Go be awesome March 10, 2015 9:20 AM   Subscribe


Weird piece. I agree with everything she wrote, but if someone had given me this sort of advice when I left my last job I would have been, "Yeah, I know."

I stepped away for a year before I reengaged. I planned that on my way out and I stuck with it.

Perhaps it's a bit different in that I didn't create the product at my last job, but it was a firm part of my identity, and I still follow the industry quit closely (and that paper even more so). And perhaps it's because she knows Matt well enough to know these are traps he could fall into. But it's a strange piece to make into an open letter style post.

Take it to memail.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:48 AM on March 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I agree; it's a fun read, as stuff by jessamyn always is, but it's kind of at the "well, duh" level. Or maybe I'm just full of grar and need more coffee this morning.

Or maybe I'm just grumpy mathowie's gone. That could be it.

(Then again, I write about satchels on medium ffs, so I guess I can't really talk...)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:55 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Tough crowd. I liked it!
posted by languagehat at 10:07 AM on March 10, 2015 [37 favorites]


Weird piece. I agree with everything she wrote, but if someone had given me this sort of advice when I left my last job I would have been, "Yeah, I know."

Well, you are who you are and Matt is who Matt is. I get the impression this is stuff that Jessamyn may have felt Matt in specific might benefit from being reminded of.
posted by Jpfed at 10:07 AM on March 10, 2015


Tough crowd. I liked it!

I didn't say I disliked it. It's just a bit odd. If it's friendly advice, drop him an email. If it's general advice why hang it on Matt's leaving?

I get the impression this is stuff that Jessamyn may have felt Matt in specific might benefit from being reminded of.

Probably, but then her audience is a bit larger than need be.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:10 AM on March 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I took this much more in the spirit of reflection on her own experience - "here are some things I had to force myself to do when disengaging from the mod role." And it accords with my own experience during the time this last year when I was laid off; modding here is a 24 hour job and you need to really work to turn off those parts of your brain.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:12 AM on March 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


I said the same thing on facebook I'll say here:

ctrl-f not my circus, not my monkeys

JESSAMYN I AM DISAPPOINT

(and, for the weirdness: she's offering general advice to anyone leaving one internet job for another, hanging it on her own experience and using #1's departure as the framing device)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:13 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


...and have just been told that is the caption to the header image, which I didn't even notice.

FAIL
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:16 AM on March 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


I feel like it's easy to be sort of "well, duh" about the stuff you know you know, is the thing; and then on the other hand, there's 277K posts on Ask Metafilter so far. There the duh stuff and the "how the hell do I deal" stuff and it's different stuff for everybody.

Metafilter is an unusually personal job; it's not really something you just punch in and punch out of. It's intimate; it gets intertwined with everything, to a degree. And part of being able to do this job is having a personality that allows for that, and the trade there is that the kind of cool rational distance that makes "well, just walk away" seem like obvious and easy-to-follow advice may not be so much part of the emotional/constitutional package.

I've been thinking about this stuff a lot, for obvious Metafilter reasons and oddly enough about XOXO last year, in terms of the nature of doing something you really love versus just doing a jay oh bee. And I've walked away from dayjobs, both on my terms and not so much, and there was never any feeling afterward of wanting to be back there, because they were just jobs. But Metafilter's a thing I love, and if I ever had to walk away I think I'd need all the good counsel I could get on managing that. Different people, different situations, different needs.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:20 AM on March 10, 2015 [43 favorites]


I thought it was sweet. Even when we know something, it's nice to have visible support to prevent us from second-guessing ourselves. Jessamyn recently went through this and has a pretty good idea of how easy it might be to say these things but how difficult it might be to follow through. Second, it also reads as a very public support of what must have been a terrifying, difficult decision, as well as a congratulations. Third, it's a preemptive blow against other people graring that Matt might not be available. Last of all, it's good advice for anybody leaving a job they're passionate about behind, particularly from a creator perspective, which is what makes it even more appropriate to a wider audience.

It's always good to support our friends; to publicly support someone who just made a very public decision that is also a very personal decision shows warmth and compassion.
posted by barchan at 10:23 AM on March 10, 2015 [28 favorites]


I agree with barchan. This was really nicely done and it reads as lovingly supportive from someone who recently went through a similar transition. Two thumbs up!
posted by blurker at 10:34 AM on March 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


As I said in the article, I think these things are trickier when your actual workplace is, at some level, The Internet. You have to more consciously disengage (or block) access to your old workplace which may also be your social scene. Otherwise it's too easy to just swing on by and see how things are, and then people see you around and ask you questions and then there you are, a person doing two jobs. You have to make the transition clear, for yourself, for your staff, and for your community, otherwise it becomes a big muddy mess. Having someone you care about saying "It's okay to flag and move on. I've done it" is helpful.

her audience is a bit larger than need be.

I hope you don't mean it this way but that sounds like "This woman used a large internet platform to give advice and talk about something going on in her life and I find that disagreeable." Matt (and Josh) and I talk frequently. Some of the advice I gave Matt privately is useful to a larger internet-people audience because people make these moves all the time and (often) wonder why they go sideways. My audience is exactly the right size.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:44 AM on March 10, 2015 [99 favorites]


Sometimes we need to be reminded of things that we already know. We also sometimes know things more deeply and have more conviction about them when they are said out loud by someone else. It's always good to come back and be reminded of things that we know allow for a life of flourishing, especially when we are tempted to do things even while we realize they aren't always in our best interests. If anything, it's always a kind thing to let others know that you have their back, because you've been there too. Good article, great reminder to be the right kind of person on both sides of the fence.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:51 AM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I thought this was interesting, and good advice mostly, but I thought this was off-key:

Tell the assholes they are being assholes. Play favorites.

But Matt isn't really 100% gone, in the way that jessamyn is. He still owns the site, and he explicitly stated that he'd still be still doing the vision thing ("I’ll shut off all the emails the server regularly sends me but stay on for podcasts and regular monthly “grand vision” type meetings to touch base on big picture things.").

I think it would be not great for the owner of the site, who is still helping set strategy for it, to play favorites.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:08 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


The most surprising about this post, to me, was "You still have the passwords.".

WHAT NO CHANGE THAT SHIT WHENEVER SOMEONE LEAVES
posted by asterix at 11:09 AM on March 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


if someone had given me this sort of advice when I left my last job I would have been, "Yeah, I know."

Sometimes we know stuff but hearing it from other people helps us apply it.

And, as plenty said, it's a rhetorical framing device. I would never have assumed this was dirty-laundry-airing.
posted by phearlez at 11:10 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't get the well duh response at all. It can be hard to disengage and especially to see the advantages not to just yourself but to others when you do. what's so duh about discussing that?
posted by zutalors! at 11:11 AM on March 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Doesn't seem "Duh!" to me. But then I'm the person who has to remember that every day is a brand new day. Why do I always forget that? But there it is.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:18 AM on March 10, 2015


In the Internet Era, job changes like this are very public, ESPECIALLY ON the Internet. And high-profile 'quits' are always fascinating, and often have genuine relevance to people quitting or continuing in plain-old-ordinary jobs (or just make our plain-old-ordinary jobs feel even worse). Look at all the interest in Jon Stewart (not that I'm comparing Matt to Jon... oh, yes I am). And one of my favorite Hollywood bloggers Ken Levine recently wrote about why he (and his writing partner) left what seemed to be TV's most perfect job - as Writer/Producers on M*A*S*H. It's certainly better than writing about your sex lives. (50 Shades of MetaTalk Grey?)
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:34 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


We have a certain mode we use for picking apart Things on the Internet here that works well for what it is, but maybe could have been eased up on a skosh since this is essentially an open letter from one of ours to one of ours.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:46 AM on March 10, 2015 [29 favorites]


This is all incredibly useful advice for when you leave an intimate internet job, and the biggest part of all is hearing it from someone that is respected - the idea that "This person, who I respect, says it's okay" is just amazing and necessary sometimes when you've given your heart to something.

I think this was really thoughtful and sweet and pointful and anyone hating on it needs to let go of their unresolved issues with jessamyn, because this thing is perfect.
posted by corb at 12:04 PM on March 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Um, I just wanted to offer my thoughts... I'm not 'hating on jessamyn'.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:36 PM on March 10, 2015


(excuse me! 'hating on it' :P)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:38 PM on March 10, 2015


> I thought this was interesting, and good advice mostly, but I thought this was off-key:

Tell the assholes they are being assholes. Play favorites.


Really? I thought that was great advice. After so many years of having to be polite on the internet, or super considerate of how things are worded, Matt can finally just say what he means, if he wants. When I left a job a few years ago, that was a difficult transition for me- I was so used to writing these cautious, delicate emails and making sure to put a super professional face forward, that it was nice to trim out the extra wordiness and be all straightforward- "I like this. I hate this. This thing makes no sense."
posted by Secretariat at 12:39 PM on March 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


I haven't left a job like theirs, and so this was all interesting to me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:45 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Embrace your retired role.

You guys should give Matt an "Emeritus" tag and a tiny office that no one else wants.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:55 PM on March 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


> I didn't say I disliked it. It's just a bit odd. If it's friendly advice, drop him an email. If it's general advice why hang it on Matt's leaving?

People often find it valuable to read advice given to a specific person because they can extrapolate personal insight for themselves. For numerous examples, see: the entire history of published writing.
posted by desuetude at 1:01 PM on March 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


Brilliant. Though Cortex does not have a waxy mustache.

i liked the elephant on the left

posted by clavdivs at 1:07 PM on March 10, 2015


Really it just reminded me that these are humans. Jess & Matt. Talking. Fleshy bits with emotions and the feels. Many people struggle with the right sort of balance between life and work, and others with their relationship with metafilter - I can hardly image this place being both. It really is Matt's baby, but now we're all grown up (although it's no surprise we act like teenagers sometimes) and cortex is driving. I really hope that the retired staff feel free to click that favorite button without being concerned about sending a larger message.
posted by zenon at 1:07 PM on March 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


(although it's no surprise we act like teenagers sometimes)

We are sixteen, after all.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:17 PM on March 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Cjorgensen: you are the monkies, you are the circus.
posted by boo_radley at 1:49 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Trust the new team

It seems to me that MetaFilter has probably been "in decline" in some sense for a few years now. I hesitate to say this, because I suspect it will be taken as insulting, but "The Peter Principle" -- everyone rises to their level of incompetence -- comes to mind. Except it's not that exactly. I don't know of a corollary or saying that fits it exactly right. It seems to me that Matt and Jessamyn were exactly the right people to grow it to a certain level, but perhaps it has outgrown what they were best-suited for. So I sometimes think that them moving on is not only right for them but also right for MetaFilter. As much as some people miss them and wish it weren't so, I think it makes it more likely that MetaFilter has a good future ahead of it, not less likely.

An awful lot of people don't know when to call it quits. The fact that Matt and Jessamyn knew it was time to go is something that earns my respect. I think it is a clear signal that they do have uncommonly good "common sense" and that's why they were able to take it as far as they took it. Like a parent sending a kid off to college, letting it go of it may be exactly what is needed to let it blossom into even more.

I write this here on MeTa in hopes that Matt will see it. I would put it on my blog, just to avoid having people pile on me and accuse me of having a big ego or of saying something somehow negative, but I am sure Matt does not read my blog. Nor do I know him well enough to feel that a private message to him is appropriate. So I put it here in hopes that when Matt is especially stressed out and especially tempted to get overly involved and not walk away, it will help him take a deep breathe and let it go, which I think will be better for both him personally and for MetaFilter as well.

I am very impressed that he concluded that a lot of the 1000+ comment ugly MeTas in recent months grew out of him making some kind of mistake and thus moving on was the right thing to do. There are no guarantees. There is no certain path to victory. Sometimes, just choosing to not do what you know does not work is as good as it gets. It can be crazy hard to stick to your guns in certain moments. I hope my thoughts here will help Matt do so as sanguinely as possible. Because he does have an excellent team in place.

Matt, please enjoy your new job and your new, different relationship to MetaFilter.
posted by Michele in California at 2:08 PM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I suspect it will be taken as insulting, but "The Peter Principle" -- everyone rises to their level of incompetence -- comes to mind

This does indeed come across as pretty darn insulting.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:10 PM on March 10, 2015 [76 favorites]


The sentence that followed that was this: Except it's not that exactly. I don't know of a corollary or saying that fits it exactly right.

I am not in any way trying to insult anyone.
posted by Michele in California at 2:13 PM on March 10, 2015


> It’s hard to adjust to the idea that people will do your job differently than you did, possibly better.

I think for a certain type of personality (like the guy I see in the mirror every morning), it's even harder to adjust to the idea that others will your job differently, maybe worse, but that's okay. It can make you wonder why you spent all that effort and stress getting things right.

But yeah, good article, always enjoy hearing from jessamyn.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:16 PM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


MiC, I do understand that. I think including the line was a mistake, because despite your intent, it ends up sounding as if you're saying someone is incompetent, and if you don't want to suggest that, it's better to not use that phrase.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:17 PM on March 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


I liked this post. It was interesting and made me think. Thanks for posting it on the open web, rather than just sending it to Matt via email.

I also think that if one thinks something is going to be insulting, it probably should not be said. Or at the very least, it should be worded much more diplomatically. The beauty of the Internet is that we can really think before we say something - we can reword, we can revise, we can delete the comment, we can close the browser. In fact, I just did that right now! I had something that I wanted to say and instead of saying it, I highlighted it and deleted it. Because it wasn't appropriate, and because everyone needs a hug.
posted by sockermom at 2:19 PM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't know of a corollary or saying that fits it exactly right.

That's cool; I know of a corollary or saying that exactly doesn't fit it.
posted by Jpfed at 2:19 PM on March 10, 2015


LM: have you read the book? I think you're taking it as meaning something it doesn't.
posted by Shmuel510 at 2:20 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, I am not suggesting anyone is incompetent.
posted by Michele in California at 2:21 PM on March 10, 2015


It seems to me that MetaFilter has probably been "in decline" in some sense for a few years now.

There's also another phenomenon called "The Golden Age Fallacy" that I would argue is more relevant here. It's an especially common refrain that a web community was at its peak around the time someone joined, and has subsequently been in decline since. Perception is a tricky business.
posted by Phire at 2:36 PM on March 10, 2015 [37 favorites]


It seems to me that MetaFilter has probably been "in decline" in some sense for a few years now.

It's kind of like The Simpsons or SNL. Everyone has a watershed moment--Before That Time it was good; After That Time it was bad.

MeFi has improved on multiple axes, not least the whole boyzone thing, in the decade I've been around.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:09 PM on March 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


I hesitate to say this, because I suspect it will be taken as insulting, but "The Peter Principle" -- everyone rises to their level of incompetence -- comes to mind.

I think you're thinking of something more along the lines of people leaving when it's a good time to leave? Because the Peter Principle is all about people being promoted until they are so awful at their job that you can't in good conscience promote them any more because they literally can't even fake doing their job anymore. Which I like to think is what happened to me and Matt but only because it makes me laugh so hard to think about that it brightens my day.

So I get what you are saying, but I think that it would really be a great idea if when you're starting to say something like "this might be insulting" that it really might be to people who are having a rough day or a rough week or a rough life. None of which are me or mathowie or (I hope) the other mods, but it's good advice for life generally and hey see this is me doing that thing where I'm talking to MiC but then expanded what I'm talking about to be about life in general.

I was sort of hoping that I could just close my account for no reason just because I've never done that because of a MeTa thread and this would be a great opportunity to do that, but now is not the time apparently.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 3:15 PM on March 10, 2015 [40 favorites]


Jessamyn, I admire that you knew when to quit. And I have written several replies to various things in this thread and chosen to not post them in the interest of trying to know when to quit myself. And not replying has not stopped this from revolving around me in a negative way instead of revolving around you and Matt in a positive way. I appreciate it that you chimed in to be the voice or reason and not ugly about it. But I remain frustrated that, nonetheless, that keeps the focus on me.

I stated my reasons already as to why I posted it here and not elsewhere. I still hope that whenever Matt sees it, he gets my meaning and finds it useful and doesn't read in the ill intent that others have read in.

I would really appreciate it if other people would kindly go back to putting a positive spotlight on Matt and Jessamyn.
posted by Michele in California at 3:24 PM on March 10, 2015


MiC, can you please stop doing that thing where you (a) make a comment that focuses attention on you and your perceived persecution and then (b) later complain that people are focusing attention on you?
posted by lalex at 3:33 PM on March 10, 2015 [40 favorites]


I stated my reasons already as to why I posted it here and not elsewhere.

The thing is, you don't really need to post a comment like that anywhere.
posted by grouse at 3:34 PM on March 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm your huckleberry.
posted by clavdivs at 3:36 PM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought it was a warm and lovely and touching piece of writing.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 3:55 PM on March 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


As an aside: especially for people who work/live on it, locking yourself out of the internet, for a few months to a year, is a fascinating and ... surprisingly tricky exercise. Highly recommended, even if not exiting high profile job.
posted by ead at 4:03 PM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


i really enjoyed reading this! thanks for sharing it.
posted by nadawi at 4:35 PM on March 10, 2015


Mefi has been in decline for years? Damn straight - ever since user #483 joined, it went downhill for a decade and a half.

Also, it was a lovely post. I half expected mathowie to comment on this thread, when I realised, oh yeah...
posted by adrianhon at 4:53 PM on March 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


I enjoyed reading this so much, too. I haven't yet hit a point in my career when I have to leave a position like that, and it was full of really good things for me to take away and think about. Thank you for posting it publicly, jessamyn.
posted by sciatrix at 5:01 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


"The Peter Principle" -- everyone rises to their level of incompetence

Not everyone. Some people are incapable of rising to that.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:29 PM on March 10, 2015


Good article/letter...

All solid advice. Something silly that could be useful; in addition to 'changing the radio station', physically re-arranging your home office (I assume you have an office at home), changing your posters that you look at every day/redecorating the physical environment. That too might help you get a sense of 'I'm in a different place now'.

Similarly, I think it'd be great if the new management made some startling/severe changes that made it really feel like they were in control of the place. Sort of like when a senior VP joins a firm and wants to make their mark.

I recommend a few things: allowing images within the comment section (how awesome was that metatalk thread with images, eh?), drop the 5$ fee for a few months while simultaneously advertising on google and reddit to drive up membership.

/hamburger
posted by el io at 6:01 PM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


It was a well-timed piece for me to read, because I changed jobs not that long ago and tried to do so with great care about all kinds of issues, but I still got some stuff right and other things wrong. I have pretty much the anti-internet job, but even so a lot of what was in the piece applies generally and I wish it had appeared before I transitioned because there are parts that match my own lessons learned.

I hesitate to say this, because I suspect it will be taken as insulting, but

Yeah, don't do this. It's a pattern and not a good pattern, and it is overpowering the positive aspects of your comments.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:11 PM on March 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I thought it was great that Jessamyn did it as an open letter. To me it read as though she was using Matt's leaving as an opportunity to write about what her own experience has been like. I would happily read a much more detailed piece specifically about that, but I thought it was cute to do it this way too. And I read it out of the same sort of interest that I bring to anyone writing about an unusual career that I am not likely to ever directly experience. I would have read a piece about "things you might not know about being a firefighter" too.
posted by lollusc at 6:25 PM on March 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


You guys should give Matt an "Emeritus" tag and a tiny office that no one else wants

And then take it away from him a few years later one night, leaving boxes of his books in the hallway so that he wanders around confused and trying to figure out what he did wrong and how to carry heavy boxes and manage a walker at the same time... No? Just my university, then.
posted by lollusc at 6:32 PM on March 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


What a good writer our Jessamyn is.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:46 PM on March 10, 2015


I'm sorry, I was rather insulting - much more than MiC, to my mind. Reading other people's responses and thoughts here puts the piece in a new light for me, and obviously there's a lot to appreciate in jessamyn's work.

(I think that's partly why I made a comment after the initial comment, to achieve some kind of cognitive clarity. I'm glad people talked about the piece more in this thread, it opened my eyes more. Thanks metafilter.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:51 PM on March 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is a really nicely written part: "Learn to delight in clusterfucks that you didn’t create and you don’t have to fix. I’m here to tell you there is nothing at all like closing the browser on an angry thread and walking away, nothing in the world."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:53 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


and how to carry heavy boxes and manage a walker at the same time...

That is so sad, way to buzzkill the party :(
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:03 PM on March 10, 2015


I didn't know we were having a party. Wasn't that the other thread? Why is there no ASCII art?

(Also, I came in here from the Australian torture / Abbott doesn't listen to the UN thread, so by comparison, my comment here felt super upbeat.)
posted by lollusc at 7:24 PM on March 10, 2015


WHAT NO CHANGE THAT SHIT WHENEVER SOMEONE LEAVES

...says someone who doesn't have insane cruft service accounts running with a bunch of static passwords that aren't even documented anywhere.
posted by odinsdream at 8:41 PM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's an especially common refrain that a web community was at its peak around the time someone joined, and has subsequently been in decline since.

s/web community/everything/

Look at all the interest in Jon Stewart (not that I'm comparing Matt to Jon... oh, yes I am).

Since 1999, both of them. Sixteen years. Although I'm not quite sure what Jon Stewart will do once Slack hires him.
posted by holgate at 9:41 PM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Medium!! *claws eyeballs out*

Jessamyn!! *claps in glee*

Medium!! *claws eyeballs out*
posted by threeants at 11:18 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have a community manager career where I get very attached to my current community. It's part of the job, in a way - you get deeply involved in the thing, you communicate for it and with it, you are friends with the people, everything is all mushed up together. People can develop a weirdly intense amount of affection and devotion for a software-based thing they've worked on, complete with serious feelings of sadness and even a kind of grief if things go seriously wrong with a current or former thing. Eventually I'm going to have to leave my current thing, because that's how life works, and it's going to be hard.

It's reassuring to read kind and thoughtful writing that says yes, other people experience similarly intense and complex feelings about similar things.
posted by dreamyshade at 2:17 AM on March 11, 2015


great article.

tacky as hell response from some of you.
posted by jayder at 3:55 AM on March 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


I think it's a fact that as "retired" people become more removed from MeFi, the less revered they will be. You're just starting to see it here.
posted by smackfu at 5:56 AM on March 11, 2015


(Sorry, I had a hard time wording that and I'm still not really happy with it but I don't want to edit it again. Just mean that eventually some users will have no history with jessamyn, and they see this as just another random article like would be posted on the blue, and they will treat it like that.)
posted by smackfu at 6:00 AM on March 11, 2015


Medium!! *claws eyeballs out*

Why this reaction?
posted by grouse at 6:09 AM on March 11, 2015


I thought it was a little weird. Meddly. I would be very embarrassed if a former employee published such a missive about me.
posted by dmh at 6:24 AM on March 11, 2015


I think including the line was a mistake, because despite your intent, it ends up sounding as if you're saying someone is incompetent

Reinterpretation of what Lobster was responding to: Life. You burn out on something and either feel incompetent or become so and you just keep doing it because it is what you DO . Reality doesn't matter at that point because you just don't know what you are doing anymore. Then you start to wonder why you even get out of bed. You realize you are done with this and need to move on to that.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:52 AM on March 11, 2015


it's weird to me how people keep personalizing this to themselves instead of trusting that jessamyn knows mathowie and her relationship to him well enough to know if he'd find this off putting. they were on this ride together for the majority of the time and she got off the ride just a little bit before he did. it seems totally appropriate (and even sweet) for her to say, essentially, "hey, watch your step- also the booth over there has the best snow cones."
posted by nadawi at 7:01 AM on March 11, 2015 [32 favorites]




nadawi: it's weird to me how people keep personalizing this to themselves instead of trusting that jessamyn knows mathowie and her relationship to him well enough to know if he'd find this off putting. they were on this ride together for the majority of the time and she got off the ride just a little bit before he did. it seems totally appropriate (and even sweet) for her to say, essentially, "hey, watch your step- also the booth over there has the best snow cones."

The grouchiness of some of the people here surprised me. Am not sure why. In hindsight, it was predictable. I found it a bit disappointing, but that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, the essay is sound and thought-provoking, and I'm glad Jessamyn made it public.

Quitting your job -- especially when it's a company you founded, were devoted to and sweated over, fought to keep running, loved to tinker with, etc., -- after 16 years is difficult. The 'Can't Seem to Quit You' factor skyrockets because visiting his old workplace doesn't require any effort on Matt's part. He doesn't have to commute to get there. He literally just has to click a bookmark.

Jessamyn is literally the only Metafilter moderator who has ever gone through that process, which gives her a unique perspective on how to change one's behavior to meet the new circumstances Matt now finds himself in. She knows firsthand how hard or easy it is to let go -- and how to deal with not being able to close the door completely. Remember, she and Matt were not just coworkers for 15 years -- they're friends who still get together once a month (virtually) to talk publicly about Metafilter on the podcast. It's a unique set of challenges.

I believe there's nothing wrong with this essay being made public. It's in character for the site and the mods. Clearly, a high level of professional transparency is one of Metafilter's core values. Who defined those values and spent more than a decade trying to uphold them? Matt. Jessamyn. Cortex.
posted by zarq at 7:43 AM on March 11, 2015 [21 favorites]


I have really appreciated the amount of disclosure from the departing mods. It seems very much in the spirit of this unique board. Well, obviously, since it's come from the founder and the other longest-timer. But I feel these are people I know and their frankness has been refreshing.

I don't think it's completely personal or "well, duh." I worked for an internet site where the departing boss did not take this advice, pretty much exactly. They did eventually detach, but not before things got a little rough in the backchannel.
posted by BibiRose at 7:50 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it's weird that people would think that people who write on the internet for a living wouldn't process a major life change by, um, writing on the internet.
posted by zutalors! at 7:56 AM on March 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


I was sort of hoping that I could just close my account for no reason just because I've never done that because of a MeTa thread and this would be a great opportunity to do that, but now is not the time apparently.

You must have an interesting MeFi bucket list. :)

☑ Self-Ban
☑ Donuts with Cortex
☑ Retire
☐ Red Button
posted by zarq at 9:07 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


zarq: "I believe there's nothing wrong with this essay being made public."

There is 100% nothing wrong with this essay being made public. That said, I don't feel there's anything wrong with reading it with a critical eye, either. There have been a few comments here that seem to imply that any criticism of the article is out of bounds, and I don't think that's right.

Look - I *like* Jessamyn. I think she was an excellent mod, and is a good member now. I read her book blog and Twitter, too! But if she - or Matt, or anyone associated with the site, really - writes something online that gets linked here, I think it's fine to analyze it. Yes, as always, don't be a dick. But saying, "Hmm, this part seemed off to me" is not necessarily being a dick.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:12 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


There is 100% nothing wrong with this essay being made public.

Ok. But in your initial comment in this thread, you said, "But it's a strange piece to make into an open letter style post.

Take it to memail."
Isn't that an objection to it being public?

This note and the mods should not be above criticism, I completely agree. And I agree that it's perfectly okay to say, "This part seemed off to me."
posted by zarq at 10:13 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


*looks at Matt and Jess, makes "what, and give up all this?" gesture*
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:24 AM on March 11, 2015 [48 favorites]


I liked it. It resonates with me because I'm a similar situation with a volunteer webmaster position.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:28 AM on March 11, 2015


I've left several communities behind, as is the nature of the job, and it really is a different kind of thing than walking away from even another internet-based job. It's really hard to get the emotional separation from what has not just been your daily life but part of your social circle, and Jessamyn's advice is spot-on and totally generalizable for everyone else in the field. The field is just kind of tiny and obscure, is all.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:39 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


zarq: "But in your initial comment in this thread, you said, "But it's a strange piece to make into an open letter style post."

No, I didn't. That was cjorgensen, not me.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:52 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


OK, obviously I'm illiterate. :)

Thanks for the correction. Apologies.
posted by zarq at 11:17 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I loved Jessamyn's advice. It certainly rings true for my own "internet job" which has seen a lot of leadership turnover in the past year.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:30 AM on March 11, 2015


The grouchiness of some of the people here surprised me. Am not sure why. In hindsight, it was predictable.

I feel like maybe it needs to be stated -- I'm not sure WHY it needs to be stated, but apparently it does -- that just because something is posted to MetaTalk, you don't *have* to go into "I must now voice my thoughts on this" mode.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:09 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Signed: Me, voicing my thoughts.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:10 PM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


I spent several years as one of the two main volunteer moderators for a fandom community, ages ago now. When my "job" eventually started to chafe, I was so convinced that the community couldn't go on without me that I hung on long past the point that I should have, until one day I got one crabby PM too many and just ... logged out and never came back. I eventually did what I could to make things right over that, but the way I had ignored the problem until I was too overwhelmed to do anything useful about it is still something I feel bad about today. I wish I'd had Jessamyn's advice back then - AND both her and Matt's sensibility to recognize when stepping away proactively would be good for both me and the community.

I think this was a really nice piece, and I'm glad it was posted online so the rest of us could share in it. The camaraderie in it was touching, too - you always want to think your mods (and retired mods) are friends, kind of like how as a kid you want your parents to be friends.
posted by DingoMutt at 12:42 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


This was extremely helpful and timely for me as someone leaving a long-time position. Even though I don't have an internet job per se, I have been a part of a startup for years, and am responsible for a ton of shit and have zero work-life separation to speak of. It is extremely emotionally challenging to quit such a job.
posted by odinsdream at 12:46 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really liked the letter. But I admit I thought it was more appropriate for Matt than just being about any old Internet job. Perhaps Leaving Your Internet Community might have been more accurate. But none of that really matters in the big scheme of things.

Bottom line for me is I really miss both of you. I know you'll be floating around, occasionally interjecting this or that. But I know me, and I know what I'm feeling right now is clearly grief. I'm grieving the loss of both of you as my example of how to be good, as management gurus, as community builders, as just wise motherfuckers, and simply among the best people I would visit on a daily basis. The folks left in charge are obviously competent and will keep the lights on and will very likely awesomely and marvelously blossom into their new roles. But I miss both of you. And reading Jessamyn's letter helped me see the impact it had on her, and to see her concern for her friend. That, frankly, helped me process this too. And helped me be a bit more empathetic to your feelings of loss, too.

When we lose someone, we can sometimes get mad at them. How could they leave? It's so friggin' selfish. Jessamyn's letter struck me as a very humane and comforting way to help her friend. And reminded me that even during the tough times, we have each other. I appreciated her thoughtfulness, and I thank her for helping me to process this loss in a more mature and sympathetic way.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:02 PM on March 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is just to say ... I loved the article and loved the illustrations, especially the portrait of the mod team. Such nice uniforms.
posted by valetta at 7:03 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Medium!! *claws eyeballs out*

Why this reaction?


Personally? I mostly just hate the gigantic body text. I also find the display of information to be fully counter-intuitive. Even already knowing Jessamyn wrote the piece, it took me quite a while to find the author byline, because it's floating at the end, surrounded by an unvariegated pool of other people's names and various social-media cruft.
posted by threeants at 8:21 PM on March 11, 2015




Do we know when mathowie is announcing his new job at The Daily Show?
posted by eyeballkid at 11:46 PM on March 11, 2015


This is a really swell article, filled with swell advice, from one swell person to another, but applicable to anyone who wants to have a swell time when leaving a job.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:00 AM on March 12, 2015


Gee, that's swell, Brandon.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:10 AM on March 12, 2015


Pardon, that should be "Swell job, everyone!"
posted by octobersurprise at 7:11 AM on March 12, 2015


> But in your initial comment in this thread, you said, "But it's a strange piece to make into an open letter style post."

As already pointed out, that was me.

I still stand by my observations. I didn't say it was wrong to make it public. I said it was weird. I also followed up with why.

The last line about taking it to memail was a joke, and if it doesn't read that way then it's a failed joke. I was originally going to write something like, "If only there were a way to send this advice directly to Matt," but that didn't read as funny to me.

I never said jessamyn shouldn't have written this, or that she was wrong, or that doing it in a public manner was wrong. I found it odd, or as I originally put it, weird. There was a disconnect to me between what seemed like the intended audience and the medium (ha! ha!) used to deliver the message. I commented as such. That's all.

> I hope you don't mean it this way but that sounds like "This woman used a large internet platform to give advice and talk about something going on in her life and I find that disagreeable." […] My audience is exactly the right size.

I'm not sure how you get from, "I agree with everything she wrote [...]" to characterizing my comments so uncharitably. I thought the framing was off for its intent. I said why as well. If it is "Advice for @mathowie on his new adventure" then it didn't seem, to me, to be best served with an open letter style post. If it was general advice to the world at large "How to Leave Your Internet Job" then is seemed like the hook was too specific.

I guess I felt like I was reading someone's personal email.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:12 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


the hook was too specific

But from now on I'll be able to advice my friends to read 'what Jessamyn wrote to Matt upon his departure from MetaFilter'. Not to 'useful remarks on leaving your internet job'. I think you'll agree that it carries certain weight.
posted by hat_eater at 7:28 AM on March 12, 2015


As already pointed out, that was me.

*nod* Sorry about that.

The last line about taking it to memail was a joke, and if it doesn't read that way then it's a failed joke.

Ah. I didn't get it.

Which may just mean it failed for me, and not the rest of the people who read it.

I never said jessamyn shouldn't have written this, or that she was wrong, or that doing it in a public manner was wrong. I found it odd, or as I originally put it, weird. There was a disconnect to me between what seemed like the intended audience and the medium (ha! ha!) used to deliver the message. I commented as such. That's all.

OK. It came across (to me) as grumpy.
posted by zarq at 8:10 AM on March 12, 2015


You remarked that her audience was too large, and "take it to memail" (yes, a joke, but intent isn't always perfectly clear on the internet), which could be misunderstood as essentially telling her to be quiet.

Yay! You didn't mean it like that, but I think that's why you've gotten some of the reactions you have.
posted by ghost phoneme at 8:58 AM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would have used a different animated GIF for point 1.
posted by mazola at 12:04 PM on March 12, 2015


You remarked that her audience was too large, and "take it to memail" (yes, a joke, but intent isn't always perfectly clear on the internet), which could be misunderstood as essentially telling her to be quiet.

I suppose, but I clarified my initial comment 14 minutes later with, "If it's friendly advice, drop him an email. If it's general advice why hang it on Matt's leaving?" An open letter format seemed, to me, like a strange choice for what read as a personal missive. "Take it to memail" is a fairly standard convention around here when a discussion doesn't really involve the group as a whole but is between two individuals. If people are reading that as silencing, that wasn't my intent.

Like Chrysostom wrote above, I was giving my impressions of the piece. That was my reading and my take. Other people had differing readings. Subsequent input from others made me rethink some of my impressions, especially this line, "I think it's weird that people would think that people who write on the internet for a living wouldn't process a major life change by, um, writing on the internet."

I could have written something along the lines of, "This isn't how I would have chosen to write what reads like a personal letter to someone," which is true. To me there's a disconnect between the message and how it was delivered. But then I am also the kind of guy who cringes when people make marriage proposals at baseball games. It's not how I would go about it, but I'm not saying they shouldn't.

And like cortex said, "Different people, different situations, different needs."
posted by cjorgensen at 1:57 PM on March 12, 2015


Oh, I completely believe silencing wasn't your intent in any way. I just read your preceding comment as confused as to where that reading was coming from (and your clarification ended with the too large an audience comment, which is what I thought was a bit off but now makes sense).

I was over thinking it: by pointing out what lead to that reading you wouldn't have to worry that everyone by default assumed you wanted her silenced, it was simple misunderstanding which you clarified and now makes sense. I failed completely.

In conclusion: ignore me!
posted by ghost phoneme at 2:46 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


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