Mefi User Invite July 13, 2011 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Google+ is growing via user invites, why doesn't metafilter do something similar?

I know a lot of the mefi users paid $5 dollars for an account. But why not let users invite 1 friend to the website for free? This would grow the user base of metafilter, and more than likely find quality people to join the site.

It is my understanding that the $5 dollar fee was to stop spammers and trollers.

Which would in theory hopefully bring more quality content to the front page.
posted by MechEng to Feature Requests at 8:50 AM (224 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I wasn't aware that Metafilter was suffering from a lack of members.
posted by mattbucher at 8:51 AM on July 13, 2011 [114 favorites]


It is my understanding that the $5 dollar fee was to stop spammers and trollers.

That's sort of a nice side-benefit, but really it was done to keep growth slow and steady. It would be cool to get +1 friends from people, but I fear doing that once would add a few thousand new users in a few days and wreak a bit of havoc on us all.

If there was a way to slowly trickle that, sure, I'd consider it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:52 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Five dollar dollars.
posted by Plutor at 8:53 AM on July 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


What's that, you say? You want to make it free for me to get a sock puppet account? I totally approve of this plan!
posted by Phredward at 8:53 AM on July 13, 2011 [61 favorites]


Better idea: Let users invite one friend for free. That friend can participate for a month. Then, once they're addicted to answers to their questions and fanning flameouts and snarking in LOLXIANS posts, we take it away, and it costs them TWENTY DOLLARS DOLLARS to come back.
posted by Plutor at 8:54 AM on July 13, 2011 [41 favorites]


We're actually not that interested in growth actually.

The $5 isn't really an income generator here [I mean it makes money but not the bulk of the money that pays everyone] it's more of a "keep spammers out" system. Allowing people to add a +1 theoretically would be cool on the "hey more people who sort of know how this thing is supposed to work" but would also allow a stream of people with no paypal or personal information details which is a nightmare, from our perpective, of making sure the people added aren't being added just to game the system more.

I belong to a trivia league where you can refer, at most, one person per season. You have to click a bunch of boxes that you have talked to the person about the rules [no forfeiting, no cheating] and you're personally responsible for them if they fuck around, which keeps user quality high. We don't have the sort of Mod Team Overhead that you'd need to manage and enforce that sort of thing [i.e. if your friend spams would be ban them and give you a week off? Is that even fair?] and I think it would give the illusion of more vouched-for members without that nevesarily being the case.

I can see this suggestion coming from every good place, but think that in practice it wouldn't necessarily work that way. We don't want to be hardasses about the $5 but it's one of the most basic things we've done here that keeps this place surprisingly spammer free and this seems like it would end run it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:56 AM on July 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


This would grow the user base of metafilter, and more than likely find quality people to join the site.

Why does the userbase need to grow in a manner similar to Google+?

I'd like to see something better than "more than likely" in a plan to attract smart, non axe grindy people to the site.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:56 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Generally speaking, we're really not making any effort to grow the userbase; the current rate at which it plops along is totally fine, we see on the order of a dozen signups every day pretty steadily for a few years now. The $5 does a great job of keeping out driveby spammers and trolls, but it also presents a mild "do I really want to be here" barrier even for good-faith members, which is nice because it means everybody who signs up after has some sort of incentive beyond just It Was There.

Inviting a friend is fine, and if you have an awesome friend who likes Metafilter or seems like a great match for it and $5 is a mutual hardship for you and friend, you can drop us a line and say "hey, would you maybe comp my awesome friend an account".

My worry, in addition to what Matt is saying about floodgates, is that removing the friction for accounts may mean more people who don't really get mefi showing up as members because there wasn't anything forcing folks to really think about it a bit more. I rarely tell friends to sign up for Mefi mostly because I know this place has a specific sort of vibe and discursive culture and if I'm not sure that (a) they'll enjoy that or (b) they'll naturally get how to behave here, then I don't want to be in the position of having to be like "dude, I was wrong, maybe don't ever use your mefi account again".

It can be kind of easy to underestimate that side of things, and the whole My Friend Is Acting Out At This Party I Invited Them Along To situation is a bummer on all fronts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:58 AM on July 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


But why not let users invite 1 friend to the website for free?

Because I will fucking strangle them.
posted by griphus at 8:58 AM on July 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


...where did that come from.
posted by griphus at 8:59 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would think the tried and true way of attracting new users who are also interesting contributors is to post links to interesting things on the web. Those posts get forwarded around by the usual means, and sometimes people are curious enough to sign on and comment about it.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:02 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bought my best friend a membership*. If people want their friends to join, they should pay the five dollars. It's a tiny amount. I send him more every year in weird songs from iTunes and threadless shirts by a factor of fifty.

he never posts. it makes me cry. he likes for me to tell him stories about it, though.
posted by winna at 9:02 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a terrible idea, but mattbucher's comment gave me the idea of everyone getting the choice of one other member to ban, which further led to me thinking up an idea for a new TV show, I present to you

METAFILTER ISLAND!

25 MeFites, on an island. Every day there's challenges: lupus_yonderboy has to circumcise jessamyn's Palestinian cat, et cetera. The only reading material on this island would be the Huffington Post.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:02 AM on July 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


The only reading material on this island would be the Huffington Post.

Is this some sort of torture show?
posted by winna at 9:04 AM on July 13, 2011


I'm going to sound old when I say this, but when I find a website I like, I'm not anxious to change it too much. One surefire way to do this, which has proven true for other websites (and World of Warcraft), is to encourage an influx of many, many people. Slow and steady. Let's not get crazy.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:12 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Give invites away for free?!? They'll just take them for granted! I waited months to get in, in the snow, uphill, both ways, with a baked potato in my pocket for warmth that I ate for lunch once it was cold. Plus I paid $5. NOBODY GETS IN FOR LESS.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:15 AM on July 13, 2011 [22 favorites]


METAFILTER ISLAND!

If you make it more like Battle Royale with the explosive collars and everyone gets one domain, randomly assigned-- matteo gets the New York Times, Astro Zombie is stuck with Is Abe Vigoda Alive?, The Whelk somehow winds up with Youtube-- and then eventually there's only a couple of members left and they have to face off against the pintern.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:15 AM on July 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Dibs on Timecube.
posted by griphus at 9:19 AM on July 13, 2011


I refuse to endorse any plan that removes the $5 fee I never paid.
posted by mkultra at 9:20 AM on July 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


We have ENOUGH people! Bar the door. BAR THE DOOR! Boil the oil! Sharpen the pikes. None shall pass. NONE SHALL PASS!
posted by Splunge at 9:20 AM on July 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


It's five bucks. Friends I have told about this site who like it can mostly afford their own five bucks to join if they feel like it; the ones who can't know that they can ask me for five dollars and it will be a gift.

Nthing that the site already has a growth rate that seems about right. It doesn't need fertilizer.
posted by rtha at 9:21 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter is big enough already. Remember when you used to kind of know most members, at least the ones who commented a lot?
posted by caddis at 9:22 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you could invite a friend in for free, then they could invite a friend in for free, and so on, and so on, and on, and on...

Also, a certain kind of person might be tempted to sell their friend-freebie. Without a host of mod controls to prevent it, an enterprising individual could create a string of free sockpuppets and sell them all for a buck or two, undercutting the $5 signup fee and wreaking a flood of unwelcome hurfery-durfery on the site. Dogs and cats living together, and all that.
posted by Gator at 9:24 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Freeze the number now but let us sell our memberships to the highest bidder. If you change your mind, you have to buy your way back in at the going rate to reactivate your old name.
posted by pracowity at 9:27 AM on July 13, 2011


It's five bucks. Friends I have told about this site who like it can mostly afford their own five bucks to join if they feel like it; the ones who can't know that they can ask me for five dollars and it will be a gift.
The heterogeneous composition of human nature was remarkably exemplified in Johnson. His liberality in giving his money to persons in distress was extraordinary. Yet there lurked about him a propensity to paultry saving. One day I owned to him that 'I was occasionally troubled with a fit of NARROWNESS.' 'Why, Sir, (said he,) so am I. BUT I DO NOT TELL IT.' He has now and then borrowed a shilling of me; and when I asked for it again, seemed to be rather out of humour. A droll little circumstance once occurred: as if he meant to reprimand my minute exactness as a creditor, he thus addressed me;--'Boswell, LEND me sixpence--NOT TO BE REPAID.'
posted by Jahaza at 9:30 AM on July 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Whelk somehow winds up with Youtube

look upon my videos and despair.
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just paid $5 for my best friend to sign up, but I think she's too busy fucking around with MATLAB.

Anyway, this is a terrible idea.
posted by desjardins at 9:35 AM on July 13, 2011


If you want a friend to become a member, a gift membership is a cheap and enduring present that says "I really care about you, plus I want to exploit your knowledge and make you lose sleep and much of your waking time." A membership is the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving and giving....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:37 AM on July 13, 2011


How about a system where we can pay $10 and have someone banned?
posted by overeducated_alligator at 9:40 AM on July 13, 2011


How about a system where we can pay $10 and have someone banned?

Well, you used to be able to pay $500 to charity to get someone a week-long timeout under very special circumstances.
posted by grouse at 9:45 AM on July 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm not saying metafilter is hurting for accounts, but allowing 1 Authorized User wouldn't be a horible thing. This account would link to the original member that invited that person similar to an AU for the credit card industry.

If one account goes delinquent, this could then act on both accounts, making the inviter more selective of the invitee, thus adding quality mefi members.

In reply to matthowie, it would be hard to do slow trickle, but you could send out a different promo code that links to each specific user name. Only send this out to x ammount of people that would keep a slow trickle of free accounts comming in.

To stop the invites you only allow 1 free invite per account before a specified date, thus stopping infinite creations of accounts.

If done correctly more people could mean more interesting stuff. from the article from before “Interesting stuff” is Haughey’s trade

Most people are hesitant on change, so this will never happen. If something is difficult people are more hesitant not to do it, but I know some people won't join this site because it is not quote un quote "FREE" . And go to sites like stumble upon instead.

Anyways, just a thought.
posted by MechEng at 9:45 AM on July 13, 2011


I know some people won't join this site because it is not quote un quote "FREE" .

That's okay, though. No one has to join. If "site charges for membership" is a dealbreaker for someone in the abstract, to the point where even gifting them an account is a non-starter, that's entirely their prerogative but it's not remotely on our list of priorities regarding the community.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:48 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


This seems like a solution in search of a problem.
posted by cashman at 9:49 AM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


More is not, in general, better.
posted by flabdablet at 9:54 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


MechEng: "I know some people won't join this site because it is not quote un quote "FREE". And go to sites like stumble upon instead."

It sounds like you hit Post Comment before you got to the part how this is a bad thing.
posted by Plutor at 9:56 AM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


The best advertising is word of mouth. Posting a link to a non-Mefi online audience, to a good, interesting post on the Blue or perhaps a link to a helpful post on Ask. A handful of my friends have taken the initiative over the years and signed up on their own as a result.

This community doesn't have to be reddit, or google plus, slashdot or facebook. We're big, but not huge. Feature, not a bug, imo.
posted by zarq at 9:58 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know some people who won't join this site because it has no pictures of naked women.
posted by found missing at 9:59 AM on July 13, 2011


true story
posted by found missing at 9:59 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I tell lots of people to join MetaFilter, but I never tell them what my screen name is.
posted by klangklangston at 10:01 AM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I want to write a calm comment about how the site has to grow, and about how new voices add diversity, and all that crap, but what I really want to do is favorite splunge's comment 9,000 times. Since that is not working, I'll quote it:
We have ENOUGH people! Bar the door. BAR THE DOOR! Boil the oil! Sharpen the pikes. None shall pass. NONE SHALL PASS!

I'd totally watch Metafilter Island.
posted by theora55 at 10:03 AM on July 13, 2011


found missing: "I know some people who won't join this site because it has no pictures of naked women."

Define 'pictures.'
posted by zarq at 10:04 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


MechEng, I'm still not seeing a good reason or reasons for doing what you suggest. Like, what would the benefit to the community be?
posted by rtha at 10:05 AM on July 13, 2011


I know some people who won't join this site because it has no pictures of naked women.

Here you go.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:06 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ha. I can't even get my friends to read the links I send them. They're all, "Yeah, there she goes again with that weird blue website..."
posted by iamkimiam at 10:06 AM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


iamkimiam: "They're all, "Yeah, there she goes again with that weird blue website...""

Perhaps if you mentioned our more professional background....
posted by zarq at 10:07 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


They had to bring color into this
posted by overeducated_alligator at 10:07 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


all six of them.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


But hey, we've got muffins. In our trunks. That's one reason to join.
posted by rtha at 10:09 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


You're getting snark shotgunned here but as a student of online communities I think this is a very interesting question. Ideally, I would like to point to some research that could illuminate this and be grounded in actual science, but solid research on online communities is lacking (<>
My own hypothesis is that the $5 fee has been a crucial tool in managing abuse on Mefi. If you imagine abuse management as a circle of circles, the fee is one of the outer circles that stops the casual trolls and griefers, people who are too lazy to bother to pay in order to cause trouble. Furthermore, a $5 fee signals that Mefi is a bit different that other communities; by having a financial stake - even if it is very small - people are making a stronger commitment to act act civilly and according to shared community standards. Also, as matt stated, it does help in keeping the flow of users more manageable with the current resources that Mefi has.

There is some data that suggests that more users does not equal more or better content in a online community. On Digg, for instance, 3% of its users are responsible for 28% of all new post submissions.

There's so much more to discuss here but it usually ends up being (more) speculation. And snark, of course :)
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:10 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've bought a handful of memberships for friends who I thought would be great MetaFilter members. None of them ever participate. This makes me sad.
posted by ColdChef at 10:12 AM on July 13, 2011


Foci for Analysis: " There is some data that suggests that more users does not equal more or better content in a online community. On Digg, for instance, 3% of its users are responsible for 28% of all new post submissions."

I'd be curious to know what percentage of MeFi users generate content for the front page and subsites. Has that ever been examined?
posted by zarq at 10:17 AM on July 13, 2011


Only semi-on-topic: I signed up for Google+ and was creepily-surprised that all of the "Recommendations" are actually mefi members. I'm not sure how it linked all that up.
posted by odinsdream at 10:19 AM on July 13, 2011


Invitations should cost $10.
posted by Eideteker at 10:19 AM on July 13, 2011


I think it's pretty much just you and first-timers who never make an FPP again, zarq.
posted by griphus at 10:23 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Invitations should cost $10.

Interesting topic for a research paper, i.e. how much can you charge users for getting access to a community and what are the social implications of doing this. There are tons of multivariate testing tools you could use to make this fairly easy, e.g. Visual Website Optimizer. Something Awful charges $9.95 and it seems to be working for them. Are there any sites that charge more?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:31 AM on July 13, 2011


As others have noted: "It's five bucks."

But more than that, it is five bucks forever. Not $5 a year. For-freaking-evah.

My cost now averages at about 55 cents per year. Don't spend that all in one place, mathowie, jessamyn, cortex, pb, vacapinta, restless_nomad!
posted by madamjujujive at 10:38 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


odinsdream - Only semi-on-topic: I signed up for Google+ and was creepily-surprised that all of the "Recommendations" are actually mefi members. I'm not sure how it linked all that up.

Yeah, me too. Pretty high up the list of people recommended to me were matt, jessamyn and (I think) cortex. I did once get an email from jessamyn cc'd to the other mods, so maybe it's basing the link on that and the fact that Team Mod are already well connected? I'm pretty sure that no-one else that I've added to G+ is a mefite, so it doesn't seem likely to be a friends-of-friends thing.
posted by metaBugs at 10:42 AM on July 13, 2011


My cost now averages at about 55 cents per year.

Your user number is too low to have paid the $5 fee.
posted by grouse at 10:44 AM on July 13, 2011


Nope, I paid it grouse. I got tired of trying to get in during the one hour window and anted up, that was an alternate way.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:46 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you read the Metatalk just below this one perchance? Maybe read the linked article within? Your question is answered there.
posted by Lynsey at 10:49 AM on July 13, 2011


You do not want me to invite my friends for free. They're lovely people, but they're an acquired taste. One that would probably require at least $5 in mod costs for clean up. No, best to make some barrier of entry that isn't simply based on my crap taste in friends. Or yours.
posted by macadamiaranch at 10:49 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always keep a few spare memberships in my pockets to hand out to the urchins I pass on the street.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:50 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


allowing 1 Authorized User wouldn't be a horible thing. This account would link to the original member that invited that person similar to an AU for the credit card industry.

If one account goes delinquent, this could then act on both accounts, making the inviter more selective of the invitee, thus adding quality mefi members.

In reply to matthowie, it would be hard to do slow trickle, but you could send out a different promo code that links to each specific user name. Only send this out to x ammount of people that would keep a slow trickle of free accounts comming in.

To stop the invites you only allow 1 free invite per account before a specified date, thus stopping infinite creations of accounts.


Are there other sites that do this kind of thing, or is this an original idea?
posted by box at 10:51 AM on July 13, 2011


We're actually not that interested in growth actually.

Actually?
posted by Aizkolari at 10:57 AM on July 13, 2011


rusty proposed something like this for Kuro5hin to deal with the trolls, but it never happened.
posted by grouse at 10:57 AM on July 13, 2011


I always keep a few spare memberships in my pockets to hand out to the urchins...

Great, now instead of picturing banned spammers as Lyle Lanley-style conmen getting their comeuppance, I'll be thinking the mods are delivering swift kicks in the ass to Oliver Twist and/or breaking Tiny Tim's cane.
posted by griphus at 10:57 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


MechEng: If done correctly more people could mean more interesting stuff. from the article from before “Interesting stuff” is Haughey’s trade

You *obviously* didn't read the rest of that article.
posted by carsonb at 10:57 AM on July 13, 2011


MechEng: "I know some people won't join this site because it is not quote un quote "FREE" . And go to sites like stumble upon instead."

We don't want those people.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:58 AM on July 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


The $5 isn't really an income generator here [I mean it makes money but not the bulk of the money that pays everyone]

I'm glad to know that Metafilter makes so much money that half a million dollars can be brushed off as not real income.
posted by John Cohen at 10:59 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Idea: Randomly give invites to users, 10 per day. You get a memail if you've got an invite available to give away.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:02 AM on July 13, 2011


The only reading material on this island would be the Huffington Post.

It's been done, but with the Daily Mail.
posted by jack_mo at 11:03 AM on July 13, 2011


I'm glad to know that Metafilter makes so much money that half a million dollars can be brushed off as not real income.

Well, it's actually more like $350K, since there was no cash involved for the first 17K+ signups, and that's over 12 years, so if we imagined Metafilter as a one-man business we're talking $30K annual salary.

That's before hardware and bandwidth and misc. costs, and totally discounts the whole paid-staff thing. Splitting 30K/yr minus costs five ways would make Metafilter a significantly worse deal than McDonalds.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:05 AM on July 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'd be curious to know what percentage of MeFi users generate content for the front page and subsites.

We ran the numbers for AskMe and it's pretty surprising, how many people particpate. That part of the site is the heaviest traffic part of the site now. Something like 71% of users have asked a question and 97% of answered a question. I did a very long bla bla talk about that part of the site (of interest mostly to librarians) and it has some more stats there. I don't remember offhand how this shakes out for MeFi proper.

half a million dollars can be brushed off as not real income.

Twelve sign-ups a day at $5/each is $60/day, roughly $21,900/year. That's significantly less than any of us gets paid in a given year.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:06 AM on July 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm glad to know that Metafilter makes so much money that half a million dollars can be brushed off as not real income.

Yeah, but that's over 12 years, and not every user had to pay the $5, so it'd be less than that. But it's say it's $500,000. That's $41,666/year. Not really a big deal, especially when you're paying yourself, pb, and however long jess and cortex have been paid employees.

Not that Matt's or MetaFilter's finances are any of our business.
posted by desjardins at 11:06 AM on July 13, 2011


jesus I'm slow
posted by desjardins at 11:07 AM on July 13, 2011


I'm too scared to make front page posts. Everyone will yell at me.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:08 AM on July 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Oh and user numbers don't correlate with $5 exactly. If you go most of the way through the sign up process but don't pay, you're in a limbo-land where your username and number have been reserved but you haven't paid. I don't know how many of those we have, but I estimate it could be as many as 25-30%. Not to say that hey, 300K isn't some good money, but it's not salary-level material for one person much less five and a pintern.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:08 AM on July 13, 2011


How much is a pintern?
posted by found missing at 11:09 AM on July 13, 2011


jessamyn: " We ran the numbers for AskMe and it's pretty surprising, how many people particpate. That part of the site is the heaviest traffic part of the site now. Something like 71% of users have asked a question and 97% of answered a question. I did a very long bla bla talk about that part of the site (of interest mostly to librarians) and it has some more stats there. I don't remember offhand how this shakes out for MeFi proper."

Thanks! :) I'm looking forward to checking out that talk!
posted by zarq at 11:09 AM on July 13, 2011


and more than likely find quality people to join the site.

Why would we want quality people using the site? They would just water down the "my cat did this crazy thing WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT, OH NOES," and tumblr blog posts.
posted by TheBones at 11:09 AM on July 13, 2011


Nevermind, I figured it out. There are two pinterns in a quartron.
posted by found missing at 11:10 AM on July 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


found missing: "How much is a pintern?"

$20 same as in town.
posted by Splunge at 11:10 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


How much is a pintern?

Twenty dollars, same as in town.

I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:10 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


How about for another $5 we can uninvite someone from Metafilter?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:12 AM on July 13, 2011


Slow on the draw today, eh Marshall?
posted by Splunge at 11:13 AM on July 13, 2011


how this shakes out for MeFi proper

You rang?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:14 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


And all this time I thought Matt was collection money to send cortex to banjo camp.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 11:18 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Continual growth is a bad thing.
posted by DU at 11:19 AM on July 13, 2011


There are two pinterns in a quartron waitron.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:20 AM on July 13, 2011


Gift accounts. If they're worth your +1, they're worth $5.

I'm sad that most of the gift accounts I've given have been lurker people. I think the barrier to entry causes people to take it seriously.
posted by Gucky at 11:20 AM on July 13, 2011


I'm pretty sure I torrented my membership from Pirate Bay.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:22 AM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pfft, newbie. I got mine mislabled as a Weird Al song on Napster.
posted by griphus at 11:23 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


And all this time I thought Matt was collection money to send cortex to banjo camp.

No, no, no - ukelele camp.
posted by rtha at 11:24 AM on July 13, 2011


I discovered my membership stuck to the bottom of my shoe after I exited a cab in Vegas.
posted by found missing at 11:26 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the barrier to entry causes people to take it seriously.

Absurd!
posted by shakespeherian at 11:31 AM on July 13, 2011


DANCE OFF, PARNER!
posted by clavdivs at 11:49 AM on July 13, 2011


Can I recruit someone, then get a cut from everyone they recruit in their downline? If so, I am in!
posted by The Deej at 11:52 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Worst idea since the last worst idea posted to MetaTalk.
posted by Justinian at 11:57 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, come on, MechEng obviously meant well and had the awesomeness of the site in mind with this suggestion. They've only been here for a couple of years and never posted or commented in MeTa before. I wish we weren't so quick to mock, even in the Hallowed Halls of the Grey where pretty much everything goes -- that cliquishness is one of the things that makes people disinclined to fork over their $5.

That said, yes, any potential awesomeness of bringing in new blood via this freebie method would seem to be outweighed by the aggravation of coding and monitoring the invite system to prevent gaming, and the strong likelihood of non-awesome contributions from people who don't have anything invested in the community in part because it didn't cost them anything to get in.

Ultimately I think the best way to attract new and awesome members would be to make awesome posts and comments, thereby making this a community that awesome people want to be a part of.
posted by Gator at 12:12 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tell people I'm a member here and I've occasionally mentioned MeFi on my personal blog. Beyond that, they're on their own. If anyone has joined because of me, that's cool. If no one has, that's cool too.
posted by tommasz at 12:14 PM on July 13, 2011


-- that cliquishness is one of the things that makes people disinclined to fork over their $5.

The cliquishness is one of the reasons I did pay!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:22 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am a clique of one.
posted by The Deej at 12:45 PM on July 13, 2011


We should get rid of the whole $5 to join system and start vetting new members through interviews on IRC.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:48 PM on July 13, 2011


You can invite a friend for $5.
posted by vacapinta at 12:48 PM on July 13, 2011


I am a cliche of one.
posted by aught at 12:53 PM on July 13, 2011


We should get rid of the whole $5 to join system and start vetting new members by requiring them to make an innocent pony request on MeTa. If they survive, they are free to participate.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:00 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like this site because even people with whom I disagree can spell, and write intelligently, and are not complete gibbering idiots.

In reviewing free to play sites it can be seen that such a happy state is not the default. So that $5 bar is an effective way to keep people out that would make me less likely to participate if they were here, too.
posted by winna at 1:24 PM on July 13, 2011


and are not complete gibbering idiots.

Pfft. Speak for yourself.

::gibbers::

::idiots::
posted by quin at 1:27 PM on July 13, 2011


I'd like someone to look at this forum. It keeps clique-ing.
posted by Splunge at 1:37 PM on July 13, 2011


I like giving $5 memberships to people because it feels like low-level freemasonry. "I vouch for thee with such strong conviction that I will be able to buy one two less subway rides as a result. Prithee try not to like spell shit wrong or whatevs"
posted by Greg Nog at 1:45 PM on July 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


We need symbols and robes and ceremonies and shit.
posted by The Whelk at 1:47 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's all included in the home game.
posted by found missing at 1:49 PM on July 13, 2011


Dice yesssssssss.
posted by The Whelk at 1:50 PM on July 13, 2011


Can we pay $10 to have someone banned?
posted by The Deej at 1:54 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're actually not that interested in growth actually.

After the internet bubble, the housing bubble, banking shit...its nice to hear someone say something different.

Eat that, failures.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:59 PM on July 13, 2011


The Whelk: "We need symbols and robes and ceremonies and shit."

Newbie Sacrifices.





Fetch the lighter fluid.
posted by zarq at 2:07 PM on July 13, 2011


We need symbols and robes and ceremonies and shit.

Hold on now...

Are you telling me that you didn't have to perform the purification ritual before you made that comment?! Because... no, that can't be right, let's break this down; I'm sure it's just a miscommunication. As per the Holy Secret Writ, whenever I, or anyone of the faithful (e.g. the rest of you) wants to make a comment, you shall strip naked, scour yourself with the diving sandpaper (100 grit), light your votive candles (no less than three, no more than fifteen), drink the sacred liquid (liquor, brown), sacrifice not less than one chicken and not more than three, eat said chicken, and then don your sacred robe (silk, yellow), before using the Devotional Whiteboard Marker to make the proscribed cabalistic runes of warding, protection, and "Gud Humore" around the circumference of your screen before you begin typing your response,

You all do that, right?

Because I don't even want to get into the rituals needed to post a new thread, or *shudder* argue with a mod.

There just isn't enough blood in the average cow for that particular rite, regardless of what the manuscripts say.

Why would we possibly need more symbols and ceremonies than this? It's arduous enough to be regular commentator as it is, and I'll be honest, I'm sick to death of chicken.
posted by quin at 2:08 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


The cliquishness is one of the reasons I did pay!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:22 PM on July 13 [3 favorites +] [!]


Oooh. . . . this is awkward . . You see, we let you pay the sign up fee, but you're not actually in the 'clique'. It's gonna happen some day kid, really. Just. .. for now . . . why don't you eat lunch over at that other table?
posted by Think_Long at 2:13 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um, sure. We all do that.

Have you taken video of yourself performing the full ritual and sent it to High Priest Cortex yet? Because that's mandatory.
posted by zarq at 2:13 PM on July 13, 2011


Don't you mean the Goddess Jessamyn?
posted by Splunge at 2:27 PM on July 13, 2011


The red hot iron flag brand is reserved for either great honors or terrible punishment.
posted by The Whelk at 2:29 PM on July 13, 2011


Splunge: "Don't you mean the Goddess Jessamyn?"

I prefer to think of her as the Lady of the Lake.
posted by zarq at 2:34 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just boxes and boxes of swords sitting around.
posted by The Whelk at 2:36 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


your sacred robe (silk, yellow)

Some of us were issued blue robes, I believe.
posted by rtha at 2:42 PM on July 13, 2011


Oh, I think I've said too m
posted by rtha at 2:42 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Two Words : "Eternal September"
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:45 PM on July 13, 2011


I prefer to think of her as the Lady of the Lake.

Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' bans is no basis for a system of moderation.
posted by curious nu at 2:47 PM on July 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Well, give her a hovercraft then.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:50 PM on July 13, 2011


If you have a friend who you think might enjoy Metafilter, you're more than welcome to gift their membership for $5.
posted by litnerd at 2:52 PM on July 13, 2011


John Cohen : I'm glad to know that Metafilter makes so much money that half a million dollars can be brushed off as not real income.
posted by


Somebody needs his little nap.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:52 PM on July 13, 2011


Brandon Blatcher: "Well, give her a hovercraft then."

Full of eels, as it is written. So let it be done.
posted by Splunge at 2:55 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Whelk: "Just boxes and boxes of swords sitting around."

And here I thought you were just happy to see me.
posted by zarq at 2:55 PM on July 13, 2011


O mods! This is the cry of all the users of an Internets drama brought face to face with their flags. This final blow was ours, too, and I knew it now. In the middle of Metafilter I at last discovered that there was in me an eternal September.
posted by The Whelk at 2:57 PM on July 13, 2011


Only semi-on-topic: I signed up for Google+ and was creepily-surprised that all of the "Recommendations" are actually mefi members. I'm not sure how it linked all that up.
As far as I can tell, Google+ is entirely populated by MeFites. It's like a place where everybody gets to choose who is a member of their MetaFilter.
posted by dg at 3:20 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]



Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' bans is no basis for a system of moderation.


Fetch the Holy Ban Grenade of MetaTalk.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:32 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Since I don't see the link up thread, yet another reminder that you can gift someone an account already.
posted by Apropos of Something at 3:44 PM on July 13, 2011


jessamyn: "Oh and user numbers don't correlate with $5 exactly. If you go most of the way through the sign up process but don't pay, you're in a limbo-land where your username and number have been reserved but you haven't paid. I don't know how many of those we have, but I estimate it could be as many as 25-30%. Not to say that hey, 300K isn't some good money, but it's not salary-level material for one person much less five and a pintern."

I noticed a member had signed up a month before me and went exploring around my user number but there was no one there, so I wondered if it was just me.

I don't see an important question being addressed: is there an optimal size for the Metafilter user base? Is there an equation that relates the variables of signups, FPPs/day, pageviews, moderator load and community spirit and integration? What are the limits to growth, if any?
posted by psyche7 at 3:55 PM on July 13, 2011


I don't see an important question being addressed: is there an optimal size for the Metafilter user base?

About t'ree fiddy.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:05 PM on July 13, 2011


I don't see an important question being addressed: is there an optimal size for the Metafilter user base?

about five or six inches.
posted by The Whelk at 4:11 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I know some people won't join this site because it is not quote un quote "FREE" ."

Their loss, and I mean that in the most good-natured way possible.

Everyone's definition of "great post" is different (mostly), and I think there is already a LOT to read, learn, absorb, and be amused by on the Blue, so I'm with those thinking this is a solution looking for a problem. A very well-meaning idea, certainly, and good on you for being brave enough to float it.

If you know people with excellent taste when it comes to finding postable material, I highly recommend tapping this natural resource and making your own fantastic posts, then showing them the excitement and acclaim of the adoring masses that could be theirs, all for less than [insert beloved vice/distraction/entertainment here].

Related anecdote/expounding:
I've been reading since the first post (well, intermittently for a few years immediately after, then in a dedicated manner from '03 on) and had felt very grounded in the mores of the group when I finally anted up in '05. I WAS SO WRONG. But as I became aware of how my own glitchiness was affecting my ability to interact properly, I actually came to appreciate MetaFilter (et al.) even more.

It's good for people to get a slow start here and really want to join, investing themselves utterly in getting to know the personalities and flow of the place before contributing. That's why "LURK MORE (MOAR)" is such a popular exhortation when someone doesn't quite get it. It really works and does help reduce friction and embarrassment (being a community of (mostly) humans, reduction is as good as it gets). And if one has taken the time to pick up on the culture but still makes a mis-step, it is so much easier to recover and learn from the experience if invested.

This is all aside from the $5. If you know someone who thinks they could really get into the MetaFilter experience and would grok the guidelines and mesh well with the community but they are hesitant because of the $5, it is a far better plan to float them the $5 and make it a non-issue than to build an entire development and site-scaling project for the Administrators to manage and community to absorb. This has nothing to do with fear of change, and I admit to having been disappointed by this accusation. What you describe would be so much more effort than nearly any of the most wanted ponies and doesn't have any visible upside other than the slim potential of "terrific posts" but several very likely downsides to everyone, even the folks brought in by this scheme.

Go harvest those post-generating-associates, MechEng, and enjoy the glow of (hopefully) well-received contribution!
posted by batmonkey at 4:15 PM on July 13, 2011


I got my best friend to join by essentially systematically browbeating her with links accompanied by stories and emails singing its praises for about 5 years. I don't know what tipped her over the edge, but she finally joined. I was elated. I thought, "FINALLY someone with whom I can share the joy that is Metafilter!"

What happened was essentially unthinkable. She took to it SO WELL-emailing me about posts I missed and writing awesome comments- she made Metafilter an even more glorious timesink than it already was.

tl;dr: friends don't let friends join metafilter.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:15 PM on July 13, 2011


The Whelk: "I don't see an important question being addressed: is there an optimal size for the Metafilter user base?

about five or six inches.
"

Speak for yourself little fella.
posted by Splunge at 4:17 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eh, I just pay for my friend's accounts. They're friends. I can afford $5 for people I despise, so for a friend it's no big deal.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:22 PM on July 13, 2011


I've bought like eight people accounts and they do nothing, it is Disencrouaging.
posted by The Whelk at 4:31 PM on July 13, 2011


Well no, one person totally reads it but never uses his a count for anything but advanced search functions when he remembers to log in, which is rare.
posted by The Whelk at 4:33 PM on July 13, 2011


I think accounts should be split up. For example, your basic $5.00 Metafilter account should be reduced to $3.99 and include Metafilter, Projects, IRL, Jobs, Music, and MetaTalk.

Ask Metafilter accounts would be separate. For a basic one-question-a-week account, it would be $3.99. So if you wanted a Metafilter and a basic Ask Metafilter account, you would pay $7.98. A two-questions-a-week Ask Metafilter account would cost $5.99.

This method seems to go over really well, especially with established members.

Also, all the backgrounds should be red.
posted by perhapses at 4:47 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I forgot to add, if you refer a friend and that friend completes the sign-up process, you get an extra question.
posted by perhapses at 4:50 PM on July 13, 2011


I remember when MetaFilter had 23,588 members. That number was just about right.
posted by slogger at 4:51 PM on July 13, 2011


I got mine.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:02 PM on July 13, 2011


I got somebody else's. But I like it so don't tell them.
posted by Splunge at 5:08 PM on July 13, 2011


Most people are hesitant on change, so this will never happen. If something is difficult people are more hesitant not to do it, but I know some people won't join this site because it is not quote un quote "FREE" . And go to sites like stumble upon instead.

Okay, you hypothesize that paying $5 via Paypal is a barrier to entry for new, high-quality Metafilter members. In order to solve this, you propose the following:

Permit all users one free invite for a friend, with a link from the account of the inviter to that of the invitee. Some sort of verification system would need to be implemented, which would require the invitee and inviter to be able to identify each other after the signup by their Metafilter names (spelled correctly) after the signup has taken place. It can't be done beforehand reliably, in case the invitee changes his/her mind on a Metafilter name or the preferred name is taken.

This also raises the question of whether this link between users would be public knowledge within Metafilter or not. If it's not, where's the incentive to not just sell to spammers? If it is, it's kind of a weird thing to require.

Additionally, you propose a real financial link between the accounts. This brings up not only additional management of financial data, but it opens the inviter to real penalty based on the invitee's behavior. This requires the inviter to guarantee their friend's behavior within a large and varied group dynamic with a quite distinct culture.

Meanwhile, this financial link is between people who may not even know each other's real names.

Furthermore, in order to solve the problem of overtaxing the system, the invitation system requires a multi-stage roll out requiring metrics tracking and at least some rough forecasting of volume. To maintain the usefulness of the quickie volume forecasting, the invites would be coded with deadlines relative to the date of their initial activation. Of course, there would need to be a way to override this, in case an inviter is on vacation or whatever.

Whew. And that's just basic principles off the top of my head, not an implementation plan. You're right. Something being difficult IS a disincentive to do it.
posted by desuetude at 5:16 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought invitations was Google's way of limiting growth.
posted by Bruce H. at 5:16 PM on July 13, 2011


I thought that was Google Buzz.
posted by box at 5:26 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Could you at least add Facebook Like buttons? It's an easy low-impact way to spread the word about the site.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:30 PM on July 13, 2011


Sarcasm LIB? You already got beat up in that other thread . . . I hardly think you would invite similar treatment here.
posted by Think_Long at 6:32 PM on July 13, 2011


Could you at least add Facebook Like buttons?

Oh please God no.
posted by jonmc at 6:41 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


METAFILTER ISLAND!

I'm the smoke monster.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:48 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Could you at least add Facebook Like buttons?

Matt has straight up said that this won't happen.
posted by mintcake! at 6:52 PM on July 13, 2011


I was thrilled to know that Jessamyn did Learned League. Woohoo, I plan to crush people with my superior knowledge of 1st edition D&D character alignments!
posted by jadepearl at 6:53 PM on July 13, 2011


METAFILTER ISLAND
posted by The Whelk at 6:57 PM on July 13, 2011


How about a Dislike Facebook button? Just the one would be fine.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:01 PM on July 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Sarcasm LIB? You already got beat up in that other thread . . . I hardly think you would invite similar treatment here.

I'm not being sarcastic. If you want to increase readership (which can increase sign-ups) without something so huge as letting someone invite someone else Like buttons are perfect. They require less commitment than Share buttons, but still let people know that Metafilter is a place for good links. After seeing constant MeFi content on their friends' Facebook walls people might be more likely to join.

Might as well add a Google + button too.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:10 PM on July 13, 2011


Yes. I was just thinking about that today. We need an influx of Facebook people. That's what we are missing. And while we're at it a crapload of "Redditors" and SA peeps.

Diversity folks, it's all about diversity. At least nobody could call it an echo chamber anymore. Right?
posted by Splunge at 7:15 PM on July 13, 2011


What are 'Facebook people'? Pretty sure most people are on Facebook. That's like saying 'Google people'. And SA is the only other major site I know of that charges for sign ups, so maybe you're Not So Different After All.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:16 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


One question. When does the Narwhal bacon?
posted by Splunge at 7:20 PM on July 13, 2011


Most people are hesitant on change, so this will never happen.

It may never happen, but it is not because of a fear of change.
posted by wondermouse at 7:21 PM on July 13, 2011


I would like to apply for the position of Right Said Fredditor.
posted by mintcake! at 7:22 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


You are rejected on the grounds of being too sexy for the job.
posted by jonmc at 7:23 PM on July 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


we fear change
posted by The Whelk at 7:23 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I only fear nickles and pennies. I rather like dimes and quarters.
posted by Splunge at 7:26 PM on July 13, 2011


I'm not being sarcastic

It's taken me a very, very long time, and strained my credulity to breaking point, but I do finally believe this of LIB. I advise taking him at face value, no matter how much that hurts.
posted by flabdablet at 7:36 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


LiB: "What are 'Facebook people'?"

There are folk out there - educated, intelligent folk - who's sole window to the immense depth and breadth of 'the Internet' is Facebook and the links posted there. Reddit, Digg, MeFi, the great tentacled monstrosity of the Gawker octopus, B3ta, SA, the whole blogosphere, and almost everything else the internet holds - all are unknown to them, except when something is posted to a friend's wall.

Oh, sure, occasionally they may discover a funny video or favourite band on YouTube, buy a book or DVD from Amazon, or pick up a bargain on eBay - but they return to Facebook to tell everybody about it.

You can see them in any city - stumbling zombie-like along the crowded footpath while tapping on their phone; or on public transport, head bowed in supplication to the minature glowing Facebook on the screen. Occasionally, one will look up with a dull-eyed countenance to see if anyone they've friended is nearby - but inevitably the urge to return to banal conformity is too strong, their fingers twitch, and their gaze once again falls to the iPhone in their clammy hands.

These are the Facebook Ones…
posted by Pinback at 7:37 PM on July 13, 2011 [17 favorites]


I imagine that the main page of Facebook is that pure white color for maximum annoyance factor while people are checking their pages sitting in front of me at awesome concerts. That screen is blinding.
posted by mintcake! at 7:58 PM on July 13, 2011


Pinback. Pinback... Thank you. Your eloquence astounds and enraptures me. You sing the song of life and you are limned with a golden fire. The creatures of the world are comforted by your presence. And your fellow man is blessed, merely with your presence, or glance. You have a fiery sword of intelligence, it is tempered with your cool wit and steadfast resolve.

And yeah. What you said.
posted by Splunge at 8:02 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I imagine that the main page of Facebook is that pure white color for maximum annoyance factor while people are checking their pages sitting in front of me at awesome concerts. That screen is blinding.

Blinding, maybe, but extremely professional.
posted by grouse at 8:09 PM on July 13, 2011


BTW, if you read Pinback's comment in the voice of James Mason, you will never forget it.
posted by Splunge at 8:13 PM on July 13, 2011


I wrote mine as Charlton Heston, when he was younger. Right around Planet of the Apes.
posted by Splunge at 8:14 PM on July 13, 2011


There are folk out there - educated, intelligent folk - who's sole window to the immense depth and breadth of 'the Internet' is Facebook and the links posted there. Reddit, Digg, MeFi, the great tentacled monstrosity of the Gawker octopus, B3ta, SA, the whole blogosphere, and almost everything else the internet holds - all are unknown to them, except when something is posted to a friend's wall.


This is me IRL. Not sure why its so horrible reaching out to a younger generation of users. Oh, and maybe add a 'Tweet this' button too.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:18 PM on July 13, 2011


There is a Twitter button on every post. It's the thing with the Twitter logo at the top right of the page that says "Twitter."
posted by grouse at 8:24 PM on July 13, 2011


Not sure why its so horrible reaching out to a younger generation of users.

It's not that we're averse to reaching out to younger users, it's that we're averse to outreach outside of the totally hands-off word of mouth, period. No offense to MechEng who had a perfectly decent suggestion but the level of organic growth that we already have seems to mostly work for us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:25 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


  • One invite after you've had an account for 8 years or something, so they trickle in and you don't have new people inviting new people.
  • Require non-PayPal'ers to link a Facebook account or something to keep track of them.
posted by floam at 8:36 PM on July 13, 2011


Could you at least add Facebook Like buttons? It's an easy low-impact way to spread the word about the site.

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!

I DON'T FACEBOOK-LIKE EVEN MY OWN MOTHER.
posted by floam at 8:39 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Most people are hesitant on change, so this will never happen

The problem isn't that we're hesitant to change. We very well may be, but that isn't why this isn't likely to happen.

The MetaFilter community is just that: a community. If someone doesn't want to be part of the community, they're not going to accept the relatively low entry requirement of it.

some people won't join this site because it is not quote un quote "FREE". And go to sites like stumble upon instead.

I posit these people probably would not be very good contributors to both posts and the community, then.
posted by Mikey-San at 9:17 PM on July 13, 2011


It's not that we're averse to reaching out to younger users, it's that we're averse to outreach outside of the totally hands-off word of mouth, period.

Facebook Likes are word of mouth.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:12 PM on July 13, 2011


As are Facebook dislikes.
posted by Splunge at 10:17 PM on July 13, 2011


Facebook Likes are word of mouth.

Maybe in some alternate universe where everything is cheap and sad.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:18 PM on July 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Growth isn't what Metafilter is after.
posted by Justinian at 10:18 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Although I am old, I have not found it difficult to cut and paste the URL of a good mefi thread, or the link(s) it contains, in order to post them to facebook. Not everything has to have a "like" button (mefi already has a fb share button), and not every site has to growgrowgrow. It's not the sole or even best measure of awesomeness.
posted by rtha at 10:24 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps I should clarify. My wife is on Facebook. As are just about everyone she knows. I do not begrudge her that. It's what she likes. Fine.

I was even on Facebook for a very short time. Until it became annoying.

I love my wife dearly. I hate Facebook. That does not mean that I hate my wife. It just means that I hate Facebook.

My wife uses Facebook in productive ways. She does a lot of family tree kind of stuff. Cool beans for her. She has actually contacted family that she didn't even know she had. Now they are friends.

She doesn't spend all of her time on Farmville. Although she does spend some time on it.

I spend time on several MMOs. She does not begrudge me that time.

Well up until an alarm went off at 4 AM because she had to harvest her something or other.

I think she's over Farmville now. I hope.

And now I'm on Google+ or whatever. I will spend as much time as I think necessary there to decide if it's just another Facebook waste of my time. And when that happens I'll dump it as well.

Just like I did Twitter.

Tweet.
posted by Splunge at 10:31 PM on July 13, 2011



Although I am old, I have not found it difficult to cut and paste the URL of a good mefi thread, or the link(s) it contains, in order to post them to facebook. Not everything has to have a "like" button (mefi already has a fb share button), and not every site has to growgrowgrow. It's not the sole or even best measure of awesomeness.


I've got the Share bookmarlet, but a Share is more high commitment than a Like. A Like says "I'm reading this" and a Share says "I'm reading this and I want everyone to see it".
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:32 PM on July 13, 2011


I think what this thread clearly shows is that MetaFilter isn't keeping up with the times. We need to add more reality to the current group of users or else lose the younger demographic. I would propose having a new MetaTribes section where we can all group ourselves according to our common interests. Once a week each tribe could get together and vote someone off the Metaverse. This would insure that our membership doesn't go stale as well as keeping a healthy churn going for new memberships.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:32 PM on July 13, 2011


A Like says "I'm reading this" and a Share says "I'm reading this and I want everyone to see it".

Which is exactly why we don't want that functionality. If you don't want everyone to see it and don't want to explain why they should see it, don't bother.
posted by Justinian at 10:42 PM on July 13, 2011


If Facebook is short-sighted and lame enough not to let you "like" arbitrary URLs, that's pretty lame and short-sighted of them. Hopefully whatever replaces it won't do that.
posted by floam at 10:47 PM on July 13, 2011


I totally thought this suggestion was going to be that we'd close sign-ups and that you could only get into the site if you had an invite from an existing user, and that each existing user only got one invite, EVER.

And I was going to be so gleeful that I'd already secured a sockpuppet...
posted by Phire at 11:28 PM on July 13, 2011


So who let you Like individual comments first - MeFi or Facebook?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:33 AM on July 14, 2011


Screw Metafilter Island.

I vote for Hunger Metafilter Games with Jessamyn as Katniss.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:45 AM on July 14, 2011


mattbucher: "I wasn't aware that Metafilter was suffering from a lack of members."

I'm just glad we don't have to wear Members Only jackets to participate.
posted by bwg at 3:02 AM on July 14, 2011


Nope, need to keep the riff raff off my lawn. Release the hounds Smithers!
posted by arcticseal at 3:27 AM on July 14, 2011


It's an easy low-impact way to spread the word about the site.

Born again Metafilter. I don't get the need to evangelize broadly about mefi -- are we hurting in any way? What problem does this solve? Bigger is not better to me. Count me in the less is more camp.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:57 AM on July 14, 2011


I told 2 friends about Metafilter. And they told 2 friends, and they told 2 friends, and so on.
posted by JanetLand at 5:15 AM on July 14, 2011


I don't get why you guys would want to bring real life friends here. Don't you all hate your friends as much as I do? They'd just loser up the place.
posted by Think_Long at 5:55 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think we need the whole array of icons under each post: Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Youtube, Flickr, all of them.

...and then just a little bit of rouge because it's Fleet Week and that's when the big money rolls in.
posted by griphus at 7:06 AM on July 14, 2011


I think of this as a long tail exponential problem. As a service approaches the price tag of free, the member base quality goes down significantly. If Metafilter charged $500, there would be far fewer members - but one could extrapolate that the people who joined would be very serious and committed and have a lot of content and expertise that they would bring with them. Test Mefi at $4.00, $6.00 and $3.00 and I bet you could get a solid understanding of the cost of intelligence.

To fully setup the test you would need to set the testing period - lets say 1 month signup. Now you score new members on post count, comment count, and favorites by old members and new members separately. You would probably need to normalize by pre-existing member count and additive member count.
First figure out the weighting score of members in the control group (members who joined for the month two months prior - so we have both a membership pool and a fixed membership to measure during that second month.) Of course, we would need to make sure that this group was aware that they were a control group, so that they *knew* that they were test-monkeys (since the price point tests would know that they were getting a deal).
Then repeat the same metrics at a $4.00 price point for a month, then give them the same month long cool-down period to continue measurement of the comment/post quality. Repeat for $6.00. Repeat for $3.00. I'd never test a $0.00 pricetag as the spam and trolls would be hellish to extinguish.

Keep in mind I would also want to seasonally adjust the pre-existing userbase and make sure we understood the rate of change in the membership rate by time of year. There's probably more sources of error in that as well, this was mostly off the cuff, so I'd probably want to go through my methodology with someone as well...

I'd bet that $5.00 produces the most reasonable quality and quantity metrics with the most people - but there's no way to tell if it does without testing. Also, there's no guarantee that the test would provide a conclusive result (its possible that $6.00 and/or $4.00 produces the same results as $5.00 - which would be good... that way we would know if the Mods wanted more cash (and thus set it at the $6.00 rate thereafter), or whether they wanted it as cheap as possible to give back to the member base (and thus set it at the $4.00 rate).

On a side note:When I see a post crapfest resulting in members of the community with disabled accounts and others having to make MetaTalk posts - which also turn poor, I think I could easily argue, Metafilter is too cheap. Some days I wonder what price it would take to make sure that those things would happen lest frequently.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:28 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nanukthedog: " If Metafilter charged $500, there would be far fewer members - but one could extrapolate that the people who joined would be very serious and committed and have a lot of content and expertise that they would bring with them. "

One might also find that people would feel that their much higher entrance fee entitled them to demand special treatment and ponies from the mod staff. Could be a double-edged sword.
posted by zarq at 12:50 PM on July 14, 2011


One might also find that people would feel that their much higher entrance fee entitled them to demand special treatment and ponies from the mod staff. Could be a double-edged sword.

Whew! Good thing that doesn't happen now, right mods?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:14 PM on July 14, 2011


entropicamericana: " Whew! Good thing that doesn't happen now, right mods?"

Am just saying that it seems likely to open them up to even more hassle. Crap like, "You'd better listen to me, I help pay for your salary!" and so forth.
posted by zarq at 1:17 PM on July 14, 2011


I'd bet that $5.00 produces the most reasonable quality and quantity metrics with the most people - but there's no way to tell if it does without testing.

My bet is that no dollar amount between $0.01 and like $20 would have as significant an effect on signup rates as would a conversion to either no fee or any kind of subscription or three digit sign up fee. There'd be variation with cost, but it'd be somewhat minor so long as the cost itself was still relatively disposable one-time cash but signing up involved jumping through the paypal hoop. That friction being there at all is the most important thing.

If there was some non-insane way to test this, I'd be inclined to test two different things: completely unfettered signup, vs. free signup with some sort of slightly tedious non-monetary hoop-jumping (multi-step captcha, maybe, or a "why do you want to sign up to metafilter?" essay question with a minimum 100 word count). I'm guessing the latter case, with the friction but no money, would yield results closer to the current $5 system than to the totally-free, come-on-in version.

But it's all pure speculation; the $5 thing works great and has helped throttle signups to a really manageable stasis-to-slow-growth level of activity on the site, and we don't really have any incentive to muck with it, so $5 it is.

In a sense, you could consider the fixed cost of a signup vs. the constant march of inflation and the increasing familiarity with and painlessness of online payment systems as a kind of sliding downward fee structure anyway; $5 buys a lot less gas now than it did in 2004, and everybody pretty much knows what PayPal is and how it works even if they aren't exactly fond of it.

Whew! Good thing that doesn't happen now, right mods?

Yeah, but with the current setup we're pretty unambiguously comfortable in the very worst case scenario with refunding someone five bucks worth of shut the hell up.

I can't imagine how you'd talk around a $500 pile of entitlement. It's right in that valley between genuine chump change and the kind of money worth discussing doing morally questionable things for. I'm not Icing a bro for five hundred bucks, let alone icing a bro.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:30 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but with the current setup we're pretty unambiguously comfortable in the very worst case scenario with refunding someone five bucks worth of shut the hell up.

This is one of the other glorious side effects of running a "lifestyle" business.

And while I love geeking out thinking about it in the abstract, it's nice that we don't have to make big shiny fakey sharegholders reports full of all sorts of metrics and accomplishments and instead we can just sort of rest on the laurels of "people seem, for the most part, to really like it here"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:44 PM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's right in that valley between genuine chump change and the kind of money worth discussing doing morally questionable things for.

Howzabout I sweeten' da deal? Here's a few grand. Now dat nice wad o cash right dere should buy me dat friggin' edit window I been askin' fer, capische? I mean, youse gots a poifectly nice website here. Be a shame if somethin' were to happen to it....
posted by zarq at 1:48 PM on July 14, 2011


I'm glad that by the time I joined, shelling out 5 bucks was easy compared to what some of you went through!
posted by The Deej at 1:49 PM on July 14, 2011


I understood everything except capische
posted by arcticseal at 3:55 PM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I vote to replace the dollar fee with a to-be-determined quantity of cured meat.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:03 PM on July 14, 2011


I don't see an important question being addressed: is there an optimal size for the Metafilter user base?
about five or six inches.

I always knew I was sub-optimal :-(
posted by dg at 4:21 PM on July 14, 2011


And while I love geeking out thinking about it in the abstract, it's nice that we don't have to make big shiny fakey sharegholders reports full of all sorts of metrics and accomplishments and instead we can just sort of rest on the laurels of "people seem, for the most part, to really like it here"

I want to go to there.
posted by SpiffyRob at 4:51 PM on July 14, 2011


When I was growing up, my dad would always end his sentences with 'capische' when explaining something to me. Now, the meaning of 'capische' is essentially "Do you understand?" But I did not realize that until after I got to college. I always thought it was an insult, like "Idiot, don't you know that?" True story.
posted by Roger Dodger at 6:27 PM on July 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


After seeing constant MeFi content on their friends' Facebook walls people might be more likely to join.

Not so sure. I regularly post MeFi content in several other communities; it is usually well recieved, discussed with interest and even passed on in their other blogs/pages. None of my friends have expressed any interest in joining here - even when I ask outright. MeFi is just too big. Most like their intimate, chatty communities. Some of those communities seem silly to me; some even shallow - but I understand the comfort and joy people get from them. MeFi is like a huge gladiator arena in comparison. Laying down the $5 is like announcing that you are officially throwing yourself into the frey.

No, metafilter does not need to be bigger.
posted by Surfurrus at 7:14 PM on July 14, 2011


One might also find that people would feel that their much higher entrance fee entitled them to demand special treatment and ponies from the mod staff.

What, more special treatment and ponies than the current userbase demands?

Impossible.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:46 AM on July 15, 2011


MechEng's idea might work, but maybe instead of one to one invites, we could have it so that if you want to invite someone, they would need to have ten (or more) current Mefi members endorse them.
posted by FJT at 12:17 AM on July 16, 2011


That would be cool! We could splinter into factions and boost our numbers by inviting only people we agree with. MeFi branch stacking FTW!
posted by flabdablet at 6:54 AM on July 16, 2011


And any member in your downline, you get a percentage of their favorites!
posted by box at 9:37 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


We should get rid of the whole $5 to join system and start vetting new members by requiring them to make an innocent pony request on MeTa. If they survive, they are free to participate.

Oh dear sweet Jebus. I have to breathe into a bag and channel my spirit animal* to post to MeTa and I've been here for nearly seven years. Though admittedly, I was way less terrified back when I made my first MeTa because I hadn't seen those things which can not be unseen.

*an otter. Definitely an otter.
posted by sonika at 4:24 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


CAN NOT BE UNSEEN. CAN NOT BE UNSEEN. Can not be unseen. unseen unseen unseen...
posted by Splunge at 8:12 PM on July 16, 2011


Pretty interesting idea, if only for the attempt at addressing how to deal with the userbases slow, lord of the flies transformation into thrawn daily mail readers.

( I only read it ironically myself of course)
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:59 AM on July 19, 2011


I've invited 3 friends to MetaFilter by paying the $5 as gift memberships. It's only $5 -- if you really want someone on here, buy them a gift membership to encourage them to check it out.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:35 PM on July 23, 2011


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