Curated Metafilter Store? February 13, 2015 8:46 AM   Subscribe

So currently: 1. any Amazon links posted onsite get a Metafilter affiliate url added to them. 2. We have the Metafilter mall of stuff made by us. 3. We have the Metafilter shirt store over at TopatoCo. 4. There are offsite collections of 'most popular' books on AskMe.

None of these are particularly obvious to find on (or off) the site. Why not have a real grown-up 'store' which could house all of the above, as well as a lightly curated collection of 'most popular' recommendations for stuff on AskMetafilter? This would aggregate the suggestions to make them more useful and browsable to members.
posted by leotrotsky to Feature Requests at 8:46 AM (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

You don't list Labs, so you might not be aware it's there. We show Recent Amazon Links in Comments and Popular Amazon Links in Comments by year there.

We haven't discussed this behind the scenes at all so I'm just giving my initial reaction here. If we set up a shop.metafilter.com, I feel like the things listed there could be be seen as, "These are things MetaFilter the company endorses." And I'm not sure we want to make curating products for sale part of what we do. Mod resources are already thin, and selling things hasn't been something MetaFilter (the company) is historically good at.

Having The Mall around the holidays seems much less like something we're curating, and more like the "Also On" feature of profile pages: a list of people who have online shops. And the Amazon list in Labs is also more on the algorithmic side. No curation happening there either. I wouldn't want to call something like that Labs list "MetaFilter recommends" because things that show up there aren't necessarily endorsements of those products by members. They're often just informational.

So I guess my objection is that a MetaFilter store would require quite a bit more work on the mod side and this is a time when we don't have many cycles to spare.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:52 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's pretty much my initial feeling as well: I like that we have the things you mentioned, but they're also a pretty motley crew of one-offs and it's not super clear to me that they add up to, as you say, a grown-up Store, since that might have some stronger implications of intent than some of these things really are meant to carry.

That said, the idea of organizing the stuff that exists a little more isn't crazy or anything, and it's something we can think about it in general terms.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:58 AM on February 13, 2015


Mod resources are already thin, and selling things hasn't been something MetaFilter (the company) is historically good at.

Fair enough, but it could be that Metafilter doesn't do a great job of selling things because the things are so damn hard to find? Even I missed one of the shoeboxes, and I've been here a while. If the time commitment of active curation vs automated algorithmic listings are the issue, it doesn't matter to me, go with the latter, but put a link on the menu so it's not hidden in the bowels of the site.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:59 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fair enough, but it could be that Metafilter doesn't do a great job of selling things because the things are so damn hard to find?

I think part of it is that MetaFilter has a culture that is anti-sales/promotion. If we started placing product links prominently on the site we would get a lot of pushback. Not everything has to be front and center. Some things are ok to have less visible than others, and people are going to disagree about where that line should be.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:02 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I guess what I'm saying is that I'm less interested in getting Metafilter into the business of shilling product, and more into putting all of these little shoeboxes of stuff under one easier-to-find umbrella.

Shoeboxes under umbrellas ...that metaphor got away from me.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:03 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I hear you on organization. I'm just not sure that Amazon links in comments and links to member stores go together in one spot cleanly. They don't necessarily fit in the same umbrella. Sometimes umbrellaless shoeboxes work ok.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:06 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think part of it is that MetaFilter has a culture that is anti-sales/promotion.

And that's wonderful, but I also think that (with the best of intentions) the mods sometimes err on the side of excessive caution, when the members would love an opportunity to contribute more. ...and so we get last May.

Maybe there are rabid bands of members who would light torches at the presence of a more visible store-type-thing, but I personally doubt it.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:08 AM on February 13, 2015


the mods sometimes err on the side of excessive caution, when the members would love an opportunity to contribute more. ...and so we get last May

I appreciate that this is probably coming from a place of caring about the site, but I don't feel like that's a helpful argument for treating a handful of unrelated side-revenue things as a Metafilter Store, especially when one of the most store-like things, the Mefi Mall, isn't a source of revenue for the site.

Basically, I think I hear you on the intent: finding a way to use some extra organizational/presentational focus and visibility on some of the side bits of revenue around here to make it easier for members and readers to intentionally shop-via-Metafilter. I don't think that's a bad thought.

But the distance from that to cobbling what exists now into a one-stop store subsite and rolling in curated product recommendations isn't in practice small, I don't think. It's something that'd take a lot of talking about and thinking about and, rabid torch-bearing bands or no, is something we'd want to think a lot about in terms of how the community would feel and to what extent this would represent something that people feel like improves the site vs. just chases down cash for the site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:19 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fair enough. I'd be interested in hearing feedback from other folks as well, but regardless I appreciate the consideration.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:27 AM on February 13, 2015


On the other side, we have Did Mefi make you a fan of any of 'Mefi's Own' ?? in which MeFites talk about the "content creators" they now enjoy, whose materials they have purchased in the past.

But I recognize that setting up a year-round static shop-front (even if it's more of a farmer's market-type open lot for users to throw up their own stalls) would require some level of oversight and management to prevent spammy/scammy stuff getting through. And once MetaFilter serves as any kind of middle-person to facilitate purchases in a more formal way, someone could come back and complain to Matt and other about a purchase that fell through, or something not being as advertised.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:51 AM on February 13, 2015


This is a great idea - it should be super-easy to find where to buy t-shirts (also, there need to be more t-shirts of different colors, e.g., Mefi green, Mefi blue (old school). I wanted to buy a t-shirt the other day and potsmokinghippieoverlord had to help me out to find the shop.

Needs to be more obvious and all in one place. It sounds stupid but if you had branded mousepads, pencil cases, and other stuff (bandanas? dog leads?) I would go ahead and add those to my "crazy about Metafilter" shopping cart before checkout. Why not experiment more?
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:52 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


[Also: I bought a t-shirt from jessamyn (thanks) and I really liked both the store layout/design, and the merchandise on offer. There was a really cool Metafilter-branded, faux wood smartphone case I would've bought in a minute, if I owned a smartphone.]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:55 AM on February 13, 2015


While I agree that a whole subsite would be overkill (though a single page, maybe over on the wiki, would be neat), I also agree that "None of these are particularly obvious to find on (or off) the site."

There's a "buy a shirt" link on almost every page of MetaFilter, but it's way down at the bottom where no one has any earthly reason to scroll. Why not put it up by the Dock ads? Heck, I block those, and I wouldn't mind one whit if you put the shirt link in their place, even accompanied by a link to the even-harder-to-find "Help Fund MetaFilter" page (which could use a prominent shirt link too). You'd probably sell a shit-ton of shirts through IRL especially, if only the link were more visible.

You don't list Labs, so you might not be aware it's there.


I've been here pretty much constantly for eight years and I had no idea that was a thing. Could I have? Is there a link to it anywhere?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:03 AM on February 13, 2015


Is there a link to it anywhere?

Bottom of your screen in the new layout's footer, under "Links." Last link.
There have been a couple of metatalk posts about Labs.
posted by zarq at 10:07 AM on February 13, 2015


Also at the top of your screen behind the More link in the menu. Here are some of the MetaTalk threads about Labs.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:10 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Most site visitors will probably never notice it in either place. On the other hand, it's more of a curiosity rather than a page that the average person needs to know about, so how prominent does it need to be, really?
posted by zarq at 10:10 AM on February 13, 2015


Bottom of your screen in the new layout's footer, under "Links." Last link.

I don't have the new layout on my screen.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:23 AM on February 13, 2015


It's not present in the old one.
posted by zarq at 10:26 AM on February 13, 2015


Huh.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:51 AM on February 13, 2015


One of the problems we ran into with the Classic and Plain themes was that there wasn't a great way to expand the header to include more subsite links. We didn't feel like Labs was ever fully-baked enough to reorganize the Classic header to make room for it. With the redesign we addressed this problem and we were able to add it to the Modern theme.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:53 AM on February 13, 2015


There's definitely some overlap between bits of AskMe and something like Cool Tools. (Though Cool Tools is less cool than it was because all the good ones were taken about three years ago.) Not quite Wirecutter/Sweethome overlap, but there's often broad consensus on The Thing You Should Get in certain categories, which could also be useful reference for "previously" answers.

I didn't know about the Labs thing, and it could be slightly more of a thing with relatively little ponypower and not much curation, if you could pick out, say, Amazon links in bests on AskMe and present them as a shameless consumerism page/feed.
posted by holgate at 10:58 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


there's often broad consensus on The Thing You Should Get in certain categories, which could also be useful reference for "previously" answers.

Yeah, I was thinking a collections of AskMetafilter recommendations would fall somewhere between Cool Tools (which absolutely has diminishing returns) and the Buy it for Life subreddit (specifically their sidebar). Something like this in a nice directory format based on past recommendations.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:11 AM on February 13, 2015


Yeah, given the number of times a "best of its kind" product recommendation question on AskMe dips into previous answers, Cool Tools, Wirecutter/Sweethome or Buy It For Life, there's a case for pulling those answers out for some kind of easy reference.
posted by holgate at 11:19 AM on February 13, 2015


If you'd like to manually set up a reference page, there's always the MetaFilter Wiki, which currently has Gift Ideas (a list of online shops by shop type) and Books (listed chronologically, links to individual questions).

And there is the now-dated, manually created lists of most frequently cited books on Human Relations and Work & Money from AskMeFi, but it's a personal project by a MeFite, nothing official from MetaFilter (and the user embedded his own Amazon ref codes, but they're on his web pages and he did all the tallying, so he's in his right to do so).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:10 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I dunno, the only prints I've ever sold over the internet have been to MeFites, so somebody's finding it. (I just hope they liked them.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:24 PM on February 13, 2015


Setting up and stocking an online store will soon be as free and easy as setting up a Gmail or Facebook account ... certainly for everyone in the so-called western world. Which makes the notion of Store.Metafilter (or whatever) an important discussion indeed. I look forward to seeing where it goes.
posted by philip-random at 1:47 PM on February 13, 2015


Data point of another person who lurked vigorously for years and was stunned to learn that there was a mefi shirt store with a link on every page. If it's going to hide in plain sight, maybe this should be like an old-school website holiday award, where you look through the whole site to find the hidden nisse at the bottom of a sea of blank space on one page and click to get a little .bmp that says "I found the Nisse House on Cindy's Home Page Xmas 1998!" ...I'm still looking for the official link to the Metafilter mall.
posted by C. K. Dexter Haven at 3:59 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm still looking for the official link to the Metafilter mall.

It's in the sidebar at MetaTalk. In late October through the end of December we also put it in a special banner at the top of the site.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:05 PM on February 13, 2015


I'm still waiting for t-shirts for busty & plus size ladies. This means no AA - their ladies shirts are ridiculously sized.

I know I'm not the only one who's been waiting, cash in hand, for this.
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:48 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I would be willing to pay double the normal price for a men's 4X Official Metafilter® tee shirt from a manufacturer who understands that I'm not as proud of my keg as others are of their six packs. Think of it as getting a bigger billboard.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:47 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


When I go to Labs and click on "Popular Amazon Items in Comments" and then click on an item to see comment excerpts, I get white text on white background. I'm using Modern/Dark Mode. Screenshot.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:51 PM on February 14, 2015


Thanks for letting us know about the dark mode problem. We'll get that fixed up.
posted by pb (staff) at 5:10 PM on February 14, 2015


Would love a larger tshirt. In the AskMe dark green with the logo, and the classic blue w/Metafilter logo. Yep.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:40 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think "products with the metafilter brand on them that support metafilter through their purchase" and "products created by metafilter users" and "projects with product components created by metafilter users" would be a good collection of stuff to have at a thing like shop.metafilter.com.

I think "stuff on amazon that gets mentioned on metafilter.com" is less interesting as part of any collected storefront. I get that the appeal might be like... "here's the books most often recommended on AskMeFi human relations questions", but I'm not sure having those all under one umbrella would be as useful as people recommending them in-thread, tho that's obviously more work.
posted by softlord at 11:30 AM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


On the Amazon thing: I listen to several podcasts that make most of their sustaining revenue from Amazon affiliate sales. And they do it by (1) making their affiliate link super-easy to find, and (2) regularly promoting it: "go to example.com/amazon and it'll redirect you right there." I have used this a couple of times when buying stuff from Amazon because it's easy to remember to and hey, it costs me nothing, I like their podcast, why not throw them that 6%?

I'd like to be able to do this to support MetaFilter too; but the affiliate links here are too subtle, too un-sticky -- I've no idea really where to find one other than looking for a comment that contains an Amazon link.

Could you maybe put one somewhere more prominently -- maybe on the "help fund MeFi" page? It doesn't have to be a super-shilly thing; but just make it a little easier for folks to give you free money?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:08 PM on February 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


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