the best times at MetaFilter? February 10, 2002 11:51 AM   Subscribe

For newer members, including myself, what were the best times at MetaFilter? Any ‘I remember the good old days’ thoughts that you would like to share? Can we learn anything from this past? Is there any advise that the old guard would like to offer up to us rookies, by way of assuring that this community continues to thrive? We are listening, well I am anyway.
posted by RobertLoch to MetaFilter-Related at 11:51 AM (62 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

The good old days were when there were never 9 posts a day on metatalk.
posted by palegirl at 12:22 PM on February 10, 2002

I am reminded of the episode of Designing Women (I know, how sad am I?), with the line:

"The Good Old Days. They were good. They were old. They were days."

As someone who spends a chunk of time immersed in history up to my ass (insert mental image of choice here), I am always struck at how there is a general trend to polish up the past in one's mind.

I, for one, say that the best days (in general, and that also applies to MetaFilter) are yet to be.

And will all come with a short stack of...well, you know.
posted by ebarker at 12:30 PM on February 10, 2002

Every day is a great day at MetaFilter. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, pretty women in scanty clothing (or fine lads in assless leather pants, take your pick) bring you drinks that never empty, and the short stacks are always piping hot, fluffy, and served with ten kinds of syrup.

If you're not visiting the same MeFi I am, it helps to drink. A lot.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:33 PM on February 10, 2002

palegirl -- In some ways, I enjoy MetaTalk more than MetaFilter. I often find the conversation more interesting and the arguments far more clearly thought out than the free-for-all that is MeFi.

mr_crash_davis -- may I hang out at your place for a while? It's raining here...
posted by ashbury at 12:38 PM on February 10, 2002

My secret occupation is first-comment collector. See, I go to the illustrious older members' user profiles and feast on their tentative, child-like first scribblings on MetaFilter. So earnest, polite, cocky and...insecure, but trying oh so hard to sound, well, hard. It's humbling. It's refreshing. It's probably illegal. But try it! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:43 PM on February 10, 2002

And I miss y2karl, inventor of the consecutive soundbite!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:44 PM on February 10, 2002

I for one don't hate the way MeFi is growing. Sure there are ups and downs, but it's been good on the whole. I was really bored when the “US elections”, and “post Sept. 11 extended analysis” dominated MeFi's main page, it was hard to find threads that interested me, but that didn't mean there weren't any threads that didn't interest me. It was discussed a while back that many good threads had less than 5 comments in them because there was nothing much to say. That's fine you know. A good thread doesn't always have to spawn a 30+ comment discussion.

I've posted a couple of topics that contributed to the noise ratio, but I've even posted a couple (not as many as the “noise” ones) that have added to the signal ratio. I know my comments rarely add anything insightful to the discussion, but you just have to keep trying. I think the best thing people can do is lead MeFi by example, by not only posting good threads, but also making good comments in those good threads. If you want you could always do the following for extra point bonus: If there is a thread that didn't start out well, but has potential to turn into a good thread, rather than bitching about it, make a comment that would salvage the thread.
posted by riffola at 12:49 PM on February 10, 2002

I've posted a couple of topics that contributed to the noise ratio, but I've even posted a couple ... that have added to the signal ratio.

You mean there are two ratios? I thought there was just one, the ratio of signal to noise.

<signal modifier="kinda">
When there was less news, more web, less pancake and more meat, and less meta, more filter.

posted by rodii at 12:54 PM on February 10, 2002

Oops :)
posted by riffola at 1:03 PM on February 10, 2002

Great contributions!
Not being a "genre" fan myself - in fact the frenchified pretensiousness of the word never fails to make me guffaw - I would suggest Patricia Highsmith, Ray Bradbury and Elmore Leonard have pretty much guaranteed their trip through to posterity. Other personal favourites I dearly wish would accompany them are Robert Bloch, Stanley Elkin, P.D.James and Dorothy Sayers.
Let's build a list here and send it on to Mr.Murdoch's Random House as so many of our writers' books are out of print it hurts me even to mention it.

posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:48 AM PST on September 4

or the earliest surviving post from our fearless leader: is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their scanners, or why.
posted by mathowie at 3:03 PM PST

Now do you still pine for the good ol' days?

You know, MeTa is sort of like the therapist's office for MeFi, where MeFi goes 5 times a week and discusses its mother, its feelings about self image, and its strange, almost sexual. obsession with a certain breakfast food.

posted by evanizer at 1:04 PM on February 10, 2002

Syrop, right?
posted by ashbury at 1:08 PM on February 10, 2002

Personally, I'd have to say one of the best times on Metafilter was when Matt got sent to Hawaii on business. We all tagged along for what we assumed was going to be a relaxing, tropical vacation. Little did we know that we'd stumble on a cursed tikki idol! We got through it ok (too bad about that wipe out, Rodii), and managed to have some good times before we left.

There was also the time where jpoulus and owillis were trapped in the back of a Mr. Horton's bicycle shop, but I wont go into THAT.
posted by Doug at 1:49 PM on February 10, 2002

what ju' talkn' `bout, owillis?
posted by dong_resin at 2:14 PM on February 10, 2002

I've got a little plaque hanging on the wall that says: "These ARE the good old days". I remembered writing the date on it when I bought it, just now checked it and it says "1973"...So it's a universal question, not exclusive to MetaFilter, but back on subject: These ARE the good old days.
posted by Mack Twain at 2:18 PM on February 10, 2002

All kidding aside, I agree with that sentiment totally, Mack.

Also, as I read the archives, of course it's different, but if the tone of MetaFilter stayed static, it'd get hideously boring real quick.
posted by dong_resin at 2:27 PM on February 10, 2002

[hikes pants up to armpits; curmudgeonly voice]

I remember the good old days on MeFi. I'd send my posts in by carrier pigeon, and Matt would rapell down the mountain chiseling the text in by hand for all to see.
Back then the pancakes had to be made from scratch, dammit. y2karl was called y1karl back then.....and we were thankful dammit.

[end curmudgeon-ity]

Seriously, there were no good ol days. As far as I'm concerned, we're just now hitting our stride.
posted by jonmc at 2:43 PM on February 10, 2002

what ju' talkn' `bout, owillis?

Once I wrote a check in Toys 'R' Us and in a fit of comedy brilliance, wrote the R backwards just the way it is on the sign. I handed it over and waited for the delighted guffaw I knew would be coming. Instead, the clerk looked at me with the eyes of a thousand-year-old zombie whose soul had been devoured by the Elder Gods.

"Oh, seen it before, huh?"

"Only about ten times a day."

That's the last thing I remember before waking up in the pink gloom of the Barbie aisle with giraffe prints all over my swollen, battered face.
posted by rodii at 3:02 PM on February 10, 2002


Well then, hear the one about the two cannibals eating the clown?
One turns to the other and says "hey does this taste funny to you?"


posted by dong_resin at 3:07 PM on February 10, 2002

Geez, instant dong!
posted by rodii at 3:09 PM on February 10, 2002

Just add porn.
posted by dong_resin at 3:11 PM on February 10, 2002

Just because skallas is being somewhat sarcastic doesn't mean he's right. Since the question is inherently personal, I have a personal answer.

MetaFilter's golden age was early to mid 2000. The links then were all over the map: some pudding (entertaining 'net related stuff), some web geek stuff, some politics, some religion, some news. It definitely wasn't MetaCNN, which is certainly the case today.

I may read two or three links a day on the site now, which is a far cry from two years ago, when nearly everything posted was interesting in some way and the comments in threads rarely totalled over 20.

Today, MetaFilter is an example of the tragedy of the commons. Too many people pulling limited resources in directions the site isn't capabable of handling. This is true in literal ways -- many more server outs -- and metaphorical -- the MetaFilter identity crisis.
posted by raaka at 3:30 PM on February 10, 2002

I would say the golden days were anything before the 'demise' of Kaycee Nicole.
posted by bunnyfire at 3:31 PM on February 10, 2002

What rodii said, resin-boy...

Oh look, some fools to be pitied. Please excuse me...
posted by owillis at 3:37 PM on February 10, 2002

(Miguel -- the best debut comment of any member ever was tomplus2's. I don't think I'll ever forget that comment -- I had a 'who is this guy?' response & checked his profile to discover, to my surprise, that it was his first ever post.)
posted by palegirl at 4:01 PM on February 10, 2002

Evanizer, you sly dog, you'd better not bring up that thread with mathowie's first comment, which you've been secretly posting to in a bold attempt to appropriate MetaFilter's most historical thread for the gay TFF community. We're on to you, son! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:39 PM on February 10, 2002

Remember that time we stole the Volkswagen and drove in into the Dean's....

..ah, maybe it's too early to start embellishing.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:57 PM on February 10, 2002

I think raaka's got it right, if you really want to know what "the old timers" think. I remember that time as being amazed on a near-daily basis that a big group of smart, extremely conscientious people showed up to post all sorts of things under the sun. Everything was worth reading, and currently I'm lucky if I click into half the threads in a day.

Nowadays, the same thing happens, just on a much smaller scale, and there's a large crowd of chatty voices. You almost have to shout to be noticed or acknowledged some days, and instead of everyone quieting down so we can hear the conscientious ones, more people have taken to shouting to be heard.

I'm not saying this in a "you should all be ashamed of yourselves! ASHAMED!" but to simply say that's how things are now, and that's the bulk of feedback I get from people that have a lot of good things to say but aren't saying them here anymore.

I don't want to start the nth "how are we going to fix metafilter" thread, because I don't know what the answer is. I don't think it's that I should delete more, or limit people's comments, or wield a hard nosed approach or shut off everything for a few weeks. I just don't know, so in the absence, I'll keep watching it and as soon as I think of a good way to improve things, I'll give it a try.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:08 PM on February 10, 2002

The good old days were exactly whenever so-and-so made an account

My feelings exactly ;) No, but the truth is there are good days and bad days and quantity has very little to do with quality. If MetaFilter produced one good link and one good thread a day it would still stand out. And it does do that.
Time is a very precious thing and life is interesting. We all have people we love, careers, things to do, our own passions(and even blogs)and necessities. The fact that so many of us keep coming here - in the end because we want to be with a lot of others like us - is surely the best sign of health there is.

Although the stern attitude here means every small misdemeanour is called out and decried the fact remains that it is amazing that the great majority not only behave but do their damn best to contribute in a meaningful way.Freedom makes MetaFilter great. And the freedom to criticize the abuses of freedom guarantee it will always be interesting. There's nothing to fix, as long as we all keep on thinking there's everything to fix.

It's expensive, sure, but it's unique to a hell of a lot of very different people. What's not to love?!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:48 PM on February 10, 2002

Remember when I could troll post about race and white privilege without being accused of trolling?
posted by sudama at 8:15 PM on February 10, 2002

MetaFilter's golden age was early to mid 2000. The links then were all over the map: some pudding (entertaining 'net related stuff), some web geek stuff, some politics, some religion, some news. It definitely wasn't MetaCNN, which is certainly the case today.

Doesn't it seem likely that the higher proportion of news-related MetaFilter threads in recent months is related to the fact that the wider population in general has been following the news more closely since Sept. 11? (Simplistic? Yes. But not everything has to be rocket science, y'know. ;)

(And that raises an interesting question, of course: Has there been a slow and steady increase of news-related threads since MetaFilter's inception, or have news-related threads specifically proliferated since last fall?)

I mean, I share the opinion (since we don't have the actual demographics) that your average MetaFilter member (whatever that means) is better read and educated, more curious, more aware of events, etc. (as well as more tech-savvy, blah blah blah) than the average citizen -- but even a veteran news-and-politics junkie like me has been more into the news and political happenings since 9/11.

Your thoughts? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

posted by verdezza at 11:35 PM on February 10, 2002

Remember when I could troll post about race and white privilege without being accused of trolling?

When exactly the hell was that? :)
posted by owillis at 11:57 PM on February 10, 2002

On review, I realized that I could better flesh out what I was suggesting two posts above.

Namely, that in the higher concentration of news items we see on these pages of late, MetaFilter is simply reflecting the culture in which we live, as it has all along -- and there's nothing especially regrettable about that.

Said another way: It's understandable to want to go back and live in the world as it was pre-Sept. 11. Lacking the ability to do that, we seek to escape from the more intense world in which we now find ourselves by turning to those resources that have dependably provided us with diversion in the past. One of those is MetaFilter. (I know, it's always been a place for serious discussion, not just sh*ts-and-giggles; please humor me, I'm almost done. :) Only MetaFilter has changed along with the times. And that it has, I would argue, is more of a strength than any perceived deficiency.

Said yet another (!) way: If you aren't as happy with MetaFilter as you used to be, maybe what you really don't like is the way the world has changed.

Okay, not that I've beaten that extremely dead horse beyond all recognition ("What the... good GOD! Is that even a mammal?!"), time for bed.
posted by verdezza at 12:12 AM on February 11, 2002

(oops! "'now' that I've beaten this extremely dead horse," etc., not "not") [sheepishly shrinks away]
posted by verdezza at 12:16 AM on February 11, 2002

verdezza, I don't think it can be written off as simple escapism.

In early 2000, there were simply less people. Much of the problems as I see it are standard tragedy of the commons types of things, now that there are so many people, there are too many comments to keep track of. A small percentage of people have always used humor on the site, but with the current population levels that leads to exhausting threads filled with little in-jokes and people trying to one-up each other in the giggles department. It's easier to make a joke than write a well-thought out post. Again, in moderation humor is fine, it's just that given so many people, it's often a bit much. Also, now that the site has history, people refer back to the site often. People talk about other members a good deal, which I don't personally think adds much of anything to the site besides noise, namely noise about ourselves.

Going back to spring 2000, the site was hitting a good stride and was highly readable. You can't simply go back to the archives and start picking dates, you had to be here back then, seeing how the site was good day after day. I think it's just that there are too many people now. I can't read half of the site now. I don't even click into probably a third of the threads (once I click in, I at least skim everything, so each thread equals about 5-10 minutes of time skimming/reading). Of the stuff I see, a lot of it is people talking past each other. People call each other "troll" about every three seconds now, and overall, where there was once intelligent debate there is now dreck.

I'm kind of burned out on it, and my inbox of people begging to be let in doesn't help much. However, I'll continue working on things and trying to make positive changes where necessary.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:10 AM on February 11, 2002

Thanks for the feedback, Matt.

I hope you didn't take what I had to say as criticism or complaint, though, because I do want you to know that I'm a very satisfied customer (previous "I have a love/hate relationship with MetaFilter" comments notwithstanding -- especially since personality conflicts were behind those comments, as opposed to anything within your control). (My bolding those couple of sentences above was about getting noticed, BTW; I wasn't angry. :)

I'll definitely take your word for it when you say (I'm paraphrasing) "you had to be there" in terms of having a feel for what MetaFilter used to be like. I did think about going back through the threads to try to get such a sense before I posted my comments above -- but I didn't think about it for very long before coming to the same conclusion you did.

That must be tough, balancing how much pleasure you used to get out of this site with what's it's become and where you'd like it to be... and then dealing with all the people who want in at the same time -- people you'd have welcomed eagerly not long ago, but who may now prove more problematic than not. You created this thing that gives a lot of us joy, and yet it can lead to stressing you out! No fair, no fair. Thanks, again, for carrying all of this on your shoulders.

I'm sure it's been asked before, but have you considered making any inactive posters non-members? I'd think there'd be a ton of inactive members, given that you have -- what? 13,000+ members? -- and yet how frequently I see the same names popping up. (Although I understand that, yeah, you'd probably still have the "too many users" problem even if you did de-list (dis-member? eww) some, since the issue is active members, not total members.)


Well anyhow, for what it's worth, I decided a couple days ago that I couldn't live without this place. So I'm here as long as... well, that's up to you, isn't it? ;)
posted by verdezza at 3:40 AM on February 11, 2002

I would say the golden days were anything before the 'demise' of Kaycee Nicole.

Naah, the golden days were the 'demise' of Kaycee Nicole. Dozens of people working through a baffling mystery in real time, a mystery that grew out of the very medium and form (the web, blogging) that we loved... nothing else has matched that intensity. Even the days after 9-11 were just a MeFi version of discussions going on everywhere else. The Kaycee saga felt like it was happening right here and now, and this was the place to be.
posted by rory at 3:50 AM on February 11, 2002

Yeah rather than a 'how do we fix metafilter' I was more curious to know how the long standing members felt about the past. I have no frame of reference that allows me to judge MF in its present state, and am interested in what led us to this point.

It blows my mind to think that this place could still be around in 10 years time, and that I may have been connect to it for that long. I mean how do you chart the history of a place like this? What measurements can you use?
posted by RobertLoch at 3:57 AM on February 11, 2002

Interesting, rory. I switched off during that whole Kaycee Nicole thing, and basically ignored it. Just saying - different strokes for etc.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:05 AM on February 11, 2002

I know what you mean, stavros - I did the same with the camgirls; skipped it at the time, only read the thread months later when people kept referring to it. (But I'm glad I did - kindall's impassioned post on the MeTa camgirls thread is an all-time classic.)

As for 'MeFi now' vs. 'MeFi then': after following all of the MeTa self-analysis for the past few weeks to the point where it felt like standing on the shores of Atlantis as the waves rolled in... I agree with ben franklin.
posted by rory at 4:36 AM on February 11, 2002 [1 favorite]

doh.. i came here around the kaycee nicole incident.. i didn't know who she was or what the commotion was about, but that just happened to be the time.. and though i bring it up everytime, i still don't understand this e/n concept.
posted by lotsofno at 5:26 AM on February 11, 2002

mmmmm...the good ole days.
posted by dangerman at 7:07 AM on February 11, 2002

Matt had the right feel for what the difference was.. smaller group, not all concerned about yelling to be heard. If someone didn't have anything constructive to add, they just didn't post as opposed to the one-liners that get interspersed in all the threads here that enevitably end up derailing a thread.

When I used to read a thread, I would read every comment. Because every comment added something, even if it was about

Perhaps its the change in style and atmosphere that is the reason why there are less than 5 people who have numbers under 300 that are still around in some semi-regular way.

I liked it better when the front page didn't change so much. Sorry, but I don't need the latest news headlines. I can go to cnn or other 'late breaking news' sites to get that.

I liked it better when some of the links relegated lately to metatalk used to be metafilter front page fodder.

I liked it better when threads didn't die because you couldn't find them 12 hours later because so many posts went on the front page and drove it so far down no new people could find it to comment on it the first time, let along prolong an interesting discussion.

posted by rich at 7:15 AM on February 11, 2002

If someone didn't have anything constructive to add, they just didn't post as opposed to the one-liners that get interspersed in all the threads here that enevitably end up derailing a thread.

Take a look at the thread a couple posts above this one. How many comments in here are debating the posting of comments for other people? How many are self-referential, pointless chat?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:47 AM on February 11, 2002

I've spoken out before as a good-old-days fogey — and I agree fervently that this was a better community when it was smaller — but I'd just like to add now that this is the best community of this size that I've ever seen; something extraordinary is still happening here.

Here's my suggestion for today: just two categories, one for links to interesting Web sites and one for links to and discussion of current events, the two ideally on separate servers — or, move the DB to its own server, if that would distribute the load better.

I know this would take a fundraising push. Hey, I wonder: if the nav menu's "Donate" was changed to "Pay Your Dues" on each member's monthly anniversary of joining, how many members would voluntarily PayPal $10 (or whatever) each month?
posted by nicwolff at 10:13 AM on February 11, 2002

Uh, not PayPal with the bad UI, Amazon with the good one-clickiness. I knew that.
posted by nicwolff at 10:15 AM on February 11, 2002

My opinion is that a vast majority of the FPPs are made so that the person can see their name on metafilter. There is a difference between coming across something that you would like to share and discuss with a community and going out and searching for anything that you think might cause discussion, and forcing it upon metafilter.

Metafilter is a community weblog, but there are a handful of members who seem to feel the need to post for posting their name sake. If you look at some of their profiles, it looks like their week is incomplete if they haven't barfed something up here. My view on this is that it eggs on others to go find stories ripped from the front page of CNN, Fark and the Guardian (I mean, who would ever be able to find those).
posted by jonah at 10:40 AM on February 11, 2002

Perhaps its the change in style and atmosphere that is the reason why there are less than 5 people who have numbers under 300 that are still around in some semi-regular way.

No, that's not it. There's a concept known as "churn" that affects everything that people have to sign up for and/or participate in, whether it be a magazine subscription, the yoga class down at your local YMCA, or an online community like MeFi. Most simply put, "churn" means that a lot of people that sign up for something don't stick around very long. They subscribe to the magazine, decide they don't like it and don't renew a year later. They go to the yoga class a few times and decide it's stupid or it hurts their back or yadda yadda yadda, and stop showing up after the first two or three sessions. And they sign up for the online community, poke around for a little while, decide it's not for them and leave. And it doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the magazine, yoga class or online community. It's just one of those goofy statistics of human nature.

The numbers tend to be bad enough for magazines, which can get a little over 50% churn in a single year. (This is why they all have to advertise constantly for new subscribers, filling each issue with 15 postcards, putting ads on TV offering that swanky clock radio with every new subscription, etc, even though their overall circulations tend to stay relatively stable from year to year. They may reach 150,000 people year after year, but it's never the same 150K.) But for online communities, they particularly suck. The two times I've ever been privy to the data for online discussion sites, they all showed that ~85% of the people that sign up are gone within 30 days, never to return. Over 50% are gone within 72 hours. Interestingly, the numbers were almost exactly the same even though one site was pay-to-play and the other was free like MeFi. (When I ran a number of mailing lists, the numbers were pretty much the same for me too.)

And churn isn't just about those that try it and don't like it. Just like you may subscribe to magazine X for three or four years and then get bored with it and drop it, you can be active on MeFi for months or years and then simply decide you've said about all you have to say. Or your circumstances can change; maybe your new job doesn't let you surf the web at work. Maybe you fall over dead. Anything can happen.

So sure, some of those missing first 300 left because they think MeFi changed somehow, in a negative way. But the vast majority of them just drifted away, or never posted more than once or twice in the first place. If and when we ever hit 20K members, more than one person will undoubtedly notice that "no more than 15 or 20 of those with numbers under 5000 ever even post any more." And they'll be right. But it won't have much to do with the quality of Mefi.

posted by aaron at 10:41 AM on February 11, 2002

Stupid p tags. I'm working on it Matt, I'm working on it. Hard habit to break.
posted by aaron at 10:42 AM on February 11, 2002

What's a p tag?
posted by bunnyfire at 10:46 AM on February 11, 2002

It's how a guy Ps. It demonstrates his P-ness, if you will.
posted by kindall at 11:12 AM on February 11, 2002

You know, <p> tags. Matt's programmed MeFi to translate simple carriage returns into HTML paragraph breaks, but I keep typing them in manually out of force of habit, because two other sites I frequent require them if your don't want your post to be one giant morass. Thus some ... okay, a LOT ... of my posts end up with a bunch of blank lines at the end, such as the one four responses above.
posted by aaron at 11:27 AM on February 11, 2002

oh yeah....

tags......I knew that.

posted by bunnyfire at 11:50 AM on February 11, 2002

Amazing. As it refers to the good old days, please see the previous 5 messages. And Matt's evaluation of my previous statement about posting, and relevance to the topic at hand. Sorry, aaron, but really - send Matt an e-mail apologizing or start a new metatalk thread all about the evils of p tags.

This is just a simple example of how the attitude about posting and comments have changed over time, I think. Less is more, people.
posted by rich at 1:49 PM on February 11, 2002

Sorry, aaron, but really - send Matt an e-mail apologizing or start a new metatalk thread all about the evils of p tags.

and what's doubly ironic about the last few comments is that you called aaron out on something that is ultimately of little to no consequence. it could only have been better if you'd started a metatalk thread about it yourself. and the irony continues, as i call you on on something that is ultimately of little to no consequence. IT NEVER ENDS.

and another wonderful irony: i just defended aaron!

my lowly idea on how to give mefi a reality check: shut down metatalk for a few days. it sounds like it would work against the goal of making this place a little better, but it seems like if people didn't have a place for making the snarky little "um, so and so did this... is that okay?" posts, maybe the atmosphere would lighten up for a change.

or maybe it'd be like announcing the temporary closure of the police department. who knows. "sweet, horrible freedom!"
posted by pikachulolita at 2:33 PM on February 11, 2002

posted by feelinglistless at 2:40 PM on February 11, 2002

posted by Kafkaesque at 2:58 PM on February 11, 2002

MeFi reality check? How about each member gets thirty or forty posts per calendar year; if they use them all up in a month or two, that's it. So they'll have to think good and hard about whether that post is worth it.

Then if you really want to crank up the pressure, make that posting limit to apply to MeFi + MeTa combined.

And if you really, really want to cut the chatter, bring in a commenting limit as well. Not a per-day limit; a per month or year limit, so people can go overboard occasionally if it's something they're passionate about.

Having said this I don't know if I like the idea myself, but it'd kill MetaChat dead.
posted by rory at 3:17 PM on February 11, 2002

Pikachulolita's idea about closing down MeTa for a few days in not at all lowly; it's spot-on. I was just thinking the same thing earlier today. (Moral: When you get an idea, post it, lest you become Elisha Gray to pikachulolita's Alexander Graham Bell! <g>) She's absolutely right, IMHO, that much (most?) of the collective ennui around here is a direct result of the self-policing concept gone wildly out of control. (Without oversight, all police eventually become the 1991-era LAPD.)

I'd suggest turning off MeTa for about a week, except for the bugs category. And, while I know this would not be fun for Matt, during that time he should implement absolute zero tolerance for any attempt to get around the missing MeTa by making similar posts in MeFi threads themselves. If anyone does, and anyone responds, all such posts in any MeFi thread should be yanked. And he should also prepare a form letter reply that he can send to anyone that tries to email him directly in order to bitch about something. (He could, of course, continue dealing with truly serious problems, like intentional trolls, as he always has; you don't need MeTa for that.

It'd only be for a week, so what could it hurt? My guess is tensions and dissatisfactions would be way down at the end of that week, because we'd be once again be spending all our time on MeFi and none of it on continuous MeTa infighting about (usually) spurious complaints.

As for thread drift, I'm with pikachu on that too. The occasional one-liner or slightly-off-topic comment doesn't completely derail a thread; even if it causes a thread branch, the rest of the tree is still up there for everyone else to continue discussing.
posted by aaron at 3:40 PM on February 11, 2002

pikachulolita.. actually, what I was trying to convey was that the non-topical one-liners (and longer) posts within a thread have become more of the rule than the exception. I think it contributes to the derailing of a thread (even tangently) and a degrading of the value of the discussion the thread was involved in.

As this happens, threads become less valuable and I think you see less care being taken in front page posts being made as a result. (perhaps it's only a casual relationship, but I think the general attitude that is commonly seen in the lack of care of topic discussion is mirrored in front page posting. ) It's a shout fest just for people to hear themselves saying anything instead of taking the time to think if they need to say anything.

For 'thread branching', it is extremely uncommon for a thread that branches to ever get back on topic, and non-existant for it to have the same fevor it had before the branching.
posted by rich at 9:48 AM on February 12, 2002

posted by feelinglistless at 4:04 PM on February 12, 2002

feeelings......noooothing mooore than feeeeeelings.......
posted by bunnyfire at 4:43 PM on February 12, 2002

The latter half of 2000 was a fun time on Metafilter. The pool of active users was small enough to support a feeling of social interconnectedness, but large enough to fuel some thorough and active discussions. The dot-com economy was faltering but hadn't crashed, the weblog community was hitting its stride, and Metafilter felt like a semi-global community of interesting, thoughtful, creative people. It wasn't the only point of connection, either; many of the active participants on Metafilter had their own sites, and some of them were community-oriented places. Metafilter felt like a place you could go to see where the 'net was going. There was a great energy in the end of the Internet boom and Metafilter attracted more than its share.

Many things have changed since then. As Metafilter has grown, the concentration of creative web folk has diluted. It can be good to see the more diverse crowd raise opinions that might never have been considered in the past, but it's harder to feel that I have something in common. Diversity wards off stasis, but a shared point of view means you don't have to go back to first principles every time you want to discuss something. I think the web-economy collapse changed things, too; there was a lot of "gee, look at this new awesome site" that doesn't seem to happen anymore, and a lot of people who had time to sit around and make up neat stuff back then are either unemployed now or have to spend more time doing less interesting work. There's less to link to that isn't news, it seems.

It's change, of course, and it's clearly change in a direction that makes a great many people happy. So that's good. And I still enjoy Metafilter and even sometimes participate in discussions. But I miss the social linkage and the feeling of being on the cutting edge.

posted by Mars Saxman at 12:45 AM on February 13, 2002

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