Jessamyn's Blog Post on The Downsizing June 27, 2014 6:21 PM   Subscribe

Jessamyn shares her thoughts as (former) MeFi employee #1 ("after Matt") here.

A few details:
She is awesome.
posted by Joseph Gurl to MetaFilter-Related at 6:21 PM (120 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

First off, I think Jessamyn is awesome too. I agree with all the major points Jessamyn laid out and acknowledge we didn't always see eye to eye on everything over the last ten years but it was fantastic having her running the show the last few years. The site would definitely not be what it is today without her extensive work on it and I appreciate her efforts here for all the years she was behind the scenes.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:24 PM on June 27, 2014 [55 favorites]


Jessamyn is wonderful. It's a testament to the working relationship that she and Matt built up that I didn't see any intimation of disagreement behind the scenes.

I hope that we continue to have her as a member of this community for many years to come. She's a voice of reason and a general good egg and I'd miss her if she wasn't around.
posted by arcticseal at 6:50 PM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Watching Matt comment on someone else's blog reminds me of seeing a God from one MUD playing a PC on another MUD. ("what, you're mortal now? seriously?").
posted by el io at 7:08 PM on June 27, 2014 [11 favorites]


:-(
posted by hal_c_on at 7:27 PM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


The burnout thing I really get. To be honest, I'm amazed that more mods haven't looked at the site one fighty Friday and thought "forget this, I'm out."

As always, thanks for all the modly efforts and best wishes to Jessamyn.
posted by bitmage at 7:39 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]



I'm glad Jessamyn is now happy. I'm ashamed to say I'm kind of happy that leaving her modliness wasn't something she jumped for joy to do. I'm also a bit gratified that some of the most rational, calm, kind and intelligent people I've ever "met", can disagree strongly. I frequently feel that it's just a symptom of my own immaturity when I don't agree with wonderful people.

Jessamyn, you'll always, always, always feel like my big sister on the internet... inspiring me to be my best self. And inspiring me that you're human and not embarrassed to share that.

If humanly possible, I absolutely bloody love you more than ever. Rock on Jessamyn West, rock on some more.
posted by taff at 7:43 PM on June 27, 2014 [11 favorites]


Having been away when Jessamyn's departure was announced, I'm glad I have this space to say, thanks Jessamyn for all your amazing metafiltration! It definitely didn't go unnoticed.
posted by threeants at 8:02 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Flagged for pedantry: there is only one detail listed below the fold.

Other details you could have included would be that she is patient with jerks, idiots, and newbies, cares deeply for this community and its members, and can find humor in things that would drive other people batty.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:29 PM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


For a few years now whenever a big decision or problem comes up I've started honestly asking myself, well, what would Jessamyn do? And that has led me to start choosing the most grown up of outcomes. So, yeah, I guess that makes Jessamyn my jesus substitute?
posted by pwally at 8:45 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


jessamyn's deft navigation of human emotions in contentious threads lent mefi the emotional timbre that I think of as being the core of What Mefi Is To Me. she is good.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:47 PM on June 27, 2014 [35 favorites]


I'm so glad you wrote that all out, Jessamyn. It's weird to say that it's good to hear that you and Matt butted heads occasionally, but it is. It, for me, removes just a touch of the hero worship I have for all y'all at Metafilter and brings it back to what this place is (a business) and what you do/did here (a job).

I wish you all the best on your continued journey, and I hope I get to hang with you in real space a bit more now that I've gathered the courage to break the ice with you and other Mefites!
posted by xingcat at 8:57 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


One of my first Ask Metafilter questions was a mess of jumbled emotions that I wrote while extremely upset. Jessamyn's answer was so wise, compassionate, and on point that it made me sit up straight. I miss her as a mod, but I'm thankful that being here as a civilian has been good to her.
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:57 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just ran across the greatest quote in the back of a book I just finished. It's by a famous Christian and while none of us mods are very Jesus-y I still think it's apt:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.
—John Wesley’s Rule

That seems to perfectly sum up all things Jessamyn does, whether that's MetaFilter, libraries, teaching teens & older adults how the internet works, reminding everyone in the high-tech world that a digital divide still exists, or the Open Library at The Internet Archive.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:13 PM on June 27, 2014 [148 favorites]


For a few years now whenever a big decision or problem comes up I've started honestly asking myself, well, what would Jessamyn do? And that has led me to start choosing the most grown up of outcomes.

posted by pwally

Me too. I'm a mod on a tiny tiny site of 12000-ish members, and for a while now, whenever I couldn't figure out what the best course of action would be for some drama or dilemma, I would ask myself "what would Jessamyn do?". And if I did what I thought Jessamyn would do, it was never the wrong choice.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 9:26 PM on June 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's weird since I often think of the backroom of Mefi as being a big old happy family with no fights or disagreements. Obviously this isn't true and could never be true. It's simultaneously nice to see the emotional intricacies a little this blog post but also disheartening in a way that I know is unfair and immature.
posted by josher71 at 9:43 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I liked this: "I needed MetaFilter to be less about me and I needed me to be less about MetaFilter."

BTW, Jessamyn's “Hey you might want to hire me” website is very nice. Also I just discovered we have the same haircut! Which leaves me feeling quite chuffed indeed.
posted by mochapickle at 10:29 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Who's Jessamyn?
posted by philip-random at 10:56 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Jessamyn's site is gorgeous! Of course the content is impressive, but it could be Lorem Ipsum or quotes from the Pacino version of Scarface and it would still be lovely (if a bit nonsensical).
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:19 PM on June 27, 2014


A place where even if you did have a bad day, you’d have a chance for a better one.

This, more than anything else, is the thing which has kept me coming back to MetaFilter so regularly over the years. It's a perfectly succinct summarization of what makes this place so awesome.

MetaFilter: A place where even if you did have a bad day, you’d have a chance for a better one.
posted by hippybear at 12:33 AM on June 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Metafilter employee number aside, Jessamyn's #1!
posted by mazola at 1:02 AM on June 28, 2014


I didn't want to put it in the post, but here it is: My favorite internet person ever.

Big shoes to fill, other mods, big shoes to fill.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:24 AM on June 28, 2014


I just made the WWJD comment on her blog - before reading the comments here. Clearly she had an impact on many of us that extends far beyond our behavior in fighty threads on the site.
posted by COD at 5:44 AM on June 28, 2014


When I was in Spain I remembered that Jessamyn had mentioned at some point that she likes getting postcards but I didn't have her address so I sent it to:

Jessamyn West
Librarian
Vermont
USA

I don't think it ever arrived but it's a way Jessamyn's impact has extended beyond the site, even if it hasn't yet reached the USPS.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:05 AM on June 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also I just discovered we have the same haircut!

The shorter one or the longer one? The shorter one grew into the longer one and I love the length my hair is now but since it's just a grown out other haircut I have no idea how to explain how I want it to look to the haircutting lady.

Thanks for the kind words everyone. It's a funny thing about Wesley. I have a relative who is a bit of a genealogy nut and my family goes back a ways in the US on one side (on the other they're all 3rd generation immigrants from Poland/Russia/Uzbekistan). Before everyone started being called JT West, there was a Bennett West who was born around 1775. We know very little about him except that he left his family in a Lowell boarding house to go off and be a horse preacher (same gig as Wesley) and vanished. My family lost religion at some point after that but there's always been a bit of the zealot in our gang.

One of the things I wanted to do when I moved on was spend more time on my online spaces and do some writing that wasn't just in the comment box. As I hope folks have seen, I've done some of that and also stuck around here like I pretty much planned to. It's weird being here as a non-mod but I find I am pretty good at flagging and moving on. It's good advice! One of the things that I didn't expect was how much I neglect my inbox now that it's not the center of my work day (apologies to people I owe emails to) which feels simultaneously like total slackerdom and also maybe a bit more ... normal? It's been a lot of adjusting but mostly going in the right direction.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:33 AM on June 28, 2014 [21 favorites]


First time I've noticed that 'retired' box--very nice.
posted by box at 7:28 AM on June 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, my grandfather used to play poker with John Wesley Hardin's grandson (I got nuthin').

That's a great quote, Matt. Reminds me of Arthur Ashe's "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:37 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Burnout is rough. Glad you're healing.
posted by michaelh at 7:56 AM on June 28, 2014


BTW, Jessamyn's “Hey you might want to hire me” website is very nice

Having recently fought through the agonies of making a business website for us, with minimal but to-the-point content and a positive personal vibe, my SO pored over this one today after I tipped her about it and came out of the experience saying "this is the nicest website I've ever seen."
posted by Namlit at 8:11 AM on June 28, 2014


That's a great quote, Matt. Reminds me of Arthur Ashe's "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."

Spot on. Spent five winters reading books on philosophy, meaning of life, the purpose of being alive etc. and gradually realized that it pretty much all boiled down to:

"Do the best you can."

+ + + + +

If you haven't seen it before, heck, even if you have, the MetaFilter Insult Jazz video (obviously NSFW), where Jessamyn and Cortex read out insults of a strong/quirky nature, is truly and magnificently splendid in the delivery of their respective lists.
posted by Wordshore at 8:17 AM on June 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


First time I've noticed that 'retired' box--very nice.
posted by box


When jessamyn is involved, even the code is appreciative.
posted by cashman at 8:23 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm glad you got to bail out before modding became too onerous. I've had some modding experience on mailing lists and small fora that weren't a tenth as contentious as Metafilter, and I didn't quit before I burned out. I've never been able to go back to those places. I would hate it if modding did the same thing to any of our mods here.
posted by immlass at 9:23 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


... I find I am pretty good at flagging and moving on. ...

I imagine you looking at some comment, finding the old moderator reflexes kicking in, then realizing it's no longer your problem. You flag, move on, and then laugh and laugh and laugh.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:41 AM on June 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


el io: Watching Matt comment on someone else's blog reminds me of seeing a God from one MUD playing a PC on another MUD. ("what, you're mortal now? seriously?").

Agreed. And when cortex made some contributions to the Mefi Wiki, where I admin, I realized I could ban him here and was blindsided by the urge to put a few-minute-long lock on his account. (I resisted the temptation.)
posted by Pronoiac at 10:44 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I could barely handle modding a Diplomacy forum with 15 members.
posted by michaelh at 10:56 AM on June 28, 2014


I think we all know this but -- it's impossible to overstate the importance Jessamyn has had to this place, to making the culture here what it is in large and small ways. I'm glad that the post-Mefi road is shaping up for her... and even more glad if it means she can hang around here in a way that's enjoyable and get some of the benefit of the culture she's shaped, while being able to leave some of the difficult or negative stuff to be someone else's problem. And summer is an especially nice time to be able to just go outside and not worry about what you're going to find on the internet when you get back.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:09 AM on June 28, 2014 [15 favorites]


From Jessamyn's response to Matt's comment: I hear you, and I didn’t take it as a put down, I just took it as a statement of … what MetaFilter is. It’s yours. It’s not mine. It’s a business and it’s yours to run the way you want. The fact that I stepped in and took over the bulk of the community-facing work of running the site didn’t and doesn’t change that. And that wasn’t what I wanted anymore.

I've had that feeling with a lot of projects, when you start to feel ownership but don't own it and when it comes down to it it will never be yours. It's a really hard feeling to have, and once it sets in it's hard to feel the reward of all that nose-to-the-grindstone work. I hope your new endeavors are fulfilling in ways that metafilter could have never been. Have always admired you so much. There was a moment when I honestly wondered if I wanted to be on a metafilter that's not modded by you. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I have to admit that I wondered about timing of the fanfare launch too. I'm immensely impressed by how it's gone--I glance at fanfare and am daunted by the scope and quality of the content, so kudos both to the members and the mods. It's a worthy successor to TWOP. But if I were in your position I probably would have had that "wait? what! hold on!" reaction too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:24 AM on June 28, 2014 [16 favorites]


It's a really hard feeling to have, and once it sets in it's hard to feel the reward of all that nose-to-the-grindstone work

So true. I've tried harder over time to avoid being in that position, and to catch it earlier when it does happen. It's discomfiting, and not a feeling I enjoy.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:12 PM on June 28, 2014


I could barely handle modding a Diplomacy forum with 15 members.

Eh, that's like saying you could barely handle refereeing a bar fight.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:12 PM on June 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


I love Jessamyn's writing in the same way that I love Bruce Chatwin's 'On a Black Hill' or Kilvert's Diary. Her journal, if I may called it that, is extraordinary. Her love of people, not just here, but friendships that she's built up in in Vermont and across the US over her life, her family; the changing of the seasons which seem to reflect her mood and direction; her life, to helping others, particularly her decision to accept her role as JP, and her continuing role as champion for US libraries. her writing is wonderfully reflective and inspiring and completely joyous to read.

Consider this a hug.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:19 PM on June 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


You flag, move on, and then laugh and laugh and laugh.

Not exactly, but sort of, yes. One of the most difficult parts of the transition to user is trying to not use my bat-phone-to-the-mods to lobby for whatever flagging I do. I really vowed to take a month-ish pretty well off of IM to try to get over the temptation to "work the refs" so to speak. And it's really challenging! And then, through some combination of ad/cookie-blockers I had on one computer, my flags weren't sticking and I got cortex on IM and was all "Uh, can you see this flag I flagged here? I'm not saying you have to do anything about it but you can SEE it right?" and I felt like a crazy person. And taz eventually deleted that comment but I have to admit I kept the tab open waiting to see what would happen to it.

I had set up the mod shifts so that I would talk to everyone at some point in the week during shift changeover. I think during this month off I miss having cortex explain games to me most of all.

*cortex: also you should try out Cookie Clicker
*cortex: http://orteil.dashnet.org/cookieclicker/
*cortex: protip: click on the cookie a bunch so that you can buy some cursors and then some grandmas
*cortex: and then they'll make cookies for you and you can ignore it for a while and come back and buy other things that make even more cookies and then ignore it some more
jessamyn@gmail.com: okay I will try it
*cortex: it is dumb but in a sort of wonderful way
jessamyn@gmail.com: since I am at work!
*cortex: exactly
jessamyn@gmail.com: ok i have a grandma
*cortex: yaaaaay
jessamyn@gmail.com: I have another one
jessamyn@gmail.com: now I have a farm
*cortex: that's the spirit
jessamyn@gmail.com: and a factory
jessamyn@gmail.com: how is this a "game"?
*cortex: eventually there's enough kidns of things to buy that there's a bit of comparative thougth between buying x vs. why
*cortex: plus things get a little weird which is fun
jessamyn@gmail.com: ah okay
*cortex: but yes, it's largely a sort of zen thing
jessamyn@gmail.com: and it makes you hungry
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:24 PM on June 28, 2014 [34 favorites]


Pretty sure pasting backchannel MeChat logs into MeTa is a bannable offense for a non-mod. (I mean, that was adorable, but let's hope Cortex won't press charges, right?)
posted by nobody at 12:55 PM on June 28, 2014


It's not from MeChat, it's just from IM and I know he won't mind. Are you serious?
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:06 PM on June 28, 2014


Pretty sure pasting backchannel MeChat logs into MeTa is a bannable offense for a non-mod


Hahaha suuure. What kind of offense would it be for a mod-mod? Instant fragmentization?
posted by Namlit at 1:37 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


And taz eventually deleted that comment but I have to admit I kept the tab open waiting to see what would happen to it.

You are one of Us now. Welcome to civilianhood :)
posted by billiebee at 1:42 PM on June 28, 2014


It's not from MeChat, it's just from IM and I know he won't mind. Are you serious?

Oh, no, not serious at all! (I figured it was such a silly accusation that the deadpan would be okay, but now that I think of it people do sometimes get weirdly aggressive about mod stuff here, so...)
posted by nobody at 1:49 PM on June 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


What Would Jessamyn Do? She would eat the cookie.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:57 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


What I find fascinating here is my feeling that I'm observing private moments and conversation, and wisely handled inevitable conflict. I feel like a voyeur, and yet, Jessamyn and Matt are (apparently) comfortable with sharing this publicly, giving us yet another metafilter lesson (though not a deliberate one) in how to be decent. Thank you, guys. I appreciate that.
posted by b33j at 2:12 PM on June 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


Jessamyn, were you leveled up to mod before the introduction of the flag system? Is this the first time you've actually had to use it as a non-mod?
posted by LionIndex at 2:21 PM on June 28, 2014


I came to MeFi under very difficult circumstances and my initial interactions with Jessamyn were not warm fuzzy experiences for me personally. So I have not really been one of her fans. And I mention that to say that I think she was right about getting burned out and not always up to being understanding or whatever it was she did that so many other people clearly idolize her. Sometimes, getting overly emotionally invested in something does turn into a negative.

It isn't intended as a personal attack. I have a lot of respect for her because I have, on a occasion, seen a glimmer of the awesomeness (I mean specifically in interactions with me, in spite of feeling like she personally dislikes me) that others write odes to. I know that I can be a huge personal challenge for a lot of people to deal with even under relatively good circumstances and, again, I arrived here under really dreadful circumstances.

Over the years, I have had a big impact on several forums, all of them kind of a big deal for their genre. None of them ever paid me. In cases where I acted as a mod for a time, I mostly left on bad terms with whomever my "boss" had been. I am probably persona non grata in most of those places. So there is, no doubt, some jealousy on my part that she actually got money and respect and validation where I got none of that. Instead, I got (as one example) basically accused of being a traitor in one case by the very technical founder who just did not understand the social stuff I did. So I have mostly tried to stay out of these threads about Jessamyn because I was not confident I could participate in a way that sounded sincere in wishing her well, even though it is sincere. For me, there is a whole lot of emotional baggage attached that really has nothing at all to do with her or MetaFilter or, as far as I know, anyone here at all.

So I don't actually know how to end this comment. I feel like there should be some "point" but I don't quite know how to make it.
posted by Michele in California at 2:23 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hi! I just popped my head in here cause I smelled cookies! Where--

--oh, cookie clicker??? goddamnit.


I was gonna comment about how jessamyn is slowly grokking the concept of letting your inbox go unchecked for a while, but I see that's been done... You'll catch on soon, Jess! It's a great feeling!
posted by not_on_display at 2:40 PM on June 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


That Wesley quote came at a perfect time! I am at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Providence, and about to head to WaterFire/a Standing on the Side of Love witness event. MeFi and UU combining seems perfect to me.

I don't see you talking about Cookie Clicker la la la I can't hear you
posted by booksherpa at 3:19 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I used to live in Vermont. jessamyn's posts have often made me feel homesick for it. Her writing reminds me of the participatory ethos of the people, the work done in town meetings and, yes, the little public library in my village. I have been so very pleased to see her still around and participating.

Thanks, jessamyn!
posted by BibiRose at 3:28 PM on June 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


So I have mostly tried to stay out of these threads about Jessamyn because I was not confident I could participate in a way that sounded sincere in wishing her well, even though it is sincere.

Try harder.
posted by grouse at 3:40 PM on June 28, 2014 [45 favorites]


Mods are always nice to me even when I don't deserve it. Thank you
posted by waraw at 3:51 PM on June 28, 2014


I feel like there should be some "point" but I don't quite know how to make it.

You do this a lot.
posted by winna at 3:59 PM on June 28, 2014 [15 favorites]


MiC, if you know that your ambivalence and strong emotions around this are tied up in your own history etc in a way that doesn't really have to do with Jessamyn per se, it's not great to bring that negative stuff up in here. You may feel as if you're just expressing your thoughts in a neutral way, but bringing the negative stuff into an otherwise positive discussion isn't neutral. It kind of demands a response from people whether or not you intend it that way.

(You've mentioned in the past that you sometimes have a hard time with social cues so I am explaining this in more-explicit language. Bringing up that you dislike someone, in a thread where they are participating and where the mood has been positive, is not a socially expected thing. It's something that one would normally only do if it served an important purpose. So bringing up this negative stuff and then saying "but I don't have any purpose in saying so" makes it seem almost deliberately rude.)

Being a mod sometimes means telling people "you are not acting within bounds here" in a very direct way, and repeating that or enforcing consequences if the person doesn't change their behavior. I understand that being on the receiving end, that kind of thing can feel really personal and be very hard to take. But it is part of the job of a moderator to sometimes need to draw lines or say things that won't be received well.

In particular it comes with being the head moderator: Jessamyn has at times been in the position of having to be firmer and more direct, where others -- like me! -- were able to be more diplomatic because if the soft/diplomatic approach didn't work, Jessamyn was there to put things more firmly.

That's a hard role to take on because you know people are going to get mad at you, send you angry mail, etc - and she has done that for a long time and taken flak for it, partly to make things better in the community and partly to make things easier on fellow mods. I think it's a telling achievement that, despite the nature of the role, so many people feel so positively about her conduct in this job.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:37 PM on June 28, 2014 [78 favorites]


Bringing up that you dislike someone

I do not dislike Jessamyn nor did I say anywhere that I disliked her. I explicitly stated that I respected her. I have been a mod before. I understand what she did here on the site.
posted by Michele in California at 4:46 PM on June 28, 2014


Fair enough, dislike is too strong a word. I should have said "bringing up that you are not a fan." My point is that bringing up your negative impressions and then saying "but I don't have a point" is coming across in a rude way that perhaps you do not intend.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:52 PM on June 28, 2014 [10 favorites]


"Uh, can you see this flag I flagged here? I'm not saying you have to do anything about it but you can SEE it right?" and I felt like a crazy person. And taz eventually deleted that comment but I have to admit I kept the tab open waiting to see what would happen to it.

hahahaha! Welcome to the crazy side. Pretty soon, you'll be standing on the corner with some of us in just boots and a stetson, holding a placard saying "Theres' a RAESON they don't tell us how many FLAGS!".

I came to MeFi under very difficult circumstances and my initial interactions with Jessamyn were not warm fuzzy experiences for me personally.

Dude, she banned me twice. But I'm still down with Team J. Respect the player, hate the game.

You do this a lot.
No. What she does a lot is post awesome comments. They can't all be awesome. But I appreciate MiC's perspective on here.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:15 PM on June 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


Hey Michele, I had no idea you had difficulties with Jessamyn's moderating and I (speaking personally) really don't want this thread to be about your past. I'd like us to celebrate Jessamyn's regenerating blog/dialogue here. Jessamyn! More Jessamyn! Jessamyn for all!
posted by taff at 5:16 PM on June 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


I saw this yesterday, and I just wanted to say {{{{hugs}}}} to both Matt and Jessamyn. It must be hard, all around, and I appreciate both of you being so honest and I know you both love each other as co-workers for so many years, it must be hard on both of you. Thanks so much to both of you for all you have done.

Michele, I think you need to go find another site, because your comment was in bad taste. I also moderate other sites. Your insertion into this thread is both unwarranted and ugly.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:04 PM on June 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


I sincerely admire Matt not wanting to bring the financial woes to the community of the site and I sincerely admire Jessamyn's disagreement with that. This site is a business and it is a community and I am extraordinarily pleased with the straddling of that fine and dangerous line that all of the staff and the community have done. This is my place on the internet and I love it, the way I love my family, sometimes grudgingly, sometimes despite itself, sometimes out of obligation and sometimes out of pure ecstatic limbic system tribal agape.

I most of all sincerely respect the warts and all communication of differences, because that is, in fact, a beacon of what we all should strive for and it takes heart.

Anyway, hats off friends, here's to the success of our hopeless task!
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:07 PM on June 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


Michele, you often mention personal experiences in your comments. Sometimes that's appropriate, and sheds light on the subject. It didn't work here because the thread is about Jessamyn, not you, and your comment is the proverbial turd in the punchbowl. Please take LobsterMitten's advice to heart. You have a lot to offer this site.

/derail
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:17 PM on June 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


> I used to live in Vermont. jessamyn's posts have often made me feel homesick for it

Seconded! jessamyn (it feels cat's mother-ish that we're talking about you in the third person) lives near my mom, so I especially appreciate comments about the weather and places around there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:00 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


John Wesley’s Rule

Did you know that today is his birthday?
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:00 PM on June 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


> ... it feels cat's mother-ish ...

Never heard that expression before. Luckily, languagehat has.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:04 PM on June 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


In Australia we have a queen. Liz. We celebrate her birthday on a day that is not her birthday... Not at all strange. It's a long weekend so nobody is going to question it too loudly. (Let's not ever speak of the referendum that didn't work. :-( )

Soooooo....let's celebrate Jessamyn's birthday as John Wesley's birthday. Every year. And make it a long weekend (called a holiday Monday to Americans?)

I say, "Happy birthday long weekend Queen Jessamyn Westley!"
posted by taff at 8:10 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn, I can't tell you how much delight I've taken in your continued presence on the site in the last few weeks. When I found out you were leaving I really was incredibly sad - for me, a great deal of the tone and the civility that this site has embodied for me over the years has been because of your leadership and example. Matt has never been as much of my MeFi experience as you have been, coaching me through rephrasing a couple of questions, patiently explaining my, well, regular deletions from various threads. I was so relieved to know that while I will miss your leadership as an official mod, that you will still be present, setting an example and still being there with the rest of us.

Have I disagreed with you at times? Without a doubt. But your patience, consistency and thoughtfulness has (and is) incredible.

Wish you well on the next adventures and look forward to being a small part of them.
posted by arnicae at 8:13 PM on June 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've modeled my work team dynamics largely after MetaFilter mod team style. Principle-based behavior. Respect. Guidelines, not rules-lawyering. Transparency and open discussion. (I may have actually called my morning all-hands meeting the MetaTalk meeting on accident a time or two, but nobody noticed.)

It works fantastically. My employees think I'm an awesome boss. My bosses think I'm the technician whisperer. I'm just thinking, *shrug* I'm just copying Jessamyn and Josh. Not sure what the big deal is.

Thanks for setting the vision for what Metafilter should be, and then having the passion to make it happen. That's way beyond simply doing a job.
posted by ctmf at 8:33 PM on June 28, 2014 [35 favorites]


Taff, every few years Jessamyn's bday falls on the North American labor day .
posted by brujita at 8:37 PM on June 28, 2014


Is North American Labor Day about unions and workers? That would be an excellent thing to celebrate. (Although long weekends mean haaaaard work for moderators.)
posted by taff at 8:56 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's mostly about getting a long weekend before school starts.
posted by Etrigan at 9:49 PM on June 28, 2014


> Is North American Labor Day about unions and workers

In theory, yes! In practice, it's about picnics and the end of summer.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:49 PM on June 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm a longtime lurker who's wanted to join many times before but who has been too afraid of the internet to do so. This may be my only post ever, but I finally joined because I felt compelled to say two things, both of which are not new:

1. Yay, Jessamyn, and yay mods. I started visiting the site daily several months prior to awful-fake-suicide incident. Before I understood what a "mod" was, I remember seeing Jessamyn's posts and remarking to myself how wise and measured and on point they always were. Pretty soon, I began to look out specifically for her voice. Yay, Jessamyn!

(2. On the opposite end, I remember when Michele in California joined the site. There was tension regarding protocol, framing, over self-referencing, and I was so glad people finally called her on it. Her post in this thread was yet another underhanded way to take someone else's spotlight to say, "My life has been WAY HARD." Ugh. Enough already. Please just stop.)

Thanks to Jessamyn, and thanks to this community.
posted by RaRa-SpaceRobot at 12:49 AM on June 29, 2014 [16 favorites]


jessamyn's posts about Vermont have made me homesick for it and I live in Sydney
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:50 AM on June 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I can't leave this place on its own for seven years without something like this happening.

(The best, Jessamyn)
posted by Opus Dark at 12:56 AM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


So I don't think I've ever even interacted with Jessamyn, but I was a mod in a (much smaller, think tens or hundreds or users rather than thousands) online forum a few years back, I tried to model my moderator-self on what I saw her do here. I don't think I always succeeded, I definitely mucked up a few times, but when I stepped down, everyone told me I'd done a fantastic job.

Thanks for being a wonderful moderator and a brilliant example to follow, Jessamyn. This lurker wishes you well. :)
posted by Xany at 12:56 AM on June 29, 2014


I think all media are best when there is tension amongst the participants and tension is healthy. I've disagreed with Jessamyn and Matt and Cortex and Taz and Restless Nomad and probably everyone here at one point. That's not important. What is important is to not be disagreeable while disagreeing.
posted by vapidave at 2:21 AM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn is awesome, and I feel that being a mod would be an often frustrating and thankless job, although balanced out by the satisfaction of knowing that this is the best site on the Internet.
posted by snofoam at 2:47 AM on June 29, 2014


One of my favorite quotes is by Wesley. Funnily enough, it's apropos to Jessamyn in a way, too, and she's certainly demonstrated its wisdom:

"Don't get too wrapped up in books; an ounce of love is worth a pound a knowledge."

(Any misquote mine and mine alone). I think you have a lot of ounces from this place, Jessamyn.
posted by smoke at 4:38 AM on June 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Am still adjusting in my brain to a post-mod-Jessamyn MetaFilter, and there's a part that feels sad, and refuses to believe, when it reads "...was a moderator on MetaFilter".

Jessamyn is just 10 days older than me. When her birthday swings round and gets mentioned, it's a double personal reminder that (a) mine is shortly afterwards and (b) I have only achieved i.e. actually done and completed, a rather small fraction of useful things that someone else of my age has.

One of those many useful things was deconstructing the Google Answers service. Was reminded of this with the more recent and ongoing Google Ads and MetaFilter thing. Rather than just speculate about Google Answers, Jessamyn had a go at being a researcher-responder, found it wanting and clearly articulated why that service did not function well.

Google Answers closed.

But MetaFilter, and AskMe, born in a ridiculously distant era when Bill Clinton was president, smartphones and Twitter were not around, and people thought the forthcoming Y2K issue would be the end of civilization, still continues. A very significant reason why is the many thousands of hours Jessamyn put into this, through good and not-so-good times. Whatever happens to MetaFilter over the coming years - and long may it continue and thrive - I hope that is never forgotten or diminished.
posted by Wordshore at 5:53 AM on June 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


This post is worth it just for leading me to html5up. Made a site with one of their templates this morning.
posted by snofoam at 3:33 PM on June 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah, oddly I've never heard of html5up before, those templates are great and I'm going to redo my personal placeholder page with one of them soonish. Kind of amazing that they're totally free and freely licensed, I hope the original designers of them get paid work out of it or something.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:51 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have many times asked Jessamyn for moderating advice. She's the best!
posted by IndigoRain at 6:24 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thanks for all your hard work, Jessamyn. I appreciate it.

Also the blog post was quite interesting. Hope to see you around!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:39 PM on June 29, 2014


Jessamyn, you have always done an amazing job at just about everything you've turned your hand to in all the ways everyone else has already listed.

And, randomly, just recently I've seen answers of yours in AskMe where I was impressed at the person's eloquence and ability to relate from their own experiences without detracting from the asker's; then I saw it was you, and I was...not less amazed as much as nodding to myself that of course it was you.

...sincerely, an AskMe lurker.
posted by RainyJay at 8:25 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Great, thoughtful piece, jessamyn. Thanks for writing it.

This site is a business and it is a community and I am extraordinarily pleased with the straddling of that fine and dangerous line that all of the staff and the community have done.

I think most of us who love the site for as long as we have would agree there's always been a balance struck between "this is Matt's business" and "this is a place that encourages members to feel ownership of the community." Most of the time, that balance is handled beautifully.

I think even Matt would now agree, however, that his reluctance - for almost two years - to share the seriousness of the site's financial woes with the community that had built it with him was a mistake. Arguably the biggest mistake he's made in handling that always-difficult balance.
posted by mediareport at 9:24 PM on June 29, 2014


I don't know. If Matt had asked before would it have had the same impact? I think he did the best he could in the circumstances. He didn't want to burden us and I love that. That it works well for Jessamyn now is a blessing, but I don't think I would have had the gut-sickened sense of loss and desperation to help if she hadn't been going. I'm sorry she's not a mod, for me. For her, I'm delighted. Now. But I think the call to arms (alms?) the community needed was losing Jessamyn....I'm not sure anything else would have got us off our collective arses in quite the same way. (I'm sporadic enough to have not spent much time with GNFTI and LM, but big love to them.)

The powerful ricochet around the internet that sparked so many articles and public questions of Google has surely been catalysed by the losing of Jessamyn. (Although like modern divorced parents, she's done a wonderful job of sticking around and showing ,"I still love you even if your other parent and I don't live together anymore.")

I'm not exactly sure what I'm saying.....other than it's obvious that Matt did his best and I'm not confident that I'd have predicted it differently back then either.





And Jessamyn doesn't know me from Adam, I'm sure....but yeah...I seriously grieved for a few days when I first read about her not being a mod. And I don't actually grieve, not even for actual dead people.
posted by taff at 9:51 PM on June 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


...yeah, no, I think that if Matt had shared the site's financial problems earlier, people would have bailed. They'd have found other places, and while the core of the site would be here, it's soul might have died. It takes abrupt pain for people to react, I think. And Jessamyn leaving and the layoffs of the other mods made up the pain that made people react. So now let's look forward: Jessamyn has some time to find the next big thing for her, and the site has some breathing room. It's working out, slowly but surely, and everyone gets a win.

It sucks that Jessamyn won't be here but it's better for her, and mefi is tighter and running along just fine. It's been negative, but it's going to the better, and I'm going to sit back and see how it all works out. Because it will.
posted by disclaimer at 12:47 AM on June 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thank you so much Jessamyn for writing this. It has really helped me understand and accept your leaving.

MetaFilter has been so fortunate to have had your incredible mod and community building skills. You steered an awesome site with great potential and made it so, so, so, much more. We are all forever in your debt.

I'm so sorry for any times over the years that I've made your job harder. I've always regretted my behavior in the November favorites experiment in particular and I'm sorry I haven't apologized sooner. My regret over that past incident did spur me to try to do better here, but I'm sure there are times that I failed to live up to those resolutions.

So glad that you've found a soft landing, and you have my best wishes for whatever else you want to do with your life. I know whatever comes next, you'll be awesome at it.

{{{{{{Big hugs}}}}}}
posted by marsha56 at 1:50 AM on June 30, 2014


Add me to the list of people who don't think it is productive to second guess Matt's choices about going public with the financial difficulties of the site.
posted by snofoam at 6:02 AM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Jessamyn explaining how she felt about it as an employee is totally different, of course.)
posted by snofoam at 6:04 AM on June 30, 2014


In terms of the questions about site governance, I go back to what Jessamyn wrote above:

what MetaFilter is. It’s yours. It’s not mine. It’s a business and it’s yours to run the way you want.

I think there are some serious issues with the governance and transparency over and above the question of when Matt decided to go public -- what happens with the perhaps $10k in ongoing donations, for example? -- but it's very much Not My Site and I have no control in that whatsoever, so the healthy and happy choice is to not get wound up in those details in any way whatsoever.

(In case it needs to be made explicit, I don't think anyone is doing anything inappropriate, now or ever, but just that the governance questions have become more complex with the changes in funding and moderation, but the conversation has not followed that complexity.)
posted by Dip Flash at 6:33 AM on June 30, 2014


I think during this month off I miss having cortex explain games to me most of all.

I have taken to explaining them to friends who didn't ask instead just to relieve the tension. It's been...awkward. Start asking again.

The shorter one or the longer one? The shorter one grew into the longer one and I love the length my hair is now but since it's just a grown out other haircut I have no idea how to explain how I want it to look to the haircutting lady.

God, yes, this is exactly why I still hate getting a haircut every time even after spending a couple years getting back into the habit. It's like, what I want is for the person with the scissors to just magically make my hair stay how it is right now or at least how it was a couple weeks ago, with a stasis field or some other such scifi shit, but since we can't do that how about instead they make my hair look like something that's halfway between what it is right now and what they're actually going to do to it, oh no, they're doing it again, they've done it again, there it goes again, auuuuugggghhh whyyyyyyy haaaaaiiiiiirrrrrr
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:54 AM on June 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think it's scary and wise to leave a job when it's time to go. I've known many people who stayed on too long, and it doesn't serve anyone. Heck, it occurs to me I might be in one of those situations now...

Anyway, good for you, jessamyn for having the insight to know when it was time for you to move on, and for having the courage, integrity, and faith to act!
posted by jasper411 at 8:38 AM on June 30, 2014


The shorter one or the longer one? The shorter one grew into the longer one and I love the length my hair is now but since it's just a grown out other haircut I have no idea how to explain how I want it to look to the haircutting lady.

Oh, just saw this! Jessamyn, my haircut looks almost exactly like your hair in the top photo, by the window. Except mine's less wavy.
posted by mochapickle at 9:05 AM on June 30, 2014


I was talking to someone else about Jessamyn leaving us, and it reminded me of a time when I had had to moderate one highly contentious several-months-long fighty discussion in a community I loved. One! And I still remember getting heartbroken and burnt out and unwilling to moderate any kind of discussion there again.

Also living in the nonprofit world, I remember how awful it felt to be feeling like as one of the people who helped start something, its success or failure is all on your back, and I imagine that watching the finances of Metafilter slowly start to falter is similarly something of a special hell.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that all of the feelings Jessamyn expresses are totally and perfectly normal, except that she's managed to hold out far longer than I think any human could reasonably expect anyone to.

I have had problems with Jessamyn from time to time - I think mostly just sensing that she was frustrated and angry about user's behavior and getting upset about it - but especially after reading Jessamyn's post, I recognize that that wasn't entirely fair. It's unreasonable to expect people to be calm and cool and disinterested about something they love just because they're getting paid, and if Metafilter were a more visible nonprofit or meatspace community, I wouldn't have had those kinds of expectations for a second. And I'm sorry - sorry for my expectations, and also sorry for any contributions to the burnout that might have been on my part.

I wish Jessamyn luck in all future endeavours. OpenLibrary sounds awesome, and I hope it's a little more soothing as a job. Sometimes it's hard when the thing you love is the thing you're getting paid at, and I hope this works better for you and you are able to return to just enjoying Metafilter for itself.
posted by corb at 9:12 AM on June 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't think anyone is doing anything inappropriate, now or ever, but just that the governance questions have become more complex with the changes in funding and moderation

What questions? The site is Matt's to govern as he sees fit. I don't see any questions.
posted by gsteff at 3:46 PM on June 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Guess we can just shut Metatalk down then, eh?
posted by Justinian at 7:14 PM on June 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Can't you just get it the way you want it, then go in and give them your cell phone camera? Tell them to take as many pictures as they need to reproduce this exact haircut later.

Then come back later, and when they ask what you want, show them the photos and say "THIS."
posted by ctmf at 7:23 PM on June 30, 2014


Take the giant donut with you both times.
posted by winna at 7:29 PM on June 30, 2014


I learned to do the picture thing after finding out that a few different versions of "my hair grows kind of slow, can you reverse three months off of it?" wasn't actually that workable. The picture thing...helps? Sort of? I have a hard time with haircuts, they don't seem to be from the same universe as me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:39 PM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Something about my hair knows that it's haircut-picture time and it can go from looking completely awesome for an entire day to changing suddenly into a brown sodden muskrattish looking helmet as soon as I whip my camera out. It's like I can only have good hair if I never ever look at it or show it to anyone.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:45 PM on June 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I can only have good hair if I never ever look at it or show it to anyone

Schrodinger's hair, eh?
posted by pjern at 8:50 PM on June 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Jess and cortex: you just need to learn the patter at the salon. Mine is a *deep breath* four on the sides, three at the burns-- no edge, zero to four in the back follow the natural line, soft part my left, two fingers on top, mind the whorl at ten o'clock.

I call it 'The Beaver Pelt'.
posted by sunslice at 10:10 PM on June 30, 2014


I don't know what kind of haircuts either of you are getting, but finding a quality barber instead of going to Supercuts or whatever changed my hair-happiness-quotient greatly.
posted by hippybear at 11:57 PM on June 30, 2014


I recommend just shaving your head once a month. It's made my life way easier.

This might work better for cortex than jessamyn, though.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:49 AM on July 1, 2014


I tried it once, a couple years back. Didn't hate it but prefer a head of hair it turns out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:58 AM on July 1, 2014


finding a quality barber

I have one, she is great. She has given me some good haircuts. That said, when I come in saying "I want to look like Luke Wilson in Legally Blonde sort of drifting into Luke Wilson in the Royal Tenenbaums" (with photos) she'll give me a slightly female version of that. Which is expected, it's rural America after all, and I am just cheap enough to not want to drive to a big city (30 min? maybe 60 for a place where I could get a boygirl haircut) just to get a better haircut which, because I am a twitch, I won't like that much better anyhow.

It's a bigger problem really and somewhat relevant to this larger topic here: I usually like what I have SO MUCH that any change to it seems like a really terrible idea. But hair grows and jobs change and people change and the thing that you thought you were totally in love with may be actually only sort of the right thing anymore but you are used to it and you like being comfortable and once you've got your general needs met, doing something different seems like an awful lot of trouble.

And I get nostalgic so I can remember that one time I was totally happy with the perfect haircut just like I can remember that one night I went to bed sleepy and slept all night with no bad dreams and no waking up the wrong temperature and woke up at the right time feeling awake. Or remembering the perfect cheeseburger. It's sort of an optimizer/satisficer thing. There are some choices I love to make: what to read, how to have coffee, what postcard to send, where to go for a walk. And other choices I just want to push a button and have: Outfit, Haircut, Lunch without having to be in the decision-making process for one second. The good news is that there's always the "let it grow" option which is what I have been doing so far.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:03 AM on July 1, 2014 [8 favorites]


And other choices I just want to push a button and have: Outfit, Haircut, Lunch without having to be in the decision-making process for one second.

My stylist and I have come to an arrangement. Each time, I ask her to imagine that she doesn't know me but she sees me sitting on a park bench and thinks, "You know what that lady on the bench should do with her hair? She needs to..." And then she does it. And I'm happy. I like the way she sees the world.

I give her parameters: I hate the whole concept of styling, I won't touch a curling iron, and anything that takes two whole minutes to style into place is one minute too long.
posted by mochapickle at 10:50 AM on July 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fear of a bad haircut has paralyzed me on occasion - I have thick, curly, difficult hair.

Then I found my perfect stylist eight years ago, and I just let her do what she wants. My rule are "I air dry only, and need to put it all in a ponytail sometimes." Other than that, she does what she wants.

The downside is that when she went on maternity leave for 6-months, I didn't trust anyone else and my hair got super long.
posted by dotgirl at 12:49 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


heh... let it growwwwww... let it growwwwwwwwwwwww (I couldn't resist... it just popped into my head and out of my fingers...)
posted by one4themoment at 4:38 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Then come back later, and when they ask what you want, show them the photos and say "THIS."

(Allegedly) Fun fact: I once went to the hair cutting place with a picture of myself in which my hair had been "cut" in Photoshop by taz, and said something that amounted to "THIS."

Turned out pretty OK.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:02 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I only go to a hair master.
and even then, only one who won't be too chatty. That's what I hate most about haircuts.
posted by ctmf at 7:37 PM on July 1, 2014


The thing that I hate about haircuts is, it doesn't matter how awful it is before you get it cut -- you're used to it. It may look terrible, but it's a terribleness that you're used to.

Then you get it cut, and every time you pass a mirror, you jump out of your skin because you're so surprised by the new person looking out at you.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:38 AM on July 2, 2014


Two weeks ago I showed the stylist a picture of Drew Barrymore and said I wanted a lightly layered cut that would enable me to NOT have to blow out my hair and let my natural wave happen in a kicky way.

I got a haircut with a layer on the left side of my face that is about 2 inches wide and 2 inches shorter than the rest of my hair. And to blend that super-thick layer, I have to round-brush blow it out. I dutifully tipped the stylist and made an appointment for 8 weeks later, because I am a glutton for punishment.
posted by kimberussell at 9:42 AM on July 2, 2014


Interesting to see the thought process behind your decision to abandon us (I kid, I kid). I'm just glad you plan to continue contributing to the site as a civilian. It wouldn't be the same without you.
posted by Julnyes at 11:39 AM on July 2, 2014


I call it 'The Beaver Pelt'.

Opens mouth

...


Closes mouth.
posted by Trochanter at 12:42 PM on July 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


To continue haircut talk, my brief period of perfect hair just coincided with two job interviews which went so well they hired me on the spot at number two. And a week later my hair is still good, which I think is the mark of a good stylist. A co-worker had a coupon and for convenience's sake I started going to this high end downtown place which is expensive, but I got to say worth it for me. I am back to wearing my hair in the super short girl style which I need keep up with appointments every six weeks or so. A good stylist makes all the difference with how it looks after a few weeks. And I happened to get a woman who is a bike commuter, so we have something to gab about.

Years ago my cheapness would have kept me from paying so much for hair, but now I have embraced the you get what you pay for and isn't it worth it when it sits on top of your head life.

signed,

broke but stylin'
posted by readery at 1:15 PM on July 2, 2014


I guess inheriting the genes for early male baldness is where I got lucky in the physical appearance genetic lottery: I get to look manly AND stylish with minimal effort.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:09 AM on July 3, 2014


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