What made you pay? April 11, 2012 10:04 AM   Subscribe

For MeFis that joined after Nov. 17, 2004: what convinced you to pay the $5 upfront fee? Needed for a research project, details inside.

If you joined MetaFilter after Matt implemented the $5 charge, what prompted you to pay?

We are PhD students researching admission filters for online communities. We are interested in your reasons for paying to join MetaFilter, as the minimal one-time monetary charge is
unique for online communities. We'd like to be able to use your responses in our paper so also please indicate if we have your permission to quote you in our results. Thanks!
posted by bmorrison to MetaFilter-Related at 10:04 AM (137 comments total)

I stalled for a while because I was a broke student at the time, but then the moment came and I needed to make some inaccurate accusations and immediately retract them.
posted by griphus at 10:07 AM on April 11, 2012

I wanted to ask a question on AskMe.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 10:10 AM on April 11, 2012 [8 favorites]

(Feel free to quote me in the results.)
posted by griphus at 10:11 AM on April 11, 2012

What overeducated_alligator said. A ONE-TIME charge of $5?! Best money I ever spent. I'd pay more than that to get the advice I've gotten here.
posted by Melismata at 10:13 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I started reading MetaFilter while sign ups were closed and it lead me to really neat web stuff. It was just better content than anything else I was reading at the time and I wanted to contribute. I was flat broke when sign ups opened, so I reserved "brundlefly" on November 18th but lurked until I could finally pay the $5 bucks a few months later.

Feel free to quote.
posted by brundlefly at 10:14 AM on April 11, 2012

I loved reading the stuff here. Then I got up the courage to actually want to post. I thought the $5 fee was a great idea, it made me feel special.
posted by Splunge at 10:14 AM on April 11, 2012

Best explanation ever.
posted by John Cohen at 10:15 AM on April 11, 2012

I'm happy to help, but I have a couple of questions that I hope you can answer first. Who is 'we' (I pulled your institution from your profile but I'm not sure who 'we' is composed of)? And can you post your IRB approval details (if needed at your institution)?

It's always nice to be able to follow up with you as your research gets further along and also to see what you ended up discussing about Metafilter.
posted by librarylis at 10:16 AM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I joined because I wanted to answer a question on AskMe.
Yes, you can quote me.
posted by smirkette at 10:16 AM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

I thought for the longest time that to pay for something with Paypal, you had to do the thing where you put money in an account with them, etc, and I'd heard too many account-frozen horror stories about Paypal to do that, so I lurked here, accountless, for literally years, even after I had $5 to spare. I finally paid up when I learned (in the process of buying my dog some pajamas - DON'T JUDGE!) that you can pay "through" paypal without even a paypal account, let alone money in their "bank".
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 10:17 AM on April 11, 2012

I'd been reading the site for a couple of years, lurking, keeping my opinions to myself.

But, you know how in conversations, there comes a time when you're just compelled to speak up? The little know-it-all that lives inside your head sticks his/her hand up at the teacher's question and goes, "ooh, ooh, ooh, I know!"

Ok, now, you know how corporate culture usually does not encourage the expression of opinions at all, much less strong ones?

So, here I am, opinionated and with things to say, working in a toxic work environment that not only strongly discouraged employees from expressing any kind of opinion, but actively punished anyone who did.

That was what caused me to fork over the fiver to join. So that I could take part in conversations I felt were worthwhile, in an environment where expressing an opinion was OK.
posted by LN at 10:19 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I read the site forever, and finally got up the nerve to think I could have something to say in comments. Turns out, I like to answer questions more than comment on links.
posted by xingcat at 10:20 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

And to follow up on librarylis, I'm trusting you're just going to use this thread as data and not mine our posting histories, right? Because that I would not be cool with.
posted by smirkette at 10:21 AM on April 11, 2012

After years of reading, I wanted to add my voice to the jostling hordes of intelligentsia and class clowns and support the site - would have paid twice as much to do it, too. Perhaps even quadruple.
posted by batmonkey at 10:21 AM on April 11, 2012

(oh, yes - if my words are worth quoting, you've my permission)
posted by batmonkey at 10:22 AM on April 11, 2012

Apparently I had a burning desire to suggest that a person might have a corrupt font on their macbook, and money was no object. I'm pretty surprised that's the AskMe that pushed me from lurker to commenter.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 10:26 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I joined on the 18th because I somehow forgot to obsessively click the "join" button on the 17th. I'd been trying to get in for years. The fiver just flew out of my pocket of its own volition. I'd long wanted to be part of what I perceived as an exceptionally intelligent community. Ethereal Bligh, Amberglow & Loquacious are three names that come specifically to mind, when I think about specific names. I guess I have a thing for long-windedness.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:26 AM on April 11, 2012

I'm happy to help, but I have a couple of questions that I hope you can answer first. Who is 'we' (I pulled your institution from your profile but I'm not sure who 'we' is composed of)? And can you post your IRB approval details (if needed at your institution)?

Yeah, to sort of chime in from an official moderator perspective here, it's awesome that you're doing some mefi research and the spirit of what you're presenting here seems totally fine to me, but in general this is the sort of thing where more details upfront about the research you're doing is really helpful. Ideally even check with us via the contact form before putting something like this into Metatalk so we can give you a quick bit of feedback if anything is in "needs more information" territory.

If you can give a little more detail in a followup comment here about the nature and scope of the project (who is involved, if there's more than one mefite on your team, what your IRB/ethics approval process is at the school for this and where you are on that, what the presentation of any data collected here will be in terms of aggregate/anonymous coding of data vs. direct quotes that could be associated with usernames, etc), that would help this be more of a totally, unambiguously okay thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:26 AM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I had been a lurker on Ask for years, but I ponied up when MeFi Music was announced. Oddly enough, I haven't posted anything on Music since the initial months of it being open, and now I find myself spending more time on the blue than any other subsite.

you can quote the above if you feel this is useful for some reason.
posted by mysterpigg at 10:29 AM on April 11, 2012

It was so I could give lots and lots of bad advice.
posted by Solomon at 10:34 AM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

As someone who joined the very next day I can tell you what convinced me: having spent months being unable to sign up, because signups were closed, I valued the signup significantly more and jumped at it when signups opened again.

that and, you know, five dollars.
posted by davejay at 10:37 AM on April 11, 2012

My brother mentioned that he saw about hacking Canon firmware on this site in March, and eventually I checked the site out, probably in August or September of 2008. I thought the site was neat, and I went to register, but then I balked at the $5 entry fee. "The internet is free!" I thought.

But I kept lurking for a while, and realized that this was a smart part of the internet, and that the $5 was totally worth it. My first contribution was in a post about life in Zimbabwe under hyperinflation, then a suggestion for food and photo ops. It took a while for me to be really hooked on the site, and now my wife sometimes claims I love MetaFilter more than her. But that's another story for another time.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:37 AM on April 11, 2012

feel free to quote
posted by davejay at 10:37 AM on April 11, 2012

I came here from a link on a Moleskine enthusiast blog, was intrigued by the odd non-threaded nature of the conversation, and then discovered the Green, which was and is the most wonderful thing on the internet.

A side note: John Cohen's link up above is very interesting in that the FPP linked contains verbiage that would almost certainly get the post deleted today. It's interesting how the ways the site works have evolved (and, one would imagine, continue to).
posted by jbickers at 10:39 AM on April 11, 2012

To reply to questions asked:

The "we" is myself and another student, achpea, are writing a paper to submit to CSCW conference. IRB legalese can be found here. Will gladly post copy of paper when it's finished or send to interested parties (send MeFi mail).
posted by bmorrison at 10:45 AM on April 11, 2012

Lurked for a long time. Never really felt the need to join and make comments (mostly because anything I thought of adding to the conversation was usually already said by DU).

Then one day I came across something really weird and interesting and my thought was "This would make a really good Metafilter post". That, along with the generally really intelligent and sincere quality of the comments, lead me to join. [I still haven't written up that post.]
posted by benito.strauss at 10:49 AM on April 11, 2012

A friend of mine did his last lecture and was featured in a front page post

(And good luck with the CSCW paper, we're working on ours as well :)
posted by jasonhong at 10:52 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Additional info: No data mining whatsoever, only using publicly available statistics through infodumpster. MetaFilter is the only online community we have found with a single nominal upfront monetary fee followed by a waiting period to start new threads. We believe that to be unique and part of the reason behind the longevity, overall intellectual level of comments, dedication of members, and overall trust that is apparent on the site.

Only danger (we know of) of being "discovered" (and why we ask for permission to quote) is that if we quote you directly in the paper, a simple google search might identify your username which could then be traced to your profile. We will definitely analyze all responses and report in aggregate, but if there are outstanding quotes, we'd like to use with permission.
posted by bmorrison at 10:53 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had been lurking for several years (pre 9/11) and had recently been itching to answer some AskMe questions, though not powerfully enough to sign up right that minute. I finally did the signup while hiding out from my family over Christmas break.

So I guess I signed up as a gesture of protest against family/holiday banality? I didn't actually comment for a week or so afterwards, and haven't commented all that much ever.

(quote away!)
posted by janell at 10:53 AM on April 11, 2012

I had been lurking for a while, and importuning mathowie to admit me, but he wouldn't until I paid to be a $5.00 noob.
posted by Cranberry at 10:58 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cool, bmorrison, thanks for the followup.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:01 AM on April 11, 2012

You can quote me on this.

Like so many others, I'd been lurking for a while, and then I just had to answer a question on Ask.
posted by brainwane at 11:03 AM on April 11, 2012

I registered because my twin sister asked a question for me and I wanted to post the picture of my dog I didn't realize she'd already posted.
(update: still slightly psycho, but lovable)
(the dog, too)
posted by changeling at 11:12 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I lurked forever, and I was on the cusp of signing up a few times (never had a question that I just had to post on Ask and I'm not a heavy participant in any online discussion forum).

The final straw, I'm somewhat chagrined to admit, was the great November 2009 favorites experiment. I was too lazy to go mucking about with style sheets, wait for a Greasemonkey script update, or for the experiment to end, so once users were allowed to opt-out of the experiment, I signed up.
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:13 AM on April 11, 2012

This probably has been discussed before, but if the subject of an FPP, or even the subject of a discussion in a thread, wants to respond to the dirty lies honest misunderstandings being promulgated therein, will Metafilter, Inc. waive the fi' dolla' and let them in?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:18 AM on April 11, 2012

I like how many people signed up to answer a question. I suppose at the end of the day, we all value our own opinions quite highly; certainly we value them at least to $5.
posted by davejay at 11:19 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have far more opinions than people willing to listen to them in real life...

Honestly though, I live in a small town with few people worth talking to (at least on topics such as these). I read for a few years, but always felt like it would be great to have an actual conversation where I could put a point across and have somebody comeback. The folk on Metafilter are not at all like the folk I meet in real life, and there are so many whom I would have never had a conversation with otherwise. $5, or £3.20 for me, is a small price to pay for interaction I otherwise rarely experience, especially as you're usually getting a pretty good level of conversation. I would gladly pay the fee every year, as it's little more than a pint of good beer, yet this place isn't filled with pub bores.
posted by Jehan at 11:21 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

This probably has been discussed before, but if the subject of an FPP, or even the subject of a discussion in a thread, wants to respond to the dirty lies honest misunderstandings being promulgated therein, will Metafilter, Inc. waive the fi' dolla' and let them in?

Sure, if they drop us a line, though often as not they seem to just plop the fiver down and show up before we knew what was what. Folks interested in joining but for whom the five bucks is a hardship can do that in general, it happens every once in a while.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:23 AM on April 11, 2012

If you joined MetaFilter after Matt implemented the $5 charge, what prompted you to pay?

On November 18th, signups became available, so I ponied up.

It was an interesting website and I wanted a piece of the action, so I joined the party. Had signups, with a one time $10-20 fee, been available on November 16th, I would have joined then.

Daddy needed his crack, oh yes he did.

You have permission to use this comment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:24 AM on April 11, 2012

I'm a bit confused by this question. I assume the vast majority of people will say a) "I was compelled to post a comment/answer" or b) "I like MetaFilter and wanted to show my support." Everything else ("For the music!" "To use MeMail for drug deals!" "To post spam to Projects!" will be statistical outliers, right?

So it seems to me that rather than an informal survey, you could better answer this question by interrogating the Infodump. You could interrogate the data to find out where each member's first action was - a MeFi comment, an Ask Answer, a Music favourite - to basically get a view of the popular motivators. People who posted FPPs as soon as they met the threshold would be people who were compelled by the desire to post what they thought was a really awesome FPP, I guess.

In other words, I guess if you want stories, keep asking, but if you want stats, see the Infodump!

Apparently I was compelled to defend the UK against unjust accusations of rain in Ask.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:25 AM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Here you go.

You may quote what I wrote there, but but please do not quote or use any information in my profile or metafilter posting history in your project/paper unless you ask for and receive my permission to do so via memail.
posted by zarq at 11:25 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I honestly don't remember. I'd been reading Ask for a while, and I think I just wanted to actively participate (this was in Nov. 2007, but I only know that because my profile tells me so).

You can quote me.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:28 AM on April 11, 2012

I lurked for years. The thing that finally convinced me to pony up the five dollars and join was when I read the AskMe from the Occupy Portland protester who had a head injury and was experiencing auditory hallucinations. I thought that, if I ever found myself in a situation like that, I wanted a community of internet strangers who had my back.

Quote away.
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:33 AM on April 11, 2012

I'd been reading for a while and wanted to contribute. I don't think I specifically signed up to make my first comment, though.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:43 AM on April 11, 2012

I wanted to post questions to AskMe.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:58 AM on April 11, 2012

I joined in 2006 after lurking for six or so months. Like a lot of other folks here, I ponied up when there was a question I really felt the need to answer, and also because I realized that I didn't have to set up a paypal account in order to pay the $5.

Yes, you can use this if you want.
posted by rtha at 12:00 PM on April 11, 2012

I wanted to post a question to Ask. I don't remember how I came upon Metafilter, but I'd been reading MeFi and AskMeFi for a few months before joining up. I realized that the community here was totally suited for what I wanted to ask, so I paid up. And then got several friends to do the same.

You have my permission to use my response.
posted by rachaelfaith at 12:01 PM on April 11, 2012

I have a strong lurker streak, but eventually I decided I'd gotten well more than $5 worth of information and entertainment from this place, so joining felt like the right thing to do.
posted by rewil at 12:05 PM on April 11, 2012

I signed up to ask a question. I was trying to get a Linux distro to work on an older laptop, I'd searched all 'round the net, the quality of answers here looked very good so I gave it a shot; five bucks isn't much if I can get quality information.

I think I signed up the day I found the place. Never did get Linux on that lappy but it's been a good show anyways.

I didn't even know about the other subsites, as far as I knew it was all about Ask, not sure how long before I noticed the blue, much less Talk etc and etc.

You can quote this if it helps you.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:14 PM on April 11, 2012

I am a pre 2004 member so this may not count, but I did pay $5 to join. I could have gotten in during a one or two hour window for sign-ups but I thought mathowie deserved the $5.

John Cohen, Burhanistan - that was a $15 thread - three members joined - in addition to you, Burhanistan, bicyclefish and Flunkie also joined.

jbickers, that language was something that the show producer used in her own self promotions, I wasn't being provocative.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:15 PM on April 11, 2012

After lurking for some months, I donated $5 in support of the generally high-quality discussion and all the work that goes into fostering it. That just so happened to get me a username.
posted by introp at 12:15 PM on April 11, 2012

I can't remember what prompted me to to pay actual monies and join when I did--I apparently lurked for another 6 months after joining before adding my voice to the fray. Like introp and rewil, I probably felt like I'd gotten $5 worth of entertainment from the site. It's also just kind of nice to "be someone" within a community, even if you're just lurking.
posted by drlith at 12:18 PM on April 11, 2012

I lurked for a few months then I wanted to answer a question about where to go in Philadelphia so I paid my $5. An innocuous decision I had no idea would lead to spending so much time on the site...
posted by mlle valentine at 12:20 PM on April 11, 2012

I lurked for a year or two but signed up the moment I figured out that having a user account would allow me to change the page background color to white.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:23 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Opinionated asshole here. If anyone thinks $5 is enough to stop me spouting off about something, well, I've got $5 that says they're wrong.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:25 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

It was so I could give lots and lots of bad advice.
posted by Solomon at 10:34 AM on April 11 [1 favorite +] [!]

"Fuck it, just cut the baby in half. DTMFBA."
posted by the_bone at 12:29 PM on April 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

I enjoyed reading the content and wanted to post some questions. Much like listener supported radio, I felt like a member.
posted by i_wear_boots at 12:29 PM on April 11, 2012

$5 for all you can drink beer sounded like a great deal.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:32 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had wanted to join for a while, and finally got on the grid enough to have a bank account to make the payment from.
posted by rollbiz at 12:36 PM on April 11, 2012

I had been reading for some time, thought I'd throw down the fiver to support the site (I did not have any pressing need to comment at the time, nor do I generally).
posted by Jim Slade at 12:49 PM on April 11, 2012

I never did pay. I introduced my husband to MetaFilter but he joined long before I did. Finally, after two years of me saying, "You should post that to MetaFilter!" and him saying, "Why don't you just get an account?" and "How can you stand looking at those ads all the time?" he bought me a gift account and I was off and running. I didn't mind paying the five dollars, I just couldn't be bothered with setting up a paypal account. I still mostly lurk but I speak up every now and then. Most likely if he hadn't bought me the account, I would have eventually signed up to ask about A Summer Morning. That answer alone was well worth the money. Quote me if you'd like.
posted by Dojie at 12:51 PM on April 11, 2012

I was a lurker of AskMe probably for a year or two. I signed up initially because I wanted to ask a question. Had it all drafted up on my computer and waiting to post when I was eligible. But then, I figured out what I was going to do and didn't need to ask that question anymore. The best perks of membership that I discovered when I joined: 1. a white background, so I don't look as slackerish at work, 2. favoriting comments/threads, 3. answering questions, 4. asking questions.

The first two are worth the $5 in my mind.

You have my permission to quote, but please do so anonymously.
posted by watch out for turtles at 12:57 PM on April 11, 2012

I think it was somehow related to being pregnant. I was spending a lot of time on altdotlife and there were some people from there over here, and it seemed like a good place to talk to smart people about a variety of topics including and not including parenthood. It could accomodate talk about being a parent, but not restrict a person to that role, that part of your identity.

There are a lot of really stupid pregnancy forums, and just having to face down some of those made me really appreciate having random things to read from smart people.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:58 PM on April 11, 2012

Apparently, I wanted to make dick jokes.

(Feel free to quote me.)
posted by mollymayhem at 12:59 PM on April 11, 2012

I had been a lurker for years, but I found one particular post so fantastic I just had to register to say how much I loved it. (The comment in question is here). Once registered I didn't become a prolific commenter, but I chip in here and there, and enjoy making the occasional FPP on those rare moments I come across something great before others do.

Personally I think that what makes Metafilter such a fantastic read - for all the daft bickering, in jokes and show offs - is the sheer quality of the discussion around the posts. Many's the time I open the discussion thread first, before actually looking at the links relating to the post. And it's always seemed to me like the $5 - albeit such a nominally tiny amount - is just enough to filter out the reddit / Youtube style puerile / offensive / inane commenters, and filter in those with something interesting to say.

Feel free to quote...
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 1:05 PM on April 11, 2012

I met my SO in July 2008 and he introduced me to the site. I lurked for a while, then finally signed up to ask a question in 2009. Funny how a blazing tit rash can motivate you to get moving.

(I did buy the bra recommended in the answers to that question--thank you, Sidhedevil!--but I still wish I'd found a book or website about skin problems like mine. It's been difficult and expensive trying to figure things out on my own.)

Feel free to quote me.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 1:09 PM on April 11, 2012

I'd been reading the front page since maybe 2003 but never really read the comments. Then sometime in 2009 I realized that Ask existed so I started reading that, and the comments, and lurked in threads for a few months. Then two things happened.

One was the thing with the Russian girls. I didn't necessarly have five bucks' worth of anything to say about it, but wanted to say something.

The other was that reading the archives of AskMe led me to this thread, in which the OP asks how to interpret a really simple commercial, a few people give the right answer, several people give insane off-the-mark answers, and in the end the OP thanks everyone for their help and declares that the correct intepretation is a combination of two wrong answers.

I actually don't know why it irritated me so much to see it play out that way, but it did, and I figured that if I could actually post in threads, then if something like this happened in the future, I could help.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:17 PM on April 11, 2012

Wanted to write an AskMe question.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:24 PM on April 11, 2012

You can quote me. I don't remember when I found the site itself. My recollection is that I ponied up when I came across a problem and thought, I bet I could find and answer on Ask Metafilter. But a look back shows a comment on the blue posted before the question. Hopefully there's a waiting period before you could post a question that I don't recall, or I'll have to confront the fact that I'm not only a pompous gasbag, I'm a self-deluded pompous gasbag.
posted by Diablevert at 1:24 PM on April 11, 2012

I wanted cat advice.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:32 PM on April 11, 2012

I needed to correct someone about something geeky.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:32 PM on April 11, 2012

I paid the $5 because I was just beginning to write/record songs, and MeFi Music seemed like a supportive place to post those efforts (and it still is!).
posted by Corduroy at 1:32 PM on April 11, 2012

I wanted to survey the community for my dissertation.

I kid! I kid! I wanted to post a question to Ask.
posted by Think_Long at 1:34 PM on April 11, 2012

Huh. I guess I just couldn't keep my opinion of Violent House Panda to myself.

But I know that Metafilter was my replacement for Memepool, in its waning days, and I loved the level of erudition I could find here and nowhere else. So I'd been lurking for a while before succumbing to the need to write a comment no one would likely ever read.
posted by darksasami at 1:40 PM on April 11, 2012

Feel free to quote: I was a highschool student at the time I signed up (2005), and still living with my parents. I was pretty comfortable at that point with purchasing things online--I used my mother's PayPal to order things on eBay (with her permission), and used my parents' credit cards to order used CDs on Amazon (without permission). I can't remember exactly, but I'm almost positive I used my mom's PayPal to sign up for MetaFilter. So, in that sense, I didn't need much convincing--I'd been a lurker on the site for a year or two before I signed up--since I didn't pay for it!
posted by nonmerci at 1:48 PM on April 11, 2012

I had $5 to blow.
posted by George Lucas at 1:50 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Quote me anywhere you'd like, just let me know if ya do (so I can Grar after the fact).

Anyway, I signed up and paid because the AskMe portion of the site seemed both powerful and accessible at the same time. The answers were usually on target, limited to the question at hand, and could even include specialized, expert, or first hand knowledge. Five dollars is a cheap price to pay for access to this sort of goodwill not often found on the internet outside of topic specific forums that would require a login and perhaps the establishment of a reputation before blatant 'help me find out X' requests would be taken seriously or allowed.

I've stuck around because the community is well spoken, intelligent, and (mostly) thoughtful. I credit this to the fee itself as well as intelligent parsing of material by the site mods.

posted by RolandOfEld at 1:52 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I started reading MetaFilter intermittently around late 2003, maybe early 2004. I saw people mention that sign-ups occasionally opened, and I sometimes checked when I was on but didn't go out of my way to regularly check on signups. When fee-based sign-ups first opened, I wasn't even aware of it. Then once I was aware of it, the $5 fee stopped me for a while (not least because I was wary of Paypal, though I never had any particular experience to make me so). There were several conversations on the Blue and Green that almost inspired me to pony up so I could participate in them - there were a lot of smart people saying interesting things! But that was also part of what held me back; I was intimidated by the breadth and depth of knowledge the userbase displayed. What finally pushed me over the edge was a thread on a topic I had just attended a seminar about the week before. I finally had a chance to contribute intelligently!

I still don't comment all that often, and the one time I posted to the Blue was more out of a sense of obligation (see: intimidated) than anything else, but ever since then, I've stopped by regularly. Well, except for my two years in Peace Corps, but even then I usually at least glanced at the Blue on those rare occasions I had internet access.

You can quote me. But looking through my early history, please don't quote what I said about Steve Carrell and The Office. He's brilliant, it turns out.
posted by solotoro at 2:06 PM on April 11, 2012

I had been reading the site for a few years, but never had much of an urge to join until I read this question. I actually knew the answer! I felt compelled to provide that answer! So I joined.
posted by msali at 2:07 PM on April 11, 2012

Ok, thanks bmorrison.

I joined because I was so excited that someone on MetaFilter had written up a post on Cal Worthington that I could not stand it and I absolutely had to respond about the time I went to Alaska and and saw the same old dude dancing around the car lot in Anchorage that I saw in San Diego. Blew my little mind. Also, Go See Cal!

If you do quote me, I'd appreciate being quoted anonymously (or you're welcome to follow up through MeMail). Thanks.
posted by librarylis at 2:13 PM on April 11, 2012

Like many others, I joined to post an answer on AskMe. In my case it was this question.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:17 PM on April 11, 2012

Listening in from across the room was great for a few years. But eventually I wanted to join in on the conversation. Even if it's more often just to make bad jokes.

Permission granted.
posted by Kabanos at 2:21 PM on April 11, 2012

It wasn't because I had an answer to share, but rather that I wanted to support the great idea that is AskMeFi. It seemed so diverse in its question base that I knew I'd find lots of opportunities to be helpful in some small way.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 2:21 PM on April 11, 2012

I was good friends with a member (who has been with the site since the beginning, his user # is in the 100s) and he told me about the site. It looks like I joined very shortly after the paywall, but I don't remember ever balking or being a lurker for very long. I guess I don't like to watch a conversation that I can't participate in!
posted by radioamy at 2:22 PM on April 11, 2012

the place was excellent. i wanted in. i figured it would be fun to comment and it very much was.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:23 PM on April 11, 2012

I forget.
posted by unSane at 2:33 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was sick of lurking. The answers to my Asks have been more than worth the $5.
posted by Currer Belfry at 3:04 PM on April 11, 2012

After lurking on and off for years, and realizing that certain posts led to me either rambling on in my blog or mentally composing a comment, I figured I might as well suck it up and pay the $5 so I could post comments. Feel free to quote me on that, though I prefer to be quoted anonymously.
posted by yasaman at 3:17 PM on April 11, 2012

Because someone was wrong on the internet!

Just kidding, I was here before the $5 invasion.

posted by deborah at 3:52 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had been a lurker for a while, and finally had to sign up to agree that yes, Cemetery Man is an AWESOME movie.

You can quote that, because it's true.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:52 PM on April 11, 2012

I have been trying to remember and I can't: it must have been a particularly vapid reason, but I'm glad I joined.
posted by francesca too at 4:14 PM on April 11, 2012

I had been lurking for years, and I never considered joining because I had nothing to say. Then I saw this post with a live stream of people unearthing a freaking dinosaur, and my heart was overcome with giddy joy. So I just had to say something silly about it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:46 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had lurked for a while, and eventually had to pony up just to join in the conversation. Very interesting folks here, and $5 isn't much, really.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:13 PM on April 11, 2012

Discovered Mefi via stumble, liked it and lurked for years. Then one night I was freaking out on bad acid, and I wanted to know if the trick with orange juice was true.

(May Not Be True).
posted by marienbad at 5:15 PM on April 11, 2012

I was a long-time lurker on AskMe and wrestled with the idea of joining for awhile. I waited until I was sure that I really liked it here, then I finally did it. I posted my first answer about five days later.
posted by k8lin at 5:24 PM on April 11, 2012

I linked to it on my weblog on august 23 2001, but had been reading it for awhile before that, which means I've been lurking for over 10 years, which is insane. I signed up recently because I started noticing that I start a lot of sentences with "well, on metafilter today, I read..." I figured it was Just Time.
posted by oomny at 5:25 PM on April 11, 2012


I had lurked for years and felt badly that I wasn't giving anything back to a community from which I derived a lot of enjoyment and edification. Perhaps not so much 'giving back' as I'm still terrible at unlurking and participating, but at the least contributing to the financials of the organisation was important to me.

WRT signing up decision:
I think i've had another username with a different email address a long time before this one, but I wanted to offer an answer to a specific, local, question and as I was lying on the lounge at the time I couldn't be arsed figuring out which email account I'd used (muchless what silly username i'd come up with) so just signed up again. I mention this because you ask about the cost of joining. Signup is a one-time low cost. Cost wasn't a barrier to entry for me.

I wander across all sections of the stable of sites here, and have got wayyyyy more than $5.00 out of it. In fact, now that I think about it, metafilter was an area of common interest for me and SO, so yay metafilter for facilitating some email flirting in the mid 2000s. Thanks!

(you may quote me, if you wish. Best of luck with your research)
posted by pymsical at 5:42 PM on April 11, 2012

I had been lurking for a couple of years, saw a question on Askme where the answer to the asker's problem was to email me directly. I was the one person in the world who could get a task done for them, so I paid my $5 and basked in the warm glow of reading the right question at the right time.

(permission to quote granted)
posted by deadtrouble at 5:47 PM on April 11, 2012

My google searches would sometimes lead me to this site with a green background that often answered my exact question. I eventually realized I was ending up at the same site over and over and that it might have some kind of directory of questions. Then I discovered the blue, lurked for a while, and decided I liked it here and wanted in. I kept coming across askmes where I felt I could add something useful if only I went ahead and made an account already. One day, I just did.

quote me if you would like
posted by sarae at 5:59 PM on April 11, 2012

My wife kept taking me to meetups and I wanted to talk the the interesting people I met more than just every time there was a meetup.

{quote if you so desire}
posted by Mad_Carew at 6:02 PM on April 11, 2012

I'd been lurking on and off since 2002, and my first few attempts to sign up were rebuffed by membership being closed. By the time I saw that membership was open again, it had been long enough that it wasn't that important to me anymore.

I finally decided to join when I saw a mystery bicycle noise question that seemed to be getting a lot of near-miss answers. I was pretty sure I knew what the noise was coming from, and it turned out to be the correct answer.

I should have joined sooner.

(You may use this comment as you see fit.)
posted by helicomatic at 6:07 PM on April 11, 2012

Like a lot of people, I was a long-time lurker when I saw yet another AskMe that I knew I knew the answer to; for whatever reason, that particular question pushed me into forking over my five bucks... I even got a 'best answer' for that one, my very first comment!

I originally found MetaFilter several years ago, just following where idle curiousity led me; I guess I kept coming back because, especially when compared to too much of the internet, this place was civilized: people could and did disagree, but without the flamewars, trolls and name-calling so many other sites have.
posted by easily confused at 6:17 PM on April 11, 2012

I'd been lurking for a hella long time - around a decade, I guess - and had always enjoyed the site but never really felt the need to pay the money since I am more of a lurker than poster by nature. I'd like to be able to say that I had a good reason for finally joining up, like I saw a particular thread and wanted to respond or I had a question that needed answering, but honestly it was mostly a fleeting whim. I have a lot of those.
posted by Lina Lamont at 6:19 PM on April 11, 2012

I was another years-long lurker. I frequently sent my husband links from MetaFilter and related discussions and questions, but never got around to setting up an account. He finally set it up for me as a Christmas gift. Calls it the best $5 he ever spent.
posted by moira at 6:21 PM on April 11, 2012

(I think I would eventually have paid the fee to ask or answer a question.)
posted by moira at 6:23 PM on April 11, 2012

I've always had to pay people to be my friend.

But, yes, ask question.
posted by maxwelton at 6:29 PM on April 11, 2012

Site was mentioned on a blog I used to read. Went down the rabbit hole and have never been back.

Oh, yeah permission granted.

posted by govtdrone at 6:37 PM on April 11, 2012

I just wanted somewhere to comment where people did so in coherent sentences. With punctuation, even. yeah, you can quote me
posted by gaspode at 6:56 PM on April 11, 2012

I can't believe all these $5 n00bs who just paid money to earn their MeFi wings.

Me, I had to load the site up every day for more than a year, just to see if signups were open. Also to read the links and threads, in which I frustratingly could not post, because I wasn't a member and there was no way of becoming a member.

Until one day I loaded up the page and there was a little box and instead of saying "signups are closed," it was all, "SIGNUPS ARE OPEN, ENTER YE THE PROMISED LAND."

Point being, it was actually harder to become a member before the $5 fee was instituted. The $5 thing sort of democratized the process, the way I remember it.

You can quote me.
posted by brina at 6:57 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't remember what prompted me to pony up the $5.

I do remember what prompted my husband to do so: me saying, "No, I will not post one more 'My husband, who's leaning over my shoulder, says blah blah blah' comment — get your own account!"

(quote if you wish)
posted by Lexica at 7:01 PM on April 11, 2012

I came from memepool, lurked for years, having issues figuring out paypal. Then someone asked a question about the best place in the world, Bali, and I wanted to answer it. I probably wanted to ask a question, but it looks like I waited a full month to ask.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:18 PM on April 11, 2012

This pretty much covers it.
posted by Talez at 7:18 PM on April 11, 2012

I knew it was going to happen eventually. I'd thought about and dismissed the idea of joining to use AskMeFi several times over a few years, and had been lurking all over the site significantly more prior to joining, to the point that I decided I had already accrued well over $5 of frustration in not being able to contribute and signed up.

My first comment started what is now one of my AskMeFi missions: linking to a 2009 NYT article about balance every time the topic comes up. This article isn't my passion in life, but it does appear that I can't help myself from linking it. Not sure what that says about me. Other than that I do think multi-tasking while brushing teeth is always a fun option.

Permission granted.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:20 PM on April 11, 2012

It turns out the first comment I wrote on Metafilter began with the word "meh" - a very inauspicious beginning. But it was the commenting factor - hard to enjoy the threads when you can't post responses. I mean, I can easily read and not respond in threads - but when you actually can't respond, it's like being at a party behind glass.
posted by crossoverman at 7:48 PM on April 11, 2012

I joined today. I've been lurking for a while. I've wanted to comment or answer a question on several occasions but wasn't willing to spend the money. I was in a mood to spend tonight. I appreciate the quality of much of the discussion here, and hope to join in once in a while.
posted by Area Man at 8:00 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'll pay $5 for lots of things. I probably wanted to comment on things, but the $5 just wasn't a big factor one way or the other.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:05 PM on April 11, 2012

Signed up as soon as I saw that memberships were open again, after a long period of enforced lurking. $5 is a token amount - a greater issue was that I had to fuck around setting up a PayPal account just to pay it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:35 PM on April 11, 2012

I'd been lurking for years, it was the night before my birthday, I was bored, a little lonely (living alone at the time) and wanted to reach out to someone, and I figured that $5 was pretty good value for a self-birthday-present. I was right.
posted by Scientist at 9:22 PM on April 11, 2012

I had lurked for over a year. My boyfriend left me. I was too shy to post my own question about it (besides, he was gone, what could anyone do?), so instead I just answered other peoples' relationship questions. 5$ was a lot cheaper than therapy, and mefi was available at any hour.

Either I got to commiserate, help someone else out, or at the very least realize my own situation wasn't maximally bad.

It really helped that I could keep this identity separate from other online identities; for the first several years here I was very careful to keep out any gendered, locational, or career info (now if anyone cared you could figure out exactly who I am. Please dont', I'm not that exciting.)

Oh, and another note: after my very first comment, the kind person (replying to both me and the OP) called me out-- "this, in my not so humble and very biassed opinion, is why engineers and math majors are so unbelievably shitty at dealing with relationship woes, btw."
Dammit. I guess my inner physicist was showing again.
posted by nat at 9:54 PM on April 11, 2012

I found AskMe/Metafilter via a link (from Bruce Schneier's website) to the Airnxtz saga and lurked for a long time. I thought that I finally decided to get a username when I wanted to comment on someone's question about whether it was possible to use a Mini Cooper to transport carseats, but it turns out, no, I wanted to comment on child-raising instead.

Anyway, I signed up because I wanted to be able to comment on AskMe questions.

Mind you, I think most of my AskMe questions have been about how to deal with kids and their issues. Especially if it involves poop.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:01 PM on April 11, 2012

I'd lurked here for years and years and wanted to feel slightly less like a free rider. (feel free to quote!)
posted by doop at 4:11 AM on April 12, 2012

I had been reading compulsively for months, but then one day someone asked this question and I was curious, so googled a bit, and found the answer, but when I came back to the thread, no one else had it. And I waited, but still no one posted the answer, so finally I got frustrated, joined, and posted it, and received my rightful praise :)
posted by lollusc at 5:47 AM on April 12, 2012

There was a Canadian guy on Ask who wanted to move to Perth, Melbourne or Sydney to surf (and be an accountant or something) and needed advice on which to pick. It was worth the five dollars to warn him how crap the surf is in Perth and Melbourne.
posted by Ahab at 6:22 AM on April 12, 2012

I wanted to contribute to the community and get rid of the ads in a site-sanctioned way that, in theory, compensated the founders for the loss of my eyeballs at a rate they defined (as opposed to, say, installing ad blocker). Plus, it's like public radio; you do feel better when you donate.
posted by carmicha at 8:14 AM on April 12, 2012

I had actually not joined MeFi for a while because I didn't want to pay the $5. A few friends of mine kept posting links to MeFi threads and, after lurking for a bit, I decided that it was worth the $5. Basically, the reason I paid was for the ability to participate in the community instead of just passively observing.
posted by asnider at 9:05 AM on April 12, 2012

Ask MetaFilter was definitely a motivator. I lurked for years, but didn't feel like I had much to offer in terms of leaving comments. (I still don't.)

Also, I was raised to value compassion and cooperation but went through life seeing very little of it. As a result, I did not often practice those things myself, despite believing in them at my core, and I think that harmed me. When I wandered onto this site and saw people in comment threads and Ask expressing a personal philosophy appealing to compassion and cooperation instead of a mandate to always pull oneself up by one's bootstraps, I felt a tremendous sense of validation, for the first time ever. For much of my life I had been angry and dismissive of other people's suffering because that was the behavior that surrounded me, and I had concluded that it was the appropriate way to approach the world. I survived a life-threatening illness, for instance, but felt personally responsible for contracting it, as if I'd earned that by way of some moral failing. The people posting here made me realize that I didn't have to think like that anymore, either about myself or other people. The serenity and confidence I gained after experiencing that gave me permission to stop reflexively hating myself and others for no real reason. I assume good faith in arguments now. I defer when I don't know people's motives, instead of speculating on them. It has just been good for me. So when I eventually signed up, I did so thinking, "Even if I never post a single thing with this account, MeFi has been more than worth my $5."
posted by the liquid oxygen at 9:19 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was following the events of Hurricaine Katrina online and stumbled across a thread here. I discovered an amazing character called ColdChef and a warmth of responses that seemed odd in an online community that wasn't one of the small single interest communities where people can get to know each other.

I'm from an Irish confessional culture so I found the concept of a large, anonymous community where people really cared about folk they never met in real life to be enchanting. So I paid.

you can quote me on that
posted by Wilder at 9:27 AM on April 12, 2012

Once I found the Blue, I had to speak.

(I always have to speak. That's why my childhood nickname was that of a talking female doll. My string has always been recently pulled.)
posted by bearwife at 9:35 AM on April 12, 2012

The Airnxtz saga should be on the official Mefi timeline.
posted by Melismata at 11:22 AM on April 12, 2012

My previous online hangout died, and I made an active search for places where I might find grown-up, intelligent, friendly conversation on a wide range of topics.

Someone suggested I check out Mefi, which I did along with other places.

Looking over the site initially I wasn't convinced it was what I wanted. But I happened to watch Matt's video on the About page, and I liked what I heard there. He's even got a slide called "Listen to the Troublemakers", which is an attitude I love.

Then I saw a thread about Terry Pratchett that was exactly the kind of thing I'd like to see and talk about.

So I decided to join up and give it a try.
posted by philipy at 11:29 AM on April 12, 2012

I felt bad always asking Felicity Rilke to post questions for me.
posted by Beardman at 12:07 PM on April 12, 2012

I probably filled out the registration form five times in the year before I joined, but always stopped when I got to the Paypal link. What actually pushed me over the edge was the first December best post contest.

I've always believed that the filter has more to do with the hassle than with the money. If you're willing to remember your Paypal password and/or dig your credit card out of your wallet, you're not likely to shit on Metafilter.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:11 PM on April 12, 2012

Years ago a guy I worked with, sat next to, and respected was always on some blue, texty website and I finally asked him what he was looking at. He clued me in and I immediately fell in love with the site. It was several more years before I ponied up the $5 to turn the page Professional White and I'm not sad that I did. I like that I am a minority here (being a goofball Christian right-leaning guy) and yet I'm almost always treated with respect. I don't mind differing viewpoints when they're though out and delivered politely.

I never knew the username of that guy who turned me on to the site and I never pressed for it, but RBB if you're reading this in or around Eden Prairie, MN - thanks!

You can use this rambling for any purpose you see fit.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 2:43 PM on April 12, 2012

I'd been reading for a while, and the combination of genuinely good posts/comments and infuriating nonsense that needed a good mocking persuaded me to shell out. I had money to burn back then too, so that helped.
posted by Decani at 7:34 AM on April 13, 2012

Mountains of text on interesting topics, thoughtful respondents to hard questions, respectful oldskool pseudonyms, and no damn fool javascript all up in my face.

(also I wanted to ask a question)
posted by ead at 12:06 AM on April 16, 2012

There was a Canadian guy on Ask who wanted to move to Perth, Melbourne or Sydney to surf (and be an accountant or something) and needed advice on which to pick. It was worth the five dollars to warn him how crap the surf is in Perth and Melbourne.

I once met up with the friend of a friend as she was passing through my city, and gradually grew to dislike her as she and I had dinner and I walked her a little through my neighborhood. She lived in Perth and was touring the States. The bit that really sealed it was when she said that she saw no point in visiting North American beaches because Perth's beaches were better. Like, objectively better, world-class, nothing compares. This annoyed me more than I can articulate.

So, I am small-heartedly glad that you believe the surf in Perth to be subpar. Take that, annoying Perth woman!
posted by brainwane at 11:26 AM on April 16, 2012

I lurked for like 6 years and then finally decided that I had seen enough awesomeness here that I could contribute to that awesomeness without being afraid of making too much of a n00b ass out of myself.

And I totally screwed up the payment process and lost my preferred name of roboton.
posted by roboton666 at 9:22 PM on April 17, 2012

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