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So, somebody off the street (or your friend, or your significant other or whoever) comes up to you and asks what's a metafilter. What threads do you use to illustrate what sort of place this is?
posted by dinty_moore to MetaFilter-Related at 3:00 PM (67 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

The Russian incident.
posted by Namlit at 3:14 PM on September 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


The "Imagine you had to get rid of a dead body..." Ask MeFi thread.
posted by subbes at 3:19 PM on September 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't actually cite threads 'cause that's way too specific for casual conversation - I just say, "It's like Reddit - an online community..." and they're usually satisfied with that - believe me, they usually don't want to know beyond that very very brief description. Most people seem to grok Reddit.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 3:31 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Having said that, I never bring up MetaFilter in casual conversation and only once had to describe it to a waitress at a Mefi meetup, who saw our sign and wanted to know what it was.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 3:33 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The first rule of MetaFilter is we don't talk about MetaFilter.
posted by xqwzts at 3:34 PM on September 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Asking because I ended up answering this twice within 24 hours (in both cases, it was groups where half of the people are on Metafilter and half of them are not).

My answers:

The Emotional Labor thread in a couple of different formats.

The Russian Incident

Did my boyfriend just get married?

Finding the right bra size (partially because bra sizing had come up in conversation previously)

Dull rock and roll anecdotes

And Winter Soldier partially because I knew everyone I was emailing about it had seen the film and I wanted to include fanfare.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:39 PM on September 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hrm. I don't point people at threads, really. If they are interested in pursuing research beyond the conversation we had about it (which is rare enough to begin with), then I usually say "look, it's the most boring page you're going to look at on the internet. But look at what is posted and then click the title of something that might interest you and read the comments and the articles. You'll see what kind of a place this is."

Usually followed by "yes, I said 'read the comments'".
posted by hippybear at 3:58 PM on September 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


The recent Emotional Labor thread, full stop.
posted by duffell at 4:00 PM on September 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


I usually tell them it's an online forum for piss fetishists and I get left the fuck alone. If I'm lucky.
posted by item at 4:02 PM on September 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I consider MeFi one of the niche interests I have that I don't bother talking about much in real life, like Stephen Sondheim musicals. As Joe Conrad said "it's an online community like Reddit" is the furthest I go when pressed for details.
posted by DrAmerica at 4:05 PM on September 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I tend to describe the blue as an online community where people post everything from animated knitting videos to academic reports about where spam comes from. Notably, these are both threads I've posted. It makes it easier to remember them. Also, apparently I am an egomaniac.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:21 PM on September 13, 2015


Joe Conrad?
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:21 PM on September 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


aka Awesome Joe
posted by mochapickle at 4:28 PM on September 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hiya, Joe, whatd'ya know?

"it's an online community like Reddit"

I'd say "it's an online community BUT NOT like Reddit", better moderated and less subdivided... which tries to cover the large (but poorly populated) middle ground between "free for all" and "echo chamber", usually successfully. And with many more literary usernames.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:30 PM on September 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't bring up threads to explain what MetaFilter is, but I have shared the secret merlings thread an inordinate amount of time.
posted by xqwzts at 4:31 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


We need to come up with a term for the posts like 'secret merlings', the recent Key & Peele post (I haven't gotten through all the clips there yet) and other epic contributions by magnificent users... If SL stands for Single Link and MMO stands for Massively Multiplayer Online, how about MML for Massively Multi-Link?
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:44 PM on September 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dilbert.
posted by clavdivs at 4:57 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Unfiltered?" "Indiscriminate?"
posted by Wolfdog at 5:05 PM on September 13, 2015


I wouldn't point them to threads, but rather to individual comments, like

The Wheel, or

Stop using words.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:08 PM on September 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


always
posted by poffin boffin at 5:40 PM on September 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Depends on who you're talking to. I was trying to get my sister to use AskMe because I think she'd get a kick out of it, so I showed her this post. I haven't gotten her to write on the site yet, but when I came back a few minutes later she was still glued to the thread and googling "pinworms."
posted by thetortoise at 5:40 PM on September 13, 2015


The first rule of MetaFilter is we don't talk about MetaFilter.

No, that's the cabaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGHHHH!

-Look, if he was dying,he wouldn't bother to type "Aaargh." He'd just say it.
-That's what's typed on the page.
-Perhaps he was dictating it.
-Shut up!

posted by leotrotsky at 5:44 PM on September 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's about cats and the scanners they were wedged into.
posted by discopolo at 5:51 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Meta what? Never heard of it."
posted by ODiV at 6:02 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Grandmother's message.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:17 PM on September 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Show me one person who can't stop reading the missing Russian women thread. I have sent that to on-line enemies who stopped being enemies after that and started asking me what else I read.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:29 PM on September 13, 2015




zarq that is so you.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:51 PM on September 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


(Resolute! is my all-time favorite, so well chosen...)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:52 PM on September 13, 2015


"I know this awesome _________ place" lives in my bookmarks.

I refer to Hi. Whatcha reading? pretty regularly when I want to explain what makes MetaFilter "different."
posted by modernserf at 8:42 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Penis beaker.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:44 PM on September 13, 2015


Another coded message solved by us.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:08 PM on September 13, 2015


My standard spiel for trying to describe MeFi/AskMe to people who aren't virtual-community people: "It's an online discussion forum where people can discuss current events or cool stuff online, and there's a section where people can ask for advice on everything from computer problems to relationship issues."
posted by jaguar at 9:15 PM on September 13, 2015


zarq that is so you.

:D Most of that list is in my profile, so it was easy to cut, paste and add to it. I probably have a ton of askme posts in my favorites, too.
posted by zarq at 9:15 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


"it's an online community BUT NOT like Reddit"

Almost exactly what I do too, plus I say "discussion of current events and cultural topics." No particular thread as lure.
posted by Miko at 9:39 PM on September 13, 2015


I usually say it's either 'sort of like reddit, but with solid and consistent moderation that keeps things civil' or it's an online community, with members from all walks of life and professions, that for the most part, does what it can, as a community, to make members feel welcome, and share interesting stuff."

Also, "kind of like reddit, but fewer assholes."
posted by Ghidorah at 9:46 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd say, "Nothing, what's a metafilter with you?"

But YMMV.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:15 PM on September 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


On my first actual date with someone (we'd been talking online for weeks) after my wife passed away, I told her about Matt's Paypaling me the money to take care of the ambulance and ER bills.

She'd lost a spouse a couple years before, so this isn't as creepy/weird as it sounds :) - and she's still one of my closest friends.

I've also described it as a "more mature, intelligent Reddit or Something Awful, nothing but text, where I've met many local and remote real-life friends." Too bad I can't describe Reddit as a "less mature MeFi".
posted by mrbill at 10:50 PM on September 13, 2015


I never recommend Metafilter. I think things are better, tastier, more satisfying, when I discover them on my own, and I don't want to either take that away from them or recommend something they won't like.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:27 AM on September 14, 2015


I'd tell them its like mumsnet but occasionally the mods post pics of their genitals. I don't want anyone I know in in real life in here.
posted by biffa at 2:49 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


aka Awesome Joe

I'm now imagining Mad Max Fun Road, where the Citadel is run by Awesome Joe, who is really great and everyone is happy and no one sprays water inexplicably down cliffs. And the Goodboys just do nice things for people without expecting anyone to notice, and the cars are just as goofy, because awesome. Furiosa is still Furiosa, but she doesn't have to grimace as much.

Max doesn't have a lot to do, so he has to go off and eat lizards or something while imaginary people shout at him. That's the only sad part.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:59 AM on September 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


item: "I usually tell them it's an online forum for piss fetishists and I get left the fuck alone. If I'm lucky."

That's MetaFelcher
posted by chavenet at 6:09 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also don't get confused with MetaFlickr, which is a place for people to post cat photos. Oh, wait, that's MetaFilter, too....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:22 AM on September 14, 2015


"Imagine if reddit was exclusively populated by people who own NPR tote bags"
posted by Greg Nog at 6:51 AM on September 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


The first "grandparent code" thread came right to mind for me. I'm really surprised no one has mentioned this one yet: Last time, you didn't have holes in your feet!

I believe I have used that to explain metafilter on a couple occasions, actually.

Also, this one, as a beautiful example of both the community and of the soap-opera nature of the place: Cat lost at Devil's Tower - help.

Less common but still beautifully indicative of the potential for collaboration if a brilliant idea strikes: Metafilter TMBG Flood Tribute Album
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:22 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just discussed Ask Culture vs Guess Culture yesterday. Along with learning about the Dunning–Kruger effect, which I also learned here, it's helped me understand the world better.
posted by maxsparber at 8:36 AM on September 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Honestly, I only ever refer to it as "this website I read," and the entire reason is that I'm much more open about personal stuff here than I am in real life, and I don't want any of my real life people (in-person Metafilter friends excluded) to stumble across something I've been circumspect about in my daily existence.

That said, one thread that immediately comes to mind as one that makes me go Wow, and one that makes other people go Wow when I tell them the story, is The most kissed girl in the world.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:38 AM on September 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Emotional Labor thread
Ask v. Guess culture
and the story of mrbill and his wife's death and the community response.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:39 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Those with a sense of humor I point to the Taglines page on the wiki.... well, I would anyways, if cortex's collector links still worked...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:52 AM on September 14, 2015


If you think about it, we really missed an opportunity by calling the gray "Metatalk" and not "Metametafilter."
posted by duffell at 11:01 AM on September 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hi. Whatcha reading? (844-comment FPP, 707-comment MeTa) first, and maybe Discussion Point (unrelated 1,163-comment MeTa) after.

Not because I think they're objectively the 'best' threads, but just to offer a useful reminder, before introducing them to MeFi's modern age, of how raw hostility toward women as a class is so often lurking just beneath the surface in the most unexpected, reputedly intellectual, ostensibly socially and politically progressive spaces.

But usually if someone flat-out asks me what a MetaFilter is, my response is usually 95% this ("this website I read") and 5% "nerds, arguing about nerd things."
posted by divined by radio at 12:21 PM on September 14, 2015


I use Greg Nog's Bird Deceiver post to illustrate what people on Metafilter think Reddit sounds like.
posted by pullayup at 1:23 PM on September 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Like Reddit but with ethics." I generally don't bring it up unless I'm actively trying to convince someone to join, though.
posted by sciatrix at 5:45 PM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Like Reddit but with more moderation."
posted by zutalors! at 7:40 AM on September 15, 2015


pullayup, what you linked to is the worst aspects of this community in a nutshell: smug, condescending, self-serving, ignorant, provincial. I suppose one could argue that since the majority of users are American the attitude of "everything of any value is located here, beyond these borders it's all crap" isn't terribly surprising. (Not trying to ding my fellow Americans here; this is a pervasive cultural idea that we are all raised to believe.)

I don't really think MeFites are smarter or are better at having discussions than any other online community, the posts just have better spelling and grammar. Except for a few users who seem to have perpetually malfunctioning shift keys, but maybe we can all pitch in and buy them new keyboards.

The saving grace (or "killer app", to use a slightly old-fashioned term) is the moderation of Front Page Posts. I always find cool stuff here.
posted by DrAmerica at 7:37 PM on September 15, 2015


smug, condescending, self-serving, ignorant, provincial

Uh, it's a jokey comment about bird books. Where's the smugness and condescension?

And thanks for bringing it to my attention, because it's effing hilarious.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:49 PM on September 15, 2015


It's a "parody" (in quotes because parodies are usually supposed to be funny) of Reddit and Reddit comments. The subtext is "Look at how dumb these morons are, I'm so glad to be part of MetaFilter where we're all just so thoughtful and intelligent...."

Keep patting each other on the back that hard and pretty soon y'all are gonna be on the Green asking "where is a good chiropractor in Williamsburg/Seattle/Portland/San Francisco".
posted by DrAmerica at 7:55 PM on September 15, 2015


It's a "parody" (in quotes because parodies are usually supposed to be funny) of Reddit and Reddit comments. The subtext is "Look at how dumb these morons are, I'm so glad to be part of MetaFilter where we're all just so thoughtful and intelligent...."

Keep patting each other on the back that hard and pretty soon y'all are gonna be on the Green asking "where is a good chiropractor in Williamsburg/Seattle/Portland/San Francisco".


I'm assuming this is performance art, because it's such the perfect parody of a MetaFilter comment.
posted by jaguar at 8:00 PM on September 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


The subtext is "Look at how dumb these morons are, I'm so glad to be part of MetaFilter where we're all just so thoughtful and intelligent...."

Christ, I bet you're fun at parties.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:07 PM on September 15, 2015


tonycpsu, I truly honestly don't see how Greg Nog's comment could be interpreted any other way. But to avoid a complete derail of the OP's original question I will bow out.
posted by DrAmerica at 8:16 PM on September 15, 2015


It's about birds
posted by Greg Nog at 11:26 AM on September 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's always about birds.
posted by maxsparber at 11:31 AM on September 16, 2015


MetaFlitter.
posted by mochapickle at 11:37 AM on September 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not "about" birds. It is birds. The two kinds of birds.
posted by Namlit at 12:00 PM on September 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I describe it as "an online community where people post questions and get useful answers & stuff" since my friends don't really know what reddit is, but still want to know where I got my cats.

I should start claiming they're Canadian spies.
posted by travertina at 6:51 AM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Are you sayin'...
posted by zarq at 6:56 AM on September 17, 2015


I often mention conversations that happen on MetaFilter, or articles or other things I've seen here. But when I try to explain to someone what's so special about the place, I often talk about AskMetafilter. It's not just that it's such an eclectic place—from "how do I format my new hard drive?" to "is this thing on my penis normal?" in the space of ten minutes—but that wonderful things happen here. The Where is My Cat thread, for instance, or the person who was trapped in their bedroom. But I also love Ask for the real-time view into the human mind. Sometimes it's depressing, as when somebody comes in with a relationship question and you get to see just what deep, deep denial looks like as people try to help them see what's happening. But it can also be uplifting. A year or two ago, there was a person who, over the space of several "how do I deal with this problem in my relationship?" questions, came to understand that he was in an abusive relationship—and left it. That was remarkable to watch. And more recently, there was a question from a person who was troubled because she had had an orgasm during a rape, and the outpouring of compassionate responses, along with ways to understand what had happened that weren't that she must have actually enjoyed being raped, was wonderful to see.

It's kind of funny, because in general I'd say I don't care for relationship questions, but when they go well, you can see amazing things happen before your eyes.
posted by not that girl at 6:17 PM on September 17, 2015


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