why does MeFi work, in 500 words or less? May 7, 2008 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Looking for analysis of what works on MeFi, probably a couple of years old, written IIRC by mathowie.

I have this burning desire to help a local blogging community succeed, and I'm trying to help them stop reinventing the wheel/thinking they're the first people to ever deal with online community issues.

So...I have this vague recollection of something that mathowie wrote, maybe on his own blog, maybe a couple of years ago, about the growth or evolution of MeFi. I have searched and searched, but unfortunately I can't remember enough specifics to search well. :( And it may not have been on his blog or here, but somewhere else. To my own astonishment, I don't seem to have it saved in my delicious or in my blog.

If it helps, it may have been something related to powazek's book on designing for community, like a way-later followup.

I just remember it being really thoughtful, and potentially useful for this other group.

Or y'all can tell me that I'm crazy, and making up essays/posts in my damn head. That's okay too. :)
posted by epersonae to MetaFilter-Related at 2:25 PM (29 comments total)

Was it this post from Fortuito.us?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:29 PM on May 7, 2008 [3 favorites]

Was it this post from...

...never mind then.
posted by Kattullus at 2:33 PM on May 7, 2008

you are both teh awesome. thank you! (I was starting to think I'd imagined the whole thing.)
posted by epersonae at 2:37 PM on May 7, 2008

Speaking of which, what happened to fortuito.us? The last post was a year ago. I'm impressed that the Deck is still advertising there! :-p
posted by danb at 3:12 PM on May 7, 2008

MetaFilter works because cortex doused me in gasoline and if I don't keep it working he's going to set me on fire.

I'd be OK with it if he wasn't grinning horribly and flicking that Zippo so much.
posted by baphomet at 3:27 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

It goes without saying that if you want to run a successful community, you have to be extremely patient with people and give them second chances and the benefit of the doubt. It's also vital to the health of the community that you don't make rash decisions or even rational decisions that can appear as if you were acting on impulse.

My peace treaty FPP without a link on the front page was an honest mistake, Matt. I emailed you almost immediately after posting, asking you to stick the first under the fold link onto the front page. When I woke up the next morning to find myself banned it made me cry.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:43 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

The usual result was me looking like an ass and a bunch of members disagreeing with me and a little while later I'd realize I messed up and apologize.

posted by waraw at 4:02 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

This isn't what you asked for, and it's out of print, and it's not by mathowie: Design for Community is by Derek Powazek, has a lot of good advice, and I'm namedropping it here because I wish it was in print again. Also it has an interview with mathowie about Metafilter.
posted by ardgedee at 4:28 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think it's a post Matt made on Fortu—

Oh dammit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:37 PM on May 7, 2008

When I woke up the next morning to find myself banned it made me cry.

Oh, hush, you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:38 PM on May 7, 2008

It's okay, cortex.
posted by danb at 4:40 PM on May 7, 2008

posted by cortex (staff) at 4:51 PM on May 7, 2008

My peace treaty FPP without a link on the front page was an honest mistake, Matt.

I unbanned you soon after and did admit my decision was kind of rash but I thought you were messing with the site purposely at the time. It's tough to tell the difference between a new very enthusiastic user and a new very fucking-around-with-everyone user. If I didn't apologize then I'm sorry about that and consider this a formal apology because yeah years later you're obviously a great member of the community.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:58 PM on May 7, 2008

Speaking of which, what happened to fortuito.us?

That site brought me nothing but pain from every angle and in every way possible. I just wanted to do a little essay site every once in a while and I got the ugliest email of my life after it launched. The few things I posted garnered awful and insulting emails and comments (that I never set to publish) and literally cost me thousands of dollars in business with people that disagreed strongly with something I said. Every essay took me about 8 hours to write and another couple days of work to edit. In the end, the project in the month or two I did it brought me nothing but pain, felt like a job, and sent a barrage of angry blogs linking to me, commenting, and sending me emails so I just lost the motivation to keep going.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:02 PM on May 7, 2008

For what it's worth, I really liked Fortuitous and especially that post. Pity it had to end like that.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 5:18 PM on May 7, 2008

That was *way* more than 500 words. Are these guidelines available as a series of lolcat pictures?
posted by lukemeister at 5:30 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

That's sad, matt. I liked fortuito.us.
posted by frecklefaerie at 6:08 PM on May 7, 2008

Yeah, fortuito.us was well-done. I can't believe you got a bunch of hatemail for that; people are crazy.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:29 PM on May 7, 2008

Oh wow. Yeah, it was a cool site, but I had no idea it was so contentious...in that case, good riddance!
posted by danb at 8:13 PM on May 7, 2008

Hate mail? What? Can you link to something that was theoretically contentious on there? It just looks like handy "this is how you run serious business online" stuff to me... is the neo-Nazi in the early archives somewhere?
posted by blacklite at 9:00 PM on May 7, 2008

That was supposed to be "neo-Nazi writing", not just "neo-Nazi", though if you have one hidden in the archives I can see how that would be controversial too.
posted by blacklite at 9:16 PM on May 7, 2008

That site brought me nothing but pain from every angle and in every way possible.

Wow, that's a shame. I almost never read much on the ol' blog circuit these days, but I really did enjoy what you had to say there, and have linked innumerable times to the superusers post.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:34 PM on May 7, 2008

Yeah, bummer. It was definitely a worthwhile read. I do remember there was a lot of brouhaha about the style sheet (I'm imagining that's where the grief surfaced) but I thought it was all put to bed effectively. Can't imagine what else could have caused such a pantytwisting reaction.
posted by peacay at 11:59 PM on May 7, 2008

That site brought me nothing but pain from every angle and in every way possible.

That really sucks. Reading it has helped me with some job stuff, but since I found the posts long after they'd originally been posted, I didn't even think to leave positive comments. I tend to lurk more on individual blogs. Sorry.
posted by Tehanu at 7:44 AM on May 8, 2008

That's good of you Matt, thanks - I shouldn't have even brought it up.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:59 PM on May 8, 2008

That site brought me nothing but pain from every angle and in every way possible.

This is very surprising and unfortunate.
I consider your essay about advertising as a classic of our time and sent it to many friends and colleagues, as I had done for Community Tips.
This is important work and very much needed.
Most of what is written about community building is crap, mostly because those who write it or give conferences about it have never built a community.

I mean, you are a founder, not only of this community but you are part of these few pioneers of a new breed of media and a new kind of communication. Your experience is invaluable, not only because you "did it" and MetaFilter is a success, but also because, obviously, you have the rare talent and the capacity to think and write clearly about it.

I am not only sorry about your critics, I am pissed off.
Fuck them.
You must not let those assholes win this one.
Fortuitous is important and must continue.
Please reconsider.
posted by bru at 9:07 PM on May 8, 2008

Yeah... it's really astounding that such a fine site caused so much grief. Maybe the essays can be put out in book form...
posted by Kattullus at 6:03 AM on May 9, 2008

Yeah, if people respond with insults when you offer your advice for free, you might want to consider a way to distribute it for a fee. I'm using two of those posts as I outline a grant proposal at the moment. I keep looking for books on these kinds of things, but they either seem out of touch with reality or something that might possibly be partially useful but probably not worth the price. There seems to be an awful lot of fluff in them before they get to the point. There are the books on how to code, and the books on how to design, and the books on what the internet is. I know what the internet is, and I don't need to learn to code, but I could use some helpful advice from someone who's experimented with user-driven sites. I work for a non-profit where most people are entirely clueless about all of this (to the point of not knowing what a podcast is), and I am learning by reading everything written by people who know what they're talking about that I can find. And mostly I find a few essays like these, here and there, completely for free on blogs. They're like little gold nuggets I find if I sift enough. The books that aren't for programmers seem to be mostly filler or assume I want to build a page to sell stuff and need to know what a shopping cart is. I have yet to find a book that describes the rest of it-- why user profiles are good to have, why you want to make user feedback very easy, why you want people to have a way to see how useful or popular their contributions are, strategies for handling moderation and user disagreements. I would pay for a digital or paper book version of essays such as these.
posted by Tehanu at 8:12 AM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

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