The Natural Life Cycle of Mailing Lists and MeFi May 8, 2002 6:13 AM   Subscribe

Do you think this applies to metafilter?

The Natural Life Cycle of Mailing Lists
Kat Nagel -

Every list seems to go through the same cycle:
1. Initial enthusiasm (people introduce themselves, and gush a lot about how wonderful it is to find kindred souls).
2. Evangelism (people moan about how few folks are posting to the list, and brainstorm recruitment strategies).
3. Growth (more and more people join, more and more lengthy threads develop, occasional off-topic threads pop up).
4. Community (lots of threads, some more relevant than others; lots of information and advice is exchanged; experts help other experts as well as less experienced colleagues; friendships develop; people tease each other; newcomers are welcomed with generosity and patience; everyone -- newbie and expert alike -- feels comfortable asking questions, suggesting answers, and sharing opinions).
5. Discomfort with diversity (the number of messages increases dramatically; not every thread is fascinating to every reader; people start complaining about the signal-to-noise ratio; person 1 threatens to quit if *other* people don't limit discussion to person 1's pet topic; person 2 agrees with person 1; person 3 tells 1 & 2 to lighten up; more bandwidth is wasted complaining about off-topic threads than is used for the threads themselves; everyone gets annoyed).
6a. Smug complacency and stagnation (the purists flame everyone who asks an 'old' question or responds with humor to a serious post; ne
posted by mecran01 to Etiquette/Policy at 6:13 AM (33 comments total)

Do you think this applies to metafilter?

Some people certainly do.
posted by rodii at 6:30 AM on May 8, 2002

Just my opinion, but looking at MeFi and MeTa, 5 & 6 seem to be the current consensus
posted by mkelley at 8:08 AM on May 8, 2002

Not really, since the mission statement of MetaFilter isn't one narrowly defined field, but cruising the archieves shows that since the earliest times there have been a few who felt otherwise, specifically that MetaFilter should be a clubhouse for bloggers; thus you can find 5 & 6a type stuff posted years ago. Read any MeFi thread on evolution to see what a contentous issue it is; that's what's happened here: growth has produced a wider range of interests, and disenters are like rock and roll purists: still spinning the Bill Haley and Buddy Holly vinyl and uninterested in what came after.
posted by Mack Twain at 8:36 AM on May 8, 2002

I would say that the talking became more important than the subject matter. The site was created for neat web stuff, but now serves as a place for members to spark discussion about any current event, as evidenced by the post about the mailbox bomber. How is that web-related? Because there was a story about it on CNN?
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:08 AM on May 8, 2002

I certainly think the life-cycle applies to individual members (in fact, I recall a MeTa thread about that, too), but not to the site as a whole. As Mack points out, the complaints about "how it's all gone to shit" have been around for a very long time.
posted by briank at 9:29 AM on May 8, 2002

That it has. Check out MetaFilter 2 years ago. The first thread is full of complaining and whining - I was laughing as I read it. Just substitute different usernames and you have present day MetaFilter. It puts things in a whole new perspective when you go back in time and check this stuff out.

I also noticed, much to my relief, that I somehow escaped the wrath of the double post police with my Periodic Chart of Comic Book Elements, as Plinth had posted the same link 2 years ago. I think the post was just as boring the second time as it was the first, which is why no one remembered it ;)
posted by iconomy at 9:46 AM on May 8, 2002

"Do you think this applies to metafilter?"

thats not the question. me, i'd dissect this point by point.
who has the time. boy look at the time. these questions are almost Ill-revel-vant
("whatta ma doin?-Vanting, vacing arount ve vroom)
sthtick aside.
This is typing
in its purest form. the life cycle is begging the question of what is know to be true.(meta is only my derived def)

meta- meaning new discipline (computer) in conjunction and or with an older but related discipline(fill in blank)

filter- well thats the magic ingredient yes?

applicable lists that are put up so a baseline for the 'psycology of metafilter' are akin to me chasing the dog whilst she has the chuck roast in her mouth.

posted by clavdivs at 11:09 AM on May 8, 2002

Clavdivs for Overlord!
posted by UncleFes at 11:11 AM on May 8, 2002

I somehow escaped the wrath of the double post police with my Periodic Chart of Comic Book Elements, as Plinth had posted the same link 2 years ago. I think the post was just as boring the second time as it was the first, which is why no one remembered it ;)

Clavdivs for Overlord and "I like Ike" buttons for all!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:35 AM on May 8, 2002

I love Anita Colyer's classic study of the Cinema-L mailing list from 1997. Insiders, wars, conflicts, lurkers - it's all there. How little things have changed.

(And, um, Clavdivs for Overlord!)
posted by vacapinta at 12:10 PM on May 8, 2002

(I didn't make this, I found it (at SA I think), but I love it. Clavdivs for Overlord!)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:32 PM on May 8, 2002

"I just realized that I'm not reading Metafilter as much anymore. I remember when Matt came up with the idea, built the site, and then invited everyone to help build it into a cool community site. Lately, it seems like I'm not really reading Metafilter as much as I'm scanning it every couple of days. No longer am I reading the commentary unless it's about something I care about. And I realized that this is because the noise has surpassed the signal. There is now far more noise and crap being posted in the comments than there is thoughtful commentary and observations, which is what attracted me to Metafilter in the first place. And I think, this is exactly what happened to Slashdot as well."

Cam Barrett of Camworld as quoted on a Metatalk thread on November 18, 2000.

The "Natural Life of Mailing Lists" is linked as well!

Archives. You know I love 'em!

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

posted by mark13 at 7:11 PM on May 8, 2002

I'm still on #1 & #4 myself...
And, um clavdivs for overlord!
posted by Lynsey at 8:20 PM on May 8, 2002

Cam NEVER liked metafilter. Maybe he did, for five minutes tops. But who cares? I, for one, am sick of hearing about how Cam feels about metafilter. Whatever.

And, um, Clavdivs for overlord!
posted by palegirl at 8:48 PM on May 8, 2002

If clavdivs is overlord, can I be Court Jester? Or Failing that Piss Boy like Mel Brooks in History of The World?
posted by jonmc at 9:07 PM on May 8, 2002

BTW, welcome back palegirl, you melanin-deprived vixen...
posted by jonmc at 9:09 PM on May 8, 2002

I refuse to acknowledge clavdivs as overlord. In fact, I #$#*$&((&*

posted by dhartung at 10:30 PM on May 8, 2002

the only overlord i acknowledge is domo-kun.

This Is Domo.

apologies for degrading moral standards and stuff. what's up, palegirl?
posted by moz at 11:09 PM on May 8, 2002

[i heart domo-kun.]
posted by gummi at 11:48 PM on May 8, 2002

to be a mere minion will suffice...for now. thanks stavs, i read ya almost daily and dharts page is ALIVE. good makeover.
jonmc-last year, around oh summer, a small fools war was raging with-in mefi, secret only to a few, ignored by many of MeFi Vets.
it was ugly, mean, and sometimes merely peckish.
ok the names...only once.

and fes
and a few others. (perhaps dong)
of course this never happened
noone ever noticed.
hail palegirl-mefi vet.
Palegirl, -did Camworld mention this? because if he really did not care he would bother to respond, IMO.(no cocky, serious)
i bow to domo-kun san
(call my dog boys)

{my god there going to kill me.}

posted by clavdivs at 8:24 AM on May 9, 2002

Two fools enter, one fool leaves. That is the decree of the Overlord. Ready... steady... go!
posted by UncleFes at 9:02 AM on May 9, 2002

Hotel room in MeTa

MetaTalk, shit. I'm still only in MetaTalk. Every time I think I'm going to wake up back in the jungle.

Every minute I stay in MetaTalk I get weaker. And every minute Clavdivs squats in the bush he gets stronger.
Each time I look around the walls move in a little tighter.

Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service.

Voice of clavdivs: "I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream. That's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor, and surviving. "

Haughey: "Well, you see Kafka, in this war, things get confused out there, power, ideals, the old morality, and practical military necessity. Out there with these natives it must be a temptation to be god. Because there's a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. The good does not always triumph. Sometimes the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. Every man has got a breaking point. You and I have. Clavdivs has reached his. And very obviously, he has gone insane."

Kafka: "Terminate? The emperor?"

Haughey: "He's out there operating without any decent restraint. Totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field commanding his troops."

Fester: "Terminate with extreme prejudice."

Dong_Resin (Played by puckish young ingenue Harrison Ford): "You understand Kafka... , that this operation does not exist, nor will it ever exist."

Lost in a Roman...wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain, yeah


posted by Kafkaesque at 9:36 AM on May 9, 2002

I'm sorry, but that's the best post I've ever read. It has the poetry, the fiction, the truth and the laughs. Excuse my matiness, but can Kafkaesque write or can he write? I've read it twice and still look forward to the third time.

Like clavdivs's poems and longer comments, it's worth celebrating and thanking. It's long-form K for me; from now on.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:04 AM on May 9, 2002

I think you drooled on me, Miguel.

Changing the names in the Apocalypse Now script wasn't that hard though.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:08 AM on May 9, 2002

Kaf! Kaf! Can I be Dennis Hopper's whacked-out photojournalist?! Can I, huh?
posted by jonmc at 10:15 AM on May 9, 2002

kaf. thats why you won baby. your it:)

(god I really needed that.)

posted by clavdivs at 11:34 AM on May 9, 2002

Is "Signal to Noise ratio" the new ad hominem? I haven't been around for a while.
posted by precocious at 12:28 PM on May 9, 2002

K: I see things entirely from a literary and philosophical perspective. So it's surprising to get literary and philosophical qualty from quickly redacted comments on MetaFilter. There was no exaggeration in what I said. Clauvdivs is a latter-day(he would say "lettre day")equivalent of Ezra Pound's "Pisan Cantos"; whereas you, sir, are the modern weblog version of Wallace Stevens at his best. Forgive me for being honest - do you honestly think I get any pleasure out of praising what is so obvious?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:43 PM on May 9, 2002

the blue curtain president
has a nice ring...Insurance+Franz

(does quik google)

franz insurance

K was dead on (forgive the pun)

lets buff his nails.

signal to noise is an old debate.

stavs has a good piece, oh, now this chat.

(staightens bow tie)
S/N is not so much as what can slipped into the noise.
Too me, i'd like to go to zero comments and a few threads posted.
(i'm sure others would also.)

posted by clavdivs at 1:52 PM on May 9, 2002

::scratches ass, nods vigorously::
posted by UncleFes at 1:59 PM on May 9, 2002

StWC writes beautifully too. S.J.Perelman. And Iconomy is the Ernest Hemingway of MetaFilter. Not a redundant word; no possible misunderstanding. J.Edward's and Marquis's styles are Scott Fitzgeraldian. ColdChef is Ben Hecht. Su is, in every syllable, Raymond Carver. Walrus is Philip Larkin. This could go on and on. Matt is definitely Richard Ford. Should I continue? No, I thought not.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:02 PM on May 9, 2002


I know I started it, but come on. This is the naming and "matiness" people complain about so much.

Take it, you know, elsewhere, my friend.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:18 PM on May 9, 2002

Kafkaesque for poet-laureate.
posted by Lynsey at 4:22 PM on May 9, 2002

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