Is metafilter membership currently open or closed? July 25, 2002 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Is metafilter membership currently open or closed? There seems to be some confusion. Could Matt please clear this up by issuing some sort of official statement? Please?

From what I understand, ostensibly it's closed, but I looked and found the most recent user profile I could, which shows this user is new as of July 24, 2002. Uh, that's pretty recent in my book.

Yes, this is Matt's fiefdom and he can do as he damn well pleases, but frankly some of us think that this "it's closed / no wait, it's really open but only on my terms (which are secret)" kind of thing is uncool, to say the least. Maybe that's not how it is, but it's how it may appear to some people.

Care to clue us all in on what the official word is, Matt?
posted by beth to Etiquette/Policy at 8:09 AM (102 comments total)

I posted this because it seems an important issue germane to the ongoing contentious metatalk thread.

Yes, I recognize that keeping control of an open online forum is not a job for the faint-hearted, and that Matt has a life and it's his decision just how closely he monitors and manages metafilter.

On the other hand, the members do have a say in how things are run - they can vote with their feet by leaving if they think things get bad enough (as oh-so-many have), or badmouth the place at their own sites (something even non-members can do).

I don't care all that much specifically what Matt's membership policies are. It's up to him how he handles things. I just think it would be decent to the community to be frank about it, so people know where they stand.

The idea that some people can get in because of secret criteria or connections is poisonous - people will start believing that the place is elitist (rightly so, imho), and get pissed off, and the reputation of the site and its manager will suffer.
posted by beth at 8:15 AM on July 25, 2002


See here for what Matt is planning to do.

Please don't make mountains out of molehills.
posted by rocketman at 8:26 AM on July 25, 2002


The exception to the closed policy is that some people who have made donations have been given accounts, and there's some mysterious circumstances surrounding timeistight.

Prior to a little while ago, there was also a backdoor to MeFi through the 5k website.

Apart from the above, as far as I know, it's on the up-and-up, Beth.
posted by Marquis at 8:32 AM on July 25, 2002


But to actually answer the question, the sign-up form is not currently active. There is/was some sort of "back door" for getting a membership of which I know nothing about.

Additionally, some people have received accounts after making donations to the site. As I see it, Matt extended that as a courtesy for them being nice enough to support the site. Given that most of us are freeloaders(for whatever reason), this is not unreasonable of him to do.
posted by Su at 8:33 AM on July 25, 2002


Er...scratch the "But to actually answer..." bit. Damn you, Marquis. Sneaking in before I was done editing.
posted by Su at 8:33 AM on July 25, 2002


Some of the 5K backdoor sneaks also made sure they donated to the general fund upon arrival, and again donated to the server fund when solicited. I'm just sayin'.
posted by yhbc at 8:36 AM on July 25, 2002


Read the archives when this was asked a couple days ago. I'm working on it still. I need to build a controlled system that only lets in a set number of people a day, and I'd like to also add email authentication into the mix. That stuff requires coding and planning. I've spent all week fixing bugs, releasing a bunch of features on another site as well, and doing contract work.

So here's the "secret" way in you think is so unfair: some people are sending me lots of donation money out of the blue, and asking for a signup, and I've obliged.

The idea that some people can get in because of secret criteria or connections is poisonous - people will start believing that the place is elitist (rightly so, imho), and get pissed off, and the reputation of the site and its manager will suffer.

Wow, quite a position you've taken there. I'm unfair and I'm poisoning the site?

Here are the facts:

- I'm busy, ok? The new user signup page says I'm working on it and reminds the world the site is run by one person.

- I'll get to it when I get to it. It's kind of a low priority after fixing all the bugs that the site upgrade introduced.

- Yes, I am aware of this problem as I get at least half a dozen emails a day begging for a new membership. I don't like getting email like this, and am reminded daily I should fix this.

- I guess your view of the situation is different, but if I went to say, Slashdot.org for the first time today and noticed the signups were closed, I'd understand. Heck, I'd still read it happily and enjoy the content. I don't see why anyone feels entitled to a membership here. You should see the emails I get, people actually think it is their right to get a membership and that I should let them in now dammit becaus they say so! I usually delete emails with that tone.

- new users are a big fat royal pain in the ass, administratively speaking. they're new, so they don't understand the rules, they don't understand what is expected of them, and they don't know where anything is. We get ill-informed threads started by people linking to old sites, we get flames and fights in comments, and I get a lot of email asking questions that are covered in posting guideline and about pages. Every new user is a little bit of chaos and entropy added to the mix, and adding a lot is a headache. I have enjoyed the past six months or so of non-headaces from closed signups. Once new users are back, it's going to require that I personally spend more time each day making sure this site flies right.

I know signups have been closed for a long time, and they should be coming back soon when I finish the other pile of work in front of me, but I think your take on the issue is a bit over the top. No new users certainly doesn't expand the community, but it most certainly doesn't poison it immediately. People leave the site of their own will when they've had enough of one thing or another, and I seriously doubt the lack of new users is the reason. For all the reasons given above, the signups are still closed today, and I frankly don't care if outsiders see that as uncool. They should understand how much work running a site like this entails and understand that they aren't entitled to anything on the site.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:46 AM on July 25, 2002


So here's the "secret" way in you think is so unfair: some people are sending me lots of donation money out of the blue, and asking for a signup, and I've obliged.

Actually, I didn't even ask (though I sure was hopin'). I had been reading the site for awhile, really enjoyed it, probably would've just bought a shirt if I didn't think the Cafe Press stuff looks a little ehhhhh. I thought twice before signing up when Matt offered, precisely because of the perception of "special status" that Beth mentions above. Then I realized some things:

1) My ass could get banned or dragged to MeTa just as quickly as anyone else if I misbehaved
2)Anyone else could do what I did ('twas not a big donation)
3)I just didn't care what those hypothetical others think: this is a great community, and I wanted in.

Just my thoughts as a recent arrival.

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:14 AM on July 25, 2002


beth, is your issue that there's any limits on membership at all or that those limits aren't total? Matt has said that even when membership is re-opened the rate of new memberships will continue to be throttled (they've never been shut off completely).

I seem to have precipitated some of this Sturm und Drang by making a few joking comments about my membership in the high user-number club. I just found it funny that so many people ignored the evidence before their own eyes and insisted that membership was completely closed.

I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize for that to Matt and the rest of the community. I'm with Pink: This is a great community and I'm just trying to be a productive member.
posted by timeistight at 9:32 AM on July 25, 2002


You are welcome, PinkStainlessTail. Your contributions have been great, and your enthusiasm is absolutely contagious.
posted by Marquis at 9:34 AM on July 25, 2002


Ditto what PinkStainlessTail said (except that I also bought a shirt). I lurked for a long time because I couldn't sign up, donated because I thought I should do something for having gotten so much out of reading, was thrilled when Matt offered to let me join, hesitated about 24 hours before taking advantage of it, and then signed right up without more second thoughts.

Cheers yhbc, PinkStainlessTail, timeistight, and other 14k users.
posted by picopebbles at 9:40 AM on July 25, 2002


Like we said before, 14k rocks. "We're numbers 14k and above - we have to try harder."
posted by yhbc at 9:49 AM on July 25, 2002


Ditto what PinkStainlessTail said (except that I also bought a shirt).

If the shirts were in black I would totally be there.

Or blue, natch.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:50 AM on July 25, 2002


Zarah stated that she has been offered cash for the use of her membership. I just wanted to let everyone know I'm taking bids.

The statement on the registering page is that the load on the servers is too high (the errors are a testament to that) to have more users, with a sly link to the donations page. I would say that it seems implied that a donation may give you a membership. Why not just charge outright? I am being 100% serious. People are buying their way on anyway, right?

It's clear from many of the posts on MeTa that "we" shouldn't let "them" in. It's hilarious to me to see that coming from a 14k user. Who do you think you were six months ago?

(also, to be clear, I do feel that charging outright is much more honest and respectable than the current somewhat sneaky structure. PLUS, yay, money!)
posted by Andrea at 9:57 AM on July 25, 2002


Pardon me, I have only been on the internet a short while and have not quite gotten a handle on linking. Here is Zarah's post about cash money.
posted by Andrea at 9:59 AM on July 25, 2002


We should do that thing that war veterans do. You know, where they all chip in and buy a bottle of really good Scotch or whatever, and then they bury it or something, and then whomever is that last person living gets to drink the booze? We should do that. We'll buy a nice bottle of liquor, never turn on new memberships, and then watch our numbers dwindle as, one by one, we get Banned Forever after pissing off Matt. Last member wins.

Who's in? Okay, to chip in for the booze, send me money via PayPal. Or you can just send booze directly to my address; either way works.

Seriously: new users are a big fat royal pain in the ass, administratively speaking. they're new, so they don't understand the rules, they don't understand what is expected of them, and they don't know where anything is. We get ill-informed threads started by people linking to old sites, we get flames and fights in comments, and I get a lot of email asking questions that are covered in posting guideline and about pages.

I think older members should "mentor" new members. Established MeFiers nominate someone (or just get assigned someone), they give the new user the tour, they "critique" (vie private email) the users first 10 posts or so, and they are required to review and approve the newbies first couple of FPPs, to ensure that they don't contain abbreviations like "FPP" or anything equally as reprehensible. Nominations and mentoring would go a long way towards reducing growing pains, I think.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 10:03 AM on July 25, 2002 [1 favorite]


Why not just charge outright?

Because once you do, users become customers, which gives them license to become a huge pain in the ass.
posted by rcade at 10:05 AM on July 25, 2002


I think older members should "mentor" new members.

Miguel, will you be my mentor?
posted by timeistight at 10:40 AM on July 25, 2002


I think I've found my Mentors.
posted by websavvy at 10:52 AM on July 25, 2002


Miguel, will you be my mentor?

Mais ├ža va sans dire, timestight! I assumed that was already clear. :)

I have to say that the 14K bunch is wonderful and this seems to entirely vindicate Matt's policy up till now. Why can't it be extended, if it's producing such good results? Numbers are only numbers but good users are hard to come by. Indeed, they require no litter training; yet take the occasional rolled-up-newspaper whoompf cheerfully and philosophically. They don't yap; they're quite cuddly and, as far as I can tell, contain no mutts and only one notorious growler.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:06 AM on July 25, 2002


There is, of course, no notorious growler. I just made that up because it makes my somewhat boring post a much-needed element of intrigue. An old trick. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:09 AM on July 25, 2002


rcade, are you saying that the current users are not huge pains in the ass?

Howabout, "Donations of over $25 will be given serious consideration of membership". (side: how big of a donation does it take to be offered a membership? I keep hearing "considerable amount" thrown around.) Maybe we need a chart. $X dollars gets you X benefits. Guidelines that are the same for everyone (which, of course, will never happen) would help eliminate the feeling that mefi is a club of elitists.

Obviously this is Matt's thing but there will continue to be negative feelings when there are so many people going about having recently registered with no explanation to those who want in so badly.
posted by Andrea at 11:20 AM on July 25, 2002


There is, of course, no notorious growler. I just made that up because it makes my somewhat boring post a much-needed element of intrigue. An old trick. ;)


Lies. *sigh*
Is there anything they can't do?
Ball bearings of the universe.
posted by dong_resin at 11:23 AM on July 25, 2002


rcade, are you saying that the current users are not huge pains in the ass?

I doubt it. But Matt can ban or suspend monstrous ass-pains at his discretion. People who have paid a formal fee for membership, however, can be complete assholes and then raise a fiduciary or possibly legal stink if Matt decides he wants to ban them. There isn't really any way to define "You can't be an asshole" in a formalized sense, or I'm sure someone would have done so by now. And then applied it to me.
posted by Skot at 11:34 AM on July 25, 2002


My net gateway is a bit flakey today, so apologies for the delay in replying.

Point 1: I see that Matt has indicated a bit of his policy on the new member page and in the commentt that rocketman pointed to. However, in neither place is there any indication from Matt that people can still get in, or what the terms are.

I believe it would be useful for such information to be placed in a clearly visible, relatively static place (the new user page or the about page, for instance), such that folks do not have to go searching through metatalk threads to find the truth.

Point 2: If you are going to have a donations-for-membership agreement with some people, please indicate clearly what the price is, so that people can make decisions.

Clouding things in mystery is perhaps not the best strategy, imho. Plus, you might be pleasantly surprised to find out how much people would pay to support the site in order to get member posting privileges.

If the money-for-membership idea is no longer something that is available, it would be good to mention this on the new member page.

Point 3: I suggest updating the metafilter about page, since as it stands it seems to imply that membership is easy (and open). This may be why Matt is getting so many emails from people wanting membership.

Matt wrote: Wow, quite a position you've taken there. I'm unfair and I'm poisoning the site?

Please read what I said carefully. I will quote myself: The idea that some people can get in because of secret criteria or connections is poisonous

The *idea* is poisonous. Once people start believing that idea (whether or not it's actually true), then it's a caustic, poisonous influence on the sense of community.

It doesn't *force* anyone to feel bad, but makes it more likely that folks on the outside will think the place is elitist, and that folks who are already inside who relish the idea of an open environment will find it unfair.

Note that I said _more_likely_.

I for one feel a bit uncomfortable about the idea that not only is membership now available for some undisclosed amount of money, but that the fact of this availability itself is shrouded from new users.

Okay, it's not exactly a state secret, given that it's been discussed in metatalk threads, but it's not particularly easy for them to find. That's why I suggest putting it on the new member page and on the about page of the site.

What I'm getting at is: if you have a membership policy, let people know! Put it where they can't miss it, at a page location that doesn't change, and that is as obvious as possible.

Unless of course you want people to continue getting the wrong idea and getting all miffed for nothing.

I didn't say and I don't believe that people are automatically entitled to a membership with full privileges in every online forum.

My position is that the clearer you make your policy, the less people will argue about it. Keeping it mysterious just causes problems to proliferate.

Point 4: New users are a pain because they don't understand the rules? How about a metafilter rules page? Seriously. This would help clarify a lot of things that get argued back and forth endlessly.

Point 5: I realize that you're busy. Have you ever considered the idea of allowing some of your most trusted friends and / or metafilter users that you feel embody the ethos you would like to promote here to take over some of the management tasks? It might help.
posted by beth at 11:52 AM on July 25, 2002


- new users are a big fat royal pain in the ass, administratively speaking. they're new, so they don't understand the rules, they don't understand what is expected of them, and they don't know where anything is.

So when registration is reopened, is it going to come as a trickle or a flood? It seems to me the former would be better for you, Matt, personally as well as the MeFi community as a large: we can only flame so many newbies per day ;)
posted by nathan_teske at 11:54 AM on July 25, 2002


those who want in so badly

Who are these people? I've been trying for a year to get out of this place.
posted by anildash at 11:55 AM on July 25, 2002


nathan: I need to build a controlled system that only lets in a set number of people a day, and I'd like to also add email authentication into the mix. (matt)
posted by Marquis at 11:58 AM on July 25, 2002


[Skot] There isn't really any way to define "You can't be an asshole" in a formalized sense, or I'm sure someone would have done so by now. And then applied it to me.

If only you knew, Skot, if only...

[Andrea] Guidelines that are the same for everyone (which, of course, will never happen) would help eliminate the feeling that mefi is a club of elitists.

What makes you think the guidelines are any different for different people? Do you have examples or are you just making stuff up?
posted by daveadams at 11:58 AM on July 25, 2002


I thought that the 'backdoor' wasn't advertised because it wasn't a formal proposition in Matt's head. More a case of, "Oh look, someone who isn't even a member dropped a wad of cash in the donation box, maybe it would be nice if I offered them a membership." In that sense, it's only shrouded in mystery because it's not really the done thing but dang it, that Matt's just too nice sometimes.
posted by MUD at 12:22 PM on July 25, 2002


Point 1: ...However, in neither place is there any indication from Matt that people can still get in, or what the terms are. I believe it would be useful for such information to be placed in a clearly visible, relatively static place...

It's not an official policy, and I don't want to make it one. A couple months ago, someone donated some money, and asked if they could get a membership (they were showing support for what they loved, understood what the site was about, and asked if they could get access). I didn't think it would become any sort of policy, I just said "yeah, ok."

I would prefer it not become official policy, hence, it's not linked anywhere permanent.

Point 2: If you are going to have a donations-for-membership agreement with some people, please indicate clearly what the price is, so that people can make decisions.
[...]
If the money-for-membership idea is no longer something that is available, it would be good to mention this on the new member page


Why would I mention it just because I made a special arrangement with some folks? You're asking for absolute open fairness of all policies like I have to answer to someone or I care what non-members think of the site.

Would you prefer that I never take another donation dollar ever again? And that I never grant another membership in response to a donation? Is it really that big of a deal?

Point 3: I suggest updating the metafilter about page, since as it stands it seems to imply that membership is easy (and open). This may be why Matt is getting so many emails from people wanting membership.

Fine, I'll get on that, though few people seem to ever look at that page in my experience.

I for one feel a bit uncomfortable about the idea that not only is membership now available for some undisclosed amount of money, but that the fact of this availability itself is shrouded from new users

So my only option, in your opinion, is that I either cut this off entirely (to prevent further poisoning of the community), or that I openly and plainly state that all new memberships require a monetary donation of an exact amount? There's no middle ground I take it?

I don't want to require that all new users pay a fee because, like Rogers said, a sense of entitlement becomes all the more real. My job (and it will be a job, I assure you) basically becomes customer support for these new users.

How do you reconcile all the old members. Do they have to pay as well, so everything is absolutely fair? It seems like that the freeloaders would poison the community, as arguments would break out between new, paid members and old, freebie ones.

My position is that the clearer you make your policy, the less people will argue about it

Who is arguing about it? Can you point to some of these arguments? I don't see too many, this MetaTalk thread is probably the one that most approaches an argument.

Point 4: New users are a pain because they don't understand the rules? How about a metafilter rules page? Seriously. This would help clarify a lot of things that get argued back and forth endlessly

Please see the dozen or so novels I've written in MetaTalk about why this is a bad idea (sidenote: yes, I know I should have a MeFi FAQ at least, that points to all these previous discussions). I don't want to start a rules page because once I start making rules, I'll never be able to stop. If you look in the archives, you'll see examples of people that think it's well within their rights to do anything that doesn't have a rule attached to it, no matter how ridiculous it is. I prefer that people use common sense above all else, and that rules aren't always absolute (example: 1 in a thousand self-link posts to the front page of metafilter are good, don't ask me to tell you exactly why, because the ones that are don't have an absolute quality I can write down). That's why guidelines, which are looser than absolute laws or rules are given.

Point 5: I realize that you're busy. Have you ever considered the idea of allowing some of your most trusted friends and / or metafilter users that you feel embody the ethos you would like to promote here to take over some of the management tasks? It might help.

I've considered this several times, but know very few people that could 1) do the job well, and more importantly 2) care enough to spend time on it.

posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:31 PM on July 25, 2002


Er...

Well, Matt, I guess there's some solace in having a property so hot that people feel you are obligated to do stuff...

...Somewhere in there, like a back-hand complement. With a blackjack.
posted by Perigee at 12:36 PM on July 25, 2002


beth, I think you are missing the point that this isn't MetaFilter policy, and really isn't any kind of policy at all. I don't want to speak for him (and on preview he already spoke), but I'm sure Matt isn't saying, "When new member signups are closed you have to pay me to get in." Some non-members donated to the site out of generosity and Matt decided to offer membership to some (all?) out of his own generosity and gratitude. There's a difference between setting a policy of pay-for memberships and Matt occassionally offering membership to a non-member patron if he feels like it. I would think one of the reasons to keep it low key would be so that it isn't percieved as a policy of pay-for memberships, which already seems to be your perception. Making this 'standard' policy would be the same as Matt setting policy that although membership is closed he occasionally offers people membership who ask nicely in email. He would be flooded with requests. This isn't some secret handshake backdoor policy meant to undermine the system for the "elitists" who know how things work. It's not an 'option' per se. Tipping the doorman is no guarantee here. When Matt has chosen to offer a membership, he's done so based on his own criteria. Hopefully those people aren't feeling as if they paid to get in.
posted by mikhail at 12:44 PM on July 25, 2002


but makes it more likely that folks on the outside will think the place is elitist, and that folks who are already inside who relish the idea of an open environment will find it unfair.

This isn't some elite, secret society. It's a private site viewable by the public. If others find this place to be elitist, fuck 'em. Matt has already shown himself to be very forthcoming about this site's rules and policies. I hardly think he's being very shady; just quietly generous. When I joined, I didn't need anyone to tell me that a donation would help me get it. Common sense; he's poor, without a job, working on this site as a hobby. Something tells me he likes money, and if I could've sent him beer, I would've done that too.

if you have a membership policy, let people know! Put it where they can't miss it, at a page location that doesn't change, and that is as obvious as possible.

There is a membership policy, and it currently states that membership is closed. If he said publicly that he accepts bribes, how does that make him look? I think the fact that you've dragged this out to such an extraordinary degree is doing his reputation a disservice. You make it seem like he's bribable, when in fact I didn't even donate until AFTER I joined. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this the first MeTa thread ever that tried to lynch Matt?
posted by BlueTrain at 12:47 PM on July 25, 2002


dave:

I will not name names, but the registration page says that registrations are closed and a friend of mine registered last week. He wouldn't tell me how, all he would say is "because I am famous." Clearly tongue in cheek, but obviously the "guidelines" of "no new registrations" did not apply to him.
posted by Andrea at 12:51 PM on July 25, 2002


Ok, whatever. I've expressed my opinion, and people don't agree.

For what it's worth, Matt, I do want to thank you, truly, for all the work you've done to make this site what it is. I'm not being snarky, I'm being sincere. I recognize that it's a tough job and I appreciate what you do.

I know it's impossible to please everyone, as well. Time resources, aggravation resources, monetary resources, bandwidth resources, all are finite. And by all rights I should give a fair donation when I get to a point where I can afford it (not right now, alas).

And BlueTrain, I am *not* trying to lynch Matt, as I think my words show. My point was that when the terms of membership are unclear, some people (including me - mea culpa) get the wrong idea. I was positing that making the terms of membership absolutely explicit would be helpful. Matt disagrees. That's ok.

To put it as mildly as possible: I would do things differently, were I in his shoes. But I'm not. He can demand that people offer a kidney in order to get in here if he wants (and no, I'm not suggesting that he's that kind of person - far from it), and that's his right, since it's his site.
posted by beth at 12:57 PM on July 25, 2002


can be complete assholes and then raise a fiduciary or possibly legal stink if Matt decides he wants to ban them.

In my experience contentious assholes raise a stink whether they paid for something or not, especially on the web, where for a long time, there was the vibe that everything was free, and that you were blessing a website merely by gracing it with your presence.

If you did charge money for memberships (believe it or not even $5 would probably be high enough to stop most trolls, and keep membership limited. Well, it would at least keep most of the lazy, indolent teenagers out), I don't see how there would be any legal problems so long as they agree to a carefully worded contract beforehand. Something like "You are responsible for what you do and say regarding this site, and the owner reserves the right to limit, temporarily ban, or delete your account for any conceivable reason whatsoever." The fact that most of Matt's actions regarding users, especially banning, are so public, makes him accountable to the community, in a sense. There is no need for litigation (that would be madness, this is a website, and it's not like we'd be talking about a lot of money for membership), so if people were to pay for memberships, there should be a binding agreement insulating the owner from any law suits.

If others find this place to be elitist, fuck 'em.

Now isn't that an ironic thing to say, in that context?

And as for Matt giving people he wants usernames based on some hidden criteria, well, that's his prerogative. I liken it to handing out cookies to people you like, or to people who pay you money for the cookies. You can do whatever you want and not explain it to anyone, because they're you're cookies. I don't see how people who've already had a cookie have a say in it, other than complaining about how the cookie tastes, looks, or feels (that's the community).
posted by insomnyuk at 12:57 PM on July 25, 2002


beth, I want to disabuse you of the notion that I got an ID because of any secret criteria or connections. I have absolutely no connection with anybody involved in MetaFilter (or any other "a-list" blog); the cool people never answer my e-mails. No one has shared any secrets with me.

And I ain't sharing my secrets with anyone else!
posted by timeistight at 12:57 PM on July 25, 2002


er, "you're" should be "your", and that ownership angle reminds me of Steven Den Beste, all of a sudden.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:58 PM on July 25, 2002


To put it as mildly as possible: I would do things differently, were I in his shoes. But I'm not.

Beth, I'm not trying to harsh on you, but what would you do? I've stated why I think making it an official policy is a bad idea, so is stopping it outright the only option? If I sound pissed off, it's because this all seems like an attack on how I do things, and you haven't told me what you would do, only that I should either make it an official policy or get rid of it.

In regards to special treatment, I've given reporters doing stories and interviews logins and special help to show them around, and I've also extended that to people I've worked with on books that mentioned MetaFilter. Does anyone not see some special treatment as necessary? That regardless of rules and policies that sometimes special provisions can be made?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:05 PM on July 25, 2002


I don't understand what the fuss is. It is Matt's site and if he wants to charge it's his right. Hell, he's welcome to extort sexual favors from prospective members for all I care.
posted by revbrian at 1:18 PM on July 25, 2002


I think some people view MetaFilter as some sort of obligation on Matt's part, rather than something he's gifting us with.

Suggesting that he's being sneaky or duplicitous or otherwise abusing his power just because he can is totally missing the point.

Matt's given time, energy, money, and effort to the site, solely because he's still getting some level of enjoyment out of it. He's a good guy who does whats in his power to help people.

Sit back for a second and think about what you know of Matt from however long you've been on the site. He's not interested in screwing people over, he's not gleefully ripping through his mail box saying "You poor little fuck, you don't got the cash you don't got my time!" and deleting messages willy nilly.

He's just a guy doing a really fucking good job with limited resources. Stop attributing malice where there isn't any. Sheesh.
posted by cCranium at 1:38 PM on July 25, 2002


die, topic, die!! *stabbity-stab-stab-stab*
posted by zarah at 1:53 PM on July 25, 2002


matt: Beth, I'm not trying to harsh on you, but what would you do?

To start with, I would make firm decisions about the policy of allowing new users in, and I would make it clear to people what those policies are.

The specifics aren't as important as is *the act of making the specifics clear and public and easily understood*.

Are you going to change policies once you have more resources? Fine. Include a statement about that if that's the case.

Don't get me wrong: I personally think it's ok to limit membership when an online forum is growing to the breaking point. I just think that the policies in use should be clear so people know where they stand.

matt: I've stated why I think making it an official policy is a bad idea, so is stopping it outright the only option?

Not at all. You've got all the options in the world. You have to decide what you want.

Do you want to make a pay-for metafilter site? You probably could if you wanted to (and lots of people would pony up serious cash, I'm guessing). You could make it an adjunct to the existing metafilter with better features, if you so desired. (I have no idea what you *do* want, though).

Do you want metafilter to grow indefinitely? I don't think this is really possible as we know it. Imagine a front page packed with hundreds of *high quality* posts per day. It would be unwieldy.

Do you want metafilter to become a closed castle of elites? From what I've read I don't think so.

These are serious and tough issues that bear on the heart of online communities.

How do we handle growth right, without pissing people off and splintering into warring factions? Or is splitting up the answer? If it's the answer, can we figure out how to do it gently and gracefully, in a way that adds to everyone's riches?
posted by beth at 1:59 PM on July 25, 2002


Hell, he's welcome to extort sexual favors from prospective members for all I care.

Ass, cash, or grass--nobody posts for free.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:11 PM on July 25, 2002


Even though Matt asked for it, I think someone needs to start Bethfilter, and leave the driving of Metafilter to the person already behind the wheel.
posted by crunchland at 2:15 PM on July 25, 2002


As sincerely and nicely as possibly I ask you beth, how are any of those answers that you're asking for your business, at all?

Do you want to make a pay-for metafilter site?
Do you want metafilter to grow indefinitely?
Do you want metafilter to become a closed castle of elites?


See, I think I see the problem. Matt is a public persona here. We know a lot about him. He's married, he lives in Cali., he knows Kottke, etc... He has several sites up that reveal many of his characteristics. But, he's a private person. He doesn't answer to any of us. And this is what tipped me off to start thinking that perhaps some of us are exceeding our bounds:

How do we handle growth right

We? (I know, I know, I use this term all the time so please don't bash me for calling it out) Methinks that you're asking for information that isn't necessarily yours to know. I think many of us here would love to know Matt's plans for this site...but I think that to grill him like this is wrong. Really...is it our business to know the future of this site? No. He's usually forthright enough to give us clues about MeFi, but to ask him such specific questions is, IMHO, unfair. Let the man do what he wants. Just enjoy the fact that you (any of us) can post here.
posted by BlueTrain at 2:16 PM on July 25, 2002


Not to sidetrack, but if anyone wants to do a Mefi FAQ with common questions and answers that paraphrase and cite answers and conclusions given in metatalk, e-mail me.

I see it more as a "this is what the general community came to a consensus on, it's not doctrine" type of FAQ rather then some rigid ones on Usenet. Please only contact me if you are committed to actually doing it. Also, Matt if you don't want this going at all, just say so. I wouldn't release anything without your permission anyway.
posted by geoff. at 2:16 PM on July 25, 2002


I think many of us here would love to know Matt's plans for this site...

Matt moves in mysterious ways?
posted by insomnyuk at 2:21 PM on July 25, 2002


Hands zarah a chainsaw I think it's Kandarian...
posted by Perigee at 2:23 PM on July 25, 2002


geoff., here are a few links that might help your FAQ creation:

http://metatalk.metafilter.com/mefi/1477
http://metatalk.metafilter.com/mefi/1345
http://metatalk.metafilter.com/mefi/675
posted by BlueTrain at 2:25 PM on July 25, 2002


To start with, I would make firm decisions about the policy of allowing new users in, and I would make it clear to people what those policies are.

And what would those decisions actually be, Beth?

The specifics aren't as important as is *the act of making the specifics clear and public and easily understood*.

The specifics are clearly important. Matt has explained the how and why behind the "policy" of offering occasional memberships to folks who donate; he's also explained why he doesn't want to codify it. You're ignoring that. So again, what specific policies would you create in this case?

posted by mediareport at 2:34 PM on July 25, 2002


BlueTrain: "As sincerely and nicely as possibly I ask you beth, how are any of those answers that you're asking for your business, at all?"

BlueTrain, I was speaking in the hypothetical / general sense. I didn't mean to suggest that Matt was beholden to me in some way (because he quite clearly isn't).

posted by beth at 2:37 PM on July 25, 2002


For what it's worth, I am in total agreement with beth (my comment in the other thread preceded her creation of this thread, so that should surprise no one). And the aggressive defensiveness of Matt's reaction to her strikes me as both out of character and unproductive (yes, yes, this is your cue to pile on me, all ye happy kiss-asses--you know who you are).

Just a couple examples that I think illustrate how far Matt is missing beth's points:

You're asking for absolute open fairness of all policies like I have to answer to someone or I care what non-members think of the site.

Or, perhaps, suggesting that you typically DO care about absolute open fairness? I would suggest that it precisely because we have watched you struggle to create and maintain an environment that is as fair as possible to all that any perceived deviation from that would strike a sour note and stand out. If you were known for doing whatever the hell you felt like with no regard to any policy of consistency or equity, nothing would phase anyone, ever.

Of course, there would be few here to be phased.

If I sound pissed off, it's because this all seems like an attack on how I do things

And since when is discussing--or even, egad!, questioning--how you do things automatically an "attack?" Are we, in fact, to behave, as some would have us do, as though you were beyond reproach? You have always led us to believe that the site benefitted and was improved by the feedback you got from the many who use it...do you no longer feel this to be true? If you don't agree with beth's (and my) observation, fine, no biggie. But you might at least take the trouble to understand it before deciding that it is some sort of personal attack upon you and choosing to retaliate publicly here, where your words carry a disproportionate weight and stigma.

On the other hand, you are as human as the rest of us, and you put a great deal of time, effort, etc. into the site and it is perfectly understandable that you might be quite sensitive to any perceived criticism of it or your efforts. I just think you should perhaps take into account the effect your words can have here, simply because they originate with you (Caesar's thumbs-up/thumbs-down). Just scan this thread for all the not-so-subtle mathowie=god metaphors.

You see the issue as using your discretion to harmlessly let a few folks in, as a reward, a favor, or whatever the case might be. And that's valid. Others are pointing out that such acts, particular when obscured from the public yet frequently referred to covertly by the membership, could be perceived quite differently than you, yourself, perceive them and result in resentment and bad feeling. Is it truly your contention that only your perception matters here, and that the perceptions of the other umpteen thousand members and X# of non-member readers is irrelevant? I know that many here will argue that for you, but your feeling is really the only one that matters with regard to that. Personally, I think that this perception, and the public reputation of the site, is something that should concern you; from your comments here, it doesn't seem to. Which, again, is entirely within your prerogatives (as the masses will drone on), but it seems disingenuous to me to attack the messenger who brings the problem to your attention, whether you agree with the proffered solutions or even the nature or existence of the problem.
posted by rushmc at 3:04 PM on July 25, 2002


beth and rushmc, I think you're both missing the point here. MetaFilter faces danger from two directions: open membership and closed membership.

Open membership will inevitably overrun the site both technically and administratively. Closed membership will cause the site to slowly atrophy as attrition causes active membership to dwindle.

What's needed therefore is some means to maintain a steady trickle of new members, enough to add new blood and to replace old members who fall away, but not so many as to become an administrative nightmare.

Note that making this system official would destroy it. If Matt put up a page saying "Memberships $25," he have to deal with however many people came along. This way, he can keep pretty close control of the rate of sign-ups.

The MetaFilter community would probably prefer a formal, carefully designed, metered sign-up system, but we'd also like ponies for everyone. In the meantime, I think the current system works pretty well.

Matt has recently written about trying to come up with some system for metering members, but I'm sure that's going to require a lot of work.

In the meantime, he's thrown up a "Membership Closed" page. I have no idea if this is what he intended, but his "closed membership" is effectively working as a membership metering system. It keeps the numbers down, but people who are determined to join can find ways to do so.
posted by timeistight at 3:40 PM on July 25, 2002


I got my paragraphs mis-sorted in the textedit field there, but I'll spare you all posting it again. Just read the paragraphs in random order: if it makes more sense, that's the way I intended to post it.
posted by timeistight at 3:48 PM on July 25, 2002


rushmc wrote:
And since when is discussing--or even, egad!, questioning--how you do things automatically an "attack?" Are we, in fact, to behave, as some would have us do, as though you were beyond reproach?

I was clumsy in calling anything an attack. Put simply, I don't think this is a big deal worth this much discussion. I've let perhaps 10 people in total, that asked after donating, and I didn't put much thought into what the repurcussions might be. Now, I don't want to do pay-only membership here, for lots of reasons, so you will never see an official signup policy stating such or saying how much a donation is necessary. Nor do I want to refuse people that give money and then ask for a membership (it must have been fairly forward of the first person to do it, would any of you say no to such a request? Seriously, would anyone say no?).

What I hadn't planned on was people blabbing about how they got their account or parading around with their high ID. I also didn't know people would want to get in so badly that they'd keep track of new users and hunt around and try to figure out how they got in.

The bottom line is I don't think this is a major issue, and saying that it will be the ruin of the community (no one said those exact words, but that's how I read beth's original post) seems to me a gross exaggeration. I clearly do not want to make donation=account a hard and fast rule. I will allow new users again someday, but will some controls, so it isn't an opening of the floodgates. I'll get to this eventually, and putting pressure on me to get it going asap isn't going to help.

For anyone thinking that unfettered signups is a good idea. I'll simply leave you with this link to a USENET post. Take a look at the message, then the newsgroup.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:09 PM on July 25, 2002


beth's posting here seems to rest solely on this and I want to understand this fully:
I was positing that making the terms of membership absolutely explicit would be helpful.

I allowed some people to get in with donations, but I don't want to make it an explicity policy. The policy is clear to non-members right now viewing the site for the first time - user signups are closed, end of story. If they dig around, they can find evidence contrary to this, so I should rewrite the terms.

So beth, I'm wondering what those terms should say? That's all, I'm wondering how I could possibly put into words that yes, sometimes a person or two can squeak in, but I don't want to encourage it. I don't have any idea how to communicate that.

In the meantime, I guess I'll refuse all donations looking for memberships because it would go along with the current no new signups on the newuser page.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:18 PM on July 25, 2002


I'll simply leave you with this link to a USENET post. Take a look at the message, then the newsgroup.

Yeah, I'd say we're all full-up in that department.
posted by crunchland at 4:27 PM on July 25, 2002


timeistight, I am totally not trying to be snarky, but could your agreement with the policy have anything to do with the fact that it netted you a membership?

I agree with beth and rushmc. In addition,I think most of you are purposely missing the point so you can get another slam in. "bethfilter"? Did you think that was clever?

Someone asked a question about the policy. I think it was a fair question and something that several people wanted an answer to. Beth obviously already has a login, so the closed registration doesn't directly effect her.

It wasn't an attack, it wasn't a "lynching". It was a question. I'm not sure why some of you are reacting in such a negative way. Seriously, you can send me an email message about it.

on preview, beth didn't state that letting in people who make a donation would poison the community. She stated that the IDEA that "secret criteria or connections" were required for membership is potentially poisonous. There are people who have been waiting for months for memberships to open. What do you think they automatically think when they see new members? I'm not saying that it's right or wrong, but you've heard them blathering on about the a-list for ages.
posted by Andrea at 4:39 PM on July 25, 2002


Andrea, I am not totally trying to be snarky, but could your disagreement with the policy have anything to do with the fact that you already had a membership?

posted by timeistight at 4:46 PM on July 25, 2002


Matt: I have the feeling that this thread needs to die, BUT... surely you expected a reaction to that post & it's link?
A single reference in a single discussion on that NG? What, precisely, is your worry?
Do people with mental health issues differ in their rights to participate here? Are we wary of a repeat of the b*nnyfire debacle, and so need to complete health questionaires? I can think of a few that could be screened out.
Could you clarify?


posted by dash_slot- at 4:50 PM on July 25, 2002


I wasn't trying to start a war here, I just wanted to know what the deal was.

I still believe that if you're going to have a public online forum, the conditions of membership should be known to the potential members.
posted by beth at 4:53 PM on July 25, 2002


mathowie: What I hadn't planned on was people blabbing about how they got their account or parading around with their high ID.

As we've already determined that IDs are irrelevant, I vote to remove them entirely, replacing all references to ID with username.mefi links, etc. Remove user.mefi. Also, change the number on the front page to read 14,000+ members and modify accordingly.
posted by Danelope at 4:55 PM on July 25, 2002


Did you read any of that group, dash? Those people are nuts, and this is coming from a certified nut. My favorite response to the question "Where do you hang out on the net?" in that group is this one:

bible study site : bible.crosswalk.com
bo lewis swing jazz site
free porn picture site

posted by evanizer at 4:55 PM on July 25, 2002


What I hadn't planned on was people blabbing about how they got their account or parading around with their high ID. I also didn't know people would want to get in so badly that they'd keep track of new users and hunt around and try to figure out how they got in.

I think you underestimate the value to some of being able to participate here. People will have to wait until you have the time and inclination to create a system you are comfortable with--that's unfortunate for them, and for us, but it's the unfortunate reality because your time and ability to work uncompensated (financially) on the site is limited. I think we all understand and sympathize with that reality--thus the frequent offers to help out. Again, I think there is a discrepancy between the way you view the site and the way some others view it--and it's not that either way is more correct: both sides need to make an effort to see the other side's point of view, methinks. To you, Metafilter is something you created, a hobby, a labor of love, a pain in the ass. But at this point it also has an objective reality apart from that, for many, many people. I think it would be wrong to condemn people for liking the site and wanting to participate in it--it is, after all, a unique and pretty special thing that you have built here. If you feel that others cannot come aboard without sinking the ship, then of course you must act to preserve it. But the desire "out there" to join and be a part of it exists, is strong, and will continue to grow over time. I think the public/private dichotomy is particularly difficult to maintain, but it seems inescapable at this point.

These are not easily-resolved issues, I know that. But I can't help but think of these people, for I could so easily be one of them:

There are people who have been waiting for months for memberships to open. What do you think they automatically think when they see new members? I'm not saying that it's right or wrong, but you've heard them blathering on about the a-list for ages.
posted by rushmc at 4:58 PM on July 25, 2002


Here's what is disingenuous: this thread isn't even about 'memberships. "I posted this because it seems an important issue germane to the ongoing contentious metatalk thread". It's really about the other subject, proxy posting. Matt is on record being against proxy posts, beth disagreed, then started this rant in that other thread, then started this thread. Beth failed to mention that she is a friend of of the Idaho Lady who is defending her friend Medley who defends proxy gal who, being beths' friend is being defended by beth in two Meta threads, while Idaho proxy states her hatred and contempt for MeFi on her diary page. So beth uses the membership thing as her entry point for basically attacking the ban on proxy posting and to continue her defense of her friend. And the guilt/fear regarding donations is really obvious. WORST THREAD EVER.
posted by Mack Twain at 4:59 PM on July 25, 2002


dash_slot-, it was a joke.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:03 PM on July 25, 2002


Beth failed to mention that she is a friend of of the Idaho Lady who is defending her friend Medley who defends proxy gal who, being beths' friend is being defended by beth in two Meta threads, while Idaho proxy states her hatred and contempt for MeFi on her diary page.

Could you map that out in algebra, Mack? It might be easier to follow.
posted by timeistight at 5:05 PM on July 25, 2002


Mr. Twain, I am not attacking the ban on proxy posting. Matt can do whatever he wants with metafilter. It's all up to him.


posted by beth at 5:08 PM on July 25, 2002


Yeah, Ev, I did: that's how come I know that one guy said he hung out here (we do not know if he is already a member, or not) and one guy ( the thread originator) responded. Not a huge reaction. Is all.
Matt: with all due respect (and I have to say I'm more addicted to this site than I was to tobacco: I feel like I belong here), what was the point being demonstrated? That schizophrenics know how to surf the web, and access NG's? That said folk may apply for membership at (Mefi/ your country club/ your professional association)*? Well, ok, I figured that out, what else?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:10 PM on July 25, 2002


Hmm. Ok. I missed that in preview. Not the only one who did, either... (",)
posted by dash_slot- at 5:12 PM on July 25, 2002


So beth, I'm wondering what those terms should say? That's all, I'm wondering how I could possibly put into words that yes, sometimes a person or two can squeak in, but I don't want to encourage it. I don't have any idea how to communicate that.

Matt, why not something along the lines of:
Membership is currently closed to the general public. On rare occasions and under special circumstances the site owner may choose to authorize new members. This is entirely at his discretion and unsolicited emails on this matter are unwelcome. When and if this policy changes, it will be described here.
posted by Medley at 5:12 PM on July 25, 2002


Mack: wrt Matt being "against" proxy posting (as if there are hard and fast rules), he also said, in this very thread: "I prefer that people use common sense above all else, and that rules aren't always absolute (example: 1 in a thousand self-link posts to the front page of metafilter are good, don't ask me to tell you exactly why, because the ones that are don't have an absolute quality I can write down). That's why guidelines, which are looser than absolute laws or rules are given."

This is always been my impression of his philosophy wrt Metafilter, from day one, and I acted accordingly, making a subjective decision that what I quoted enhanced the thread. It's only others who got all black-and-white/rule-based about it.
posted by Medley at 5:15 PM on July 25, 2002


people who are determined to join can find ways to do so.

Exactly - this also stops people joining (or creating second accounts) for the express purpose of creating havoc. Those who have managed to find the way in recently are all very keen to participate as good members of the community, having expended not a little effort to be here in the first place. I am sure no-one intended any harm by "flaunting" their high user number in recent MeTa threads. The existence of a back door remained unmentioned for quite some time and it was only when the subject was raised by older members that this started.

Matt has the right to run this site as he sees fit and I can only imagine the cost to him in unbillable time of running MeFi. Any reimbursement he can get (and how he gets it) is more than due and nobody's damn business, anyway.

Give the guy a break and a chance to catch his breath after the mammoth effort of migrating to not only a new server, but a completely new back-end to the site.
posted by dg at 5:34 PM on July 25, 2002


here's an idea - keep in mind i'm not a programmer so i don't know what this entails...

what if random sign-ups are just done away with? what if when someone goes to the sign-up page they enter a name/pseudonym and an email address they can be reached at? then, they are put on a permanent waiting list. when matt feels that mefi can handle some more members, he chooses x number of people on the list and contacts them about signing up. it seems this might solve several problems:

1. email validation - since there wouldn't be an immediate turnaround on getting a membership, the email address they can be reached at should be a valid one they check often.

2. matt would have an idea of how much of a bottleneck there is to get in.

3. matt can choose who gets in absolutely anyway he wants ie: donation, first come first served, favor, etc. nobody would have any idea of how they were chosen and neither would anyone else.

4. matt doesn't have to keep opening and closing sign-ups.

5. the people that want to get in are secure in the knowledge that they've done something proactive to make it happen - short of a bribe or some other mysterious trick they missed.

i know someone that has been waiting patiently for a long time to get in. he's read mefi for a long time, is a responsible poster on other forums and i know in his case he would be happy with such a situation. i'm sure other people would be as well.
posted by centrs at 5:41 PM on July 25, 2002


I actually understand (understood) where beth is coming from, with a slightly different take.

The "he opens a window" guy doesn't do much for the general theory that there ISN'T some super sneaky way of getting in, outside of donations. And I don't know if it's just the need to feel important, but there have been other insinuations as well. I think that this is the main thing that beth was upset about; with the various people who are claiming they know secret ways in, and that they paid to get in, people with a really strong sense of fairness can't help but feel slightly agitated.

I've never really thought of this as elitist, to be honest-- as a long-time mudder and game-player, I've learned that most established THINGS-- games, companies, even message boards, have their own little secrets, often designed to increase the ambiance and sense of community. Those who are in the know are in the know, and everyone else wants to be. It generates interest, and I hate to say it, but I've never been a part of any sort of community where there weren't people who were considered "in" and people who wanted to get in.

If there isn't some sneaky secret way of getting in, well, the people who'll continue to look for it like some treasure hunt will eventually get sign ups anyhow, when Matt opens them. And if there is? It'll give a 14-15k user something to feel special about in lieu of a lower uid. </joke>

Keeping in mind that MeFi is 1) not a democracy, 2) run by one man who could, were it his desire, make accounts for anyone he wanted to, for any reason he wanted to, and 3) that one man isn't being paid for any of it and doesn't get any "days off"... well, keeping all of that in mind?

This entire discussion is moot. I'm against elitism as much as the next person, but this has an entirely different premise. And I'm not jumping beth or rushmc, both of them were just looking for what they perceive to be fairness (and made a lot of valid points). The main point is, this is a place where said perceived fairness isn't applicable. Someone putting this much time and effort into something that we enjoy so much for so little in return isn't bound to anything.
posted by precocious at 5:57 PM on July 25, 2002


Medley's right about the post-by-proxy thing. While it can be problematic and is generally a bad idea, once in a while, I think it's a worthwhile thing to add (I recently posted an email response from someone close to the subject of a metafilter post, who was clearing up problems in an article about his workplace). The basic rule still applies: don't do proxy posting unless it's a once-in-a-lifetime chunk of info.

As for the suggested sign-up page copy, I don't think it's an important enough point to devote that much explanation for. The main thrust is in the first sentence, then several exceptions are explained ad naseum. It reminds me of those pharmacutical commercials where I can enjoy an allergy-free springtime day, followed by 30 seconds of disclaimers mentioning anal leakage among other possible side effects.

For now, I'll reopen new users sooner than later, probably limiting it to simply 20 people, first-come, first-served on each day, with no wait list and no donation. Sorry this became such a big thing, I had no idea people cared so much about getting in, or the lengths they go to.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:16 PM on July 25, 2002


Well said, precocious.

Is it just me, or are other users seeing a sudden increase in e-mails asking how to get in to MeFi?
posted by dg at 6:18 PM on July 25, 2002


there goes the neighborhood.
posted by crunchland at 7:06 PM on July 25, 2002


regardless of whether or not memberships are open or closed, metafilter is great and donating is great for your karma--whether you believe in that sort of shit or not. I chipped in a bit recently and it felt great. Especially after threads where Matt has to repeat himself, i get this deep twinge of guilt and find myself making donations.

why are you still here? go home.
posted by th3ph17 at 7:10 PM on July 25, 2002


Hands zarah a chainsaw I think it's Kandarian...

*grabs chainsaw*

Alright, you primitive screwheads, listen up: THIS... is my BOOM STICK!

*begins swinging wildly, not caring who gets in the way*
posted by zarah at 9:02 PM on July 25, 2002


Is it just me, or are other users seeing a sudden increase in e-mails asking how to get in to MeFi?

Is from none to one a big increase?
posted by timeistight at 9:12 PM on July 25, 2002


In context, I guess it depends when you got it - I have had two since this thread started, after getting a few since joining and wondered if the "coming out" of the back door made people decide to get in before it was closed.
posted by dg at 9:22 PM on July 25, 2002


All this trouble has been caused by he opens a window. He is a Very Bad man. I suggest that Matt ban him permanently, expunge him from the database and then we all forget about him altogether. What say?
posted by timeistight at 9:31 PM on July 25, 2002


I say that the existing users be made of this window before it gets shut, just to satiate our curiosity. Okay, MY curiosity. How did you do it, damn it?
posted by insomnyuk at 9:36 PM on July 25, 2002


zarah you shemp, calm down. sends kid back to the living room wow, perigee we're in the middle of an evil dead/bruce campbell movie festival at my house this week, so you truly said the magic word (kandarian).

i feel a bit bad for asking about memberships the other day, as i suppose that thread got things all stirred up. i had no idea this was previously a big bone of contention with some folks. based on matt's sidebar from july 16th i thought the request for info would just get me a new date and time and that would be that.

by-the-by, the non-members who asked me to post the question earlier this week... they watched the ensuing conversations unfold and decided against joining.
posted by t r a c y at 9:38 PM on July 25, 2002


Wimps.
posted by timeistight at 10:08 PM on July 25, 2002


timeistight: Andrea, I am not totally trying to be snarky, but could your disagreement with the policy have anything to do with the fact that you already had a membership?

I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you're getting at. Here, let me state it clearly in non-mixed up paragraphs especially for you: I THINK IT WOULD BE NICE IF MEMBERSHIP IS OPEN. I think it'd be rad if Matt starts handing out memberships. I just think that there should be some kind of rules stated so that people who are on the outside realise that it's not just Matt's best friends getting the new logins.

Did you read any of my posts? I understand why memberships are closed. There is clearly an overload. However, there are people waiting to get in and I am simply stating that it DOES look elitist when other people are getting memberships. I'm not saying it IS elitist.

If you have further questions please direct them to me. That would be rad and we would not be consuming server bandwidth unnecessarily.
posted by Andrea at 10:27 PM on July 25, 2002


... caused by he opens a window. He is a Very Bad man. I suggest that Matt ban him permanently, ...

So we should ban his alter-ego as well, just to make the process complete?
posted by dg at 10:56 PM on July 25, 2002


By the way, the dreaded Remora remora has some thoughts for you about the use of the word "elitist"... [scroll down the page a teeny bit}
posted by evanizer at 11:20 PM on July 25, 2002


Well, dg, we could just ban all of the 1,716 people (so far) who have signed up since membership closed and let God sort out the righteous, but that would lose a lot of people we like, wouldn't it?

(Sorry for singling you out, righteous. I was planning on using that phrase so when I stumbled across your user name I couldn't resist it.)
posted by timeistight at 1:05 AM on July 26, 2002


But we are all righteous here, aren't we? Well, at least the 14k brigade are :-)
posted by dg at 2:03 AM on July 26, 2002


I really fail to see how anyone can even remotely percieve elitism. The mind wobbles. Membership is free yes? Yes. There is no criteria you have to meet to become a member, correct? Correct. That is the membership policy.

Membership is closed to the general public at random intervals due to resource issues or during growth spurts when things seem unwieldy. Matt is the sole proprietor when it comes to the growth of Metafilter. Members and non-members alike have no say in when membership is opened or closed. If Matt chooses to allow a few new members in during times when he has generally closed membership, that is his perogative and subject to his sole discretion. Membership is FREE and when it is open, anyone is welcome. A policy of closed membership that only opens to a select few doesn't exist. MeFi's doors may be closed for longer periods than they are open nowadays, but Matt obviously has reasons for this. He governs how best to grow HIS website.

A percieved notion that people are getting preferential treatment is ridiculous. There is no waiting list to bypass. No rule or policy that is being swept aside in favour of allowing a particular class of people in over another. Matt decides what 'membership is closed' means.

Picture if you will, MetaFilter the nightclub. Matt at the doors marked 'member' and 'non-member'. Everybody gets to go in the club but there's a glass wall between the member and non-member areas. A non-member walks up to Matt.

nm: Matt, I love this place, can't I become a member?

Matt: I'm sorry, but membership is closed for now. I will be taking the wall down soon, I promise.

nm: Can I offer you some money to go in the members door?

Matt: Membership is free, why would you want to do that?

nm: I just hate waiting. You know what? Forget about it. Here, I'd like to show my support anyway. Thanks for creating such a great place.

*heads back towards the non-members door*

Matt: Hey, wait. You seem nice enough and I appreciate the donation. I'd like to let you become a member if you're still interested.

nm: Gosh yes, I certainly am! Thanks!

*member door opens and the former nm steps inside. Suddenly everything is in technicolor.*

n(ew)m: WooHoo!!! I just paid Matt a few bucks and got myself a membership!!!

MeFi chorus: We all got in for free!!!

*n(ew)m struts like a sexy beast over to the MeFi bar and orders a drink. A MeFite notices he's new.*

mefite: Hey, you look new.

n(ew)m: I am. I just paid Matt to get in here.

mefite: Hey that's not right. My friend has been waiting ages for Matt to open the doors here.

n(ew)m: I don't know nuthin' 'bout that. All I know is I paid Matt and now I got me a sweet 14k user ID.

*bartender leans over and whispers to n(ew)m*

bartender: Psst...Anyone can become a member. You just paid for something that's free.

n(ew)m: I know, but I hate waiting. I just had to get in here. The fact that I paid to get in just makes me that much cooler. Matt must have really been impressed with me, don't ya' think?

bartender: If you say so.

*meanwhile a panting mefite makes their way over to the non-member side to speak to a friend.*

mefite: Do you know what I just heard. Matt is letting people into the members area if they pay him. It's apparently some big secret that he's keeping from the non-members. You could have gotten in ages ago. This thoroughly pisses me off.

nm: I'm pissed off now too. I made a donation to MeFi a while ago because I thought it was so cool. Matt never said I could go into the members area. He must only be letting specific types of people in. That's so elitist!

mefite: Right. If this is how Matt is going to run things he should at least tell everyone so that we can all just pay him to get in. I think I'll take this up with Matt and the MeFiosa. After all, Matt shouldn't be allowed to let anyone in if he's going to say the doors are closed.

*moments later in the MeFi gallery*

mefite2: ...kiss-asses!

mefite3: Isn't there a pancake thread we could all be arguing over instead?

mefite: Matt you should really think about how you want to run a cummunity site. This super secret elitist looking crap just isn't fair. If I was running things I assure you it would be different.

Matt: Uh-huh, uh-huh, ...

*Matt's head explodes, pancakes fly everywhere. Someone posts an IP to the FPP. The € still doesn't work. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!*

Or the classic, "It's a madhouse! A madhouse!!"
posted by mikhail at 2:08 AM on July 26, 2002


Mikhail, don't even joke like that. Last night I had a dream where MetaFilter took physical form as a large private home where a huge house party was taking place and I had to flash my membership card at the door to get in.

The really weird thing is that the part of Matt was being played by Conan O'Brien, and his mother (some woman I've never seen) was handing out canapes.
posted by toddshot at 3:46 AM on July 26, 2002


mikhail, I think this started as a combination of people bragging that they got in by giving donations, and bragging that they snuck in, and bragging and/or insinuating that there are still sneaky ways to get in and only a very few know it.

Basically, it's all a big ego misunderstanding.
posted by precocious at 4:08 AM on July 26, 2002


Arg. It's like a bad dream that won't go 'way!

Are we finished here yet, or am I gonna have to get verbose and pick sides an' stuff, and help redundantly flog this horse? The sound of everybody pissin' in the pool is making me cross my legs...
posted by Perigee at 5:28 AM on July 26, 2002


There's nothing very clever about finding a backdoor, if even I could do it. It took me about five minutes of lateral thinking from "I wonder if there's a backdoor" to "ah, here it is". I'd need to do something an awful lot more clever than that, in order to inflate my already gigantic ego. Something on the order of creating and maintaining a site like this one would probably do it. By the way, the backdoor I found is now closed. I didn't tell a single soul of its existence except the one person whose business it was.

I was going to post here to agree strongly with Danelope's suggestion but as I read this, it looks as if it's already been effected. Nice one mh.
posted by walrus at 5:45 AM on July 26, 2002


Ouch, no. It was only doing it in preview.
posted by walrus at 5:46 AM on July 26, 2002


(mikhail, that makes me a modified 'Mefite #3' on the mikhail scale after nearly 24 hours of this stuff. There would also be a makeshift noose hanging over the chandelier; pitchforks and torches would be shaken and the sound of gnashing teeth would fill the room like a garbage disposal wrestling a chicken bone...)
posted by Perigee at 5:48 AM on July 26, 2002


Frankenstein 2002!

Starring:

mathowie as Dr. Frankenstein

MetaFilter as Frankenstein's monster

user.mefi as the unruly mob!


posted by Mick at 6:49 AM on July 26, 2002


... caused by he opens a window. He is a Very Bad man. I suggest that Matt ban him permanently, ...

timistight obviously hasn't read Kripke....
</shadenfreude>
posted by mattpfeff at 7:10 AM on July 26, 2002


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