Is MetaFilter a community? August 24, 2015 4:26 PM   Subscribe

In one sense, of course, it obviously is. It says "Community weblog" right under the title! But there are other meanings of community. I was really struck by feckless fecal fear mongering's comment in the emotional labor MeTa thread: "You've got family here. Yeah, online never substitutes for someone who can touch your shoulder. And... there's thousands and thousands of people right here in this community who have demonstrated they'll give and give and give... Not that whole "I heard a thing and I care for five minutes." Real, true, love and caring for another human being; "shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased. Thus do we refute entropy." Mefi? Mefi actually does that shit. Mefi actually cares--look at the whole NYC sex worker thing a few years ago, or really anything on AskMe. People here give a fuck." To what extent is this how we see MetaFilter?

To put my own cards on the table: I think of myself as a pretty active member of MetaFilter. I look at the site multiple times every day. Over the last ten years I've posted a lot and I've commented a lot. I read MetaTalk.

On the other hand: I experience MetaFilter as a great place to read and write stuff, probably my favorite place on the Internet. I would be really sad if it went away. But I don't experience it as a family. I don't feel like I have any personal relationships with the users of MeFi, even the ones whose stuff I've been reading for years. I don't really have any picture of who you are, where you live, what you do, what you care about. I would be more likely to help out someone in my neighborhood, even someone I didn't know well, than someone on MetaFilter. When something comes up on MeTa about how user X is constantly being a jerk to user Y, it's always the case that this is something I didn't notice before, even though I've read the threads being discussed. But it's just as obviously the case that lots of people are aware of this, notice the conflict in the thread and attach it to their mental map of the community.


I don't think there's a right or a wrong way to be on MetaFilter. But I do wonder what other people's experience of the site is like, whether it's more like mine or more like fffm's, or something in between. Are we users or are we members? Is MetaFilter something we read, or something we belong to?
posted by escabeche to MetaFilter-Related at 4:26 PM (257 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

Are we users or are we members? Is MetaFilter something we read, or something we belong to?

Yes.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:35 PM on August 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


Interesting. Obviously different people are going to have different experiences of this, and probably even the same person over time will change how connected they feel.

Some of this may be partly just down to what the rest of your life is like? As jessamyn often says, for those of us who are online all the time, we're here for a reason. Such as: being time-shifted (being a night person/working nights), or living in an area where you don't have a lot of in-person social contacts or ones that feel like "your people" (e.g. being a lefty intellectual living in a conservative rural area), or having young kids or or caretaking for a parent, or having mobility problems, and so on. All these reasons make online a good place to plug into a community.

But it also sounds like I have a different experience than you do in terms of feeling like you "know" people in the community. I feel like I have at least some sense of the lives of... many hundreds of members here, and know-by-name thousands. So, it's at least a community in the same way that I have with other people who are regulars at my local coffeeshop - I know a bit about them, a bit about what's up lately, etc. I probably know a lot more about Mefites than about my coffeeshop-regular acquaintances. Some of this is maybe just hardwired personal difference, in terms of what aspects of a conversation you're paying attention to, or what info you're entering into the database you're building in your head as you read? I've often been reading a post and thought like "oh, he moved" or "huh, I wonder whatever happened with her grad school plans" or whatever - I have just a bit of information on people and I'm updating it as I read. So it's a community to me in the sense that my brain thinks these are people worth paying attention and worth remembering bits about. I've often had the experience of seeing a username and thinking oh, fun, haven't seen them for a while -- and I'll look, and they were last active around 2007. I'm not sure why this is the case but it's interesting to hear that you experience it differently -- I wonder if it's just an individual thing about remembering names or remembering social info about people? Maybe gendered?

I do think the framework of its being a community is important for shaping conversational norms here, too.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:39 PM on August 24, 2015 [21 favorites]


I feel like MeFi is a community in the same way that the TBLGQQI(...) world is a community. Disparate, often at odds with itself, and yet fairly cohesive while being heterogenous.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:40 PM on August 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Speaking for myself, many times has MetaFilter helped me grow and learn about a variety of topics and issues that I simply wouldn't encounter in my everyday life. The Schrodinger's Rapist thread, the many threads discussing trans issues, the more recent Black Lives Matter threads...it's been a huge source of personal learning and growth in understanding. I've never been one to make online friends, but I feel I have done so here and through chat.metafilter.com. Even if I've only met a few MeFites IRL.

To me, at least, it is a community. There's nothing else like it on the web.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:41 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's a community to me. Of smart, caring, thought provoking and well informed people. That's why I am here.
posted by bearwife at 4:42 PM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yep it's a community. Sometimes that's good. Sometimes that's bad. Mostly it just is.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:54 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


i have found many connections and communities within metafilter. does that make it an overall community? i think it does, because that's how communities function in other spaces as well, as far as i can tell.
posted by nadawi at 5:04 PM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been a denizen of "cyberspace" since roughly the time Gibson appropriated that term from the Danes, but for a variety of crotchety old school "the online spaces should have a distributed implementation" philosophical reasons am a relative newcomer to MeFi.

Back before the famed "nobody knows you're a dog" New Yorker cartoon, the online world was a place where a dorky kid suddenly dumped into a suburban-ish public middle school from a relatively closed rural community could experiment with different personas safely, who could have technical discussions with technical peers who were in no way social peers, who could find acceptance without teasing....

In the over 3 decades that I've been online, I've met people who've become business partners, real life friends, people who've crashed on my couch, to whom I've opened up about deep personal issues and vice-versa, made contact that led to a cross-country move, or loaned tools, traded design notes...

I forget what it was that led me back to Metafilter. I was a part of the early blog community, and when Brad died I mashed reload on the thread and cried a bit, because... well... But that brought me in the door, and it wasn't too long before I saw an Ask thread I could participate in, and I realized that many of the communities I had participated in had fallen apart and this one was here and vibrant.

So is this a community? Hell yes. I haven't made it to a published IRL gathering yet, but I've loaned a bicycle to a MeFite on vacation, re-met someone I went to grade school in rural New York with (both he and I now live in the SF Bay Area), laughed out loud at work, had my opinions changed...

Is it everything I want in an online community? No. But no community ever is. It's enough to draw me back, to seek connection, to want to help, and to accept help.

Is online different from IRL? It's a space where we get to try on some faces that we'd never try if face to face was all we had, and a place to meet people whose interests are grouped in more interesting ways than geography, but, really, it's an augmentation of real life.

And we gather to laugh and to cry and to have conversations and help each other out and, really, that's what community is.
posted by straw at 5:08 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's mostly text-based and doesn't have bottom-dredging tabloid ads all over it, so I care about it sort of like a last tiny roped-off and tenuously-preserved bit of prairie or wetland ecosystem.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:35 PM on August 24, 2015 [27 favorites]


Shhheeet I answered this question like two months ago.

Two Months Ago was also the name of a terrible song I wrote when I was 16 about a failed crush. The influence of Sebadoh was a bit too strong in young item.
posted by item at 5:47 PM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Way back in the mid-90s / early 2000s, I lucked into making real-life friends out of internet friends. We had meet-ups and flew across the country and went to lunch when in town and so on. I'm still on-line friends with many of those some people.

Since then, somehow, I've been more of a lurker and less able to forge real friendships over email. But I've been visiting Metafilter almost every day for almost 10 years, mostly reading, sometimes commenting. I've joined and dropped all manner of other communities since then, but Metafilter persists with me. I recognize names, and laugh, and sometime get teary, and try to help others in AskMe on the rare occasions I have something to add.

It's definitely a community to me, and although that hasn't translated to knitting with anyone here, or inviting them to stay if they come through town, I still really do feel a value of the people here, what we do together.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:14 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


There is also the fact that, for many folks that are lucky enough to live in an area with a significant quantity of other MeFites, meetups and IRL have allowed them to create actual in-person communities and friendships. Here in the Triangle of North Carolina we don't have the big crowds that I imagine they do in places like Chicago and NYC, but we meet regularly enough (even if one of the vertices of the Triangle was sadly under-represented last weekend... I'm looking in your direction, Chapel Hillians).
posted by Rock Steady at 6:31 PM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've had an experience similar to SqueakAttack's with an online group back in the heady days of the slightly-earlier internet (or as I like to think of it, "before Facebook came along and fucked everything up"). There was probably a stronger feeling of community in that group because such a high percentage had actually met each other in person, but there were also some people who were more on the periphery (didn't meet, or didn't often meet, others in real life, if only for geographical reasons).
With a site like Metafilter the "periphery" is inevitably much larger, but the sense of community is still remarkably strong for a, well, group blog or whatever...and there's a huge range of ways to participate in it.
posted by uosuaq at 6:54 PM on August 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think it's what you make of it? You can form really strong connections with people on MF, if you choose to. Or you can be more reserved and not do so. It's just like real life.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:34 PM on August 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


I appreciate that this is a place that some people visit casually and infrequently, but it is most certainly a community. Several times in the last 12 years people have reached out to me in Real Life and several times I have reached out to them, often in moments of real personal crisis. I have friends here that I know reasonably well (often facilitated by Facebook) and have been to many IRL events, including crossing state and national borders. Besides "friends", there are certain members that I know more as acquaintances and have a general idea of their lives and sensibilities just from their posting history. There are members who have shown they have expertise in their fields and I feel comfortable reaching out to them about certain questions and *not once* have I been ignored. Then there are people I don't know at all but want to get to know them better and feel secure in doing so as we share the kinship that community produces.

I live in a very community oriented place and Metafilter feels much the same, a place where there is safety and strength in sharing of myself.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:42 PM on August 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Are we users or are we members?

We are Devo.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:44 PM on August 24, 2015 [20 favorites]


I see it as a really helpful coffee shop too. A place where I can pop in every day and chat with the locals and usually it is an intellectual conversation about whatever interesting thing is happening in town. There's some locals I chat with and there's some I am on a nodding level with. There's that name I recognize. Oh, that person knows a lot about that and will yak about their intense interest in gnome farming. Oh, haven't seen that guy around for awhile. That's how I see Metafilter. A community I pop into every day and sip and chat with if I want or just sit in the corner and read my paper.

Askme is to me is something I can't describe. It's changed my life. It's educated me. It's saved my life. It's helped me through mental breakdowns; rape; figuring out my gender. I'm not that connected to individual mefites but it awes me because I've had... I've had more generous offers of support from askme members than I have ever experienced in my life. Ask me.. I can't tell you what they've done as I don't want to out anyone but I basically wouldn't be alive without Askme. Overly dramatic as that may be.
posted by kanata at 7:48 PM on August 24, 2015 [15 favorites]


Oh, it also gave me a really awesome chocolate cake recipe once that made a girl love me so there's that...
posted by kanata at 7:52 PM on August 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have made quite a few real-life friends on Metafilter. I actually find myself reading/posting less and less simply because I have less and less free time, but I see mefites on the regular IRL, and talk to them EVERY DAY. I went through a pretty rough breakup recently; mefites were there for me. I have dinner plans with two of them tomorrow. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but wow, Metafilter has really enriched my circle of friends.
posted by mollymayhem at 7:55 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Obviously different people are going to have different experiences of this, and probably even the same person over time will change how connected they feel.

Echoing this. It obviously is a community for a lot of people, and I think that's awesome. It used to feel that way for me too, but that was a different me and a different MetaFilter. And that's totally cool as well.

Nowadays it feels more like a (sub)cultural touchstone. I don't really feel like my input (unless it's on a particularly niche topic) adds much, but it still sorta means I have something in common with people I may interact with at meetups and such.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:55 PM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


To me, it does not feel like a community. And that says more about me than mefi.
posted by dogwalker at 8:00 PM on August 24, 2015


I would say I do have a feeling that this is a community. And like the small communities I'm part of in meatspace, I think it's not uncommon for that to be complicated. I live in a town where maybe a half dozen people would notice if I disappeared forever, but that's not to say I don't feel like I'm part of the place. So goes MetaFilter, I suppose.
posted by brennen at 8:13 PM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Did you read the Southern Reach trilogy? Metafilter is Area X. At first intriguing and intimidating, then uninviting and alienating, then you find yourself spending more and more time here . . . and it grows and becomes a part of you, and you can't imagine solving a complex problem without it, and you secretly dream that someday the whole world might look like this, diverse and strange and new.

Sorry. Feeling purple today.
posted by thetortoise at 8:16 PM on August 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


Nah, but I don't believe in "Internet community," it's at most a phrase etymologically related to "community" with a different meaning.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:26 PM on August 24, 2015


I think metafilter is a really great place to meet people who become family and community.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:47 PM on August 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


Online community is academically difficult to pin down. Many researchers from the early and mid-2000s found 'community' to be a "diluted concept" (using Fernback's terminology). Others (like Gee) have devised entirely new terms in an express effort to distance their research from strong traditional notions of community. I agree with Fernback's theoretical move to symbolic interactionism, meaning looking at how individuals conceive of their relationships to others online while being cautious of imposing outside theoretical definitions of the concept. Therefore, there is no objective measure of community, but rather varying conceptions of community among individual members. Within this perspective, online community is a personally defined value, and when a large enough network of people agree upon that definition to some degree, then it becomes an observable entity. However, there is no quantitative metric where you can tap the dial and say, "ah, right there, it just became a community."

In my experience, I would personally call Metafilter a community. I think it has recognizable sets of values, a shared sense of history, specific artifacts and practices (like the yearly cat thread), and a small enough set of recognizable members to fit within the bounds of what I would consider a community. While it's a community for me, I also realize that the person who asks 2 questions a year and never reads the Blue doesn't necessarily think so. I also think there's nothing intrinsically good about a community, and that some communities are in fact toxic and harmful to their members. However, Metafilter's community is largely healthy and supportive, and I would say well maintained by the site's technology and administration.
posted by codacorolla at 8:47 PM on August 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yes. Y'all are family. I won't go into details, you've heard my story before...
posted by mrbill at 9:01 PM on August 24, 2015 [19 favorites]


I just have to say that Mefites have made switching real, physical communities much, much better on two separate coasts now. Two moves, some hurricanes, a couple of different jobs, a wedding, a marriage. Field trips to museums! Hilariously-named craft beer! I can't always post as much as I'd like to, but I give a million gold stars to you and you and you (you know who you are.) Also, you all put up with my terrible puns and bar jokes more than anyone could hope for. In some ways, this has been more of a community than the places I've lived, which I think says a lot about the places I've lived more than anything else, but it's still been nice.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:01 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Community, coffee shop, Devo (hee!), family and more. At the first Metafilter IRL meetup I went to, I think it was lost_cause who said, "Metafilter is like being back in college, getting to hang out and talk with a bunch of smart, interesting people."

I've been reading Metafilter since 2001. I've been a member for only four years. In the real world, when I join a community (professional or otherwise), I go from holding back and observing to waking up one day and being at the center and being called a leader, which always freaks me out. Here, there is never any push to do anything but simply be kind to one another.

And yet, in any real world community I'm part of, I grow out of any initial reluctance or fear of participating. I've still never posted on the Blue. Nobody in my real world has been scarily snarky since high school; here, it's why I almost never post on the Grey. (At a recent meetup, someone nodded as I explained that. "So," he asked solemnly, "you're sincere?" "Worse," I confessed. "I'm earnest.)

And yet again, my heart aches when someone here whom I only know as a screen name experiences angst, heartbreak, death. I finally participated in Secret Quonsar and it lifted my soul instead of making me feel burdened (as community gift exchanges often do). My life is better for starting to get to know MeFites outside of Metafilter, whether on Twitter or at meetups.

Why/how do I know that Metafilter is a community, and more than that, a family? I bought someone I love more than life itself a membership; it's only $5, but it's saying to him that I trust him to be good to Metafilter and I trust Metafilter to be good to him, and I promised him that no matter what, this would be a safe place for him. You guys aren't just smart and funny and weird. You're a safe place in a world where that's hard to find.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:32 PM on August 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


I've still never posted on the Blue

winterSeptember is coming
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:39 PM on August 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Are we users or are we members?
Or are we dancer?
posted by chococat at 9:48 PM on August 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


You guys are alright. Mostly.
posted by Artw at 9:57 PM on August 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think this varies from person to person, but if someone posted an ask(or mentioned in a comment on the blue) about a problem in my city, and i thought i could help, i'd go get in a car and help them. Even if it was just to look for their dog with a flashlight at 3am.

Dunno if anyone would do the same for me, but hell, i'd at least try.
posted by emptythought at 10:09 PM on August 24, 2015 [29 favorites]


MetaFilter is like my home away from home that I telecommute to from my real home. And from other people's homes too, and from work, and while I'm in line somewhere. You know.
posted by aubilenon at 11:10 PM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I got drunk with JonMC once. He really cared. We were there for each other. Beam shots, beer backs, butt rock on the jukebox, awkward convo. If we weren't both spoken for, I'd swear we were this close to gettin it on.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:13 PM on August 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I ♥ you all, just as Metafilter's own eyeballkid hates us all. If that ain't community, I guess I don't know what is.
posted by Lynsey at 11:22 PM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I sometimes think of Metafilter as roughly being my Phyle from the Diamond Age. I'd explain it, but if the reference is not widely understood then perhaps I am wrong.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:23 PM on August 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


We share water.
posted by Artw at 11:26 PM on August 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


MeFites took care of me when I broke my leg.

I will say that MeFi has definitely gotten bigger, and as that's happened, I've ended up spending less and less time actually on MeFi but more and more time hanging out with MeFites in regular life (reader, I married one). I was at a birthday party for one Saturday; probably going to see Grace Jones with another. I've got two bikes in my living room that we've gotten from two different MeFites who got them from two other MeFites. I don't know if it is a single community to the extent it used to be, but it's certainly a part of my community.
posted by klangklangston at 11:26 PM on August 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


"We share water."

Are you the one taking them from the breakroom fridge? I wrote my name on them!
posted by klangklangston at 11:29 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


No, it says "Ice core sample containing anomalous microbes, Pabodie expedition - DO NOT DRINK".

I put it in the punch as I thought everybody would want some.
posted by Artw at 11:37 PM on August 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


It a very large community. Most places, you hit your 150-200 and there's a splintering. MetaFilter somehow manages to keep growing. It's an absolutely bizarre happenstance, that something randomly made by some guy years ago would somehow become more than any of us could make something alone - but it's a gestalt or sorts, I suppose.

I think sometimes people mistake "community" for circle of friends, but it's bigger than that. It includes many people you probably wish it didn't. There's something about seeing the same names over and over again, though, which gives a sense of continuity; of place.

I still miss the ones who have gone, though.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:49 PM on August 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


I enjoy reading the site but it has no community aspect for me. I read loads of interesting comments every day, but as I use Adblock's element hider heavily and I turn off page colors, all I have is black text on a white background with no formatting and also no usernames or favorites - just the text of the comments. I only ever see the names of members when someone quotes them so for me its an anonymous chatroom.
posted by guy72277 at 12:16 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's like a library. Some people come in, read the newspapers, check out a book or two and sit in the corner quietly, then go home. Some people organise author readings and kids events and adult education, and some people attend all of these regularly and get to know each other and recognise each other when they pass in the street. Some people meet up outside the library and become friends. Some people marry each other.

I come in every day and read a few things, and listen to a few people discussing the topic of the day, but don't actually have a personal relationship with anyone. I recognise a few names, but have no particular interaction with them. Each to their own, I guess - it seems like one of its strengths is that it can be many things to many people.
posted by twirlypen at 12:20 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


Most places, you hit your 150-200 and there's a splintering.

Not sure if you were intending to reference it, but 150 is the most common approximation of Dunbar's number. That is, it’s generally assumed that one person can manage ~150 stable relationships at a time. (Pity celebrities.)

Most of us don't manage relationships with -or could likely name- 150 other site members. This isn’t to knock the idea that MetaFilter is a community, but rather to emphasize that the community spirit of it comes out of a gestalt of the comment, and posts, and everything you experience as a user that emphasizes community, not necessarily first-pseudonym relationships with other users. (No one’s mention third places yet! Let me be the first, since it’s a third place you can take with you throughout the day.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:29 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


twirlypen, it's funny you say that, because I often think of the influence of librarianship on Metafilter. (When I read jessamyn's bio, it all made perfect sense.) Moderators weed posts and comments like librarians do books: quietly, unobtrusively, in order to make room for newer, more relevant information. The mods also balance the free, minimally restricted exchange of ideas with maintaining a community where "underserved" populations are welcome and minority voices are valued. It's the only site I've been on where quality of discussion is valued over enforcement of rules. Sometimes there's nothing wrong with what you're saying but you're in the wrong room for it, so the mods give you a little nudge, like "the meeting room is more appropriate for this than the reading room, thanks." It's Ranganathan's library as growing organism, but in the form of a website.
posted by thetortoise at 12:34 AM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


I've never made a list or anything, but I think there are probably something like 500 members on this site that have a definite personality I'd be able to talk about, and if something happened to them I would genuinely feel affected by it. That seems significant, even if these aren't conventional relationships. There's probably another 500 on twitter. I wonder if that Dunbar's number is outdated (the early 90s! So long ago!) because we've been training our brains to expand our social circles on a global level for the first time in history.
posted by naju at 12:37 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, that reminds me, I've never told jessamyn thank you, and this is the perfect thread for it. I've only started commenting heavily recently, but I've lurked for ages, and a few years ago I was going to write an AskMe soliciting advice about my job. I sent it to the mods before posting, to make sure it was okay, and jessamyn came back right away with a kind, thoughtful response, noting that my post wasn't just about my job at all, but about deeper frustrations and depression, and basically asking, "are you okay?" I never posted the AskMe, but that response was one of many things that prompted me to make big changes in my life that I'd put off for a decade. I'm in a much better place these days, and this site had a lot to do with it, even if literally nobody here knew that. So, yeah, for me it's a community. Thanks.
posted by thetortoise at 12:46 AM on August 25, 2015 [39 favorites]


My sense of Metafilter as a community has evolved over the years, I think largely in response to people who definitely see it as a community and definitely saw me as part of it. My first Metafilter Meetup really affected my perception of the site. Before then, I had noticed a few usernames and had a good sense of the personality of the mods, but 90% of my experience with the site was basically reading interesting comments without much sense of who had written them. Then I go to a Meetup and I was astounded to discover that almost everyone there had a clear sense of who I was. I would meet someone, tell them my username, and they would respond with some variation of "Oh! You're the voice of religious reason on Metafilter!" (Helps to have a niche, I guess.) Somewhat embarrassingly, I had no sense of who any of the folks I was meeting were.

But that's changed. Knowing that people perceived the site that way, I started viewing it more that way myself, especially with the folks I met IRL, but also with others that I connected with on Facebook or Twitter. I've been to parties at MeFite homes and been hosted by MeFites while traveling, and at some point it turned into an honest-to-God community for me, too. I don't know everyone (who could?) but I know a lot of people, associate their usernames with a sense of their personal history and personality, and I care what happens to them.
I don't think that would have happened as intensely if I hadn't gone to that first meetup. That seriously changed my perception of Metafilter, and moved it from "random smart comments" to "my internet friends conversing (plus some random people who drop in)."
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:43 AM on August 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


I wonder if this is at all connected to how often people read and participate on AskMe. Because I've been reading the Human Relations questions almost every day for years now, and doing that means watching other people's lives unfold through the questions they ask and sometimes the answers they give. Which means I have a sense of a lot of different people who use AskMe regularly, and I have opinions about some of them and could tell you stories about other people. That makes it feel like a community to me.

Also, AskMe has really saved my bacon in a number of different ways, which makes it feel like a community to me too. I grew up with parents who did their best but who had a lot of holes in their upbringing themselves. So I used to have to figure out a lot of stuff by myself, and before I found Metafilter I used to get an awful panicked feeling every time I was confronted with a situation I didn't know how to deal with or a problem I didn't know how to solve. Now I just say to myself, "I'll ask MetaFilter; they'll help me," and just knowing that allows me to take a deep breath and re-evaluate the problem. And sometimes I do a search for old related questions and find my answer there, and sometimes I write out an AskMe in my head and that helps me solve my problem myself, but I always know that if neither of those work, I can ask MeFi a question and people will give me answers and suggestions that will help me tackle my problem. And every time people here help me, I am so deeply grateful, because I'm still not used to people helping me and not having to do everything alone. So I always write a thank you at the end of all of my questions, but it never feels wholly adequate.
posted by colfax at 1:51 AM on August 25, 2015 [19 favorites]


It feels like a community to me. I have a sense of who a lot of people are, what they do for a living or their family situation, people whose comments I always enjoy and the very odd one who makes me roll my eyes - just like a community IRL. I'd have to fly to another country to go to a meetup, though I'd still like to one day, but even without that there are connections here that have crossed into real life, even if sometimes that's only in my own head (like if I wonder where someone's been if they've stopped commenting, or am pleased to see people reappear).

And AskMe has been a big thing for me. I've shared things on Ask (though the Big Stuff is through my sock puppet) that I haven't shared with my actual friends and the people there have helped me through some really difficult times. I've internalised it enough that most of the time when I consider asking a question I already know what the answer is likely to be, so there's a distinct sense of community values. Likewise what I've learned through discussions on the blue and grey have definitely helped develop my worldview for the better, in the way that you learn when listening to people you respect talking to each other.

But I think mostly for me what makes it feel like a community, rather than just pages of text on a website, is that if it wasn't here tomorrow I would truly miss it, and miss individual voices. There are other places to go, but not like here.
posted by billiebee at 2:15 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I said basically this in the '14' thread. I come here daily for the posts and the discussion. I enjoy my time here. But there is a long list of things I wouldn't discuss here, for I would be branded as insufficiently leftist and treated poorly in discussion as a result. And I'm no conservative in most senses of the term. Compared to places like Reddit, people here are saints. Yet there is way too much unkindness and kneejerk assumptions of bad faith in threads. I save most of my questions whereby I'm working out my own views on hotbutton issues for my friends and academic colleagues.

All that said, there are a bunch of kind, decent, and smart people here (and great mods!), and y'all keep me coming back. As I've been online dating, it's struck me how much I have in common with many here, especially compared to the general population.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:52 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Most of us ... could likely name- 150 other site members."

Now I'm kind of curious how many users I could name, given pen and paper and no internet.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:20 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have lurked on a number of other fora but MF is my longest and favourite, and probably the only one where I am an active member. I definitely feel like MetaFilter is a community and that I have found my people... my overthinky, slightly weird, funny, helpful, interesting people.

Like many other people on this thread, I have a sense of individual posters - oh, this user always gives helpful advice and this user lives in the same city as me etc - and I've had some great MeMail conversations with users. I've also had really positive experiences with the mods. They're awesome!

I don't think MF does everything right but it gets more right than any other web-community. I've learned a lot from being a member of this community, especially from all the lurking I do (my middling level of site activity in no way reflects the amount of time I spend on this site). I have internalised a lot.

Recently I was facing a bit of a sticky social situation, and I actually thought "What would AskMe say?" and did what I was pretty sure AskMe would have advised based on the hundreds of human relations threads I have read during my lunch breaks. I think I did the right thing, too.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:35 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I wonder if this is at all connected to how often people read and participate on AskMe. Because I've been reading the Human Relations questions almost every day for years now, and doing that means watching other people's lives unfold through the questions they ask and sometimes the answers they give. Which means I have a sense of a lot of different people who use AskMe regularly, and I have opinions about some of them and could tell you stories about other people. That makes it feel like a community to me."

It's interesting that you say that. I share a lot less of myself here than I used to, and that's because I don't feel emotionally safe here. I'm not sure if I ever did, and it's certainly true that MetaFilter of ten years ago was more unsafe than it is now, but even so, part of how I've learned to be on MetaFilter has been to protect parts of myself that people here have attacked in the past, when it was rhetorically useful for them to do so. And so I would never reveal myself in the ways required to post a human relations AskMe question -- I've considered it on numerous occasions and immediately discarded it as a foolish idea.

There are times in difficult threads when I feel that precisely because there's a lot emotionally on the line for me, that it's something that is very much about my lived experience and where I could offer a perspective that would be useful for the discussion, I will type something and then not post it because why in the world would I want to place myself in that vulnerable position? This happens with disability threads -- in fact, it happened just recently. In those threads, I understand intimately why, for example, some women and trans* folk and others decide that the price is too high to participate and that, for some, eventually, just being here isn't worth it.

I think one's sense of community here involves this -- at least it does in my case. I would trust some individual mefites with a lot -- but the community as a whole? Not really. And that impacts how much I feel that "MetaFilter" is a community in the sense that's being discussed here, or at least how much I feel that I'm a part of it, or could be.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:35 AM on August 25, 2015 [15 favorites]


Hmmm, I started reading metafilter since approximately 2002, first joined in 2006 (different username), and still pretty much regularly have it open in a tab (or eight) all the time.

I don't have personal friends off of metafilter -- and I usually read rather than comment -- but I do consider it a community. More than any other place on the internet (that I've seen) people here care about others, and we also have weird insider rituals (Secret Quonsar!). And, just as I've absorbed a whole lot of esoteric knowledge and facts about things ranging from neighborhoods in cities I've never visited to how to bury a dead body to [ALL THE THINGS], I've also background-absorbed random facts about people's lives -- and that's pretty cool.
posted by aaanastasia at 4:11 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


guy72277: all I have is black text on a white background with no formatting and also no usernames or favorites - just the text of the comments

I like the minimalism of this, but I love how it exemplifies the internet ethos of trusting the client/user to decide how things should be displayed. I wouldn't want to read the internet by email like Richard Stallman reportedly does/did either, but it gives me the same warm, open, accessible fuzzies.

I'd totally forgotten that for reading blogs/webcomics by RSS I used to locally host a copy of the Planet blog-aggregating software (titled "Planet Me" obviously). Everything tweaked to "eh, good enough" moreso than perfection. That's how I would have read/experienced MetaFilter if I'd used it in the '00s, posts scattered thoroughout a river of other news/headlines/images coupled with some terrible red, white and blue CSS choices.

These days I'm usually on here on my phone, not PC. Default Blue, Grey, Purple, etc. Logged-in even (I've always avoided staying logged in anywhere as it encourages excessive commenting in me. Also: reasons of cookie-hygiene or something?)

As to community rather than display-dorkery, despite knowing vaguely who regular posters and their bullet-points are, I still routinely get confused whenever 2+ people in a thread whose names begin with the same letter start arguing with "themselves".
posted by comealongpole at 4:43 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm a ghost in my own life and on the internet, but at least here, if I ask for advice, someone will answer. I also get to try to help other people on AskMe, without having to overcome my anxiety, which is a nice thing. I would be much lonelier without Metafilter, but I don't know if anyone would notice if I never posted again. But then, I'm not sure if anyone would notice if I never turned up at work again either.
posted by b33j at 4:52 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I would notice!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:55 AM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


That is, Metafilter is a community, but it's not my community.
posted by b33j at 4:58 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can tell that for me, MetaFilter is a community, because even pondering the thought of it disappearing from my life somehow makes me want to cry and cry.

I'm already in a bit of mourning for my relationship to MeFi because I've moved to a different place with few mefites, and I'm in an intense program that means I have far less time to follow what's going on around here. I'm looking forward to secret quonsar; it's always a highlight of my year.

For the past six years, since I started coming to meetups, this website has been a huge part of my life, and a great source of friendship, mentorship, and camaraderie. It's not my only community, but it's one of my favorite communities. (And when I die, I want Cold Chef to bury me.)

I love y'all.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:12 AM on August 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


Just this guy, y'know: "Now I'm kind of curious how many users I could name, given pen and paper and no internet."

I just tried it and got into the low 70s pretty easily, and I'm generally terrible with names. I'm sure I'd do better after a full day of reading the site, so 150 doesn't seem outrageous.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:18 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've met some of my best friends through Metafilter, and am always SUPER excited to meet MeFites from other cities who come to visit (and those who have come to DC meetups have been uniformly awesome), and consider some people on here friends even though we've never met, so in that sense for me I'd say it's definitely a community.

I think this varies from person to person, but if someone posted an ask(or mentioned in a comment on the blue) about a problem in my city, and i thought i could help, i'd go get in a car and help them. Even if it was just to look for their dog with a flashlight at 3am.

This applies for me too; I think people here care about each other and are willing to help because of shared connections and experience even if they don't actually know each other which I think is a pretty strong part of what a community can be at its best.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:44 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


On a less kind note, I also definitely feel a sense of rivalry with other segments in a way that makes this mirror my relationship with IRL communities; I'm always like "TAKE THAT, NEW YORK/CHICAGO/BOSTON, WE HAVE MORE MEETUPS THIS MONTH" because I am a competitive asshole about stupid things.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:47 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mrs. Pterodactyl: "I'm always like "TAKE THAT, NEW YORK/CHICAGO/BOSTON, WE HAVE MORE MEETUPS THIS MONTH" because I am a competitive asshole about stupid things."

This is why sports exist.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:04 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


This question came up in Metatalk recently - possibly in a slightly different form. Something that came to mind then, that I don't think I posted, was that one's relationship to the question depends on whether you see defined community in itself as inclusive or exclusive. That's a question of temperament, but it's worth bearing in mind that it's not something that everyone would automatically see as awesome.

My position would be that Metafilter isn't necessarily a community in itself, but rather a space in which a range of communities might happen.
posted by Grangousier at 6:16 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't have the kind of memory it would take to develop a sense of community. I'm always baffled when people seem to really take a hate toward someone that's not even on my radar. Or when someone calls someone out for something awesome they did and I have no idea who that person is. Occasionally I can click into a profile and realize, "Oh, THAT person," but with a few exceptions every time I engage here it's like I'm the character from Memento. If I write long enough I won't even remember who I am replying to.

Sure, there are some names I take into my head and give them residence, and some people I think about when I am not at the keyboard, but I don't know these people, and there's a good chance I wouldn't much care to have a beer with them, Just as good of a chance I'd love to, but I don't, because it's online, so my point is I don't get to develop that sense of community I have elsewhere. I just don't have that kind of time or brain.

I also get a bit weirded out when people point to some event on metafilter as an example of how the community pulled together and made something happen. If you look at any of those events most likely you'll find a small cast of characters with a slightly larger supporting cast. I perhaps read about some of these at the time, and I may even have given feedback or offers of support, but to somehow pretend the "community" as a whole should take credit is like saying we're all to blame for the Balloonboy thread.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:16 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


This isn't to say I don't find value here. I do. Sometimes more value and sometimes less and I adjust my participation accordingly. I just don't have that same sense of belonging and being one of us and having people I consider real friends and caring and concern. I have a hard enough time keeping these things going for the people that are physically in my life like my family and friends to extend this to people I've only interacted with through words.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:19 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always felt that it is a very strong community for a lot of folks but I've also always felt a bit outside of it. That's partly my own doing. After a lesson learned many years ago I've gotten good at avoiding on-line drama and that sometimes involves maintaining a certain distance. I try to treat every single post as if it were the first post that person has made.

I also live in the suburbs, which makes it tougher to attend meetups and thus meet more Mefites.

That said, I've celebrated my last two birthdays with several Mefites, four of us who share the same birthday. I've shared scotch deep in the mountains with another Mefite. I've played music with Mefites, have had beers, invited a bunch of them, mostly strangers, to my house for games. I've swapped secret Quonsar gifts for the last several years.

I've certainly made friends. If I were getting married any time soon there's about a 98% chance I'd do it in Vermont just so a certain former-mod could perform the service. I'm already married, though, and although my wife isn't an active Mefite she has also benefited from the community here.

I feel like no matter where I go in the developed world I would post an IRL meetup and have someone to drink a beer with. Someone once Fedexed me a jar of pickles because I needed a certain type of pickles.

I've been a member for 15 years. That's 1/3 of my life. I once asked about sending my son to pre-school. He's starting 8th grade next week.

Most of the people I interact with on Twitter are Mefites. Some of them I've never met but I feel like they're somehow friends.

Yeah, it's a community.
posted by bondcliff at 6:28 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is why sports exist.

Holy shit, you are absolutely right -- I don't care for sports that much BUT I am a hostile and aggressive person and I am, on some level, using Metafilter IRL as an outlet for these feelings. What a bizarre circumstance.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:39 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well, maybe not "hostile and aggressive" but "kind of a dick".
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:39 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Amiga rules, Atari ST drools.
posted by Artw at 6:50 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I consider Metafilter a community, but I don't know how much I could be considered a part of that community.

I come here daily, pretty much; multiple times a day unless I'm on vacation or am otherwise busy. I read nearly all of the active MeFi posts and AskMeFi posts and have done so since I joined in 2008. (And have read through much of the archives.)

But really, my only form of participation is asking questions on the Green and trying to answer them for others. I don't comment on the Blue that often, and I've not yet attended any meetups. I doubt anyone here would list me as a user they remembered from general site usage.

It's weird, though. My friends know I use the site, as I mention it often and recommend it to people I think would value it. I'm in a weird sort of limbo where my real friends think I'm part of this Metafilter community, but I don't think the 'core' of the Metafilter community would know I'm here at all.

Doesn't mean I feel any differently about the site, though. Still love it here. Still plan to stick around for as long as it's around. Just... a little more quietly than others, I suppose.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:18 AM on August 25, 2015 [21 favorites]


I was thinking about this a little more (and then I will stop posting) but I think one of the things that makes Metafilter feel like a community to me is that it is a safer space to be vulnerable and that provides people with a safer space to be kind. Like, if I see someone on the bus crying, I'll probably leave them alone because I don't know them and if I were crying on the bus I would want to be left alone. There are consequences to being vulnerable in public or at work or even with family and that means that recognizing someone's vulnerability does not always feel kind.

Metafilter is somewhere where people can come in and say "you know, I've been having a rough time recently" and then other people can come in and say "we are here for you! We support you! You can do it!" and I think that's really helpful. I think most people want to be kind, including to strangers, but it's not always safe or easy, and having a bigger group to share burdens and celebrate triumphs is really, really valuable.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:26 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


yeah mefi is responsible for an insane number of social connections i have, and for so many people i love so much in this world, even up to and including the incredible person who now shares cat-parenting duties with me

that's a community all right

also i deeply hate some of the posters here

which is also part of being a community
posted by Greg Nog at 7:36 AM on August 25, 2015 [20 favorites]


Mrs. Pterodactyl: Well, maybe [I'm] not "hostile and aggressive" but "kind of a dick".

Better add "two-faced," because that's not at all how you came across the one time I met you.

MetaFilter is definitely a community, but I feel like I'm on the periphery (especially after reading bondcliff's note; if a guy who hangs out with MeFites and is mentioned occasionally on the podcast feels on the margin, then I am in Siberia).

I've taken more than I've given because it's not easy for me to hold forth at length on Issues Of The Day; my comments, here as in real life, tend to be jokey or simply factually-informative. I'm immensely grateful, however, for how the community has expanded my consciousness and made me more emotionally mature at this late date in my life, and I would be sad if it disappeared.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:48 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


ha ha ha I came in here to post my how-MeFi-enabled-my-wedding thing but Greg beat me to his much better one

But yeah as far as MeFi as a community, there was an entire table at our wedding of MeFites and former MeFites who I met at meetups and so on. And probably five more ghost tables of people I would have loved to have there but couldn't. I think "MetaFilter" has, in my life, become a series of interlinked relationships mediated in part by MetaFilter (the website), but also by Facebook and Twiter and email and hanging out and so on. It's a community which for me extends way beyond the bounds of the MetaFilter domain (literally and figuratively.)
posted by griphus at 7:52 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also here's a question I've wanted to ask:

Of the people who do not get a 'community' vibe from this place (or at least do not define their relationship with MeFi as a member of a community), how many pay attention to usernames? Like "oh hey that's my buddy that guy" or "hey a comment from Dr.-what's-her-name in a thread about physics, she knows her stuff" or "ugh that guy is in the contentious topic thread again."

I think there was a big sea change in my relationship with the site when I started paying attention to not just what people were saying but who was saying these things I enjoyed or found repellent.
posted by griphus at 8:06 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


My favorite is when i don't remember the name but i see from the link-text-color that i've clicked it recently to check out their profile so i'm like "oh this person is either really really wonderful or a total trash dick"
posted by Greg Nog at 8:09 AM on August 25, 2015 [39 favorites]


Of the people who do not get a 'community' vibe from this place ... how many pay attention to usernames?

When I started paying attention to usernames I found it was affecting my ability to view comments impartially and based purely on merit, which is why I (Element Hider) blocked all info on the site that was not the pure comment. The Favorites counts also bit the bullet for the same reason.
posted by guy72277 at 8:30 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Of the people who do not get a 'community' vibe from this place (or at least do not define their relationship with MeFi as a member of a community), how many pay attention to usernames?

I do it with a few people. Like, I know Brandon Blatcher is the space post (coast to coast?) guy. I know if there's a megathread listing every single episode of Silver Spoons it's probably not_on_display. I know there's that other guy (whom I will not name and whom I haven't seen around much lately) who is always going to shit on anything that isn't accessed via a Linux command line. Every other comment in every thread is by The Whelk and they're usually funny. Poffin Boffin has a four digit IQ and is from outer space. Maryr is good with puns and almost always cracks me up. Greg Nog is the undisputed King of posting funny stuff. Bondcliff is that guy who always posts silly one-liners that contribute nothing of value. There's a few others, some good, some bad.

But as I said I try to treat every post as if I don't know who posted it. It always bothers me when people call out other users or say things like "Well, I would expect you to say THAT because you posted XYZ in that thread from three years ago." People can, and do, change. I know I have. I can't even read anything I posted longer than ten minutes ago. I want to judge your comments on the content of that post, not your username.

I try not to hate. I don't think I hate anyone here. There's a few people I might roll my eyes at, but that's about it.

I think most of the community I get from this place is from people I've met in real life. But every now and then someone will surprise me. I asked a question about buying a media cabinet and out of the blue someone memailed me offering to design me for one. I posted a question about my career and someone memailed me just to offer me some encouragement. That's all community.

Now my question: What are some steps one can take to get a stronger sense of community? Obviously attend more meetups, but let's say that's not possible. What else? Aside from not being a dick, I mean.
posted by bondcliff at 8:38 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Participate in secret quonsar, if you don't already!
posted by ocherdraco at 8:43 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Awhile back I suggested we all pitch in to buy a nation-sized land parcel in Texas together, and while I wouldn't seriously consider moving into a commune with you people if my life was otherwise going well, I, like, wouldn't even joke about something like that with Reddit or whoever, so I guess we're a community
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:46 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's like Central Park. Some people quietly reading alone. Some people just dropping in on their lunch break. Some crazy people ranting at others. Some people discussing and joking together. Some police keeping an eye on the whole lot. Some stray cats.

And a whole bunch of people silently lurking in the woods.
posted by Kabanos at 8:56 AM on August 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


What are some steps one can take to get a stronger sense of community?

Starting personal relationships with other MeFites did it for me. Twitter wasn't around yet, so there was lots of MeMailing and emailing, then Twitter, sometimes Facebook, etc. etc. The flip side of the judging-people-by-their-posting-history coin is appreciating people you recognize and giving them the benefit of the doubt and so on, which is important to a community.

Just in the same way The Government can be an impenetrable entity of complexity, so can MeFi, I think. But when you delve in, it's just a bunch of people usually following some rules hopefully for the betterment of everyone.
posted by griphus at 9:00 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think of MeFi like a number of communities which I (mostly) love and adore.

I know I can get some religion on with zarq and Pater Aletheias and Joe from Australia and mexican yenta among others.
I can chat about L.A. and earthquakes with Room 641A, chicainthecity, Lyn Never and klangklangston.
I am always happy to participate in a discussion about intersectional feminism with divined by radio, Nora Reed, sciatrix, juliet banana, nadawi and so many others.
Throwback to the bad old days of HIV/AIDS with roomthreeseventeen, dreidl and rtha.
Talk beekeeping and chicken herding with Monkey Toes, sonascope and showbiz_liz.
Get my knit/crochet on with countless members.
And I can simultaneously not participate in any discussions regarding weight/body image because they piss me off so much. And be confident that I am still part of the larger community.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:27 AM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm not a power user by any means, but I do visit here every day, participate in secret quonsar, and have gone to multiple meetups. My lurker husband is possibly around even more than me, and we both really care about this place. I do think it's easier to feel it's a "real" community when you're in a position to meet folks offline, but even now that I'm in a less MeFite-saturated location, I still think there are ways to stay engaged, even on the periphery.

That said, if anyone wants to get to know me better, feel free to MeMail or leave a trail of cleverly-worded breadcrumbs for me to follow. I love puzzles!
posted by Diagonalize at 9:32 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Weirdly its iRL meetings and Twitter that make me think of MeFi as a community almost more than the site itself.

Possibly I just dig my own little community within MeFi.
posted by Artw at 9:37 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I nearly walked past (in fact I did walk past... down the block a bit, took some photos of some neon signs, calmed my nerves, turned around & went back) my first meet up because I am a genuine sociophobe. I love people, but I hate crowds, and gatherings like meet-ups always feel perfortmative, like I have to put on this facade of who I think these people think I am...

but I'm damn glad I went. It was the first time I met Jessamyn, & we went to lunch the next day, and now many years and a few meet ups, lunches and emails later, we're friends. Other meet ups have led to other awesome IRL friendships -- just had coffee with dancestoblue on Sunday, and we rambled on for nearly 3 hours. It's a semi-regular thing we do, and I can't tell you enough what a great guy I've discovered on the other side of that wall of text (Pro tip: Iced coffee has as much caffeine as the regular stuff). Also, twitter friendships, flickr friendships & postcard friendships. I love mail & ColdChef is the man.

It's a mixed bag with MeFites scattered all over hell and gone because I get attached to people & I don't get to see those of you on the IRL friends list anywhere near enough. Wish I could retire & drive around just to meet alla youse, but such is life.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:41 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


bondcliff: I also live in the suburbs, which makes it tougher to attend meetups and thus meet more Mefites.

I'm side-eyeing you SO HARD from all the way out here in Elsewheria right now.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:53 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


To me, MeFi feels a city of neighborhoods, where it's impossible to try to see and hang out with everyone everywhere just because of the sheer size of the thing, but there are certain neighborhoods that really click and parts of the city that you're going to avoid altogether for a variety of reasons.

F'rex I have the practical equivalent of a ~6th-8th grade education, so I don't spend a lot of time in science or academic-heavy threads because I usually have no idea what anyone is talking about. I can admire the commenters' expertise from afar, but the actual content of their input is utterly opaque to me, and since my education level puts me squarely outside of what I observe as the community norm and it would sting to get called out on the carpet for my lack of knowledge, I just don't say anything. The prospect of speaking up in those threads, even to ask a question, makes me feel like when I get lost driving and wind up in a rich suburb, like maybe the residents are going to see a weirdo with a lot of tattoos driving a rust bucket car and call the cops or something -- totally out of place. Not my kind of neighborhoods, for sure.

But in threads about, I dunno, dogs, feminism, or depression? I get the same vibe as when I run into my IRL friends in my IRL favorite neighborhoods in my own city -- it just fits, and I feel completely at home. I feel like I truly know the people (and dogs!) who tend to hang around in those discussions, even if I've never spoken to them one-on-one, because the topics at hand are all highly personally relevant/familiar to me and thus folks who are moved to speak on them are likely to be my kinda people. Moreover, some of those people I've never spoken to feel dearer to me than some of my offline acquaintances -- I admire them, I trust their advice and wisdom, I'm regularly moved to send good energy into the universe aimed in their general direction, and I often wonder if they ever made the move, took the leap, or D'd TMF they Asked about, how their job hunt is going, etc. even if I never get up the nerve to actually talk to them. It's a really neat feeling that makes me feel like I am a part of something larger than myself, hanging out with those kindred spirits. The meetups I've attended have been phenomenal and the DC MeFites in particular have a huge piece of my heart -- I seriously want to cry when I have to fly back home from visiting them -- but I definitely don't need to meet a MeFite in person to feel like we're friends.

I know MeFi is the internet "city" for me, insofar as something like that could be said to exist, but I also feel like the number of "neighborhoods" that I feel comfortable in is fairly limited. Like some other folks have said, I don't feel like I'm part of the community myself, but I definitely feel like the community exists, and it makes me deeply happy just to know that.
posted by divined by radio at 9:56 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


El Nog: also i deeply hate some of the posters here

*blows big wet raspberries in your direction* :D

We're a community. And that's kinda awesome.

I wonder if mathowie, Jessamyn and cortex ever marvel over what they accomplished.
posted by zarq at 9:59 AM on August 25, 2015


they marvel all the way to the end of the bottle yeah
posted by griphus at 10:13 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


I used to hang out with Paphnuty a lot....
posted by Chrysostom at 10:15 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't know about Metafilter as a whole, but I really miss the London meetups since the baby dropped a hydrogen bomb on my social life.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:19 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think maybe you need to have some strong words with your baby. H-Bombs are for grownups.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:22 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Not too long ago, elsewhere on the internet, a Mefite (who I won't mention unless he wants to out himself) had a friend who was in trouble. He asked for help, and I did so without hesitation.

Another friend asked me how I knew everything was on the up and up, whether the whole thing was legit, and I had typed out this whole response trying to explain Metafilter culture to him; how we help each other, how people here have helped me, how ... and then it got really long and mushy and I said "fuck it" and just said "of course it's legit how dare" and just left it.

But anyway I am mostly a total trash dick.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:25 AM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


Of the people who do not get a 'community' vibe from this place (or at least do not define their relationship with MeFi as a member of a community), how many pay attention to usernames?

I do. Much as I would with any work of fiction. I certainly don't imagine that I can read comments entirely in terms of their absolute merit. I don't know why I would even want to try to do such a thing. Everyone writes in a voice and as often as not around here that voice is more interesting than the content itself.

But I'm very skeptical of the notion that metafilter is a community in anything but a metaphorical sense, tho it can facilitate the growth of friendships and friendship networks, certainly, and mazel tov when it does. And I won't quibble with anyone who wants to say it's a community. Me, I've always looked at it as a cross between a long running soap opera and a choose your own adventure story.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:33 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Obviously, I suppose it all come down to your own personal definition of community. But I've been participating in on-line discussion boards for almost 20 years, and I I have often felt closer to virtual groups of people than to anyone but my dearest friends in day-to-day life.

I don't feel safe telling everyone here my personal stuff, but I don't feel safe doing that anywhere! I'm a super-reticent person who only shares deeply with my spouse, and I have a lot of social anxiety and I have trouble maintaining friendships, so on-line is pretty much it for me in terms of community.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:48 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


to me i think there are many ways in which mefi is like a huge weird family. there are people here who are really aggressively awful but that's just the way they are and have always been and it doesnt seem like there's much to be done about it. there are people who have passed away and the reminders of their absence, and the loss of their wisdom, are frequent and sad. there are people who i adore and who i am keeping forever and no one can stop me. there are people who interact with me both directly and indirectly in ways that i find creepy and intrusive and who make me feel deeply uncomfortable and occasionally unsafe. and there are people to whom i have never addressed a single word but who i would nevertheless miss if they were gone.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:04 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


Metafilter is kind of like a community CENTER, isn't it? (in the US definition) It's a big place with a lot of stuff going on, and you can show up and have fun, discuss things, and participate in events for a nominal fee. It has kind of a nice comfy feeling since there are a bunch of normal people there doing a bunch of things together and nobody is aggressively try to sell you something.

I like Metafilter a lot, if you couldn't tell.
posted by selfnoise at 11:15 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Motion to prepend "Weird Aunt/Uncle/Cousin" to mods' names.
posted by griphus at 11:16 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've never seen a long-running forum where personal relationships and community don't develop. Internet working as intended.
posted by michaelh at 11:27 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I think this varies from person to person, but if someone posted an ask(or mentioned in a comment on the blue) about a problem in my city, and i thought i could help, i'd go get in a car and help them. Even if it was just to look for their dog with a flashlight at 3am. "

Yeah, totally.

And I know it's been YEARS but I'm still blaming a decline in meetup participation on moving them to IRL. FREE THE MEETUPS! RESTORE METATALK!

"I can chat about L.A. and earthquakes with Room 641A, chicainthecity, Lyn Never and klangklangston."

One of the regular bonding moments I have with LA mefites is how in any thread asking for advice about LA, half the answers will be from people who don't live here, and if they ever did, they haven't been back since the mid '90s. (I do wonder if the recent uptick in credulous NYT stories about LA will change the tone of the bad advice. "Because LA's shallow bedrock and seismic activity limits subterranean construction, they have fewer CHUDs than most major cities.")

"to me i think there are many ways in which mefi is like a huge weird family. there are people here who are really aggressively awful but that's just the way they are and have always been and it doesnt seem like there's much to be done about it."

Some of the people who I thought of as being kind of aggressively awful or obsessively delusional or whatever were people that were really helpful — even from a great distance — for my wife and me when I was incapacitated. On that level, family might be the best descriptor, and it changed the way I thought of a bunch of people.
posted by klangklangston at 11:38 AM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I've left my car street parked at a mefite's house while the missus and I sailed on a cruise from his home-city.

I've pinged *many* a mefite for potential help based upon the geographic info in their profile. Namely for a move-to-a-new-city (2x) and for when MsEld was applying/interviewing for internship positions all over the nation.

I've seen great generosity and care for users in the sister site mefightclub, from giving away steam games to helping in the real world out when times get tough.

I went to a meetup or two and got great film and local food recommendations and had a great time talking with people who are intelligent and thoughtful.

I dunno if it's a community or not but it's a place where I feel comfy in asking folks, with no guilt included, for small favors in the real world or for specific, difficult, or intellectual advice. None of which I've done with/for a neighbor in years (old lady neighbor in need excepted).

We've moved too much, and too far, from home for the wife or I to have a 'community' anymore. PhDs will do that to you it seems. So, outside of friends/family that we do stay in touch with and see as we can in real life, the internet is, for me at least, as much of a community as I have at the moment.

You folks are a big part of it, for better mostly, and I'm glad I paid the $5 entry fee years ago thinking I'd just use Ask every now and then when I needed something better than Yahoo! Answers (ha!).

All that said, Atlanta Meetup anyone? We're finally settled there, or will be this weekend finally, and I wouldn't mind touching base with some of you folks as I can.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:39 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is a war of all against all.
posted by chrchr at 12:09 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


C'mon, we're not /.
posted by klangklangston at 12:15 PM on August 25, 2015


Metafilter is a war of all against all.


We ride eternal, shiny and chrome.
posted by Artw at 12:27 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


It would not be inaccurate that a solid half my comments can just be the words WITNESS ME
posted by griphus at 12:39 PM on August 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


It would not be inaccurate that a solid half my comments can just be the words WITNESS ME

Greasemonkey script, please.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2015


We ride eternal, shiny and chrome.

Get off the Harley and get a '77 KZ 1200. It will make you a better poster.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2015


I returned to and photographed a turkey carcass in the woods to help answer an Ask question. So yeah, community.
posted by workerant at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Shortly after I joined up, a MeFite helped me tremendously on a visit to her city. I mean, WAY over and above. When I asked her how I could ever repay her, she said "Support the community." That was the first time I ever really thought of Metafilter as a community and I've tried to do that ever since. I also use Metafilter as an ideal to follow when interacting in my own hometown. Helping strangers on the internet has somehow morphed into helping strangers on the street.

I'm rarely on the Blue, try to contribute to Askme questions when I feel qualified to do so, and check in with the Grey when I have a few extra minutes. A few years ago, I tried to make a list of all the things I do every day that have been affected by advice from Metafilter. There are too many to count.
posted by raisingsand at 12:59 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


C'mon, we're not /.

Maybe not in YOUR Meefyhood, but above 49th and Curmudgeon, that's how we scroll.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:51 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have no friends IRL outside of my wife, somewhat because I just don't want any, somewhat because I have very little free time, but mostly because I am not very good face to face. I take everything literally so I don't get the joke or the hidden meaning or the social 'code' of what people are saying unless it's spelled out for me. I also don't respond well because I'm too busy overthinking what's been said. Here though I more often (though certainly not as often as I should) 'get it' because it's there in text. I can respond better and make some sense when I type things out as well. I still don't have much to say but at least I'm not afraid to say it here. Why does that matter so much to me?

People have reached out to me a few times in MeMail which meant more than they could know and at the few meetups I've been to my social anxiety was nearly gone. How did that happen?

People think I'm kind of dead inside which is probably true and I'm ok with that. If I'm so dead inside in real life then why did things like losing HopperFan (Liosliath, but she was HopperFan to me) and edgeways who I never met face to face but I interacted with each here individually and as a member of the group hurt so damn much?

All of these are because it's a community to me and I'm glad to be a tiny, odd part of it.

I wonder how much this place feeling like a community or not has to do with how much people are involved with other communities.

Also I am so bad at remembering faces that I feel like I recognize people here easier than IRL.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 2:18 PM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


Some of you make me really, really angry every now and then. But I still keep coming back. Therefore I figure you must be my family.

:)
posted by DrAmerica at 2:23 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


To echo what others have said, it has made moving to strange new cities with zero friends way less daunting twice now, and for that alone it feels like a wonderful little parachute.

What up Louisville I am here and have no friends; be my friend!
posted by likeatoaster at 3:08 PM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'll often repeat something IRL I've read here not as "I read x on the internet" but as "A friend of mine said x". Which is kind of weird, I guess, but there it is.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2015 [18 favorites]


"A friend of mine said x"

I do that all the time. Or: Just today one of my students mentioned that he likes to walk everywhere but he gets strange looks when he does it. I said "Yeah, I had a conversation just the other day about how how pedestrians are seen as weird outliers and walking isn't something America culture supports or expects." Of, course the conversation was me reading a lot and dropping a couple of comments into a Metafilter thread, but it would have taken too long to explain that, and it felt like a conversation, so close enough.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:26 PM on August 25, 2015 [18 favorites]


"A friend of mine said x"

A friend of mine, or a friend of ours?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:32 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I do the "A friend of mine said" thing all the time.

One time I did get asked, "What's the name of your friend?" and I just panicked and said "Jessamyn."

(It wasn't Jessamyn, but I thought she wouldn't mind.)
posted by ocherdraco at 3:43 PM on August 25, 2015 [19 favorites]


Of the people who do not get a 'community' vibe from this place (or at least do not define their relationship with MeFi as a member of a community), how many pay attention to usernames?

I don't. Or rather: when people post/comment a lot on topics of particular interest to me, I remember that. So I know Elementary Penguin / Frobenius twist / en forme de poire are math people, but don't know anything about them beyond that. (E.G. I have no idea what gender any of them are or where they live.) I know zarq cares about Judaism and Joe in Australia cares about Israel. I know sonascope lives in Baltimore, because I used to.

But e.g., your username is one I recognize as someone who posts a lot, and I would say your family comes from the former USSR and you're Jewish and you live in New York and you're male. That's a lot more than I know about other people who post a lot -- to grab names at random from this thread, Greg Nog, naju, Going to Maine, Mrs. Pterodactyl, ocherdraco, about whom I can tell you nothing.

I experience the things I read on MetaFilter is "what MetaFilter says," not what individual people say.
posted by escabeche at 4:01 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder if it's just an individual thing about remembering names or remembering social info about people? Maybe gendered?

Definitely maybe. Part of the original color of the question for me is reflecting on how much my relationship with MetaFilter looks like the relationship many men described in the emotional labor thread had with their friends and family; choosing not to do the work of knowing anything about anyone, what they were like, what was happening in their lives, even what their names were. It made me think a lot. With your friends and family it's clear that somebody has to do that work. But do what extent do we owe emotional labor to a website. or to the people on it? What I'm getting from the many fascinating answers on this thread is that we don't owe MetaFilter emotional labor, but that, by contrast with so many of the situations described in the EL thread, emotional labor expended on MetaFilter is generally appreciated, reciprocated, and rewarded.
posted by escabeche at 4:06 PM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I just panicked and said "Jessamyn."

This works in a surprisingly large variety of situations.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:09 PM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


when people post/comment a lot on topics of particular interest to me, I remember that. ... but don't know anything about them beyond that. (E.G. I have no idea what gender any of them are or where they live.)

I suspect we are all walking around with wildly differing mental models of the site and its members.

I picked up a book at a library sale, and thought, "Oh, I bet The Whelk would love this!" I have never met him. And yet.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:25 PM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


I described it as a place where the sun never sets; a digital empire; not unlike Britannia of the past.
posted by buzzman at 4:43 PM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


True facts, I have totally made FPPs and thought "this is weird and I don't know if anyone else will like it but at least the Whelk definitely will" or "aha! Hey barchan I made you a love letter to a mutual figure of admiration!" or "hey I wonder if I can make fffm squeak with foodlust again" or "this will enrage poffin the most! poffin tirades are best tirades! mahahahahaha" as I'm compiling them. I wouldn't do it unless I got reactions.

There are so many topics I wander into and go "hey I bet I'll see so-and-so here, and if not maybe I need to call them" and I get really excited because there's always someone who knows something good about whatever it is that needs discussing. There are so many eloquent, articulate people here and... well, what is a community but a network of people who know and talk to each other? Those of you who post a lot, or who post a lot on topics I like to read--I feel like I know you a bit. I know Eyebrows McGee has a vast well of compassion and sensible advice to draw from; I know Mrs. Pterodactyl and her startling, delightful sense of humor; I know griphus' self-deprecating and witty style; I know julen, who always has a hand to lend to people who feel discouraged; I know joseph conrad is awesome's boundless enthusiasm and desire to make the community a better place; I know Deoridhe's eloquent patience and wisdom. And I value that.

I would be much better about remembering individual users and setting names to personalities if Metafilter routinely did avatars, to be honest. I'm better with online "faces" than names. Sometimes I make mistakes--sorry again, threeants, you definitely didn't deserve that--but I build up definite impressions that go with the usernames I see. That said so many of you guys have such evocative usernames that it's easy to remember what experiences go with which people, and that helps create the social memory required to see the commenters here as people with their own lives and ambitions and personal quirks. For me, the site would be much poorer without that dimension.
posted by sciatrix at 5:05 PM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


basically rereading that comment I'm like my cat, who will sidle up to you, purr, bite you, and then run like hell for the attention of the yelping humans. ...prrrrrrrrrrr, MeFi?
posted by sciatrix at 5:07 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


ITT: sciatrix outs herself as a cat
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:13 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Earlier this year, a mefite held my hand when I woke up in the recovery room after surgery and drove me home.

Mefites who have never met me face to face have taken me out for meals and beers in Tokyo, Buenos Aires, New York and Washington DC. I've traded beers and jokes with visiting mefites at rooftops bars with views of the Sydney Opera House.

I play ukelele in a group with three mefites.

Yesterday, when someone called out one of my silly jokes in the hilarious comment thread, I was SO PROUD.

It's definitely a community for me, and one I am exceedingly glad to be a part of. I've learned so much from this place and you people, and I thank you.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:17 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I play ukelele in a group with three mefites.

And that right there, folks, is proof that this is a community. HTWRT feels comfortable admitting to such a thing in public!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:23 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Come now. If I had shame, I wouldn't play ukelele.

I'm REALLY BAD at it too.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:27 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


sciatrix: "I would be much better about remembering individual users and setting names to personalities if Metafilter routinely did avatars, to be honest. I'm better with online "faces" than names. "

Hmm, I wonder if you could write a Greasemonkey script that would pull the pic from the profile page and put it by the username?
posted by Chrysostom at 5:34 PM on August 25, 2015


I'm always like "TAKE THAT, NEW YORK/CHICAGO/BOSTON, WE HAVE MORE MEETUPS THIS MONTH" because I am a competitive asshole about stupid things.

I don't know what it says about the communityness of this place, but it inspires people to get rage-competitive about who's friendlier, and that ain't bad.
posted by Etrigan at 5:36 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


this will enrage poffin the most!

a post about racist hipster fatshaming babies who don't like dogs or hannibal and talk about it on reddit while eating deep dish and watching teen wolf
posted by poffin boffin at 5:55 PM on August 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


oh god im so mad already
posted by poffin boffin at 5:55 PM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


also the deep dish is made with bugs instead of cheese
posted by sciatrix at 5:58 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


no because what if they're bees and then the racist babies are attacked by a swarm of bees, this is très drôle

lobster is the way to go here, vile repulsive cooties of the sea
posted by poffin boffin at 6:05 PM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


Something I love about this place is that if I'm really down in the dumps there are a few users I can reliably look up--poffin boffin, IRFH, robocop is bleeding--and wander through their comments and maybe it might not always fully make me happy again, but it does take the edge off.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:08 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


what if we made the deep dish with some isopod? are giant isopods more or less disgusting than lobster?

I ask for reasons of science
posted by sciatrix at 6:08 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm quite aware of usernames -- I check people's profiles but, more to the point, I tend to remember the things that people share about themselves, particularly their anecdotes. I'm very anecdote-centric -- I tend to sort of construct stories of the lives of the people I know built from their anecdotes. People are always surprised that I remember their stories. It took me a long time to realize that most people listen to and sometimes enjoy other people's stories, but mostly forget them.

And that is true for me here on MetaFilter, to the varying degrees to which people express themselves personally, and at length or frequency. It seems unlikely to me that I could name more than seventy mefites off the top of my head, but maybe I could. But a large portion of those I could recall, I'd be able to tell you things about who they are.

With that in mind, I have to say that it's not enough to make me feel like MetaFilter is a community, or that I'm a part of it. It goes a long way towards that, just as meeting people at meetups does. But for me the things that people praise about communities are things that MetaFilter is mostly too large and too dispersed and too tenuously connected to manage.

But, anyway, my own experience is that the sense of community (or its lack) isn't explained by whether I notice usernames and know and recognize the people behind them. To some degree, recognizing and knowing individual people as themselves is a prerequisite for having a sense of being a part of a community, but I don't think it's sufficient.

I feel like MetaFilter's size has made individuals eminently replaceable and forgettable in a way that works against a larger, strong sense of community for MetaFilter as a whole. To be sure, I also think that there are good things that have come from this -- in fact, I think on net MetaFilter is much better off for these changes. But, even so, I've watched both loved and despised mefites disappear -- people who everyone recognizes and has interacted with -- with hardly anyone noticing, or caring. It's surprised me. And, again, I think that in many respects this is good. I think over the longer term, we're healthier for it. But it weakens our sense of community because it demonstrates just how large this place really is now.

Put aside the issue of whether I (or you) want to feel necessary, to feel important and how that affects my (or your) own sense of being part of a community. Stuff like that matters to me, but I think it matters to most everyone, surely. What actually affects me more is what I described in my previous paragraph -- this applied to other people. For example, it's hard for me to understand how a mefite such as scody could leave and everyone not feel a strong sense of loss. I know some of us did. But even someone like her, who had been here for so long, had been almost universally liked, she can leave one day and it hardly causes a ripple. As you can tell, I'm ambivalent about this because I think it's not a good thing for anyone to think that they're individually crucial to MetaFilter (or any other community). But, even so, I also have a lot of trouble with people being interchangeable. That ... bothers me in a very deep way. It always has. And maybe it's just me.

But it interferes with my ability to think of this as a community in the sense that we're discussing, in the sense that we see communities as virtuous, in the sense that we see the incident with the Russian women as exemplary of MetaFilter community. That was both exceptional and particular to the subcommunity of New Yorker mefites. I'd like to think that MetaFilter as a whole is what happened then, but I don't. I think parts of MetaFilter can and will continue to coalesce into examples of real communities in this sense, but the part isn't the whole.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:16 PM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


But do what extent do we owe emotional labor to a website. or to the people on it?

Are you worried that you're not doing MetaFilter right? Or maybe you suspect that you could be having a different experience of the site if you invested in it differently?

I've been pondering the family/member question you asked, and I think of myself as a citizen here. I belong and am among diverse minds who have the same rights as I do. Sometimes I agree or disagree with mod actions, and I have a place to use my words about it. I try not to make messes. I try to contribute interesting links and sound advice.

That said, it's a richer experience when I can put someone's comment in a larger context, because I remember that this person also wrote about this situation, or recently linked to an article I liked. Memails make me smile, because someone has reached out beyond the comments, and followed up on a thing. I can travel somewhere and count on meeting nice people? Awesome! I have lingering questions from past Asks, and am delighted when people report back to say that they have found that lost book or the perfect hat. I cheer for the birth of MeFite babies, and send good thoughts when people announce their marriages. Feelings! About invisible internet people!

I may be a crouton petter, but you are all awesome croutons.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:16 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I thought MetaFilter liked Teen Wolf?
posted by Going To Maine at 6:18 PM on August 25, 2015


escabeche: " I don't really have any picture of who you are, where you live, what you do, what you care about."

REALLY? Because if so Imma take this as a sign that I'm not talking about Illinois often enough.

CORN CORN CORN CORN CORNCORNCORNCORNCORN. CORN!!!!!

I have only met one mefite in real life (and she was AWESOME!) that I didn't already know from my life (three people, two of whom I think are inactive), but I've become facebook friends with several who share my interests and are cool people. If I lived in a more central location or traveled more I would probably actually meet people and enjoy it.

I mean, if any of you had your planes diverted to Peoria due to weather in Chicago (it happens sometimes) and posted on Ask "I'M STUCK IN PEORIA AND CAN'T RENT A CAR WHAT DO I DO?" I would totally drive out to the airport to get you, take you to dinner, and find you a hotel, and take you back to the airport in the morning. Even the very small number of mefites I dislike, because none of you seem to be actual serial killers and a conflict of personality doesn't seem like a good enough reason not to help a fellow mefite out. I would probably even drive to Bloomington to rescue you, and that's like FORTY-FIVE WHOLE MINUTES and I gotta tell you, I whine about having to drive 12 minutes to the new mall instead of 8 minutes to the old one, and it's a crisis of gargantuan proportions when I have to take the interstate somewhere.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:19 PM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


poffin boffin: "a post about racist hipster fatshaming babies who don't like dogs or hannibal and talk about it on reddit while eating deep dish and watching teen wolf"

You forgot that they live on an emu farm.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:20 PM on August 25, 2015


I'm not really a meet people from the internet type, but just having been here so long and knowing the crowd MeFi attracts (in general), I feel like it means something about a person that they're a mefite. Like the masons or something; I'd be more likely to lend a hand or do a favor for someone if I knew they were a longish-time mefite. Even not knowing anything else about them.
posted by ctmf at 6:30 PM on August 25, 2015


And it's not just automatic in-group identification stuff, I don't think. I'm a member at a lot of different places, and this is the only one I can whole-heartedly say that in all honesty about.
posted by ctmf at 6:32 PM on August 25, 2015


It's about subtext in fancy murder shows.
posted by Artw at 6:33 PM on August 25, 2015


I've watched both loved and despised mefites disappear -- people who everyone recognizes and has interacted with -- with hardly anyone noticing, or caring.

My impression is that a lot of people do notice and do care when longtime people leave, and that a lot of people were sad to see scody go. At the same time, in general we don't want to have, like, a MetaTalk about "let's interrogate people who have left about their choices and let's postmortem their participation here" -- it's tricky because individual people do matter to the community, but excessive focus on people individually (especially in MetaTalk) can make for drama that's better avoided. People are free to go if they want, without feeling like they're going to be talked about as soon as they leave the party.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:35 PM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


i wasn't sad, i was furious. i still am.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:38 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yes, it was an oblique Dunbar's # reference. 8D

naju: I wonder if that Dunbar's number is outdated (the early 90s! So long ago!) because we've been training our brains to expand our social circles on a global level for the first time in history.

I suspect it's more that the standard deviation is enormous. For example, I am extremely slow to congregate personality features and information into a cohesive person who I track over time - there are maybe thirty/forty people on MeFi I simply "recognize" and two of those are no longer here (I'm also bad with numbers...). So when I interact with people for the first 2-4 times I am nearly always black-slating them, and it's only at that point that things start to stand out over time (this is an unconscious process, so I've had real difficulty observing it; I've been trying with a new co-worker, but trying led to changes and OMG STUPID SCHRODINGER YOU SUCK).

I know people who can walk into a room and spot everyone in there as an individual right up front. I imagine this has to do with how we process information, but it's something I try to minimize mentioning in general because in my experience people take it as a specific insult to them that I don't remember them - that I am choosing this - rather than a quirk of my psychology. (I am trying hard to not describe this quirk in insulting terms, as not insulting myself is a new goal, but it is part of why "flighty" will always make it into any self-description.)

In any case, I suspect that the 150 is a fracturing of cohesiveness that takes into account people like me, whose relational number is relatively low/fractured, and people like you, who apparently is godlike and dude I want you in my pocket reminding me who people are, fo'srs (I don't pay well, but I'm entertaining?). A sufficiently small group can account for the wide individual difference and correct for the lower-functioning-in-this-area-but-awesome-elsewhere people, and the ones on your end can send feelers out to other groups and keep a wider community going between these smaller outposts, bring in new people as old ones leave, etc...

Mrs. Pterodactyl: Well, maybe not "hostile and aggressive" but "kind of a dick".

Competitive. I don't really get it - competition makes me want to quit - but you go on being an awesome you.

--

<3 u 2, sciatrix.

I like deep dish pizza ilupoffinboffin

---

Ivan Fyodorovich : For example, it's hard for me to understand how a mefite such as scody could leave and everyone not feel a strong sense of loss. I know some of us did. But even someone like her, who had been here for so long, had been almost universally liked, she can leave one day and it hardly causes a ripple.

This may be an individual thing, but the people I miss or who have drawn back - like Scody - I tend to not mention for reasons of not drawing attention to their absence. Instead, I try to be a better form of me in their name, in memorium in a way. I can't be them, or like them, but I can be me and I can try to further what I (perhaps egotistically) view as our larger goals. But I don't want to... inspire people who might want to hurt them to chase them. I want to protect them as much as I can, and silence about missing them is one of the ways I do that. Making myself more visible is another; if I am here, drawing attention, than they can go and take care of themselves and be awesome.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:41 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I thought MetaFilter liked Teen Wolf?

poffin is now on their way to your house with a hatchet and a Hannibal box set. Standby to be disabused of this notion.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:42 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I totally do sometimes trawl thru ppl's comment history who I think generally have funny/worthwhile stuff to post and see what they've said lately, kinda like a low-tech manual way of Twitter-following. If you see a sudden proliferation of favorites from me that's probably why (that or I just found a thread where you posted a lot). Hope it's not coming off as creepy!
posted by en forme de poire at 6:46 PM on August 25, 2015


I thought MetaFilter liked Teen Wolf?

I stopped with the Teen Wolf when awesome gorgeous genius girl was sidelined and a fantastic character was fridged because her ex got a new girlfriend (and they were going to bring back another woman, and you can't have too many women, yo!). Sidelining and fridging rarely turns around for the female characters, and I am so done with "Average guy is SUPER SPECIAL because of something outside of his control OMG FEEL BAD FOR HIM" without a more interesting wrapper.

I'd rather watch Leverage again (restart it and add in a female, Asian grifter and Latina thief, yo! ).
posted by Deoridhe at 6:48 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


"And I know it's been YEARS but I'm still blaming a decline in meetup participation on moving them to IRL. FREE THE MEETUPS! RESTORE METATALK!"

In many or most cases, the IRL segregation makes sense. But I agree with you in regards to all of us here in places where meetups are rare or nonexistent and it really requires a much higher profile than IRL to get anything going. Not that MetaTalk reaches everyone, either, to be sure.

One contributing reason for this is that the places that don't have many meetups, if any, are only likely to have a successful meetup if it's regional, and IRL doesn't allow for this. Some meetups need to be higher profile and have a larger scope. And the thing is, meetups tend to be self-reinforcing, so if you can manage a couple of well-attended ones, then future ones tend to be more viable.

"People are free to go if they want, without feeling like they're going to be talked about as soon as they leave the party."

Yeah, I understand that and I think that it makes a lot of sense. I strongly agree with the reasoning behind this and I think that on balance it's a good thing. But I also think that it necessarily mutes (literally) the things that signal that individual people matter to the community. The subtext is that people can and will leave and they won't be missed.

Think about it in terms of, well, social conventions and emotional labor and such. In real life, we do a lot of things that we do as performative specifically to signal that individual people matter. So in muting the discussion of mefites who have left, we're also removing one of the performative ways in which we signal that these individual people matter to us and that they, as individuals (and each of us as individuals, by implications) are essential to what it is that makes us a "community".

That's just an example involving someone leaving. It's also true about people joining. We have no culture here of welcoming newbies, either.

Again, I'm not saying that we necessarily should have these things, because part of what I'm driving at is that what we want from MetaFilter, and what makes MetaFilter be good at what it's good at is not equivalent to what makes MetaFilter a community. They're distinct things. Some of the things we're good at are enabled by the ways in which we're a community, but also some of the things we're good at come from the ways in which there are roadblocks to building a stronger sense of community. Some of the things that I think would more strongly foster a sense of community would also narrow the membership and more constrain the conversation. We talk about that sort of trade-off all the time, though cast in different terms, and so I'm not saying that one is better than the other. Just that we should be cognizant of the different factors and effects and goals.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:48 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've watched both loved and despised mefites disappear -- people who everyone recognizes and has interacted with -- with hardly anyone noticing, or caring.

This is a bit presumptive, I think. I appreciated scody's and many others' comments long before I joined, and noticed when those voices were no longer around. It would be awkward for me (and I imagine at least some other former lurkers) to explicitly discuss those users' leaving, not having directly or indirectly interacted with them (on the site) in any way (e.g. having posted in the same threads or favourited comments).
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:53 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


So I know Elementary Penguin / Frobenius twist / en forme de poire are math people

Haha, you just made this computational biologist very happy! But while this is flattering, I'm definitely not in the same math league as either of those two peeps.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:06 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


But ugh, as incontinent as I am on Ask, I myself don't want to be known, super conflicted about that. I try to avoid divulging personal details / history, but they're (pretty transparently, I guess) at the root of anything I've really got to say :/
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:19 PM on August 25, 2015


So I run a little offline meetup in my spare time. We meet weekly to chat about nerd stuff, updates on our lives, and sometimes the experience of being ace. I've been meeting with mostly the same pack of regulars, with the odd smattering of people who pop in now and again, for about three years now. Every week. These are the people I invite when I want to do something social, when I want someone to do something scary with me, when I'm having a rough time at work. I spent my weekend helping a friend from this group move and paint her new house, and when I last moved these people helped me out. Every couple of months we cheer another member on when she plays her pickup roller derby games.

For all intents and purposes, this little knot of people is my local community of friends outside my work. We have a meetup.com site that announces the time and location of regular meetings as well as occasional other events, and it's generally understood that anything that goes up on the site is welcome to everyone who is part of the meetup list. Sometimes people throw more informal parties as well, and those are more particular to the people doing the inviting even if they are all part of the formal group.

Now, the person who effectively co-founded this meetup with me--my good friend, who I miss all the time--this person moved to Indiana about a year ago. We grieved when they were gone, but the community didn't officially do anything--although some of the people in the community (even me) expressed our sorrow outside of the "public" open-to-all meetups and hosted a farewell zombie-movie party to wish them well. Now we have new members, including new regulars, who have never met them. I'm still occasionally in touch through a listserv we're both on, but the community chats don't mention them all that much these days. Their name came up at meetup last month and half of the people sitting around our table went "...who is that?" and those of us who remembered my friend and knew them had to explain.

That's just how communities work. People move in and out for all sorts of reasons, and offline those reasons are constrained by geography in a way that offline doesn't have to put up with. Is my friend being gone and my formal-community-apparatus not officially noting it something that makes the community not a community?

I am... a little at a loss as to how my little offline ace community is different from MetaFilter, except that it's much smaller. Different people within my offline community have stronger or looser relationships with each other depending on personal compatibility, and that's okay too--people are made up of relationships. The point of the community is to be a place to facilitate those relationships
posted by sciatrix at 7:23 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can name every Mefite. Bob. There. Consider yrselves named.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:27 PM on August 25, 2015


I just think poffin boffin is REALLY HILARIOUS. Sorry if all the favoriting is creepy. Please don't show up with an ax and a Hannibal box set (we already have all the eps on our Roku).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:33 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


...I'll take the Hannibal Box set. I actually need to get myself into an emotional place to watch it so I can watch it without being all MY FEELS THEY ARE HERE AND BIG AND OPPS I JUST BLEW UP $[Local Municipality]. I currently have feels at a distance. And eyeshadow.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:39 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder if mathowie, Jessamyn and cortex ever marvel over what they accomplished.

I come here and see people doing their thing (even when I have been away for a day or two) and I get all happy like when know you have two friends who you think would really like each other, maybe more actually than you like either of them (even though you like them just fine but they would get along like a house on fire) and you introduce them and they get along great and even sometimes go hang out without you and there's this sense of "hey wait a minute" but also you're just really stoked that more people are more happy more of the time? And you meet other people who are up your alley but every so often all of you get together and it's just great? Yeah sort of like that. I was just talking to Jim today about how many yearly traditions we have started or been part of over the last few years (NYE with one set of friends, Summer Party with another set, Jim's birthday with OtherJim (bondcliff) and maryr and a friend of OJs, 4th of July in my town) and how a lot of them are real life groups of people and friends I know in real life who I met originally because of MeFi. So I think not everyone goes in for the "conversion factor" where you turn an online friend into someone you hang out with IRL, but you can if you want to but you also don't have to. I marvel at the way that works.

What are some steps one can take to get a stronger sense of community?

Start writing letters to ColdChef!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:46 PM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hmm, I wonder if you could write a Greasemonkey script that would pull the pic from the profile page and put it by the username?

There used to be one, but I think it stopped working.

a post about racist hipster fatshaming babies who don't like dogs or hannibal and talk about it on reddit while eating deep dish and watching teen wolf

Just this week, there have been like five times that I saw something similar from Thinkpiece Bot and got SO MAD before remembering that they're not real.

REALLY? Because if so Imma take this as a sign that I'm not talking about Illinois often enough.

CORN CORN CORN CORN CORNCORNCORNCORNCORN. CORN!!!!!


I know I'm all like fuck the midwest i bet peoria only got one 24-hour vegan larb joint lol, but as soon as someone mentions corn I get that single tear rolling down my cheek. Midwest corn is my madeline.

You forgot that they live on an emu farm.

Emus are fucking dicks. Birds, in general, are fucking dicks but they're usually small enough that their dickery is kinda cute, like cats. Emus are evidence for the theory that stupidity plus power equals evil.

It's about subtext in fancy murder shows.

Really, it's about ethics in gourmet cannibalism.

So I run a little offline meetup in my spare time. We meet weekly to chat about nerd stuff, updates on our lives, and sometimes the experience of being ace.

Def the coolest of GSM ingroup terms; I imagine a lot of sunglasses and thumbs-up.
posted by klangklangston at 7:58 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Def the coolest of GSM ingroup terms; I imagine a lot of sunglasses and thumbs-up.

I remember when people used to whine and moan that it should be spelled "ase" because otherwise we sounded too full of ourselves and arrogant and flashy or something

and I was like dude no this is the one chance we get to sound vaguely cool as opposed to looking like we meant to say "ass" but forgot how to spell

truly the internet is host to the epic debates of our time

*flashes sunglasses*
posted by sciatrix at 8:10 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


lobster is the way to go here, vile repulsive cooties of the sea

That's Mr/Ms immortal vile repulsive cooties of the sea to you.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:14 PM on August 25, 2015


wait did you marry a lobster Jon

tell us the truth now
posted by sciatrix at 8:16 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Midwest corn is my madeline."

I grew up in a small (not midwest) farming town and I have a whole bunch of very powerful sense memories related to farming. The smell from rain after a harvest, burning fields, cows. I had only a few friends growing up who lived on a farm, but a small town surrounded by farms ends up having a lot of farm smells, too.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:18 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, but in hindsight, perhaps I should have. You know where you are with a lobster, and their airfares when you travel are very reasonable.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:19 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


...That's just the gender-neutral "Their". NEVER marry multiple lobsters. You might know where you are with a lobster, but lobster polygamy is uncharted territory.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:20 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Uncharted waters, surely?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:26 PM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


You might feel like you're out of your depth, or like it's a trap... Like you're being baited.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:27 PM on August 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


Midwest corn is my madeline.

Who among us has not enjoyed dipping a cooked ear of corn, dripping with butter and sprinkled with salt, into a stein of hot coffee and then biting the end off the cob once it has been sufficiently softened?
posted by Going To Maine at 8:28 PM on August 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


I came in to make the observation about referring to Mefites as friends too. Re: having impressions of individual community members, there's an extra hurdle inherent in the MF experience. When you talk to someone IRL, or even when you read an email, you know who they are before they express $whatever. On MetaFilter, there's an extra loop that makes it harder to build impressions of different people. The sequence is:
  • Read comment
  • Form impressions of author
  • See user name
  • Think of past impression of person associated with user name
  • Revise or reaffirm accordingly
    It's work, and if you're just skimming comments on your phone, that extra bit of effort can get skipped. But it's worth it.

  • posted by carmicha at 8:29 PM on August 25, 2015


    "Who among us has not enjoyed dipping a cooked ear of corn, dripping with butter and sprinkled with salt, into a stein of hot coffee and then biting the end off the cob once it has been sufficiently softened?"

    I see you're from Fort Wayne.
    posted by klangklangston at 8:32 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


    Murder is Corny.
    posted by clavdivs at 8:34 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Who among us has not enjoyed dipping a cooked ear of corn, dripping with butter and sprinkled with salt, into a stein of hot coffee and then biting the end off the cob once it has been sufficiently softened?

    o.O;;;

    O.o;;;

    REALLY?
    posted by Deoridhe at 8:43 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


    you said coffee and i just stopped reading. why would you taint your tasty corn with the foul urine of satan? what did that corn ever do to you
    posted by poffin boffin at 8:51 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


    oo that looks a bit like a lobster!
    posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:52 PM on August 25, 2015


    >o;;; <--- lobster
    posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:53 PM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


    "REALLY?"

    Slippery slope.

    Because it's buttered.
    posted by klangklangston at 8:54 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


    So I realized today that I treat Metafilter exactly the same way I treat the town I live in. I've grew up here and moved back as an adult, but I find can still be delightfully anonymous in a smallish town suprisingly often - which is thrilling to my shy introverted nature. People know me for a few things I've done or said here (or know me from when I was a kid), but I am a mystery to most (unless they say something super-dumb, in which case I kindly inform them why they are wrong and I am right, and they really need to stop saying that stuff). It's kinda awesome.

    Metafilter, for me, is both a resource and a community that hums along in the background. I try to give as much as I get out of the site, to be useful or helpful where appropriate, to avoid being a jerk, and generally be a contributor. I'm not someone who goes to meetups, and I generally try to stay out of people's ways; the result is that aside from folks I know independently of Metafilter, I don't have that super-strong social life connection to MeFi that is I think the shiniest example of a Mefi community - at least for folks who don't have that.

    The community elements that resonate for me, then, are the ways we want to help, celebrate, and enjoy our fellow MeFites, the unexpected connections, the fascinating and informative and odd and funny and unexpected things that are shared, and the ways we argue about Metafilter, what it is, where it's going, how we're doing it, and all of the other arguments that people in my small town are wrangling over as the town grows.
    posted by julen at 10:08 PM on August 25, 2015


    Also can I just say that eriko is that person who--perhaps slightly older and vaguely blurry around the edges, like an Oxford don--quietly shows up and plunks the much-needed puzzle piece in place (but not the last one) while humbly explaining the intricacies of $anything over a cup of tea?

    eriko is awesome. I'm kind of on board with voting for poffin boffin as WORLD BOSS and eriko as vice-boss.
    posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:15 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I'm kind of sad to learn that not all users like all other users.
    I suppose I dislike lots (and lots!) of people irl but I ... guess I just don't judge anyone here.

    Also I am the biggest Midwest corn snob here. If it wasn't picked within 24 hours and isn't perfectly ripe it's trash. There's no possible way a grocery store can meet my standards. (And I KNOW.) I have to pick it myself or buy it out of a pickup bed.
    posted by littlewater at 10:42 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


    One of my chefs at school outsnobs you. For him, the best way to eat corn is to walk out into the middle of a cornfield.

    Build a fire. Place a cast iron pot upon this fire, fill it with water, and salt it well.

    Find a perfect ear of corn, bend it down to the water, and push the ear into it.

    Cook. Pull out, strip the husk. Add butter. Eat, while still connected to the stalk.
    posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:50 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Cook. Pull out, strip the husk. Add butter. Eat, while still connected to the stalk.

    I really don't want to know how he does steak.
    posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:30 PM on August 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


    In here, you can write down what you want to say, and get different horizons from others.
    posted by arslipring at 1:55 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


    feckless fecal fear mongering: Cook. Pull out, strip the husk. Add butter. Eat, while still connected to the stalk.
    Dude. That's just cruel. What if someone cooked your never mind.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 2:12 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I live in Indianapolis and I CANNOT SEE ANY CORN from where I live. No, seriously, I live within the city limits of a major US city and can just barely see the edge of a soybean field from my bedroom window.
    posted by double block and bleed at 4:20 AM on August 26, 2015


    Some years ago I had a period of disillusionment with MetaFilter and stopped coming here as often as I used to. I didn't think anyone besides my IRL friends who're MeFites would notice, much beyond idly wondering about it. But after I had been fairly inactive for a few months I got a very nice MeMail from someone I'd never interacted with offsite wondering if I'd be increasing my participation again. The moment I got that message I realized that, yes, I would be. Besides the people I've met and become friends with through MetaFilter, there's a large community of people who know me and who I know. That's special and valuable.

    I've left physical communities without anyone much noticing. In fact, I've left many physical communities during the many years I've been a MeFite. I've had a peripatetic adulthood, but the one constant has been MetaFilter. During my more chaotic years, it was pretty much the main point of stability. I've sometimes wondered whether MetaFilter compares to a physical community, but it certainly is such a good simulacrum that I wouldn't be able to explain to anyone what the difference is.
    posted by Kattullus at 6:40 AM on August 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


    It's more like a city. There are people here I know, and people here I don't know. I can reach out and meet folks IRL, or not. When I post and AskMe, I'm not asking a bunch of strangers for advice, but I'm not exactly talking to people I know, either.

    Also, the site is far too hierarchical to be a community; self-policing has been replaced by moderation. Honest people can disagree on whether that's a good or bad thing. Mods aren't elected, or even nominated by the community; rather, a benevolent dictator makes those choices on our behalf.

    Likewise, there's too much of an "us and them" feel to the moderation these days. That move was signaled when the mods started referring to themselves as "we": "That's not something we would consider," as opposed to "That doesn't seem like something that would be good for Metafilter," or "What does everyone else think?" It's semantics, but semantics are very important. It's clear that most users like it that way, but that does make it feel less like a community to me.
    posted by MrMoonPie at 7:30 AM on August 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


    Much like other communities, there's always someone endlessly banging on about their particular hobbyhorse.
    posted by Chrysostom at 8:18 AM on August 26, 2015 [12 favorites]


    i had a similar experience to Kattallus here, but i've seen similar on reddit on smaller groups. i think what makes it more surprising here is the scale, and i think that's enabled by the uniformity that's imposed on the site via the mods.
    posted by andrewcooke at 8:19 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

    Much like other communities, there's always someone endlessly banging on about their particular hobbyhorse.
    I'm assuming this was directed at me. Pissing on dissent is a destructive thing to do in any community; this is the sort of thing that reinforces the in-group v. out-group dynamic, and which fosters an echo-chamber effect. A healthy community can survive one crank making a mildly critical comment once every 6 months.
    posted by MrMoonPie at 9:26 AM on August 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


    I think more the fact that you've been making that complaint consistently for about seven years now so it's shot well past "hobbyhorse" and into "comical."
    posted by griphus at 9:30 AM on August 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


    it's in every single meta even tangentially related to comment deletions or moderation.
    posted by poffin boffin at 9:30 AM on August 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


    MetaTalk: Beating a dead hobby horse.
    posted by tonycpsu at 9:46 AM on August 26, 2015


    because the one thing mefi needs is more uniformity.
    posted by andrewcooke at 9:46 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Assuming arguendo that uniformity is a problem, it's quite obvious that pivoting from the topic of this MeTa to once again bring up the fucking echo chamber discussion is not going to be productive. So why do it?
    posted by tonycpsu at 9:49 AM on August 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


    andrewcooke: because the one thing mefi needs is more uniformity.

    I'm all for it as long as we get epaulettes.
    posted by Kattullus at 9:52 AM on August 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


    and berets
    posted by griphus at 9:53 AM on August 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


    "Pissing on dissent" is not synonymous with "noting that some people always bring up the same thing."
    posted by Chrysostom at 9:55 AM on August 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Lay off MrMoonPie, y'all. Why shouldn't he get to make his point without a bunch of you figuratively rolling your eyes? The time may come when we all decide he is right.

    One thing I love best about this place is that it has not infrequently moved the dial in my own thinking.
    posted by bearwife at 10:02 AM on August 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


    To me, MetaFilter is like a high school. You have the popular kids, the smart kids, the debate team, the drama club, the Junior Mod Squad/Hall Monitors, the bullies, the gadflies, and... the rest of us. We're here, we learn, we volunteer when we know the answers.

    I don't get the life-altering sense of community here that I've read about in prior comments. But I pay attention to usernames, for sure. When it comes to our our most prolific/popular posters, I can usually tell who's commenting by the first few sentences and/or eyeballing the length of the post. I don't go to the local meetups because they are mostly centered around an interest that I don't share. I won't start a local non-interest based meetup because I don't want to cannibalize the one that already exists.

    As one of the "...and the rest" crowd, how I do get the community vibe that I do get?

    I participate in Secret Quonsar. That, to me, is the biggest, warmest example of Community that we have. (Other than the Kiva team, but updates to that always include people who criticize the tiny amount of good we're doing because we're obviously doing good the wrong way.) In the Quonsar threads, everyone is on equal $10-20 footing. Number of favorites, number of contacts, low id number - none of it matters.

    I also follow some MeFites on Twitter and Goodreads. Interacting with people outside of the "no chatfilter" realm makes me appreciate them more.

    I hope this doesn't turn into a thread where if we don't feel the same gigantic sense of community, then we're doing MeFi wrong.
    posted by kimberussell at 10:38 AM on August 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


    Much like other communities, there's always someone endlessly banging on about their particular hobbyhorse.

    Oh, we're calling people out now, is that it?!

    Fine, I'm not saying it's perfect, but Prometheus IS a pretty good film if you open yourself up to it.

    And cilantro FUCKING RULES.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:43 AM on August 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Prometheus is great if you consider the entire movie from David's perspective. Why did the xenobiologist try to pet the slime-snake? Because stupid human.
    posted by griphus at 10:48 AM on August 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


    MetaFilter is like a high school. You have the popular kids, the smart kids, the debate team, the drama club, the Junior Mod Squad/Hall Monitors, the bullies, the gadflies, and... the rest of us.

    So is cortex Principal Skinner or Mr. Vernon?
    posted by octobersurprise at 10:49 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Lay off MrMoonPie, y'all. Why shouldn't he get to make his point without a bunch of you figuratively rolling your eyes? The time may come when we all decide he is right.

    Tremble, mods! The seeds of revolution stir beneath the soil!
    posted by prize bull octorok at 10:51 AM on August 26, 2015


    No that's just the slime-snake again.
    posted by griphus at 10:52 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Did someone say Revolution? Stupid human? Endless banging on about his hobbyhorse? Slime-snake?

    Vote #1 quidnunc kid!!!
    posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:00 AM on August 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


    ALL POWER TO THE FIVE DOLLAR NOOBS
    posted by Chrysostom at 11:43 AM on August 26, 2015


    David's touching of all the things is either due to his ability to see annotations in the ultraviolet or a "fuck it" approach to Asimovs first rule.
    posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on August 26, 2015


    always
    posted by poffin boffin at 11:50 AM on August 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


    I am actually extremely busy, so I confess I haven't read a single reply, but I am medically handicapped in a way that makes socializing in meatspace a big problem. I have been incredibly dependent on the Internet for many years to meet a significant portion of my need for human contact. This is not just a touchy-feely thing. It is not just "I need someone to talk with or I will lose my mind" -- though it is that too, it is also "I need someone who can give me information on how to solve this problem" and ...I can't begin to tell you how very real and important online community is for me personally.

    A few years ago, I watched Apollo 13 and I was struck by the fact that right after the accident, the crew was doomed. Their initial estimates were they can't get home again. And the ground crew could not give them a single thing physically. But their ability to research, brainstorm, test out alternative procedures, plan and feed these guys information got them home. It got them alive. It saved all of their lives.

    At the time, I mostly found that a useful mental model for some of my own work. I have long had little websites and, although traffic is low and they aren't very financially successful, they often make a big difference in the lives of other people. Watching Apollo 13 gave me a mental model for how my little websites can be so very important to someone else even though we never meet and they cannot give me anything physically and I cannot give them anything physically (like GERMS, which is the whole fucking point of not wanting to meet people IRL).

    So, for me, that's what online communities are. I live under quarantine and my life would not work without the Internet. This has been true for a long damn time. It has been more true in recent years. And my problems are gradually getting solved. I am frustrated that it isn't happening faster, but it is happening when it isn't supposed to be possible at all.

    So, as much as THE MODS HATE ME AND DELETE MY SHIT ({/}), y'all are stuck with me (as long as the mods don't throw my sorry ass out of here). Because y'all are my ground crew and I can't make it home alive without you.

    Thank you and all the (virtual) ((((((HUGS))))))) for anyone who wants them (and keep your grimy paws to yourself if you ever meet me in meatspace, k? thx).
    posted by Michele in California at 12:09 PM on August 26, 2015 [13 favorites]


    If anyone is interested in hearing from a relative noob: I hopped over here from another fairly high-profile system where I was a long-time user, since 1999 (The Well, if you care) because that place got so goddamned quiet that you could hear crickets most of the time and you didn't even have to listen for them very hard. One of the Well's pet theories is that it's the last place online where you can have an intelligent discussion; everywhere else was pretty much a giant comments section, and not one of the higher-end ones.

    Suffice to say I think Metafilter has put the lie to that theory. I've been happy I came here, but honestly, I don't know if I get the same sense of community over here as I do over there. There are a bunch of reasons for that; I will admit that after 16 years on the Well, where they have a "real names" policy, I'm still a bit thrown that I don't know anyone's name here, other than the one I see under their posts. Nor, in many cases, do I know where users live, or their gender. Whether those things are actually important is, of course, debatable, but I still find it difficult to equate "completely anonymous" with "community." The Well is also heavily Bay Area-centric, although there was once a decent-sized New York City contingent. Those things probably contribute to my feeling like this is a bit less of a community than the Well is (or, I suppose, was, until everyone basically left) . These aren't meant to be criticisms, btw -- just another perspective.

    And hey, I have an avatar, I guess, although I mostly did it as a joke because my avatar is Nancy and my name isn't, so.
    posted by holborne at 12:51 PM on August 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


    I don't know anyone's name here, other than the one I see under their posts

    For what it's worth, I always refer to those as Superhero Names.
    posted by Grangousier at 12:55 PM on August 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


    We'd tell you our names but then we'd have to kill you. It's that kind of community.
    posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:28 PM on August 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Yuck,

    I never thought of AskMe as The Green Race. But that would explain a lot.
    posted by Michele in California at 2:32 PM on August 26, 2015


    Also, the site is far too hierarchical to be a community; self-policing has been replaced by moderation.

    Communities don't stop being communities because there are police. Indeed, we have the best kind of police - drawn from the community, who still walk beats (comment), and who show up at community gatherings (MeTa) to talk about what's going on in the community. Many of them have strong social ties within the community as well, and even our retired police officers (Jessamyn and Matt) are held in high regard by the community in general (though not every member specifically).

    I've come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that in sufficiently large groups, some policing and people empowered to police while being answerable to the community at large is necessary. I'd like it if self-policing worked, but it frankly doesn't - and I say that as someone who perceives herself (however accurately) as fairly good at self-policing. I've had things deleted, and the mods have been right to do so; I didn't have sufficient emotional distance to self-police in that moment, and I'm grateful they have my back on being a better person.
    posted by Deoridhe at 2:53 PM on August 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


    I'm still a bit thrown that I don't know anyone's name here, other than the one I see under their posts.

    Hi, My name's Chris & I'm an average working class white guy from Texas. A fair number of users do put their real names & location info in their profiles - I'm more public about that sort of stuff than some users here because I can be -- no fears about work recrimination, etc -- but you will find quite a few of us with pretty fleshed-out profiles.
    posted by Devils Rancher at 3:21 PM on August 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


    I mean... I've bought books from and met one MeFite who lives in another country (Fuzzy Monster/A.G. Pasquella) and married another (Uncle Ira). I sent Xmas treats to Mr. Bill after his wife died a few years back, and we've stayed digitally in touch ever since on various external platforms.

    I've loaned money to MeFites, been to meet-ups, edited published works in the MeFi book and Metafilter magazine with such notable contributors as, well, Brandon Blatcher and Robocop is Bleeding. I've donated/Kickstarted/congratulated others on their MeFiMarriages (shout out to the ThePinkSuperhero) and even had a few run-ins of the sort that I'd rather forget, because all is forgiven.

    ALL IS FORGIVEN.

    So, yeah -- if a junior high or small town counts as a community, I'd say Metafilter does, too.

    Hell, I'd consider some of you strangers whom I've never met in real life to be my intellectual soul mates.

    What other site can give me that, plus awesome t-shirts and annual gift exchanges, besides Metafilter?

    Even when I've gotten into trouble here, the ModCabal has been super-nice to me. This site taught me that no matter how forthright I am in my convictions and certain I am that something is tasteless, useless or just plain awful, stop for a second and consider what's to be gained from saying LOOK AT THESE ASSHOLES aloud.

    Without Metafilter, I'd never have learned to appreciate the Juggalo community. I'd be making ad hominem arguments with people on Facebook. I'd be unsure of where to look for a nuanced, cautious discussion on the day's most emotionally fraught breaking news events.

    In summary,

    Metafilter: It's the only (unaccredited) online university I know of that charges $5 for tuition. Bonus: we're a dorm-free campus.
    posted by Unicorn on the cob at 4:01 PM on August 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


    To me, MetaFilter is like a high school. You have the popular kids, the smart kids, the debate team, the drama club, the Junior Mod Squad/Hall Monitors, the bullies, the gadflies, and...

    And library aides. Tons and tons of library aides.
    posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:04 PM on August 26, 2015 [18 favorites]


    This place is a community to me. I don't know about you.

    I've made friends here. IRL friends that I first met here.

    I've met Trans people the world over here, and they all mean a lot to me.

    A Mefite sent me money when I was homeless, transitioning and broke with no way to buy medicine or eat, then asked me to pay it forward instead of back.

    I don't participate much here anymore, but that's because my own inability to really deal with conflicting and varied ideas. I guess I'm triggery as fuck, but that doesn't take away how much appreciation I have for this place.

    It's a community, an online community where most of us care about being good to each other (even when we get it wrong) and growing into the future, learning, raising awareness, finding the edges of our shared humanity and exploring those edges as best we can with the words we've got.

    That means a lot to me. And I hope it does to you as well.
    posted by Annika Cicada at 4:14 PM on August 26, 2015 [13 favorites]


    Give it some time. The best communities are the ones with people who will understand when members need a break, and welcome them back with a loving, "Glad to see you again!" One of the nice things about being kind to others is that it can make everything kinder - so the act of giving can be as wonderful as the act of being given to. Bonus of emotional labor, I guess!
    posted by Deoridhe at 6:07 PM on August 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


    I hate you guys almost as much as I hate my family.

    <3
    posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:01 PM on August 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Awww, we hate you too!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:58 AM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


    who show up at community gatherings (MeTa) to talk about what's going on in the community

    For better or worse, MetaTalk as CAPS Beat Meeting is an amazingly appropraite metaphor, even if it does have the unintended consequence of making the mods Chicago cops, which is... not accurate from my perspective.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:25 AM on August 27, 2015


    Is MetaFilter a community?

    So . . .

    Anyone else notice that Yoink buttoned?
     
    posted by Herodios at 8:43 AM on August 27, 2015


    MCMikeNamara: "making the mods Chicago cops"

    *Sgt. Cortex gets out of his cruiser, sidles up to your thread and looks at you over the top of his mirrored aviator shades*
    Sgt. Cortex: Username and number please, MeFite.
    Rock Steady: Uh, Rock Steady, number 22627. Is there something wrong, Moderator?
    Sgt. Cortex: [long pause] Did you use the search feature before posting that link back there?
    Rock Steady: Um, no, I mean, I guess not, Moderator.
    Sgt. Cortex [chews gum aggressively] That's what we call a double around here, and we can't have that. I'm going to go back to my vehicle and come up with a humorous deletion reason. You just sit tight.
    posted by Rock Steady at 8:52 AM on August 27, 2015 [14 favorites]


    By the way, if he tells you he is calling in Officer Taz and the K-9 unit, you don't have to wait.
    posted by Rock Steady at 8:58 AM on August 27, 2015


    "For better or worse, MetaTalk as CAPS Beat Meeting is an amazingly appropraite metaphor, even if it does have the unintended consequence of making the mods Chicago cops, which is... not accurate from my perspective."

    I don't think there's a subsite where they take you without telling anyone you're banned, and I don't think timeouts include getting phonebooks bounced on your head until your spine deforms.

    But I could be wrong.

    "Anyone else notice that Yoink buttoned?"

    Really? That sucks. Hopefully it's just because it's the beginning of the school year — some other academic MeFites I know take time off then because, well, the metaphor mooted on Facebook yesterday was being in the middle of a fish spawn.
    posted by klangklangston at 10:30 AM on August 27, 2015


    More like a buffalo herd, IMO.
    posted by octobersurprise at 11:04 AM on August 27, 2015


    I got no secrets from a buffalo.
    posted by klangklangston at 11:15 AM on August 27, 2015


    I'm not sure about whether this is a "community" because the many versions of that word I've come into over the course of my life have all been different.

    However. You should know that in real life, I can sometimes be kind of reserved when it comes to differences of opinion, with people I don't know that well; unless I trust you, I have a big fear of Being Wrong And Making You Mad, and that has caused me to hold my tongue a lot. And yet here, I'm apparently vocal enough about my own perspective that someone once wrote up an entire MeTa callout about how AwfulBadShittyWrongityWrong I was. (I missed the entire thing because the whole thing was born and died during the 5 hours that I was out on a date, and didn't even know about it until I started getting memails asking if I was okay.) If I didn't trust y'all, I wouldn't run the risk of Saying Potentially Angrymaking Things.

    I have also been called out positively on the grey, and I have called other people out positively on the grey; I haven't started a shitpost about anyone on the grey, but for my sins, I've participated in a couple. And I'd say any place where I trust others enough to be comfortable enough that "oh well, even if some people think I'm a jerk on the whole I"m okay", and I feel open enough to say "hey, that guy right there did something awesome", it's a good thing.

    Also I've had some great travel adventures starting meetups at some of my last vacations. (Paris; your time is coming soon. Stay tuned.)
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:35 PM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


    I used to: I realise now this was foolish.
    posted by alasdair at 2:01 PM on August 27, 2015


    Look, I'll give back your leafblower, you just have to come get it while I'm home.
    posted by klangklangston at 2:05 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


    I used to not: I realise now this was foolish.
    posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:09 PM on August 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


    Metafilter is very important to me, and I think it's a community, but I admit that I'm one of the people who recognizes many user names but constantly thinks things like, "Do I remember that person because I love most of what they have to say most of the time or because they always say horrible things?" I forget the names and faces of people I know in person if I don't see them often enough (hi, board member I vaguely remember, I hope someone within earshot calls you by your name) because of, I don't know, a profound selfishness or just inherent flakiness. Also I constantly rework my comments to make sure I haven't done anything terrible that might get me scolded by someone (touch of social anxiety there) and I think that habit strips comments of any personality they might show. I'd love to go to a meetup but I'm in one of the corners of the US with only a handful of members and they haven't worked out. Mostly I'm one of those anonymous many - I think if I disappeared tomorrow nobody would miss me because I don't bring anything uniquely interesting to the table, but I like being here. I'm better for Metafilter, even if Metafilter isn't particularly better for having me.
    posted by PussKillian at 6:12 PM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


    That leaf blower has a fantastic bachelor attachment.
    posted by clavdivs at 6:50 PM on August 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


    All that hopping around, the bleeding, looking for something to cauterize yourself with, finding a heat source in time, naah. Just leave the leaf blower alone.
    posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:18 PM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Bugs Meany said I should blow the leaf out of here no wait
    posted by klangklangston at 11:26 PM on August 27, 2015


    So we are in agreement?
    posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:29 PM on August 27, 2015


    That leaf blower has a fantastic bachelor attachment.

    Not according to the vacuum cleaner!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:54 AM on August 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Are we a community? After considerable time on the sidelines, here's today's snap of Lil Ubu.

    Just because I thought youse might like to know what's been up down under.
    posted by UbuRoivas at 8:24 AM on August 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


    Of course it's a community. I couldn't get nearly as angry at random internet people!

    AND JESUS WILL YOU MOVE THAT RUSTY TRUCK!
    posted by eriko at 8:41 AM on August 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Wow, how can your kid be that old?

    (Also, this is a question I find myself asking very often and I would like this accelerated aging thing to stop.)
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:20 PM on August 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


    JESUS WILL YOU MOVE THAT RUSTY TRUCK

    My all-time favorite country and western ballad.
    posted by Wolfdog at 12:24 PM on August 28, 2015 [15 favorites]


    check out a book or two and sit in the corner quietly

    yeah, I was reading that and my mind quietly added an h.
    posted by Hypatia at 7:46 PM on August 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Actually, please don't shit in the corner. So hard to clean in that little crevice, where even a Swiffer can't reach.
    posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:20 PM on August 28, 2015


    Polish it in the corner. Five times fast.
    posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:03 PM on August 28, 2015


    I wonder if mathowie, Jessamyn and cortex ever marvel over what they accomplished.

    Every day. Metafilter remains a huge, crazy part of my life even aside from the obvious job responsibility aspect; I love this site, I love the people on it, and I love the complicated, multi-faceted community they comprise. I can't really imagine how my life would be different if it had just fluttered around briefly as some guy's hobby in 1999 and then gone away. Metafilter's touched too many parts of my life.

    I'm typing this from the passenger seat of our car as Secretariat drives us up to Roswell for the night, catching up on this thread that started the day I started packing up for the drive home from our summer in Huntsville. And I haven't been on the clock for a few days, and am on vacation on a road trip, and yet I think about and peek at the site every day and have been slowly trying to catch-as-catch-can my way up with this metatalk.

    I care a lot about work-life balance—for me and for the rest of the folks who work here—and "poking Metafilter on your vacation" is something I don't want anyone to ever have to feel like they should do. I've been through that and had to work out what my relationship with the job was and what I want it to be. But I've also figured out that pretending to not care about the site at all if it's on my mind and I've got time to care about it doesn't really feel healthy either. That's just not me. So here I am, south of Roswell, finally checking in on this.

    And I think that's the thing, with what this place as a community means—that's kind of a question of what this place means to you. And lots of people have different answers to that, and that's okay and is part of what defines this in a larger sense as a community, to my mind. Or as a community of communities. I described Metafilter as "like a busy neighborhood" on a podcast recently and that feels right—too big for everybody to know everybody, too many folks to make any assumptions about anyone just based on them being here, but not so big that you can't get a general idea of what's going on if you hang around a little, not so big that you can't get to know a few people if you're feeling sociable.

    There's not (a few procedural issues aside) a wrong way to be here or to feel about this place, or a need to feel, particularly, about it. For some folks, "community" really resonates; for some folks not; and that's fine all around. I'm a homebody in meatspace, and wouldn't ever want to hear that it's bad for me to like that even if I think sometimes about what-if-I-went-to-parties-more and so on; nobody should have to feel like either they have a strong sense of belonging and community and togetherness or they're not doing Metafilter like that. That's not how a big community works. Everybody does what they do, and that's fine. That's just you, being you. And that's other people being other people. And here we all are.

    That move was signaled when the mods started referring to themselves as "we"

    "We" was the natural outcome of having multiple mods; literally listing everyone's name each time we needed to talk collectively about mod policy and practice would be incredibly tedious. See also the move toward "the mods" vs e.g. "Matt and Jess" (and the transitional mattamyn => mattexamyn phase when the staff went from two to three, something that went by the wayside other than the rare joke once more folks came on and it went from cumbersome to outright nuts).

    I care about semantics too and find the necessity of we vs. A+B+C+D-modulo-associated-disclaimers in conflict with its imprecision since being both concise and precise would be ideal, but we throw a lot of words around here on a given week and concision is going to win a lot of the time especially given that on the odd occasions when it really needs unpacking we can back up and go for precision as well.

    *Sgt. Cortex gets out of his cruiser, sidles up to your thread and looks at you over the top of his mirrored aviator shades*

    I actually got my first speeding ticket today, tear-assing a little too much past a belchy semi truck near Fort Stockton, TX. I guess you could say I'm gonna have to pay my...

    *removes mirrored aviator shades*

    ...Pecos bill.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 4:57 PM on August 29, 2015 [21 favorites]


    Have fun in Roswell!

    That was partly ironic -- growing up ninety miles northeast of Roswell, I never really got the whole UFO thing, but I suppose I can see it might be fun as a tourist stop in a kitschy way. But Roswell has always seemed extremely boring to me; then also I have bad memories of working and living there for a few months at the beginning of 1990.

    I can't figure out why you're there -- you must be taking 285 north to get to I-40 and then head west? Or are you going to continue north? That stretch of 285 north of Roswell is actually where I got my last speeding ticket twenty-five years ago -- having already driven on 285 to Roswell, you know why. And it's even more lonely from there to Vaughn. One night that winter of 1990, I drove that stretch on my way to ABQ for a business meeting and there was a blizzard; the road was closed behind me. Visibility was nearly zero, the snowfall was so heavy and there was no other traffic besides myself so that the road disappeared -- I could only guess from the contour. That was fun.

    What would be more scenic would be to go west from Roswell on US 70 towards the mountains and Ruidoso (where Neil Patrick Harris and WolfDaddy grew up), then maybe Alamogordo and see White Sands? But that would take you out of your way. So just head toward Lincoln on US 380 from US 70 instead, then Capitan and Carrizozo -- you'll still see a little bit of Lincoln National Forest (where the original cub who became Smoky the Bear was found), and just west of Carrizozo you'll drive through the Malpais Lava Flow and then the highway between Carrizozo and San Antonio is the northern boundary of the White Sands Missile Range and you'll pass about twenty miles north of Trinity Site, where the first atomic bomb was tested. (Though that's only open to the public twice a year.) That's a memorably desolate but beautiful drive -- I've often seen big antelope herds running across the desert north of 380. And then the tiny town of San Antonio on I-25 (where Conrad Hilton was born, surprisingly) has the Owl Cafe, where most folk agree you can find the best green chile cheeseburger. Then head north to ABQ and continue onward as you planned. Only slightly out of your way and much, much interesting than that incredibly boring and empty Roswell-Vaughn-Clines Corners drive. Although that's sort of interesting for those who are unused to such emptiness. And though it's so empty and flat, by the time you reach Clines Corners, you're at 7,000 feet in altitude from Roswell's 3,600.

    "There's not (a few procedural issues aside) a wrong way to be here or to feel about this place, or a need to feel, particularly, about it. For some folks, 'community' really resonates; for some folks not; and that's fine all around. I'm a homebody in meatspace, and wouldn't ever want to hear that it's bad for me to like that even if I think sometimes about what-if-I-went-to-parties-more and so on; nobody should have to feel like either they have a strong sense of belonging and community and togetherness or they're not doing Metafilter like that. That's not how a big community works. Everybody does what they do, and that's fine. That's just you, being you. And that's other people being other people. And here we all are."

    I appreciate that you included that part. "Community" resonates with me here less than some folk, more than others, but I think it's important for all of us not to imply that anyone (in this regard) is doing MetaFilter wrong.
    posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:12 PM on August 29, 2015


    I think of MetaFilter as easily meeting the basic definitions of "community" used by folklorists and anthropologists and the like. We have all the main features of a community and we act like a community acts. It is indisputably a community in those technical terms.

    Complication enters the picture when some of the more colloquial definitions of "community" come in. Some people think of "community" as denoting a warm, fuzzy, caring group of people bound together by mutual appreciation, or the like. I don't think we're [always] that kind of community.

    There were times when I felt we were always that kind of community, but I kind of aged out of some of that, I think. That is, I still love to meet MeFites when I travel and love to make friends via MeFi. But I've also experienced the vast cold indifference the group exhibits if you happen to drop off the map for a while, and the flukiness of relationships here, which like relationships in real communities, include relationships that turn ugly or grow cold. There are times we rise to the occasion and our community powers are well expressed and make some kind of meaningful impact. I think this is relatively analagous to when a town or club or company occasionally does those sorts of things. That is, it isn't our default behavior to do wonderful, loving, world-saving things, but now and then we can organize to get something done if there is leadership, initiative, communication, shared values, a sense of urgency, and all the other conditions that give rise to action are in place.

    So yes, we're a community, but we might or might not be that kind of community, all the time, for any number of values of that kind, and for any number of people evaluating their own experience here.
    posted by Miko at 2:18 PM on August 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


    Sorry to jinx you with that speeding ticket, cortex. You can just use my strategy when I got a speeding ticket in college - ignore it and never drive in that state again.
    posted by Rock Steady at 5:38 PM on August 30, 2015


    I'll just say that MeFi is, and has been, extremely important to me since I found it (which was a while before I joined). It's changed me as a person in many ways, all for the better. By which I mean, all of you have. And I trust that will continue. I could go on, but for once I won't. Thank you all. If we are Stormfront for liberals, then Sieg Kale!

    This reminds me, I need to do the ongoing support thing and I am going to go do that now.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 6:56 PM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Well, I think some of the most frequent posters here can be cliquey, closed minded, petty, and echo-chambery, so in that sense Metafilter is like a real live community.

    Of course, I think whether this sort of community exemplifying behavior is, you know, good or admirable is not at all clear.
    posted by girl flaneur at 9:14 PM on August 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


    I've been a Mefite in one form or another for almost a decade, and while I've always seen it as a community of sorts, I have to admit I didn't really know more than a handful of users by name until I started posting in FanFare. Before this I had IRL friends who also happen to be on the site who'd be like, "Dang have you seen what's going down on the green right now, oh man, those two are at it again," and I'd be like, "Those two? Hmm." But now I do recognize more than a handful of people, because they like the same shows as me and I like their opinions on them. Seeing them pop up over and over has really helped me feel like I have my own little circle on the site and made me feel engaged at a level I never have before, and I haven't been participating in FanFare for that long.

    In short, if you feel like MeFi isn't much of a community to you, and you watch TV or movies, see if people are discussing your favorites, or start a series yourself! FanFare has been really fun for me. I was super skeptical when it got started but now posting my Sunday night X-Files rewatch has become one of the highlights of my week.
    posted by town of cats at 7:52 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


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