"Matt Haughey (Metafilter founder) at Gel 2010" May 26, 2010 9:00 PM   Subscribe

Hey, neat, it's mathowie giving a 20min talk about Metafilter at the 2010 Gel conference

Looks like a fun job, aside from the 723 new emails that apparently need to be dealt with.
posted by gwint to MetaFilter-Related at 9:00 PM (103 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

I always razz him about his email count, but he sends them to his regular email and so doesn't really check them on MeFi.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:02 PM on May 26, 2010


And about ten minutes in you can see a redesign that never launched in 2007.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:13 PM on May 26, 2010


posted by mathowie about ten minutes in you can see a redesign that never launched in 2007

*pout*
posted by mattdidthat at 9:18 PM on May 26, 2010


Haha! Not that redesign but another one (that was actually done in 2008, not 2007).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:26 PM on May 26, 2010


That was interesting. Takes the crowd a few minutes to warm up; you made some funny comments in the first few minutes that were met with silence. But you must have won them over cause they started cracking up at everything after that.

So the masses don't dig the professional white background, huh?
posted by amro at 9:27 PM on May 26, 2010


My thinking going into it was the "make sexy time fun with" phrase was funny and worth a laugh, but every other laugh surprised me.

Also keep in mind about 300-400 people were staring at me in this sort of auditorium/pit so it took me several minutes to calm down and reduce my nervousness.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:38 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


welcome back mathowie | 723 new messages
posted by iconomy at 9:41 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm a big fan of Mark Hurst and his work. Watched the video first thing this morning, as soon as I saw it posted. Awesome.
posted by yiftach at 9:47 PM on May 26, 2010


From the "YOU CAN'T POST NOW" page: Please see the About page for more information on posting rights. If you feel this was in error, try logging out and back in. If you absolutely must post another link within 24 hrs, email me the post for approval.

Could keep your email count down by shifting the link at "email me" to one of the other mods? :)
posted by zarq at 9:47 PM on May 26, 2010


"Mee-Fie." Settled.
posted by mintcake! at 9:48 PM on May 26, 2010 [17 favorites]


HA! "Is there anything in this relationship to salvage?"

"NOOOOOOOOOO!" :D
posted by zarq at 9:58 PM on May 26, 2010


This is interesting - thanks for posting. It's sad to think that I don't check meta very often so could easily have missed it.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 10:03 PM on May 26, 2010


That was a pretty awesome talk. :) Thanks for sharing it with us!
posted by zarq at 10:09 PM on May 26, 2010


I got all giddy at the end!
posted by scody at 10:09 PM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I thought the bit about people selling their accounts on ebay was really interesting.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:10 PM on May 26, 2010


"Mee-Fie." Settled.

You weren't listening close enough. He also said that those of us pushing the boundaries are the ones worth listening to.
posted by ODiV at 10:10 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, awesome talk Matt.
posted by ODiV at 10:12 PM on May 26, 2010


Meep Beep.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:12 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]




Neat talk. You really dodged a bullet there on ask.

What was up with the name tags? It looks like they expect you to get lost at the zoo.
posted by boo_radley at 10:18 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The name tags have the full schedule printed on them, making them kind of large. I really should have taken it off before going on.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:30 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


"A social network for not-friends." I like that. Seriously, that's quite fitting.
posted by koeselitz at 10:45 PM on May 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


ODiV: You weren't listening close enough. He also said that those of us pushing the boundaries are the ones worth listening to

He wasn't talking about you.
posted by desjardins at 10:48 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great talk, and the ending was lovely -- that Road Runner thread was new to me. (good thoughts your way, scody.)

"Mee-Fie." Settled.

Would it were so, but I now realise that those tedious hours reading abstruse French critical theory on agency and authorial intent were all leading up to this thread. Sort of.
posted by holgate at 10:49 PM on May 26, 2010


How is it that I've never read a single one of those threads?
posted by koeselitz at 10:59 PM on May 26, 2010


You know what'd make this site perfect? Badges.
posted by item at 11:03 PM on May 26, 2010


Badges?
posted by juv3nal at 11:22 PM on May 26, 2010


Awesome job Matt!
posted by artlung at 11:33 PM on May 26, 2010


Badges? We don't need no stinking badges.
posted by jewzilla at 11:34 PM on May 26, 2010


doh
posted by jewzilla at 11:35 PM on May 26, 2010


Hah, that was a great talk Matt.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:36 PM on May 26, 2010


Mee-Fie Bee-Fie...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:41 PM on May 26, 2010


Better than the 723 messages was the fact that in the process of his screenshotting it expanded slowly up to 726.

Badgers?!
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:57 PM on May 26, 2010


Also regarding that 2008 design, I think it's not that it's professional/unprofessional as much as it is brand/no brand. Especially because you were monitoring revenue specifically, what matters isn't the quality of the design so much as it is what said design is selling to an audience.

MetaFilter's a really strong brand on the Internet. I mean, it has a reputation for certain things, like moderated content, beanplating, a certain community togetherness, and it's been around for longer than just about any other community online. So the sorts of people that go to Ask MetaFilter aren't people that are just looking for a Q/A site. They're primarily going for a site that's part of that MetaFilter umbrella. And the white-on-solid-color is what creates that visual brand.

The professional white design looked nice, but it didn't look like MetaFilter. If I had to start a brand-new site I'd go with that one (and let unique UI quirks pop up as the site grew), but for a site that's gone through that 10-year gestation period a fresh new look kills a whole lot of legacy.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:14 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow. That was really good.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:15 AM on May 27, 2010


So the sorts of people that go to Ask MetaFilter aren't people that are just looking for a Q/A site.

Well, we tested people coming from a Google search to Ask MetaFilter who had never ever before seen *.metafilter.com, and split those into the old design and a new design. So really, these were clueless wanderers that hadn't ever heard of the community looking at it for the first time (this accounts for something like 65% of all traffic to the server, people that only look at one page and have never been here before).

So we really were testing fresh eyes on the site for people that had no preconceived notions, and still got some major differences in click through rates enough that the new design would make payroll tough to hit.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:05 AM on May 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I really enjoyed this, thanks!!!
posted by iamkimiam at 1:23 AM on May 27, 2010


I'm with kim (i am) on this one, really great.
posted by iamabot at 1:34 AM on May 27, 2010


Amazing presentation!
posted by ellieBOA at 2:28 AM on May 27, 2010


*gets pushed around by the boundary*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:28 AM on May 27, 2010


one of the most successful and vibrant online communities in the world

HELLYEAH!

thanks for thinking this up, matt, and then making it happen!
posted by msconduct at 4:38 AM on May 27, 2010


A good talk. Reflects well on Ed Helms' community-building skills.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:56 AM on May 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I love that metafilter is about creating a community, rather than maximizing profit or users.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 4:59 AM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Great. Thanks, Matt.
posted by fixedgear at 5:06 AM on May 27, 2010


That was great. Really interesting, especially the part about the redesign getting 30% less ad revenue. I wonder if it's as simple as users being used to tuning-out banner ads in the sidebar since they're focused on the main content of the page, vs the ad actually being between the main post content and the comments, so your eyes have to pass over it as you scan down the page.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:20 AM on May 27, 2010


That proposed redesign would have gotten you banned from the site Matt
posted by wheelieman at 5:27 AM on May 27, 2010


I like what Matt said about visual design not always winning. If I had to draw a personification of Metafilter, it would be an older person with young heart, sipping cocktails on the deck of an old mansion in ratty housecoat as they regale a group of friends with occasionally insane, but insightful comments.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:32 AM on May 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


You said it yourself, Matt -- the "new" design looks like every other site on the web, so your eyeballs just slide right over it. Ugly is better.
posted by Jeanne at 5:34 AM on May 27, 2010


Think Ann Bancroft as Ms. Dinsmoor in 1998's Great Expectations.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:38 AM on May 27, 2010


When you're a "nerdy, Massachusetts suburban dad" (as Jessamyn so perfectly put it) and a room full of people you've never met in New York City cheers at a video of your son wearing your latest crazy-obsessive project, it's kind of... kind of... I just don't know. Surreal, maybe. Really brings home the whole "power of the internet" thing.

FWIW: the music idea was all mine, baby.
posted by bondcliff at 6:00 AM on May 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Does this mean Sam Brown of Exploding Dog is MetaFilter's own mathowie?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:01 AM on May 27, 2010


That was a great talk. I feel like I should direct people to it whenever they ask me what the hell metafilter is.
posted by piratebowling at 6:22 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Vimeo doesn't work for me at.. um.. work, and I don't do much internetting at home, so I'll just have to imagine how awesome this is.
posted by owtytrof at 6:24 AM on May 27, 2010


owtytrof: I'll just have to imagine how awesome this is

Just imagine an ice cream made of love.
posted by Kattullus at 6:46 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: real sentences and people having points and stuff.

Thanks for posting this. I haven't met Matt yet, but I had a really nice moment there watching this, feeling grateful for the privilege of enjoying the space he's created. More than any other thing I've seen or read about him, this gave me a sense of who he is and how the site reflects his character in a lot of ways - grounded, informal, but smart, content-rich, pragmatic, values-driven, and humorously low-key. Very cool!
posted by Miko at 6:50 AM on May 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


Well done, Matt.
posted by fake at 7:00 AM on May 27, 2010


Brandon Blatcher: "I like what Matt said about visual design not always winning. If I had to draw a personification of Metafilter, it would be an older person with young heart, sipping cocktails on the deck of an old mansion in ratty housecoat as they regale a group of friends with occasionally insane, but insightful comments"

This is me, except for the housecoat, which I assume BB threw in as a red herring to avoid stalking charges, which really is just stalking 101.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:16 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "I like what Matt said about visual design not always winning. If I had to draw a personification of Metafilter, it would be an older person with young heart, sipping cocktails on the deck of an old mansion in ratty housecoat as they regale a group of friends with occasionally insane, but insightful comments"

This is me, except for the mansion, which I assume BB threw in as a red herring to avoid stalking charges, which is really just stalking 101.
posted by handee at 7:42 AM on May 27, 2010


Strangely enough, I'm loathe to take the joke further and make light of stalking, due to Metafilter's influence.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 AM on May 27, 2010


At's a good lad, you mind your manners.
posted by Grandma Metafilter at 8:08 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


One of the things that totally put me off of Two and a Half Men when I caught a couple episodes was the stalking and how it was portrayed. That just seemed unnecessarily insensitive. Which is strange since sitcoms are pretty much always packed with inoffensive "humour".

I guess because it was a guy who is being stalked it's funny?
posted by ODiV at 8:22 AM on May 27, 2010


Wow I just discovered the MetaFilter extended family sockpuppet series.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:22 AM on May 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I so want $2 in beans for my birthday from my Grandma Metafilter.
posted by cashman at 8:23 AM on May 27, 2010


GO TO BED!
posted by Mr. and Mrs. Metafilter at 8:34 AM on May 27, 2010


Tee hee hee
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 AM on May 27, 2010


GOTOBED!
posted by koeselitz at 8:51 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kudos. A very entertaining presentation!

I told you, so. As per #1, it's pronounced 'Mee-Figh'!
posted by ericb at 8:55 AM on May 27, 2010


Very nice talk Matt! And the site looks GREAT!
posted by carter at 8:57 AM on May 27, 2010


Needs more discussion of taters.

Kidding. Great talk. There are lots of other fun recordings on that site, too.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:04 AM on May 27, 2010


Matthowie -

Somebody's got to say it. Clearly none of this people are your true friends. Your fly was undone. Great talk otherwise.
posted by philip-random at 9:13 AM on May 27, 2010


Whereas a fly was Seth Brundle's undoing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:25 AM on May 27, 2010


 > If primary element is Brundle, what is secondary element?
 
Secondary element is not-Brundle. 

>Run sequence. 

[fly.jpg] 

> If secondary element is fly, what happened to fly? 

Fusion. 

> Assimilation? Did Brundle absorb fly? 

Negative. Fusion of Brundle and fly at molecular-genetic level.
.
.
.
A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.  How about a nice game of chess? 
posted by zarq at 9:44 AM on May 27, 2010


I had never seen that MeFi vs YouTube (comments.thatsaspicymeatball.com) before. It is AWESOME.
posted by artlung at 9:57 AM on May 27, 2010


Nice presentation. I loved the threads you chose to portray the site to those who have never imagined what it must be like to run a community weblog, let alone, participate in one. Here's to another 11 awesome years, Matt (and Jess, cortex, pb, vacapinta, et al)!

Note: Everyone needs a hug. {{{{{{{{{{Everyone}}}}}}}}}}
posted by Lynsey at 10:10 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Who else saw "Gel Conference" and expected it to be a bit more like this?
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 10:20 AM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]




What Miko said, a thousand times over.
posted by ambrosia at 11:01 AM on May 27, 2010


You know what'd make this site perfect? Badges.

We have T-shirts on SportsFilter.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:11 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what'd make this site perfect? Badges.

MetaFilter ID badges:

version 1.0 (discussion)
version 2.0 (discussion)
posted by maqsarian at 12:37 PM on May 27, 2010


Badges.

Someone needs to translate "I'm from the Internet" into Latin and quick.
posted by shothotbot at 12:51 PM on May 27, 2010


"A social network for not-friends" who are now friends.

:D
posted by functionequalsform at 2:15 PM on May 27, 2010


Who're you calling 'friend', friend?
posted by owtytrof at 2:21 PM on May 27, 2010


shothotbot: "Someone needs to translate "I'm from the Internet" into Latin and quick."

Ego sum immunda barbarus.
Quick! Get it tattooed on you!
posted by boo_radley at 2:30 PM on May 27, 2010


Brandon Blatcher, the redesign was actually planned for the entire site, here's the portfolio piece of the designer.

If I would have launched this new design, I was also planning to launch a whole new CSS style theme repository where we'd offer first the old looks as an option and a way for users to store their own themes and share them with others. So the new design would become a new default but you could click something simple in your prefs to go back to the plain theme or the old school theme, as well as make your own theme.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:32 PM on May 27, 2010


"The new design has not yet been launched, but it will likely be launched soon."
posted by cjorgensen at 2:37 PM on May 27, 2010


I love MetaFilter so much that watching this actually made me a little teary.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:07 PM on May 27, 2010


Amazing, stupidsexyFlanders, I was going to say that mathowie should be played by Ed Helms in MetaFilter: The Movie (movie.metafilter.com?) and you alluded to the same thing.
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:16 PM on May 27, 2010


I love that the video "freeze shot" shown on the page is full of schmoopy, with Matt looking like he's giving a hug to everyone.

Great talk, I really enjoyed learning more about MeFi history. So glad you didn't go with the page redesign - ick!
posted by NoraCharles at 4:33 PM on May 27, 2010


I really enjoyed that, Matt. You did yourself and the MetaFilter community proud.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:46 PM on May 27, 2010


You give a good talk, Matt. It's been a while since I stepped back and thought about what MeFi looks like from the outside. I really enjoyed the audience reactions.
posted by zennie at 5:52 PM on May 27, 2010


I have always pronounced MeFi as Meep-Meep.
posted by Bonzai at 6:36 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


"A social network for not-friends" who are now friends spouses
posted by hattifattener at 9:29 PM on May 27, 2010


I'm rather surprised that no one noticed the redesign and made a MetaTalk post about it. All it would take is one person not logged in.
posted by smackfu at 9:59 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can I just say that it was really freaky watching this? Well one particular part. I was having a good time enjoying Matt talk about stuff, and then, around 10:23, when he's all like "yeah so like I had this designer d00d make a pretty new version of mefi and here's an example of what a thread looks like in the old version" that thread he pulls up to show off old-askmefi WAS WRITTEN BY MY SOON-TO-BE-HUSBAND'S FIRST GIRLFRIEND. The world, it is small.
posted by kthxbi at 10:41 PM on May 27, 2010


Great talk, mathowie. I was amazed at how long Ask MetaFilter has been going (it still feels like a strange new add-on to me; I only really remember it exists when some drama makes it to MetaTalk).

I'm rather surprised that no one noticed the redesign and made a MetaTalk post about it. All it would take is one person not logged in.

Well, one person not logged in and using a browser they'd never used before, on a computer they'd never used before, on a network they'd never used before... depending on how the test established that a visitor had never been to *.metafilter.com.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 2:42 AM on May 28, 2010


I would have loved to have given that presentation.

I think I would have approached it differently, though. Because I love the fuck out of getting in front of people and making them cream their jeans from pure awesome wonderchicken love power.

Yes, cream. In the cerebral jeans. With THE POWER OF WORDS.

I don't think AskMe, much as it may be (I have no idea, but I can guess) the Prime Revenue Stream for the enterprise as a whole, should have been the alpha and the omega.

That disappointed me a bit. But I guess anecdotes like them are pretty easy to talk about, and they're pretty swell, so.

Then again, I don't know what the hell the overall conference theme was, so I'm pretty much talking out my butt, I admit. As usual.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:02 AM on May 28, 2010


What the anecdotes did was make MetaFilter seem sane, and connected to the real world. Of course, we know that is not always an accurate description of our activity - but for people who don't have a functional web community to belong to, it's really food for thought that it can happen. It seems to go so much against what is developing as the conventional wisdom on comments and web communities.

Mathowie, you said that MeFi was one of the first weblogs with comments. That kind of wowed me - really? It's hard to cast my mind back to the state of the web in 1999, which was a time I was offline a lot anyway because I was too poor to have a home PC and was teaching school before schools were well wired. I guess it didn't leap out at me when I began participating that here was discussion on the web, but I think that might be because before MeFi I used to hang out on BBSs, which had threaded comments. It seemed to me like just a format transition that worked with the more graphical nature of the web. But maybe the idea of weblog, that is, someone owns a space and publishes timed posts + comments, was more revolutionary on the burgeoning WWW than on the pre-existing internets.
posted by Miko at 6:01 AM on May 28, 2010


...I think that might be because before MeFi I used to hang out on BBSs, which had threaded comments. It seemed to me like just a format transition that worked with the more graphical nature of the web. But maybe the idea of weblog, that is, someone owns a space and publishes timed posts + comments, was more revolutionary on the burgeoning WWW than on the pre-existing internets.

Absolutely. During the '90's, I spent time participating in Usenet discussions and email listservs. Discussion threads by email / newsgroup post (topic in the subject header!) were the norm.
posted by zarq at 8:40 AM on May 28, 2010


you said that MeFi was one of the first weblogs with comments. That kind of wowed me - really?

Yeah, if you go back to 1999, pretty much everything that called themselves a weblog was on jjg's list and there was only one blog with comments (dan lyke's flutterby) besides MeFi*. Also consider before late summer of 1999 there wasn't a single weblog software package -- everyone either rolled their own content management system from scratch or they wrote flat HTML by hand with dates and archiving and everything.


* There were of course real forums like slashdot and whatnot but I never considered those weblogs and they never called themselves that back then.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:52 AM on May 28, 2010


Then again, I don't know what the hell the overall conference theme was

My task was to talk about my 11 years of MetaFilter, but in a concise 20-min max TED-style talk. They wanted loads of stories and anecdotes and as little technical jargon as possible. I considered a lot more stories about MeFi threads instead of Ask MeFi threads, but there were very few that I could fit into 2 minute chunks in the way a simple question, then answer and resolution fit into each slot.

I considered talking about Kaycee Nichole, and how everyone collectively solved it, I considered talking about that foreclosure photographer in the NYT thing, and how one comment here basically busted the guy and got the photos pulled from the NYT, but both of those (esp. the Kaycee Nichole story) take a bit longer to explain. It was easy to say "someone wanted to build the death star, so they did, and here's what it looks like" and you can hear people really loved these stories.

It wasn't what I originally planned to do, it's actually the third complete rewrite of the talk (I worked on the talk off and on for three months) and each time I added more ask mefi anecdotes and my test audiences (friends, etc) loved it more and more.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:56 AM on May 28, 2010


Holy. Shit. That Vienna question is so chilling and wonderful.
posted by Night_owl at 2:45 PM on May 28, 2010


Discussion threads by email / newsgroup post (topic in the subject header!) were the norm.

And if you didn't change the subject when the topic drifted, people would yell at you.

Of course, if you did change the subject when the topic drifted, other people would yell at you because they were using newsreaders that did a half-assed thread-by-subject pseudo-threading instead of actual threaded comments.

Why, I remember the day all my favorite newsgroups were full of posts saying "who the hell are these green card lawyers and why the FUCK are they posting in EVERY SINGLE NEWSGROUP KILL THEM NOW!!!" Yes indeed, children, I was present at the birth of spam... Now get off my lawn.
posted by Lexica at 6:04 PM on May 28, 2010


Really enjoyed your talk, mathowie! (And thanks to gwint for linking the video here.) Thanks also for sharing your additional insights in this thread. I think I started reading AskMe around 2005 or so, and yankeefog's Vienna question is one of the threads that completely convinced me that AskMe/MetaFilter was something really special -- it was nice to see (well, hear) non-MeFites get introduced to it and react positively to it, as well as to the other stories.

Count me as another in agreement with the comment by Miko above...it was great to see you giving the presentation and to get a sense of your humility and good humor. It struck me that the last time I saw you was in the excellent "Raffles" 100K user drawing video -- I'm very, very glad things have brightened for you in the meantime and hope things keep getting better.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 11:21 PM on May 28, 2010


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