Natural life cycle of...MeFi? April 6, 2007 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Re: progusks' thread, this "natural life cycle of mailing lists" joke has been circulating the Internet since forever, and has some relevance to MeFi these days. I think MeFi passed #4 long before I got here.
posted by Brian James to Etiquette/Policy at 2:35 PM (30 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Yeah, firmly in 6a now. (Not that that's such a bad thing.)
posted by piratebowling at 2:45 PM on April 6, 2007


So, in other words, "I think Metafilter sucks"? Thanks for sharing.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:45 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


And you're both wrong, because if this place was really so bad, people would stop coming, as 6a says (" traffic drops to a doze-producing level of a few minor issues"). But they haven't.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:46 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm holding out for a chart based on the observed natural life cycles of several metafilters. (And Brian James's phrasing could charitably be read as suggesting that Mefi passed the milestone marker into #4 long ago. Though he'd sort of have to clarify that for us to know for sure.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:54 PM on April 6, 2007


Someone needs to find the first flameout.
posted by geoff. at 2:57 PM on April 6, 2007


Put it up to eleven.
posted by Abiezer at 3:01 PM on April 6, 2007


Brian James and piratebowling, please kindly lighten up.
posted by Plutor at 3:15 PM on April 6, 2007


On the other hand, the main page looks really interesting.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:19 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think it scares some people that they can't simply categorize MetaFilter's community into a neatly described lifecycle or other simplification. It's easy to "explain MetaFilter". People have been doing it for years. Back in 2002 people were saying that this place had become stagnant. 5 years later and this place is still humming (albeit with almost entirely different characters). Another five years from now (if Matt still has the patience to keep this place alive), a whole new set of theories will exist to explain this place. But let's be fair; one can only categorize and analyze a lifecycle of a place when it's DEAD. MetaFilter ain't dead. So we're still somewhere in the beginning/middle/end, depending on your perspective.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:26 PM on April 6, 2007


Social entities are complex, I think it's quite possible to delineate a flowchart of sorts to explain the evolution web sites and other social places undergo, but to try and reduce it down to 7 bullet points is simplistic and not terribly informative (people are not wearing enough hats). When an organization gets big enough there are pockets that exhibit behavior that is at least partially independent of the community-at-large, so you can have different subgroups within the large acting out different stages at the same time. That relational bubble chart that was posted a few weeks back was interesting to me because it showed some serious linking to people I was only peripherally aware of, and do you include MeCha in this as it is in many ways a direct outgrowth.
posted by edgeways at 3:36 PM on April 6, 2007


To clarify (if it really matters) I said 6a bcause of the first two points (the purists flame everyone who asks an 'old' question or responds with humor to a serious post; newbies are rebuffed).

Maybe it's just that MeTa is in 6a.

We've clearly got aspects from 4 to 6b going on simultaniously everwhere else.
posted by piratebowling at 3:43 PM on April 6, 2007


Also, sorry I forgot to put my sarcasm tag on my first entry.
posted by piratebowling at 3:44 PM on April 6, 2007


Lifecycle of Metafilter*.

1. Matt creates Metafilter. No one notices or cares.
2. Matt posts almost every thread on Metafilter himself. A few people comment. How they found the site is a mystery to which the answer is lost to the ages.
3. A couple more people join. A sense of community seems to develop, but mostly discussion revolves around cats, scanners, and cats in scanners.
4. Matt starts MeTa. 4 threads in, and someone is already bitching about something they don't like about the place.
4. September 11 happens and shit hits the fan.
5. Roughly a billion people join up.
6. Matt closes new user sign ups.
7. That special breed of invisible MeFite's, called Lurkers, take on several communities of their own.
8. Matt starts AskMe. Many people stop making their own decisions.
9. Eventually, Matt opens new user sign ups for a $5 fee.
10. Profit?
11. All the pre-9-11 users start moaning about how all the n00bs are bringing the quality of the discourse down, citing a recent picture of an elephant taking a dump as an example of this.
12. All the pre-paid sign up users start moaning about how all the new paid users are bringing the quality of the discourse down, whilst defending their decision to post a picture of an elephant taking a dump.
12. Both the pre-9-11 users and the pre-paid sign up users unite in how cool it is to have a lower user number than everyone else.
13. Projects debuts. Self-linkers continue to self-link.
14. Portobello Mushrooms and MySpace self-linkers result in roughly 3 million animated gifs being posted to Metafilter and MetaTalk. Each.
15. Eventually, Matt finds an excellent pretense to ban images.
16. AskMe questions limited to one question every two weeks.
17. A small but vocal subset of users complain about not being able to get a bunch of relatively anonymous strangers to live their lives for them and make all their decisions for them.
18. Music debuts. Cortex finds a whole new meaning to life, to the delight of anyone who like excellent music.
19. Jobs debuts. People get jobs, but continue to read Metafilter from work anyway.
20. This thread happens. Effigy2000 posts this comment. Despite his best efforts, people criticize his historical inaccuracies**, and his referencing of himself in the 3rd person in #20. Effigy2000 dosen't notice, however, as he's back spending time with his girlfriend.

*As understood by a filthy, 26k'er who lurked for ages before paying money for his account.
** Feel free to correct me, or add to this list.

posted by Effigy2000 at 3:45 PM on April 6, 2007 [6 favorites]


I laughed, but to be honest there were a fair few mistakes in there. And referring to yourself in the third person in number 20 is just bad style.
posted by chrismear at 4:03 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


And what news of The Agency?
posted by Olli at 4:08 PM on April 6, 2007


Despite my best efforts against, I've been thinking lately of trying to put together a decent mefi timeline. You're tempting the devil on my shoulder, Effigy2000.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:12 PM on April 6, 2007


To be fair, the massive April 2001 membership increase may have been more important to this site hitting critical mass than the post 9/11 membership increase. And the MiguelCardoso era was pretty significant for this site's direction as well (I think), because he attracted a more social element to the site. And, of course, Dec. 04 and the AskMeFi era, which really solidified the "community" aspect of MetaFilter. I could go on. cortex, that's a great idea to create a timeline, but I would create a subsite on MetaFilter somewhere to engage the community for advice as to what they felt was important. There were a lot of moments here (and eras) and no one person(not even Matt) could name them all.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:31 PM on April 6, 2007


A MeFi timeline would be awesome.
posted by djgh at 4:40 PM on April 6, 2007


I would create a subsite on MetaFilter somewhere to engage the community for advice as to what they felt was important

The wiki would seem a prime candidate for this kind of thing.
posted by chrismear at 5:13 PM on April 6, 2007


cortex: "Despite my best efforts against, I've been thinking lately of trying to put together a decent mefi timeline. You're tempting the devil on my shoulder, Effigy2000."

I thought your recent musical number was an excellent start.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:21 PM on April 6, 2007


Did everyone forget about Kaycee Nicole?
posted by geoff. at 6:33 PM on April 6, 2007


Ok, but where does MeFi rate on The Pritchard Scale?
posted by Eideteker at 7:56 PM on April 6, 2007


When I "explain Metafilter" I do it by specifically referencing three periods of time: Pre-Miguel, Miguel Era, and After Miguel (aka The River of Tears).

There are a few sub-periods (The Settle Years and The Quevedo Experiement being two prominent ones) that I occasionally use in order to make a more specific point, but I generally stick to the big three.

I hope this helps further the discourse!
posted by The God Complex at 8:55 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


(Er, "Experiment")
posted by The God Complex at 8:55 PM on April 6, 2007


This is re: a metatalk thread from yesterday? Really?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:23 PM on April 6, 2007


if this timeline is happening, it'll need its accompanying list of characters.
posted by progosk at 12:49 AM on April 7, 2007


Ten movies streaming across that, that Metafilter, and what happens to your own personal Metafilter? I just the other day got... a Metafilter was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Metafilter commercially.

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over Metafilter. And again, Metafilter is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
posted by moonbird at 6:59 AM on April 7, 2007


Apparently my sense of humor didn't come through!!!!!!!!!!! :)
posted by Brian James at 12:46 PM on April 7, 2007


Apparently!!
posted by hugsnkisses at 10:34 AM on April 8, 2007


Effigy2000 writes "Matt starts MeTa. 4 threads in, and someone is already bitching about something they don't like about the place."

OMG Matt Actually advocated threading at one point.
posted by Mitheral at 1:06 PM on April 12, 2007


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