Matt, will you ever sell Metafilter? February 9, 2005 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Now that bloglines is away to new corporate overlords (hopefully, to not be destroyed in the process), I find myself wondering when the other services I like will get gobbled up.

Personally, I'm curious - Matt, will you ever sell Metafilter?
posted by Caviar to MetaFilter-Related at 10:39 AM (53 comments total)

I offer an opening bid of a ham sandwich. Maybe a drink. No fries.
posted by xmutex at 10:45 AM on February 9, 2005


MetaFilter isn't an application or service, it's just a big pile of content with a bunch of users and traffic. Companies fear liability and content has tons of it, so that's probably why it's almost six years old and no one has ever made any real offer on it.

MetaFilter is a valuable place to me, you, and everyone else that uses it, but I frankly don't think anyone outside can see the value of it. So yeah, if someone said they'd give me a million dollars for it, I'd say sure if I still get to maintain the culture and community, but that's about as likely as.... something extremely, incredibly unlikely.

My much more realistic option is to figure out some way to make some steady income from the site to the point where I could live off it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:48 AM on February 9, 2005


There's a huge market for escort services. All the big media guys are doing it, apparently.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:51 AM on February 9, 2005


I doubt anyone here would want to become a tool for some coporate site. My prediction is that as soon as it was bought, most of us would move on and the site would be worthless. I am not speaking about my site, but the value is in the words of the members of the community, not the URL.
posted by terrapin at 10:54 AM on February 9, 2005


that should be "I am not speaking about my contributions to the site." Damn training room keyboard.
posted by terrapin at 10:55 AM on February 9, 2005


make some steady income from the site to the point where I could live off it

If you don't mind my asking, how much money per month do you need to achieve that goal?

(No reply is understandable.)


And I would like to add an upsized portion of fries and coke to top xmutex's offer.
posted by madman at 11:08 AM on February 9, 2005


Hmm, yes, terrapin is right.
posted by orange swan at 11:09 AM on February 9, 2005


it's just a big pile of content

that's exactly right. it'd all depend on who buys/edits the site. if people here don't like the new owner/editor, those who provide the content for free will simply leave and the "buyer" will have bought what is essentially an empty box with an amazingly elegant and effective interface and great usability. but Matt cannot actually sell the content of this site. we're his (grateful) guests, not his employees.

I mean, the SG fiasco shows that people here are quite picky when it comes to the owner/editor's choices. a new owner could drive away many of those who provide good content
posted by matteo at 11:09 AM on February 9, 2005


Do you have stats on how many of the 21K registered users are regular participants?
posted by Caviar at 11:10 AM on February 9, 2005


have you people tried moving elsewhere? every few months i get pissed off and look, but nothing else comes close.

i'm surprised there's been no serious offers. maybe this thread will prompt one. imho there's always someone who thinks they can make money from something, and this place is pretty well known.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:12 AM on February 9, 2005


I've looked for communities that compare (mostly during the great blackout of '04), but came up empty. I actually tried to make a go of it at fark for a while (I have a super low user number, which means I rule), but honestly, the level of discourse was so low, I felt like I was participating in a remedial english class a lot of the time.

Not that there aren't a lot of really smart, well spoken people there - but they are in the minority.

Metafilter - nothing compares 2 U.
posted by Quartermass at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2005


My much more realistic option is to figure out some way to make some steady income from the site to the point where I could live off it.
posted by mathowie at 10:48 AM PST on February 9


Why not do Metafilter Personals with Spring Street, like Salon does?
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 11:20 AM on February 9, 2005


I doubt anyone here would want to become a tool for some coporate site.

But just imagine the meta-hilarity if we WERE owned by Pepsi Blue!
posted by Remy at 11:23 AM on February 9, 2005


Metafilter - nothing compares 2 U.

[shaves head, sings along]
posted by orange swan at 11:23 AM on February 9, 2005


Why not do Metafilter Personals with Spring Street

Because the personals are ugly in my opinion, and I think I get something like a dollar per person that signs up is all (they contacted me a couple years ago and were fairly persistent).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:24 AM on February 9, 2005


Why not do Metafilter Personals

http://meeta.metafilter.com
posted by me3dia at 11:26 AM on February 9, 2005


Well, eBay now owns a quarter of Craigslist and it hasn't changed in the least. But I'm still much reassured to read that Matt's intentions for this here wundersite are pretty much exactly what I'd hoped.

Now if only someone can come up with a way for all us to live off of MetaFilter!
posted by fenriq at 11:28 AM on February 9, 2005


Here are stats on folks that have logged in and hit a page on one of the following three sites in the past 7 and 30 day windows:

MetaFilter
Last 7 days: 4615
Last month: 5848

MetaTalk
Last 7 days: 2235
Last month: 3584

Ask MetaFilter
Last 7 days: 2479
Last month: 3694

non-logged in users are hard to judge, but they're many times the registered numbers.

The frontrunning option for me on revenue is trying to convert some of the ~5k members that read metafilter often with more features and doodads, for a few bucks a month.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:29 AM on February 9, 2005


I think we should do a new kind of personals: "MetaMatch", wherein the favorite MeFi posts of each applicant are compared to others falling within a certain range of criteria (age, sex, location), and you get matched up with the users who have the most of the same posts on their own favorites list. Tasty!
posted by taz at 11:33 AM on February 9, 2005


Considering that Matt claims the users own the copyright to their own posts, isn't it legally infeasible for Matt to sell the site? If, for example, Microsoft bought MetaFilter for it's "rich content," aren't I allowed to say "you don't have the right to use my content without paying me so-and-so?" I mean, he can sell the site's domain name, and the trademark (if any) of MetaFilter itself, and the code design, etc.... but it seems like the content is the one thing that's unsellable without the approval of 20,000 people.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:57 AM on February 9, 2005


Matt, here's my head-vise-enriched concept for making some Mefi money for you. It's insane and could never work.

1) Create a separate front page for Mefi Yard Sale or Want Ads.

2) The conditions for this are that it is to help Matt. That's the spirit of it. Participants would have to be interested in helping Matt.

3) People ("Seller") can list incidental items like books or cds that they have but don't really want or need any more.

4) When someone comes along and wants the item(s) listed by a particular user, they place a first-come-first-served bid the the Yard Sale page fpp and then send nominal item cost via Paypal or somesuch to MATT HAUGHEY, _not_ to the person who listed the item(s). Remember, this would be to assist Matt, not for the profit of any user.

5) Once "Buyer" of item(s) sends dough to Matt, Matt confirms receipt of monies either on the Yard Sale fpp page or to "Seller" via email.

6) "Buyer" contacts "Seller" with shipping address via email.

7) "Seller" of item they had but didn't really need anyway then ships item to "Buyer" (at seller's cost, I guess). Both people have helped Matt and Metafilter. "Buyer" got something in return for donation to Mefi.

8) PROFIT!!!
posted by mcgraw at 12:11 PM on February 9, 2005


MeFibay!
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:20 PM on February 9, 2005


See, I think that the one-time $5 fee for new users should be a recurring $1 / month.

And for users that have been here longer than a couple of years, that fee should go up to $5 / month.
posted by bshort at 12:36 PM on February 9, 2005


<mickeyrooney>
I know! Let's put on a show!!
</mickeyrooney>
posted by timeistight at 12:40 PM on February 9, 2005


As someone who sees large corporations pay lots for access and insight on large, established groups of consumers, there are a lot of ways MeFi *could* sell out.

I'll even admit that when studying trend reports, I always follow what people are linking to and interested in as a better indicator than what "trend analysts" say is in with the 18-30 geek/hipster.

All you need is someone with a little marketing BS in them to digest, spin and summarize the content weekly or monthly or whatever and some basic demographics on your user base and you've got a commodity. Meme tracking, trend reporting, whatever you want to call it.

As corporations begin to create more of their own bs blogs, they'll need content other than the "subtle" advertising in order to maintain some relevance. How hard would it be to filter, tag and repackage MeFi for that sort of use?

On the other end, as far as the name and the users -- relationship with a brand, which is what MetaFilter has, is worth a lot of money on its own.

Yeah, all of those things are sick, wrong and horrible. I'll take off my marketing android hat now.
posted by Gucky at 12:42 PM on February 9, 2005


And for users with sub-3000 id's, you should get money, eh, bshort?
posted by Plutor at 12:52 PM on February 9, 2005


Maybe we should pay per post. Or, even better, how about per word? That would cut down the waffle.

If I had to pay for this post I probably wouldn't have bothered.....
posted by lagavulin at 12:54 PM on February 9, 2005


How much bandwidth does Me** use? 500GB/month?
posted by Gyan at 1:09 PM on February 9, 2005


MefiBay and the Trendwatch stuff are all good (but since the site is public, people can already grab the content free and use it as they wish, and probably do)

definitely DoMe for the personals site! ; >
posted by amberglow at 1:16 PM on February 9, 2005


I'd happily renew my account every year for a fee, I think plenty of people would. Maybe Matt should just send annual donation reminder emails, I'd send in some money if I got a picture of Matt holding a puppy and wishing me happy holidays.
posted by spaghetti at 1:17 PM on February 9, 2005


And for users with sub-3000 id's, you should get money, eh, bshort?

No, we should pay more. If you read my post, that's what I was saying.
posted by bshort at 1:32 PM on February 9, 2005


bshort - Why would users who have been around longer pay more? I'm not sure what your reasoning is there.
posted by pikachulolita at 1:36 PM on February 9, 2005


I've said before that I'd pay an annual subscription.

I like the MeFiBay idea, but I think it'd peter out quickly without an incentive for the seller. Perhaps instead of all the proceeds going to Matt, MeFiBay could take a percentage, say 25% of the selling price, with the seller receiving the rest. (Is there auction software available to do this, or would it be a custom job?)
posted by me3dia at 1:37 PM on February 9, 2005


I'd send in some money if I got a picture of Matt holding a puppy and wishing me happy holidays.

img src = mathowie_with_newbabygirl.jpg
posted by fandango_matt at 1:46 PM on February 9, 2005


I'd send in some money if I got a picture of Matt holding a puppy and wishing me happy holidays.

posted by timeistight at 2:12 PM on February 9, 2005


Either that's the funniest thing I've seen in a while or I'm a sick sick man...
posted by rooftop secrets at 2:59 PM on February 9, 2005


It's '70s humour week.
posted by timeistight at 3:30 PM on February 9, 2005


In the past I've tried to order a customized Metafilter jersey (or two...) to no avail. Frankly, I'm willing to pay a pretty ridiculous amount of money for the right two customized shirts.

I'm a consumer whore.
And how!
posted by NortonDC at 3:53 PM on February 9, 2005


I'll buy it for $50.

And some pancakes
posted by delmoi at 4:23 PM on February 9, 2005


definitely DoMe for the personals site! ; >

But what should DoMe's color be? Pink? With little hearts in the background?

I've found springstreet's system to be rather imperonal. Everyone goes into the same system, so there's none of the 'site feeling' there. Farkpersonals is nothing like fark, for example.

DoMe could be like the rest of the site, post an article advertizing yourself, and the rest of us could make fun of you.

If I were running metafilter, I'd probably try setting something like that up, but only because I need a girlfriend.
posted by delmoi at 4:30 PM on February 9, 2005


There are some pretty valuable threads here. There'd be tons of IP issues, but some people might be interested in a 'Best of Metafilter' book/anthology etc.
posted by nixerman at 4:47 PM on February 9, 2005


and copyright issues--whoever did it would need permission from every single member who posted a comment in any of the threads used..
posted by amberglow at 4:49 PM on February 9, 2005


why? google groups has my usenet posts and i'm pretty sure i haven't signed the copyrights over to anyone.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:52 PM on February 9, 2005


nor, for that matter, have i given any special concession/permission to matt, afaik. i post to metafilter and with the expectation it will appear on "this site", but i don't see how that changes if it's bought by the devil himself.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:55 PM on February 9, 2005


oh, sorry, are we talking about books or just changing site ownership? if books, my bad.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:55 PM on February 9, 2005


I want you to live off of the site as well - this way you'll spend time with it, rather than job + PVR + personal sites...man, how much time do you spend on the net every day?

My ideas:
1) a book of askme posts
2) A premium membership. Unlimited posts/day+month vs. the minimal membership ($5)- limited to 1 post/day.

Also have the premium membership see results immediately...where non-premium members see them after 4-5 hours.

This retards the constant reloading/addiction and will help with bandwidth. In other words, if you like the bandwidth/info, pay for it.

3) a $1 fee to ask a question to Ask.Mefi

4) small sidebar banner links rather than the existing sidebar. Let them be paid links.

5) Get the hosting done via one of these links.

Those are the first five I have off of the top of my head.
posted by filmgeek at 7:17 PM on February 9, 2005


I know most of you know about Homestarrunner.com. He makes all his money on t-shirt sales, mug sales.
I'd buy a t-shirt and I'd pay a higher premium, in a heartbeat. Like others have said, nothing compares to this site.
posted by davenportmom at 7:48 PM on February 9, 2005


>There are some pretty valuable threads here. There'd be tons of IP issues, but some people might be interested in a 'Best of Metafilter' book/anthology etc.

>>and copyright issues--whoever did it would need permission from every single member who posted a comment in any of the threads used..


This came up with the "You've got Blog" book that came out a couple of years back. The last chapter was a Metatalk thread that was quite fun and not entirely unclever, but many people did not give their permission for their comments to be used in the book, so the final, published result makes those of us who did give permission look like we were on drugs.

Which may or may not have been the case at the time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:01 PM on February 9, 2005


I've got my eye on you, NortonDC!
posted by onlyconnect at 8:15 PM on February 9, 2005


Go to bed, nothing to see here, move along...
posted by NortonDC at 8:17 PM on February 9, 2005


I'm guessing this has been suggested before, but a profitable premium would be individual "diaries" a la K5. Don't have to read them, people can newsfilter or farkfilter to their heart's content, and a good excuse for not posting this stuff as FPPs. Probably a substantial programming project and bandwidth+space increase in cost.

But say $2 per month for diary privileges, paid up front. Say that 1,000 users took advantage of it. That's $24,000 per year. Really trick them out with all kinds of aggregation-type features (syndicate from other's diaries and MeFi/AskMe) and add tags that people could use to read only certain diary entries from the who sphere and charge double. That's $48,000 per year. 1,000 is probably low for the amount of people who would take advantage of it. At 2,000 users it's not a bad living non-tricked out.

Content management would be a major pain, but give 20 people accounts for free to regulate 100 diaries a week for really nasty stuff.

Just an idea. I like it how it is, but the above idea need not change that, just adds some substructure.
posted by ontic at 10:24 PM on February 9, 2005


As far as grafting personal blogs onto MetaFilter, people have already accomplished that here via their user pages. Frankly, I don't know if anybody's doing it now.
posted by NortonDC at 10:33 PM on February 9, 2005


MeFibay would have interesting content. Monthly traffic of 5,000+ has to have some way of generating quality commerce.

I am happily surprised Craigslist has not changed. It is nice to have sites that are not drowning in graphics.
posted by buzzman at 1:10 AM on February 10, 2005


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