening, but I want to say that I'm so glad and feel so lucky to have had a chance to work here. It has meant a very great deal to me this year for various reasons.

To Matt, thank you for this really wonderful opportunity, and for trying to figure out a way to make the higher staffing levels work even during the ongoing drop in revenue. To Jessamyn, you have done an amazing job with this place over the years and I owe you a lot both personally and professionally, so thank you. To the other mods, thank you for being such a total pleasure to work with. This is a job with high points and some low points, and I want to thank the whole community for making the occasional low point worth it by continually coming up with new high points; it's been a privilege to mod here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:30 AM on May 19 [64 favorites]


I just set up a monthly donation from the "About" page. I am not exaggerating when I say that metafilter has done more than any other media outlet to shape the way I think about things.
posted by Ipsifendus at 10:31 AM on May 19 [56 favorites]


Even though I rarely comment, I am a voracious reader of this site. I love it. Sad that this is what spurred me on to give some gift memberships to my friends and finally buy that sweet FIAMO t-shirt today. I would gladly pay a monthly or yearly fee to support metafilter. Heck, I spend $10 a month for my Washington Post subscription and I get all my news from this site anyway. I'll look into the reoccurring donation via paypal.

Thanks jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane for everything that you have given to the site. Good luck to the continuing mods. And thanks to mathowie for keeping this site together for so long.
posted by topophilia at 10:31 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


:(

Much love to the outgoing mods, this is the BEST place on the web, and the excellent moderation is a huge part of that. I wish you the best in your future work lives, and hope y'all stick around as part of the community.

Thank you mathowie for publicly discussing this without sugar-coating, and taking community opinion and ideas into account, as you do with all major MF changes. This is really appreciated, even when it's bad news.

I also didn't know about the donate button - I'll be signing up.

((Everyone))
posted by Fig at 10:31 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Thank you, Jessamyn, lobstermittens, and goodnewsfortheinsane. You and all the mods make this place a good one, and I'm bummed this is happening.

For what it's worth, I would totally pony up $5/month. The internet needs Metafilter. You hear me, internet? YOU NEED METAFILTER.
posted by RakDaddy at 10:32 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I just put down $5 a month... the site is worth a lot more than that, and I'd pay more if I could.

The mods here are exemplars of mature, thoughtful behavior and there's very little more valuable in the world today than someone who leads by example.

Paypal immediately sent me 86 emails, but whatever, it was worth it.
posted by selfnoise at 10:32 AM on May 19 [18 favorites]


Everyone needs a hug. Sigh.

Thanks, Jessamyn, LobsterMitten and gnifti.
posted by gaspode at 10:32 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


would a metafilter dating service pencil out?
posted by bruce at 10:33 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Wow, this is incredible. If Google's algorithm devalues AskMe and yet still returns Yahoo Answers regularly, what the hell is going on over there? Wow. I am really sorry to read this.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:34 AM on May 19 [52 favorites]


Thank you so much Jessamyn and LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane!

And thanks for the recurring paypal link - I've signed up as well. This site is definitely worth it.
posted by needlegrrl at 10:34 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


*

Thanks to the mods. You've provided the infrastructure and support to cultivate a community that has shaped countless lives for the better, including mine.

I would have hoped to hear of this news earlier so perhaps that the community could have rallied or came up with a funding mechanism in recent months so that 3 mods didn't have to unwillingly lose their jobs.
posted by fizzix at 10:34 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I'm in for $10 a month. Feel free to one-up me.
posted by Longtime Listener at 10:34 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


would a metafilter dating service pencil out?

$10 to participate, $20 not to be set up with the 10th Regiment of Foot.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:34 AM on May 19 [18 favorites]


Don't make a Pro version.
Make the donate button easier to find.
Tell us how much you need.
I am only one person but I just signed up for $3 a month via the donate page.
It's not a lot but it's what matthowie mentioned.
Thanks to Jessamyn, gnfti & lobstermittens! And all y'all.
posted by chavenet at 10:35 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


m***fi**er da*i*g se*v**e

Those words are verboten. Never speak of them again.
posted by mediocre at 10:35 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


First: holy shit.

Second: I would absolutely pay more than a couple of bucks a month for MetaFilter (I pay 10 or something for Spotify, and I am way way way more irevocably intertwined with the Meef).

Third: I had a vision of a montage of Jessamyn, Lobstermittens, and GNFTI going on a bad-MetaFilter behavior rampage - self-linking, calling users motherfucker, "First!", one liners, etc. It was great.

Fourth: holy shit.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:35 AM on May 19 [13 favorites]


Jessamyn has to become Mod Emeritus, right?
posted by shothotbot at 10:36 AM on May 19 [31 favorites]


If Google's algorithm devalues AskMe and yet still returns Yahoo Answers regularly, what the hell is going on over there? Wow. I am really sorry to read this.

If Google was a more regular company, it might be possible to ask them what happened and fix it, but they're like the monolith in 2001. Probably no answers forthcoming.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:36 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


(Just to be clear, when I say "make a Pro version" I mean "entirely cosmetic, jokey 'upgrades,' largely focused on puns about the Professional White Background." I would not support an actual tiering of the userbase, that sounds like a bad idea.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:37 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


Count me in on the pledge drive. Is there any way to straight up donate now?

PayPal donation link


Sweet crap. I did not realize that even existed. Setting up a recurring donation as we speak.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:37 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


would it help if we occasionally clicked on random ads we have no intention of buying from?

This is a good way to get a site's ad account suspended and to cut off their revenue entirely. Don't do it, even just a little bit.
posted by jjwiseman at 10:37 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Thank you so much to jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane. I will miss you all as mods (though I'm secretly hoping you'll be able to be less diplomatic as regular ol' users).
posted by jaguar at 10:37 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


sigh, yahoo answers :(
posted by avocet at 10:38 AM on May 19 [12 favorites]


Jessamyn, geez. I've never known a MeFi without Jessamyn.

Yeah - I think I've been around here in some way or another for about 10 years, so I'm getting that feeling as well. Which is not to denigrate or downplay the sterling contributions of gnfti and Lobstermitten.

Thanks for all your guidance, y'all.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:38 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


One of the best moments I've experienced on this site was when Jessamyn gave me the status of 'colleague' (I was a Real Librarian back in the day.)

Put me down as a subscriber.
posted by apartment dweller at 10:38 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


We'll shoot! I wander over to MeTa about once a week just to see what's up, and this!
As many above have said, this is my online home. Jessamyn was the first mod (other than Matthowie) I was aware of, and her contributions as a mod and as a commenter exemplify what is truly great about this community.
This news makes me realize that this could (and probably will, someday) "die".
But not yet! Not while this community is still willing to pull together.
Thanks to all the staff a Meta----, you always make my day better and brighter.
posted by dbmcd at 10:38 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Say the word and me and a few of my, uh, associates, will take out this Google character of whom you speak. Guarantee they won't trace it back. We work clean.
posted by beelzbubba at 10:39 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


How about a gender-flexible fundraiser MeFi Bachelor Auction called Not All Men?
posted by griphus at 10:39 AM on May 19 [38 favorites]


My life has been exponentially improved by this site and I'm thrilled to begin donating monthly in support.
posted by Kwine at 10:40 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Thanks, Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane. I haven't been participating here as much lately but I read the site everyday. Metafilter continues to be a wonderful part of my online experience, thank you mods and all the community members for that. Count me in as someone willing to pay a monthly fee.
posted by marxchivist at 10:40 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Please add subscriptions. And giving. and tshirts. Whatever. If one thing doesn't fill the gap, add more. I don't login here as often as I used to but I would hate to find it gone one day.
posted by aburd at 10:40 AM on May 19


I love Metafilter.
posted by josher71 at 10:41 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I would pay $x to get a star after my name, or more to get an honorary title on my user page (Say drezdn, protector of the Longship, Keeper of the Bee and Heir to the Deleted Lands)
posted by drezdn at 10:41 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Well this sucks.

I definitely think the site is worth paying for and would be happy to do so. $5/month seems a bit high for a lot of people, but I would definitely pay $2-3 per month to use the site and I'm sure a ton of others would too.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:41 AM on May 19


Very sad news and my thanks to the departing mods. I'll add a "me too" as supporting a subscription and I say that as someone who doesn't support PBS and NPR, because, yeesh, that's not media I find support worthy, but Metafilter is my nexus for learning new things and hearing insightful commentary. It is also a tremendous exemplar for how moderation can encourage productive conversation online.
posted by audi alteram partem at 10:41 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Another idea: $10 per image post?
posted by craven_morhead at 10:41 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Well, I never looked at the 'About' page before. Joining the $5 a month club!
posted by robself at 10:41 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Recurring donation accomplished. I didn't even know that was a possibility. But it is. Here's the direct PayPal link or scroll to the bottom of the About page.
posted by jedicus at 10:41 AM on May 19 [12 favorites]


cortex: But in any case, intentionally clicking a bunch on ads is the sort of thing that Google watches for and gets punitive about. The thought is well-intentioned but the idea is very much not one folks should pursue.

Maybe this is worth adding to the OP?
posted by Room 641-A at 10:42 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I like the idea of perks for paid members - maybe access to some sort of behind the scenes info, or benefits on the site

This would change the character of the site, not for the better.

Fundraising for parting gifts for the departing mods? How about a warrant canary T-shirt indicating that I have not been searched by the NSA?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:42 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


I've just cleared out the spare change from my PayPal account in Metafilter's direction, and shall continue to do so every time someone pays me for something. Thanks, departing mods!
posted by Prince Lazy I at 10:43 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Godspeed to the departing mods. May we see you again.

Set up a small recurring donation, and a fresh, new user name.

(The old one had too many "Favorited by other" favorites in it anyway. Did you know the site stops counting at 9,999,999?)








I am, of course, lying. (about the favorites... not the other stuff.)
posted by Debaser626Again at 10:44 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Wow, I want to join in with those who are thanking Jessamy, GNFTI and LobsterMitten for amazing work. I always took the excellent moderation here, as well as what I assumed was MeFi's financial stability, for granted. This makes me sad.

I'm hitting the monthly subscription button too, and good luck to everyone with whatever is next.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 10:45 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Yo, Howie, howzabout I spot you a couple of Beaners and you leave me and my "associates" alone with the code for a couple of hours no questions asked, capiche?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:45 AM on May 19


It's very depressing to know you can't provide a service online unless you're also running a scam of sorts.
posted by The Whelk at 10:45 AM on May 19 [21 favorites]


Unhappy news. Get well soon, finances.
posted by michaelh at 10:46 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Damn.

Thanks Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane. Also, sorry. One of the highlights of MeFi is how reasonable the moderation is compared to 99% of the internet and your contributions are much appreciated.
posted by ersatz at 10:47 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I didn't know about the donation page, but I threw some money in today.

Thanks, mods, for all your work.

How many active users are there, nowadays?
posted by schnee at 10:47 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Sad news ... really sad news ... but if it helps keep the community alive, then I will roll with it.

I actually said "WHAT" quite loudly at work when I read jessamyn's name. (Fortunately, I often have something to be outraged about here, so people don't pay me any mind.) I have also enjoyed and appreciated the contribution of our newer mods too. Thanks to each of you.
posted by mykescipark at 10:47 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Thanks and love to the departing mods.

This makes me feel like I've taken Metafilter for granted. I'm here every day (for, um, hours every day), and have been for over 10 years. I've only ever paid $5 for the privilege.

That's not nearly enough.

Please count me as someone who would gladly pay some sort of monthly or annual subscription. I pay for Amazon Prime (up to $99 annually now!) because it provides me with benefits that make that money worth it to me. Metafilter does the same. (How much money have I saved by asking questions on AskMe, rather than calling a repair person or trashing a balky computer?)

I'm sorry for having taken this place for granted for 10 years. I won't remember to donate periodically, but would remember to renew my subscription and would pay up so as not to lose everything I get from you folks.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:48 AM on May 19 [12 favorites]


Fundraising for parting gifts for the departing mods?

A years supply of Rice-a-roni and MeFi: The Home Game coming right up!

How about a raffle to be mod for a day? I would love to use that Bene Gesserit voice that makes naughty comments disappear.
posted by dr_dank at 10:48 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


"I am not exaggerating when I say that metafilter has done more than any other media outlet to shape the way I think about things."

This precisely sums up what I came here to say. I don't post or comment much but believe me when I say this is my favorite place on the internet. It's my browser homepage on my computer and my phone. Best wishes and lots of love to the mods, both the dearly departed and those still here, and I'll be making a donation as soon as it's financially feasible.
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:48 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


:(
posted by jwhite1979 at 10:49 AM on May 19


I can't keep up with this thread, but I just signed up for a recurring $5/month donation. I'm so sad to see LM, GNFTI and Jessamyn go - I mean, I just realized that gnfti can be pronounced 'nifty' which was very cool and apt.

I wish we knew about this a little while ago - maybe we could have helped stave this off?
posted by kimberussell at 10:49 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


We don't need a pledge drive as much as a content drive. Obviously the answer to the revenue shortage is to start asking more SEO-friendly AskMefi questions.
"I left this steak on the counter for 24-hours and you won't believe what happened when I ate it."
"Name my website! The top 25 answers are:"
"What happened to my OKCupid profile, I don't even..."
posted by FreezBoy at 10:49 AM on May 19 [22 favorites]


I already had a case of the Mondays, and this news just catapults it into Mondays2 territory. So sorry it's come to this, mathowie.

jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane: thank you, thank you, thank you. Glad you'll all still be around, even sans mod hats.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:51 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Another voice for I would so totally pay more than $5 for this place.

Has there been some sort of mainstream news article about this, an investigative report or something somewhere? "Google totally has the power to kill thriving legitimate businesses with a simple change of algorithm"?
posted by Melismata at 10:51 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Signed up for a monthly donation at the paypal link. Mefites have quite literally saved my life, more than once.
posted by desjardins at 10:52 AM on May 19 [14 favorites]


I just signed up for $10 monthly.

You can do the same here (PayPal donation link).
posted by scrump at 10:52 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


I've gotten so much more than $5 worth-- each and every time I've posted an AskMe.

A reminder to consider donating on the "Your AskMe will be visible in three...two…one" page -- or on the email that asks you to review it and eventually mark it resolved -- might help a little.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:53 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I don't know how MeFi's budget breaks down in terms of technical expenses versus employee wages. But if there are ways to optimize the site to make it less resource-heavy and cut costs, but that you guys don't have time to work on, I'm sure there are a lot of us who would be willing to pitch in.
posted by teraflop at 10:53 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Aw, what the what.

Sad, sad, sad. I would also pay for the site without any additional "features" because this place by itself is worth that.
posted by odinsdream at 10:53 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Throwing in my $5/month, even without the promise of a tote bag. I've been using this site in some way for over a decade - you guys are pretty instrumental in the way I internet.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:53 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Thank you all so much. I have not been the most active member in recent years, and I know that it's people like me who are (at least in part) responsible for the current situation. I never would have guessed that a link aggregator could have so much impact on my life. Metafilter is where I learned that anyone with access to a computer could learn how to use it to better themselves and their community, both online and off. I think of this place as "where I'm from" as much if not more than the geographic podunk where my birth certificate was filled out.

Jessamyn especially, thank you especially for showing (and occasionally telling) me how to be an upstanding digital citizen.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:53 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


+1 to giving money to keep everything ticking over. I don't want to give to something that isn't an official looking donate link on the main page though, can we get one of them soonish?
posted by ElliotH at 10:54 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is such a wonderful site with fantastic moderation. Thanks in no small part to the excellent staff, it seemed like such a "safe space" to me that it became the first (and to this day only) internet community I have joined in order to actually participate in (and I am in my 30s - no joke but I have never even downloaded any music or movie in my life. That is how inept I am with technology - and how amazing Metafilter is to seduce me into becoming a part of it). I would like to thank all the departing moderators for making this possible. Even with all its flaws, I am so happy to be able such a great community, and the moderators are a huge part of making it so.

The Google issue is very interesting. I actually discovered Metafilter a few years ago by Googling for help with questions. I noticed that Metafilter consistently gave the most logical answers, and did not have that many ads (thus I figured the site was more neutral) and so always chose Metafilter when I Googled something. I can definitely see how, if Google decided to change its rankings, I would have never discovered this site. I can also see how, if the ads were excessive or for obnoxious things, on my first click to the site I would have immediately closed the page.

I would like to add that I think increasing the subscription fee or charging for premium services seems like a problematic idea to me. I know we members would happily pay for extra services but I fear this would dissuade new members. What Metafilter could really benefit from in terms of content would be new non-Western members who could lend their perspectives but $5 U.S. (can feed a family of four well for at least two weeks in some parts) / credit card requirement (uncommon still in more rural parts of the world with internet access) is a steep enough obstacle already, on top of the high expectations for posters to contribute intelligently and intellectually. Of course these are all good things that make Metafilter what it is and keeps away "trolls", so should not change. My reason for bringing this up is because it was a weird thing for me to go through the process of getting a credit card in my late 20s, coming from a culture where these things are unusual and unnecessary... So there is already this obstacle for some new members, particularly the ones that can offer non-Western or working class input - why turn more people off by saying there are different levels of involvement available? Also, if you charge for premium services, or give the option of donating large amounts, members who pay more will start thinking they "run" the site and have authoritative sway on how things should be done.

I am not sure what a good solution would be - even smaller donation options would be problematic due to the costs involved with tax receipts and such. I think it speaks very highly of this site that rather than have the members contribute money to the solution the Metafilter staff has taken the burden on their own shoulders. I know I will continue to support this site in any way I can, and once again thank each and every moderator for their awesome work.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 10:55 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


$5 recurring monthly donation has been sent.
posted by odinsdream at 10:56 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


The startup crowd over at Hacker News are talking about this.

For context on their shock on hearing about paid moderators, HN has some sort of slient volunteer mod crew (as best as I can tell), and there seems to be a lot of annoyance at titles changing and posts disappearing without any discussion or feedback. They just recently gave more a face to them with user dang, and have been going through some growing pains trying to figure out how to keep discussions clean with automated responses to flagging and votes. They also just had a lot of back and forth about low karma accounts only being visible to higher karma accounts to help moderate things. I think they just need a Mod Squad like MF has, but they haven't asked me. The state of moderation teams throughout the internet, and HN's journey specifically, could almost make for a interesting FPP some day.


I'm in for $5/month, just as soon as my new CC number arrives in the mail. I've set a calendar reminder so I don't forget.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:57 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


ElliotH - there's a paypal link on the about page (under Supporting...) , not sure why you need an actual button.
posted by desjardins at 10:58 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


When I try to quantify all the impact that MetaFilter, and its thoughtful and diligent moderation, has had on my life over the past decade, I just... the mind boggles. There has been no greater source of personal growth in my life than the commentary I've read here, and a huge part of that is Jessamyn's moderation, and the way she encourages people to do their best.

This is a terrible loss for us all. I don't know if it's too late to stem the tide, but I set up a monthly PayPal deduction for all that I can afford. I think it still works out to way less than a buck an hour, which seems wildly inadequate for all the benefit I reap from my time here.
posted by Mayor West at 11:00 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


JESSAMYYYNNNNNNN
posted by Greg Nog at 11:00 AM on May 19 [39 favorites]


I joined before the signup fee, but the number of laughs I have gotten from revisiting The Best Deleted Comment Ever is worth way more than $5. Donated, and will donate again.
posted by avocet at 11:00 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Oh, this makes me so unbelievably sad. I feel as if these were cutbacks at my own workplace. Good luck to all the departing mods, and the ones that are staying. Even though I'm not a very active member, I've learned so much from watching all of you work - how to keep a cooler head, have grace under pressure, and be nice.

Also, thanks for posting the donation link above! I didn't know it existed.
posted by bluefly at 11:01 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I am against anything that would put up a barrier for some members, which probably means subscriptions.

Some sites allow a paying user to display a "supporter's badge" under their name/avatar/whatever. It doesn't keep anyone out, it just demonstrates that they contribute. If it was on a MeFi user's Profile page, that wouldn't bee too intrusive.

Another site that I am thinking of sometimes does giveaways by members to other members, and some of those people opt to restrict it to paid supporters. *shrug*
posted by wenestvedt at 11:01 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Signed up for $5/month. Would do more if I could.

MetaFilter is the best and this bums me out.

While LobsterMitten is, for obvious reasons, my MeFi arch-nemesis I will wear mittens in her honor tonight.
Thanks also to Jessamyn and gnifti for being great.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:02 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Our family's little now. And we don't have many toys. But if you want, you can be a part of it...

Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind. Or forgotten.

Departing mods, we won't ever let you be forgotten.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:02 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


I logged in just before going to bed and saw a 300 comment thread, and came in to THIS. Fuck it all, I'm not even reading what everyone else has to say; I'm skipping to the end of the thread.

I've got INSANELY much out of this website compared to the $5 I've put into it and I don't want to see less of it. You know what Philip J. Fry has to say about this sort of thing, so while I don't want you to do the first part of his command, DO THE SECOND. ... err, just tell me how to fulfill my part of that.
posted by barnacles at 11:03 AM on May 19


And goddamn, I can't even laugh at that anymore since the image is 404ing :(
posted by avocet at 11:04 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Turds!

I'm sorry to hear this. I was processing matt's post and trying to figure out exactly how serious this was, when I read the quidnunc kid's comment. He didn't use this as an opportunity to mock-bash the current moditariat and exhort me to vote #1 quidnunc kid. That's when I knew it was serious and my stomach sank.

Though it wouldn't actually solve the problem, I would have loved there to be a MeFi auction, just to see what the items up for sale would be. Me, I would pay $20 for the privilege to post The Treaty of Westphalia a couple of times and not have it be deleted. (Of course, I'd try to fake it out a few times, posting The Edict of Nantes or The Donation of Constantine to see if anyone noticed. (Of course someone would notice. That's why this is my on-line home.))

LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane, it's been great having you as moderators. Thanks for everything and I hope you're moving on to do more cool stuff. (True fact: the abbreviation of goodnews's name, "gnfti", is the best transcription I've ever seen of the sound a cat makes when it sneezes.)

It's a little hard to believe that jessamyn won't be moderating here anymore. I join the chorus saying that her voice is one of the key things making Metafilter what it is. I've consciously noted the way you combine firmness with kindness and thought "Copy that. Be more like that." Thanks for all you've done and I'm glad you're sticking around.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:04 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


I read every Ask every day and am constantly learning new and valuable information. My $5/month started today.
posted by thatone at 11:04 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


One of my favorite podcasts, Mac Geek Gab, has a great voluntary subscription model. At one point they had a Premium model where your Mac geek questions got higher priority (and more chance of being answered on the podcast). They scrapped that model and went to a voluntary subscription where if you subscribed, once a year you got a piece of swag, like a coffee mug or water bottle, etc. I know Matt has said previously he does not want to get involved in the nightmare that fulfillments can be, but it's just a thought as to the different ways a subscription model can work.
posted by slogger at 11:04 AM on May 19


An additional button on the blue and green wouldn't hurt. Maybe write something like: Love the links? Donate! or More tough love? Donate!

Also, I am awaiting instructions per MeMail on how to make my posts more SEO friendly. Does 8 X the keyword per 100 words still do it?
posted by travelwithcats at 11:05 AM on May 19


Yay thank you everyone for mentioning the donate link in the about page. Reoccurring donation enabled!
posted by royalsong at 11:06 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Since I am one of those who signed up before the #5 fee, I'm in favor of sending out a one-time MeMail to everyone like me asking for the $5.
posted by tommasz at 11:06 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Finally got around to canceling my TIME subscription; redirecting a portion of that to Metafilter on a monthly basis.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:06 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Bad news for the insane?

Sorry. This is how I process grief.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:06 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


I too signed up for monthly contribution. Had no idea that was an option. Hang in there Metafilter WE WILL SAVE YOU.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:09 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Sorry to be a drama queen, but the idea of Metafilter without Jessamyn is kind of surreal and shocking. I'll miss LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane as mods as well, but their tenure hasn't been as long.

If there's some kind of chrome extension that forces affiliate payments for various online shopping sites to go to Metafilter I'd be happy to install it. I wouldn't mind a yearly or monthly charge either, but I get why that is problematic. Personally I don't think it'd work long term.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:11 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


My heart is heavy over this news. Will be signing up for a recurring monthly donation. MetaFilter is one constant in my life right now that I am unwilling to part with.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:12 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Donated! I'd be for a subscription that did nothing but put a little star on your user page ONLY (or added your name to a supporters page).

I don't want to make levels of the website, as it was a great resource when I was young and poor.
posted by typecloud at 11:12 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Fuck it all, I'm not even reading what everyone else has to say; I'm skipping to the end of the thread.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:12 AM on May 19 [23 favorites]


Incredibly sad news. I'll be sorry to see jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane go. Wishing you guys all the best.

Question - at some point I clicked the option to hide ads. How do I turn them back on? I figure every little bit helps.
posted by capricorn at 11:13 AM on May 19


It's not the saddest part of this, but I'm a bit upset that Jessamyn now won't receive her engraved #CCCC00 watch.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:13 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


To complete your payment, review the details below and click Donate. Visit Funding Sources to learn more about PayPal policies and your payment source rights and remedies, or to change debit card processing options.
Purpose Donation amount Make This Recurring (Monthly) Total
MetaFilter $2.25 $2.25
Add special instructions to the seller
"Please continue to allow me to waste working hours"

Total: $2.25 USD

posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:14 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


travelwithcats: Also, I am awaiting instructions per MefiMail on how to make my posts more SEO friendly.

We can save Metafilter with ONE WIERD TRICK that Google HATES!
posted by dr_dank at 11:15 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


Wow, this is really big. I also appreciate the straightforward, honest approach with this announcement. I joined Metafilter before Jessamyn and I have to say post-Jessamyn is noticeably better.

I would also add that I would gladly move towards a subscription model. I leech off your servers FARR too much for my one off five bucks. I spend twice as much on Spotify a month but I spend more than twice as much time here.
posted by like_neon at 11:16 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Question - at some point I clicked the option to hide ads. How do I turn them back on? I figure every little bit helps.

I think if you log out and log back in, they'll reappear.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:16 AM on May 19


In for $5 / month. Same as in town.
posted by graymouser at 11:17 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


For every $1 you donate each month you are allowed one (1) joke on Ask.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:18 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


scrump: " You can do the same here (PayPal donation link)."

Thank you! Done.
posted by zarq at 11:18 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


> If there's some kind of chrome extension that forces affiliate payments for various online shopping sites to go to Metafilter I'd be happy to install it

Affiliater does this for Amazon and works in most browsers. Note this already happens automatically with outbound links from Mefi and subsites.
posted by churl at 11:19 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Well, that's shit.

In for $15 a month.
posted by inire at 11:19 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


Will PayPal/the credit card co take out less money if I make a bigger yearly donation vs a smaller monthly donation?
posted by onlyconnect at 11:20 AM on May 19


A serious question, as for today would a larger single donation be better with smaller, recurring payments ongoing day forward? What I mean is, do you need to get MeFi out of the hole before sustaining memberships would keep it viable, or would a steady ongoing source of funds be enough?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:20 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I just did a monthly donation through paypal (though would be perfectly content to move that elsewhere if an elsewhere became available, as paypal has crappy subscription management). I assume that if enough of us do that, it becomes as much (or maybe slightly more) dependable Monthly Recurring Revenue than anticipated ad revenue, but I don't know if that MRR is sufficient to retaining moderators.

I like the way Metafilter is moderated and managed, and think things were better with more moderators. I also liked that these were jobs and not volunteer gigs and want to see that continue to work out.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:21 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


OK I signed up for MetaFilter Pro ($5/mo is a steal!) but I'm not seeing the "Post Image" button, can anyone help me
posted by invitapriore at 11:22 AM on May 19 [13 favorites]


* * *
Thank you, Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane, for your excellent work. Jessamyn, in particular, has demonstrated grace under pressure, insight in a tornado, and humor while serious.

Life lessons. Thank you.

Since matthowie has run the numbers, I'm confident that MetaFilter will live on. This turning point may, I hope, provide a little cushion for the next crisis.

{  hug  }
hugs for the claustrophobic
posted by Jesse the K at 11:22 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Site slowing down all of a sudden. Either it's being flooded with donations, or people are furiously creating meetups so that they can go drink heavily together.
posted by Melismata at 11:22 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


I never really thought I'd be in a position to give Matt professional advice (in this case, totally unsolicited) but now I am:

This is an insanely engaged userbase. As a professional fundraiser, let me just say that even if you feel uncomfortable asking people for money, people here clearly want to give you money. Don't dismiss that. Sure, maybe it's not a long-term solution, but in terms of building up some cash reserves, don't be embarrassed to take advantage of that goodwill.

Please post the donation link on the front page (actually, at the top of every page) and set a fundraising goal. Let people voluntarily pledge some amount of money every month, and give them some small recognition in return (my suggestion would be a "mefi supporter" badge on their user page). Update us when we've reached 20, 40, 50, 75, 90, 95, and 100% of your goal.

Help Metafilter do this for you. You've built a great thing here. Let us help you keep it upright and sailing forward.
posted by anastasiav at 11:23 AM on May 19 [216 favorites]


OK I signed up for MetaFilter Pro ($5/mo is a steal!) but I'm not seeing the "Post Image" button, can anyone help me

You have to take off your pants before you can upload the image.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:24 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Not the kind of news I wanted to read, but it is what it is. I will double down on the gift subscriptions & ridiculously-named sock-puppet accounts, at the very least. I know Jessamyn's a very resourceful person & I suspect this will be easier on her than it will be on those of us who have come to equate MetaFilter with her steady hand. LobsterMitten, GNIFTI, you guys are both tops in my book -- I hope this works out for everyone. Matt, I love your site & it's a regular part of my life. Here's hoping you can keep the ship afloat a while, yet.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:24 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Signed up for $5/month and planning to go higher very soon.
posted by adrianhon at 11:24 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


or people are furiously creating meetups so that they can go drink heavily together.

This is actually a great idea.
posted by lalex at 11:26 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Nthing a lot of people. Metafilter is basically my portal to everything else. First site I go to every day; 90% of the interesting stuff I know that makes me the hit of the faculty lounge came via MetaFilter. I never have looked at the About page, had no idea that there was a way to donate other than my army of sock puppets. In for $5 a month; maybe more when I pay off that transmission repair last month (ouch!)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:26 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


honestly, i read metafilter FAR more than i should. it is probably my most-visited site on the internet. i've also gotten two boyfriends into it, one current, one former, and both of them are too much of a pussy to create an actual account.

sorry i cost you $10, metafilter. to make it up to you, i'm in for $5 a month.
posted by kerning at 11:27 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Wait, the GOP was right about Obamacare destroying small businesses?! [/bad joke]

One more voice in the dozens of dozens to thank Jessamyn and the mods for all that they did and express sadness at this turn of events.
posted by Atreides at 11:27 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Thanks, jessamyn.
posted by 0 at 11:28 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Does it help if users stop hiding sidebar ads?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:30 AM on May 19


I am SO sad to hear this news, even though my metafilter activity has been very limited this last year.

The departure of all three mods is a loss to us.

It's really hard to imagine this place without Jessamyn. Some of her moderating comments have made my day for weeks.

I wish I were in a position to offer some kind of practical help. Metafilter helped me retain my balance through very difficult times.
posted by bardophile at 11:31 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Others have already expressed their gratitude better than I can, and I'm not sure what I can say that hasn't already been said. But I want to add my voice to the chorus of other users thanking the departing mods.

There's an old PR trick about breaking bad news on a Friday to minimize its circulation. Monday morning is pretty much the opposite of that, and details like this — attempts to keep everyone informed and engaged — it's something that I appreciate. It makes me happy to see so many kind comments about jessamyn, lobstermitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane.

Matt, have you considered accepting moderated advertising from site users? Advertising from MetaFilter users maybe even with the username beneath the ad; maybe something that only appears to logged-in users. I don't know how to describe the benefits of such a system without sounding like a marketroid zombie...

One potential downside is that if name recognition motivates click-through, such a system might disproportionately encourage commenting and posting from people with something to sell. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that this is on my mind right now because I need to spend money on advertising.

Just thinking out loud. I know that you have considered everything in much greater depth than anyone else. If this idea has been proposed and rejected before, I apologize for resurrecting the issue.
posted by compartment at 11:32 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I need to buy more shirts
posted by hellojed at 11:32 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Onlyconnect asked the same thing I wondered about donations. What's the per-transaction screwing from paypal for donations? Spreading out the payments is pleasant but not if it means wasting 30% vs 5% in fees.
posted by phearlez at 11:32 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


If you shop at Amazon, consider doing so through a Metafilter affiliate link like this one. You do not need to buy the book linked there. Any purchase made during that session will provide a commission for Metafilter while simultaneously reducing Amazon's profit margin. It's a win-win.

The book linked is Gift of Fear, and it really resonates for me today. Before today I didn't fear losing my favorite Web site or the contributions/moderations of one of my favorite people on the planet.
posted by Toekneesan at 11:33 AM on May 19 [15 favorites]


I have to say, I don't use MeFi as much as most people (and I almost never comment), but I love having a place in the world that I can point to when they say that comments are always a cesspool and there's no way to effectively run a community and all that. It'd be worth pledging some amount of money just to know that such a place existed.
posted by jemaleddin at 11:33 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I'm happy to pay a little bit, too, or to make an annual contribution for special snowflake status.

I want to help!
posted by math at 11:34 AM on May 19


Yeah, further chiming in to thank Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane for their work. I've been here for most of what I count as my adult life, and I can't imagine MeFi not being here.

Currently without a job, but the second* thing I do when I find one is going to be setting up a monthly donation.

*I can't tell my folks that I waited to call them because I had to donate money to an internet community.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:34 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn: Saying 'Thank You' seems insufficient for everything you've done for us. Still, Thank You and we love you.
posted by pjern at 11:34 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


So I called my non-on-Metafilter but oft-mentioned-on-Metafilter partner at lunch time, and I asked him if he read my email that basically copied Matt's message above and had the subject line "So because of this we are now donating $[x] a month to Metafilter"

As is often the case with stuff I send him from Metafilter, he said he "glanced at it" but had an excuse for why he hadn't read the whole thing.

After I explained it to him, he, at first, seemed to be questioning the ongoing donation, but then, as he talked about how he couldn't even describe how important he thought Metafilter was to me having a 'healthy headspace' and was giving specific examples such that I was close to tears in the CVS, I realized he was telling me to up my donation.

So thanks to mods, both departing and ongoing, and everyone else. On top of everything else you do, you're making life easier for people who don't even bother reading the site.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:34 AM on May 19 [67 favorites]


Damnit. Sorry to hear it Matt. The mods here are wonderful, and I've made it a point to note that on here after wandering elsewhere and realizing just what a paradise this place is on most days.
posted by cashman at 11:34 AM on May 19


How about adding a note and link to the donation page to the Ask Metafilter Follow Up message? "Did your question get answered? Consider supporting Metafilter through a small donation! Your donation will help Ask Metafilter maintain the well moderated environment that it currently is!"
posted by Big_B at 11:35 AM on May 19 [28 favorites]


Many thanks and wishes of good luck to the departing mods.
MeFi is one of the great, bright lights of civility, intelligence and community on the internet.
Hang in there, Matt & Co.
posted by islander at 11:36 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I would be willing to pay $5/question for Chatfilter. Seriously, I don't think a week goes by that I didn't wish we had that.
posted by mochapickle at 11:36 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


jessamyn - Thank you. You earned a retirement with honors, plaques, speeches, gold watches, embarrassing slide shows, balloons, drunken sobbing, etc. a long time ago. Your moderation has set, enabled, and inspired a huge chunk of the tone that makes MetaFilter the best damn website on the internet. You can look at this place and be proud. However much credit you're tempted to take, you probably deserve more.

LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane I've seen nothing but good, sanity-promoting comments and moderation from both of you. And I know that the vast majority of your work has gone unseen. Thank you very much for everything you've done to keep MetaFilter running and continuing to be a place I want to spend my time.
posted by straight at 11:36 AM on May 19 [15 favorites]


I'm bummed out, shocked, and saddened by this. This is one of my Internet Clubhouses. I don't get to participate as much as I would like, but it's a huge part of my daily reading and the internet would be a suckier place indeed if Metafilter were gone.

I'm really sorry to hear that you all have been going through tough times. You must have been having some shitty conversations and making hard decisions, all while dealing with the community issues. I'm glad that you've shared the reasons why things got tough, how you made the difficult decisions, and results of those decisions with us. I'm glad that you're giving us an opportunity to chat about it and mourn the loss of three good mods, and the chance to step up to help out. It's what a community does, right?

*throws monthly donation into Metafilter's hat*
posted by Elly Vortex at 11:36 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I can't +1 anastasiav enough - a fundraiser would do great. Hell, even the people at Hacker News are cut up about this announcement. I've donated more to Wikipedia in the past due to their prominent fundraising drives, and I think people would do the same for Mefi. Maybe you could do a co-ordinated series of meetups as well!
posted by adrianhon at 11:37 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Just an FYI - but for $500 we can put "Save MeFi" on the marquee at Wrigley.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:37 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


Holy shit what? Noooooooo!

It's time to show ads to members. I never thought I would say that, but, well, here we are.
posted by loquacious at 11:39 AM on May 19


Matt, thank you for being transparent, direct, and honest.

I expect that many MeFites have been laid off, or have dodged a lay-off, and nothing makes that situation worse than equivocation or bullshit.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:39 AM on May 19 [14 favorites]


5 dollars you can delete someone else's comment
10 dollars you can see all deleted comments
25 dollars you can undelete your own


0 dollars to flee the hellscape that Metafilter would become.

Make an infographic of a tree*, place it somewhere semi-inconspicously on the site with "X% of ___ goal met", the tree lives, grows, or dies based on the weekly/monthly/yearly pledge drive numbers. Profit.

Reddit currently does something similar. Basically, they have a monthly premium membership with a small number of non-essential perks* and a pledge bar that tracks new subscriptions against their goal.

In addition to this, they have an interesting feature where users are able to gift one month subscriptions* to other users by "guiding" comments. In addition to the gift, the guided comment is highlighted for all users. Here's a random example.

I think some kind of paid comment highlighting system would work on Metafilter without being too disruptive.

With or without the above system, I think an excellent time to nudge people for a donation is when they accept an answer to one of their Ask Mefi questions. Maybe not after their first question on a new account, but after their second or third.

* e.g. all accounts can favorite posts, but gold accounts can also favorite comments
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:39 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I can't possibly read all of these messages but I'm sure the staff will so here is another vote for a pledge drive to keep MeFi alive.
posted by wolfr at 11:40 AM on May 19


in for a monthly donation. Like so many other folks have said already, I get tons of news and discussion and jokes and so much else from this community and it'd honestly feel a little like stealing if I didn't support it.
posted by xbonesgt at 11:40 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


"Fuck it all, I'm not even reading what everyone else has to say; I'm skipping to the end of the thread. "

Skipping the rest of the comments costs $20 now.
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 AM on May 19 [20 favorites]


Thanks guys for posting the donate link, I just contributed. Shit, I don't know what I'd do without MeFi.
posted by radioamy at 11:41 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Seeing the mods in action is one of my favourite things on Metafilter. I'm so sorry it's come to this, and I'm so ashamed that I didn't know about the link to PayPal donations until today.
posted by peripathetic at 11:42 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


This sucks.
Jessamyn best of everything for wherever your career / life is taking you.
Lobster Mitten all the best as well, we never really interacted but I know you were here.
gnfti I am sure your wit and wisdom will still be around. Thank you all. Very much.
Now practicalities.
I think it is telling that so many did not / do not know how to contribute. A sign on every page should help - not at the bottom but where it can be seen and in a colour - like RED
but discrete.
How come I have been here for 10 years come November officially only for $5. Ridiculous. I have paid more at times but probably not enough.
All these meet ups I never go to as I don´t live near any of you; why not pass the hat - a dollar here and dollar there when you drink beer is hardly noticed.
I don´t like recurring memberships but I am not adverse to an annual email telling me to get my credit card out. I don´t want crap and I don´t want a star - that is for Jessamyn in perpetuity, you other two can have one as well but smaller.
There are quite a few clever business people hanging out here, I think some of them might have some intetesting ideas for non conventional revenue flow.
posted by adamvasco at 11:42 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Maybe we could have a telethon. We could even get Jerry Lewis.
posted by jonmc at 11:42 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


:( That's crap. I don't post a huge amount but I visit Metafilter almost everyday. And am loving the new Fanfare section.

I've been here since 2006, I think that was money well spent and time I donated a little more.
posted by Fence at 11:44 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Can we have a telethon where if we donate enough money we don't have to see Jerry Lewis?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:46 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


ACkwarblno!!

I feel like this is one of those bad dreams where I have a virus on my phone and can't get it off but then I wake up and still try to get the virus off my phone, only it doesn't exist.
Except here I (apparently) am not waking up (can't be too sure this time of year, antihistamine fog..)

I'm donating too. Via paypal for now, more than happy to switch to another means if it works out better. I expect nothing in return; Mefi's been a source of sanity for me over the last 7 years, and if I can give that to someone else (and myself!) in the future, even in a very tiny way, yippee.

Also tempted to pester googlefolk. WTF, google? What do you have against AskMe?
posted by nat at 11:47 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


In for $3/month.

I'm generally opposed to redditification and premium features, but +1 to everything anastasiav said - ask us for money! I had no idea the site was in financial trouble and am happy to pay a voluntary subscription.
posted by heyforfour at 11:48 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Sigh. Please put me in for subscription or pledge drive.
posted by filmgeek at 11:48 AM on May 19


Aw, man, this sucks hard. This is such a special place for me and so many others. I'm gonna donate immediately... and with the combined brainpower of the HiveMind, I KNOW we could come up with some kinda sustainable funding initiative. I would absolutely, 100% pay a monthly (or one-time) fee to access this site.
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:50 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


In for $5/mo. In all seriousness, Metafilter has been instrumental in my development as a person over the course of my 20s. It has also been a near-constant source of humor, interesting stories, and amazement for the entirety of my graduate school career. (I shutter to think at how many working hours have been spent looking at a blue, green, or grey screen when I should have been working.) I know that I'm not the only person here whose friends tease him or her for starting a disproportionate number of sentences with "Hey, I just saw this post on Metafilter..." Honestly, paying less per month than I do for 2-day shipping or streaming music is the very definition of the least I can do.

I understand why you didn't come asking people for money, Mathowie, but a part of me is sad that you didn't. I would have gladly set up recurring donations years ago if I had known the site was struggling. For all it's ups and downs, warts and all, Metafilter is still one of the best places on the internet.
posted by Osrinith at 11:51 AM on May 19 [16 favorites]


Ok, that's weird, I got a confirmation number of 0. Stupid Paypal. I'll have to figure out a way to check if it works..
posted by nat at 11:51 AM on May 19


It's time to show ads to members.

I doubt it. 10,000 or so active members wont make that many impressions. To be honest, I am guessing MetaFilter growth was sort of like newspapers, but instead of classified ads supporting a Rome Bureau, the ads served to non-logged in askMe viewers supported the rest of the community. With more quality question sites as well as the google tweaking, something had to give.

Could FanFare help? Maybe, but how many people search for discussusions of old TV shows.

I know people dont like the subscription idea, but where would MetatFilter be without the ask income? A niche community site and it seems totally reasonable to ask the community to support it.

I would.
posted by shothotbot at 11:52 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter has taught me--embarrassingly late in the game--how to be a grownup. Thanks to all the departing mods for their graceful examples. Off to set up my monthly donation.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:53 AM on May 19 [23 favorites]


Best wishes to LobsterMitten, goodnewsfortheinsane, and jessamyn. I like to imagine that that when you view any user's profile, there's an extra button that will appear that reads "Honorary Ban Hammer (n)" where n is some reasonable number of honorary ban hammerings.

I appreciate the willingness to step down as well. Small companies are different beasts. I worked at a place that had to do some hard layoffs and one was a key contributor to UI and usability. I looked at my salary and felt like I could easily deal with 20% less and did some straw polls and got volunteers who, if we all took 20% cuts, would keep him on at 80%. It was posed to the board and rejected. We tried. When the company shuttered, I bought champagne for everyone. And the pink slips were pink.

Mental note: buy a sock puppet every month.
posted by plinth at 11:55 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


We scoured the web and took advice of reducing ads in the hopes traffic would improve but it never really did, staying steady for several months and then periodically decreasing by smaller amounts over time.

That's worrying—it's not just a one-time drop in revenue/traffic, the trend over the past couple years has been slowly declining revenue/traffic? So unless something else changes, this reduction in expenses is only a temporary solution?

As a professional fundraiser, let me just say that even if you feel uncomfortable asking people for money, people here clearly want to give you money.

I have no idea whether it applies to metafilter or not, but in general this is an important point: I've seen that situation before, where worthy organizations struggle and nearly die out because they hate asking for money, even when there were obviously lots of people wanting to give them money (*cough*Museum of Jurassic Technology*cough*).
posted by jjwiseman at 11:55 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Jesus this makes me sad.
Matt, thank you for your candor.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:57 AM on May 19


I give $10 a month each to NPR, Spotify, Birchbox, and Netflix. None of them are even remotely close to as important to me as Metafilter. I make $13,000 annually and I find a way to spend $40 a month on that junk.

Please consider a monthly subscription option for those of us that love this place. No special stars or anything noted on profiles necessary. I'd gladly pay $10 a month (and I'd totally pay way more) to help keep the site going.

Now it may be that LM, GNftI, and Jessamyn are all also looking forward to new opportunities, and far be it from me to stop them. But if this is just about the money, I think this thread makes it clear that we want to help make this work with a fund drive or something of that nature.

Thanks for delivering the news in such a kind way. I am on my way to the hospital and I thought today couldn't get worse but here we are.
posted by sockermom at 11:57 AM on May 19 [14 favorites]


Jessamyn has to become Mod Emeritus, right?

Dowager Mod, surely?

(I am 99.99% lurker, but you got my $5/month. Wish it were more.)
posted by emilypdx at 11:58 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


Dammit.
posted by ColdChef at 11:58 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Mods Ahoy! You are wonderful people!
posted by ouke at 11:58 AM on May 19


$5/month here too.

Since it gets lost quickly among all the comments: The donation link is at the bottom of the About Metafilter page.
posted by jessypie at 12:01 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


When getting into potentially tricky interactions - online and off - I frequently find myself asking "What Would Jessamyn Do?".

Good luck, you three. You're a huge part of why this is The Best Website. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you.
posted by davidjmcgee at 12:02 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


1) I'm sorry to see jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten step down as mods. They've done a good job keeping the place sane for as long as I've been here. They should be proud.

2) I'll do my best to flag and move on or use the contact form. I'm not the most level-headed dude, and the smaller mod team doesn't need one more person yelling at someone else in a thread.

3) When I get home I'll cancel my Netflix subscription, which I basically don't use, and set up a ten-dollar-a-month donation to Metafilter, which I use pretty much every day. Even with a smaller, necessarily slower mod team, the site is worth at least that much to me.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:02 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


And hot damn, if nothing else, this page should work as a pretty great professional reference going forward.

"Qualifications? THE PEOPLE ADORE ME."
posted by davidjmcgee at 12:03 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


Sad news for the site and everyone on it. Thanks to jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane for helping to make this site what it's been for the past decade. And thanks to mathowie and the rest of the mod team for a) also keeping the site alive and healthy, and b) specifically for this detailed post about the state of affairs. I really appreciate knowing where we all stand.

So anyways: if there is a subscription plan I can sign up for, just tell me where the link is and how much and your money is mine. (I mean, unless the subscription is like $1000/month or something. I do need food and shelter to live.) It pains me to think that all the places I like on the internet that put the community first (also see mlkshk) are dying because they didn't fleece their audience enough with advertising and revenue streams and other bullshit. If money is really an issue, I want to help however I can to make it no longer be an issue, however limited my means may be.
posted by chrominance at 12:04 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Been thinking about asking about this for a while, now seems like the time. Why not charge to post on old threads? Sometimes updates would be most appreciated, and I know I'd pay a small fee to post on old threads.
posted by telstar at 12:04 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Goddammit. I don't think a week goes by that I don't google "$Thing I don't know about" site:ask.metafilter.com
posted by lysdexic at 12:05 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Thanks to those sharing the donation link. I didn't know about it before and am happy that I could set up $5/month as well!
posted by firei at 12:05 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


davidjmcgee: I also have an internal "What would Metafilter do/say?" selfcheck.
posted by royalsong at 12:07 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Wow. I am truly sorry to hear about jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane. They have done incredible, excellent, painstaking work to make MetaFilter what it is today. To make a massive understatement, they will be missed. Very best wishes for all going forward.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:07 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


How about instead of subscriptions, allow members who can afford it to make recurring donations automatically.
posted by ephemerae at 12:07 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


i don't do paypal. can i just mail a check, and is the address that undoubtedly appears on the whois the right one?

there has GOT to be a way to monetize over 100,000 head of above-average intelligent livestock you haven't thought of yet. the dating service idea was not well-received...

marketing/sales clubs per se are too much work, but the mefi amazon affiliate makes amazon do the work, so that's a good idea...

the porn space is too crowded.

we could ghostwrite term papers and admissions essays, but it would have to be in an ethical framework!

what web entities exist that would be complementary and symbiotic? SEO services?

an opinion market that wasn't strictly gambling, which brought down intrade.

somebody will think of something, because there's always something new to think of.
posted by bruce at 12:08 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


In This Thread: Jessamyn could totally make a living scolding people
posted by Jacen at 12:09 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Been thinking about asking about this for a while, now seems like the time. Why not charge to post on old threads? Sometimes updates would be most appreciated, and I know I'd pay a small fee to post on old threads.

Eh, I appreciate the thought, but our whole philosophy has always been that if you're a member, you're a member; if a post is open, you can post in it. Posts that close close automatically because on the balance it was simpler/better for site management to have them close, and there's not really a clear path to paying to get around that that feels good to me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:10 PM on May 19 [11 favorites]


Maybe it's time to bring back the Naked Men of Metafilter Calendar....
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:10 PM on May 19 [20 favorites]


OK, I hate myself for scrolling to the bottom but just wanted to get in that I, too, am up for a pledge drive and/or ongoing voluntary subscription. This really is the Best of the Web. (Also, thanks to jouke for alerting the MeCha bunnies to this post.)
posted by bearwife at 12:10 PM on May 19


Not sure if this has already been posted anywhere in MeTa, but I thought it was a nice compliment paid to the site:

Wired: Curbing Online Abuse Isn’t Impossible. Here’s Where We Start.
To truly shift social norms, the community, by definition, has to get involved in enforcing them. This could mean making comments of disapproval, upvoting and downvoting, or simply reporting bad behavior. The best online forums are the ones that take seriously their role as communities, including the famously civil MetaFilter, whose moderation is guided by a “don’t be an asshole” principle.
Can't think of a nicer legacy for the site and the entire mod team. Y'all have created a community where people actually treat each other civilly, respectfully and support one another. Who are continuing to uphold ideals you started and maintain. So much so that this place is not only being given as an example for others to live up to, but is known for being a haven where people can have an adult conversation.

That's something all three departing mods should be truly proud of. You've made at least one part of the 'net a better place. I sincerely hope you're all aware of the positive impact you've had on us all. I for one am quite grateful for it.

So, thank you. For all the things, too numerous to mention.
posted by zarq at 12:11 PM on May 19 [25 favorites]


Maybe it's time to bring back the Naked Men of Metafilter Calendar....

You are all wonderful and I will gladly donate money so that this does not happen.
posted by maryr at 12:13 PM on May 19 [54 favorites]


How about instead of subscriptions, allow members who can afford it to make recurring donations automatically.
Having just visited the donation link at the bottom of the about page, I can tell you that the paypal page has a checkbox for monthly recurring donations.
posted by plinth at 12:13 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Naked Men of MetaFilter calendar

Yet another funding option: I would pay a hundred bucks not to get an automatically mass-mailed PDF of that.

(Dammit, maryr)
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:14 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


But running the numbers, we would literally need a few thousand people to pony up $2-$3 a month for that optional subscription, and I haven't met anyone in doing research on these that gets more than a few single digit percentage of their daily member visits converted over to subscriptions. My guess is a few hundred of you would pay for it, but that wouldn't cover a part-timer's monthly hours. I could be wrong, and I'll definitely take all these comments into account.

I think I am probably a moderate user of this site in terms of contributing content, but it's the first/last place I go every day. I bet whoever you've talked to is wrong - this site is unlike pretty much everything else in my life. I would never consider giving money to any other site I go to on a regular basis, but I don't think twice about contributing to this one. I'm in for $5/month.
posted by one_bean at 12:15 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Maybe it's time to bring back the Naked Men of Metafilter Calendar....

Some things are just best left in storage.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:16 PM on May 19


I want to read the thread and write more but I'm in between interviews today: This is a bummer.

I wonder if the keywords in the title on AskMe helped or hurt the ratings.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:16 PM on May 19


P.S. Found scrump's link (thanks scrump!!) and am in for $20/month. And that's nothing considering the value of this site to me.
posted by bearwife at 12:17 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Guys! I just found a flyer for a TEEN BREAKDANCING COMPETITION! First prize is ONE FREE WEBSITE FOREVER. I think we can pull this out! Who's with me?
posted by ColdChef at 12:18 PM on May 19 [100 favorites]


I'm in for $5/month, too. I'll miss the mods, but I'm very happy that Jessamyn will stay in the podcast.
posted by clearlydemon at 12:19 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Feeling for the mods right now, both the departing crew and the ones who stay - here's hoping the added load doesn't weigh too heavily.
posted by pahalial at 12:23 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


We even explored selling the site to new owners, with the goal of having someone else run the financial/advertising side of things while we run the community as-is, but those talks were unsuccessful in finding a good suitor despite months of work.

Another serious question here, did you ever consider selling the site to us? Rather than subscriptions or donations we could buy shares?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:23 PM on May 19 [29 favorites]


I think any functionality changes would be ill-considered. Or at least should be *very* cautiously approached. Metafilter is famously conservative as to functionality; sometimes that is to its detriment, but it is largely a strength.

Reminder: Paypal donation link is here.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:24 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


With the others, sad that this had to take place and really appreciate the forthright communication.

A special note for Jessamyn - 10 years is a long time to work anywhere and I have deep respect for you shoveling shit around here for this long. I wouldn't have made it 10 days. Thank you for stepping forward so another mod could keep their job. You are a model of grace and dignity. Congratulations on your new professional opportunities and on new beginnings.

For all mods staying and going, I wish you all success with your new challenges. You've all worked hard and you all deserve every success in the world.
posted by crazycanuck at 12:25 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


restless_nomad: Volunteer mods are a damned tricky thing to manage. At the scale we'd be talking about, we wouldn't be saving all that many man-hours, because they'd go into management instead of moderation.

Depends. Not necessarily true. Experience may differ. My point: don't close this door so fast.
posted by bru at 12:25 PM on May 19


My guess is a few hundred of you would pay for it, but that wouldn't cover a part-timer's monthly hours. I could be wrong, and I'll definitely take all these comments into account.

Count me in.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:26 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Ugh! Thank you for all your great work Jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten - the site won't be the same without your help modding. Count us in for some extra $$ - he lurks more than I do but we both spend far more time here than one lousy $5 each begins to cover.
posted by leslies at 12:27 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Thank you to jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten. And I don't post often, I read this site most every day, and learn the most amazing things. Can't imagine not having Metafilter around, and I'm happy to help for whatever I can monthly.
posted by korej at 12:27 PM on May 19


Yeah, that Donate/Subscribe button needs to be made more prominent.

Anyway, add another five-dollars-a-monther.
posted by notyou at 12:29 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Oh no! Big thank you to the mods who are leaving :-(

Make it a yearly subscription. I mean, not too high, because that really would be a barrier for some of us. But $5 to join and a given amount every year if you want to stay - that would be predictable income even if not very much.
posted by glasseyes at 12:31 PM on May 19


(I can just imagine Matt hovering above the post button today thinking: Christ, 1300 comments when we GIVE them something, imagine if we take something away)
posted by shothotbot at 12:32 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Also: Could you make it an option in our profile to show ads even when logged in?
posted by jbickers at 12:32 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I'm in for a monthly subscription. Where do I click?

TAKE MY MONEY, DAMMIT.
posted by Freen at 12:34 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


*hugs*
posted by Freen at 12:34 PM on May 19


I was just using my AskMe self-check on the bus this morning. This site has been formative in my becoming a more-or-less functional grownup. You have my monthly subscription.
posted by coppermoss at 12:34 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Freen there's a paypal donation link in the "about" link at the bottom of this page. You can set up a monthly donation.
posted by royalsong at 12:35 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Yeah - if there's any way to at least let us contribute when we can, even if you don't have a subscription service, please please do so!

And I'll totally watch ads for MeFi. You are seriously one of the truest bestest greatest sites ever and I do not want to see you hurting. Facebook, Google, all those fuckers can suck it, but we need y'all.

Hopefully the community response will help somehow, brainstorming, or just a massive infusion of money, or whatever...

And this needs to be on all pages, not just metatalk. No offense, but I only heard about it from a friend who doesn't even use the site (that's my fault for not using non-blue more, but still...) Maybe just a "IMPORTANT NOTE RE: METAFILTER'S CURRENT FINANCIAL SITUATION" on the top of the screen or something, with a link to this post.
posted by symbioid at 12:37 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


You can always sell hats.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:37 PM on May 19


In for five bucks a month. Easy peasy.

Good luck. We're all counting on you.
posted by m@f at 12:38 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


symbioid, it's currently at the top of the site on every subsite.

--

Would the mods consider placing a donate link on a sidebar? Lots of people seem to want to help!
posted by zarq at 12:41 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


If you would like to donate, this is the PayPal donation link.
posted by scrump at 12:41 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Dammit.

Just set up a $10/month recurring thing on PayPal; would be happy to see optional recurring subscription payments as a more fundamental feature of membership.
posted by brennen at 12:41 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I tried to set up a recurring payment, but Paypal said my card couldn't be used. I have no idea why, I'm going to have to look into it. (In general, I hate Paypal. I'll use it, to help support the site... But, yeesh.)

Lately, I've been finding Google results to be so extremely unhelpful. I'd give anything to get, when searching for recipes or some such, past questions from Ask.Me rather than a bunch of useless links to yummly, about.com, and the same "buy a can and put contents on stove!!!" bullshit recipes on fifty different ad-bloated sites. What is Google thinking. What is wrong with them. If someone from Google ever reads this: register my complaint, kthxbai.
posted by meese at 12:41 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Thank you so much for your amazing work Jessamyn, GNFTI and Lobster Mitten.

I'm in for $5/mo
posted by Sophie1 at 12:42 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Freen : I'm in for a monthly subscription. Where do I click?

You click here.
posted by bjrn at 12:43 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Jeez, I never paid anything! I'm starting a $10/month recurring payment, to cover $5 for each month going forward, plus $5 I owe MetaFilter for some past month. I'll have my back fees paid off in just 14 years!
posted by nicwolff at 12:44 PM on May 19 [9 favorites]


That's such a shame. I come and ago but this place has been part of my internet life since almost as long as I can remember, and a model of how it all ought to be done. And one really important time, when bombs were going off in London where my family were travelling, it was the most important place for me to to find out what was going on, as I know it has been for other people in other trying circumstances.

So thank you all, to those who are leaving and to all those who stay. This must have been very difficult. I hope you come back with some ideas we can all help with.

(You could, what's that terrible word...gamify it. Make all posts movable. Line up three posts saying the same thing you don't agree with to make them disappear. Bring all the drive-by one liners to the bottom. Clear all the threadshits. Get four posts missing your point in a row, and they turn into a superpost of Awesome Refutation. Combine one of those and a Pepsi Blue sparkle and you could, in theory, destroy an entire Sarah Palin thread. Except it's all fixed so just when you think you're finally making a coherent argument, one of your posts turns to chocolate and you look like an idiot. Again. Then comes the ad to buy a Banhammer....)
posted by reynir at 12:44 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


You should put the Paypal link in the "important message" header space, plus sidebar, and maybe even on Best of Metafilter. This thread is too long and fast-moving, so no one is seeing the multiple times the donation link has been posted.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:45 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Would the mods consider placing a donate link on a sidebar? Lots of people seem to want to help!

Matt said as much upthread, but we totally hear people on this and their desire to help the site financially and we will think about it as a possibility. Today we're really just focusing on making sure folks know what's up, and the amount of money involved in the payroll for the three positions we're losing is really significant so we don't want to make any kind of premature assumptions about what's responsible to suggest fundraising will be able to accomplish, etc. Bear with us.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:45 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


:(

I'm far from an active (contributing) user but this probably my favorite page on the Internet - always the first thing I look up after I get to work every morning. (This and only then work-related mails.)

Thanks jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane for your great work and godspeed in all your future endeavors!

Can we get Metafilter on flattr?
I'd really love to set up a monthy donation there and maybe there are a few other few good folks out there who would make use of it.

(If not, it seems like I have to get a paypal account after all.)
posted by bigendian at 12:45 PM on May 19


I came, I saw, I clicked: thus my financial support of the primary means of my procrastination has been automated.
posted by Freen at 12:46 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Here's the info to send a check:

MetaFilter Network Inc.
1271 NE Hwy 99W #109
McMinnville, OR 97128
posted by mediareport at 12:47 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]


This is really really sad. I'm setting up a $3 monthly donation now.
posted by azarbayejani at 12:47 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's time for some of the national therapists organizations to pony up. They owe us.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:48 PM on May 19 [69 favorites]


Laws yes, count me in as one who would like to donate! I've paid a lot more for a lot less. I don't use Paypal, so is there an address where I can mail a check?

Oh and FWIW, I already have it set up in my will to make a donation from my estate to MeFi when I'm gone.
posted by NoraCharles at 12:48 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


we don't want to make any kind of premature assumptions about what's responsible to suggest fundraising will be able to accomplish, etc. Bear with us.

I am under no illusions about a groundswell of donations leading to re-hiring everybody. But at least it makes you that much more Google-proof.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:48 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Just adding to the voices saying Metafilter has been a rock solid source of interest, contemplation, and emotional movement for me for ages--I come and go with my lurking, but it's been largely consistent since I began visiting in 2001, which counts for so much in this new web world of ever changing, transient resources. I wish all the mods the best and hope mightily the long-term health of the site as it is (that is to say, no threading or emphasis on modern faddish web design, but instead simply people coming together to converse) isn't in danger, and would be willing to pay an annual fee or see some text ads or whatever to help ensure that. I admire the "if you're a member, you're a MEMBER" thing very much and can only imagine the logistics though...but I trust the staff to be thoughtful and make good decisions about all of that. Thank you for all you've done and do, Matt and all the mods. (hug)
posted by ifjuly at 12:49 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


mediareport: "Here's the info to send a check:"

Please put BUTTS LOL in the Memo field so the donation can be properly tracked.
posted by scrump at 12:49 PM on May 19 [38 favorites]


I am part of this community, so I felt I should post to join the chorus of support. MeFi has helped me professionally and personally, and so have the admins. Thanks, and I am now a subscriber.
posted by blahblahblah at 12:50 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Yahoo! Answers is on it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:50 PM on May 19 [88 favorites]


Pretty sure that I learn more on this site than all the magazines I subscribe to, so contributing at least that much to keeping it going is worth every penny. I've automated my $5.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:50 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I too just signed up for MeFi Pro!
posted by monospace at 12:51 PM on May 19


Sad news. Good luck to the departing mods. The banter between Jessamyn and Cortex in those long, meandering metatalk threads, where the issue had been covered and people were just back-and-forthing has been hilarious and fantastic over the years and will be missed.

Here's an idea for those who feel the subscription idea might put people off: charge $5 for first year, then if they like it, offer the chance to subscribe for as little or much per month as they can afford.

Also Boo, Google, Boo.
posted by marienbad at 12:52 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Please to be setting up a good and usable system for us regularly transferring the moneys: I *think* I have set up a monthly donation, but PP is so horrible on user interaction I do not even know how I can check if it worked short of waiting for next month's credit card statement.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:53 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's time for some of the national therapists organizations to pony up. They owe us.

As well as lawyers, gastroenterologists, and probably Dan Savage.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:54 PM on May 19 [12 favorites]


cortex: "the amount of money involved in the payroll for the three positions we're losing is really significant "

This can't be overstated. It's probably a safe assumption that each moderator position "costs" $4000 a month or more, when you factor in benefits.

At a bare minimum, we're not talking a couple of thousand bucks a month: we're talking north of $10,000 a month. Yes, there are 100,000 users, but "three moderator positions", at a minimum, would require 2000 subscribers at $5/month.

That's a lot. I would bet that it's a significant proportion of "active users", if not a multiple of current active users.

I'm not trying to be Debbie Downer, but it's good to be aware of what kind of numbers are needed here.
posted by scrump at 12:55 PM on May 19 [23 favorites]


...we don't want to make any kind of premature assumptions about what's responsible to suggest fundraising will be able to accomplish, etc. Bear with us.

Yes yes...that said, please shut up continue being awsome and take my our money?
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 12:56 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I also suggest shamefully copying the Maxiumum Fun donation model.

Once a year have a MetaTalk thread so the community can discuss gift ideas for various donation levels (At say, $5, $10, $25, $100 a month) and then once the gifts are locked down have the pledge drive for a few weeks. Every new donor or every donor that increases their donation level will be eligible for the gifts.

I know I'd be down for something like that.
posted by Green With You at 12:56 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Metafilter is just about the only place where I feel comfortable enough to comment online. I'm sorry to have taken the security of this place for granted, and I'm glad I'll have a chance to fix that. Thanks to the departing moderators: you helped make this place rare and wonderful.
posted by gladly at 12:56 PM on May 19 [12 favorites]


Does Jessamyn want to come back, if the donations prove enough?

Also i wish that the mods were a bit more transparent about money. and perhaps not started fanfare if things were so dire?
posted by PinkMoose at 12:57 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


fanfare might also be helping. i think matt should be just as open as he wants to be about the money and not a smidgen more.
posted by nadawi at 1:00 PM on May 19 [20 favorites]


PinkMoose: " Also i wish that the mods were a bit more transparent about money.

What? AFAIK, the mods have nothing to do with the financial side of things; that's Matt's purview. And as much as I love this place (and will be adding a $5 monthly donation when my check arrives tomorrow), I don't feel we as users have any place to start demanding "transparency" about how he runs his finances. (I greatly appreciate the degree of transparency we get; I think it would be inappropriate to demand more.)

PinkMoose: " and perhaps not started fanfare if things were so dire?"

Has FanFare been a contributing factor? It doesn't sound like it. The 40% revenue drop from Google Ads sounds like a much more significant issue.
posted by Lexica at 1:01 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


It's more that FanFare represents a new drain on the mods' time just as said time is becoming more scarce. I trust Matt and the crew not to bite off more than they can chew, though. The posting activity there isn't nothing, but it's tiny compared to a day of MetaFilter and Ask.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:03 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders: "As well as lawyers, gastroenterologists, and probably Dan Savage."

mathowie could always go back to the User Friendly guy and Scott Adams and offer to license comments to them for a monthly retainer.
posted by scrump at 1:04 PM on May 19


You guys are freaking me out man! Like seriously panicky feelings coming at me from all sides!

*deep breath*

Thanks departing mods! I look forward to seeing you on the blue without your wands robes and hats. (Well, that's how I imagine them)
I'll gladly pay a subscription through PayPal (I'll do this). I desperately do not want any star or other indicator that I am a super special subscriber. Unless you can make my comments funnier and or warmer and more personable. Or just that they sparkle.
But I can't have the site 'go.'
posted by From Bklyn at 1:04 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I'm currently more inclined to think FanFare was started *because* things were so dire.
posted by mediareport at 1:04 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


I think we should put in place a permanent MetaTalk queue.

I also know that I'm going to miss jessamyn's excellent moderation, as another user who has never known a MeFi without her. I'm so glad she will still be on the podcast. I'm a bit ashamed to say that I've listened to every podcast at least three times, some of them more than that, and I've picked up some of her speech patterns.

Thanks to all the mods for your tireless dedication, hard work, and incredible insight.
posted by Night_owl at 1:04 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Also i wish that the mods were a bit more transparent about money.

Ultimately Matt can get as detailed as he is comfortable with about finances; my concern as an employee has mostly been knowing what's on the horizon, and as a mod and user it's mostly been with seeing the site stay as stable as possible.

and perhaps not started fanfare if things were so dire?

That's something we wrestled with a lot just because it's a weird timing thing. Ultimately, our general thinking was (a) Fanfare doesn't cost us anything out of pocket, it's just What pb Is Working On A Lot Right Now, and (b) woes or not (of still not finally determined nature at the time), the subsite was something we liked the idea of making. We could have held off out of a desire to avoid weird mixed messaging during limbo, but limbo's kind of a hazy motherfucker that way and we decided to just go ahead and make a nice thing that people wanted.

Seemingly endless arguments over GoT notwithstanding, Fanfare's not really high on the list of things that thinner moderation resources have us worrying about, basically. People talking about TV shows they like has been the source of proportionally little drama on a site where we have lots of smart people who seem to enjoy arguing with each other a lot.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:05 PM on May 19 [26 favorites]


I likewise did not know there was a recurring donation option. Have set that up; wish I could donate more, but hopefully a little bit helps. Thank you for the transparency here, and for the hard work of all the mods, especially Jessamyn. I lurked here a long time before posting, and the work that Jessamyn in particular did toward making this a safer space for women to comment made a huge difference, and will not be forgotten by me.
posted by Stacey at 1:06 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]


Such sad news :/

Huge thanks to all affected.
posted by prolific at 1:07 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Everybody gets an empty plate on their profile page.

For $5, you can design a 16x16 pixel bean to add to the MetaFilter Bean Store.

For $5, you can purchase a bean to add to your plate.

That's it guys that's my one idea
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:08 PM on May 19 [58 favorites]


For those wondering, like Melismata and peter.j.torelli, about "how a "Google indexing" tweak can sink a website so hard, so suddenly, and with so little recourse?", here's Danny Sullivan on the Google Dance, more recently an ongoing process dubbed the Panda Dance. That's from 2012; more recently, and if you wanted mainstream coverage you can't beat Infoworld and The Guardian, Google's "hummingbird" filter got attention as it moved search processing incrementally toward natural-language processing (NLP), a key underpinning of Artificial Intelligence. The Hummingbird algorithm has been supposed to be related to voice search services such as Siri and Google Now.

I guess the trouble is that no matter how you slice it, MeFi has some resemblance to an ever-expanding content farm. We'd personally love it if AskMe, for example, came up very high in relevant searches for, well, you know, hiding a body and all that, but somebody else might want Reddit or Buzzfeed or 4chan. Google is under a lot of pressure to provide "useful" or "relevant" results and in part they get to define those terms their way, which is probably akin to how often people actually click on the results they serve up. So one function here is that maybe Google saw that people actually didn't click as much on MeFi links as for other types of results, and so from their own point of view, fronting MeFi wasn't helping their users, even if it had resulted in a significant amount of traffic for a relatively minor website. This is in fact a type of bias, although probably one that Google will continue to employ in its effective monopoly on search.

All that said, social media (as with voice services) is an increasing driver of traffic, and to some extent that's "outside" the web itself per se. (Even though you can access Facebook on the web, the way it behaves is more like a walled garden.) When Facebook tweaks its news feed, lots of people who have depended on social media exposure can find just as significant a hit. It's a big frustration if you're anywhere near that kind of customer acquisition process, either as a business, a consultant, or even a quasi-journalist. You're at the mercy of the Borg, and the Borg operates for the convenience of the Borg, not you.
posted by dhartung at 1:08 PM on May 19 [38 favorites]


Metafilter: a site where we have lots of smart people who seem to enjoy arguing with each other a lot.
posted by Melismata at 1:09 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


People talking about TV shows they like has been the source of proportionally little drama on a site where we have lots of smart people who seem to enjoy arguing with each other a lot.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
posted by Etrigan at 1:11 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


When Matt says 'voluntary layoff,' I assume he shared the financial status with the staff, had a plan, but was open to alternatives. Jessamyn, thanks for what I take to be a gracious departure. I'm sorry gnfti and lm couldn't stay, and I appreciate their efforts. I look forward to seeing all 3 of you continue as members.
posted by theora55 at 1:11 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Following up dhartung's comment, there's a possibly hopeful note in that Hacker News thread about this discussion:

There is supposed to be a softer Panda algorithm coming soon (Matt Cutts announced it in March 2014 - http://searchengineland.com/google-working-softer-gentler-pa...). Maybe that will help?

Google definitely caused a lot of collateral damage with Panda, especially to large sites with user generated content. And unlike algorithms that target aggressive use of links or ads, it's still very unclear how to fix a site that's been hit by Panda (I should know, my car review site was hit by Panda, and never really recovered, despite 2 years of improvement work). Now that content farms are not such a pressing problem, Google should be able to dial things back a bit, so that good sites like Metafilter aren't ranked lower than they otherwise would be.


The link goes to this article:

Google Working On A Softer & Gentler Panda Algorithm To Help Small Businesses

Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, announced at Search Marketing Expo that his search team is working the “next generation” Panda update that would appear to many as being softer. Cutts explained that this new Panda update should have a direct impact on helping small businesses do better.

One Googler on his team is specifically working on ways to help small web sites and businesses do better in the Google search results. This next generation update to Panda is one specific algorithmic change that should have a positive impact on the smaller businesses...

posted by mediareport at 1:12 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Never forget.
posted by ColdChef at 1:12 PM on May 19 [33 favorites]


People talking about TV shows they like has been the source of proportionally little drama on a site where we have lots of smart people who seem to enjoy arguing with each other a lot.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.


I will cut a motherfucker that talks bad about my Designing Women!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:13 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Thank you all for your kind words, it really does mean a lot. I can only echo what LobsterMitten has said. It's a strange gig, working on the internets, let alone on a corner of it you care so much about: whenever I've found myself explaining to people what it is exactly that I do or why I'm so happy to work *here* in particular I just tell them it's like I get to work for Ajax, because that's what it feels like. Or would, if I cared only slightly more about football. (Please take no offence at my example, and feel free to substitute your side of choice, because I don't have one. It'd be just my luck, starting a soccer holy war as my last act of office.)

So I make no secret of being disappointed. It sucks, plain and simple. But I certainly can't blame Matt for anything: it's clear that the status quo had become untenable, and to me it's just as obvious that he takes absolutely zero pleasure in having to let people go. So I want to echo Hadroed upthread in thanking Matt for the forthright way he's brought the bad news. It can't be much fun being in his position either; in that light especially I appreciate the way he's kept us in the loop on developments, and his open and straightforward presentation here.

It goes without saying that my colleagues have been an absolute pleasure to work with. That's all the more reason to say it anyway: I have genuinely never worked with people who as a matter of course tackled their duties with such dedication, flexibility and humour. If that sounds kind of maudlin then I'm not sure I care, because I mean every word of it.

So I'll miss it, the firehose-slash-water-cooler that is the staff email list; LM's valiant attempts at explaining the intricate dynamics of a contentious thread on my bleary laptop screen at seven in the morning. Jessamyn's seemingly limitless reserves of — and ceaseless generosity with — doses of perspective when mine was running low. Josh's imperturbable calm and humour, like some kind of blessed bag of holding containing nothing but disarming quips. taz, my fellow lighthouse keeper, fount of good cheer and unyielding hanginthereness. Jeremy's level-headed pragmatism and expertise; pb's razor-sharp reflexes, even when I phoned him in the middle of the night to say the servers were passed out on the lawn again; Matt's sense of stewardship and realism that kept us all grounded.

Of course. But it's not all bad news. Metafilter is not dead, nor is it dying. I understand why these changes need to be made, and I firmly believe this little blue website will be stronger for it. I mean yes, I am sad: but I do not mourn, and I can only implore you not to either. I'm going to be fine, and so is Metafilter. I can only thank Matt for the privilege of having worked here, because it really has been that; and wish the gang, smaller but not weaker, the best of luck in managing this strange and wonderful confluence of kind, interesting folks. It'd be disingenuous for me not to acknowledge the challenge in managing this transition with what are after all diminished resources; at the same time I cannot gloat, if only because I take no pleasure in not being around to help. But I mean, I've seen you work! As such I have absolutely no doubt you guys will be just fine.

And everyone, thank you for the trust you've placed in me. I can only hope I've lived up to it. At times I've thought of having business cards printed that say simply "Trollslayer" — but the joke would be wasted, because even now my axe remains surprisingly unbloodied. (And "Spamsniper" just doesn't have the same ring, does it.) That's certainly not to my credit, because I haven't built this place. More than anyone perhaps it's y'all I have to thank, because a corner of the web filled with pleasant, curious, funny people really is a rare pleasure. What troll would feel welcome here? And why would I go anywhere?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 1:13 PM on May 19 [237 favorites]


I can't keep up with the amount of comments that are coming in to read them all before posting so:

Thank you to the departing mods. You have all done a great job. I don't remember a time without Jessamyn's guiding hand, even in my lurking before getting an account days, and this saddens me greatly.

I will be making a monthly donation as soon as my hours at work pick up. You guys have always been here to make me laugh, to keep me sane, and to introduce me to great new things. A huge thank you to all the mods, and to my fellow mefites.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 1:14 PM on May 19


This can't be overstated. It's probably a safe assumption that each moderator position "costs" $4000 a month or more, when you factor in benefits.

At a bare minimum, we're not talking a couple of thousand bucks a month: we're talking north of $10,000 a month. Yes, there are 100,000 users, but "three moderator positions", at a minimum, would require 2000 subscribers at $5/month.


This is why a lot of the time you don't go head on at a goal with one strategy - you take a multi-pronged approach when one just isn't feasible. Subscriptions. New swag. Charge for projects. Additional site features. An area for sponsored content. Quarterly fundraisers or IRL events that raise money for the site. A Metafilter retreat, sponsored by X and Y that goes to the site. Lots of potential streams.

You can roll it up to $10,000 per month, or I can roll it down to 200 subscriber streams raising $50/month each. It's the beautiful thing about fundraising with an engaged base, which is one of this site's strengths.
posted by rutabega at 1:16 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


an optional monthly subscription (get a gold star, maybe an extra feature or two down the line)

10 minute edit window!
Favorites count double!
6 day AskMe cooldown!
posted by 256 at 1:21 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Man, this thread is freaking me out.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:22 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


This blows. All of the moderators here are great and I appreciate everything you guys do. Jessamyn in particular has been my gold standard for effective moderation - I moderate a far less active forum, and I have a sort of "what would Jessamyn do" policy for moderating difficult discussions. If there is ever a meetup where we cross paths, I will buy her all teh drinks.

I am glad that all the departing mods will remain a part of the community, because they're not just good mods, but great contributors to the community.

Also I just flung a bunch of money at MetaFilter via PayPal.
posted by bedhead at 1:23 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Sucky Monday news, too awful to process. Losing mods? Losing Jessamyn?

Count me in as another vote for a subscription plan. (I'd actually prefer an annual subscription option, and I think you might lose less in transaction costs that way?)
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:23 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I just signed up for a $10 monthly donation.

Why did I do this? For all the reasons mentioned above, but also because of this question that I asked two years ago about how to handle the tentative diagnosis that my son had Muscular Dystrophy. 24 hours later we found out that he did not have MD and that he would be fine, but for those 24 dreadful hours the kind people of ask.metafilter held my hand and gave me good advice, and when I go back now and read that thread it still brings tears to my eyes.

It's the kindness, people. I can't thank you enough, but $10/month will help. Let me know if you need more.
posted by math at 1:27 PM on May 19 [46 favorites]


Kudos to the mod team for your grace in this difficult situation. I appreciate everything you've done for our community.

Moving forward: I've set up a recurring donation, but it took me forever (read: 130 seconds and multiple ctrl+F "donate" efforts) to find the donate link. Let me pay you proper!
posted by samthemander at 1:28 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Someone should hold a bake sale.

I'd buy some brownies.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:28 PM on May 19


Someone FROM COLORADO should hold a bake sale.

I'd buy some brownies.


FTFY.
posted by desjardins at 1:29 PM on May 19 [36 favorites]


Thank you all for your incredible moderation of this site. I'm going to set up to donate monthly, as well. I honestly didn't know that it was something you could do.
posted by xingcat at 1:30 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Chipped in $5. Thanks for all the hard work, mods.
posted by BlueJae at 1:36 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to throw my 2¢ here to say that I will miss Jessamyn as a mod. The second meetup I attended was primarily because Jessamyn was in attendance; I was somewhat of a noob at the time, and still taking in all that was meFi. As a BBS user (and erstwhile co-sysop) in the 80's, I found it mind-boggling that someone could cosys a BBS as large in scope and userbase as MeFi. And it was primarily because of the great moderation combined with the self-policing community that I've stayed on MeFi for so long. She was very gracious and patient in answering my noob questions, all of which had probably been covered previously in MeTa had I looked around.

After I met Jessamyn, we started dating, and have been together now for a little over six years. Having watched her moderating responsibilities as the site's grown, it's been very interesting to have this unique perspective as a fly on the wall. When Jess told me that she was considering stepping down, I had very mixed reactions, but ultimately, I was happy for her, and I figured, it's time. She has affected many peoples' lives in such a positive way through her stewardship here, and has left a real imprint on the overall attitude and personality of MetaFilter, and as a user, I've really appreciated that. At the same time, I'm very excited to see what she does with the rest of her life, what other flavors of awesome she can help disseminate into the world.

I have such good faith in you all users and the remaining mods. I bet MetaFilter will carry forth the blueprint that you all and Jessamyn helped draft over the past decade. Things are gonna be fine. And Jessamyn is still going to be Jessamyn, doing awesome things for the internet and the world.

Jessamyn 3.0! MetaFilter 3.0! Marching forward into the future! Carving out an asshat-free space on the webz0rz! My best wishes to us all!
posted by not_on_display at 1:39 PM on May 19 [140 favorites]


> Metafilter: a site where we have lots of smart people who seem to enjoy arguing with each other a lot.

ooh. What about charging five bucks a pop to add a new tagline to the rotation?
posted by xbonesgt at 1:39 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


All right, I've found the paypal link. Hey Matt and you all, protect this place, ok ?
posted by nicolin at 1:40 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I know this place is far too dignified to hold a telethon, but I'd be willing to play the klezmer during the graveyard shift.
posted by dr_dank at 1:40 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


Even mostly just reading, MetaFilter has been a touchstone for me for years. It's a treasure of wonders and wisdom shared, and that is all thanks to Matt and the mods. It's hard to see three of you leave - words alone really aren't enough to thank you, Jessamyn, Lobstermitten and goodnewsfortheinsane. I wish you could stick around in all your modly glory.

I'm glad people have linked to the donation - I had never even noticed it was there! On all of the internets, there are few places more deserving of my money.
posted by harujion at 1:41 PM on May 19


6 day AskMe cooldown!

That actually reminds me of what SoulSeek did. They knew full well that there would be no chance most of their userbase would donate money, so $5 gave you a month of being able to skip downloading queues. Unless there was a queue-skipping user already queued, you'd be first in line for the download. The percentage of donating users was small enough that the non-donating users didn't really see a big difference in the experience, and donating users saw a significant improvement and a solid reason to keep donating, even if irregularly.

So, yeah, maybe paying for being able to ask questions sooner would work, assuming the barrier was high enough that it wouldn't disrupt how AskMe generally functions.
posted by griphus at 1:42 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I realize I didn't mention it in my previous comments, but I just wanted to add that I'm really sad to see this happening. To the mods who are stepping down, thank you for everything, and for those who stay thank you too.

But! I really came here to post this video I just found that shows cortex heading out of the MeFi offices and running into mathowie.
posted by bjrn at 1:42 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Just think of how easy it is to drop $10 at Safeway without a second thought. Signing up for a subscription right now!
posted by mantecol at 1:45 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I've been here a long time, lately more as a lurker, and I can't express (and obviously it's already been said better hundreds of times) how much all of the tireless and patient moderation has meant to keeping this site vibrant, civil, and alive. Very sorry to hear that Jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten are stepping away. This community has meant a lot to me over the years, and in these days of heightened fragmentation and polarization, there's precious little left on the interwebz of the kind of community that mefi offers.
posted by blucevalo at 1:46 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Yo, beloved pro mods, once the dust has settled, Please consider anastasiav's comment again.
posted by lalochezia at 1:46 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]


I would pay a $5 a month subscription without blinking, for no special privileges beyond the satisfaction of knowing MetaFilter was healthy and well-moderated, which for me amounts mostly to the same thing. I think it's so crucial that those of us who value the pieces of web culture that aren't owned by giant corporations contribute to their functioning.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:48 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


dr_dank: "I know this place is far too dignified to hold a telethon, but I'd be willing to play the klezmer during the graveyard shift."

Oh. My. God. A MEFITHON??? ON YOUTUBE? OR TWITCH? OR... YES!
posted by symbioid at 1:48 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Wow, holy shit.

I will donate and would happily pay to subscribe to this place.

I've been a member for 10 goddamn years and lurking longer than that, this is one of the few places on the internet and in society that isn't just product placement and racist propaganda.

Let me (us) know what we can do!
posted by lkc at 1:49 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I had no idea the site was in financial straits. You've done a good job of shielding the userbase from that. I think lots of us find this place a unique resource and want to help. I've made a one-time contribution equivalent to a few months at $5, to help stop the cash hemorrhage. As for the long-term, I'll wait to hear what you want us to do long-term. Please don't be shy about asking.

A question, though, if I may: You're dropping to 2006 mod levels. Lots of us recall 2006, and it wasn't like a radioactive waste zone around here. A bit more snarky and spiny, but not a post-apocalyptic wasteland. But how does the count of active users today compare to what we had back then?
posted by tyllwin at 1:49 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I'd like to add my thanks to the departing mods. You guys have done a great, and mostly thankless, job here, and your efforts will be missed.
posted by blurker at 1:52 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


coming from other bulletin boards with way less (if any) moderation, i have to say i've always been amazed at the attentiveness and quick response of the mods on metafilter. my expectations were already so low to begin with that resetting them is not much of a problem and it's totally understandable what is happening. i think the majority of the community here supports that for sure. i will say that you folks have done an amazing job, and thank you.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 1:53 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Not just product placement and racist propaganda.
posted by ColdChef at 1:54 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


The Awl: The New Internet Gods Have No Mercy
posted by lalex at 1:55 PM on May 19 [22 favorites]


Huh. One of my first occasions becoming aware of this website was a buddy telling me about it and all these things about this cool mod named Jessamyn.

So I was wondering if something on the order of what some folks have managed with Patreon would be feasible? That's done on the basis of a creator adding/ransoming regular content, but I imagine just a simple voluntary subscription base would be simple enough. Keep a running tally and say: "Hey, if we reach this amount we can hire a person." I know that's kinda weird from a business perspective to put that out there but MeFi seems kind of an odd business.

Maybe charge a buck or two for a single out of cycle ask per week? I know I tend to let things go that metafilter could help on just in case. I might happen to need to ask how to deal with social graces after being abducted by aliens and I need to save that ask.
posted by ThrowbackDave at 1:56 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


$15 in. Thank you, mods. Thank you, all.
posted by lharmon at 1:59 PM on May 19


Beardman: We need a douchebag jar.

I'd hit it.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:59 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


The fact that Google doesn't recognize MeFi, in all possible ways, as a WebEssential is further proof (if needed) of Google's sad slide into irrelevance.

A commensurately-sized, strings-free donation from Google might go some ways towards alleviating that perception.
posted by Twang at 2:00 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Just signed up for a long overdue $5/month subscription. The amount of intelligence, insight and sanity this site brings to the internet is worth far, far more.

Thank you to LobsterMitten, goodnewsfortheinsane and especially Jessamyn for the amazing work you've put into making MetaFilter the best community on the internet. Long may it reign!
posted by platinum at 2:01 PM on May 19


A question, though, if I may: You're dropping to 2006 mod levels. Lots of us recall 2006, and it wasn't like a radioactive waste zone around here. A bit more snarky and spiny, but not a post-apocalyptic wasteland. But how does the count of active users today compare to what we had back then?

It's actually not substantially different I don't think; the userbase has grown and shrunk a bit in terms of measured weekly activity but nothing seismic. And one of the things I think we have seen change in the ensuing years is the userbase has gotten a bit better about self-moderation and a little less prone to meltdown teardown shitfuck escalations during the worst bits. I feel like that's a little more baked into the site culture itself at this point, which is a definite comfort looking at the old-is-new-again scarcer coverage plan we're transitioning to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:01 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Thanks desjardins. That's fine. The desire was for the site to say "Please donate " rather than random links in a thread which was all I had.
posted by ElliotH at 2:01 PM on May 19


Thanks to all of the moderators for putting up with me and my ilk. I've set up a modest recurring donation, I hope between us all we can at least provide an OK alternative revenue stream.

It's kind of ironic that metafilter is seemingly a bit like my crappy little company: I have One Big Client, usually, and things are great if they're throwing work my way, but it's really awful around here when they don't.
posted by maxwelton at 2:01 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


On a day for community, reflection, and commiseration, I would like to highlight an awesome pun by cortex just now, on a doubled entry for a Slate article by Ben Blatt:

This post was deleted for the following reason: Ben there, done Blatt -- cortex

Bravo!
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:03 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


had to do it

Metafilter : meltdown teardown shitfuck escalations during the worst bits.
posted by lalochezia at 2:04 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


cortex: "Yahoo! Answers is on it."

GOOGLE IAN BETTERIDGE
posted by chavenet at 2:04 PM on May 19


Too bad it had to come to this, but many thanks to the departing mods for helping make this one of the most civilized places on the Internet.

If there's anything more that Mefi-ites can do, mathowie, please let us know!
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 2:05 PM on May 19


so sad to hear this. thank you departing mods for everything.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:06 PM on May 19


I don't remember paying for my account in the first place, so I'm in for $5/month for the foreseeable future.
posted by hades at 2:06 PM on May 19


I'm sure that MeFi will get a huge chunk of much-deserved one-time donations today, but it seems like making a smaller recurring donation is better than making a single hefty one (although it depends on the heft, I suppose). Someone will correct me if I'm wrong (yay!), but a consistent and stable income stream seems much more helpful than a huge one-time windfall, especially when you have to pay employees on a regular basis.

But, like many before me, I want to echo thanks to MeFi, its moderators (current and departing), and its community for being the best there is. I am a better person because of this place. There are lots of interesting ideas floating through here today about how to generate revenue, but when push comes to shove, I hope it doesn't really doesn't change that much. What it is now is what keeps me coming back just about every day.

I'm happy to start putting my regularly recurring $s where my occasionally occurring comments are.
posted by tempestuoso at 2:06 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


This is unfortunate. You've all three been brilliant mods, and I have a hard time imagining MeFi without jessamyn's superb moderation in particular. On the bright side, it's nice to know that the former mods will be free to just hang around and enjoy the place without the obligations of authority, just like the rest of us.
posted by homunculus at 2:07 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


bigendian: Can we get Metafilter on flattr?
I'd really love to set up a monthy donation there and maybe there are a few other few good folks out there who would make use of it.

(If not, it seems like I have to get a paypal account after all.)


1. Here's the Wikipedia page on flattr, and flattr itself, as well as an early review of the micro-donation service (I didn't realize you could re-flattr folks with money from your own flattr jar, but it makes sense, as PayPal works in a similar way, allowing you to transfer funds that you have received before withdrawing money from your other real world accounts).

2. For those who don't know, flattr is a repeating micro-donation service, which you load with a set amount of money, then allow the service to make donations from that pre-loaded sum. I believe you need to keep re-loading your main pot of flattr funds to continue making micro-donations to folks, but it's been quite a while since I've used the service as a donor.

3. You don't need a PayPal account to use PayPal - it can also act as a mechanism to process credit cards.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:07 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Metafilter, you are the website that makes me love the internet. I will donate what I can.

How many times do I need to do a google search for "google pay metafilter more moneyz please" for anyone to take notice?
posted by mnfn at 2:07 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


cortex: "Yahoo! Answers is on it."

Did they come up with any answers?

"Never forget."
posted by ColdChef

I thought that was going to be the Last Supper Picture from years ago.

"Metafilter : meltdown teardown shitfuck escalations during the worst bits".
posted by lalochezia

*flounces out for old times sake*
posted by marienbad at 2:07 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I'm sure that there are people here that 'know SEO' better than I do, but, echoing an earlier offer to provide some technical assistance, here are a few things that I notice, looking at the source.

1- Many of the URLs are relative or protocol-less. These should all be absolute and protocol specific (unless they're embedded in CSS or JS). Relative URLs can cause issues with spidering and content discovery.

2- None of the ask-me question pages have H2's ... The Question Title is the H1 and it might make sense for the question body to be the H2 so there is a more explicit relationship between the two.

3- I would look into the Question and Answer schema.org microdata markup to make it easier for Google, and other bots, to read.

4- Page performance is a factor in Google Rankings. You could save some page size/bandwidth by externalizing your JavaScript and your CSS. You could also remove all of the unnecessary targets on the anchor tags as _self is the default behavior.
posted by Jacob G at 2:08 PM on May 19 [30 favorites]


Man, I can't even tell you how fervently I was hoping and wishing that this was somehow, magically, an April 1st post that was accidentally posted today.

Thanks to all the departing mods for your service.

I'll do what I can, behaviorally and financially, to help MeFi keep on trucking.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:08 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I'm also in for a recurring $10. I don't know what i'd do without my Mefi!
posted by ramix at 2:08 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I'd be contributing myself except that I'm already pretty tight on finances. I'm so sad to hear jessamyn's not going to be modding anymore. Not being able to make meetups, hearing you guys on the podcast has done an awful lot towards convincing me of the mods' radness. I'm glad to hear she's not leaving-leaving.
posted by JHarris at 2:08 PM on May 19


cortex: "Yahoo! Answers is on it."

chavenet: GOOGLE IAN BETTERIDGE

THIS MAKES NO SENSE. Betteridge's law only works for binary yes/no questions, not qualitative "why" questions, such as "Why did Metafilter have to fire so many moderators?"
posted by filthy light thief at 2:10 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


My compliments to gnfti, LobsterMitten, and Jessamyn on a difficult job done well. I hope that you find success in whatever future endeavors you undertake.

I'm sorry it has come to layoffs. The Crash of '08 set my billings back a great deal, and the NSA sending everybody scrambling to drag everything back inside the firewall just as I had pivoted to focusing my practice on "the cloud" did not improve things.

Is there something a logged-in member can do to improve the financial situation besides setting up a subscription donation?
posted by ob1quixote at 2:11 PM on May 19


This is a huge huge bummer.

I'm glad someone posted the donate link, I am in for a monthly donation. It's not much, but I can't imagine MeFi not being around.
posted by bibliogrrl at 2:11 PM on May 19


I don't spend a lot of time here these days, but unlike places like Reddit, Metafilter has that smalltown feel that I grew up with, but on the internet. If I have a question or a bug report, there's always been very personal feedback from the mods and the community, and I don't feel like I'm just throwing my submission into a bitbucket. I'm sure I'm not the only one drawn to Metafilter for that reason, and it would be a shame if the world were to lose a place such has this. So while this is sad news, I am very glad that this means Metafilter will be able to keep on keeping on.
posted by mysterpigg at 2:12 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


3. You don't need a PayPal account to use PayPal - it can also act as a mechanism to process credit cards.

That's my basic problem with PayPal (as I don't have a credit card). :/
But also: Thanks for the explaination about and links to flattr (related infos), filthy light thief! I should have added those myself.
posted by bigendian at 2:12 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I can honestly say that if it wasn't for MeFi and the family of friends I've made here, I wouldn't still be around. All of you were wonderful and supportive when my wife passed five years ago, and I still get misty-eyed about it sometimes. And cherish the postcard I got from Jessamyn! And I want to thank Matt again for taking care of the ambulance/ER bill that was pending at the time. I just can't thank you enough.
posted by mrbill at 2:17 PM on May 19 [55 favorites]


I love this place so damn much. This just reminds me of that, and makes me feel bad for the times I've been a pain in the moderators' asses or failed to live up to the community standards.

It would be a truly sad day for the web if MetaFilter were to disappear. Whatever you need from the community to keep it afloat, just ask.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:20 PM on May 19


Of course I just signed up to donate my $5 a month. It's easily worth the money.

I am upset that I didn't know about this sooner. I've gotten far, far more value out of this site in the last FIVE YEARS than the lousy five bucks I paid when I signed up. That's a buck a year, FFS.

And now Jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane won't be running the show any more? Obviously this place isn't just going to go to shit - that wouldn't happen - but it's not going to be the SAME, is it. Why didn't you tell us this sooner?!?
posted by tel3path at 2:22 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Saddened by this news, love you all. Am now mefiPro member, please make sure I get nothing more than the everything I am already getting for it. And then imagine Aidan Gillen said the everything.
posted by Iteki at 2:23 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Wow, I'm sorry. My 10-year mefiversary is coming up fairly soon. Time for me to pony up again, for certain.
posted by thejoshu at 2:23 PM on May 19


My thanks for everything the departing mods have done over the years - your absence will be visible. I'd be happy to renew a subscription on an opt-in basis - I've always been staggered that the community kept going despite a cheap one-off payment. I suppose it was always a bit of a unsustainable scheme, in that new members underwrite the expanding cost of existing members, and that any growth would increase overheads at a greater rate. But there's never been a way to chip in after your original registration; I'm sure those of us who could afford it would gladly pay a 'renew registration donation' option as and when - without affecting the way anything currently works?
posted by davemee at 2:24 PM on May 19


Is it okay to say that I am a little worried about what jessamyn's departure means for women here? Not that the remaining mods and of course Matt himself don't also support the non-boyzonification of the site (an overstatement probably but I hope you know what I mean), but I sometimes felt (have I been mistaken?) that jessamyn did much of the heavy lifting in that area, or maybe, was just able to be persuasive in ways that others weren't. I don't know, I am probably worrying too much, and the site going bankrupt is obviously more important, but I am sort of worried about it.

I am not on any way bitter or angry and I don't feel like anyone owes me anything, I just feel a little bit worried.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:24 PM on May 19 [52 favorites]


cortex: "Yahoo! Answers is on it."

GOOGLE IAN BETTERIDGE

filthy light thief: "cortex: "Yahoo! Answers is on it."

chavenet: GOOGLE IAN BETTERIDGE

THIS MAKES NO SENSE. Betteridge's law only works for binary yes/no questions, not qualitative "why" questions, such as "Why did Metafilter have to fire so many moderators?"
"

Hah, true. But I was responding emotionally to the question "Was it because Yahoo! Answers is so much better than Metafilter?"
posted by chavenet at 2:29 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Can we have a MeFiPro, the proceeds from which are only used to pay Jessamyn to send gentle but firm warnings to members of MeFiPro?
Or at that point are we just looking for ways to pool our money and hire Jessamyn as a life coach?
posted by agentofselection at 2:29 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


> Is it okay to say that I am a little worried about what jessamyn's departure means for women here?

I've thought about that too. I don't know if this is an appropriate thread to discuss it, but one of the things that's made me feel better about the Sexism Wars that have shaken the place from time to time has been jessamyn's insistence that there be no "I'd hit it" or other such "jokey" shit and her clear statements of how people needed to behave if they wanted to be part of an inclusive community. She has the rare gift of being warm but firm about such things, and I can only hope that the userbase has assimilated her approach enough that their inner jessamyn will slap them upside the head (in a nice way!) if they reach for the keyboard to say something stupid. (She gives great hugs, too! Come back to Northampton, jessamyn!)
posted by languagehat at 2:30 PM on May 19 [74 favorites]


tel3path: "I am upset that I didn't know about this sooner."

eponysterical!
posted by chavenet at 2:30 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


Late to the thread because I've been offline all day, but what a shock. Thanks to our departing mods and to Matt for being up front, and here's hoping that the departing mods will find something new that engages and excites them quickly.

And I'll be looking at the budget to see how much I can put toward metafilter, because it's worth paying for. $DEITY knows I get more from metafilter than I did from the NYT and I was paying for that.
posted by immlass at 2:31 PM on May 19


$20 in the pot to start and more than willing to do recurring. Do it! We love you!

As for Jessamyn, there's no one I'd rather get yelled at by Dave Winer with... ;) Glad you will still be around but will very much miss your reasonable and better-place-making mod skills.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:33 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


She has the rare gift of being warm but firm about such things, and I can only hope that the userbase has assimilated her approach enough that their inner jessamyn will slap them upside the head (in a nice way!) if they reach for the keyboard to say something stupid.

This is my hope as well. The idea of a Metafilter without Jessamyn working here remains strange to me and I've had a head start acclimating to it, but I think one of the really important things she's accomplished in her influence here over the years is helping mold the site culture itself; it goes beyond just being present in the moment to knock heads, it's a legacy of improved general expectations and attitudes and awareness about this stuff that I think will remain a part of the Metafilter community's shared expectations and way-of-being on the strength of that previous influence.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:34 PM on May 19 [65 favorites]


Sad to see this happen, and frustrated at how "the market" hurts good things like this.

I hope there has been a pretty generous outpouring of donations that will keep things going for a while yet. Count me among the folks who'd spring for a recurring subscription just for some token thingy (or none).
posted by Foosnark at 2:36 PM on May 19


Thank yous for jessamyn, Lobster Mitten and goodnewsfortheinsane. This is sad, sad news.
I've made a donation, and will happily do so again. I wish we could reverse this situation
posted by mumimor at 2:37 PM on May 19


onlyconnect: "Is it okay to say that I am a little worried about what jessamyn's departure means for women here?"

languagehat: "one of the things that's made me feel better about the Sexism Wars that have shaken the place from time to time has been jessamyn's insistence that there be no "I'd hit it" or other such "jokey" shit and her clear statements of how people needed to behave if they wanted to be part of an inclusive community. She has the rare gift of being warm but firm about such things, and I can only hope that the userbase has assimilated her approach enough that their inner jessamyn will slap them upside the head (in a nice way!) if they reach for the keyboard to say something stupid. "

This has been on my mind as well, and I agree with you that a wonderfully predictable aspect of Jessamyn's modship here has been her intolerance for jokey sexist bullshit. "Do not do this here. Act like you like being here." Etc.

There have been times when a gentle "Maybe not so much with the X jokes" nudge is needed, and others when a "Cut this out right now or so help me I'll turn this site right around" smack was appropriate. She is exceptionally good at both.

That's not to say the other mods don't a great job, because they do. We will need to rely on the mods who are here to help maintain that part of the site's culture. And we'll all collectively have to speak up when necessary as well.
posted by zarq at 2:38 PM on May 19 [29 favorites]


Geeze, goodnewsfortheinsane, jessamyn, and LobsterMitten, it's sad to see you go.

Could people who are permabanned be broken down for sale on some dystopian organ market? That would raise some money and also keep posters in line.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:39 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


The Awl: The New Internet Gods Have No Mercy

Yeah, I came across that independently and it's both heartwarming and headtrippy to see the regard other websites have for scrappy li'l MeFi. The money quote/eulogy:
Google updates its index all the time, ostensibly in an effort to kill off spammy how-to sites and content farms. MetaFilter isn't perfect but it's neither of those things, and now it has to lay off some of its staff. MetaFilter enjoyed Google's traffic but didn't ask for it, and now that traffic is gone.
Thanks to you three for your contributions. It is some small relief we'll still get to hear Jess on the podcast. Good luck to you all!
posted by psoas at 2:41 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


i love you guys. good luck and let us know how we can help.
posted by Muffpub at 2:43 PM on May 19


Alternatively, people could be fined for failing to RTFA.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:43 PM on May 19 [15 favorites]


If you want to donate, you can donate here (PayPal donation link).
posted by scrump at 2:45 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Could people who are permabanned be broken down for sale on some dystopian organ market? That would raise some money and also keep posters in line.

CoMaFilter. I like it.
posted by cashman at 2:46 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Like others, I can't get through all the comments fast enough but would like to add my 2 cents.

I had no idea there were difficulties. From what little I have read, Matt has an excellent track record of managing change for the site, so while I also feel the chill in the air, I am cautiously optimistic that this will lead to good things.

Also, I had no idea LM was female and I feel so much better now about memailing her recently to say nice things about her work here. I didn't die or get booted from mefi, but it turns out it kind of was my "last chance" to say something nice while she did this kind of work for the site. I had no real idea it would be when I was saying, yeah, I try to do this sometimes because you never know when your last shot at something is.

I never know exactly how to handle such things. I don't feel right gushing at the mods when I feel they handled something involving me especially well. It feels like manipulative sucking up. But it sometimes bothers me that, you know, us humans tend to criticize and fight and only let folks know what they are doing wrong until they leave (get fired, die, whatever) and then we suddenly seem to remember to say nice things. And I am glad to feel I didn't do that. I have said nice things privately a few times to/about the mods.

I hope Matt and co rapidly figure out whatever they need to figure out to get things fully back on track. And, as others have said, a hearty thanks to both the departing mods and the ones remaining to hold down the fort.
posted by Michele in California at 2:47 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Has ...has ...anyone told The Deej?

[activates The Deej signal]
posted by Mike Mongo at 2:49 PM on May 19


Thank you to the mods (especially jessamyn) for all of the time that you have spent on making this place the way it is. MetaFilter is one of the pillars of everything that is good on the internet. Please accept my donation and keep fighting the good fight.
posted by Jeff Morris at 2:49 PM on May 19


This is the band breaking up all over again :(
posted by Carillon at 2:50 PM on May 19


This is awful news. I've signed up for a $5 a month donation. Way up at the top of this thread someone talked about not being able to afford even $5 a month for a subsription. If we get to that point, I'd pay $10 a month to gift someone a subscription. I have no idea how such a thing would work administratively, but I bet others would do the same if the option was there.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 2:56 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Matt, have you considered accepting moderated advertising from site users? Advertising from MetaFilter users maybe even with the username beneath the ad; maybe something that only appears to logged-in users. I don't know how to describe the benefits of such a system without sounding like a marketroid zombie...

Seconding this idea as well. Self-serve fb style promoted post ads, cheaper for MeFi members, just simple text ads that let me plug either my project post or my podcast/bandcamp/whatever site to a group of people who I know like good stuff. They could appear instead of the google ads within threads. Would be hella worth it to me, I'm on this place a lot more than facebook.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:57 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


What do people think about adding share links to threads? In my rudimentary understanding of Google's ranking algorithm, they base rank on # of inbound links. I think there is also a location component to it now, so if you don't have a foothold in a certain area, it may be more difficult to get exposure from Google. Facebook/Twitter/etc. cross those boundaries. And even if the shares do nothing for your Google rankings, they are a new form of exposure.
posted by mantecol at 2:57 PM on May 19


The university department where I work has an endowed professorship. Independent of any other budgetary issues, an endowment created by donors continues to fund this guy's position. He's a nice guy, but he's crap at his job, and yet his employment is funded in perpetuity.

I say we set up an endowed moderatorship.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:59 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


Good luck, jessamyn, Lobster Mitten, good news for the insane. Thank you for your committed work. Flabbergasted.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:59 PM on May 19


What do people think about adding share links to threads?

We do have share links on threads under Tags on the right side of the page. You can turn them off in your site preferences.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:00 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


All of this saddens me greatly. Even though I largely lurk, MeFi has consistently one of the best places for me to find really interesting links and has allowed me to be a fly on the wall for amazing conversations for a long time. While I've been following the site for years, I became a member somewhat recently simply because I wanted to give the site support.

If you're still considering going the crowdfunding route, I work for Crowdtilt and we have no such restrictions on campaigns. If anyone in charge wants to message me via MeFi mail, I'll give you a promo code to waive all fees so that you can raise money that way. I would love to help out if I can.

I personally wouldn't be against a monthly fee for MeFi with the value it brings me, though some other members might not be able to do the same. Maybe you can present a recurring donation link? I know that many online radio stations like SomaFM and charities like the American Red Cross provide it as an option. It's certainly no pain for me to donate a few dollars every month. This community is worth far more than the value of a coffee to me. I'm sure others feel the same way.
posted by deparis at 3:00 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


dont worry bros i made MeFiCoin just start mining should be good in no time
posted by klangklangston at 3:00 PM on May 19 [18 favorites]


Ok. I'm now a monthly subscriber. I love that a star now shows up on my account. Can only other monthly subscribers see it? Nice.






PS Jessamyn, remember that time back in '05 I spammed Mefi from my sockpuppet account ("...or is this account the sockpuppet? bwahaahaaha...") with links to my (then) new book and got the banhammer and then you lifted the it because of my plea of ignorance and not-understanding? Yeah me neither!

#JESSAMYN4EVA
posted by Mike Mongo at 3:00 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Also, I suggest making Android and iOS Metafilter apps. It's a lot of work, I know, but a lot of people predominantly use smartphones/tablets now, and expect to find all content in apps. The web as a whole is slowly dying.
posted by mantecol at 3:03 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Because it keeps scrolling away, here's the link for the paypal donations, with an option for recurring.
posted by korej at 3:03 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Dowager Mod, surely?

I went out for beer with another MeFite (thanks terrapin!) and now I'm back and I've been reading along with the thread and mostly nodding and/or smiling and nodding but I will cut you if you try this. Emeritus? Maybe.

I'm looking forward to being able to flag and move on, for a change. Thanks so much everyone for the kind words.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:05 PM on May 19 [141 favorites]


So bummed by this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:05 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I have wondered how Mefi supported such a large and committed team of mods. If the site grows in terms of users and comments, it seems to do so slowly. At times I have felt that the user base is perhaps too engaged; giving the site, maybe, a somewhat insular quality. At the same time, these are certainly the people you want to have around when times are hard.

I hope these changes help to keep Mefi around for another fifteen years and I hope Mefi will continue to evolve and improve during that time, as it has in the past.
posted by dmh at 3:05 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


An endowed moderatorship would require between $500,000 and $1,000,000 in an account. That's not too realistic is it?

Anyway, sucks for Jessamyn. Although her consistent deletion of posts that didn't match her political views were silly.
posted by jjmoney at 3:06 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


We do have share links on threads under Tags on the right side of the page. You can turn them off in your site preferences.

Ahh, I mostly access this site from my phone, so I didn't know that. I change my suggestion to: add the share links somewhere visible on a smartphone!
posted by mantecol at 3:07 PM on May 19


Although her consistent deletion of posts that didn't match her political views were silly.

Links or it didn't happen.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:08 PM on May 19 [137 favorites]


Nothing against the folks who have been posting the direct donation link, but here's the Metafilter About Page that includes the link for paypal donations (at the bottom, under Supporting Metafilter)

Just in case you worry that the direct link will send money to GiveWell or something.
posted by m@f at 3:08 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I've also immediately signed up for a recurring donation. Thank you Jessamyn, GNFTI, and Lobster Mitten. I do hope you will all continue to be active members of this community.
posted by smoke at 3:08 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Boyf and I have set up a monthly subscription, and also just bought t-shirts :)

I know not everyone can do so, but I wanted to back up my 'I'd pay to subscribe ' with actual cashola.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:10 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Although her consistent deletion of posts that didn't match her political views were silly.

Ah, the traditional flame-baiting for the the departing mod.
posted by nobody at 3:13 PM on May 19 [25 favorites]


Oh yeah, t-shirts. I got a FIAMO shirt to remind myself to pick up the slack now with the slimmer mod staff.

I would also totally buy "What Would Jessamyn Do" apparel, just FYI. Surely I'm not alone.
posted by Phire at 3:15 PM on May 19 [23 favorites]


Been thinking about asking about this for a while, now seems like the time. Why not charge to post on old threads? Sometimes updates would be most appreciated, and I know I'd pay a small fee to post on old threads.

Eh, I appreciate the thought, but our whole philosophy has always been that if you're a member, you're a member; if a post is open, you can post in it. Posts that close close automatically because on the balance it was simpler/better for site management to have them close, and there's not really a clear path to paying to get around that that feels good to me.


Understood and I'll drop this after pointing out a couple things: only members would be able to modify closed threads. Maybe a small fee is non-optimal, could make it a kinda hefty one (say $10 per update post on closed threads) to filter out the casual day-trippers. Also three little words: monetize the database.
posted by telstar at 3:15 PM on May 19


Just signed up for the recurring subscription. Thanks for the links to all the commenters that put it up.
Maybe we should make donation/purchasing links a little more prominent on the front page? Something like a "Support MeFi!" button?

Of course, it might already be there. I'm no good at navigating sites. :-)
posted by deparis at 3:15 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Just saw this.



It breaks my heart.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:16 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I may not post much, I may not comment a lot, but I come to MetaFilter most every day and still think it's one of the best places on the whole Internet.

My thanks to everyone involved in the management of the site for making it so awesome. I wish Jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane all the best and the most sincere thanks for all their contributions.

I'm so sorry to hear that the site's going through a difficult time. Please, let us know if there's anything we can do. MetaFilter is worth a lot to me (and many others, as it seems). There seems to be a willing audience to do stuff to help out, whatever that may be.

Again, thank you for continuing to provide an excellent place to hang out.

ETA: Also signed up for a $5/month recurring donation. Hope that helps even a bit. :)
posted by juliebug at 3:16 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Remember when Mathowie got a brain tumor and we all tweeted and Metatalk posted until the tumor cowered in fear and retreated? If we can take on a tumor, I think we can take on Google. Let the entire internet ring with Jessamyn love until the servers quake and the algorithms retreat in terror of the foe they have unleashed!

Seriously, once the internet here's about this, surely Google will see the flaws in its algorithm.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:16 PM on May 19 [12 favorites]


In for the recurring donation. Lurked for a very long time, joined eventually. If there was ever a site worth donating to, this is the one.
posted by one4themoment at 3:20 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Ah, the traditional flame-baiting for the the departing mod.

I believe a departing mod has the right, by Ancient MetaFilter Law, to kill one member and eat the still-beating heart thereof*. So be careful who you choose to taunt!

*Once said heart has been checked for disease, pesticide, and fatty deposits, of course**

**The heart can be kept beating for a surprisingly long time during testing.

Occasionally, the ceremonial heart is forgone in favor of some nice chocolates, even if they aren't as picturesque and traditional.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:21 PM on May 19 [9 favorites]


Also, mods... at http://www.metafilter.com/donate_thanks.mefi it lists my real name (because I hadn't actually signed up to the site at that point) can we change that to my username? I mean I like being special but now that I'm official... :)
posted by one4themoment at 3:23 PM on May 19


This saddens me greatly. I can't even express how much this site generally and the mods in particular have helped me and kept me sane over the years.

So instead I'll link to this insightful comment about the site from Room 641-A when we were discussing the big Japanese earthquake/tsunami. Hats indeed.
posted by fishmasta at 3:24 PM on May 19


This is very sad. I've made a donation and changed my Amazon bookmark to send the kickback here when I buy stuff.

I realize you don't want to get into charging for anything, but I'd pay to be able to change my username. Frequently.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 3:25 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Do whatever you think is right, or less wrong at least.
posted by nutate at 3:27 PM on May 19


I've set up a $2 donation each month through Paypal. It's not much, but it looks like judging by the number of comments above mine we have strength in numbers if nothing else.

Thanks for the transparency, and thanks to the departing mods for their hard work!
posted by jess at 3:29 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Also, mods... at http://www.metafilter.com/donate_thanks.mefi it lists my real name (because I hadn't actually signed up to the site at that point)

Man, that page is so old and out of date, it's from a 2001 fundraiser to buy a new server. I'm going to remove the big list of names, I figure people got 13 years of good vibes off it. Dang, that Amazon donation system was cancelled several years ago as well, I'll cut that off too.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:29 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Can anyone confirm whether the Amazon link...

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0440226198/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/

...works if I then redirect to www.amazon.co.uk ?

And does anyone know how much each purchase will donate?
posted by DancingYear at 3:30 PM on May 19


Oh cool now there's a minimum of how long I've been lurking... wow I feel old and noncontributing...
posted by one4themoment at 3:31 PM on May 19


Nothing wrong with a good long lurk, man.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:32 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]


I believe a departing mod has the right, by Ancient MetaFilter Law, to kill one member and eat the still-beating heart thereof

Does this mean that jessamyn is prophesied to bring to us the Mod Who Mounts the World?
posted by zombieflanders at 3:33 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


works if I then redirect to www.amazon.co.uk

No, each country-specific Amazon has its own affiliate program.

And does anyone know how much each purchase will donate?

It varies based on the product type. It's usually a very small percentage of the price.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:33 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I would totally pay $5 per question on Ask.Mefi. At 154 questions and 13 years on the site, that is $770 or $60/yr. I would also pay $1 per answer if all answers were pooled into a pot with Best Answer winning part of the pot with Mefi getting the rest.

I also think there has to be a way to monetize all of this ridiculously good content on the site.
posted by jasondigitized at 3:34 PM on May 19


Just made a $25 donation! Wish it could be more. Would love a reminder once a quarter to give $25 (you have my permission to Mefi mail me as a past donor)!
posted by amaire at 3:35 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


What we need is an attractive $10,000/year exclusive MetaFilter Centurion® level membership program. The welcome package would include limited edition "no-pants" underwear signed by all members of the staff, a large tinfoil helmet, a decorative blue plate accompanied by a small bag of fine organic beans hand-selected by the mods, a life-sized wall-mounted replica of the original ban hammer and last but not least a nice fluffy pillow embroidered with the likeness of mathowie. Ongoing benefits and perks could include once-a-year access to the moderator-for-a-day program and the power to un-delete one comment per month.

Jokes aside... it's great to see so many MeFites signing up for monthly contributions! MeFites are rather awesome!!!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:39 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


In for a recurring donation but it feels like too little too late; how I wish you'd shared the burden of these struggles sooner, before it came to this! And as for J, LM and GNFTI, all y'all will be sorely missed.
posted by carmicha at 3:39 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


Please don't monetize the database. 100 no.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:40 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Sent a few bucks your way. Will consider setting up a recurring donation, mefi has given me more joy than Netflix ever has and I pay them every month!
posted by knapah at 3:41 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


cortex: I think one of the really important things [Jessamyn]'s accomplished in her influence here over the years is helping mold the site culture itself ... a legacy of improved general expectations and attitudes and awareness about this stuff that I think will remain a part of the Metafilter community's shared expectations and way-of-being on the strength of that previous influence.

Jessamyn - Honorary Metafilter Mom!
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:45 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


If there is an Internet Moderator's Hall of Fame, they need to be induct jessamyn immediately - and then shut down because they'll never do any better.

If there isn't, one needs to spontaneously form, induct jessamyn and shut down.
posted by ormondsacker at 3:46 PM on May 19 [19 favorites]


can I please request that someone set up a amazon.co.uk working affiliate link?. I try not to buy stuff from amazon, but when I do somewhere worthy like Mefi should benefit dammit!
posted by Faintdreams at 3:51 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I'm donating $6.00/month, and will consider upping the ante to $506/month after I pay off my student loans.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:51 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Damn.

Add me into the chorus of thanks to all the moderation/management/running things people here for all their work. Sorry to see anyone leave under these circumstances (instead of, say, winning the lottery).

But please add the donate button to the top menu of every page, and maybe change it to "Support MeFi!" or something. (And I just flagged the suggestion about adding share links as a fantastic comment before discovering a couple of comments later that it's already there - and I can't see that it allows G+, so I salute the lack of sucking up).

I'd also be up for renewing membership annually, if that would be a more reliable way to get money in than a regular subscription.

But damn.
posted by dilettante at 3:52 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Please don't monetize the database. 100 no.

What about datatizing the moonbase?

...

Man oh man, I read about all of this at work but waited until I was home to post here. One of the main reasons I love this place is the generally higher level of discourse that we have, and the mods are a huge part of that. I've never talked to or interacted directly with Jessamyn or the other mods here on the site, but I've always admired their steady hand.

I paid my $5 years ago, which always seemed like an absolute steal for a lifetime membership in one of the smartest, funniest, coolest communities on the web. At work and home, I practically live on this site, so I'm ponying up for $5/month too.
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:53 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Oh, and (((((HUGS))))) for anyone who wants them. der.
posted by Michele in California at 3:53 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


The user name change fee isn't a bad idea, assuming it weren't allowed frequently. Say, you can change your username once a year. It's a way to charge for some service but it's not really a service that anyone would miss or feel left out of if they couldn't pay for it, especially if you can only change once a year.

I think the hard part would be the technical side -- I mean we would want people to still be identifiable (if you don't want to be identifiable, get a new account). I assume changing the CSS so it posts the new username even in old posts wouldn't be an issue, but the issue would come in where people are replying. So if I reply and say "I love ormondsacker's hall of fame idea" and then ormondsacker changes his/her name, then my reply would make no sense...hmm...well, pb will figure it out. Maybe have the old name appear on the old post and have a hover-over tag that says "this user now goes as Newname"?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:53 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Well, hell.

I haven't been here all that long, but I will sorely miss jessamyn's voice as a mod. Her presence seems . . . . . . integral to this site in a way that's hard to explain.

I'll miss LM & gnfti, too, but it feels like I encountered them more as fellow users than as mods, so it doesn't seem like quite so much of a sea change.

All the best to the three of you, and I can only hope that the silver lining in all this is that you all can return to participating in and enjoying MetaFilter in ways that you maybe couldn't while mods.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:54 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


(/□\*)・゜
(((( ;°Д°))))
posted by Going To Maine at 3:54 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


What about datatizing the moonbase?

I thought we agreed not to talk about the moonbase?
posted by The Monkey at 3:54 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I've been a member here for ten years (!) now. This feels like something happening to family, 'cause I kinda don't know what I would do without Metafilter. It never fails to teach me something. Ponying up.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:56 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Do you know how many mods they could hire if they'd shut down the damn moonbase?
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:58 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]


"Please don't monetize the database. 100 no."

it appears you like the ELDER SCROLLS would you like to learn more?
posted by klangklangston at 3:58 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


This is some sad news.

I never use spotify so this was the impetus for me to cancel it and switch my ten dollars a month to something I actually value and use every day.
posted by winna at 4:02 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


The user name change fee isn't a bad idea, assuming it weren't allowed frequently.

For what it's worth, username changes are more of a philosophical non-starter than anything. We're fine with folks moving to a new account if they want to dissociate their current posting from their past, but continuity of identity as far as "what you posted a user x stays as something posted by user x" has always been important to us and it's not an issue of financial incentive.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:05 PM on May 19 [16 favorites]


I've put in for $5/month. Someone remind me to bump that amount up, if and when I ever finish graduate school, as recompense for all that Metafilter has done to help maintain my sanity during the process (even though I am much more of a lurker than a poster).
posted by pemberkins at 4:06 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I feel like a horrible person because I can't afford to donate but I would if I could :(
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 4:07 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Greg_Ace: " Jessamyn - Honorary Metafilter Mom!"

There are plenty of awesome roles women can play besides "mom".

And, to reflect on the effect that Jessamyn's moderation has had on the site, I think that subtler issues like the way women are often viewed only in the roles of "wife", "mother", or "daughter" become possible to discuss only because they're not being drowned out by a toxic sea of boyzone/"I'd hit it" comments. That was mostly before my time, but I gather that Jessamyn had a lot to do with eliminating that toxicity.
posted by Lexica at 4:07 PM on May 19 [82 favorites]


Matt has consistently shown good judgment about hirings on MetaFilter. Every moderator who's been added has added something positive to the site, and LobsterMitten and GNFTI are easily examples #1 and #2 (in either order) for positive contributions. Moderating isn't an easy task, and it's harder still to juggle moderation duties with casual-Joe conversation. I've always thought LobsterMitten and GNFTI excel at that.

I remember before Jessamyn was announced as a new moderator. She was already well known and I wasn't surprised, and I expected she would do the job as well as anybody could. But what I didn't expect, and what happened, is that her moderation changed my mind about how well the job can be done. I moderated a forum once, and I thought I had an idea where that task's ceiling was: you can steer gently around some problems, you can politely nudge people occasionally, but ultimately you need a banhammer and not to be shy about using it. I still believe that's true on some level, but Jessamyn's moderation of this site has radically redefined how I view the scale. Without question, she has proven to be the best moderator I've seen anywhere.

Wherever MetaFilter goes next, the last few years have been informative and fun, and that's due hugely to the work of the moderation staff. Great job. Thanks. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 4:08 PM on May 19 [57 favorites]


So sorry to lose you as mods, Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and gnfti.

Recurring donation: done.

The spectre of Metafilter bankrupt and shuttered gives me the chills. All this wisdom, and kindness, and stuff I didn't know I needed to know, gone? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooOOOOOOOOO
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:09 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Well, I just got some great news which came as a direct result of some great advice I got (and followed) in an anonymous question I asked a while back. The situation would have gone differently had I just acted on my own intuition. This isn't the first time it's happened for me either. Having anonymous askmes available to me has been a resource that has literally changed my life for the better in certain areas. So yeah, I'll sign up for recurring monthly contributions. Hell yeah.

Also, if there were a way for you to offer shares to the userbase, I would buy the shit out of them. I don't even care if I get voting rights or anything, I just want to have them for the inevitable day when Metafilter is worth billions.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:11 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


If we raised enough money, would Jessamyn be willing/interested in staying on? I'm asking about her specifically because she's taking a "voluntary layoff."
posted by Houstonian at 4:12 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


For context on their shock on hearing about paid moderators, HN has some sort of slient volunteer mod crew (as best as I can tell), and there seems to be a lot of annoyance at titles changing and posts disappearing without any discussion or feedback. They just recently gave more a face to them with user dang, and have been going through some growing pains trying to figure out how to keep discussions clean with automated responses to flagging and votes. They also just had a lot of back and forth about low karma accounts only being visible to higher karma accounts to help moderate things. I think they just need a Mod Squad like MF has, but they haven't asked me. The state of moderation teams throughout the internet, and HN's journey specifically, could almost make for a interesting FPP some day

My understanding is dang is a paid moderator. dang is a new handle for Dan G. -- I can't quite remember his last name and can't seem to come up with it on search. He was a long time member under another handle before getting hired to moderate the site. This is a recent change. Previously, the only face for moderation there was Paul Graham, one of the co-founders of Y Combinator. Paul Graham is moving on, thus the need for another moderator.

HN itself makes no money but is part of the business model for Y Combinator in that in order to apply to Y Combinator, you need a handle on Hacker News. Everyone on the application must have a handle. So participation on Hacker News is essentially part of your application and if you go big, this is potentially worth millions of dollars. (Air BnB is a Y Combinator alumni.) As I understand it, moderation is partly done by a few dozen alumni from the YC program. Historically, the fact that there was potentially quite a lot of money at stake by (at least some of) the members themselves helped keep things civil. But it is also a "boys club" and thus used to be a super rough place for a woman to try to participate. It has gotten better and I am not clear where things stand these days.

A lot of people on Hacker News seem unaware of the role the site plays in their business model. Hacker News has no limit to sock puppets and charges no fee and there are good points and bad points to all of that.

Anyway, that may seem off topic. I guess I hope it is food for thought for the team here. Hacker News itself makes no money and the way it is managed is vastly different from metafilter but it is part of a business model that does make money (quite good money -- I think Y Combinator has stock worth billions in the various companies it invested in).
posted by Michele in California at 4:13 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Subscribed for $5/month.
posted by mahershalal at 4:13 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I think that ship has sailed, Houstonian. Sailed to the moonbase.
posted by cashman at 4:14 PM on May 19


Does this mean that jessamyn is prophesied to bring to us the Mod Who Mounts the World?

The Mod Who Banned the Earth

Also, are people really calling for the Moonbass drop? Is this a modstep forum? Geeze.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:16 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I have always been so grateful to all the mods for keeping this place running as it does and dealing with all the human nature that comes with it. I hope Jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane find much success and happiness in the next thing they do, whatever that may be. It won't be quite the same without you.
posted by ambrosia at 4:17 PM on May 19


This is my favorite place on the Internet.
posted by perryfugue at 4:19 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


In for $2.50 a month.
posted by CarolynG at 4:20 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


wow i actually had to reread this twice. As soon as i got to jessamyn my brain just automatically filled the rest of the sentence in as something like "jessamyn is staying obviously, and we're just going to try and do it with like her and one or two other chronologically oldest/original people"

I can't really muster up any response other than "dude, what?". it's like getting the call that your apartment flooded a "little bit" or something. it takes time to even understand/process.

I'm happy this just wasn't left to slide the whole thing into a slow decline though, rather than making this call now. Too many sites/services i loved have done that(coughlastfmcough).

For what it's worth, username changes are more of a philosophical non-starter than anything. We're fine with folks moving to a new account if they want to dissociate their current posting from their past, but continuity of identity as far as "what you posted a user x stays as something posted by user x" has always been important to us and it's not an issue of financial incentive.

this is a good call. i've been part of many only communities where this was allowed, and whether they charged for this or not it always ended up being kind of a bad thing if you could switch the name of your existing account. At best, it's just somewhat confusing. At worst it's like "i'm going to say a bunch of shitty things, then try and disassociate myself from them but instantly walk back in as if i've been here for a while and just have been dormant or something since i already have an older established account"

A new name makes you show up to the community as a new person, especially if you go out of your way to distance yourself from the old stuff. It's just... weird. And it's mostly weird because there's no face to put to the name that can't be changed, etc.
posted by emptythought at 4:21 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I am sorry to hear this. This is an invaluable resource and I wish things were different for you...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 4:23 PM on May 19


No. Just no.

If anything Google has done could cause a 40% drop in new AskMeFi traffic, then Google is broken. Probably beyond repair. Period.

**

I came on as wendell in the earliest days of the Filter. (So early, Matt didn't keep track so the profile says "Joined: sometime in 1999") The first time I made a jokey (and now totally deadlinked) post here, Matt commented "ha! good one foopster...", aware of my personal site/blog named OneSwellFoop. When the $5 fee first came up, I got this account, partly to throw some support toward Matt's endeavors and partly to make sure this malaprop never became anyone else's MetaNick; later deciding to jettison the entire "wendell" persona, it gave me an appropriate place to go. I also bought two 'sock puppet' accounts for very limited specific purposes over the years (one of which I've totally lost the password for), and bought ALL the MeFi t-shirt designs when they came up at Topatoco (the "Paying for It" design was especially meaningful to me then and even more so today...I'm wearing it now).

I was frustrated and saddened when Matt and pb were laid off from the original "Blogger" crew (and worried if Matt could afford to continue the MetaFilter 'hobby'). And when Evan Williams sold Blogger to Google "for an undisclosed amount", I felt he should've set up trust funds to support MeFi and whatever other projects his former employees did. (I still do not trust Williams any farther than I can throw Twitter's servers)

But I was delighted to see jessamyn hired on, then pb for extra tech support, and I recall making a half-hearted application when Matt announced the mod search that resulted in cortex's hiring (and was more than a little relieved he didn't take me seriously).

**

I learned of this sad state over two hours ago, and have read the thread from top to ever-expanding bottom, only leaving to get another $5 no-secret 'sock' account (I participate elsewhere as "someothercraig" so I thought I'd better hold that name here too) and make a $10 one-time donation (will make a recurring donation as soon as I finish this month's personal budgeting - hey, I'm living on Disability here, but MeFi is a lifeline for me). And I checked to see if my Amazon bookmark had the MeFi affiliation (which I set up a couple computers ago) and seeing it did not, corrected that error.

Suggestion for further income: more MetaFilter swag; there are so many of our InJokes and Catch Phrases that could be monetized: "Eponysterical!", "Administrator! Please hope me!", "More Schmoopy, Less GRAR", "There Is No Cabal", "Surely this...", "Metafilter: That's where I'm a Viking!", the entire text of the Treaty of Wesphalia in tiny print, "Professional White Background" on a white tee... I'd buy any/all of those, and "This will not Wendell" I would make all my Christmas presents. Of course, hats, backpacks, and if it were possible to print "MetaFilter" on a kitchen strainer or sieve, I'm in.

Suggestion for future traffic building: a 'linkback widget' that could be put on the sidebars of users' own blogs/othersites, showing multiple subsites and even some 'most favorited' highlights. We the members should be driving more traffic here, even - no ESPECIALLY - if Google doesn't.

**

Finally, a BIG salute to jessamyn for 19 years of true moderation (less a "Mom" and more a "Queen Bee", which I guess is kind of an UberMom) and regular sized salutes to LobsterMitten and goofnewsfortheinsane for contributing to the not-perfect-but-truly-Best-Of-The-Web atmosphere here. Thank you for all your service in the insurmountable task of building a better Internet and to those of you left, keep up the good work but don't kill yourselves doing it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:25 PM on May 19 [47 favorites]


Lexica, my comment was intended to be glib anyway; but it was posted as a (respectful) reference to the "guiding influence" that cortex mentioned in his comment - the sort of thing a good parent provides.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:29 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Before I say anything, much love to Lobster Mitten and goodnewsfortheinsane, and especially jessamyn, who's been, I'm convinced, more important in shaping the tenor of this community than anyone else over the years. I'm glad you'll still be around as a member, if not a mod.

I was legitimately shocked and saddened to read Matt's post. Like everybody else, I'd kind of assumed that MeFi was going from strength to financial strength, and to hear that monetary resources have been drying up (while every half-baked Kickstarter in the world gets hundreds of thousands of bucks without half trying, and big companies are throwing around billions for freaking image-sharing apps and the like), well: that's the shits, not to put too fine a point on it.

I've been struggling recently with similar worries on a much smaller scale, and this news is just disheartening.

The upside, though, I guess, if there is one, is that adversity does inspire creativity, and I'm confident that MeFi Inc and the superengaged userbase here (even if it's only the 1% in the old canonical 90/9/1 userbase split) will come up with ways to keep MeFi going strong, and keep Matt and everyone else who works here (at least in future) gainfully employed. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of talk around the web in the next while about how and why one of the flat-out best sites on the internet for the last decade, run ethically and with nothing but the highest respect for its users, solidly set against growth-for-growth's-sake, can find itself in these straits, and with luck, that might help.

Still, it makes me sad to hear about this. It doesn't bode well to me -- beyond being upset about losing good and dedicated moderation staff, and them losing their jobs -- for the future of the kind of web that I've always loved and wanted to preserve (and even help build, in my own small ways).

I know this isn't anything like the End of MeFi -- it sounds like there's enough revenue to provide Matt and 3 mods (and pb, who's a paid employee too, I think?) with incomes, and pay for infrastructure -- but here's hoping that this is the bottoming out, and things get better in future, one way or the other.

It's a lesson to us as users of web places we love, ones that aren't run by massive corporations, ones that are run by individuals who do it because they love to: we shouldn't take them and those places for granted.

But I also hope that it inspires Matt, who, like me, seems reticent in general to talk about money stuff, to be more open with us when the time comes to ask for help, or at least, let us know, and let us do what we can as a community, when things are breaking bad.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:30 PM on May 19 [33 favorites]


Donated $5. Then, remembered that I signed up back in 2001 during a free membership period. So, went back and donated another $5. Will find the Flattr thing and make it monthly.

But really, that donate option is too hard to find, and you really should provide the monthly option right here on the site. There should be a "Membership" link (not "donate", not "subscribe") in the top menu bar, on every single page of every single sub-site, where you could choose among various options. (Pay monthly, pay quarterly, annually, various amounts, etc.) No membership privileges are necessary. But a few little premiums for Silver and Gold levels, a mug, a baseball cap, whatever, might be cool. Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish is mentioned above — it's a case study on how to do this right.
posted by beagle at 4:30 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


partly squamous and partly rugose: "I feel like a horrible person because I can't afford to donate but I would if I could :("

Please don't. Sincerely. I've been there. Many of us probably have.
posted by zarq at 4:31 PM on May 19 [38 favorites]


MetaFilter: a little less prone to meltdown teardown shitfuck escalations
posted by Jacqueline at 4:33 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I hate automated recurring payments with the passion of a thousand burning suns, but just signed up for $5/month. Worth it.
posted by mrbill at 4:33 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


A question... does Paypal charge vendors a processing fee? If I donate say, $5 a month, does mathowie see all of it? Or do they lift a percentage off the top?
posted by zarq at 4:35 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


It doesn't bode well to me -- beyond being upset about losing good and dedicated moderation staff, and them losing their jobs -- for the future of the kind of web that I've always loved and wanted to preserve

Seconded, with emphasis - and some dust in my eyes...
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:35 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


partly squamous and partly rugose: "I feel like a horrible person because I can't afford to donate but I would if I could :("

Please don't. Sincerely. I've been there. Many of us probably have.


Seconding this, seriously, as someone who used to cry when she couldn't donate to NPR during fund drives. Please don't feel bad.
posted by winna at 4:36 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


> ... what I didn't expect, and what happened, is that her moderation changed my mind about how well the job can be done. I moderated a forum once, and I thought I had an idea where that task's ceiling was: you can steer gently around some problems, you can politely nudge people occasionally, but ultimately you need a banhammer and not to be shy about using it. I still believe that's true on some level, but Jessamyn's moderation of this site has radically redefined how I view the scale.

Yup.
posted by nangar at 4:36 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I can't sign up for monthly donations until I get paid this month but I will as soon as I can.

In the meantime, just how strict is the ban on AskMes about illegal activities? Like, say, oh I don't know, robbing a bank? No reason...
posted by billiebee at 4:38 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


"and LobsterMitten and GNFTI are easily examples #1 and #2 (in either order)"

Pee and poop! Poop and pee!
posted by klangklangston at 4:39 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Re zarq's remark: A lot of us are there now. Props to the team for trying to figure out a way to monetize this thing in a way which does not strongly exclude the lower economic classes by the way it is done while also not handling this like a "charity." Those are questions I have long wrestled with myself. The internet has the capacity to be a tremendous resource for people of all socioeconomic levels and I think it is humanizing and makes the world a better place to keep it as open as possible for those folks who do not currently have much money. But it's a hard problem to solve. Too often, public resources get monetized in an exclusionary fashion and increases the divide between the haves and have nots.

I don't think I can say this very well except to say that a community, while it needs to find a way to pay the bills, works best for everyone when it tries to do so in a way that does not exclude folks on the basis of money per se. And I hope folks who don't have much money at the moment can see themselves as contributing members even if that contribution is not financial (out of their pocket). Since the site makes money on ads, being a good netizen here also helps pay the bills.

Or so I think.
posted by Michele in California at 4:39 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


A question... does Paypal charge vendors a processing fee? If I donate say, $5 a month, does mathowie see all of it? Or do they lift a percentage off the top?

Paypal seems to run on a percentage rate basis, not per transaction. So there shouldn't be a difference whether you do lump sum donations or a monthly transactions.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:40 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Since it's come up a few times already, I'd like to say that I'm not comfortable having people's accounts marked as "supporter" in any way. Not because I'm worried about supporters feeling like they have more ownership of the site, but because I'm worried about people who can't support the site financially feeling like they have less.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:40 PM on May 19 [67 favorites]


I love this place. The mod are a large part of the reason why. Jess, gnfti, LobsterMitten - you guys rock.

I'm throwing $60 in the pot. It's cheap for the value I get from this place. I'll make it an annual donation.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:43 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Chiming in to express my sadness at the state of financial affairs and with hearty thanks and well wishes to all of the mods.

FWIW, I pay waaay more than $5/lifetime to keep my moribund LJ membership; I'd certainly happily pay a larger annual fee for Metafilter, which is so much more lively and useful to me. If people are worried that a higher fee or an annual fee would deter subscribers, could we set up a sort of gift fund? I could kick in the cost of an annual subscription for someone else as part of my annual donation round-up when I also usually drop money to NPR and the like...
posted by TwoStride at 4:43 PM on May 19


LobsterMitten and gnfti are funny, kind, amazing people who have done a difficult job extraordinarily well. I wish I could say enough good things about them.

Jessamyn's influence is a large part of what has kept me on this website. Her matter-of-fact, no-nonsense treatment of sexism and related idiocy has consistently been the difference between me throwing up my hands and wandering off to a shed in the woods to hate the human race forever and keeping me engaged with my one remaining online community that manages not to disappoint me with its treatment of gender issues.

How she managed to do it without wandering off into a shed in the woods herself I will never know, although I guess Vermont is sort of like a giant shed in the wood in its own right.
posted by winna at 4:44 PM on May 19 [29 favorites]


This is just heartbreaking. I hope you all still stick around; the people are truly what make Metafilter special, and that goes doubly so—at least—for the mods, who consistently show themselves to be bastions of wisdom and kindness and make me wish I was lucky enough to know them in person. Metafilter has taught me to be a better human, just by reading the things that you all have to say (that goes for mods and non-mods alike), and I love the hell out of you all from afar. Best wishes through these unfortunate changes.
posted by cellar door at 4:45 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


This is terrible! Like others, I would have guessed that mefi was getting stronger financially as more people discovered what a wonderful place it is and joined up.

This is the best site on the interwebs, IMHO, and I'm sorry to see any of the staff laid off. Thanks to you all for your hard work and dedication. Your efforts will be missed, but I'm really glad to hear that you'll be sticking around as users.

Unfortunately, I'm not able to donate at this time, but I will do my best to make up for my lack of donations when my finances allow it.

Why does the corporate world always seem to bulldoze the really good stuff in life? :(
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 4:49 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Wondering if there have been any conversations with Google, to the extent that's possible, if it's naive to think that sort of thing might bear fruit.

Bay Area meetup to picket Google HQ in Mountain View? That might generate some interesting media attention....
posted by ambient2 at 4:49 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


are people really calling for the Moonbass drop?

I still cry every time I think about the time that other Moonbass got dropped on Chewbacca.
posted by The Monkey at 4:51 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn, I'll miss you. I have been among those misguidedly using AskMe for therapy purposes and Jessamyn has been a voice of sanity.

Should the worst happen and the site dies, I cannot imagine Mefites migrating to reddit (I don't like the way the reddit threads look, or the attitudes of many commenters). Mefi is an unique community.

I'd agree with letting people pay again to get a new account as I don't have much of a posting personality and I chose my Mefi name in haste many years ago. I would also pay a yearly subscription.
posted by bad grammar at 4:52 PM on May 19


Jessamyn is the GODDESS of Metafilter.
posted by brujita at 4:53 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


I'm not comfortable having people's accounts marked as "supporter" in any way.

I was on a site once where the modems were each named after a person who "bought" them for the site. You'd type who (I know this! It's Unix!) and get

mathowie tty
jessamyn cortex
cortex   pb
dhartung queso
jonmc    jonmc


Total population was under 50, though.
posted by dhartung at 4:54 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Wondering if there have been any conversations with Google, to the extent that's possible, if it's naive to think that sort of thing might bear fruit.

Yes. But there really is a separation between ads and search and Google makes internet-sized decisions, not ones that have to do with results from single sites (usually). Matt has gotten the best help the AdSense account managers are able to offer. Still, it is frustrating that it has come to this.
posted by GuyZero at 4:54 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Long time lurker, short time poster; this gives me a Sad Feeling in my Innards. Having also been made redundant I empathise with the mods (both going and staying). I've seen the site grow and change and all for the better, down in huge part to the careful and intelligent moderation that has ensured that discussion has been encouraged, debate has been focussed and arguing has been firmly nipped in the bud wherever possible. Moderation here has aimed for a generally respectful and accommodating atmosphere and has helped to create a place that sparks my interest and teaches me things I didn't know I NEEDED to know.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 4:55 PM on May 19


cortex: "For what it's worth, username changes are more of a philosophical non-starter than anything. We're fine with folks moving to a new account if they want to dissociate their current posting from their past, but continuity of identity as far as "what you posted a user x stays as something posted by user x" has always been important to us and it's not an issue of financial incentive."

I remember joining Facebook well after joining MetaFilter and finding the ability to retroactively change your identity across past posts as completely counterintuitive, which makes me realize that it was my destiny all along to fall in the with functional programming crowd's emphasis on immutable data. Just another thing I have to thank MetaFilter for.
posted by invitapriore at 4:55 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I have little spare money but would like to humbly propose that Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane be henceforth given gold stars and complete immunity from moderation, as this appears to be the closest thing to Valhalla possible within the confines of this website's code.
posted by furiousthought at 4:58 PM on May 19 [15 favorites]


His thoughts were red thoughts: " Paypal seems to run on a percentage rate basis, not per transaction. So there shouldn't be a difference whether you do lump sum donations or a monthly transactions."

Thank you!

Michele in California: "Too often, public resources get monetized in an exclusionary fashion and increases the divide between the haves and have nots."

Completely agree. That's actually one of the reasons why the ability to donate without the expectation that we would receive anything in return is so great. Obviously getting perk(s) back will be an incentive for some folks (and more power to them if that's what they enjoy,) but ever since I've been here there's been a site philosophy that everyone is equal. I'm convinced that has been an integral part of why the community has been successful.

It doesn't matter how many posts any of us have made, or whether our user number is lower than someone else's. Our ability to do anything on the site is exactly the same as every other member. The only perk seniority gives anyone around here is familiarity. You might conceivably get more of the benefit of the doubt from other members and the mods if you're having an uncharacteristically bad day. And that, only because they know you.

And man, I'm thankful for it. Because as much as we joke about a cabal around here, having one would suck.
posted by zarq at 5:01 PM on May 19 [25 favorites]


While I've had no shortage of tussles with these mods, it's terribly sad to see Metafilter contract in any way. And all because Google has completely fucked up! Ugh.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:05 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Now that I finally have a paypal account I can set up a monthly donation. It's the least I can do for a site that has given me so much and yet asked for so little in return.
posted by liquorice at 5:05 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I'm shocked and reeling from all of this. And my mind naturally thinks about the ways the old internet is struggling to hold on - an internet that was around back in the innocent "utopian" days of the web that are resolutely behind us. Back before all the kinds of tactics that the new sites follow just as par for the course to survive in the ruthless capitalist web (clickbait, monetizing userbases, exploiting ad models...) I wonder if lots of MeFi-style sites should've been employing modest subscription models long ago, and userbases are simply used to expecting free services without consequences. I don't know. Not that Metafilter is going away anytime soon, of course, but I do think this is a wake-up call that the internet has changed irrevocably, somehow, and we need to figure out what's going on before the stuff that really is Best Of Web gets crowded out by something far less pure-minded.

I have no idea if all these recurring monthly donations work as a stopgap for larger concerns, but I'm certainly chipping in as well for my favorite site.

On a more immediate note: Jessamyn, point-blank she's become one of my role models and a constant inspiration in how to conduct myself personally and professionally. She's one of the Greats. I'm excited for whatever she plans to do next, because I think she's one of those people who are capable of changing lives in whatever ways they set their mind and attention to.
posted by naju at 5:06 PM on May 19 [29 favorites]


rtha and I are down for a monthly contribution.

jessamyn and LoMitt and gnifti -- you're still welcome to sleep on our couch and hang out with our cats even if you aren't mods any more.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:07 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


This fully and completely sucks, but I understand
it.
Did ten bucks; will go to monthly at 5. I fully support the idea of one of those thermometer-style goal things on the front page (logged on or not).

Also, I'm prepared to take a drubbing if it's inappropriate, but I'd also like to be able to donate to a 'ease-the-layed-off-mods-through-the-transition' fund, should one find a way into existence.

You are all awesome, and I wish we weren't having this conversation.
posted by Mooski at 5:07 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


LobsterMitter and goodnewsfortheinsane have been excellent members of Team Mod, and I'm very sad they'll be leaving that role, but losing Jessamyn as mod ... I'm still working to get my head around that. In part, I guess, because she's been, in her handling of all sorts of moderation challenges, a model for me of how to deal--calmly, firmly, clearly--with people's anger, belligerence, or just random asshattery. As someone said above, I would pay cash money for a "What Would Jessamyn Do?" t-shirt, but the fact is that's a question I ask myself all the time, inwardly, and my dealings with others are the better for it. I'm *very* glad to hear she'll still be participating in the podcast, I trust that she'll still be an active member on the site, and I do hope that this also means she'll be taking on exciting new things that wouldn't be possible for someone with mod responsibilities.

(On preview, what naju says. Yup.)
posted by Kat Allison at 5:08 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Because as much as we joke about a cabal around here, having one would suck.

The thing is though, we're talking about a little star next to a username. I'm not sure if you've looked at similar sites before, but both reddit and Fark offer paid $4-5/mo accounts and they both offer not only insane amounts of power features and extra capabilities for those accounts, they also feature a custom private forum for talking ONLY to other paid users. Imagine a MetaTalk that could only be seen seen and posted to by pro users.

I get that exclusionary stuff can be alienating, but we're talking about something so far away from what similar sites offer (that are actual tiered userbases essentially). We're talking no features, no custom MetaTalk for only paid people. No increased capability, and maybe an optional star next to your name to help "advertise" that payments are a thing that exists.

Fark and reddit I could see being a place where a cabal could happen, here, asking for donations with almost zero in return doesn't seem like that to me.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:08 PM on May 19 [54 favorites]


I hope that Matt and team are able to find a way to sustain the high quality community we have here. Part of me fears that we're leaving some golden age of the Internet and that this is the begining of a big shift.
posted by humanfont at 5:10 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Good luck in all your future endeavours, jessamyn, LM, and gnfti.
posted by Quilford at 5:11 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I'd prefer to sign up for an automatic annual donation (that you could see I'm signed up for and kinda, sorta count on some regular revenue) as opposed to manual annual donations (which are probably harder to "predict") so I've signed up for the next best thing, a monthly donation. There's a few other comments on this page that mention annual, that might be something worth setting up, if PayPal will do that and not just monthly. Thanks again for everything.
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:11 PM on May 19


Imagine a MetaTalk that could only be seen seen and posted to by pro users.

Please don't. This was essentially done on Cyburbia and it may be part of what helped kind of kill the forum (the last time I checked in, the traffic and all is way down and revenue was way down, last I heard). But Cyburbia is basically a hobby site for a man with full time employment elsewhere. I would be happy to discuss this more privately but I don't want to say too much publicly. But, please, please, don't do this.
posted by Michele in California at 5:11 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I understand people's concerns about caballery, but I am totally comfortable with the idea of financial supporters getting the old Stan Chin gold star. With the proviso that people could donate but choose to opt out of having the star.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:12 PM on May 19 [11 favorites]


Part of me fears that we're leaving some golden age of the Internet and that this is the begining of a big shift.

If it helps any, this is true every day, regardless.
posted by Mooski at 5:12 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Pleeze say jessamyn'll still be in the podcast? At the very least if she's not cortex will have to make a new theme song!
posted by JHarris at 5:12 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Would love to hear how much is raised in Paypal donations today and in the next few days, even if it's just a private email to those of us who donated (though publicly would be an awesome way to encourage even more people to help!).

If you'd consider it, I'd also love some transparency into Metafilter's annual budget so we can know how much we'd need to raise annually to help fund Metafilter's staff above and beyond membership/ad revenue.
posted by amaire at 5:13 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Let it be noted that mathowie has pre-denied the existence of a cabal.
posted by dhartung at 5:14 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Please don't.

I was using it as a bad example of what we WOULDN'T DO so please don't think it's even on the table.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:14 PM on May 19 [28 favorites]


And, mathowie, the optional gold-star-by-the-username thing for contributing seems okay to me, and that's from someone who probably won't be able to contribute in the near future.
posted by JHarris at 5:15 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]



Imagine a MetaTalk that could only be seen seen and posted to by pro users.


I'm not sure it was clear, Matt was saying this would be awful.

I plan to still be on the podcast as long as they'll have me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:15 PM on May 19 [31 favorites]


maybe an optional star next to your name to help "advertise" that payments are a thing that exists.

Okay that makes sense - to advertise the payment thing. I was totally thinking "yuck" to that, but if it's to encourage people to pay up then yes.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:16 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


At the very least, can we at least buy Jessamyn a ticket to the tuba museum?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:17 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I've had a look through the thread and haven't seen anything about this, but: have we done anything about possibly helping our departing mods find a new gig? It's awesome if they all have new things lined up, but if they don't, I'm sure the userbase here has useful connections for jobseekers. (I probably don't, but I'd be glad to make connections if I did.)
posted by immlass at 5:17 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Yay! cough, um, er ahem -- That is good to hear.
posted by JHarris at 5:17 PM on May 19


Imagine a MetaTalk that could only be seen seen and posted to by pro users.

Call it THUNDERDOME.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:18 PM on May 19 [9 favorites]


My guess is a few hundred of you would pay for it, but that wouldn't cover a part-timer's monthly hours. I could be wrong, and I'll definitely take all these comments into account.

More than 200 people donated during the Russian thing, and there wasn't even a coordinated effort to fundraise. Many of them donated much more than a few dollars, more like $15 or more. We'd all like metafilter to be much more solidly in the black than it is, I think. It is, as ocherdraco said, my internet family.

And my real-life family, too, thanks to meetups and mefites being generally great.

:/
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:18 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


If optional stars are added for subscribers, it would be nice if members could turn off display of this option (additionally, if a subscriber could set it so they wouldn't be star'ed for anyone viewing (including non-logged in viewers)).
posted by nobeagle at 5:19 PM on May 19 [15 favorites]


...and maybe an optional star next to your name to help "advertise" that payments are a thing that exists.

If it helps, sure.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:19 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


There's a few other comments on this page that mention annual, that might be something worth setting up, if PayPal will do that and not just monthly.

It's certainly doable on the technical side; I have annual PayPal payments set up on a couple of other sites.
posted by Shmuel510 at 5:19 PM on May 19


avocet: here is that link to the best deleted comment ever.

It took over a decade, but we're finally seeing the fallout from the ill-fated Metafilter & Kuro5hin merger.

posted by dr_dank at 5:19 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Friendly suggestion to consider Dwolla for donations/payments/etc. They have free transactions under $10 and .25 over that.
posted by starman at 5:19 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Imagine a MetaTalk that could only be seen seen and posted to by pro users.

Call it THUNDERDOME.


Called it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:20 PM on May 19


There's a few other comments on this page that mention annual, that might be something worth setting up, if PayPal will do that and not just monthly.

From (my) non-US perspective, the annual donation reduces the uncertainty caused by currency fluctuations.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:21 PM on May 19


mathowie: " The thing is though, we're talking about a little star next to a username. I'm not sure if you've looked at similar sites before, but both reddit and Fark offer paid $4-5/mo accounts and they both offer not only insane amounts of power features and extra capabilities for those accounts, they also feature a custom private forum for talking ONLY to other paid users. Imagine a MetaTalk that could only be seen seen and posted to by pro users.

I get that exclusionary stuff can be alienating, but we're talking about something so far away from what similar sites offer (that are actual tiered userbases essentially). We're talking no features, no custom MetaTalk for only paid people. No increased capability, and maybe an optional star next to your name to help "advertise" that payments are a thing that exists.
"

Exclusionary perks and abilities, and tiered userbases are exactly what I'd have a problem with and be worried about. I think that would truly change the core nature of this community. If you're not considering anything approaching that, then that's wonderful! Thank you.

A star on my profile, I guess I could live with. A star next to my username would make me uncomfortable. A dividing line between me and that of the non-paying userbase. The fact that it would represent a link to the donation page would... well... I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand I want to do everything i can to help the site. On the other, it's important to me that anyone can look at my participation here and not think I'm receiving special treatment or have any sort of special status for any reason.

If it came to that, could the star could be assigned to a sock?

Ultimately, it's your garden and you have to seed and plant and cultivate it as you see fit. And you know best how to make it thrive. We're all just playing in it!
posted by zarq at 5:23 PM on May 19 [12 favorites]


Phire: I would also totally buy "What Would Jessamyn Do" apparel, just FYI. Surely I'm not alone.

You're in luck! There's a ton of merch already available!

From this image search, I found this image (WWJD? "Grab a whip and clean house"), which is (IMO), begging for a MetaFilter version, in the mode of the last round, but with Jessamyn as the focus of the image.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:24 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Although I have only been a member for a couple of years, I have lurked since 2001. I can’t even count the number of times Metafilter has shown me something neat, made me laugh out loud or brought my attention to something important taking place in my city, my country, my continent or the world. The caliber of consistent, intelligent and respectful discourse is something to be marveled at.

But my real and abiding love is for AskMetafilter. Just by reading the questions and answers that others have posted, I have been able to improve my own life in big and small ways. I would love to provide a complete list, but for brevity’s sake, AskMefi has been invaluable for everything from considerations while buying a house to how awesome the Oil Cleansing Method and BB cream are for my face.

The only question I have asked so far
nearly took my breath away with how quickly, completely and generously Mefi members answered. It really was a no-brainer to donate, and the absolute least I could do. Hugs to everyone and thank you.
posted by champagneminimalist at 5:24 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I put the MeFi donation link in my profile.

Go on, you know you wanna.
posted by zennie at 5:25 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


We must be able to do better than a star next to usernames.

A fedora? A banjo? A portobello mushroom? A teeny tiny plate of beans? A special snowflake?
posted by lalex at 5:27 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Sorry to hear this.

Matt, if the site needs some extra cash, I got those naked photos of gman that he kept sending me for a while there. I'm willing to put them on ebay, that ought get y'all an extra couple of quarters.

Let me know.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:27 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


A star on my profile, I guess I could live with. A star next to my username would make me uncomfortable. A dividing line between me and that of the non-paying userbase. The fact that it would represent a link to the donation page would... well... I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand I want to do everything i can to help the site. On the other, it's important to me that anyone can look at my participation here and not think I'm receiving special treatment or have any sort of special status for any reason.

I understand where you're coming from here, and I sympathize. But if this star thing is going to work as an advertisement (hypothetically speaking) it would have to be out where people can see it, and just putting stars on profile pages would limit that visibility. Maybe someone could donate but turn down the star if they wished?
posted by Kevin Street at 5:29 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I signed up for a monthly donation. I have mixed feelings about the star; I see the appeal as a "hey let's advertise the ability to support the site" but I also like the way things currently are, which feels more democratic somehow.

Also, let's not kid ourselves, the social status thing will probably always be having a lower user number (remembering the days when 17K was arriviste.)
posted by ambrosia at 5:30 PM on May 19


We must be able to do better than a star next to usernames.

It has some pretty deep historical context.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:30 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I get that exclusionary stuff can be alienating, but we're talking about something so far away from what similar sites offer (that are actual tiered userbases essentially). We're talking no features, no custom MetaTalk for only paid people. No increased capability, and maybe an optional star next to your name to help "advertise" that payments are a thing that exists.

I don't think there are similar sites. UX tells us that you have to look at your actual users to find out what they need. The actual users here don't need a ton of increased capability. We just the site to be around and be awesome. If it turned out that the little stars were causing heartburn you could always just dump them.
posted by bleep at 5:31 PM on May 19 [9 favorites]


Paypal (usually) charges 30 cents + 2.9% per transaction for sales. I do not know if this applies to donations. If this is true for donations, giving small amounts leads to a higher percentage transaction fee vs. larger amounts. On the other hand, I know that a steady revenue stream is more useful than unpredictable donations.

And if anyone is counting, I vote for a prominent "donate" button, selling merchandise (if feasible / profitable), and would prefer that any kind of star or "mefi supporter" badge goes in one's profile only.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:32 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


yeah there's other ways to subtly advertise that the site is taking donations. That should be explored. Matt et al know best. Just saying, use your UX powers to the fullest and don't sell yourselves short.
posted by bleep at 5:32 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Hey, so academic here who, among other things, studies voluntary contributions to efforts like open source communities.

I think you can get more than you expect. And I think you can strengthen the community if you do it right. I would be happy to talk (me mail me) about what has worked in other contexts.
posted by blahblahblah at 5:35 PM on May 19 [18 favorites]


A star next to my username would make me uncomfortable.

An option to turn it off would certainly be in the first version.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:35 PM on May 19 [11 favorites]


(I don't know about you folks, but I feel like this should-donators-get-stars-and-how-and-where rathole is -- although typically Metatalky -- kind of a pointless sidebar distraction right this very minute... forest and trees, people.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:35 PM on May 19 [50 favorites]


...we're talking about something so far away from what similar sites offer (that are actual tiered userbases essentially).

I don't think that Fark or Reddit are good comparisons/models for this, and you're not in competition with them to offer the best value for premium members.

Although MetaFilter's legal structure is a for-profit business, it *feels* much more like a co-op, arts/cultural organization, or political party. Since most of us consider ourselves to be *members* instead of "customers," you should take your inspiration from the fundraising models of other membership-based organizations instead of from subscription service businesses.

Based on the comments in this thread, plenty of people are willing to donate money just to ensure that the site will continue the same as before. Do you really think that the MeFites who are willing and able to financially support MetaFilter are going to say, "I can get more bang for my buck on Reddit so I'm buying Reddit Gold instead"?
posted by Jacqueline at 5:37 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


The only thing worse than hearing this today would be hearing that my (live-in) boyfriend got laid off -- oh wait, that did happen today.

So despite the amazing role that MeFi has played in my IRL and internet life, I can't quite sign up for a recurring donation at this moment. But please know, Matt and the mods, that we love you and this little community you've built and nurtured. That the best place on the internet has been hit so hard is merely evidence that the internet is fundamentally broken.
posted by misskaz at 5:37 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Lexica: And, to reflect on the effect that Jessamyn's moderation has had on the site, I think that subtler issues like the way women are often viewed only in the roles of "wife", "mother", or "daughter" become possible to discuss only because they're not being drowned out by a toxic sea of boyzone/"I'd hit it" comments. That was mostly before my time, but I gather that Jessamyn had a lot to do with eliminating that toxicity.

I agree. I don't envy her work (or the work of the other mods), especially hearing about a few of the terrible things dudes have said/written to her over the years, as she has shared in MeTa from time to time.

And let it be shown on the record that my "I'd hit it" upthread was written with my tongue firmly in my cheek.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:38 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Money first, stars later.

On that note: it might be worth mathowie getting in touch with PayPal before they do the PayPal thing and suspend his account for having money in it.
posted by holgate at 5:39 PM on May 19 [18 favorites]


I just subscribed at $5 a month.

It was weird because when I hit the Donate button, I could of sworn I heard a bell ring.

Teacher says, every time a bell rings a moderator gets her wings.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:40 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


a little bit of me just died. in my pants.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 5:41 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


Even after this change the site is still providing employment for a handful of people at work they seem to enjoy. I think that is pretty good going. And still serving us as readers and contributors. Metafilter in its management has always shown a small scale integrity that is rare. Always looking for the path that works best for the users instead of for the angle that will monetize for the investors. That's may be what has enabled it to outlast the Plastic.coms. I trust that things will be okay.
posted by TimTypeZed at 5:43 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Would it help if I put Cortex on my health insurance? If they see that donut picture it'll raise my premiums but what has to be done has to be done.
posted by cashman at 5:44 PM on May 19 [12 favorites]


"A star on my profile, I guess I could live with. A star next to my username would make me uncomfortable. A dividing line between me and that of the non-paying userbase. The fact that it would represent a link to the donation page would... well... I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand I want to do everything i can to help the site. On the other, it's important to me that anyone can look at my participation here and not think I'm receiving special treatment or have any sort of special status for any reason. "

Yeah, but the counterpoint to that is that the most effective way to get people to contribute is to tell them that everyone else is doing it too.

"An option to turn it off would certainly be in the first version."

…for an extra $5.
posted by klangklangston at 5:47 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


$20 donated.
posted by evadery at 5:47 PM on May 19


Well, the circumstances suck, but at least it's motivated me to get off my ass and setup a monthly donation.

Thank you Jessamyn, LM, and GNFTI, for helping to make this place an island of sanity in a sea of chaos.

And I'll do this one myself -- MetaFilter: An island of sanity in a sea of chaos.
posted by mosk at 5:47 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Frankly, I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion of the untapped potential for commidification of MetaFilter. The site is a treasure trove of quips and thoughts! And we're just giving away some great music! Why not burn-on-demand compilation CDs?

Visionary idea, free of charge: add a "Print It!" option to comments, following the "flag it" option.

For example, taking this line from ColdChef:
MetaFilter: Not just product placement and racist propaganda.
posted by ColdChef at 1:54 PM on May 19 [+] [!] [Print It]
Initially, this kicks you to Zazzle or something, where you get the option to print the text in a few different combinations of fonts, text color and background color, on t-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, stickers, etc.

This will give pb some time to whip up a proper merch production app, (which can of course be licensed off to 3rd party sites for their own use)

....

But seriously, there are a lot of witty in-jokes, poignant sayings, and insightful quips that could be printed up on something, in the style of the If you're not paying for it ... shirt. People could submit designs for Matt and co (or the site at large) to consider for printing up, and people could have more design options available to them.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:48 PM on May 19 [16 favorites]


If they see that donut picture it'll raise my premiums but what has to be done has to be done.

The donut is a preexisting condition
posted by edgeways at 5:49 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


I'm in for $5/month.

I could hardly do less, considering how much MeFi has meant to me since my discovery of it. It's basically my home-page and gateway to the Internet, my not-so-secret source for interesting things to share with family and friends.

Also, out of curiosity, would Patreon be more or less useful for this?
posted by CrystalDave at 5:52 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


But my real and abiding love is for AskMetafilter. Just by reading the questions and answers that others have posted, I have been able to improve my own life in big and small ways.

Amen. The joy I've gotten from that Marcella Hazan tomato-butter-onion sauce alone is worth $60 a year, easy.
posted by mediareport at 5:52 PM on May 19 [39 favorites]


The joy I've gotten from that Marcella Hazan tomato-butter-onion sauce alone is worth $60 a year, easy.

I barely cook anything aside from very basics but I learned from that link as well how to make the sauce and it's always a huge hit. It's so freaking good.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:55 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


Oh, and if we're serious about improving our SEO tactics, let's get serious about shilling our user-made content. Take a page from ViralNova, BuzzFeed, and YellowJournalism2.0 and let's up the BestOf game. "Avian Bioacoustical Research!"? What are we doing, trying to sell dictionaries? "You won't believe the sounds this person captured! You can do it, too!" And let's start rounding up those popular comments and making some daily listicles and slideshows!

(Hamburgers plated, I am so very happy MetaFilter has retained its integrity over these years.)
posted by filthy light thief at 5:58 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Okay, here's my suggestion for the star. I am okay with the idea of a star for donating, but if it has some utility, it could detract from the (seemingly) me-centered nature of it. For example, what if it could be linked to your favorite comment on metafilter? That would be its function, although you receive it by donating.

I know you can just link stuff in the profile comments anyway, but it would be cool to have a "favorite comment" button/star.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:58 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


From this image search, I found this image (WWJD? "Grab a whip and clean house"), which is (IMO), begging for a MetaFilter version

Flagellate It And Move On
posted by Room 641-A at 5:58 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Hold on, found some photos and videos of klangklangston. It's the good stuff too, before he bottomed out Salt Lake City. I'll put those up for auction too.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:58 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


This blows and I'm sorry to hear it. I want to thank Jessamyn for her long and storied contributions and service and thanks in general to the mod staff.

I find this sequence of events to be indicative how much of a quasi-monopoly Google has become, its dominance in the search space making everyone who depends on online advertising completely beholden to every shrug, whimper and belch from Google's latest ranking algorithm team. What lesson is to be learned here? That it's more important to have mindshare outside of Google pagerank, probably. I'm sure that's a real easy thing to achieve /hamburger.
posted by ooga_booga at 5:59 PM on May 19


Imagine a MetaTalk that could only be seen seen and posted to by pro users.

This is how I use Twitter.
posted by keli at 5:59 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Damn. This was upsetting to wake up to. When I'm able, I'll donate what I can. I hope things improve. It's hard to imagine this place without Jessamyn. This site has done a lot to change the way I interact with others, and made me seriously think about the language I use, and she's had a lot to do with that. Obviously, it's not like she (or the other mods, who are also pretty swell) are leaving, but, well, damn. Thanks for all your hard work. Seriously.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:00 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


To get the new MeFi t-shirt (etc) design ball rolling, I'd like to see something with "MetaFilter Widow" as the general vibe. Perhaps when you send someone an invite to the site, you can also purchase a condolence card for their SO, with a somber message warning them of the quiet days to come.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:01 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I haven't read the whole thread to see if this has been suggested, but how about letting members opt-in to ads? Maybe just deck and text-based ones, if you don't mind...I mean if seeing banners is required to save Metafilter, I'll do it, but if I can save it with text-based ads, that's good, too.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:01 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Wow, what an unexpected announcement. My love and best wishes to jessamyn (especially), LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane. I've been lurking from the very beginning, and believe this place is truly unique on the English-speaking web.

I'm in for $3/month in perpetuity, with a $20 starting bonus.
posted by postagepaid at 6:01 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


$5 month donated here also. I've been using the site for at least 10 years, so upping my contribution from 4 cents a month is probably coming a little late.

Thanks a ton to the mods, former and current. I don't know of a more civil, thoughtful place on the internet, and they have contributed enormously to that.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:02 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I always feel weird about anything to do with money. So my first thought about the star was "heck no!" but on further reflection, I think I wouldn't mind having it as long as it's cheap enough to be within most people's reach (I'm thinking "any donation this month at all" cheap), and it can be disabled so nobody can really tell if someone hasn't donated.

I also would be happy with a comet, umbrella, cloud, or snowman. Heck, most of the Miscellaneous Symbols block is pretty good.
posted by aubilenon at 6:02 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Oh, and as for possible fund drive donor rewards - I have always thought that some re-labeled Heinz Beans would be good. They're practically in MF colours already. (The label. Not the beans.)
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:06 PM on May 19


I'm in for $5/month. Sorry, Matt & mods, and especially those leaving -- this must have been a really tough time.

My vote is against a star in comments -- or at least to try other approaches first. Any change to the formatting of comments has the potential to screw up the flow of conversation, especially a change that highlights some comments or posters over others. If two people are debating something and one of them has a star next to their name, does that change how the conversation reads? My feeling is let's not find out if we don't have to.

What I really want from my donation/subscription relationship with the site is to know that I'm taking part in something larger that makes a difference, even if it's not a majority of the funding. As a random thought, it could be a message at the top of the page like "Metafilter gets _14%_ of its budget from user contributions. Click here to become a sustaining member!" or "Metafilter gets etc. Thanks for being a sustaining member!" All I want is something that says, yeah, you're helping make a difference.
posted by jhc at 6:06 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Aw man. Mefi membership was the first thing I ever paid for with a credit card - Malaysia didn't have Paypal access then so I had to wait about a year or so after lurking until my dad loaned me a CC for emergencies prior to a massive worldwide trip.

That was a month before I hit 20. Later this year I'll hit 29. You guys have pretty much seen me through my 20s - the headaches and heartbreaks and visions and dreams and growing up and struggles and good times I had. Thank you.

Some ideas:

1. Would now be a good time to start gifting people accounts (a.k.a. we pay for their membership fee) or would the extra membership be a modding headache?

2. Have you guys looked at Autostraddle? Metafilter has the engaged-core-readership quality in common with AS - and when they were in financial trouble and hosted fundraisers, they got zillion times the amount they anticipated.

3. Speaking of fundraisers: would you be OK if a group of Mefites organised and hosted it on your behalf and all you had to worry about was receiving the proceeds? I'm thinking of an earlier suggestion about donation drives and prizes, and also about the Mefi Mall and all the shops on there that could donate a portion of sales or so.

4. There's Indiegogo and Pozible (which is doing some really interesting things with crowdfunding) if you want to go the Kickstarter route with a different, more open site.
posted by divabat at 6:08 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


The donut is a preexisting condition

It's been a round for a while.
posted by dhartung at 6:08 PM on May 19 [23 favorites]


My boyfriend texted me this news midday and I didn't believe him at first -- "are you sure it's not a joke? There's no way mods got LAID OFF; you must be missing the sarcasm. You're definitely missing the sarcasm" -- only to find out he was (for once) not blatantly lying to me.

Honestly, I spend hours a day on this site, so the $15/month I can afford to pay feels like a steal. It will certainly be a bit darker without LobsterMitten, gnfti, and jessamyn, but mefi has given me so much. I joined this site as an incredibly young 19-year-old still in undergrad, and it's always served me well as I've moved through each subsequent stage of my life. Most recently, I've found myself trying to emulate the compassionate-yet-firm approach of the mods as I learn to deal with so many other people and personalities in my job. As always, I find myself grateful for metafilter teaching me how to be an adult. My boyfriend, who visits mefi probably 90% less than I do, also extends his appreciation and support.

Also, for the record -- I completely blame him for this turn of events. Last night he told me my mefi "tl;dr" shirt was falling apart and not long for this world, and I wailed "but how will people know that I metafilter?!" Nevermind that I only wear it as a sleep shirt; THIS WAS A HARBINGER. Bring back the "tl;dr" shirts so I can replace mine and I'm sure the universe will right itself once more.
posted by lilac girl at 6:10 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


Sorry to read about the financial woes! I don't post often, but I read here many times daily, including holidays. This is one of the only rooms out there with adults in it.
posted by BostonTerrier at 6:15 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I've already stated my willingness to pay a regular subscription fee to support MetaFilter, but I don't really like the idea of any public indicator that I'm a supporter. It feels like it would turn this place into too much of an us vs. them, with the thems being afforded the same level of automatic scrutiny that applied to the $5 newbs back in the day.

This is totally way out there, and maybe an awful idea, but what if supporters had access to some sort of quarterly financial report that details the site's financial health? Nothing too detailed, not showing staff salaries or anything. Just kind a breakdown of where things are.

A lot of what has been said here indicates that a bunch of folks would have ponied up at the first sign of things going south in order to avoid the three layoffs announced today. Maybe having some sort of regular indication of where things stand would help spur folks to fill the coffers during the needy times? (Because the Google algorithm will change again, or the site will get an influx of new members due to XYZ, and this is all somewhat cyclical, etc.)

I'm kind of picturing something like the signs that are posted when you enter any national forest, only the message is about the financial viability of MetaFilter in the near future. (Of course, the sign I'm picturing features Jessamyn, hand on hip, rather than Yogi Bear with a shovel.)
posted by mudpuppie at 6:17 PM on May 19 [15 favorites]


Maybe MetaProMos where people can post what are essentially their Projects, but are the sort of Projects that would typically get taken down? I know the (soft) rule is no self-promotion, but I guess I'd be interested in clicking over to MetaProMos to see if cstross has finally written the full-length A Colder War that I suggest he write if he knows what's good for him.

For me, I've spat a few fake dummies and come back a few times with a different account, so I guess somebody could talk like an asshole about animals and I can do that again. I'll certainly be as vigilant as I can about remembering to order my Amazon stuff through here if that's still a thing.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:23 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


What news.

Matt, I'm sorry that you've had this stress hanging over you. Although I don't know you in person, I feel as if I well know your integrity and the care you have for this place. I can only imagine that this was not a pleasant decision or one you took lightly. Thank you for your many years of steering this place right and letting us hang out here with you. I hope that this decision lessens the financial load and allows you to continue on for many years to come. Also, thank you for letting us know what's going on - both because the transparency of this place is one of the amazing things about it and also because I hope that you'll be able to feel the support of this community and the wider internet, that maybe you'll be able to feel like the burden is shared now, even if only in spirit.

It was such a punch in the gut to read that Jessamyn's stepping down as mod. You have without question shaped this site more than anyone except Matt and I hope and trust that the values you've helped instil here will continue long after you no longer have "staff" next to your name. Nine and a half years is a really long time for any job and I know the feeling of wanting to move on and try new things. I hope you have some awesome new opportunities on your horizon. And I know I'll try to be happy for your new beginnings, even though they come coupled with a loss to the community.

To all the mods, remaining and departing, thank you all for all you do to make this place as great as it is. It's the internet home and community for so many of us and I really appreciate that it's here.
posted by mosessis at 6:26 PM on May 19 [16 favorites]


Does PayPal give any indication to the receiver if a donation is set up as recurring versus just a one off?
posted by mosessis at 6:28 PM on May 19


This really feels like big and scary change. The world, it changes.
Many thanks to everyone for this site, especially the mods and pb.
I have donated. This place makes me a better human.
posted by Glinn at 6:32 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


What sad news. I'm happy to donate/subscribe, but will wait for a recommended solution rather than guerrilla donations.
posted by dhruva at 6:34 PM on May 19


What the hell? How does AskMe fall in the Google ranks while that goddamn askmefast.com shows up in a third of my search results?
posted by dirigibleman at 6:35 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


mosessis: "Does PayPal give any indication to the receiver if a donation is set up as recurring versus just a one off?"

I got an email from PayPal saying that I had set up a recurring donation, with amount and date and frequency. And one for the first payment of that.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:41 PM on May 19


I don't know about you folks, but I feel like this should-donators-get-stars-and-how-and-where rathole is -- although typically Metatalky -- kind of a pointless sidebar distraction right this very minute...

SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING A STAR-BEARER WOULD SAY
posted by Greg Nog at 6:44 PM on May 19 [24 favorites]


Dowager Mod, surely?

I will cut you if you try this. Emeritus? Maybe.

I was just trying to think of something with a gravitas appropriate to your place in my personal pantheon. As in "dowager empress," or Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey (or practically any other role).

Demigoddess? Guardian spirit? Grande dame?
posted by emilypdx at 6:44 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Come on, it's Muse of MetaFilter, or nothing, dammit.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:48 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]



mediareport: " The joy I've gotten from that Marcella Hazan tomato-butter-onion sauce alone is worth $60 a year, easy."

I missed this recipe originally, so I did a quick google and found it on The New York Times which includes the note:
This recipe has been revised to reflect the following corrections:
Correction: September 30, 2013
An earlier version of this recipe excluded two items from the ingredients lists.
Which is a pretty good feat for a recipe that only has 4 ingredients.
posted by nightwood at 6:50 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]


I got an email from PayPal saying that I had set up a recurring donation, with amount and date and frequency. And one for the first payment of that.

Yes, I got that as well and also see that PayPal has a "recurring authorised payments" part of their website so that us donors can view and manage this type of thing (which is good, someone up thread scared me a little bit that this would be a somewhat invisible thing in my account that just *happened* once a month with no notification!).

But what I was wondering is if Matt will get any notification. I'm thinking it could be handy for him to see what is a one-off versus a recurring monthly.
posted by mosessis at 6:51 PM on May 19


Jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane & LobsterMitten- thank you for helping make this site the best place on the web. If you're ever in my neck of the woods, lunch is on me (no expiration date).

I would definitely pay a subscription fee to help maintain the site. As someone who has enjoyed a free service for 10+ years, I believe it is long overdue.
posted by invisible ink at 6:55 PM on May 19


Just gave $50 USD. Metafilter has taught me so much about humanity, it has made me a better person. It is my online life.
Thanks to the outgoing mods for creating and maintaining this site.
posted by MT at 6:55 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I'd totally be up for a monthly contribution myself. I'm not sure how I'd feel about a star though, it would feel like I was showing off.

Mefi has been my constant companion for almost a decade now, I'd be a very unhappy camper if it went away and I'd feel very guilty if I hadn't done anything to help it.
posted by octothorpe at 6:56 PM on May 19


I just set up a recurring 15$ a month donation through the about page. You guys are worth way more than that - this is the best community on the damn web. I've learned more here than I can every pay back.
posted by supercrayon at 6:57 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I am so sorry to hear this. I live only a few stonewall-lined country roads from Jessamyn's summer place near the beach and the idea that she might be deleting my comments from there gave me a real warm and fuzzy.

Jessaymn: I hope you are moving on professionally to something just as great as MF and I am glad you will still be a presence. We need an epic IRL meetup to celebrate your contributions here!
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:58 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


down for a monthly contribution.

I'm more into an annual something-or-other (catch me at year's end), maybe to be tied into some kind of enhanced membership (two ASKS a week, two FPPs per day, the ability to easily gift a membership to a friend for Christmas or whatever) ... and I couldn't care less for a star.

haven't read the full thread, apologies if such notions have been raised already
posted by philip-random at 6:59 PM on May 19

Chalk another one up to "Google is Evil" - their corporate policy is that the only commercial operation allowed to grow and prosper on the internet is Google. I mean, if there is a pure and platonic opposite of SEO spam, it's AskMe. De-indexing those pages for any reason does a disservice to Google's users - but as has been noted, those aren't google's customers.
I am very disheartened by Metafilter's plight but I think this is a misguided assessment of the situation. While it is tempting to think of Google as the yellow pages of the internet, it's really just a frontend to Google's search index, and the systems that maintain, prune, and generate that index are constantly in flux, so it is notoriously hard to predict the outcome of a major change. I'm sure Google knows tweaking x, y, and z will boost ad impressions by 0.02%, but I would be amazed if anyone at Google spent their time running simulations of what would happen to moderated forums if they switched the algorithm then cackling nefariously while stroking a white cat. The most significant changes have been reprisals against clever SEO people who figured out a way to hack their way to the top ten results. Sadly, we are all stuck in the middle of a war between Google and the marketing tech industry.
posted by deathpanels at 7:00 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Add me to the hundreds who will miss Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane and would be happy to pay a monthly subscription fee or just throw some extra money Matt's way.
posted by angiep at 7:02 PM on May 19


I'm sure Google knows tweaking x, y, and z will boost ad impressions by 0.02%, but I would be amazed if anyone at Google spent their time running simulations of what would happen to moderated forums if they switched the algorithm

You had one job, Bob.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:03 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Seriously, PLEASE set up a Paypal tip jar, with a banner at the top of the site saying that you depend on our contributions to keep going. A lot of us will be glad to contribute!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:05 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Staying up past my bedtime to read this because I wasn't ready to read sad things until just now.

Sorry to hear about the financial difficulties and the tough decisions made. This is a special place and anything that causes it troubles is worrying.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:06 PM on May 19


I never post on Metatalk, because even if I disagree with the mods on an individual comment basis, it's always clear how hard they work to maintain our community guidelines.

I'll miss you, gnfti, lm, Jessamyn.

I'm in for a subscription.
posted by freshwater at 7:07 PM on May 19


Monthly donation ... deployed.
posted by ead at 7:11 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Wowsers. I've been a part of this site since the early days. During graduate school it provided many hours of procrastination and during the dot-com days the bumblefuck startup I worked for was trying to figure out which business model to chase after, and so I think I got paid a few thousand dollars to read Mefi back in 2000 or so.

I lost my first username somewhere along the way, I have no recollection what it was, but doesn't really matter since I was mostly a lurker, didn't post much. I didn't really start posting until 2001, but even then only sporadically. It was the great links and super-smart people that have brought me back here day after day.

So I just looked at my profile page, which I haven't touched for a while and some of my own words jumped out at me:
Like many people I have a love/hate relationship with the site. I love the intelligent folk who populate these pages and when the "filter" works there's no better place to be surprised and inspired by the web. I hate the reflexive snarks and flame wars that take place and make true dialog difficult.
I just revised that whole section, because while I may have thought those words were true once, they no longer are (and haven't been for many years). "Hate" is not something I associate with Metafilter now, and my guess is that the work of the mods has a lot to do with that. There was a time, young'uns, when trolls, flamewars and snarky snarksters roamed these woods. (In fact they may even roam inside all of us from time to time). Thanks to all of you who keep making this place the best of the web day after day. My best goes out to the three who are no longer part of the official crew. And to Mathowie, fuck SEO, man, we got your back!

Long overdue recurring payment submitted.
posted by jeremias at 7:13 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


Donated $10, will donate more if we get a drive or something on the front page!
posted by goHermGO at 7:14 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


In for $10/mo.

This is important. And not just because Metafilter is important, but because we (modern humans) need to start working out sustainable models for the things we love and need. Advertising has always been an iffy proposition (for many) from a values perspective. Direct support of the things we value is a big step in the right direction and is something I wish more organizations/companies would build in to their business plans.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:15 PM on May 19 [42 favorites]


Wow.

Thank you so much goodnewsfortheinsane, LobsterMitten and of course Jessamyn for all your work. You really made this site amazing.
posted by latkes at 7:18 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I think my financial situation is changing soon. If it works out, I'm in for paying monthly too, no recognition at all please; I like the 'Did you know X% of MeFi's budget is paid for by users? You can help too" idea, because MeFi has never ever ever been about highlighting one person over another and I worry about the haves/have-nots distinction being made.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:19 PM on May 19 [30 favorites]


the systems that maintain, prune, and generate that index are constantly in flux, so it is notoriously hard to predict the outcome of a major change.

Ah, bollocks to that. I remember the search engines of the late 90s when good stuff consistently got buried in shite, and along came a weird little site called Google which respected inbound links and I never wanted to look at Altavista again.

And now PageRank (and by extension, AdWords) serves up stewed shite more often than not. You can blame the SEO professionals who live and die by the algorithm, but to paraphrase what someone said on the Twitters, if Google's algorithms can't distinguish MetaFilter from garbage, then it's mapping out a kingdom of garbage.

I refuse to accept a HOW IS BABBY FORMED web, or a web that is a venture capitalists' Monopoly board. I refuse to accept the tyranny of five-paragraph pablum from eHow. Fuck that for a lark.
posted by holgate at 7:28 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


So sad. Have donated (If I could choose, I'd like it to be spent on cake and beers for the farewell party). I'll have a look at the fees at my end, and may set up a monthly donation.
posted by kjs4 at 7:29 PM on May 19


I'm going to subscribe, but first I have some thoughts:
I have nearly enough nicotine in my system now to filter out the autonomic gcrankiness, that arises whenever something google decides is innovative fucks all my shit right up, from a genuine response to a systemic problem that should be addressed in a calm, fully receptor saturated manner.
I, like many users, sat complacently for too long on the belief that because askme has the best answers to a nearly comprehensive set of questions, it would be pre-eminent in the search results. This alone should be pure money to both Google and Metafilter. Add to that the dialog based nature of the answers, which allow for a breadth and fullness of knowledge and ideas. This makes it invaluable to both users and the broader world. And for a good while it was... hence the staffing increases. Although the revenue position has changed, now, the fundamental value of askme hasn't budged.
Perhaps this is due to my position in the educational spectrum, but the double bonus of answering someone's question, regardless of how trivial, and funding the mefi coffers via google ad revenue was a two fold mitzvah: we can teach other people what we know, which is inherently worthy, and we can help keep our community going, at the standards we so very much enjoy.
The revenue drop is a problem caused by google, not by mefi, regardless of its antiquated site design and lack of threading, and it's very hard for me to reconcile the effect of some idiot algorithm with losing Guiding Lights of the site.
This, in addition to the demise of camino, mlkshk et al., may be a strong suggestion that the internet I grew up with is no longer, and online is not the place for me.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:29 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Count me among those who don't need or want any sort of badge or icon for donating. No stars on thars.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:30 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


I missed this recipe originally, so I did a quick google

That was your first mistake; you should have just followed the link in the AskMe comment I pointed to. The Smitten Kitchen presentation of the recipe is a delight to read as well as make and eat.
posted by mediareport at 7:31 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I've long subscribed $5 per month to another web site and was frantic til I found the link just now to donate on the blue. I think many of us would gladly do the same. I'd pay more but I'm old and much reduced. Still there's very little good in keeping my body alive without feeding my mind and spirit for which this place has all the tools. Please don't go.
posted by Anitanola at 7:32 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Another vote for opening up the call for both one-time donations and monthly subscription (with an automatically repeating payment) with no special features for subscribers. It's the right way for a community with needs to help support itself and it can't hurt.
posted by nanojath at 7:32 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Do you think we could have a banner up top with Jimmy Wales wrinkling his eyes at us?
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:33 PM on May 19 [17 favorites]


There is a sex toy shop in my town called the Smitten Kitten and every time someone posts a link to the Smitten Kitchen I'm briefly very confused.
posted by nanojath at 7:34 PM on May 19 [12 favorites]


I'm sad to see this. Thanks and best wishes for the future to Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane.

I'm in for a recurring donation. My local NPR station has recently been in its periodic fundraising mode, and as always it gradually wears my resistance down over the course of a week or so before I donate. But as soon as I saw this post I thought "Can I donate?". I hope it helps in some small way.

I'm glad it seems like there won't be any significant "super bonus pro account" stuff, or required subscriptions, that will prevent people with less financial means from contributing as much as people with more.

I'll try to lighten the mod load by trying to not be a jerk.

If ever worst comes to worst and the "We even explored selling the site to new owners" happens, please consider giving us an opportunity to wipe our personal information (email, name, etc.) from your database before that occurs.

I don't know anything about fundraising, but maybe consider something like Reddit's fairly unobtrusive "daily reddit gold goal" progress bar? They seem to often get to or near their goal (or at least the progress bar says they do).

Yahoo Answers Anecdote: I recently wanted to find out how to handle a certain statistics problem that was applicable to something I was doing. I googled, and google directed me to Yahoo Answers, wherein a user asked essentially the same question I was hoping to find the answer to. In addition to asking the question, the questioner described what they thought the answer might be, and asked if that guess was right. Now, I don't know what's right, but I know what's wrong, and the questioner's guess for the answer was very wrong. The top, and sole, Yahoo Answers answer, which was upvoted greatly, was, in full, something like "Yes, that's right."

Incidentally, I would also be up for a recurring donation to LARP Trek. And I think that's probably regardless of how long it stays on Carp Trek II: The Sass of Mom.
posted by Flunkie at 7:38 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I just set up an recurring monthly donation through paypal. Don't want nuthin' except my mods back. Only way that's gonna happen is if everyone of us who is able to afford to do so throw's a little something extra in the kitty.

Also, fuck Google.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:39 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I just donated. Where's my damn star?
posted by chrchr at 7:41 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


"Also, fuck Google."

In all fairness, blaming Google is not the answer here. It's the changing landscape of the web. People want Buzzfeed type listicles these days.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:42 PM on May 19


All non-Pro users get a star, when you pay it gets taken off.
Stars are distributed by lottery.
First star is free, each additional star is $5, no limits.
Favorites are stars now.
Like cap and trade, but for stars.
posted by gerryblog at 7:42 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]



I know we're lining up to contribute financial support (if possible), but there are also other ways to help our community and the mods.

I would also like to commit to being a good, strong member of this community: helping to rerail conversations when I can, being thoughtful, flagging and moving on as appropriate, and being more vocal in making sure this remains a safe space for women. This is not to say the mods won't be doing a fine job in that last arena, but I think that those of us who have benefited from Jessamyn's example and leadership can also pick up the slack.
posted by julen at 7:43 PM on May 19 [50 favorites]


Put me down as another member set up a monthly donation via the Paypal link at the bottom of the "About" page.

Sheesh, I subscribe to the NYTimes and the Boston Globe and pay them monthly. Gotta support Metafilter, too!

And no, I don't want a gold star or any other distinguishing characteristic in my Metafilter presence, thank you.
posted by alms at 7:50 PM on May 19


No, in fairness, fuck google. Dumbing down search returns to an anticipated want is not giving people what they're asking for.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:50 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


I now have pants on and monthly donation set up. I don't need a star, I just need to know that MetaFilter abides.
posted by arcticseal at 7:51 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


People want Buzzfeed type listicles these days.

If you're not on Google's internal search quality team or Bing's competitive analysis search quality team, it's probably best to not just make stuff up about how Google search ranking works. it's really complicated.
posted by GuyZero at 7:53 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


So it looks like there's a lot of support coming in, but I know there's a ginormous gap to fill, too.

Are we even remotely close to being able to restore the mod count, if trends continue?
posted by mochapickle at 7:56 PM on May 19


If you're not on Google's internal search quality team or Bing's competitive analysis search quality team, it's probably best to not just make stuff up about how Google search ranking works. it's really complicated.

And also, Google apparently recognizes that some of the algorithm changes it's made disproportionally harm smaller businesses. We'll see if that gossip about changes in Panda to help those smaller sites actually turns into something useful.
posted by mediareport at 7:56 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Thanks for not trying to coerce any of us into applying for a MeFi Card, where upon approval I would get 15% off a future sock puppet purchase.

In all seriousness, I echo prior comments thanking for not sugar coating this in any matter, or trying to get around it in some clearly-desperate-but-unknown-for-what fashion.

I have some other local charities that I have been contemplating regular donations to, and I will add MeFi to that list, because I'd be a liar if I thought MeFi did nothing to change my world view.

Thank you, and here's to many more years of MeFi... somehow
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:57 PM on May 19


Oh wow. Matt, I'm so sorry to hear this. Thank you for everything you and the entire staff have done over the years, and for trying so hard to avoid these layoffs.

To Jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten: Your contributions in keeping MetaFilter running so well have truly made it the rarest of gems on the Internet. I am so sorry that economics have required this decision to be made, and I hope you find other employment doing something that you love.

And to Jessamyn in particular, while I don't know you personally, I have long admired your steady presence and deft moderation. As someone whose job also involves moderating a large and sometimes fractious online community, I have learned a lot these past many years just by watching you. I have even picked up some of your vocabulary, words like "fighty," "derail," and "grar" (that last one required an explanation to my folks!), and often when I deal with a sticky situation on my own site, I imagine, "What would Jessamyn do?" (Hey, WWJD!) I have no idea if I get it right or even close, but you've had a big influence on me regardless—and, needless to say, a positive one. I wish you the very, very best.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:57 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I don't need to be employed by Google to see what the web is turning into.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:58 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Where is the Mefi Crypto Currency? What will the denomination be called? Why let doge coin have all the fun? (Note: last question is rhetorical)
posted by humanfont at 8:00 PM on May 19


Matt, have you considered accepting moderated advertising from site users?

Wasn't something like this was actually done about 10 years ago?
posted by weston at 8:01 PM on May 19


Thank you jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten for being such excellent moderators here. Matt, I'm so sorry to hear about Metafilter's financial troubles; I often think about how much this place means to me and this news only drives the point home. Count me as another who would gladly pay a subscription fee to keep this place going.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:05 PM on May 19


I don't need to be employed by Google to see what the web is turning into.

For what it's worth, and in case it wasn't clear from his first comment, GuyZero is employed by Google.
posted by mediareport at 8:06 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


That doesn't really change my comment.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 8:08 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Likely been mentioned earlier in the thread, but I think you should start to put things in place now to increase revenue. I bet quite a few users would be willing to pay a modest amount on a regular basis, or a pledge drive. Proactively doing things to build for the future is a good thing. Advertising dollars might diminish more yet.
posted by jcworth at 8:09 PM on May 19


As Matt suggested, I'm pretty sure the stars wouldn't be for us and our bragging rights; they'd be a relatively subtle way of calling attention to supporting the site financially. The alternatives would consist of various degrees of Matt asking upfront for money. It seems like the "no gold star for me, thanks" responses mean well, but might be missing the point that this site actually needs something or other, and the less obtrusive the better. It's about rewarding Metafilter, not rewarding those who contribute money.
posted by naju at 8:10 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I like how the current donation system makes things quasi-anonymous. And you can, in fact, set up your own sliding scale subscription etc.

Before this thread, I didn't even KNOW there was a way to donate. I would have a long time ago had I known.
posted by mochapickle at 8:12 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I'm looking forward to being able to flag and move on, for a change.

I don't want to change :(
posted by flag it and shut up at 8:13 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


Would people feel better if there were a "verified account" sign instead of a gold star next to their username? Any other ideas?
posted by travelwithcats at 8:14 PM on May 19


Maybe we should have to pay again to have the stars removed from thar's?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:14 PM on May 19


I'm also sorry to hear this, but encouraged by Matt's proactive and honest way of dealing with it. My deepest thanks to all the mods, but especially goodnewsfortheinsane, LobsterMitten and, of course, jessamyn. I hope you all land on your feet, and I hope you can find at least a little joy in being able to enjoy MeFi as a user, without the pressures of modhood.

I've occasionally thought about asking for an annual "State of the Filter" MetaTalk post by Matt detailing the year's technical, financial and moderation challenges, along with updates on future plans and projects. Tonight I'm wondering if having something like that over the past two years might have spurred users to set up monthly donations sooner. I'm certainly not second guessing how you have handled any of this, Matt, but I think it would be in everybody's best interest for you to give the userbase some kind of regular updates about the health of the site going forward.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:15 PM on May 19 [15 favorites]


I also didn't know there was any way to donate until now.

How about adding a tasteful message to the bottom of the page on AskMe after someone has posted a new question:
If you find Ask Metafilter useful, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to support the ongoing operation of the site.
Obnoxious fundraisers are one thing, but you shouldn't be afraid of letting people know that it is possible to donate.
posted by alms at 8:16 PM on May 19 [20 favorites]


This is really unexpected and really sad.

I wouldn't mind at all if the site started soliciting money in a more visible way. A "monthly donation target" box in the sidebar? I'd definitely give some extra in lean months if I knew things might fall short, and I think everybody who donated would be gratified to see the number increase. It would feel rewarding without having to do the gold star thing.

I wouldn't mind more ads, either.
posted by my favorite orange at 8:17 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Is reorganizing as a non-profit a potential option? I'm thinking along the lines of an online NPR.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:23 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Reddit Gold is a monthly subscription. The Gold lounge is literally a joke and a lot of posts there are "I just got gold - what now?" And "my gold is running out - see you amongst the plebes" - which is really Judy a money beg for more gold. You don't want or need one of those.
But RG does allow users to 'gild' each other's comments. You like a comment, you gild it. Reddit gets some money - not a lot, I don't think - like maybe a dollar or less - per comment, and the user who gets gilded gets an extension on their monthly gold membership.

There are users there who gild constantly. I think it's a significant revenue stream.


Just something to throw in the idea bowl.

And departing mods: you will be missed.
posted by disclaimer at 8:24 PM on May 19


Yeah, I was just thinking about Reddit Gold. Would the "Metafilter Pro" or whatever idea be more profitable for the site if users could buy a subscription for each other? Like -- if you ask a question on AskMe, and mark an answer as best, you have the option of rewarding the answerer with a Pro subscription?

Even if that's maybe not a dynamic you wanted to introduce to the Blue, I think it would make perfect sense for Ask.
posted by my favorite orange at 8:26 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


(Although limiting it to Ask might reduce the volume so much that the revenue becomes insignificant. I dunno.)
posted by my favorite orange at 8:27 PM on May 19


Wow, not only did three people just get laid off, but each one displayed amazing humility and grace in the face of losing their jobs. I've no doubt that the problem here is a much-large-than-metafilter scale one and that Matt is making the best and most responsible choices possible in a really fucked up economy and context, but I want to especially call out how amazing the metafilter employees are, even in the face of job loss.

Thank you again.
posted by latkes at 8:28 PM on May 19 [29 favorites]


I'd rather not with the comment guilding. Favorites are already enough. I think at Reddit most of those comments are puns, or perhaps some joke, or when things line up just right and someone's username matches up with the topic. I think the way it would manifest here would be some contrarian buying their own comments to set their remarks apart and make them look smart. Even if it identified you by name, the same thing happens now with favorites. I don't think this is a good path, but that's just my opinion.
posted by cashman at 8:30 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Is reorganizing as a non-profit a potential option? I'm thinking along the lines of an online NPR

Sorta like the CMF when Kuro5hin.org went bad?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 8:30 PM on May 19


Thank you Jessamyn. Your voice and direction were appreciated and respected.

$5/month donation made. Metafilter is well worth the money.
posted by saradarlin at 8:31 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


People want Buzzfeed type listicles these days.

Maybe a year or so back, I had a job interview at Buzzfeed, with their advertising department. They talked about how they were aiming for an ad/content experience that was basically seamless, so that even if you clicked on an ad, you would still be as happy with it as if you'd clicked on a purely-creative part of their site, and you wouldn't particularly feel like you'd been "tricked" into it; their ads would be as pleasant for the consumer to experience as any other bit of their site. So you might click on a list that was sponsored by Skippy, for example, that was "The Ten Best Uses For Peanut Butter", and you wouldn't care that it was a big ad for Skippy, because it was still fun to read.

"So it's mostly listicles on companies' behalfs?" I asked. "Behalves. Behalfs? Be

"Well, for now, listicles are what we're doing a lot of," they said. "But that can only last so long, and we don't really know yet what'll be the next big thing."

That's interesting for me to think about, because I'm not sure what's coming, but I definitely think it's something different than Buzzfeed's current model. Listicles are a momentarily diverting way to spend a few minutes, but there's nothing inherently HUMAN about them. Like, in a couple decades, I think people will look back at listicles as this funny kitschy little thing: a collection of facts divorced from any human emotion deeper than a sort of smirky caricature of a winking cheerfully eccentric robot professor.

At root, humans are social apes, and I think we respond most engagedly when we see other humans emote about stuff. Which I think sites like Buzzfeed will probably catch on to in a couple years, and start trying to simulate with strong, magnetic personalities. (which: it's not like this is news, celeb tabloids been doing it for years, and even really successful indie youtube stuff is based around the same concept, like that horrid Fred kid or PewDiePie or the vlogbrothers or whatevs)

SO: One of the things I find super fascinating about mefi is that this focus on strong human personalities is already the case. I go on the site, and there are people whom I find hilarious, whom I find pitiable, whom I find knowledgeable, whom I find to be fucking pricks, whom I find to be quietly understatedly beautiful, whom I find to be cornball. But some of the these personalities are static and some are constantly evolving, and some disable, and others come on to take their place, and it's this big churning mess of human drives that's utterly fascinating to see in action.

The links are good. The askme answers are good. But the SOULS are fucking WEIRD AS HELL, and that's, like, the main thing that keeps me invested in the whole place. A lot of sites are aiming at top-down dissemination of information, with each piece being authored by a Speaker who is then perused by Listeners, but mefi is very different, structurally, in that it's a huge fucking mess, which is just peachy!

Google may be momentarily devaluing mefi in a way that's decreasing site revenue, but -- assuming everything on the site doesn't start massively changing and falling apart -- I think it has way more long-term sustainability than most other sites out there, simply because a huge portion of mefi is about the people constantly getting excited and angry and joyful and glum and every other emotion that's compelling as heck to see. I think tumblr and twitter (and even, god help me, reddit) are largely compelling for the same reasons, and I'm much more likely to place longterm bets on them than on Buzzfeed-type hierarchies-of-speakers sites.

EPILOGUE anyway I didn't get the Buzzfeed job probably partly because at one point they asked me what the most interesting thing on the internet was and i started talking about this largely-trollish hikikomori on twitter and the interviewers quickly changed the subject before I could get on a really long tear about how his pedantic tweets about cum were actually some of the most compelling pieces of literature humanity is producing at the moment
posted by Greg Nog at 8:31 PM on May 19 [130 favorites]


And "my gold is running out - see you amongst the plebes" - which is really Judy a money beg for more gold. You don't want or need one of those.

metafilter: is really Judy a money beg
posted by Greg Nog at 8:33 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


I'm too sleep-deprived to give the kind of thanks to Jessamyn, gnfti, and LobsterMitten that they deserve. It's surprising how sad this is to hear. Thank you for your contributions.

This post has awakened me to the Metafilter's mortality. Disconcerting. How to bridge the revenue gap? It seems like a broad spectrum approach will be necessary, but maybe hard to pull off considering how slowly this place is wont to change.

I think it's a significant revenue stream.

Yes, gilding is a really important source of money for reddit. It's still not enough; /u/yishan has commented before to the effect that without a lot more Gold users, reddit will not be able to stop losing money. Maybe things have changed since then, but I kinda doubt it.
posted by Jpfed at 8:41 PM on May 19


sorry to hear about this and condolences all around.

matt, kudos on announcing this on a monday instead of friday.
posted by mwhybark at 8:45 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Perhaps we could allow Paphnuty to come back, for a $25,000 fee?
posted by Chrysostom at 8:50 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


I remember the search engines of the late 90s when good stuff consistently got buried in shite, and along came a weird little site called Google which respected inbound links and I never wanted to look at Altavista again.

And now PageRank (and by extension, AdWords) serves up stewed shite more often than not.


I seriously doubt that a human mind can comprehend how much the internet has changed since then.
posted by straight at 8:56 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


So many of the conversations with my lurker Mister begin "hey, did you see the post about...?"

We can't let the anything happen to MeFi -- how else will we sustain our crushes on elizardbits? -- so we're in for a monthly donation.

Departing mods, thanks bunches for all of your hard work.
posted by alynnk at 8:57 PM on May 19


Joining the chorus of lurkers to just say thanks so much to all of you who make this place so great. Those of us who don't have much to say, for whatever reason, still find immense value in the posts, the questions, the discussion. Recurring donation set up, it's well worth it and I hope it makes a difference.

I don't think I've ever seen so many unfamiliar usernames in a single thread before. That's pretty cool.
posted by wallabear at 8:58 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Well poop.
posted by bleep-blop at 9:00 PM on May 19


If only we hadn't burned our bridges with that GiveWell dude.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:00 PM on May 19 [46 favorites]


metafilter: is really Judy a money beg

Heh. Friggin autocorrupt.

Also, cashman: I've been gilded for helping people in /r/techsupport as a thank you for advice. My thinking on applying it to mefi would be along those lines.
posted by disclaimer at 9:00 PM on May 19


There is nothing on the net quite like Metafilter. It is the Craigslist of weblogs; unpretentious while also chaotic, random, and occasionally amazing.

I would pay $1/month to keep this place alive (along with how many others?)

I am sorry the three mods are losing their jobs. =(
posted by andreaazure at 9:01 PM on May 19


matt, kudos on announcing this on a monday instead of friday.

He doesn't dislike me *that* much.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:01 PM on May 19 [29 favorites]


For what it's worth, and in case it wasn't clear from his first comment, GuyZero is employed by Google.

Apropos of nothing, perhaps, it would certainly be nice to know that information before he comments in threads about Google, if those comments are taken as some kind of official statement — even one that is semi- or quasi-official.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:01 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


That doesn't really change my comment.

You're right, and I thought it was odd that GuyZero took issue with you, when you were trying to defend Google from the "Fuck Google" stuff. I just thought it was worth making explicit when someone at MeFi is employed by a company they're defending on the site.

(I kinda wish GuyZero felt the same way, actually.)
posted by mediareport at 9:04 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I am so sorry to hear this news. I totally agree with much that has been said, including:
- The awesomeness of jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane and how much they will be missed. Thank you so much for all your work.
- GregNog's comment about what makes MetaFilter such an amazing place. I could completely do without many of the other things that amuse me online because they only sometimes amuse me. Whatever I want, MetaFilter has something. Ranty involved arguments? Check. Amusing animal videos? Check. Place to ask random questions? Check. Other people's relationship/food/plant identification dilemmas? Check. Weird, amazing, interesting things I didn't know before? Check. A sense of personality and community and engagement? Check. I've gotten random presents and music and friendships out of MetaFilter. And now I am straying over into the MeTa about how MetaFilter has changed my life, but hell, it's appropriate. And sure, these things are contributed by the users just like me, but we wouldn't be able to do it if y'all weren't here providing the framework and the administration and the moderation and voices of reason behind it all. That matters.
- The regular monthly donation. I can afford it at the moment, so I have signed up for one. (Though I am embarrassed to say how long it took me to find the "Donate" link - tip for similarly dense readers: it's at the bottom of the "About" page). If you wind up giving people gold stars or elephant stamps or whatever, sure. But no worries. Happy to help.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:04 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Google may be momentarily devaluing mefi in a way that's decreasing site revenue, but -- assuming everything on the site doesn't start massively changing and falling apart -- I think it has way more long-term sustainability than most other sites out there, simply because a huge portion of mefi is about the people constantly getting excited and angry and joyful and glum and every other emotion that's compelling as heck to see.

I think this is actually a really good point. We're kind of straddling a fault line in terms of how we'll connect with people online -- like, really connect with them -- in the future. Speaking from my own experience: Even though most, but not all, of you are just letters on a screen to me, you're also real people with real personalities. Contrast that to people I follow on Twitter, who are just quips or headlines, and there's a real difference. And hasn't there been all sorts of talk lately about Facebook and Twitter being on their respective death marches?

Somewhat relevantly, I was in a faculty meeting this morning whose sole agenda consisted of a dialogue with the university's Chancellor* and Provost. "Dialogues" with the Chancellor usually end up being listen-to-the-Chancellor's-monologue, but this one actually ended up in a back and forth. And the meat of the conversation was about how incoming college students necessarily learn differently from past generations simply because of, and as a direct result of, their immersion in social media. I mean, take this as a data point -- actual university systems are having to re-evaluate how they deliver content because their userbase interacts on a fundamentally different level than a userbase from 7 years ago would have.

So I think what Metafilter has going for it, and what will sustain it, is the real-er sense of community and personal interaction that you find here, when compared to a lot of other online venues. Can you name a single other website you visit on a regular basis whose comments section you could describe -- in a positive way -- as "emotionally compelling," as Greg Nog kinda-sorta called it? I'm betting you can't. I know I can't.

I'm sure there's a solution here. Mathowie's post in no way trumpeted the end of Metafilter (though, like a lot of people, that was my limbic reaction to it this morning). And I bet that, in the end, there's a way to figure out how to find a fiscal model that allows for a salary structure that allows for the moderation that allows this community to be what it is. (That's a lot of allowances, but I think every one of them was warranted.) And, as this thread has demonstrated, there is a public will here to arrive at the means necessary to achieve that.

So, I don't know, I lift my (half-empty) wine glass, because despite whatever constraints Google's whole ad scheme implies, this could actually turn out to be the thing that makes a huge change w/r/t internet communities, and how the highly valued ones are treated as highly valued, while those built on listicles impale themselves on their low-hanging fruit listicles.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:06 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Recurring payments are set up and good to go.

Mefi has made me become a more critical thinker, a better writer and a parent with a clearer understanding of my upbringing. I'd like to think it's made me a better person. For all of this, I would like to thank you.

I spend *way* too much time here; constantly awed by the collective quick wit, compassion, smarts and the occasional smack against the side of the head lovingly offered here. I'm so glad Mr. dancinglamb was willing to share this place with me.
posted by dancinglamb at 9:08 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I've never been much of an active, contributing kinda user but I've been enough of a lurker to certainly know how unfathomably big a role the mods, especially Jessamyn, played in making this community what it is. So, thank you. Really.
posted by procrastinator at 9:11 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I seriously doubt that a human mind can comprehend how much the internet has changed since then.

Weeelll, I may be looking at superficial patterns, but that's what monkeybrains do.

Seriously: I talk to people who do smallish-scale SEO on a regular enough basis that I know all about the ongoing tweaks and gimmicks and folderol that happen on a daily basis to dance to the googlebots' tune, and I'm sure that a site which doesn't do that merry analytic-driven jig can run into problems.

But Google's raison d'être was to stop rewarding shit content; Google made its initial squillions by selling ads upon that foundation. And it's probably long past time for me personally to think that that there's ultimately a self-healing mechanism in those internet-encompassing algorithms, and instead to pay up for nice things instead of saying "this is why we can't have nice things."

I'm sure GuyZero is lovely.
posted by holgate at 9:13 PM on May 19


the rest of this thread is about greg's theories about pedantic tweets about cum
posted by shakespeherian at 9:14 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


TLDR; Too many chick books and self help journals.

Foodfight!
posted by buzzman at 9:15 PM on May 19


I think the next steps are clear. We must infiltrate GuyZero, and then, the Google.
posted by aydeejones at 9:16 PM on May 19


Nothing I say should ever be taken an an official statement of any kind. I get to see behind the curtain and thus have a different perspective, that's all. Besides, I often know less about my employer than others people do. In this particular case I know a fair bit and the best I can say is that it's all pretty complicated. I'm sure no one would be surprised that Matt works hard and always comes across as super-professional.
posted by GuyZero at 9:18 PM on May 19 [9 favorites]


I would very happily pay a monthly sum for a stupid tiny icon next to my userid. Something where for $5/m, I could pick one icon from an emoji line up and change it once a month, and for $10/m I could change my emoji as often as I liked. It would be stupidly amusing, and hopefully not too intrusive to the textfriendly layout of MF.

Or tiny little 8bit avatars! If I could be a cat with cat-eye glasses and buy tiny viking hats and so on (like habitrpg) and have a teenytiny person appear next to my userid and a clearer version on my page, man, I would be outfitting my little avatar with all the $1 hats she needs.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:18 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


When I first saw this on my phone I was scan-reading it and saw "jessamyn" and was like "here's the part where they say 'of course, jessamyn isn't going anywhere...'" which is not to say anything about anyone else, she's just such an entrenched part of MetaFilter's culture.

cortex is all like

and jessamyn is like

In my head. Everyone else will earn an assignment later
posted by aydeejones at 9:20 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn, I'm beyond sorry to see you go. You're the heart of this place. I don't know what we're supposed to do without our heart.

As for the money situation. You should be making more money off of us. I've been a paid member for nine years, and you could have charged me $5/year and I would've paid it.

To that end, Spotify charges me $10/month to access the world's music and I pay that. MetaFilter offers me an opportunity to express myself, to listen, help others, make friends, make enemies, grow up, mess up, and learn a lot more about the world I live in than I possibly could on my own.

So my datapoint is that my monthly Spotify subscription can go fuck itself, and that money could and would be redirected to MetaFilter if there is a clear plan in place to keep this place running. I can't pirate community. This is qualitatively a different and bigger deal than other "content" providing services out there vying for my money.

Mathowie, you've made the small-fee paywall work, and I would like to remind everyone that that is no small feat. I hope you aren't completely fried by the experience of running this site. It's time to raise the paywall. You've created a uniquely awesome site. Just look at how many of us have chosen to pour so much of ourselves into it. There's nothing else to say but that. I hope this is the beginning of a really good change.
posted by phaedon at 9:21 PM on May 19 [20 favorites]


Just set up a recurring donation -- everyone helping to run this excellent place are well worth it!

I really hope there's an outpouring of more resources and good will than the site's proprietors are anticipating.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 9:21 PM on May 19


Raise the paywall

Entrench the mods

The foe is yonder

Prepare the oil cauldrons
posted by aydeejones at 9:22 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


GuyZero, I think what's being said by a couple of us, anyway, is that when you comment in threads about Google, you should make clear that you work for Google. Instead, you have this habit of making a coy, slight reference that folks who already know you work for Google will get, and everyone else won't.

Just be upfront when you comment about your employer here. It's not much to ask, and respects your fellow members without making them have to dig around for the truth.
posted by mediareport at 9:23 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Techmeme thread.
posted by lalex at 9:26 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I will donate $5 a month to MeFi if you hook me up with 4chan Gold.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:30 PM on May 19


In for my $10/month, same as in town. It's just bad luck for my girlfriend that her cancer fundraising e-mail hit my inbox at the same time as I got the PayPal confirmation for the MeFi donation.*

In seriousness, thanks to Matt for the transparency with which this news was shared and the straightforwardness with which this site is run. Thanks to everyone on Team Mod for the great work they have done; both those who are unfortunately losing their jobs as well as those who will be doing more work on the same clock going forward. Everyone on the team is remarkable, although somehow Jessamyn managed to be even more remarkable than that.

But anyways, this is just the best place on the internet. I have had Swype for Android on my phone for over two years, and it learns from what you type and suggests words based on what you have already typed in. If I go to a blank text field and just click, the middle suggestion is "I". The right suggestion is "The". The left suggestion is "Metafilter".

* obviously, I will donate to her as well; if nothing else, years of AskMe have taught me that much. I may let her stew for a couple of days, though.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:30 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


So sad to see LM and gnfti go. But I'm beyond sad at the idea of MetaFilter without Jessamyn. She has played such a huge role in making this site the awesome place it is. I'm glad that Jessamyn will still be participating in the podcasts. Modding the site looks like a really hard job. If she wanted to spend a few less hours a week doing that, I could accept that, but the thought that she's stepping down almost completely is making me very sad.

I'm sad for Matt that he's been carrying this burden without our support.

Just set up a $10 recurring monthly payment.

I pay more than that now for both NY Times and my local paper. And MeFi is worth more to me than at least 10 times the two of them combined.

I really hope that the donate page is played up a lot more.

If someone wanted to look at my profile page and saw how much I was contributing, it would be okay with me, and I think it's a decent way to reward people for contributing. I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of something appearing next to their name every time they posted something, as if they were just a little more special than the other commenters.

Maybe you could make the profile page stars different levels. A red star for $3 a month, orange for $5, yellow for $10, green for $25, blue for $50, purple for $100, or whatever makes sense. Just an idea.

Right now $10 a month is all I can afford. I'm not as comfortable as I used to be, but I can promise you that when I was earning the big bucks, I would have happily contributed at either the $25 or $50 a month and considered it a bargain.

Right now, it's nonmembers see ads and members don't. I think members should have the option to turn on ads if it would help the site at all. I'd happily turn them on to help MeFi.

Please Matt let us know whatever we can do to help.

{{{{{{{Hugs for LM and gnfti}}}}}}}}}}}

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Hugs for Jessamyn}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Hugs for Matt}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Hugs for MetaFilter}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}
posted by marsha56 at 9:37 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


and jessamyn is like

I, too, have noticed her stern stance against inappropriately inlining Project Gutenberg images.
But seriously, this is a smaller version of that picture, & it does look like her.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:38 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


FWIW (via the TechMeme threa ... arti ... listi ... content unit thingy), Dan Gillmor (!) had this assessment: If you want evidence that Google algorithms are flawed, demoting MetaFilter looks pretty conclusive.

In case you don't know, Gillmor, a former Mercury News tech reporter/columnist, wrote We the Media ten (!) years ago, which covered the then-burgeoning world of blogs; an anecdote about the Kaycee Nicole saga was included.
posted by dhartung at 9:42 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Not to pile on or anything, but y'all are some fantastic mods, and I am terribly sorry to see you go.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:46 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


As someone who has burned through your bandwidth as a lurker for years, if there was a way to send more than the requisite five dollars on signup I would have. Maybe enabling the ability to pay more would be a good, but slight, step.

I will now return to lurking.
posted by cadmus at 9:47 PM on May 19


Recurring payment set up. Looking forward to my tote bag and watching my donation being spent several fold on direct mail campaigns to get me to donate more.

Seriously though, the note that I sent along with my Paypal said it all -- This place has been nearly everything to me in my adult life. Its provided support and a laugh during tough times, its been a place to celebrate, to express frustration, to get me to try new things, to stimulate my imagination, to give good advice when I am over my head. Ten bucks a month is a complete bargain.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:49 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


I'm setting up a $5 month donation through PayPal, for what little that's worth.

I can't bear to lose any aspect of MetaFilter - how can we manage without Jessamyn and LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane?

I'm just glad you explained all this while there's still time to save the boat! Will donations through PayPal help buy an anchor?

I'm going to bed with a headache.
posted by aryma at 9:52 PM on May 19


This news genuinely saddens me. Thank you, Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and GNFTI -- your endless well of patience and sincerity helped keep this community what it is.

Can I also echo the pay-what-you-can monthly subscription option? Maybe with a little, subtle progress bar on the site's financial goals like Reddit has.

Re: star -- one issue is that not everyone has the disposable income to spend on a nonessential web subscription. The star would be a reminder of that, and it makes me a bit uncomfortable. But I completely understand that we're looking for different ways of expressing appreciation to users who can contribute. Perhaps something on their user page instead?
posted by spiderskull at 9:52 PM on May 19


Dammit I pay for an Evernote account I barely use. I would happily pay a monthly fee to MetaFilter.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:03 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Yeah, like the people who got the "I'm a backtaggging superstar" note. Just a little banner on your user page, if you want it.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:04 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I've been thinking about the "Mod Emeritus" thing for a while, and it just hit me that one day soon there will be new members on the site who will have never known jessamyn and gnfti and LobsterMitten as mods. And that thought more than anything else, including the knowledge of how much the site as it currently stands will feel their loss, is utterly heartbreaking.

Remember how there used to be a line item in user profiles for the Metafilter Backtagging Superstars? I sincerely hope that our ass-kicking former mods will have a line in their profiles declaring their amazing contribution to the site, perhaps linked to a small bio blurb for each mod. Y'all are such an integral part of site history and culture that it would be an utter crime for future users to never realize how much they are benefiting from the foundations laid by mods past.

For that matter, this thread needs a metafilterhistory tag, too.
posted by Phire at 10:06 PM on May 19 [26 favorites]


Jinx, Chrysostom, sort of.
posted by Phire at 10:07 PM on May 19


922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a: "Sorta like the CMF when Kuro5hin.org went bad?"

I'm not familiar with what you're referring to (though I'm familiar with Kuro5hin), but, ah, the broad model I suggested was right there in the bit you cited—NPR. Or just generally, the notion that a media company can be set up as a not-for-profit entity.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:10 PM on May 19




bad grammar: "I'd agree with letting people pay again to get a new account as I don't have much of a posting personality and I chose my Mefi name in haste many years ago."

You can do this right now at anytime. In either a Brand New Day way or as continuation under a new name the way onefellswoop/wendell has. Just log out and then run through the signup procedure again. The only thing that is verbotten is maintaining two accounts (with exceptions for jokes and quasi anonymous askme posts) at the same time and continous rapid changes of identity. A single new account for the purposes for changing username is totally allowed.
posted by Mitheral at 10:13 PM on May 19


No, seriously, for *ten years*, every single morning I check google news first and metafilter second. And when my sons were born I skipped google news.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:15 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]


To be fair, the teenage years are the toughest... It gets better MetaFilter... Hang in there.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:17 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I remember seeing an episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (while I was in high school, no less!) in which three of the Power Rangers were returning to their home planet or something (and leaving the show). I found it mockable at the time, but now I think I know how the Power Ranger community must have felt.

You will be missed Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and good news for the insane. You did great, and I know you will continue to protect the galaxy off-screen.
posted by ignignokt at 10:18 PM on May 19


Wow. I just got laid off, too. At least I'm in good company! Best of luck to everyone, and to the site!
posted by trip and a half at 10:19 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


one day soon there will be new members on the site who will have never known jessamyn and gnfti and LobsterMitten as mods

Sad as the current situation is, this is the only upside: Ten or twenty years from now, when MeFi is still going strong and this is only a memory, we can start a cult and perform unholy ceremonies in honor of the Old Mods.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:28 PM on May 19 [25 favorites]


This hurts a lot more than I thought it ever would.

WhatsApp was valued at slightly less than the GDP of Vermont when it sold to Facebook. Twitter has 3,000 employees and no discernible business model. Google is going to buy Twitch for a billion dollars for some reason. Dr. Dre's line of fashion headphones sold to Apple for more than the cost of the Hubble Space Telescope.

...and Metafilter (which I value far more than any of these things) is being forced to downsize. Not only are we living in the darkest timeline, we surely must be living in the weirdest one as well.

It's been a rough month for the small pockets of culture that I care about... So far this month, we've lost Jessamyn, MLKSHK, and Carl Kasell.

Cancelled my Birchbox subscription, and funneled that bit of my budget into Metafilter. I care about you guys more than tiny bottles of shampoo.
posted by schmod at 10:34 PM on May 19 [60 favorites]


I just want to add my voice to the chorus thanking jessamyn, Lobster Mitten and goodnewsfortheinsane.

This is indeed a shocker and heartbreaking. It really drives home to me how much I consider Metafilter my internet home -- and have, for many years. It's been my home through so many significant life events: 4 different jobs, career changes, getting my masters degree, deaths in my family, ups and downs in my relationship with life partner, sweeping changing in gay rights that have impacted me very personally, spiritual journeys and self-discoveries, and so much more. That wonderful (and sometimes scary or enraging, depending on what's being discussed) blue (and green) screen has always been there, on a nearly daily basis. Short story: I'm working again with a coworker I last worked with four or five years ago at a different job. I recently had a browser window open to the blue and he said "Oh, I recognize that color from the last time we worked together. What's that site again?"

Best of wishes and big internet hugs to everyone. Thank you for everything. And also please count me among those who would happily pay a recurring subscription fee, but some sweet Mefi schwag, or just make a "marathon drive" donation.
posted by treepour at 10:35 PM on May 19


I've learned so much from our mods about being a better human being on the internet as well as off. I just wish I was half as good at putting it into practice. Thank you for the lessons and for all your work and care.
posted by Songdog at 10:38 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


klangklangston: "dont worry bros i made MeFiCoin just start mining should be good in no time"

We all know the official currency of MetaFilter is favorites. Perhaps matthowie should tax them!
posted by pwnguin at 10:42 PM on May 19


i'll miss your modding, jessamyn :(
posted by subbes at 10:45 PM on May 19


Now that I've read more of the thread, I see that people are doing the recurring donation thing on the About page (from the blue homepage). I had no idea that was there! Just signed up.
posted by treepour at 10:48 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


A Metafilter without Jessamyn is like a night without stars. :(
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:57 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Obviously I will miss LM and gnfti as well.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:58 PM on May 19


Jessamyn, I'm beyond sorry to see you go. You're the heart of this place. I don't know what we're supposed to do without our heart.

THIS.

...made me cry. Damn you phaedon!
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:03 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


First we lose Carl Kasell to retirement and now 3 mods! Shitty week, only uphill to go I guess.
posted by Carillon at 11:06 PM on May 19


I have been a lurker for at least 13 (probably more) years. Never signed up, out of sheer laziness, but I visit MeFi several times a day and I feel as strongly about this community as many of it's most visible members. I guarantee you that I am one of thousands who quietly rely on MF everyday. I finally did it tonight, plunked down my fiver and will certainly sign up for more. Had to do it just to make this comment. Thanks for everything, Jessamyn, LM and gnfti.
posted by butternsugar at 11:07 PM on May 19 [54 favorites]


First we lose Carl Kasell to retirement and now 3 mods!

If jessamyn is going to be named Mod Emeritus, does that mean she'll still record the outgoing message on our home answering machine as a prize?

Or maybe, going to the fundraising ideas, you could have an auction or a raffle, with the prize being that the winner could have an AskMe post deleted by jessamyn.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:17 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Heads up: I put a banner on the wiki with the Paypal link, along with a link to the right Mefi page, if you don't trust wikis. :)
posted by Pronoiac at 11:26 PM on May 19 [9 favorites]


I've been coming here almost every day since the start, I think that warrants a monthly payment. I'd do it retroactively if I were wealthy.
posted by prolific at 11:30 PM on May 19


My sympathies and best wishes for what has to be a pretty rough time in the Team Mod HQ. The fact that you can hang on to such a high-quality type as Jessamyn for ten years, and draw the equally high-quality peeps LobsterMitten and Paul (for part-time jobs at weird hours) shows that you guys have created a great work environment. I'm really sorry that the financial aspect has gotten so wobbly.
posted by gingerest at 11:45 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Change is hard and sad when it happens... but perhaps there are lighter headwinds just up ahead with a little less weight on the boat.

I would be happy to pitch in at whatever level to help get a new set of sails onto the good ship mefi to help her do many jobs that need to be done in the coming weeks, months, years - a topic for tomorrow. Today, thanks to all of you that have kept this essential and amazing corner of the web healthy and vibrant for so many years.
posted by specialk420 at 11:48 PM on May 19


MetaFilter: Where the permabanned are broken down for sale on on a dystopian organ market to keep posters in line.

MetaFilter: Where there's nothing wrong with a good long lurk.

MetaFilter: Where you die a little. In your pants.

What's not to like? I've been here a little less than a year and wondering how this place could run on a one-time 5-buck fee. And now I have my answer. It can't!

Mega thanks to the lovely departing mods and to the remaining crew, including all the other snarky punning smartsters who make this place so addictive. I'll go donate something; MeFi is way cheaper than the usual drugs of choice.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:51 PM on May 19


Oops - I should have noted that the wiki note was gingerest's idea! Thanks, gingerest!
posted by Pronoiac at 11:52 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


After thirteen plus years of lurking without an account, I figure I owe some back payments on the massive amount of bandwidth I've sucked down. Hello everybody.

and also my eyes have now been opened to the glory of THE PROFESSIONAL WHITE
posted by bonje at 11:54 PM on May 19 [53 favorites]


Just stumbling across this, haven't had much time for reading of late. So sorry that these changes are needed, and thanks to Jessamyn for being readable and reasonable all this time!

(if it were not for dire financial reasons and so on, I would have written "these are bad deletions" but, so it be. *snif*)
posted by Namlit at 12:03 AM on May 20


This is sad news. I thank the departing mods and hope the snark does not burden the remaining mods.
Remember Bob Hope's theme song? "♫ Thanks for the memory, we may have been a headache but we never were a bore", or something like that.
posted by Cranberry at 12:07 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


This is awful news and I'm so sad to hear it :(

I've read Metafilter pretty much every day since I joined in 2009... and for about a year before that too. I'd support the notion of a gold star for those who donate/ subscribe. Please let us know what we can do - I'd be really very devastated to lose Mefi :(
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 12:24 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Just to go back a little ways up the thread - I would very strongly not want to be identified as "Supporting Member!" in any way shape or form : simply because I always hate that kind of subtle booster-ism. I will support (financially and by trying not to be an asshole) as much as I can and with gladness, but I _really_ don't want to be identified as such.

Metafilter has given me way, way more than I could count and among the things it has almost always managed to surprise me with has been the almost preternatural ability to point out the morally right decision. The path that leads to the greatest good for the greatest number.

"Supporting Member! Gold Star Member! Silver Star Member! Bronze Star Member!" "Sorry, this part of the website is only for Silver Star Members and up!"

It's bad enough to be reading on a non-logged in computer and find the 'favorites' function blocked, but being blocked from sections, or - dammit - just the whole hierarchy building that comes with that kind of terminology makes my fucking teeth hurt. The absence of it here has always, I've thought, been yet another example of how MetaFilter is the best of the web.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:30 AM on May 20 [12 favorites]


I admit it. I haven't read all of this thread. I'm sure it's been said many times but I have always appreciated Jessamyn's calm, reasoned modding (and so nice) and count her among my best friends of the heart if not of the IRL. I'm sorry to lose LM and gnfti as mods but I hope we'll still hear plenty from them as MeFites.

Oh gawd I love this place. It's the best next thing to having a big family. Count me in on the monthly donation.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:43 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


It's crazy unjust that AskMe has lost search ranking when it's still the best site out there for what it does. What's supposed to be better? Yahoo Answers? Fucking Quora?
posted by evil otto at 12:44 AM on May 20 [21 favorites]


Just posting the donation link again. I just set up a recurring monthly $5 payment and I'm pretty sure it's the best thing I'll do all week!
posted by ladybird at 12:45 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


I don't want a star (I just signed up for $5 a month because really, mefi is worth it.) Looking at Slate's new structure with content limited for paid subscribers makes me feel less like going there, and I like Slate a lot. My vote for having tiny emoticons or whatever for everyone, but adding something subtle like the ability to change them as a possible perk.

I know some of the voices on mefi that contribute hugely are people who are flat-out broke, and differentiating between people who can afford to support mefi and people who can't feels against mefi's open space welcome. It would need to be something frivolous or visible only to the users themselves. So anyone who donates US$10,000 a year gets to see unicorns and rainbows on their front page but to the rest of us, their posts and comments look the same, for example.

However, I just really want a tiny damn cat in pixels.
posted by viggorlijah at 12:55 AM on May 20 [16 favorites]


m autocompletes to metafilter.com in my URL bar. And a to Ask. It's probably my most visited daily site.

In for a recurring donation.
posted by katrielalex at 1:09 AM on May 20 [7 favorites]


Many thanks to mods. Would happily contribute or help in any way,
posted by claptrap at 1:17 AM on May 20


"Supporting Member! Gold Star Member! Silver Star Member! Bronze Star Member!" "Sorry, this part of the website is only for Silver Star Members and up!"

It's bad enough to be reading on a non-logged in computer and find the 'favorites' function blocked, but being blocked from sections, or - dammit - just the whole hierarchy building that comes with that kind of terminology makes my fucking teeth hurt.
\

There is precisely zero chance, I'm pretty confident in saying, that that will ever happen as long as Matt owns the site which, given his comment about seeking purchasers in his initial post, and which I'm pleasantly surprised nobody has gotten all exercised over, may not be forever, it must be said, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:19 AM on May 20 [6 favorites]


My goodness...this is sad news. mathowie, thanks for being so forthcoming about what must have been a really tough decision to make. jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane, count me in as appreciating all of your hard work. I'll miss your powers on the mod team and sincerely wish you all the best with whatever you have planned next.

jessamyn, I remember when it was just you and mathowie doing the moderating, and I think we are so, so fortunate that you've been active in a mod capacity in one way or another for nearly 10 years! That is a fantastic streak. MeFi wouldn't be MeFi without you, and I'm glad you're going to remain on the podcast, because who else will remind everyone to properly attribute posts with usernames? :)

I've always been more of an occasional commenter and, although I haven't participated nearly as much as I would like because of other life stuff going on recently, I still try to lurk and catch up on threads when I can...and I couldn't let this post go without saying something. I've set up a recurring donation because MeFi has become such an important part of my life and has changed it in so many ways for the better. A large part of that change, I think, is because of the way MeFi has been moderated. As others have said -- if I find myself in a challenging situation (especially in the middle of a disagreement, or if someone is being a jerk), I try to imagine what the mods would do, or what they might advise, and I always find it helpful.

As someone who's always struggled with finding the right thing to say at the right time, I've learned so much over the past decade+ just from reading the mod comments throughout the site and on MetaTalk, let alone the wealth of information from AskMe and MeFi posts. Thanks to all the mods, past and present, and I promise to FIAMO.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 1:27 AM on May 20


Thank you, Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane. And all the mods who choose to champion House Metafilter!
posted by zaelic at 1:29 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


This was shocking news to read when I first woke up this morning and reached for the iPad handily placed next to my head (it's a sad little life but I admit that one of the first things I do is read Metafilter when I wake up) but this thread is making me feel better.

I'm not alone in my addiction!

I am poor and getting poorer every year, it seems, but I will also gladly set up a monthly donation when I'm capable of doing so because I can't bear the thought of being without this site which has taught me so very very very much.
posted by h00py at 1:50 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


OK, how about this? If enough of us donate, jessamyn gets her star back.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:12 AM on May 20 [17 favorites]


This is pretty much the only website I like. The tremendous skill of the moderators and the culture that they have built make this place interesting every damn day. Especially Jessamyn. I agree with cribcage, her moderation has changed how I understand moderation. Thank you!
posted by abecedarium radiolarium at 2:22 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Thanks to those who posted the paypal link - I learned A New Thing Today which is how to set up a recurring donation.
posted by greenish at 2:26 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Anybody know if the recurring donation will work with a credit card? I get the feeling I am Doing It Wrong, none of the e-mails PP has sent me mentions a recurring donation.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:30 AM on May 20


Oof. Best of luck to the departing mods in whatever you've got lined up next, and thanks for all the good modding.

I'm in for a fiver a month, anyway.

OK, how about this? If enough of us donate, jessamyn gets her star back.

I think it would be lovely if jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane were all awarded lifetime gold stars for services to MeFi. Perhaps, for jessamyn, a tiny golden sex chicken.
posted by jack_mo at 2:31 AM on May 20 [12 favorites]


Will use the donate link stat. I am a mostly-lurker but this site has over the years made me wiser and more open, much more than my occasional contributions would suggest.

Many, many thanks to jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane.
posted by ianK at 2:43 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Very sorry about this news. I've got so much more than my $5 out of this site over the years.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:46 AM on May 20


I've learned an enormous amount from metafilter over the years. It's been a tremendously valuable place for me. I'd also be happy with a subscription option - and am happy to kick in $5 a month (although there have been times in my life when I couldn't afford this and think it should be optional).
posted by Gilgongo at 2:50 AM on May 20


Happy to subscribe. This sucks.
posted by flippant at 2:54 AM on May 20


I wish I'd dropped in a quick one-liner when I saw this post when it had only one comment yesterday, just before I left work, because catching up on 400, no, 600, no, 900 comments while gathering my thoughts has raised the bar of what seems worth adding...

As a whiskery old-timer I remember Metafilter before the mods, and while it wasn't a dystopian nightmare (and that was in fact when so much of what we know and love about the site was forged), it did have its exasperations. When I read some of the reactions on other sites to this news, like the comments at Hacker News, and see people there saying that they left Mefi years ago because it was too fighty, I get what they mean - I scaled back my visits for a few years in the mid-'00s - but can also see (because I eventually scaled back up) that they missed out on the difference that the mod team has made: the place is more civilised now, keeping most of the best of the old Mefi and losing much of the worst. So, enormous credit and respect to LM, gnfti and Jessamyn - not to mention the mods who remain - for helping that happen. I'm confident that the more civilised culture you have helped shape here will persist; after all, I'd never have called the pre-mod Mefi un-civilised, just a bit rowdier than it is now.

As for the bigger picture, that 40% drop in ad revenue is a shock, although in hindsight it makes sense, because that's when a lot of blogs dropped off Google's radar. As oneswellfoop said, this suggests that Google is broken more than Metafilter, but we're living in Google's world, and their changes to PageRank along with the recent FCC/net neutrality developments mean that the web we love is facing a grim time. We can try and stave off the end as long as we can, though, and maybe that will carry us through to a time when things get better again.

I remember sending Mefi a donation back when the paid accounts started, and will again as soon as I've posted this. I hadn't seen any need in recent years because the growth of the paid mod team suggested that ad revenue was healthy enough for the site not to need extra donations. So to echo others here: thanks for giving it to us straight, Matt, and never be shy about passing around the hat.
posted by rory at 3:05 AM on May 20 [29 favorites]


Echoing how hard it is for me to imagine mefi without jessamyn as a mod.
Best of everything to all the mods.

I'm canceling a few subscriptions to channel that to mefi - I easily got more than my $5 initial investment - this is truly my home on the internet, and although it is bad news, I'm more than happy to contribute.
posted by motdiem2 at 3:09 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I'm good for a fiver every 90 days. Just sayin'.
posted by evil_esto at 3:45 AM on May 20


I don't post that much, but I like to joke that my degree is from the University of Metafilter. Countless times I've drawn inspiration from threads and comments here - even my choice of topic for the thesis I'm writing this year was inspired in part by this comment from codacorolla. AskMe is a fantastic resource and if nothing else it's sometimes a really reassuring reminder of the commonality of human experience.

I didn't know until today that there was a donation option, I've kicked in $20 and would happily do a monthly subscription thing except that (probably irrationally) I don't really trust the PayPal recurring thing, so I'll probably just set up a reminder on my calendar to donate each month.
posted by lwb at 3:51 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Thank you for all the gold-standard great modding, LobsterMitten, goodnewsfortheinsane, and, most especially, Jessamyn. The silver lining of course is that you'll all still be around as part of the Metafilter community.

And, mathowie, please feel free to consider paying options—this is the best $5 I have ever spent online, and I'd gladly spend more. In the meantime, I'm going to buy a couple of t-shirts.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:54 AM on May 20


well that was actually really easy; I followed the link at the bottom of the page.

Metafilter: now you're getting the 'Princely' sum of AUD 1.12 a month from me. (It's outback dollars so it goes up and down with the price of bauxite).
posted by evil_esto at 4:08 AM on May 20


Now that the word is out and the hat is being passed around, how much of dent has this made in Mefi's operating deficit?
posted by dr_dank at 4:09 AM on May 20


Ten or twenty years from now, when MeFi is still going strong and this is only a memory, we can start a cult and perform unholy ceremonies in honor of the Old Mods.

I can't wait for the schisms and purges around standing vs. sitting and Meffie vs. MeeFie!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:13 AM on May 20


I know it's not really our place to be prying into the site's financials, but mathowie, do you think you could give us an update (either in this thread or in a new one) in a couple of days time as to how the fundraising is going? From reading the comments here, it sounds like a lot of folks are converting to paid memberships, and I'd like to know if that puts us 5%, 25%, or 90% of the way to covering another paid moderator position. For me, at least, if you let it be known that you're 90% of the way there, I'm willing to raid the beer-money fund to help push you over the top.
posted by Mayor West at 4:23 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


This gave me a hell of a scare last night, I don't know what I'd do if MetaFilter went away. I guess "you don't know what you've got till it's gone".

I'm predominately a lurker, but I've been here almost daily since 2005, and to think I only ever paid $5 and the cost of a t shirt is madness. I've gone in for $5/month (only £3!) which is still nothing for all this site has given me. It's the least I can do. I haven't read all the comments but it's clear that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I'm all the more delighted with the way Mathowie and the team have approached this, I really was fearing the worst. It's sad to lose such excellent moderators but I hope seeing just how serious things are will get enough of us "subscribing" to keep the wolf from the door.

I hate that something so special can become threatened by something so petty. But I feel heartened that so many people still care enough to protect it.

It might not be a business-sensible solution, but if all it takes to balance the books is the regular and voluntary donations of those who are more than happy to become patrons of the site, then so be it. Market forces be damned!
posted by Acey at 4:26 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Late to this thread and haven't read the whole thing, but yes, this news feels devastating. Jessamyn's 10 years have done so much not just to corral discussions on metafilter but to set the tone of the community, and I've often wondered how it's humanly possible to be patient, tough, and friendly on such a consistent basis.

I echo someone's comment upthread that the interplay between jessamyn's modding and cortex's has been an amazing asset to the site. It's hard to imagine metafilter without that.

LobsterMitten, jessamyn, and gnfti, ALL the best to you.
posted by torticat at 4:35 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


First of all, my best to LobsterMitten, jessamyn, and gnfti while I lurk as much as I post you guys are an important and valued part of why I do both.

Second, although I found (and used) the ability to do a one time donate via paypal by googling (the irony ughh) I don't really see an option to do a reoccurring donation/membership and see nothing at the bottom of the page. Am I crazy or is there something I'm missing? Because I would really like to support the blue (and the green and the gray etc.) as much as possible here.
posted by sendai sleep master at 4:50 AM on May 20


Dr Dracator: Anybody know if the recurring donation will work with a credit card?

I set up a recurring donation last night with a credit card. I've gotten four e-mails from PayPal.

The subject lines of the four e-mails read:

1) You set up an automatic payment profile to MetaFilter

2) Receipt for your donation to Metafilter

3) You sent an automatic payment of $10.00 USD to MetaFilter

4) You sent a payment

I used a credit card only. I did not sign into PayPal.

Hope that helps.
posted by marsha56 at 4:54 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Would also happily subscribe for $10/year or so. No requirement for special feature like a theme tune that plays when I enter a thread or something.
posted by larkery at 4:54 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


HERE Donation link at the bottom of the about mefi page

There is a box you can check on the paypal site that says "Make This Recurring (Monthly)".
posted by travelwithcats at 4:58 AM on May 20


I just canceled my subscription to the New York Times (which was just once a week for the crossword puzzle, anyway) and set up a monthly donation. I ❤ MeFi.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:11 AM on May 20 [9 favorites]


$10/month recurring donation from me. I pay that much to read WaPo - Metafilter is worth at least that. Lurking on the Green helped me through a rough time in my life.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:12 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Yep, I definitely just set up my paypal to toss $24 a year ($2 a month) at mefi. If I manage a proper income that will increase. I have big plans for lots of vital askmes in the next few months; the dystopian alternate universe where askme becomes an unmoderated wilderness must be prevented! I need askme as much as I need my morning tea - and that's way more than $2 a month.

I haven't read the mazillion previous comments so maybe this has already been mentioned, but perhaps during whatever month the Best Post Contest happens there could be a concurrent mefite-driven donation push? I know I was talking about this post with my friend who doesn't have an account earlier today, and he immediately said he'd like to give money to mefi, regardless of his not having an account. I know during the Best Post Contest months those posts often get linked around other places online; maybe a dedicated donation page so it's easy for lurkers to find and mefites to link to would be useful.
posted by Mizu at 5:14 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


The subject lines of the four e-mails read:

Nope, didn't get 1 and 3, just 2 and 4. Possibly has to do with the fact that I am not in the US or something like that. I'll just do a bigger one-time donation, hopefully matt will soon set up some more convenient scheme to bring the money in (I'm thinking wheelbarrows and burlap sacks).

In the meantime, I will vent my frustration by buying some shirts.
posted by Dr Dracator at 5:15 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


LobsterMitten, jessamyn, and gnfti, thank you. You (and all the mods) really have made MeFi the one place on the internet that has comments whitelisted by default on my browser. Wishing you all the best.

There's a recurrent $5 donation heading from me to mefi now.
posted by halcyonday at 5:22 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I just set up a recurring $5 donation. Hope it helps!
posted by cider at 5:28 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Possibly has to do with the fact that I am not in the US or something like that.

My one-time payment only had the emails for 2 and 4. I'm in the US. I think you're set.
posted by mochapickle at 5:29 AM on May 20


I have an automatic $25 going onto a starbucks card every month. I don't even like starbucks coffee that much, but I have a couple of meetings set up every month that take me there.

Yeah, mefi's more important.
posted by gaspode at 5:36 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


Metafilter is my online home too even if I do spend most of my time sulking in my as it were bedroom. All my thanks to LobsterMitten, gnfti, and Jessamyn. And $$ on their way from me. I'm happy to contribute regularly.
posted by firstdrop at 5:38 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


You know who else made people wear stars?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:40 AM on May 20 [13 favorites]


From Matt's twitter: Highlights of the day: donations in the amount of $4.20, $6.66, and a donation memo field of LOLBUTTS
posted by rtha at 5:45 AM on May 20 [29 favorites]


I'm in for another 5 bucks a month. I can drink less at meetups.

Seriously though this site means a lot to me and the departing mods have a lot of my respect and well wishes.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 5:46 AM on May 20


I tried to set up a recurring donation, but as soon as I clicked the "make this recurring" checkbox, the page reloaded and the checkbox was gone (and the input field for the amount had turned into un-editable text). I continued by logging into my PayPal account anyway, and sent the payment, but it doesn't look like it ended up being recurring. I only got the two emails, not the four, and it doesn't show up on my recurring payments page. Anyone else run into this, or figure out a way around it?
posted by Emanuel at 5:51 AM on May 20


Chipped in my fiver a month as well. Mefi is worth ten times more than that to me, but it's what I can afford right now.

Being a librarian, Jessamyn has always been something between a celebrity idol and patron saint to me (I started following Mefi around the same time I joined the library). I am really sad to see her go, but glad that she still will be a part of the community.

Kudos too to the other mods who are staying and who are leaving. I always overlook how much work and effort it takes to keep this place going and going so well. Thank you. All of you have literally changed my life, and I am grateful to you for that.
posted by Alnedra at 5:53 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I've just signed up a friend. The first person I've ever invited to join this site. I trust him to fit in with aplomb. And I know you'll all be everything I told him you would be.

Jessamyn, I'm devastated for me that you're leaving. And really sad for the whole crew. But I have no doubt you will be a brilliant success at whatever you do. Thank you every one of you for what you've made here. It wouldn't be what it is without each individual secret ingredient you all bring. Big love to you all, past, present and future.
posted by taff at 5:53 AM on May 20


Honestly, I don't think I've even processed what losing the outgoing mods means. I need a hug. Everyone needs a hug.

I am way too invested in this place. Every time I hear about an interesting news story, I think "I wonder what people on Metafilter are going to have to say about this." I read Metafilter in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. Sometimes I can't sleep because of things I've read on Metafilter. You guys are amazing and you run an amazing community and I'm so grateful for everything that the mods, departing and continuing, do here.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:58 AM on May 20 [16 favorites]


It just felt *really* good to contribute to Metafilter again. 10 years for $5 is a bit too cheap.

As to ongoing contributions, how about if everytime someone votes #1 quidnunc kid, $1 is donated to the metafilter operations fun.
posted by DigDoug at 6:00 AM on May 20


You know who else made people wear stars?

Your kindergarten teacher?
posted by edgeways at 6:13 AM on May 20 [18 favorites]


I suspect I also have failed in my attempt at recurring payment by logging into paypal. I'm going to wait a little before I fiddle with it again because I think by now Matt is seeing that there are a lot of people who don't want to donate to Metafilter but rather offer their support on an ongoing basis. I know I would rather do it in the most profit effective way possible. I need what I get from this site in my life and that's not something I can say about any of the other online spaces where I've been more actively involved for longer periods.

I would really like a sidebar or something that says "Metafilter is X% community supported" and with info about how to help. That would give me some personal warm fuzzies, while advertising the possibility to help financially. Ideally that page would have some other ways to help like the Amazon referrer and behavoural assistance like FIMO which really is also a way to save modmoney. A couple of people have shared that they aren't in a position to contribute financially, it would be great to hear if a general sidebar information like that would feel ok or if it would feel weird.
posted by Iteki at 6:27 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


I'm in for a few bucks a month. I don't contribute very much, but it's a rare day that goes by without checking in to see what's up. It's like a neverending cocktail party full of all the best people. When Avocet tweeted that something was up, I feared the very worst. I'm glad that the site is still standing, but sad to learn that it's struggling.

I do wonder if there is some way to leverage the amazing content here into something that generates more dollars for the site. Off the top of my head:

1. Volunteers could generate hundreds of high-quality 'listicles' out of AskMe content. Put them up on a 'glossier' subsite and maybe the google gods will start smiling again.

2. Maybe a more muggle-friendly design for non-members could help to improve AskMe's perceived value and/or encourage those readers to stick around and click ads.

3. Could all the various product recommendations that have been made be mined to construct something like Wirecutter? Even just decent Amazon book recommendations would be valuable to me, and might bring in some extra referral dollars.

4. Bring back the bespoke textads for logged-in members.

5. Charge a nominal fee for Project posts.

Anyway, just ideas, they may not be practical or may screw with the site dynamic too much. There's just gotta be a way.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:31 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Thank you Jessamyn, Lobster Mitten and Good News for the Insane. MeFi's really improved over the years thanks to all of the mods and you will be missed.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:33 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


I am mostly a lurker here, but I love this community. I have learned so much from the Green, the Blue, even the Grey at times. All of you mods are incredible, I am constantly amazed at what always seems like the perfect amount of "justice" for jerks. Jessamyn, gnfti and LM, you will be missed! This site is definitely worth a regular contribution of some sort, so count me in. Thank you all!
posted by foxhat10 at 6:35 AM on May 20


You know who else made people wear stars?

The sheriff? The marshal? The military? The Dallas Cowboys?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:39 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Why can't the golden afternoon last forever? At least here I can do something to prolong it...
Thank you Jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane - and all the other mods. I feel welcome here in a big part thanks to your efforts.
posted by hat_eater at 6:39 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I hate automated recurring payments with the passion of a thousand burning suns, but just signed up for $5/month. Worth it.

posted by mrbill


People, listen up! This comment is notable in that mrbill runs a set of mailing lists that are themselves standouts for their civility, sharing culture, and long life. When he praises the MeFi community, those are words that mean something.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:41 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


I'm in for $100 a year once there is a non-paypal option, and even though I'm trying to wean myself away from spending too much time here, and even though I'm one of the grumpy old guys who thinks MeFi ain't what it used to be, what with all these kids on my damn lawn.

Is there an address to which we could send an old fashioned check? Some of us might prefer that option, and then Matt gets the full amount pledged. PayPal is evil in so many ways.

This is distressing news. I wish the departing crew the very best and thank them for their service.
posted by spitbull at 6:44 AM on May 20 [6 favorites]


sevenyearlurk: "I do wonder if there is some way to leverage the amazing content here into something that generates more dollars for the site. Off the top of my head:

1. Volunteers could generate hundreds of high-quality 'listicles' out of AskMe content. Put them up on a 'glossier' subsite and maybe the google gods will start smiling again.


It might not take much effort to do, either. After all, that's sort of what Best Of is. It doesn't present info in "listicle" format, but it's a separate subsite dedicated to highlighting cool things that appear on MeFi. Questions and Answers and interesting comments. It probably wouldn't be too much of a stretch to tweak the format to highlight more content more often. Say, the Best Of the Week / Month in a way that is more appealing to Google.

2. Maybe a more muggle-friendly design for non-members could help to improve AskMe's perceived value and/or encourage those readers to stick around and click ads.

The interface is pretty pared down. What were you envisioning?

3. Could all the various product recommendations that have been made be mined to construct something like Wirecutter? Even just decent Amazon book recommendations would be valuable to me, and might bring in some extra referral dollars.

Love this idea. And with MeFi Labs, some of the datagathering has already been done.
posted by zarq at 6:45 AM on May 20


butternsugar: "I have been a lurker for at least 13 (probably more) years. Never signed up, out of sheer laziness, but I visit MeFi several times a day and I feel as strongly about this community as many of it's most visible members. I guarantee you that I am one of thousands who quietly rely on MF everyday. I finally did it tonight, plunked down my fiver and will certainly sign up for more. Had to do it just to make this comment. Thanks for everything, Jessamyn, LM and gnfti."

User 200526. We broke 200000 finally! This was just a signup drive!!!
HAHAHA GOOD ONE MATT!
posted by Big_B at 6:47 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Are Jacob G's suggestions valid as ways to improve page ranking?
posted by Chrysostom at 6:47 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Jessamyn said that was one of the funner aspects of it and would be sticking around for future episodes.

You should make her Emeritus Moderator, thereby legitimizing her ongoing podcasting involvement.

Good luck to all the outgoing staff.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:48 AM on May 20


In for $5 a month!

Really, nothing I can say that hasn't already been said. Sad that this has come to pass; struggling to think what "Metafilter without Jessamyn" really means, but moved by this outpouring of emotional and financial support.

Best. Web. Community. Ever!
posted by Frayed Knot at 6:49 AM on May 20


Is there an address to which we could send an old fashioned check?

From an earlier comment, buried somewhere up-thread:

MetaFilter Network Inc.
1271 NE Hwy 99W #109
McMinnville, OR 97128
posted by Room 641-A at 6:50 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


Grabbed from upthread:

Here's the info to send a check:

MetaFilter Network Inc.
1271 NE Hwy 99W #109
McMinnville, OR 97128
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 6:50 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Aw, I has a sad now. I will miss those lovely mods but am glad they will still be around as community members.
posted by Kitteh at 6:52 AM on May 20


From an earlier comment, buried somewhere up-thread:
posted by Room 641-A at 6:50 AM

Grabbed from upthread:
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 6:50 AM


Not just a jinx, but a jinx with one of my best Glitch friends, who I met through the MeFi Glitch group. MeFi, you are the best.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:57 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Matt, could you edit this post to add the donation link? Vox populi, vox dei ;)
posted by ersatz at 7:01 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


*ponders financial impact of donating $5 for every deleted comment*
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:03 AM on May 20 [7 favorites]


In the interests of making moderation easier all around, while still assisting Metafilter financially, I am going to create a "Metafilter curse fighty jar" and keep it on my desk. Every time I find myself being fighty rather than talky, I'm going to drop a quarter into it. At the end of every month (or quarter, depending on how the jar's going) I will donate whatever is in there to Metafilter. This should have the result of both giving initially more than a recurring donation, but hopefully disincentivizing fightiness to the point that moderation will be slightly easier.
posted by corb at 7:07 AM on May 20 [31 favorites]


Well that stinks! I'd be willing to go to an annual membership model or somesuch if it meant the difference between keeping the site vital and watching it dry up.
posted by Mister_A at 7:07 AM on May 20


I think this thread may include first successful de-Godwin-ing in the history of the internet.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:09 AM on May 20 [17 favorites]


1000 comments! I love this place!
posted by Sophie1 at 7:13 AM on May 20


So, I've been playing some iOS and android games, and based on that I have a brilliant idea*. Favourites as currency. You get favourites, you can give out favourites. You can only give out as many as you have. Now, (here's the brilliant app-inspired part!): If you don't have enough favourites to give out, you can BUY more! You can even buy them to a specific comment or post, so they look like real favourites.

This will be the next big thing. Favourites will be hotter than facebook-farmed pumpkins. I just know it.

*OK, perhaps brilliant is not the right word. The word I'm looking for is basically a blend of evil, unworkable, a terrible idea but sure to generate lots of money. Maybe I'll post an ask-me looking for the right word.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:14 AM on May 20


1001 Metafilterian Nights.
posted by The Whelk at 7:15 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


I want to thank Jessamyn, LM and gnfti for the amazing job they do here! You will be missed!
posted by marimeko at 7:16 AM on May 20


Either my deep-seated sentimentality or my conspicuous pedantry compells me to point out we're not going to miss goodnewsfortheinsane, LobsterMitten and Jessamyn.

What we're going to miss is their dedicated and terrific moderation. They were members of the MeFi community before they were mods, and they will remain members after the 31st of this month.

Speaking of the 31st, how about throwing them a virtual thank-you party, since a going-away one wouldn't be applicable? (It could double as a fundraiser...)
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:17 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Well, that's kind of a god damn shame. This site pisses me off all the damn time, but I still love it. And in particular who doesn't love jessamyn? That lady is the best.
posted by chunking express at 7:18 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


if someone who has donated then makes a post that gets deleted, their gold star should be changed to this
posted by desjardins at 7:18 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


You know who else made people wear stars?

That bastard with the Sneetches?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:19 AM on May 20 [9 favorites]


stavrosthewonderchicken: given [Matt's] comment about seeking purchasers in his initial post, and which I'm pleasantly surprised nobody has gotten all exercised over, may not be forever, it must be said, though.

Oof, I totally missed that. Matt (or anyone else), could you share the potential candidates to buy out MetaFilter?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:20 AM on May 20


MisantropicPainforest: You know who else made people wear stars?

cjorgensen: That bastard with the Sneetches?

Sylvester McMonkey McBean didn't make any Sneetches get stars, he was just tapping into the latent economy for tattoos and tattoo removals. It was those jerks, the star-bellied Sneetches who started the whole "we're better than you, with our green stars on our bellies" and whatnot.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:23 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Dammit! Now my joke is ruined!

We could always Oopen the site up to "sponsored posts" like twitter or Facebook and watch the money roll in!

(I kid! I kid!)

I am curious how much Matt has raised in the last day in the face of saying multiple times he wasn't looking for donations and cortex telling people this wasn't the method of support they are looking for. Imagine how much could be raised if it was actually done in a coordinated method?

There's no way I'd pay on a monthly basis, but I'd kick in toward an annual fundraiser (if there was one). I'd also pay for memberships for those who can't afford one.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:24 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


...made me cry. Damn you phaedon!

I've had a really emotional couple of months with family loss and for some reason this feels very similar.. so let me double-down on the crying by suggesting we make this our donation song.
posted by phaedon at 7:25 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


I just set up a recurring payment. I think that a more obvious, formal subscription mechanism is probably a good idea, but I am 100% against having different features for one-time and recurrent payers. What if people on a subscription just got a gold star that only they could see on their profile page or next to their name? If it went away it could be a good reminder to renew.

Also, many thanks to Jessamyn for her great work on the site, and to LM and gnfti as well.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:26 AM on May 20


zarq: 2. Maybe a more muggle-friendly design for non-members could help to improve AskMe's perceived value and/or encourage those readers to stick around and click ads.

The interface is pretty pared down. What were you envisioning?


I'm probably the last person in the room who should be weighing in on aesthetics, but "less craigslist, more Apple" would be the lazy answer. Basically I think that the pared-down, wall-of-text design is a bit offputting for casual seekers of answers. I realize that I am coming perilously close to advocating for a "professional white background" here... again, I'm only suggesting this for non-logged-in users. Frankly, if comic sans and pictures of kittens is what it takes to bring in the ad dollars, I say do it!
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:28 AM on May 20


Totally stinks. Best to the departing mods. Thanks to Matt and the staff for handling this so professionally. I've gotten immeasurable value from Metafilter over the years, and the tone of the site is why I keep reading.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:28 AM on May 20


Also, is there a way we can give gift memberships? Like, "I've paid for your account! Come to Metafilter!"
posted by corb at 7:29 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Yeah, gift memberships already exist.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:31 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I mostly just lurk around here, too, but Metafilter’s one of my favorite things about the internet, which itself is one of my favorite things about, you know, the times in which we’re living. I hate change, I’m scared of change, but god the community’s response to this has been encouraging. Thanks to the departing mods, and the remaining mods, and to everyone around here who keeps this place going.
posted by buriedpaul at 7:31 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Frankly, if comic sans and pictures of kittens is what it takes to bring in the ad dollars, I say do it!

cute.metafilter.com

But no babies allowed, ok?
posted by Jacqueline at 7:32 AM on May 20


What do you need? Can you get a page setup with funding requirements? I'd be happy to donate a little where it would help the most.
posted by rnernento at 7:38 AM on May 20


Jeez, that's a long thread. This situation sucks, but it's amazing how many people there are who are so enthusiastic to step up and help out.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:41 AM on May 20


Having read some of the thread, I think the two best ideas for increasing revenue are formal subscriptions, albeit without any visible or functional benefits over nonsubscribed users, and more tshirts.

As onefellswoop said, we have an abundance of both funny taglines and clever designers. What is we had a monthly (or every two months) tshirt design contest where the winner got put up in the Topatoco store? I don't know if we could guarantee enough volume to meet Topatoco's minimums, but if we can't we could use something like this where there are no minimums.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:42 AM on May 20 [8 favorites]


Jessamyn, will you come back if the financial situation changes? Just wondering how depressed to be.
posted by HotToddy at 7:46 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


I too have signed up for a donation.

Mods, retiring and continuing, thanks for everything that you do.

ocherdraco, if you ever need a NYT crossword, let me know.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:47 AM on May 20


I offered to buy this place, but Matt didn't like my plan to blow out the kitchen wall and make an open floor plan. Dude is such a snob.
posted by Think_Long at 7:48 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


How about an extra server. . .those contributing over a set amount per month get faster screen-load times. . .




jk
posted by Danf at 7:50 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn, will you come back if the financial situation changes? Just wondering how depressed to be.

I've got another gig, a small one, that I just wrote about in a separate MeTa post. But I'll still be around here being me, promise.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:54 AM on May 20 [21 favorites]


Wow - I had no idea there were such severe money problems here at Metafilter.

Thank you so much to all the mods for helping to keep this place wonderful.

I don't know how much it will help, but I'll sign up for a monthly subscription when I get home. I think I owe it to Metafilter for giving me so much over the years for free.
posted by Julnyes at 7:56 AM on May 20


I had a visceral reaction to the thought of a not-entirely-healthy metafilter. I don't know how I would have coped with certain segments of the last 15 years in the absence of this site and community. I've already made a donation, but I'd happily pay any sort of subscription fee or what have you in order to ensure the well-being of the site.

Multitudes of gratitude for all that you mods do... please don't hesitate to ask for help.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:03 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


phaedon: " I can't pirate community."

This. This is the future of the internet.
posted by chavenet at 8:14 AM on May 20 [21 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: At the very least, can we at least buy Jessamyn a ticket to the tuba museum?

More bad news.
posted by Jahaza at 8:15 AM on May 20


More bad news.

I know! The good news is that when I was just in upstate Michigan at a library conference, I got to reconnect with one of my librarian friends who showed me the Tuba Museum in the first place and we got to reminisce about it even if we couldn't go there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:24 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


I would strongly support a "monetized favorites" system like reddit's gold system, which is basically just that.

It works. It encourages better comments. I get "gilded" there on the regular, and it actually helps pay for reddit's upkeep, since it barely has any ads itself. (Stealth SEO monetization conspiracy theories aside.)

Point is is that it's a constructive feedback loop where people can show appreciation for a post or comment and the infrastructure that made it possible.

So, consider a superfavorite that can be purchased to denote a good post or comment. It doesn't even need to confer extra benefits, just a star on the post or comment.

Granted, I like collecting shiny things and having my ego stroked, but it would be great if some of my comments actually helped pay for the site instead of increased costs in database load.
posted by loquacious at 8:26 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


More bad news.

They're working on a new location.
posted by Etrigan at 8:27 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Much thanks to goodnewsfortheinsane, LobsterMitten and Jessamyn for the modding. It helped define Metafilter as one of my favorite sites to visit daily. Now, off to see if I can remember my PayPal password ...
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:30 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Oh man. I don't post much anymore, but I read Metafilter every damn day and have since even before I joined 8 years ago. This site has had an immense impact on my life, more than any other site I can think of honestly. I've asked super-important questions, read about amazing things, and participated in discussions about significant issues/events. To the extent that I know how to act like an internet grown-up, the moderators here and especially Jess have been instrumental in gently but firmly guiding me out of the angrier moments of my angrier early 20's. One time I think I accused her of having a site bias against sports posts (I'm too embarrassed to even go back and look). Now she occasionally likes pictures of my dog or posts about my work on FB.

I'll figure out what I can throw in and throw it in, but whatever it winds up being, just know that it can't possibly be enough.
posted by rollbiz at 8:32 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


This was not the post that I had expected, considering the Fanfare section announcement was the most recent MeTalk post that I read (if I recall correctly).

I'm disappointed while understanding completely. Since discovering this site a few years back, reading MeFi has become part of my day. I enjoy the discussions and the posters make this community great.

Let me dust off my PayPal...
posted by royals at 8:39 AM on May 20


I'm sad to hear about the changes but so appreciate the transparency with which they were shared. This place is such a terrific example of how websites with comment sections should be run - gold standard doesn't even begin to describe it. goodnewsfortheinsanse, LobsterMitten and Jessamyn - thank you so, so much for everything you've done to make this place so special and irreplaceable.

I'm happy to be a monthly donor to help in my own little way.
posted by Twicketface at 8:44 AM on May 20


Another vote for regular voluntary subscriptions/donations, just added my $5 a month to the kitty. As well as this being a kick in the pants to set up a similar donation to a podcast I've been listening to for years (see, metafilter making me a better person, again).

And I agree with everyone else that no extras are needed, just metafilter NOT going away!

(Though I would love/pay for a "work stealth mode" - i.e. an option to choose a boring white background and black text for when I'm reading at work ;)
posted by pennypiper at 8:46 AM on May 20


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of page ranks . . .

Yikes.

hacker news discussion here

The thing which I do not like is that the page rank program is reported to classify metafilter in a category akin to ehow and about.com. It is dog eating doggie when you are relying on google search and ads for your income. The second and third best suggestions in the hacker news thread discussion were professional white background and threaded comments! Captain and Lieutenant Obvious. And the highest rated comment there right now says that Matt should hire an advertising professional to sell ads.

Who would have believed you if you had predicted this just a couple years ago when the page rank algorithm was so keen on ask metafilter? Those were the good old days in the golden age before we declined here and now into the kali yuga.

Labels and levels and castes for user dollars considered harmful.
posted by bukvich at 8:49 AM on May 20


(Though I would love/pay for a "work stealth mode" - i.e. an option to choose a boring white background and black text for when I'm reading at work ;)

This exists. Pony up.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:49 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Mefi without jessamyn is a bit like the internet without cats. I'm literally® reeling in my tracks over here.
posted by Namlit at 8:51 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


I'm literally® reeling in my tracks over here.

So are these people.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:04 AM on May 20


Wow -- so sorry to hear about this! It's incredibly sad to hear, and I'll miss the excellent moderation of jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten.

I like the idea of NPR-style recurring donations and agree that regular reminders are needed -- either by someone encouraging people to sign up, or via the star system (on the profile or comment page). Maybe once a year the "thank you to..." list gets posted. I can see the membership tiers now: <$5 newbs, $20 SAIT...
posted by salvia at 9:05 AM on May 20


Thank you so much, Jessamyn, LobsterMitten and gnifti. This place -- and these people! -- have made my life better in so many ways over the past eight years. I, too, have signed up for a recurring donation (from link at the bottom of the About page).
posted by ourobouros at 9:09 AM on May 20


I'm still struggling to find the words, but I want to thank all of you and especially LobsterMitten, goodnewsfortheinsane, and jessamyn for your amazing work in sustaining this community, and I'm glad that you'll continue to contribute to the extent that it brings you joy to do so. I'm especially glad that LM and gnfti were able to moderate for the time they did; their perspectives and diplomacy were really great additions to the site, and led me to pay more attention to their excellent contributions as users as well.

The past year has been challenging for me in ways I've mostly not talked about on the site, but knowing that I was part of a community that has this ethos of compassionately helping one another find the answers to our questions has meant a lot to me--that for any problem I might be facing in life, there's either a question in the AskMe archives full of helpful answers from people who have been through something similar, or I can ask a question and get the same kind of excellent responses.

Being a part of Metafilter means knowing that this community has your back--and I hope that through our contributions we can have a greater part of Metafilter's back as well. I've donated $20 and will continue to contribute whenever I can manage to. Let's keep this the most lovely community on the Internet for a long time to come.

And Google? This site is so very worth bringing people to. Please get on those search algorithms!
posted by beryllium at 9:11 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Thank you Jessamyn, Lobster Mitten and Good News for the Insane.
I just proudly made a forty dollar donation.
posted by dougzilla at 9:14 AM on May 20


The Hacker News thread is hilariously filled with people who Do Not Get Metafilter;

csense 18 hours ago | link

Two problems with the site that I can think of:
(1) It's somehow 14 years old and this article is #1 on HN, but somehow I've never heard of it.
(2) I haven't been able to figure out what the site actually is, or what it does. I looked at the FAQ and the orientation page on the wiki, but I still have no idea what I want to accomplish by going to the site.

posted by Aizkolari at 9:22 AM on May 20 [29 favorites]


One of the HN posters had a point - if you can't rely on Adsense and Google, and clearly, you can't - it may be time to hire, rather than lay off. Specifically, a salesperson to sell branded ads and set expectations for advertisers looking place ads - and someone to market the site aggressively to new users and to ad buyers. Ad money is clearly out there (they're buying spots on sports uniforms, for crying out loud!) - but the middle man is stealing both revenue and eyeballs from you. Google is Evil - you need to do what you can to marginalize them when they're trying to destroy you like this.

OK, look at it this way. Are you telling me that Metafilter can deliver fewer eyeballs than a NHRA Super Comp drag team? Because they all have drivers, builders and pit-crew to pay, steep technical and travel expenses, and their share of the gate isn't enough to float it. It's all sponsorships. I don't think we need a giant Apple logo hovering in the background, and Matt shouldn't be contractually obligated to wear a black stetson with "MAILCHIMP" embroidered on it whenever he's out in public, but there has to be enough buzz about the site to attract some more serious ad dollars than what Google is willing to dole out.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:26 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Aizkolari: "The Hacker News thread is hilariously filled with people who Do Not Get Metafilter;"

It is fucking hilarious, I put in a token effort to explain why MF is pretty conservative with their core commenting dynamic but honestly it's like that scene in the Muppets outtakes where Fozzie is trying to tell jokes to a field of cows, except here the cows are all mumbling about A/B testing and onboarding.
posted by invitapriore at 9:29 AM on May 20 [22 favorites]


(1) It's somehow 14 years old and this article is #1 on HN, but somehow I've never heard of it.

That, to me, was the Internet in a nutshell.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:31 AM on May 20 [27 favorites]


pennypiper: Though I would love/pay for a "work stealth mode" - i.e. an option to choose a boring white background and black text for when I'm reading at work ;)

craven_morhead: This exists. Pony up.

For clarification, you set each and every device with its own color option when you in and save the color preference to your desired version. It's not that MetaFilter is super smart and remembers "oh, you're on your work computer, professional white it is," it's that the cookies (I think) are saved locally once and never reviewed until you revise your profile on a given device.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:36 AM on May 20


I just paid my back taxes, $5 per year! :)

Very sorry to see gnfti, LM and jessamyn go from the mod team (but very glad y'all are still gonna stick around). As long as I can remember Metafilter, jessamyn has been a mod, so this will be a strange new world. Best of luck with the new gig!
posted by TwoWordReview at 9:36 AM on May 20


Aizkolari, that's a great find.

Metafilter: I haven't been able to figure out what the site actually is, or what it does, [and] I still have no idea what I want to accomplish by going to the site.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:38 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Are you telling me that Metafilter can deliver fewer eyeballs than a NHRA Super Comp drag team? Because they all have drivers, builders and pit-crew to pay, steep technical and travel expenses, and their share of the gate isn't enough to float it. It's all sponsorships. I don't think we need a giant Apple logo hovering in the background, and Matt shouldn't be contractually obligated to wear a black stetson with "MAILCHIMP" embroidered on it whenever he's out in public,

Didn't Chevy (or Ford?) propose some ridiculous site branding to Matt years ago? Matt posted a screenshot at the time and it was laughably horrifying.
posted by desjardins at 9:39 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Yes, yest it was (sourced from shakespeherian's comment upthread).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:41 AM on May 20


Well a ton of people must be putting their money where their mouth is, because I just got a fraud alert call from PayPal to confirm my donation to the site. Which means PayPal is responding to an unexpected spike in donations to the Metafilter account. So yay? I hope PayPal doesn't pull any of their occasional BS shenanigans.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:43 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


I'm signed up for a recurring donation. This place and the people in it mean the world to me. Jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, LobsterMitten- you rock, and I am sad to be losing your modly wisdom! Thank you for your hard work keeping MetaFilter awesome for lurkers like me.

If any of you have ever read about Spider Robinson's Callahan's Place, that's kind of what MetaFilter is to me. A place where a diverse bunch of people are sharing hurts, hopes, questions and answers, good stories, awful (or awesome!) puns. We may not get to hang out in real life together all the time, but I still feel like I know you. Matt, please let us know if there is any way we can help MetaFilter flourish.
posted by Mouse Army at 9:44 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


NPR is also laying off a bunch of people. I feel like homunculus.
posted by desjardins at 9:46 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Continuing my thoughts on Aizkolari's quote from the HN discussion:

Two problems with the site that I can think of:
(1) It's somehow 14 years old and this article is #1 on HN, but somehow I've never heard of it.


jessamyn: That, to me, was the Internet in a nutshell.

This, to me, is the beauty of MetaFilter: pulling together parts of the really wide web that are really interesting, but I've never heard of or come across in my years of traversing the broad interwebs, be it through FPPs or comments, and making me more curious about the world at large, both online and off.

That's not a problem, it's a feature.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:46 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Didn't Chevy (or Ford?) propose some ridiculous site branding to Matt years ago? Matt posted a screenshot at the time and it was laughably horrifying.

Yes, yest it was (sourced from shakespeherian's comment upthread).


Wait, it's not supposed to look like that? I gotta get a better antivirus program.
posted by Etrigan at 9:48 AM on May 20


If any of you have ever read about Spider Robinson's Callahan's Place, that's kind of what MetaFilter is to me.

"Shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased."

This place has been, for nearly ten years now, much more like Callahans than any of the various Callahans fan-based groups I've been part of.

And now the wise Lady Sally is leaving. It won't be the same.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:49 AM on May 20 [6 favorites]


I was on an eight-hour flight yesterday and missed this until now. Quick/true story: a couple of weeks ago I went with my 80 year old mother to England for a school reunion (which was fantastic, but moving on). In our hotel in London, she asked me one evening what I was doing on my laptop, and I started telling her about Metafilter, a bit about the history, how I'd been a member since 2001 and was reading long before that, the intelligence of its users, the quality of the conversations, and I ended up by saying that there really wasn't anything like it anywhere else online.

I'm setting up my monthly donation now. I wish it could be bigger, but it will be ongoing. Love you guys.
posted by jokeefe at 9:49 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


From the top comment on the HackerNews post:

AdSense is very effective at fulfilling the role it was designed for, which is algorithmically filling your least valuable advertising slots. ... This is particularly true if you have an anomalously strong community or an audience which is more valuable than "a generic Internet user in your company."
Who could resist?

MetaFilter: An Anomalously Strong Community.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:49 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Aizkolari: "The Hacker News thread is hilariously filled with people who Do Not Get Metafilter"

The ones that really get me are the ones who think we are a giant club of man-haters. Which seems to be an opinion that pops up any time a site has anything approaching gender parity—since culture is so biased toward male representation, any place that has anything approaching a 50/50 split is perceived as being overrun with women.

Also, another tagline gem from that thread:

Metafilter: NPR-loving, female-friendly left-leaning cozy-fest discussing this that and the other.

Which, you know, doesn't sound so bad.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:51 AM on May 20 [55 favorites]


I'd like to work that into a conversation a day: Anomalously anomalously anomalously.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:52 AM on May 20


...since culture is so biased toward male representation, any place that has anything approaching a 50/50 split is perceived as being overrun with women.

And, if I may add to my own comment, being overrun with women is often held to be a bad thing.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:53 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


"female-friendly" - oh no!!
posted by stoneweaver at 9:55 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


"female-friendly" - oh no!!

I am reminded of the sign: Try Organic Food ... or as your grandparents called it, "Food"

"Female-friendly" or, as we call it, "Friendly"
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:59 AM on May 20 [63 favorites]


NPR is also laying off a bunch of people.

Yeah, they'll drop Tell Me More, but they'll keep Warren Olney even though he hasn't gotten "To the Point" in 20 years!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:00 AM on May 20


being overrun with women is often held to be a bad thing

Maybe, if it was a literal stampede of women (I am quite enjoying that mental image, as they run through an office in my mind). Otherwise not so much a bad thing, no.

I will miss LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane's modding, but it especially Jessamyn's contribution as a modly voice of reason that made me saddest about this news. Her patience, tact and equanimity while performing her duties here have been an absolute boon to MetaFilter - and a source of personal admiration for just how good she was at the job.

The world of the emeriti welcomes you all.
posted by gadge emeritus at 10:00 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


The Hacker News thread is hilariously filled with people who Do Not Get Metafilter

Twitter, too; apart from the misogynist curmudgeons, it seems like a bunch of techno-utopian blowhards have taken this as a stalking horse for their preexisting wisdom-of-crowds "paid moderation doesn't scale" fixed ideas.

It really makes me wonder whether one of the things about this place that could be "monetized"/packaged and sold better is the moderation and community model itself. I feel like there ought to be a strong market for a book on The MetaFilter Way: Building Real Online Community. (And a speaking tour? and maybe an associated paywalled advice site?) Maybe "Getting Metafilter" itself is something that the mods and mods-emeritus could be selling. God knows the rest of the web needs it.
posted by RogerB at 10:01 AM on May 20 [8 favorites]


Adding my voice to the chorus: THANK YOU Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane. You all made this place what it is, and for me this place is my electronic home.

I've also ponied up a recurring contribution! I give money to NetFlix, Pandora, The New Yorker, two NPR stations -- and I easily spend more time with MetaFilter than with any of those.

I agree that it's unfortunate that the paypal donation link was so obscure. I've added the donation link to my profile page, like zennie suggested here.... But how about changing the new-server Unicode Snowman in the footer of all the *.metafilter.com pages to a link that says "Support MetaFilter"? With or without the snowman.

Also, if we want to incentivize contributions, I would like an option for a profile setting that makes MetaFilterest my default view on all the sub-sites.
posted by Westringia F. at 10:03 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


A lot of the HN commenters seem to be thinking of MeFi in terms of "how to run it for maximum profit" vs. "run it for enough profit to cover costs AND still maintain the sense of community".
posted by mrbill at 10:03 AM on May 20 [11 favorites]


*
In for $5/mo.
Cannot overstate what Jessamyn (et al.) has done for the culture of this site, that ultimately made it worth my time to register and post here. It has been said better above, x100, so ++1 from me.
posted by Dashy at 10:03 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


so let me double-down on the crying by suggesting we make this our donation song.

Dang dude, you just don't let up do you? ;) Good thing I'm working from home today...

(Also, sorry that you've had a rough couple of months. I feel you.)
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:04 AM on May 20


All of us are feeling surprised by this news, including me.

I am reminded of kids whose parents never talk about money, and who when they grow up are surprised to discover the bad trouble that credit cards, student loans, and bounced checks can get them into!

(Not that Matt has any obligation to open his books to us; just an observation.)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:06 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


This was a pretty big shock to me, especially after FanFare. I, perhaps naively, assumed MetaFilter was on a constant upward trend. I'm sorry to see the moderators go, but I understand. Thanks for sharing this with us, Matt.

I'll be signing up for a paid subscription if that comes up, but I'd rather avoid Paypal if at all possible. Please try not to keep much of a balance there.
posted by ODiV at 10:06 AM on May 20


I was a lurker for several years before paying my $5 in 2005. Since then I've been a devoted reader, if a mostly inactive participant (first ffp was last week!), but I've signed up for a monthly $10 subscription because my world would be a poorer place without Metafilter.
posted by wendyfairy at 10:09 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


I've been mulling this news over since yesterday and am just now catching up on this thread. Thank you to Jessamyn, LobsterMitten and GoodNewsForTheInsane. To quote BostonTerrier, "This is one of the only rooms out there with adults in it," and good moderation has had a lot to do with that.

I lurked for 7-8 years before joining 5 years ago, and have probably pointed my browser at MetaFilter.com 9 out of every 10 days for the last 12-13 years. I've only made it to two meetups, but that's enough to know that MeFites are just as great in real life as you are online. When I think back to some of the most interesting, amusing, and useful factoids and bookmarks I have accumulated in all that time, yep, I probably first saw it on MetaFilter. It's time to pony up.

RE: Gold stars... I think they would be an OK indicator that some means to support the site exists beyond the initial $5 signup "What's that star mean? *click* Hey! I should contribute too", but having second-tier "members-only" features? Nope.
posted by usonian at 10:15 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Maybe, if it was a literal stampede of women (sadly NSFW)
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:16 AM on May 20


I'm going to use anomalously in my daily speech... but only anonymously.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:19 AM on May 20


Thank you mods, the ones going and the ones going.
I am a lurker with not a lot to contribute in words or in money, but i am going to do that now, to help the place that made me substantualy better.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 10:19 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


A lot of the HN commenters seem to be thinking of MeFi in terms of "how to run it for maximum profit" vs. "run it for enough profit to cover costs AND still maintain the sense of community".

If you're a HN regular, you have never seen something involving complex human interaction that couldn't be replaced with a half-arsed machine implementation, ideally underwritten by a VC.

It really makes me wonder whether one of the things about this place that could be "monetized"/packaged and sold better is the moderation and community model itself. I feel like there ought to be a strong market for a book on The MetaFilter Way: Building Real Online Community.

See #1's 2012 talk at XOXO. I think there's a growing awareness that the latest online hotness is missing basic empathy -- something that the lovely and smart Dan Hon has also been talking about -- and I hope there's room to build upon that. But past precedent suggests that it's really hard to sell the idea that to do it well, you need 1) people; 2) a lot of work; 3) a basic respect for your community. Especially when you can build Snapchat with 20-odd people.
posted by holgate at 10:21 AM on May 20 [9 favorites]


Thanks you to all the departing mods, but especially to Jessamyn, one of the only people on the Internet that I've trusted with my real name.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:23 AM on May 20


I'm Ready To Be A Moderator On-Line And Volunteer To Do It For Free. I'm Sorry There Have Been Troubles.
posted by Awful Peice of Crap at 10:25 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


If you want to manage a subscriber database, we use Recurly.com for ours -- it can handle PayPal payments as well as other kinds, and it would let you maintain a list of "current" subscriptions in case you wanted to mail all current subscribers something. You know, like directions to the moon base. Or this month's secret ONE EXTRA ASK code or whatever. :)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:26 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


I hate to be a Debbie Downer here, but maybe it's time to rethink the moonbase and the idea to put all that money into WWE and recumbent bike stocks?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:31 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


btw, as a long-time member-supporter, I have never taken the option to block the front-page ads from The Deck, although it rarely shows me something I'd want to click on (but then, it even more rarely shows me something I want to kill with fire).

I'm sure there are other ad services minimally-intrusive enough to be accepted by the membership as a second ad on the Front Pages or even on Back Pages...
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:34 AM on May 20


but maybe it's time to rethink the moonbase

Look, Governor Romney. Speaker Gingrich didn't win, but neither did you. The campaign is over; now is the time for adults to speak frankly about putting a base on the moon, and you cannot come to the table a naysayer.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:36 AM on May 20 [12 favorites]


It looks like I finally have some leverage here. I'll set up a recurring subscription if an official "vote #1 quidnunc kid" t-shirt becomes available. Been wanting a Metafilter t-shirt forever, and the existing ones are really bad.
posted by dhoe at 10:38 AM on May 20 [8 favorites]


Just signed up for an account after mumblety years lurking, because it was about time. (I also signed up Mr. minsies for good measure.) Thanks for all your hard (very appreciated!) work, Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, and goodnewsfortheinsane.
posted by minsies at 10:41 AM on May 20 [11 favorites]


I say we set up an endowed moderatorship.

If I was a bazillionaire I would totally fund the Lucasian Chair of Metafilter and sundry other fancy titles and endowments for you all.

May the road rise to meet you, guys.
posted by XMLicious at 10:47 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


I realize this has been said a thousand times already, but many, MANY thanks to the fine moderation and wise responses from all involved. I so like Metafilter, more than I do so many things, and am happy to do whatever it takes to help. I know that seems flabby, coming from some person typing away in a town most likely not yours, but it's true. You are collectively a bunch of good, no great, eggs. If I had a million dollars.......
posted by but no cigar at 10:51 AM on May 20


I'm in for $5 a month. I use this site more than any other on the web.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:51 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


You know, an endowment is not the worst idea I've ever heard.
posted by spitbull at 10:52 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


I've just read through everything and I'm soooo bummed. I really thought this place was making money hand over fist for some reason. The mods will be sorely missed, especially Jessamyn who I feel like contributed so much to this place that I worry it could feel way different without her. I would be a different person without this place, in a bad way, and for that reason I'm donating on a recurring basis. I'd really encourage everyone else that can donate to do so because otherwise I'll have nowhere to mostly lurk and occasionally post. And thanks mathowie for being so direct and transparent. This is by far the best place on the web, let's keep it running people!!
posted by pwally at 10:57 AM on May 20


I've been lurking on this site for something like 12 years.

Signed up today.

This website has always been uniquely awesome, and I'd pay more than 5 dollars to help.
posted by pan at 10:59 AM on May 20 [17 favorites]




You know, an endowment is not the worst idea I've ever heard.


everyone look how good I'm being.
posted by The Whelk at 11:04 AM on May 20 [49 favorites]


I say we set up an endowed moderatorship

Hey now, are you saying something about the present mods' "endowment"?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:05 AM on May 20


I say we set up an endowed moderatorship

Hey now, are you guys trying to imply something about the present mods' "endowment"?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:06 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Apparently there's something wrong with my endowment.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:07 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Apparently not everyone can control themselves as well as The Whelk.
posted by desjardins at 11:07 AM on May 20 [10 favorites]


What about making it a co-op?
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:07 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Please can I sign up for a 3-5 dollars a month subscription?
posted by NiteMayr at 11:12 AM on May 20


PayPal link at the bottom. Click the box for a recurring payment. Subscribed!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:14 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Hey! Donation link added to my mefi profile...

☆ I'm a monthly contributor—you can be too!

...including latest Mefi feature, THE MONTHLY CONTRIBUTOR STAR.

Thanks, zennie, genuinely great idea!
posted by Mike Mongo at 11:17 AM on May 20 [6 favorites]


Gawker:
Yesterday, the good folks who run the venerable group/community blog Metafilter announced that it was in financial trouble. Founded in 1999, Metafilter has always devoted itself to a text-and-intelligence based approach to online discussion. Evidently, that's barely profitable these days.

Metafilter's revenues are falling drastically, founder Matt Haughey says in that post, because revenue from their Google ads is down, and they have not been able to come up with a fix. They're laying off moderators.

It's all very depressing, if you've been online long enough to have treasured Metafilter and the internet it represented.

Not all change is bad, of course. I love that it's no longer an embarrassing thing to have an online life. When I got my first email account and began posting on text-only, dial-up message boards in 1993, I was thirteen, a misfit, and lonely. If I time-travelled back to tell that girl that in twenty years (ouch) she would barely know anyone who wasn't online, she would be very glad to hear it.

And yet: The internet I grew up on and still rather cherish on was one of weird flashing Geocities pages; strange usenet groups devoted to arcane fandoms; long, maudlin posts about people's depression illustrated by ASCII art tableaus. It was text-based MUDs that elaborated on fantasy games before HBO was adapting them for our pleasure. There was no Twitter, no Facebook, but also no parents, few real names, and relatively little fear of surveillance. And the animating spirit was scrappy in a way that you can tell is gone because it is so hard to describe, standing here all the way down the line.

Metafilter still reminds me of that internet. Maybe it's that there are so few bells and whistles on their platform, maybe it's because it's crowd-written and so a very angry post will follow hard upon a cheerful one, maybe it's because people there still seem enthusiastic about discussing things intelligently. It just isn't as sanitized, and is consequently not as condescending, as a lot of the internet feels to me these days.

Why has the internet become sanitized and condescending? Well, like everyone else, I tend to think it's just a function of having so much of our lives organized by these social networking behemoths. In their drive to make things easier to "share" and "like" they've managed to scrub a lot of weirdness out of most people's daily internet consumption, standardize things. And most of the people who produce the things that make the internet weird and wonderful end up chasing the attention of those networks. As John Herrman, writing at the Awl yesterday, depressingly put it, "the best sites on the internet, giant and small alike" are now "anonymous subcontractors to [those] tech companies that operate on entirely different scales." It is not likely to get better, because with the spectre of "fast lanes" for internet companies who can afford to pay for them, we are facing being even more beholden to their algorithms.

Even if you could not care less about the economics of web publishing — and who could blame you — the way things are going is affecting the way pretty much everyone uses the internet. In short, they find it sillier, and care less about it, and somehow that just means the good stuff is getting buried deeper and deeper.

posted by zarq at 11:17 AM on May 20 [58 favorites]


I'm sorry to hear this news. I too would like to help and will sign up for a monthly donation.
posted by medusa at 11:24 AM on May 20


I want the old internet back.
posted by popcassady at 11:24 AM on May 20 [18 favorites]


My fourteen year mefi anniversary is in two days. Since joining fourteen years of stuff has happened, including the birth of three kids. Ask Metafilter alone has been a great help--I just hit my 200th question.

Metafilter feels like the last, decent, text-based community on the web. I will miss Jessamyn--she was kind to me when I did something stupid on the site, and I have always been grateful.

I will subscribe when official monthly subscriptions are a thing. Sending a few dollars right now feels less sustainable. I don't want a gold star but would like the ability to send long threads to Instapaper for offline reading. People will always differentiate themselves here, whether it be nth degree in-jokes, user names, or a zillion other ways, so a star doesn't seem like that big of a deal. There's already a hierarchy.

The whole Google indexing problem is aggravating. I would imagine there are sites with much more revenue than Metafilter that haven't cracked this nut. So frustrating. Is that the only source of the revenue loss?
posted by mecran01 at 11:26 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


I just want to give my heartfelt thanks to Jessamyn, Lobser Mitten, good news for the insane, and also to all of the other mods for your dedication and professionalism in keeping Metafilter running smoothly. Metafilter is a bright spot in almost every one of my days; sometimes I get to learn something new, and sometimes I get to help someone. It's community I'm proud to be a part of, and that I openly geek out over in real life.

Thanks to Mathowie for being straight with us, and for trying to find a solution that will allow Metafilter to remain the community that it has become, and not doing something to create revenue that would in turn force Metafilter to become a less pleasant place to spend time.
posted by vignettist at 11:28 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I agree. Ask us for money....Wikipedia does (I confess I do go there).

Plus I know there are ways to make Google move sites up...someone did it for my law office site and I moved to the top of the list. You all, unlike me, are extraordinarily good techies and could probably make a big difference in half a day.

PS share these problems sooner. We love to help.
posted by OhSusannah at 11:30 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


I guess people like me - who paid their $5, dutifully posted for a few years, and then got lost in the Facebook bog - are part of the reason that Metafilter is in this situation. Metafilter gave me a platform to post music, discover amazing new continents of information, and engage in lively conversations with great minds. It has fostered great discussions. It is more than entertainment: it's an incredible public service. So I'm kind of ducking my head back in with my tail between my legs, hoping that there's something to be done, and absolutely willing to offer whatever is within my grad student budget to keep this resource afloat.

This is as close to a New England lyceum as the Internet has ever gotten. I don't want to lose it.
posted by ford and the prefects at 11:32 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Has ...has ...anyone told The Deej?

[activates The Deej signal]
posted by Mike Mongo


The Deej has been following the thread with a heavy heart. Thanks for the Deej Signal, and the Twitter alert, though. And thanks for linking to one of my favorite comments.

We will all get through this. Somehow....
posted by The Deej at 11:38 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


I don't have a lot of love for Gawker and it strains my irony meter to say it, zarq, but I think reproducing almost the entirety of their article is kinda uncool.
posted by phearlez at 11:39 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


This MeTa thread a couple of weeks back made me reflect on the gem that is Metafilter and the immense value I've gotten from it over the years. And now this piece of news I can't even :'(

Thank you to mathowie and the mods for creating the space for the thoughtful, civil and compassionate conversations that happen around here. I get all kinds of good reads and interesting links, but it's the tone and quality of the discussions that keep me engaged for hours each day, and so much of that has to do with the hard work of the mods. It's also where I've learned what being a grown-up is like, and all the lessons I somehow subconsciously absorbed while lurking in the human relations threads have been so influential in shaping the way I think and behave towards my partner... This is an awesome community, and I'd hate to see it diminish in any way because of money issues... so I threw some cash into the pot for each past month that I've been officially a member (consider it payment on arrears of tuition fees in the school of life) and I hope that goes some way towards keeping this place going strong.
posted by hellopanda at 11:51 AM on May 20


I am also sorry to see this... I had a close encounter with LobsterMitten's efforts recently, and the non-accusatory way it was done was appreciated.

Here are some ideas that I hope you will ignore, but the main point is to perhaps make "Supporting Metafilter" a bit more obvious somewhere on the site:
1. there does not appear to be any mention of donations or 'Support Metafilter' in the FAQ
2. possibly have a Support Metafilter menu item on the bottom or top menu. I didn't realize there was a donation option for Metafilter until this thread.
3. if you are going to have a shortfall, possibly setting a fundraising target and showing the progress would help.

There are good reasons for not doing any of the above but anyways I will support the site more than I have done in the past.

Thanks to everyone for making this a gem on the internet and we will miss those of you who are stepping down.
posted by ryanfou at 11:53 AM on May 20


desjardins: "...Didn't Chevy (or Ford?) propose some ridiculous site branding to Matt years ago? Matt posted a screenshot at the time and it was laughably horrifying."

Is it sad that I read that and thought "Chevy Chase" and "Gerald Ford"?
posted by symbioid at 11:54 AM on May 20 [9 favorites]


As onefellswoop said, we have an abundance of both funny taglines and clever designers. What is we had a monthly (or every two months) tshirt design contest where the winner got put up in the Topatoco store? I don't know if we could guarantee enough volume to meet Topatoco's minimums, but if we can't we could use something like this where there are no minimums.

On teespring you still have to set a sales goal and meet that number before they print it. Spreadshirt.com might be another option, or something like Society6.com for non-apparel options as well. MeFi's profit per item may be less on these sites than Topatoco, but perhaps product variety would make up for it? (c'mon who doesn't want a MeFi shower curtain?).
posted by Kabanos at 11:57 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


This is as close to a New England lyceum as the Internet has ever gotten.

I think the more appropriate term is "Chautauqua", but mostly just because I like to say "Chautauqua".

Note: Chautauqua sounds like it either needs to be a tropical disease or a professional wrestling move. "Oh, the humanity, Bill "the Giant" Bryant has pulled a terrible Chautauqua on his opponent, but don't count the Bull Moose out yet folks!"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:00 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Podcast sponsorship might be a something to think about, too.
posted by buriedpaul at 12:01 PM on May 20


> Volunteers could generate hundreds of high-quality 'listicles' out of AskMe content. Put them up on a 'glossier' subsite and maybe the google gods will start smiling again.

It might not take much effort to do, either. After all, that's sort of what Best Of is. It doesn't present info in "listicle" format, but it's a separate subsite dedicated to highlighting cool things that appear on MeFi.


That's a great idea. I don't want to look at the listicles (or whatever) myself, but I don't have to! If there's a subsite that draws in the crowds with whatever shenanigans are all the rage these days and gives Matt money, the rest of us can sit back and enjoy the benefits. (I live in Hadley, Mass., which has half the local taxes of neighboring Amherst because it has ugly commercial development along Route 9 that pays lots of business taxes. If you drive from Northampton to Amherst, you have to look at it, but it sure is nice for those of us who live here.)

> And let it be shown on the record that my "I'd hit it" upthread was written with my tongue firmly in my cheek.

It usally is. That doesn't really make it OK.

posted by languagehat at 12:01 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


My birthday is coming up, and I would like to be able to tell my friends & family to buy me a t-shirt that says "Professional White Background" in order to #1 Look sharp and #2 Support the site.

In other words, more shirt choices, please!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:01 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


I don't have a lot of love for Gawker and it strains my irony meter to say it, zarq, but I think reproducing almost the entirety of their article is kinda uncool.

My irony detector just ran whimpering into the other room and is refusing to come back without me doing The Carpenters' "Sing" un-ironically and without skimping on the "La la la lalalalalas".
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:05 PM on May 20


In other words, more shirt choices, please!

I'd go for a re-release of the jersey if that got offered again, hint, hint.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:09 PM on May 20


Westringia F.: changing the new-server Unicode Snowman in the footer of all the *.metafilter.com pages

I literally had no idea this existed and I was like...unicode...snowman...what?! I still wasn't sure so I copied & pasted what I thought was it into Notepad...embiggened the font...now I'm squinting suspiciously in Reddit's direction bc they totally stole our mascot idea.

ocherdraco:
Metafilter: NPR-loving, female-friendly left-leaning cozy-fest discussing this that and the other.

I will SO buy this T-shirt.

So, I have like $0.34 to my name until after the first due to ongoing genteel poverty, but I will make a donation on 6/1 post-haste.

P.S. Just wanted to thank Jessamyn and whomever-else for the Best Of nomination last month! I discovered it like...two weeks after the fact, haha. Totally made my day!
posted by cardinality at 12:09 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


RogerB: It really makes me wonder whether one of the things about this place that could be "monetized"/packaged and sold better is the moderation and community model itself. I feel like there ought to be a strong market for a book on The MetaFilter Way: Building Real Online Community. (And a speaking tour? and maybe an associated paywalled advice site?) Maybe "Getting Metafilter" itself is something that the mods and mods-emeritus could be selling. God knows the rest of the web needs it.

Except "communities" don't make money, they eat it. Are there any actual attempts to build new online communities as a way to make money? MetaFilter is firmly Old Net, when people shared interesting things with each-other for the sake of sharing neat stuff, not with any idea of making it rich, or even making it their day job. Every user, active or lurker, uses the site because it's interesting, and you can talk about these interesting things with people from all over the world.

The rest of the web doesn't have the patience for this kind of thing, especially when it comes to managing the diverse personalities who interact.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:10 PM on May 20 [5 favorites]


I just offered to buy one of my (zillions!) of Facebook friends a MeFi membership if they post a link to a good thread. All $$ problems solved! Next up a cure for MS! I'll die a hero! I've found my superwoman niche! Yay metafilter!
posted by firstdrop at 12:11 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


cardinality: I literally had no idea this existed and I was like...unicode...snowman...what?!

Protip: if you see a unicode snowman in the lower right of the footer, you're on the new server (March 15, 2014)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:13 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Geez, what a shock to read this. I have to admit my visits to Metafilter have gone down dramatically in the past few years as family and work and a to-read pile as tall a skyscraper have taken over my free time, but still, reading about the changes is a real gut punch.

I get that a subscription service wouldn't be enough to make the current staffing situation work, but I want to reiterate that:

a) I'd gladly pay to help support a site that has been a reliable part of my online existence almost since the beginning, and
b) Even though adding subs wouldn't be enough, if it provides another source of revenue to help pad against future financial challenges my wallet is open.
posted by theNonsuch at 12:13 PM on May 20


Twitter, too; apart from the misogynist curmudgeons, it seems like a bunch of techno-utopian blowhards have taken this as a stalking horse for their preexisting wisdom-of-crowds "paid moderation doesn't scale" fixed ideas.

This is sort of no surprise. Little known fact: Metafilter has been dabbling in crypto currency since its inception. you know that $5 investment? Every comment, and favorite you have made and received has been encoded into the block chain. Effectively each of these has split that $5 into infinitesimally small segments, growing the currency this whole time. A failure in the recording system at M(e)t(a).Talk exchange (yes, Mt.Talk) resulted in apparently a run on the currency.

THANKS OBAMA!!!
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:15 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


pennypiper: Though I would love/pay for a "work stealth mode" - i.e. an option to choose a boring white background and black text for when I'm reading at work ;)

craven_morhead: This exists. Pony up.

filthy light thief: For clarification, you set each and every device with its own color option when you in and save the color preference to your desired version. It's not that MetaFilter is super smart and remembers "oh, you're on your work computer, professional white it is," it's that the cookies (I think) are saved locally once and never reviewed until you revise your profile on a given device.


Awesome! Thanks guys, guess I'm heading back to paypal ;)
posted by pennypiper at 12:16 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


For anyone who makes a FPP, or sees one where the content is focused on a singular living person or a small group of people, you can always invite them to join MetaFilter at your cost. I've done it a few times, though it looks like they only join the conversation for a moment and never return (by and large). Here's a guide to folks who have joined to discuss their creations, though it might not be complete or up-to-date.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:16 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Very sorry to see Jessamyn, LM and GNIFTI go, thank you so much for all you have done for this place over the years!

Count me in for a pledge drive or some such...this site is more than just something I read during the day. I learn something new every time I visit this site. I have good friends because of this site. I have a husband because of this site. I am happy, MORE than happy to give back in any way I can.
posted by LN at 12:19 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Hey now, I grew up celebrating Chautauqua, don't you go dissing it!

Thanks for putting the Gawker article here. My feeble 4 year old ibananaphone running Chrome crashes the entire browser any time I try to go to any of the Gawker sites.


Not saying that's a bug, mind you ...
posted by tilde at 12:32 PM on May 20


Also, you throw away the tough husk of the Chautauqua before you eat it. Some people don't know that -- or the fact that you can eat the seeds -- so they think they don't like it.

I learned that from an Ask question. S'truth!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:36 PM on May 20


According to Matt's comment on HN, 3-6,000 users need to subscribe (pay $10 monthly?) to MetaFilter to cover some portion of MetaFilter (the three mods?). Matt, can you elaborate, and give a status update of the "subscriptions" to date?
posted by filthy light thief at 12:37 PM on May 20


Volunteer mods are a damned tricky thing to manage, and not something we'd reach for first. At the scale we'd be talking about, we wouldn't be saving all that many man-hours, because they'd go into management instead of moderation.

We must all self-moderate to support the cause.
posted by Kabanos at 12:37 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


This makes me sad. My donation will be there shortly. Because I can't imagine a world in which my husband doesn't hear me start a sentence with "Someone on Metafilter..." at least once a day.
posted by thejanna at 12:39 PM on May 20 [12 favorites]


make a little moderator in your soul
posted by The Whelk at 12:39 PM on May 20 [21 favorites]


I wonder how much of this is an actual adjustment in Google's search result ranking and how much is a broader change in user behavior. Users seem to be looking for content via their mobile apps, Social Networks and places like twitter instead of just putting the words into Google. I have also heard that from the advertisers' perspective web based Google ads are just not working that well anymore when compared with the results from ads on YouTube, Facebook, etc. Advertisers seem to be shifting their budgets away from adwords.

The broad based decline beyond just Metafilter in traffic from Google search and revenues from Google ads may be the sign of a larger trend.
posted by humanfont at 12:40 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I'm going to put on one of my MeFi t-shirts and hop on BART and while I won't stand in front of a Google bus I will glare at it most sternly! With arms crossed!

ARMS CROSSED, I SAY!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:40 PM on May 20 [7 favorites]


thejanna: "Because I can't imagine a world in which my husband doesn't hear me start a sentence with "Someone on Metafilter..." at least once a day."

Around our place it's "Did you see the FPP about...?"
posted by Lexica at 12:41 PM on May 20 [8 favorites]


ARMS CROSSED, I SAY!

Then they can't see your MeFi shirt. No, I say give them the Superhero, hands on hips, pose.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:44 PM on May 20 [9 favorites]


(1) It's somehow 14 years old and this article is #1 on HN, but somehow I've never heard of it.

That, to me, was the Internet in a nutshell.


People apparently too dumb to tell the difference between food and motor oil are the invisible hand of the market?
posted by Pudhoho at 12:47 PM on May 20


Word of the Day: akimbo.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:47 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


thejanna: Because I can't imagine a world in which my husband doesn't hear me start a sentence with "Someone on Metafilter..." at least once a day.

Lexica: Around our place it's "Did you see the FPP about...?"

At my home, it's me saying, "Here's your Ask MetaFilter question of the day!"
posted by kimberussell at 12:48 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


I have posted the following comment on the grey before, but I cannot think of a better way to sum up my affection for this site:

Me: (coming in the house) Hey (Mrs Danf), do you think that Paul Revere knew about polar bears?

Mrs. Danf: Huh?

Me: Do you think that Paul Revere knew about polar bears?

Mrs. Danf: Why would. . .

Me: . . . .It was an Ask Metafilter question. My favorite one ever!

Mrs. Danf: God I hate the Internet!
posted by Danf at 12:54 PM on May 20 [17 favorites]


No, I say give them the Superhero, hands on hips, pose

Well, OK, but no capes.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:56 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Word of the Day: akimbo.

Aka: Power Pose
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:56 PM on May 20


How much would it cost, per active user per month, to keep the departing mods?
posted by Baeria at 1:00 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Oh my, the tagline on the current ad that the Deck is serving me right now: "When Bad Things Happen to Good Websites."
posted by Liesl at 1:01 PM on May 20


I donate to NPR and Wikipedia. I would gladly donate to a pledge drive here!
posted by Requiax at 1:02 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


The folks in here talking about their spouses and Metafilter prompted these anecdotes:

I used to have a girlfriend who called this place "the nerdery."

Now I'm super-happily married (not to above person). I'll be staring at my tablet and she'll say, "Watcha doing?" I'll reply, "Looking at Metafilter." She'll usually say something like "What's going on over there?" Then I'll say something like: "There's this cool web comic posted about a couple characters from the X-Men and their domestic life..." After a bit I'll look around and she got bored in mid-sentence and is off singing songs with our little dog. I can't resist that, so go join in on the singing. Hence, I haven't been participating here as much since I got married.

My wife and I are busy singing to our dog.

I tossed off a quick "thanks folks" to the moderators yesterday. I've been reading this thread and thinking about it a lot lately, other folks have said a lot more eloquently about what makes this site unique and its value. The best thing I can think to say about this site is that it's really changed the way a look at the world. It's an incredibly more diverse and weird (in a good way) place to me because of Metafilter. I really think it helps me to more consider the viewpoints of people who aren't anything like me. I've just learned so damn much here. A big huzzah to all the moderators and members who make this place somewhere where things like that can happen.
posted by marxchivist at 1:04 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


phearlez: "I don't have a lot of love for Gawker and it strains my irony meter to say it, zarq, but I think reproducing almost the entirety of their article is kinda uncool."

Fair enough.

For whatever it's worth, I usually try to quote no more than 1/4 of any linked article, but didn't this time because I felt all the sentiments being expressed were worth repeating.
posted by zarq at 1:05 PM on May 20


So, you've bought up a bunch of Metafilter gear to support the site, but now you're thinking "What shoes go with that shirt?"

Well lucky for you, Adidas has you covered.
posted by cashman at 1:06 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Just a note to folks who have said they are willing to support a pledge drive - you can do that, right now at the Paypal link on the about page. You can make it recur monthly, even!

Sorry, I know it's been said many times, but this thread is a monster, and I wanted to make clear you don't need to wait, you can contribute today.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:08 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


The words "online community" has been tossed around and cheapened, but really only applies to here.

I pay 7.99 for Netflix... CANADIAN Netflix. The orders of magnitude of what this site is worth to me over that is just sheerly ridiculous, but I'll start with 10$ a month.

I don't want a star. I don't want a special forum. I don't expect anyone else to pay if they can't afford it or don't feel its worth it. I just want to help.

And to think, I used to think "best of the web" referred to what was on the other end of the links.
posted by cacofonie at 1:09 PM on May 20 [7 favorites]


Akimbo. Arms Akimbo.
one of the wonderfully warped villains in Freakazoid, he had a protection racket in which he knocked over things in a store until the storekeeper bought his 'oops insurance'.
Thanks for the opportunity to derail a little.

posted by oneswellfoop at 1:10 PM on May 20

So, you've bought up a bunch of Metafilter gear to support the site, but now you're thinking "What shoes go with that shirt?"
Is it time to discuss the MetaFilter tartan again? (I might know a guy who could help orchestrate having it woven/imported/cut/shipped. Probably wouldn't be a big moneymaker though, tartan is expensive even at cost.)
posted by usonian at 1:13 PM on May 20 [6 favorites]


somafm is amazing and fully supported by its users through donations and a monthly-subscription model.

I'd be happy to support MeFi if the framework was in place and/or if the levels including some coffee cup-type swag.
posted by four panels at 1:16 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


"How much would it cost, per active user per month, to keep the departing mods?"

Further upthread it was said that the monthly mod costs for the three are likely 10K +. Matt mentioned it would take "a few thousand people to pony up $2-$3 a month" or in other words "something like 25%-50% of the daily userbase", which is about 12K people.

Chrysostom just said it, but it's worth repeating: "you don't need to wait, you can contribute today." At the bottom of http://www.metafilter.com/about.mefi
posted by travelwithcats at 1:17 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


So I sent my first gripey email to the mods evar a few days ago, and then this!? Schmoopy feels. Count me in as another who had no idea, and who wants the old internet back. The one where people would get het up about "free" and "open" and how awesome it was to be able to link to stuff written by other real people!, not ad revenue and userbase monetization and tricking people into clicks.

Sad to see great mods go... But also glad to read of jessamyn's opportunity, which sounds wonderful!

I honestly don't know where I'd be without the priceless AskMetafilter. Reading people be human, share their doubts and solutions and failures and successes, enjoying the interplay of personalities, has been an experience paralleled only by close friendships. One of which was even formed thanks to MeFi.

Also, pixellated cats OMG yes. Obviously one should be like so:
{:O:~
(cat head seen from beneath, front paws, fluffily round tummeh, back paws, tail. it is an ASCII catscan.)
posted by fraula at 1:25 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


cashman: So, you've bought up a bunch of Metafilter gear to support the site, but now you're thinking "What shoes go with that shirt?"

Well lucky for you, Adidas has you covered.



Or for the businessy sorts, MetaFilter-colored business cards. So tempting, but I still have a stack of my prior cards.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:28 PM on May 20


I had to speed scroll to the bottom of this thread only to find 28 more new comments.

I came in to say if I could favorite anastasiav'sc comment a trillion billion times, I would. Especially this line:

Help Metafilter do this for you. You've built a great thing here. Let us help you keep it upright and sailing forward.

A humble mod nod to the remaining and departing (returning if we have anything to say about it :). I love you guys.

And mathowie, no disrespect, but when AskMe was a new thing I vaguely recall that you predicted people would ask a few of the same questions & there wouldn't be many new ones in the future. We see how that has turned out. Here's hoping the guess of "a few hundred would donate" turns out to be a substantial misundercalculation.

MeFi helped me grow up & I learn from you braniacs every day. It's one of the few intellectual salads sprinkled with curse words but always with meat I can go to online.

And with that, I'm off to setup my recurring $10 pony.
posted by yoga at 1:30 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


.

I confess to not having read the full discussion above, but I'll agree that the NPR / Wikipedia analogy is apt (barring scale). A funding drive is a perfectly reasonable thing.
posted by brambleboy at 1:30 PM on May 20


I will contribute when I can, starting next month.

Seconding more t-shirts! And for the love of dog, girly cut plus-sized ones!

I would spend my entire yearly faire budget on things to support MeFi, including that tartan.

Thanks for all the hard work. This place and I are better for it.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:43 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


I still want socks.
posted by wallabear at 1:48 PM on May 20


including some coffee cup-type swag.

I, too, would acquire a mug.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:48 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Tote baaaaag
posted by dinty_moore at 1:49 PM on May 20 [6 favorites]


Also, are there other ways people could donate? There are lots of experts and professionals on here. Is there something that you're currently paying for that you'd be willing to let a willing member donate a few hours or whatever a month to help with? I know I would definitely offer my services for free in my area of expertise. I see it as a barter system - I give my expertise in some area and you give me a high-quality website.
posted by triggerfinger at 1:50 PM on May 20


Wind-up AM/FM radio. Or is that just a KQED thing?
posted by m@f at 1:51 PM on May 20


I will also accept someone's voice on my home answering machine (okay, cell phone voicemail). I'd even check my voicemail to hear it!
posted by dinty_moore at 1:54 PM on May 20


I still want socks.

I would also acquire socks, either in the colors of each subsite with appropriate color bands at the top, or striped with subsite colors and title bands.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:55 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Donated. Will buy merch if available.
posted by daveje at 1:55 PM on May 20


Matt could potentially sell the Metafilter sites for some serious money. He talked about it in a way that I really appreciate, and it's a lot healthier in a lot of ways than the big money path. But it also means that stuff like this happens. As far as I know from MetaTalk comments, Matt pays people fairly, with benefits, and that's just the right thing to do. Thanks for keeping the community safe and sane, Matt, pb, jessamyn, goodnewsfor the insane, lobstermitten, cortex, restless_nomad, taz, vacapinta. This place is a big part of my life, and important resource, and proof that community happens.
posted by theora55 at 1:55 PM on May 20 [10 favorites]


Please have a pledge drive! I would gladly donate.
posted by suedehead at 1:55 PM on May 20

It's somehow 14 years old and this article is #1 on HN, but somehow I've never heard of it.

That, to me, was the Internet in a nutshell.
To be honest, though I knew of Metafilter for some reason I thought it was some English nerd's personal website until, well, three years or so ago.

After that, it only took me a month to plunk my five bucks down. Because Metafilter is almost the platonic ideal of an online community for me: egalitarian, text orientated, with smart, funny people, the closest equivalent to the newsgroups I followed in the nineties. If not for my ignorance I would've joined a decade ago.

Such a large part of what makes Metafilter a community is due to the mods and of course Jessamyn especially has been so good at doing what's best for Metafilter, calmly, sensibly and willing to admit to mistakes when needed. The other two departing mods as well, Lobstermitten and Goodnewsfortheinsane have been brilliant, growing into their roles as if they've done it all their lives.

It's sad that any of them have to go just because the internet isn't smart enough to appreciate this site and what we do here. Reading the news this morning and throughout the day has been gut wrenching and if a little monthly contribution can help keep MeFi afloat, this is the one site for which I would and will do so.

Just as soon as I can actually persuade Paypal to set one up.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:58 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


You can donate right now!
posted by Chrysostom at 1:58 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Still hoping for a Be Smart From The Very Beginning shirt in AskMe green.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:02 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


You can donate right now!

That doesn't actually work for me: I can donate, but it doesn't seem to set up a recurring donation in Paypal. Also for some reason it currently has done my donated as a delayed echeque rather than a direct payment.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:03 PM on May 20


I've been lurking for a long time before I signed up, and even since I signed up, I haven't participated a lot. But I do enjoy reading Metafilter tremendously; it's a daily, sometimes hourly, source of information, joy and inspiration. That's in no small part due to the great moderation. Thank you very much for this. Heading over to paypal for $20 now.
posted by insouciant at 2:10 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I'm not even super-active on Metafilter as a contributor but I can tell you all that this community is one of my favorite things not just the internet, but in my life. This site has helped me, inspired me, at times made me mad, but always in an engaging manner - the smart, thoughtful and caring commentators here always seem to rise above the levels of internet poop that other places (I'm looking at you Youtube) are prone to. I realized early on that it was the hard work of the moderators who keep things running smoothly and on course around here. Their work is just about the only thing (besides the $5 to join) keeping this place from becoming a yucky, discouraging place to hang out in.

This is a very special site, dear to my heart, and I hope we can keep it for a long time the way it's been - following a strong tradition of high-level discourse and community atmosphere that's made this place a favorite among favorites online for me.

Thank you all, mods! You guys rock.

-F
posted by fantodstic at 2:12 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Metatalk: I can drink less at meetups. Maybe you can, SpaceWarp13, but I'm going to have to cut back elsewhere.
posted by theora55 at 2:19 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


marxchivist: "Metafilter: the nerdery"

I vote we somehow work that into a t-shirt. I'd buy it and proudly wear it. Also, another vote for a white shirt that says (in black text), "Professional White Background." On second thought, scratch that second one. Clueless people would easily think that was a racist statement. Damn!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 2:21 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Danf: Do you think that Paul Revere knew about polar bears?

For the record, he might have seen them on the local wharf. MetaFilter is indeed awesome.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:23 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Because I can't imagine a world in which my husband doesn't hear me start a sentence with "Someone on Metafilter..." at least once a day.


I've pretty much even just dropped that opening because my audience has figured out the pattern. If I tell a story and it's boring, it's somebody at work. If I tell a story and it's interesting, it's somebody on Metafilter.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:26 PM on May 20 [10 favorites]


Saw this late last night after a loooong day and was too shocked and depressed to say anything. I don't think I can properly articulate how valuable LM, GNFTI, and especially Jessamyn have been to the site, or how painful it is to see them go under such absurdly arbitrary circumstances.

Some thoughts in no particular order:

- This seems of a piece with recent worrying trends in the internet world, primarily the continuing migration of web users to walled-garden mobile and app platforms that are unfriendly to the business plans of the traditional indie blogosphere. The death of Google Reader last year was similar -- a big blow to small publishers and open standards. Add to that the abandonment of net neutrality, the consolidation of the ISP monopolies, and the coarsening of Google's corporate culture to better emulate Facebook, and it's easy to see the old-guard web represented by MeFi is slowly dying off.

- Speaking of ads, how does TheDeck factor into this? I thought they were a classier, better-paying network that would help diversify revenue away from just AdSense. Do they not contribute as much to the bottom line as I'd thought?

- Matt has had direct contact with the Google AdSense team as recently as 2011. Are they really at a loss to explain this sharp drop? It seems so bizarre to me.

- Some possible ideas to explore:
- Organizing as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Or maybe a 501(c)(7) social club. It might sound far-fetched at first, but this category includes things like literary journals, recreational and community clubs, and organizations that work to advance science, eliminate prejudice, or promote education. MeFi has never been profit-driven anyway, and doing this successfully could clarify our mission as a civil, safe, community that champions open web principles. And of course that tax-exempt status would help a lot on the financial front. Ironically, it would also qualify us for Google's Non-Profit program, including free advertising and tools.

Also, there is encouraging history here. As mentioned, Rusty Foster of Kuro5hin subsumed that site's LLC into a non-profit Collaborative Media Foundation. It was ultimately not successful, partially because K5 was in much shabbier shape at the time, partially because of alleged mismanagement of the nonprofit funds and subsequent neglect. But it's a legally doable avenue, and I'm certain MeFi could do a better job of it.

- Targeted Reddit ads. I know, I know. But I get the feeling that MeFi is completely unknown to an ever-larger segment of the newer, contemporary web, contributing to the drop in traffic and inbound links. There was virtually zero discussion of this news site-wide over there, and anytime I see MeFi mentioned on "give me a neat site to read" threads the response is always one of baffled unfamiliarity. Advertising the blue/green/Music/FanFare on known high-quality subreddits like TrueReddit, InternetIsBeautiful, DepthHub, TwoXChromosomes, AskScience, AskHistorians, GetMotivated, ListenToThis, Books, and various TV/film subs could go a long way to boosting MeFi's visibility to like-minded folks who've never come across it otherwise.

- When searching Google, results from MetaFilter feature a grey "knowledge graph" dropdown box identifying the MetaFilter brand (similar to this). You see this on all reputable results. But Ask Metafilter results do not have this marker. Could there be some disconnect between the two subsites from Google's POV? Perhaps Ask isn't being accorded the full benefit of MetaFilter's sterling reputation when it comes to search, which might explain the drop in traffic.

- If we do set up an official pledge drive/subscription option, maybe consider a one-time email to all members informing them of what's going on (and potentially bringing them back to the fold). Active users are only a fraction of the total; some might return.
I wonder how much of this is an actual adjustment in Google's search result ranking and how much is a broader change in user behavior.

A 40% reduction overnight suggests the former.



Hope spot: Barring a further collapse of ad revenue, this isn't the end of MeFi -- it's the end of a MeFi prosperous enough to employ multiple full-time moderators with decent benefits, which was an admittedly unusual situation. I don't remember this place being a blasted hellscape in 2007 -- that's when I joined, after all. With its plaintext nature and relatively small traffic loads, I can easily see MeFi soldiering on even if the Ask archives were banned from AdSense and had to get by on subscriptions from regulars alone. Just look at The WELL, which was recently bought from Salon by its own membership.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:32 PM on May 20 [27 favorites]


☆ I'm a monthly contributor—you can be too!
posted by Mike Mongo at 2:37 PM on May 20 [5 favorites]


I just buy a new sock puppet every month.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:43 PM on May 20 [7 favorites]


I can't say I come here much since work banninated MeFi, but I am glad that it's still around, even if I'm not. I certainly hope it remains, and I thank and wish all the best to those who are moving on.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:44 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Sorry, MartinWisse, I was responding to suedehead's comment before you. I recognize non-US members may have PayPal challenges.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:49 PM on May 20


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "I just buy a new sock puppet every month."

I buy two, but then I always lose one at some point.
posted by symbioid at 2:51 PM on May 20 [8 favorites]


That's why I dry clean.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:52 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Excellent post, Rhaomi.

...But Ask Metafilter results do not have this marker. Could there be some disconnect between the two subsites from Google's POV?

This seems pretty likely.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:57 PM on May 20


Mike Mongo: "☆ I'm a monthly contributor—you can be too!"

I'm putting a message on my profile, too, but I slightly reworded it, so it's clearer what's being contributed to:

☆ I contribute to MetaFilter every month—you can too!
posted by ocherdraco at 3:01 PM on May 20 [6 favorites]


> That doesn't actually work for me: I can donate, but it doesn't seem to set up a recurring donation in Paypal.

Same for me. I've tried finding a solution, but haven't gotten very far. Could it be that the PayPal link needs to be updated somehow and that it currently only accepts recurring donations from US (PayPal) accounts?
posted by bjrn at 3:05 PM on May 20


...But Ask Metafilter results do not have this marker. Could there be some disconnect between the two subsites from Google's POV?

The knowledge graph information is, at least partially, derived from content at freebase.com. Matt or pb should head over there and round out more details about the site, including sub-site relationships. I believe that it was originally seeded from Wiki info, but that doesn't necessarily contain an explicit relationship between the different entities.
posted by Jacob G at 3:06 PM on May 20


I used the phrase "monthly donor" in my profile so that it's clear I'm contributing money and not just sage advice and lame jokes.
posted by desjardins at 3:12 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


The Hacker News thread is hilariously filled with people who Do Not Get Metafilter

"Income has been down for 18 months. We've been operating at a significant loss for several months and have had to lay off a considerable percentage of our staff to avoid bankruptcy. Looking forward, our plan for growth is to laugh at potential new members who Do Not Get Us."
posted by Tanizaki at 3:13 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I was able to set up a recurring donation from my UK account, so it's definitely not US-only (although, yeah, it could just be US and UK).

I still like the idea of a Metafilter Ideas Festival - like TED, but you know, better. Would be happy to volunteer to organise something in the UK.
posted by adrianhon at 3:15 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Volunteers could generate hundreds of high-quality 'listicles' out of AskMe content. Put them up on a 'glossier' subsite and maybe the google gods will start smiling again.

This was an idea I also had a while back and I still think it's a very good one.

Looking forward, our plan for growth is to laugh at potential new members who Do Not Get Us.

Did you mean to post that on Hacker News?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:15 PM on May 20 [30 favorites]


Oh good, Tanizaki, I was hoping someone would come by and piss on things.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:17 PM on May 20 [27 favorites]


I have a question:

Someone once said something that gave me the impression that if you post a link to a book (or whatever) on Amazon, there is a script which automatically adds an affiliate code so that MetaFilter can get some revenue if people actually click it and buy. Is this an accurate understanding?
posted by Michele in California at 3:27 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Let's See!

http://www.amazon.com/Veronica-Mars-Season-Kristen-Bell/dp/B000A59PMO Is the link i posted.
posted by Carillon at 3:30 PM on May 20


Yes, we automatically add a MetaFilter affiliate code to Amazon links. Here's the relevant FAQ.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:32 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Looking forward, our plan for growth is to laugh at potential new members who Do Not Get Us.

One of the many things people seem to casually misapprehend is the idea that what we're chasing is an at-any-cost influx of new users. The suggestions on HN that a given person over there has diagnosed the problem as them not being interested are misguided at best; a sarcastic rebuke of comments noting as much isn't any less silly.

Is this an accurate understanding?

Yep, we add an affiliate code. The way Amazon handles this is session based, so in principle we'll still get some (wee fractional) credit even if you don't buy that thing but do buy some other stuff on your visit. It's a small portion of our income but not nothing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:32 PM on May 20 [8 favorites]


"Volunteers could generate hundreds of high-quality 'listicles' out of AskMe content. Put them up on a 'glossier' subsite and maybe the google gods will start smiling again.

This was an idea I also had a while back and I still think it's a very good one.
"

Even easier, adding social share bugs to the FPPs will generate more traffic, and in a way that Google likes now.
posted by klangklangston at 3:34 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Procrastination this good is certainly worth $5/month. Subscribed.
posted by thivaia at 3:37 PM on May 20


klangklangston: "Even easier, adding social share bugs to the FPPs will generate more traffic, and in a way that Google likes now."

Something other than the ones that are already there? Or am I misunderstanding you?
posted by gingerbeer at 3:38 PM on May 20


Looking forward, our plan for growth is to laugh at potential new members who Do Not Get Us.

He's hoping the mods will finally put the womenfolk and liberals in their place. You know. For the good of the site. I can smell his concern from way over here.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:40 PM on May 20 [13 favorites]


"Something other than the ones that are already there? Or am I misunderstanding you?"

Whups, I'd forgotten all about them. They should be beneath or at the end of the "posted by" line, along with favorites. Where they are now, as an afterthought to the tags, means that they're much less likely to be seen.

I would be curious to know what kind of juice they're getting now — 1 percent? Also, since I haven't been logged off in so long, I wonder if they're there for the general public too (probably is my guess).
posted by klangklangston at 3:45 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


generate more traffic, and in a way that Google likes now.

More inbound links? Maybe from a dedicated site? www.patafilter.com ?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:46 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Looking forward, our plan for growth is to laugh at potential new members who Do Not Get Us."

I can't tell if this is some kind of meta-joke about the arrogance and ignorance of Silicon Valley tech industry culture or what.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:47 PM on May 20


patafilter.com

Ok. Is there something that the site is actually doing, like subscriptions or something, or are we just throwing up ideas to make money?

Did someone say kissing booth? I think that would go over well here.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:50 PM on May 20


This is the site for people who "Do Not Get" Facebook/Reddit/Buzzfeed... There are enough of us for the site to thrive, just not to get a $1Billion valuation. We just have to find them and yell "hey, over here!" because Google is no longer much help...
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:51 PM on May 20 [6 favorites]


I don't think anyone is opposed to new users. I've counted 3 or 4 vocal ones in this very thread - Hey new Mefites! *Waves* Welcome!
But this site lives on quality not quantity. To meet a monthly target of ~ $12K to increase mod power we'd be looking at 2400 new users/month. I don't think that is realistic.
posted by travelwithcats at 3:51 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Really, talk about the Eternal September.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:55 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


We just have to find them and yell "hey, over here!"

So where can we advertise? Shall we buy some AdWords?
"Are you lost in the web? Check out Metafilter!"
posted by travelwithcats at 3:56 PM on May 20


Yeah, people trying to solve problems that MetaFilter doesn't have was a little weird.

On the flip side, let the web community that is without snark cast the first stone.
posted by ODiV at 3:57 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I mostly lurk and rarely comment, but this site is great. Just donated $10.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 4:00 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


After being a lurker for much of the last decade, finally joined MetaFilter two years ago. Should have joined much, much, earlier. It's easily one of the consistently funniest, educational, thought-provoking, involving and above all fair places online. It is genuinely unique, and the moderation over the years has been a large part factor in this uniqueness.

And MetaFilter is never dull. Ever.

And it's also probably the only place online where people will, and have, given serious and considered answers to questions about dealing with noisy owls and the physical dynamics of poo on waterslides.

This would not happen anywhere else.

This place is unique.
posted by Wordshore at 4:03 PM on May 20 [9 favorites]


what about a MeFi shirt day, where we all wear our MeFi gear? That could be fun.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 4:03 PM on May 20


> I'll try to lighten the mod load by trying to not be a jerk.

If either Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, or gnfti, in their new status as ordinary users, ever feels obliged to tell me "You are being kind of a jerk, dial it back some, OK?" you may depend on me reacting as I would if I were doing something shifty-looking in California in 1920 and a passing gent said "If'n ah wuz you, stranger, ah would quit what ah wuz doin' an' move on" and I happened to recognize the gent as Wyatt Earp--retired, badgeless, and no longer Marshall Earp but still someone whose advice on staying alive and out of jail was worth attending. Best of luck to all three of you. And to the site.
posted by jfuller at 4:04 PM on May 20 [11 favorites]


This is a vast thread, and I shudder to read the whole thing. I do want to say that I care deeply about Metafilter and want it to continue strong. You've never asked me for money, and I would be delighted to donate to keep the site going, on a regular basis as much as I can. Just let me know what I can do. I'm going to donate as soon as I'm back home.
posted by honest knave at 4:05 PM on May 20


To meet a monthly target of ~ $12K to increase mod power we'd be looking at 2400 new users/month. I don't think that is realistic.

Or desirable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:07 PM on May 20 [7 favorites]


travelwithcats: "To meet a monthly target of ~ $12K to increase mod power we'd be looking at 2400 new users/month."

Or 2400 existing users who set up recurring donations that average out to $5/month/user.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:10 PM on May 20 [13 favorites]


Man, I can't believe that this July is MetaFilter's 15th anniversary--it doesn't seem at all like five years have passed since we celebrated the 10th. I remember that Matt chipped in beer money for every meetup, however big or small. I wonder if there's something we could do to celebrate the birthday and repay the favor by giving back to sustain the site that's given us so much.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:23 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Or 1 existing user who sets up a recurring donation that averages out to $12,000/month/user.

I'm lookin' at you, Woz.
posted by Flunkie at 4:25 PM on May 20 [17 favorites]


OK, $60 chipped in. Might buy yet another t-shirt as well.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 4:26 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Or 1 existing user who sets up a recurring donation that averages out to $12,000/month/user.

In all seriousness, that's not a good idea.
posted by Michele in California at 4:32 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Chiming in many, many comments later: Someone upthread requested a "Professional White Background" shirt be put on sale, but that seems like a pretty explicitly troubling bit of text for a T-shirt, no?
posted by nobody at 4:33 PM on May 20 [9 favorites]


Someone upthread requested a "Professional White Background" shirt be put on sale, but that seems like a pretty explicitly troubling bit of text for a T-shirt, no?

*horrified laughter*

Good point.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:36 PM on May 20 [25 favorites]


I would totally buy a Metafilter t-shirt that says:

Veni, Vidi, Favi
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:36 PM on May 20 [10 favorites]


not_on_display, I was at that meet-up in NoHo, where you met Jessamyn. I was so enthusiastic about the site that I took a bus down from Portland (Maine) to attend the meet-up. I mean, come on, Jessamyn and Greg Nog at the same place, along with Languagehat and others.

I remember how bubbly and kind Jessamyn was on first greeting, how she looked at the pics of my then 2-year-old granddaughter, and genuinely listened and was all around a fun and nice person. And it was so sweet to see the two of you meet and connect that night.

I remember, in my beery goggles, looking at everyone and saying, "my God, what beautiful people!"

Another MeFi said, "you shouldn't be judging people on their looks."

And I replied, "not their outsides, man, their souls! Look at all the beautiful souls gathered here!"

Because I feel the same way as Greg Nog, but it's also our humanity and our souls shining here. When it gets ugly (as the monkeybrain can lead us to do or say ugly things at times), when things get heated and people are quick to take offense or make an off-color joke, the mods are like our Ben Franklin. Wit, humor and reason. Enlightenment.

I really feel we've lost a valuable resource with Jessamyn, gnfti and Loberstermitten. I thank you all for the great job you've done and wish you the very best of luck in whatever you end up doing.

My only idea to keep the site going forward is a bean plating game where you have to answer trivia questions really quickly to catch the beans and load them onto your plate. Sort of like a cross between Cookie Clicker and Typer Shark on Yahoo. Once your plate is full, a resounding toot-toot brings you up to the next level: spiral hot dogs and beans. Then a giant donut and beans and hot dogs, if you win the first three rounds, you get a fish in your pants. Final level: flameout.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:42 PM on May 20 [14 favorites]


I have been here since the beginning and have gotten more from this site than I can possibly say. AskMetafilter is basically, my therapist. Therapy is worth $5/month . . . consider it donated.
posted by ainsley at 4:44 PM on May 20


I put up a recurring donation of $5/month on the Donate link. It's a third of an MMO subscription and I know I've spent way too much money on them.
posted by Talez at 4:51 PM on May 20


dhoe: "I'll set up a recurring subscription if an official "vote #1 quidnunc kid" t-shirt becomes available."

quid very kindly collaborated with me on the liner notes for my contribution to the current MeFi Music Swap. Perhaps we could use the design I put together to do a t-shirt with "Vote #1 quidnunc kid" on the front, and one (or all) of his rousing slogans on the back?
Sure he's an idiot, but he's our idiot.

It's morning again in MetaFilter. We should probably sober up.

quidnunc kid: in your small intestine, you know he might be reasonably fine.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:57 PM on May 20 [12 favorites]


It sounds like you could do several different t-shirts (or whatever) out of that. See what sells. With sites like Zazzle and Café Press, it ought to be just a bit of time and effort to put it out there and see what sells and then develop from there.

The current product listings are pretty ...um..uninspiring. I don't see any reason that can't be improved upon, to the benefit of the site's bottom line.
posted by Michele in California at 5:01 PM on May 20


My t-shirt-I-would-buy idea version 2.0:

Front: Veni, Vidi, Favi
Back: Nota Et Cede!

(Though I'm not sure if that's the best translation of "Flag it and move on!")
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:01 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


I should add to my idea: assuming quid is okay with it.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:03 PM on May 20


Another monthly contribution to add to the rolls.
THANKS to the moderators who are leaving.
posted by quince at 5:07 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Just for the record, the MeFite who originally suggested "Professional White Background" for the site was proto-blogger Anil Dash, and I believe at the time I commented (rather Politically Incorrectly) "If a Professional White Background were all that important, YOU would never get a job in this biz..."

I regret nothing... well, maybe a little.

Still, a "Professional White T-Shirt" (maybe using THAT wording) is a funny concept to me.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:13 PM on May 20 [5 favorites]


Matt: why the Hell didn't you tell us you needed help sooner? Did you think we wouldn't care? That we wouldn't help? That making Metafilter work as a going concern was your cross alone to bear? We're a community, for fuck's sake!

I have never met you or any of the mods, but you have all had a huge impact on me and my life. If I lost Metafilter, I would probably wander around in a daze, mumbling to myself. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one. I read it when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when I'm well and when I'm sick. I got yelled at by my wife when I read it the day my last son was born. It's been my little escape for more than a decade. I can count on one hand the number of days that I've missed during that time.

All you had to do was ask. I set up a monthly donation. 3/4 for me and 1/4 for some random fellow Mefite who wants to help but can't. I don't need a star. I don't need any special perks. I need Metafilter to be here, because God knows I will be.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:38 PM on May 20 [55 favorites]


I just had a random Key West Tourist wander up to me and ask me if I had heard about MetaFilter, and I asked why? And she said and I swear, because it's cromulent, motherfucker, get on it.

Considering that my only "hit" to date was a totally random Cold Lurkey at bad karaoke night, I found it enlightening beyond belief. The MetaFilter abides.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:54 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Monthly donation of $5 added.

For the record, I like idea of membership fees being strictly, truly "pay what you can/wish." It seems very in keeping with the spirit of Metafilter -- similar to the way we contribute our words and thoughts to make this place what it is.
posted by desuetude at 6:01 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Someone upthread requested a "Professional White Background" shirt be put on sale, but that seems like a pretty explicitly troubling bit of text for a T-shirt, no?

*cough* That was me, and during my drive home I had the same realization. Too bad the edit window is so short… :7(

Maybe "Professional-Looking Website Background" in plain type on a white t-shirt would deliver the same message. Or, you know, since that pretty much removes all context and humor, maybe one of the other ka-jillion "Metafilter: Suggestive non-sequitur" taglines would work better.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:04 PM on May 20


For the record, I like idea of membership fees being strictly, truly "pay what you can/wish."

Yeah, that's absolutely where we are on it as well. We're working on a formal help-fund-the-site page for this stuff that's more purpose built than "go to the About page", and it'll basically let you do however much you are comfortable with; anything is helpful, and anything will count. It's not about buying exclusivity, it's just about supporting the site in an additional monetary way if it's something you're able to do.

And we've heard the folks who would rather not have something show up on their profile page; we're building in a display preference so it can be easily disabled if that's your preference for any reason.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:05 PM on May 20 [27 favorites]


Hugs to everyone.
posted by halonine at 6:20 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


I'm not really all that random, halfbuckaroo, normally just a few logical steps shy of a complete non-sequitor.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:35 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Oh my goodness, Jessamyn LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane. Thank you so much. I love this site and the moderation that is a part of it.
posted by radiocontrolled at 6:42 PM on May 20


"Too bad the edit window is so short… :7("

Stick an extra $20 in the kitty, and you can edit your comment up to 12 hours later.
posted by klangklangston at 6:42 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Consider this a +1 for the 'Professional White T-shirt' though

(which is even funny without the in-joke)
posted by dinty_moore at 7:00 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Count me in as someone who would definitely be willing to financially contribute if an option was made available. Donations, subscriptions, anything to save our site!
posted by resilient_raindrop at 7:00 PM on May 20


By my count (okay, a search for "$"), there's been about $500/month signed up already in this thread, and about 3-5x that saying they would subscribe if something formal were set up.
posted by one_bean at 7:02 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


I'd love a t-shirt/mug/mousepad generator that auto-adds a MeFi logo to any text. There are so many good lines that come out of this community, it would be great to get them on misc. schwag.

Maybe with the ability to add a username? I put this on some cards and would love to have it on a shirt w/ attribution.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:05 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Because I forgot to say it WAY upthread:

Thank you, Jessamyn, LobsterMittens and GoodNewsForTheInsane. Being a MeFite has helped me through some of the darkest years of my life, and your work as Mods helped maintain an online community where its still OK to be weird.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:10 PM on May 20


I love reading, but I'm not much into talking. It's nice to have another way to contribute... one more payment for the stack.
posted by underflow at 7:10 PM on May 20 [5 favorites]


While I get that an influx of new users isn't really what MeFi needs, I do think that MeFi would benefit from a somewhat higher profile among the Internet-at-large. While it is kind of cool that nobody knows what I'm talking about when I say I get most of my good Internet from Metafilter, I'm not sure it bodes well for the longevity of this place.

Higher profile, more clicks, higher PageRank (I think), more ad revenue. And some more users :)

Also: time to increase cost of membership? Not sure what real effect membership fees have on the bottom line, but 10 years at $5 seems a bit nuts.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:15 PM on May 20


Crap. I have skipped the bulk of this thread but put me down as another 'I love this place and will pay actual money to keep it going' person. I would be happy to receive email suggesting I donate to this or that MeFi fundraising thing. I would contribute, skint as I am.

I seriously love this place and do not wish to see it die. I am so grateful to the mods and to Matt for all they have done so far. I will do my part to see it carries on.
posted by motty at 7:15 PM on May 20


Consider this a +1 for the 'Professional White T-shirt' though

(which is even funny without the in-joke)


But what if they think we're groupies?!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:24 PM on May 20


Resilient raindrop, the link to donate has been posted repeatedly in this thread. Did you mean something on top of that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:26 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Also: time to increase cost of membership?

Nope. If we were having a problem with too many signups, we'd consider a different kind of barrier but even then probably not a bigger monetary one. I really value the fact that the $5 is largely symbolic and not an overwhelming hardship even for folks who are pretty broke, and we're always happy to just comp a signup to someone for whom it is a hardship.

It's wonderful that people who want to give and are able are showing us the support they are, but being a mefite should never be about meeting a monetary hurdle.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:27 PM on May 20 [49 favorites]


It's wonderful that people who want to give and are able are showing us the support they are, but being a mefite should never be about meeting a monetary hurdle.

I agree for sure. I wasn't thinking of raising the cost as either a way to dissuade signups or "meeting a monetary hurdle," just as a way to increase revenue. Obvi this is predicated on the idea that signups are a meaningful source of revenue, but if you're getting 1000 new signups a month (imagined number) then a $1 increase in the membership cost could move the needle somewhat without unduly stressing anybody.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:41 PM on May 20


I really value the fact that the $5 is largely symbolic and not an overwhelming hardship even for folks who are pretty broke

Plus the fact that unless they're long-term lurkers, how would a new user really know how to value the site/their participation in the community? Most in this thread expressing a willingness to contribute have been around for awhile (not forever, but at least a year or two) so we know what this site means to us. I'm not sure the value, monetarily speaking, would be so apparent to someone just stumbling across the site the first few times. "Oh, this place looks cool - sure, I'll sign up. WHAT? $10? No way." I mean, how would it be possible for them to know?
posted by hapax_legomenon at 7:54 PM on May 20


It appears that PayPal doesn't allow monthly recurring payments for me (from Canada) or I could just be incompetent. Either way, I ponied up another $10 today for stupid tax, and set a calendar reminder to do the same next month until the site has a more formal subscription feature set up. Star is nice but not necessary.
posted by arcticseal at 7:57 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


A truly noble decision Jessamyn. Thank you.
posted by valkane at 7:59 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Wretch729, I just got a similar call. Glad to know my $ will go through.

I'll add my thanks to all Mefites, past and present, mod and not, to the pile.
posted by Beti at 8:08 PM on May 20


There's been some discussion of funding models similar to Reddit Gold, but I specifically enjoy the "tip the site for a user's good post" aspect of it. I just wanted to call that out specifically. It's fun to put a gold star on someone else's profile.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:13 PM on May 20 [7 favorites]


Just to add on to the love: I often start a Metafilter story with "My friends on the internet said..." and at this point I'm always asked, "is it that blue site?"

Because Metafilter is my friend on the internet. Hugs to you.
posted by cmyk at 8:15 PM on May 20 [16 favorites]


Say what you will about jessamyn, she earned every one of those gift cards.
posted by Partial Law at 8:20 PM on May 20


I don't think the loss of three mods will affect the site much, and I hope it helps. I'm a huge fan of Mefi and will be happy to contribute some more funds so the site can remain viable. Good luck!
posted by ReeMonster at 8:26 PM on May 20


Many thanks to the mods! Wish I'd known about the subscription option before; I should've been paying for a long time now. That $5 membership years ago is probably the greatest deal on the entire internets.
posted by equalpants at 8:31 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Also couldn't set up a recurring payment from Canada. Made a down payment. Here's to the past, present, future and alternate history mod teams.
posted by ~ at 8:35 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


It never hit me squarely until Chrysostom noted it upthread, but MeFi has been my refuge from the Eternal September for at least a decade now. And while the site and the users certainly haven't remained in stasis, it's always been a sane, civilized, thoughtful, and welcoming place. That's thanks in major part to this community's, and our beloved mods', efforts to socialize and acculturate folks like me who wandered in here, and wander here still. That process can't be rushed, or faked.

Jessamyn, LobsterMitten, GNFTI (and the whole team) -- my heartfelt thanks to you. Although these days I lurk here more than I post, I'm still here most every day, and my life is richer for it.

Put me down for my $5/mo, SAIT.
posted by theoddball at 8:44 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


So sorry to hear all of this. It's definitely sad news to absorb, and I've, like so many others, taken this site for granted (guilty). When I gain employment, I'll donate for sure.

I remember in 2007, doing a Google search and discovering MetaFilter that way. I was a shameless lurker until 2011, when I finally jointed the party. It's definitely been a resourceful place to be. I remember resenting the $5 fee (why should I sign up and pay $5, if I can use Yahoo Answers for free?), but now I can understand why.

Shame on Google. Try giving them feedback or contacting a higher up somehow?
posted by dubious_dude at 9:03 PM on May 20


I also couldn't create a recurring payment from Canada (which is odd because I have one that goes to the Netherlands. Oh well). I've made a note to just do it manually, instead, 15th of the month.
posted by jokeefe at 9:06 PM on May 20


I'm in for $5 monthly. This is my internet home, the least I can do is chip in for lightbulbs.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:18 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Yet another Canuck who made a $5 downpayment and looks forward to making it a monthly transaction. Preferably more once I'm no longer unemployed.

I can't imagine how different I would be without Metafilter. Literally all of my 20's, and for more than a decade now, it's been an important part of my life.

We can only hope that maybe in another 10 or 15 years, Google or whatever behemoth replaces them will tweak some algorithm and the site will be showered in riches. Then Matt can buy us all ponies!
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:19 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I'm in Canada, and had no problem setting up a recurring payment via Paypal.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:19 PM on May 20


Well, I asked to set it up as a recurring payment, which I have done before with other US sites, and received some notification of the recurrent nature of the payment, and I can see on my Pay Pal account that it is set up as such. I checked just now and I can see I have one recurring payment set up, and it isn't for MetaFilter.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:27 PM on May 20


I know what getting laid off feels like. Thanks so much to Jessamyn, LobsterMitten and goodnewsfortheinsane for all you've done, and the very best of luck for the future.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:33 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Bad April Fool's Joke? No? Damn.

How about a $5 annual fee for everyone? I understand the reluctance to raise the entry fee. I like the low bar of entry. If they like it, they'll renew. If it isn't for them, they'll let it expire and it won't cost them $1 more than it does now. If someone finds it useful then the $5 annual fee is a pittance.

I also like the AskMe follow up email, "Was your question answered? If so, consider a contribution to the site" idea.

Is it too late to talk you out of leaving Jessamyn? I saw you have a new gig. Don't go!
posted by karst at 9:37 PM on May 20


It is on my list to set up the recurring payment first of next month. PayPal apparently does not have a feature that allows one to choose the date of whatever payments. I would hate for a payment to bounce. . .
posted by Danf at 9:37 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I can't set up a recurring payment because I don't have a PayPal account. But I need to get a PayPal account for multiple reasons, and plan to do so in the next month or so, as soon as I can set up an alternate bank account to link it to. (I don't want to link it to my main bank account because of PayPal's reputation for BS.)

Please make alternate payment options available. About one in four MeFites live outside the US. It's not like non-US MeFites don't want to contribute, they just can't.

(Maybe Recurly, mentioned above in the thread, could help with this. I don't know.)
posted by nangar at 9:47 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Good luck to the departing mods, hope you each find rewarding jobs and general happiness!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:48 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I'd be willing to turn a few ads back on voluntarily if that would help. I don't know if this would help enough, but if you had an option in the settings to enable a few text ads or something, I'd turn them back on and whitelist MeFi with adblock, so long as there weren't any attack ads or such.
posted by Canageek at 10:03 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I'd be willing to pay $5 month without needing any extra features for doing so. That's $60 per year just from me. If 2,000 people are willing to do that, that's $120,000 per year. That ought to help some.
posted by Dansaman at 10:44 PM on May 20


How about a $5 annual fee for everyone?

It's been metioned in this thread already -- the mods have always said that the fee wasn't a money-making thing but just a (quite low) hurdle to entry. Spam works because it's effectively free; having to pay anything at all to spam breaks the economies of that business model. Since spamming gets you banned pretty quickly around here it's an effective way to keep the community healthy.
posted by JHarris at 10:53 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


"I'm in Canada, and had no problem setting up a recurring payment via Paypal."

Yeah, but what's Matt gonna do with all that tire money?
posted by klangklangston at 11:06 PM on May 20 [7 favorites]


I prefer not to support PayPal; thank you for providing an address so I can mail a check.

Metafilter helped keep me sane during the years I was the primary (and for the first two the only) caregiver for my parents who suffer dementia.
That was an extremely difficult time for me; dealing with my sisters' and aunts' denial, busybody neighbors, and often the police, while ensuring my parents received the care they required.
This is the place I could dial up where I wasn't the only adult in the room. Better yet, there were people who were more adult than I was; more intelligent, articulate and insightful.
Loneliness and isolation will kill you sure as cancer.
All the thoughtful discussions, heated arguments and lolbutts were banked coals I drew upon to keep my own spirit burning.

how could I ever forget you?

Metafilter will end some day. But right now, Metafilter is too valuable to fail.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:28 PM on May 20 [12 favorites]


Metafilter will end some day.

Oh, we know how it ends.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:01 AM on May 21 [17 favorites]


what's the budget shortfall? I don't see it anywhere. would be a shame to lose MeFi.
posted by TMezz at 12:22 AM on May 21


Today is my 13th anniversary of signing up for an account here. I was in the range where only a few people could sign up a day, and got lucky that day.

I'm sorry that we are losing jessamyn, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten. MeFi is something special and I hope things turn around soon.
posted by SuzySmith at 12:31 AM on May 21


while I am saddened to read this announcement I have to say I am not surprised.

in bad times, people often say to each other "you have changed."
metafilter hasn't. it has stayed the same while the social web around it has changed.

looking to the front page, I often see links that have been making the rounds on twitter, reddit, facebook and whoknowswhereelese for days. this used to be different. metafilter used to have more people who found links that went on to be rehashed elsewhere. the front page used to be more interesting. too many of these valued contributors are no longer here, having moved on to other sites or simply stopped their activities. that's natural but they weren't replaced.

I think the main challenge for metafilter isn't a changed google algorithm. it's that this place lost it's big draw. this isn't the big community to discover anymore. the draw for those value-adding commentators isn't as bit as it was when there was little to compare metafilter to. the $5 signup worked wonders back in the days, it made this community operate at a higher level. now it's an anachronism that has been holding back growth.

matt, I remember you saying or writing somewhere once that this wasn't about being the biggest, that you wanted a nice, sustainable business that generated a solid monthly income. that's admirable and arguably better for users, too. it's what I respect about craig newmark as well. the lack of change, the absence of bold ideas being tried out, the lack of sacred cows being if not slaughtered then at least questioned have hurt metafilter.

the question to answer is *how can we make this the great destination it used to be?* what could make someone who currently spends most of their time on quora or a subreddit want to spend more time here ... again?
posted by krautland at 2:14 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


krautland, I disagree. There was a relatively short period of time where Mefi was the place where links were discovered by 'everyone', and it would be impossible to return back to that state without completely changing the site - simply because Reddit/Twitter/every other website is so good and so dedicated about finding the next big article/video/game.

That's not a bad thing. I don't have the time to keep up with Reddit/Twitter to find all the cool stuff, and in any case I much prefer the discussion and commentary on Metafilter - which I believe is something that other sites have not been able to replicate well, certainly not on the long timescales that Mefi has.

Perhaps the lack of bold ideas and sacred cows being slaughtered have hurt Mefi, but I've seen countless sites do both and none of them are here any more.
posted by adrianhon at 2:25 AM on May 21 [15 favorites]


...which is not to say that all change is bad. I love the idea of helping people make listicles of good Ask Mefi content, such as travel and product recommendations. I've also started posting a lot to Fanfare, which is a huge addition to the site and one that seems to be very popular.

Next year I'll hit my fifteenth anniversary on Mefi - that means I'll have spent almost half my life here...
posted by adrianhon at 3:29 AM on May 21


I had to sit on this news for a couple of days, as I shifted between "oh, it will be fine." and "OMG, the world is ending, I can't stand watching!"...

I am sad that we are losing these fine folks that have helped make this a civilized place, they've done a fine job and will be missed. I wish each of them success in whatever they do next. You've each, at one time or another, gently corrected my mistakes with patience and kindness. I AM a better person and a better member of this community (and many others) because of what I've learned from you (and, in all reality, from many of you that are not mods as well). For that... Thank you.

I also have been considering what my response is to this... How to think about it and came to a couple of conclusions:

I have a responsibility to support the site. I've spent years and years absorbing interesting conversation, great humor, discussions of world changing events... I need to repay that, I'll be making an ongoing donation.

And, the other thought that came to mind is that now all of us have an increased responsibility to self police and take some of the load off of those that remain... So, in the words of one of our favorite writers, "There's only one rule that I know of, babies — "God damn it, you've got to be kind."

That might help..
posted by HuronBob at 3:34 AM on May 21 [8 favorites]


adrian, I don't want to turn time back. my point is that mefi had something special, then everything around it got better and mefi had nothing new that once again made it special. this, right now, is just another community among thousands of equal or larger communities.

I am worried that the negative churn of users will make mefi go dark in a few years if nothing is done to make the site appealing to newbies again. (okay, it is. more appealing than the other good sites is what I mean.)

do you find it difficult to imagine matthowie writing another such post in five years, declaring the end of metafilter? perhaps he'll be nice and leave it running without paid staff supporting it but is it difficult to imagine that things are going into the wrong direction and that a turnaround is warranted?
posted by krautland at 3:40 AM on May 21


Krautland, what other communities have you found like mefi? The Well used to be famous for the sense of community it had - didn't they buy their own site as a non-profit? - but it has always seemed somewhat hippy and opaque to me. I guess some Reddit subforums have a sense of community about them, maybe TheHairpin sort of and definitely fandoms can have that on LJ/tumblr/mailing lists, but these tend to be organised around a common interest. Metafilter is unusual in the sheer breadth and diversity of topics and users that still have a fairly agreed online sense of community.

What else is quite so neutral (except for being in English - oooh, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese mefi spinoffs!) and yet communal online as metafilter?
posted by viggorlijah at 3:49 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


this isn't the big community to discover anymore.

Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ aren't really communities. Reddit, sure. But getting that distinction straight is pretty important.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:58 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Krautland, I know what you're getting at; I myself came to the site in the wake of ever diminishing posts at memepool, mefi initially filled exactly that function for me.

However, I think you're missing two things, one minor one major. Firstly, the web has changed, the nature of front page posts has certainly changed, too. Obscurity and Byzantine links war more heavily with the latest movie trailer or puppy trick. But guess which is more popular with mefites, and guess who many viral sites mefi has if not outlived, at least exceeded in health (digg anyone?).

More importantly, mathowie could delete the blue overnight with virtually no hit to revenue. The community isn't, but the site as a whole is built on ask.me and non members looking at it.

Whether the mefi of yore had something unique (I agree with you, it did, but so does the mefi of today), is irrelevant so far as revenue is concerned.
posted by smoke at 4:12 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


And frankly I get so much more out of this community than interesting links. Sure that's what I came for, but I stayed for the totality of mefi. I mean this place really is a community and a place of belonging for me. No doubt it's an act of the most outrageous projection, but I genuinely think of a great many mefites as friends, even those I don't interact directly with very much, because we share something and care about something together (this community). It's as cheesy as the gloriously filling nachos I quaffed today, now sitting in my large intestine like a concrete block, but it's true for me and it seems a great many people here.
posted by smoke at 4:18 AM on May 21 [14 favorites]


That's a fair point krautland - my issue is whether there is in fact negative churn of users (because what mathowie highlighted was reduced traffic to Ask Mefi, mostly because of Google's new algorithm - not overall reduced traffic) and if so, to what extent there is.

There are many ways to respond in a situation like this. Mathowie has clearly thought about this a lot, including selling the site. Given the circumstances, I understand why staff are being laid off - best to get things on an even keel financially ASAP - but I also think he's underestimating the willingness of the community to contribute to the long-term financial health of the site. A $1 million endowment? Totally doable within a year. That wouldn't solve everything but it'd be a start.

I guess I do worry about Mathowie's capacity to take this on. Fundraising can be a lot of work and it can be stressful. Also he's been focused on Mefi for a very long time and a long time to be focused on a single project. But then I see the activity around Fanfare and maybe it's all good.
posted by adrianhon at 4:19 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


*

Wow, shocked doesn't really cover it. Sorry to hear about all this, please let us know if there is anything we can do (like a subscription service) to help.
posted by arnicae at 4:45 AM on May 21


☆ I contribute to MetaFilter every month—you can too!



PS here's the PayPal link from the About page you want to insert. You know, if you do. And you do!
posted by Mike Mongo at 5:02 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


It's funny. I come here not for the freshness of the links, but for the relative sanity of the commentary. The discussions at every "free" site I have ever been a member of almost inevitably gets taken over by trolls and extremists. I say jack up the fees to whatever level will make the site sustainable. For comparison I pay $7 a month to be a member of lwn.net, one of the only other decently moderated sites I have found and I don't use it nearly as often since it is very domain specific.
posted by Poldo at 5:21 AM on May 21 [9 favorites]


Just out of curiosity, Matt, does paypal tell you how many payments are set up as recurring? In other words, can you tell how many "subscribers" there are now?
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 5:23 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


I believe Google is evil.
Not because their search algorithm ditched Metafilter the way the new superhighway bypassed a favorite small town.
Rather because they truly believe that all of our personal information belongs to them to exploit for their own profits.
It didn't take long for the greedheads to steal the internet.

Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn't be better off just retreating into the private room in my apodment and enjoy all the listicles on Buzzfeed, et al whilst slurping Victory Gin.
posted by Pudhoho at 5:31 AM on May 21


Not because their search algorithm ditched Metafilter the way the new superhighway bypassed a favorite small town. the Bates Motel
posted by shakespeherian at 5:41 AM on May 21 [5 favorites]


So here's the thing, krautland. People have been complaining about Metafilter's supposed decline in quality since I first showed up here with my original username in January, 2007. That's not new. But this money crisis is relatively new. And I sort of trust that matthowie understands his own funding model and is able to diagnose what's going on with his own finances. So if he says it's the google algorithm, I'm going to trust that over your vague sense of declining quality, which has been around in various guises since well before the site was at peak profitability. Matthowie's analysis also jibes with my personal experience, which is that askme answers used to come up all the time on the front page of google searches and now don't appear in my google searches anymore. So while I get that some people, as always, think that the quality has declined, this discussion seems like a weird place to bring it up, unless you have some fairly concrete plans to improve the quality in ways that would actually increase profitability, keeping in mind matthowie's core values and how the site actually earns money. Otherwise, it seems like using a distressing and stressful situation to ride your own personal hobbyhorse, and that strikes me as kind of a shitty thing to do.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:43 AM on May 21 [21 favorites]


mathowie: there was a sudden drop in traffic from google to askme
krautland: no
posted by Greg Nog at 5:46 AM on May 21 [17 favorites]


Not because their search algorithm ditched Metafilter the way the new superhighway bypassed a favorite small town. the Bates Motel

Hey Shakes, here's a ticket to my meet-up. I want to introduce you to my mother.
posted by Pudhoho at 5:48 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: as cheesy as the gloriously filling nachos I quaffed today, now sitting in my large intestine like a concrete block
posted by Chrysostom at 5:58 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Wait, how does one quaff a nacho? Do you put them in ale first? Are they nachos made of ale? I'm ... I'm all confused now. I need to sit down for a minute.
posted by aramaic at 6:01 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


You'd better sit down if you're going to quaff those nachos.
posted by Pudhoho at 6:02 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


looking to the front page, I often see links that have been making the rounds on twitter, reddit, facebook and whoknowswhereelese for days. this used to be different. metafilter used to have more people who found links that went on to be rehashed elsewhere.

it's funny that for some the impression is that metafilter used to be a place to discover things. i know that at least 5 years ago, probably more, i was making the argument that metafilter's strength was rarely having breaking news on the front page, that what we excelled at was waiting 2 or 3 days and then having really in depth posts that were better than the other sites because they brought the whole story together and we all got to discuss whatever the issues were in a more informed way.

i also feel like "the sky is falling/metafilter needs to change/metafilter used to be different" parade was going strong by the time i showed up in 2002. it's such a pervasive part of site culture, and maybe just internet culture, but it doesn't make those impressions true or meaningful.
posted by nadawi at 6:04 AM on May 21 [19 favorites]


I often see links that have been making the rounds on twitter, reddit, facebook and whoknowswhereelese for days. this used to be different. metafilter used to have more people who found links that went on to be rehashed elsewhere.

Out-redditing reddit is not a fight a metafilter scale organization could win, even if it wanted to.
posted by shothotbot at 6:32 AM on May 21 [6 favorites]


It's still a valid point. I used to see links here first, then reddit a few days later. Now I see them on the front pages of both simultaneously. It makes this place less topical, but no less special. Once need only read the comments between the two sites on the same subject.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:36 AM on May 21


I, too, am one who has never thought of Metafilter as a breaking-news thing, necessarily. l visit because of the kind of place it is and the kind of discussions that are had, and because I vastly prefer the interface to reddit (which, visually, I cannot abide), and because I prefer moderated discussions to the Wild West or the err-on-the-side-of-Wild-West. I would much rather see more opportunities to donate than a sacrificing of the five-buck entry fee for the sake of growth per se, given that the five-buck entry fee is the most brilliant thing ever for preserving access while avoiding drive-by jerkfaces with no investment in the community.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 6:38 AM on May 21 [10 favorites]


krautland: "the lack of change, the absence of bold ideas being tried out, the lack of sacred cows being if not slaughtered then at least questioned have hurt metafilter. "

Perhaps.

But over the years a lot of the trendy web design upgrades made sites less easy to use, not more. Popup advertising. Flash. Reverse type, etc.

Facebook changes their UI about once a year and has arguably become less user-friendly, less usable and less efficient with each "upgrade." Users put up with it because they need Facebook.
posted by zarq at 6:41 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


cjorgensen: "It's still a valid point. I used to see links here first, then reddit a few days later. Now I see them on the front pages of both simultaneously. It makes this place less topical, but no less special. Once need only read the comments between the two sites on the same subject."

So if unique links aren't Metafilter's draw, what is?
posted by zarq at 6:43 AM on May 21


So if unique links aren't Metafilter's draw, what is?

Quit fishing for compliments, zarq.
posted by Etrigan at 6:46 AM on May 21 [14 favorites]


So if unique links aren't Metafilter's draw, what is?

The metadiscussion and filtering, obviously - it's right there in the name. I often come across breaking-news type stuff elsewhere on the internet, glance at the headline then forget about it: I know I'll get a more in depth view of the good stuff on the blue a few hours or days later, plus good comentary or lulz, depending on the topic.
posted by Dr Dracator at 6:49 AM on May 21 [8 favorites]


Well, I would posit that it's not possible to have a unique link.

There are entirely too many link aggregates out there. The only draw metafilter has is the discussion. It's all that's allowed or possible. Some feel this forms a community, so if you are one of these then there is also that appeal. It's also a limiter of crap links.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:51 AM on May 21


An idea for a (relatively) simple way to add additional cash flow: create iOS and Android apps to view Metafilter with optional in-app purchases in one-time and subscription form. People pay more than the one-time Metafilter signup fee - monthly even! - for dating apps and simple little games. Surely some of us would pony up for Metafilter.

I have a feeling there's even a Metafilter app developer or 2 who could volunteer to help.

All that said, Lobster, Goodnews, and Jessamyn, I appreciate your work and will miss you in that capacity.
posted by Stoatfarm at 6:59 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I come for the unique links. But I also steal from reddit. 。゚(゚ノД`゚)゚。
posted by Going To Maine at 7:03 AM on May 21


Yep, we add an affiliate code. The way Amazon handles this is session based, so in principle we'll still get some (wee fractional) credit even if you don't buy that thing but do buy some other stuff on your visit.

Can a mod explain how this works a little better so that I can do this with all of my Amazon shopping? Our household spends literally thousands of dollars a year on Amazon - we get everything that can be delivered from it. I would love to support Metafilter this way.

(Also having a justification for my Amazon habit. "No, honey, I have to buy this ebook! It's for Metafilter!)
posted by corb at 7:09 AM on May 21 [17 favorites]


Well, I would posit that it's not possible to have a unique link.

At least not one on a site that aggregates and reposts the best of the web as it's reason for existence, ie some sort of internet meta-filter of sorts.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:10 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


I deeply appreciate the current levels of moderation, and all the work that's been done to make this space an inclusive and equitable place for everyone. Those who think MetaFilter's no different from Reddit are... well, probably not women, for one thing.

Since I joined a while back, I've never paid for the site. That's going to change today!
posted by Georgina at 7:14 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


Etrigan: " Quit fishing for compliments, zarq."

*snort* I hope you're joking.

Dr Dracator: "The metadiscussion and filtering, obviously - it's right there in the name. "

cjorgensen: "Well, I would posit that it's not possible to have a unique link.

There are entirely too many link aggregates out there. The only draw metafilter has is the discussion. It's all that's allowed or possible. Some feel this forms a community, so if you are one of these then there is also that appeal. It's also a limiter of crap links.
"

OK, so the complaint that Metafilter is no longer the first to find and disseminate "best of" links is beside the point, then.
posted by zarq at 7:17 AM on May 21


just did a little search - all the way back in 2001 people were arguing about whether a link showing up on fark first and then here a few days later was a feature or a bug.
posted by nadawi at 7:17 AM on May 21 [7 favorites]


Can a mod explain how this works a little better so that I can do this with all of my Amazon shopping?

Mostly it's on Amazon's side; they have an affiliate tracking code system whereby people who belong to their sales affiliate program can include their personal code in a link, and folks following that link will basically carry that affiliation with their shopping session on the short term. (So not just "did you buy the thing you clicked through to via the affiliate link" but "did you buy some thing(s) during that shopping session".)

Metafilter auto-replaces/inserts the site's affiliate code on Amazon links both as a small source of income and (and this was the impetus when we started replacing them) to discourage coy affiliate link-scumming by spammers and opportunists. It's not a huge source of income but it doesn't hurt.

So, in terms of supporting mefi via that vector, the simple but hacky way to do it is to visit Amazon via any link on Metafilter with our affiliate code in it, and then do whatever shopping you intended to. There are also I believe bookmarklets you can use as something to just click from your bookmarks to load an affiliate session on demand, but I'm not familiar with the details.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:21 AM on May 21 [5 favorites]


corb: " Can a mod explain how this works a little better so that I can do this with all of my Amazon shopping? Our household spends literally thousands of dollars a year on Amazon - we get everything that can be delivered from it. I would love to support Metafilter this way."

When you add an amazon link to a post or comment, the site slips some code into the link which identifies it as coming from metafilter.

Standard amazon links look like this:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312977042/

With the metafilter code, they look like this:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312977042/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/

The url still leads to the same page on Amazon, but the site notes that the person found the link on Metafilter. The Amazon Affiliates program's page is here.

If you would like to help the site when you shop at Amazon, bookmark this page. Begin your session at amazon by clicking a link on that page, then shop and check out as normal. All of the purchases made in a session started through a link on Metafilter will kick a small percentage of the sale back to this site. It doesn't matter if you actually buy the item that led you to Amazon. All you have to do is go there from here, through a Metafilter affiliate link.
posted by zarq at 7:22 AM on May 21 [14 favorites]


Or... you know... what cortex said. :P
posted by zarq at 7:23 AM on May 21


OK, so the complaint that Metafilter is no longer the first to find and disseminate "best of" links is beside the point, then.

I don't think it's ever been firsties in scooping the best of the web content, it's just been better at filtering the best and has had the added feature of the ability to continue the conversation often with real-live experts in the field or eye-witnesses (as well as diverse and sundry opinions and smart asses).
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:28 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


What about sending people a MeMail reminder on their anniversary.
Dear ShotHotBot, today marks your 3rd year on MetaFilter and we are glad to have you! You have made 17 posts and 232 comments while finding 118 favorites. If you would like to support MetaFiilter please consider giving $5, the same as the sign up fee, by clicking this link. Of course, all donations are voluntary and no one should feel obliged to give beyond their means: you are more important than your money. Thanks for another great year.

Virtually,
MetaFilter
posted by shothotbot at 7:30 AM on May 21 [11 favorites]


I know we don't do firsties here, but surely you guys will forgive me for claiming comment 1337 as my own...
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:31 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


looking to the front page, I often see links that have been making the rounds on twitter, reddit, facebook and whoknowswhereelese for days.

Hmmmm. Here in the UK, social media, traditional media, and traditional media using social media have become gradually swamped with anything and everything to do with a right wing political party - and it's leader - of late (there are European elections tomorrow as well as local elections, and national elections in a years time). Three of the trending topics on UK twitter are this very issue. My twitter feed is full of people frothing about it. This one thing.

MetaFilter, on the other hand. Yesterday, 24 posts to the blue on a wide variety of subjects. Most of these I was unaware of; most are interesting; only 1 (Pennsylvania Gay Marriage Ban Overturned by Judge) turned up on my twitter or facebook feeds.
posted by Wordshore at 7:31 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Sadly, Peak Ad has also demonstrated a clear downstream effect on Peak LARP Trek. I hold Google entirely responsible for this travesty.
posted by slogger at