whats your story? August 10, 2002 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Hello, I am a brand new member, and I have been waiting to become a part of this for a very long time. Who else has been waiting for a space, and whats your story on how you got involved into metafilter? -Mine inside!
posted by Keyser Soze to MetaFilter-Related at 12:10 PM (59 comments total)

I first saw metafilter at a friends house, and I noticed it was one of the few websites devoted to the people, yet at the same time has something to say. So I guess that's my story.
posted by Keyser Soze at 12:12 PM on August 10, 2002

and, uh, it's got a good beat and you can dance to it.
posted by quonsar at 1:50 PM on August 10, 2002

Metafilter is invaluable to me for its timely and insightful technology and finance news. When my wife reads Metafilter, she heads straight for arts & leisure and the Book Review. But we both enjoy the Sunday Mefi crossword puzzle. The only thing more satisfying than working on the crossword puzzle -- is finishing it!
posted by cobra libre at 2:20 PM on August 10, 2002

seriously, i really don't recall how i heard about mefi. i lurked around for a bit and finally got an account. early on, i had a few stumbles while getting a feel for the mefi context, and a genuine tussle over my snark in a thread about a 1500 pound flying elk. it wasn't long before i was outed as a sociopath. after all, this is the community that outed kaycee nicole! this is a community that asks the hard questions, ever pursuing the keys to the deepest mysteries of existence! viva mefi!
posted by quonsar at 3:05 PM on August 10, 2002

I first heard about MeFi through reading jason's weblog. I followed a bunch of the links on Q to meg and rebecca and really enjoyed what I was seeing. So I gave Metafilter a try. Lurked for a while, until the crisis of 2001, when only members could access. After overcoming the withdrawal, I joined up, and here I am.
I'm not the most active member, but I've joined in on a few debates, and even posted a haiku or two.
posted by nprigoda at 3:33 PM on August 10, 2002

I forget how I first heard about metafilter, but then I tend to be attracted to huge effing holes of despair.

I also collect molds, spores and fungus.
posted by crunchland at 4:15 PM on August 10, 2002

the z man seemed to mention it a lot... i checked it every now and then, but wasn't too interested.. then came kaycee... oo, what fun that was.
posted by lotsofno at 4:15 PM on August 10, 2002

Maybe we should have a Newbie thread category?
posted by donkeyschlong at 4:47 PM on August 10, 2002

I can't remember how I first ended up here. After a few months of rather sporadic lurking when slashdot and salon were slow, I came across a thread here that blew me away.

I've unfortunately forgotten the details, but somebody posted a strong opinion on some topic; somebody else posted an effective rebuttal to this, whereupon the first poster replies: "All right - I can see how that makes sense". I was blown away. Conversations don't usually work that way in REAL LIFE, let alone online...

Anyway, since that day I've been a dedicated lurker, and I finally got my account a week or two ago...
posted by jeffj at 5:31 PM on August 10, 2002

Donkeyschlong - Ouch.
posted by Keyser Soze at 6:53 PM on August 10, 2002

Donkeyschlong - Ouch.

No -- I didn't mean that snarkily at all. I just meant it would allow certain issues to be re-hashed for newcomers in a way that doesn't fill up preexisting topics with the same old same old. In a good way. :)
posted by donkeyschlong at 6:59 PM on August 10, 2002

I've been a loyal MeFi reader for the last year or so. There have been many times that I've had a burning desire to voice my opinion, which I'm sure will soon be contributing to the hemerhoids and ulcers of many a MeFier. But isn't that why we all love this place? (Not the ulcers, the argu- er discussions.) But sadly, signups were closed for so long that I eventually gave up...and forgot about MeFi for a while. My discovery that membership was again open caused me to sing about flowers and such.

...and here I am.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 7:00 PM on August 10, 2002

ah new blood
posted by clavdivs at 7:06 PM on August 10, 2002

ladies and gentlemen, the vampire clavdivs
posted by Mick at 7:13 PM on August 10, 2002

Mick, you just helped me ruin a perfectly good monitor.
posted by riffola at 7:33 PM on August 10, 2002

jeffj: I've unfortunately forgotten the details, but somebody posted a strong opinion on some topic; somebody else posted an effective rebuttal to this, whereupon the first poster replies: "All right - I can see how that makes sense". I was blown away. Conversations don't usually work that way in REAL LIFE, let alone online...

Do you mean this? Which I tried to draw attention to here?

God, how I'd love to see that more often.

posted by vacapinta at 7:52 PM on August 10, 2002

It happens, with almost as much frequency as it always has, in my experience at least, which is part of the continuing attraction.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:20 PM on August 10, 2002

actually yeah, schlong has a great idea!

or maybe a 'newb-filter'?

and i don't mean to keep the old-timers from seeing newbs at all, you jerks.
posted by jcterminal at 8:36 PM on August 10, 2002

I've never actually been to MetaFilter.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:29 PM on August 10, 2002

I was secretly brainwashed by a cabal of Naderite fifth-columnists who plied me with FilePile links and scads of "less filling!" versus "tastes great!" debate until my neocortex did a full-on blast-vomit and I signed up.

Then Clavdivs bit me, and 1350 comments later, here I be!

(all that's a lie, I was lured here through a pop-up on a pr0n site)
posted by UncleFes at 10:18 PM on August 10, 2002

jcterminal: maybe a 'newb-filter'?


posted by taz at 10:25 PM on August 10, 2002

Me? I'm the chick who ruined MetaFilter. But I've been very well behaved since then.
posted by headspace at 11:46 PM on August 10, 2002

That was you????

I knew it all along.
posted by readymade at 12:19 AM on August 11, 2002

Hmm... a newbie filter may possibly alienate some people from the entire MetaExperience(tm), but at the same time we could cut down on a lot of poorly constructed posts.

Personally, i've been coming to this website daily for some time, so I have a feel for mefi. But to be honest, I wish things were like they were in the old days, even though if it was that way, I wouldn't be a member.

posted by Keyser Soze at 12:40 AM on August 11, 2002

ruined? i'd say made it entertaining!
posted by jcterminal at 12:47 AM on August 11, 2002

I actually saw the link on Cruel.com, as a tangential aside to fuckedworld.com (the site of the day, whenever that was.) This was shortly after 9-11; I couldn't actually sign up until December.

Hard to believe I've been reading this for almost a year. To read so, so much and contribute so, so little.
posted by nath at 1:46 AM on August 11, 2002

I started reading MetaFilter on-and-off in 1999 and full time since March 2000, when the first 5k competition hit the scene. I remember many of the pre-March 2000 stories posted here, but do not remember MetaFilter as my primary source for them. Back then, just as it is now, MetaFilter was merely an echo chamber, not the place for first-run stories. I signed up for an ICANN @Large membership when, for the fourth time in a span of two days, I saw a link for it here.

I don't really remember exactly which link I clicked to get here. I am pretty sure it was not a friend's site. Even if it were so, I don't think I'd have put up a link to him in some halfwit navel gazing post.

I liked MetaFilter's uncluttered user interface. I showed the site to my friends as a better UI than Slashdot or any of the other link clearing houses. I liked the flatness, both in UI and organization, of the site. There were no submission queues. I came to understand that people here were treated as adults: respected and trusted to use their better judgment and not restricted by rules. While my friends were impressed by the UI, they thought the membership and, by extension, the site was a bit pretentious and not "all that." None of my real life friends ever signed up for an account. Not even when the signups were closed and I knew of more than one backdoors. In the past few months I have come to understand their rationale. My friends are smarter than I and can foresee things that I am often blind to.

I, on the other hand, liked the then membership. People here were real people, not just clever usernames. Many had weblogs. Those who didn't, left enough information about themselves to put them above the internet masses. I wanted to be one of the real people too.

For the longest time, I didn't think I had anything to contribute; or at least say something that was not already said in a thread. That concern kept me from signing up. Why waste time signing up for something where I'll never really be more than a lurker? I never signed up for Slashdot.

There were times when I thought I could add something. I think I could've contributed to the Live Motion Beta, Lycos image search, Circuit City's Netpliance debacle, Soda Play, Sisqo's annoying Thong Song, or 2000 Oscars threads from first hand experience. Whatever I had to say, holgate already said in the Mr. Bean's car and the BMW/Mini/Rover/Ford and English automaker discussion. Maybe I could've added something in the Bible Code thread. I had read the book.

Then there was the Kottke Kaption Kontest, back then when it still was "caption contest" and the world wasn't korrupted by Ks run amuck. But Kottke had to come by and be a party pooper. People didn't live in MetaFilter back then. Today that thread would've gotten 80 comments even before Kottke wakes up in the morning.

Maybe I could've added something to all the Elian threads in April. Or Bill Clinton's last White House Correspondents' dinner thread. I had seen it live on CSPAN. I could've added something to the thread about Kozmo delivering to only White parts of town; or even the restrooms in Disneyland thread.

I had nothing to suggest for the first cool things under $30 thread. I did place a call to the lonely phone after I saw it on TV, but signing up to say, "it rang for 15 minutes and no one picked up," didn't seem rational. I could've added my insights on Yahoo redesign, Rudy Giuliani dropping out of the Senate race, or TimeWarner shutting off ABC/channel 7. I don't think I'd have added anything more than the average observer. I tried to register thereisno.god, but like everyone else who commented in the thread, I too, found the servers busy.

I never really had anything to say on the RIAA/Napster debates. I was a happy Napster user; but I knew the good times won't last. I had nothing to add to the billion or so McSweeney's, blog/site redesign, Deepleap, or Amazon's UI threads, which were pretty common at that time.

Some time in June I realized that I can be a productive part of this community weblog. There were more threads that talked to me, and I knew I could really add some value to the discussions and not be another "me too" poster, adding noise.

I could've added signal to the subway and personal space, Microsoft's OEM policy change, Corel laying off 320, Syrian president Hafez Al Assad's death, Dreamweaver UltraDev release, DeCSS controversy, CIA overthrowing prime minister of Iran, cow parade, 15 hour laptop batteries, or even Kevin Mitnick's first job threads. I have the book about top secret recipes.

Even then, people didn't like MetaFilter as NewsFilter. Kottke pondering, "those who have very little to contribute participate the most while those with valuable information to share participate the least," made me rethink if I really had something to add.

By end of June/early July I pretty much made up my mind that I'd sign up for a membership. Aside from a busy June at MetaFilter, the end of another Internet community I had been a member since 1996 influenced my decision. I was debating if I should use any of my previous handles, or use my own name. In the other community we all used handles. We addressed each other by the handles, even though we all knew each others' real names, home, office address and phone numbers, and all sorts of other personal details. It was a weird charade at times. Incidentally, that community too had closed off its membership only three weeks after I joined. I guess my joining drops the quality of communities and signals an end to the proverbial golden era. Unlike MetaFilter, without a password, no one could see its contents. After a few years, I was actually proud of my membership there. I don't think pride is a word I associate with a membership to MetaFilter.

But unlike June, July didn't have much that interested me. I forgot that I wanted to join. People debated if Ethel was the best, failing that, at least top three, weblog in the world. The famous bicycle story conspiracy of Kottke, Megnut, et. al. came up twice: 1, 2. I only found interest in ICANN's report on TLDs. Had I wanted to, I could've added another "me too" post to the historical accuracy debate/movie review thread on Mel Gibson's movie The Patriot. I had seen the movie. I had nothing to add that was not already said in that thread.

In early August I could only find interest in the two Gore/Lieberman threads, Chinese mummies, Adobe suing Macromedia, and NYC through foreign tourists' eyes threads. I forgot that only a month ago I had decided to signup.

At the end of the first week of August somewhere on the web I noticed a MetaFilter usernumber debate. I remembered I wanted to signup. In the long run, if I really did end up joining MetaFilter, I didn't want to fall on the wrong end of usernumber elitism, I thought. I looked back at all the things that impressed me about the site. People here were real people, not usernames. Many were my age, or within a 4-year radius. In the other community that I had been in, much to my surprize, many were much older. Well, I too was much younger back then. Matt treated everyone here like adults. Other than self control and moderation, there were no rules to speak of. Most of all, this was a weblog: taking advantage of the miracles of hypertext and HTML. This was not a mailing list or newsgroup, two things I had never been too comfortable with. I wanted to be a part of this community weblog. I signed up with my real name and dropped all the handles I had ever used. I figured that the opportunity will present itself when I can add signal to a thread and not muck up the place with noise. It was time to grow up and be an adult.

I looked back today at the times that lead me to join MetaFilter. After all that clicking around I realized that if I found this site in 2002, instead of 1999/2000, I don't think I'd have ever joined or even have the interest in signing up.

The best thing about MetaFilter is that the site constantly keeps reinventing itself. It was once a community weblog, now a chat board or faux web based mailing list, similar to FoRK. Until about a week ago, I'd have said that MetaFilter has become a web-based AOL chatroom; without the ready availability of cyber sex opportunities or some sort of implied promise of the real thing. New members and dormant members come in and become active members in waves. They bring in their personal biases and past experiences of life, both online and offline. The site changes with these waves. But it lives on. It never falls flat or becomes comatose. The amazing thing about this site is that, contrary to popular fear, the loss of any particular member, or group of members, and their cronies doesn't hurt the site as a whole. Should popular or unpopular posters with familiar usernames leave the site, quietly with dignity, or with an opera production complete with a fat lady singing; new people will always step up, with their own style, to fill the vacancy. The site moves on.
posted by tamim at 1:56 AM on August 11, 2002 [2 favorites]

The topography of MetaFilter has undergone a tremendous change in the past few weeks, and I, for one, appreciate the discussions that I used to read, as well as the new overload, which, in all fairness, lacks the intimacy of the old daze, but triples the information.

I have been a long time reader and enthusiast of MetaFilter, and I first found it on a google search.
posted by hama7 at 5:13 AM on August 11, 2002


MeFi XP...sign up Madonna for the commercials...
posted by adampsyche at 5:29 AM on August 11, 2002

(Despite my inclination to refrain from such things, nobody else is stepping up to the plate, so I must applaud tamim for a wonderful post, the likes of which are few and far between. Beautiful. Comments like this one, particularly appearing as it does in such an unnecessary, chatty thread, are one of the things that make participation here worthwhile. Thanks, tamim.)

[/cheerleader post]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:33 AM on August 11, 2002

tamim, please don't ever leave.
posted by anathema at 5:36 AM on August 11, 2002

Tamin=comment of the month. (like a creedo) I like the new neato names, some really good ones....i still miss rodii.
posted by clavdivs at 8:38 AM on August 11, 2002

tamim, once again you have impressed me with your humanity and intelligence. Keep it up and I'll have a shrine next to my computer dedicated to you.
posted by ashbury at 8:47 AM on August 11, 2002

I don't think I'd have put up a link to him in some halfwit navel gazing post.

But you happily fill up four pages with halfwit navel gazing of your own. What's with that?h
posted by sennoma at 9:52 AM on August 11, 2002

Here is a tangent on a similar topic, if anyone wants to wade back.
posted by piskycritter at 12:29 PM on August 11, 2002

hi, I am ten minutes new. I think I will find my meta feet before putting either or both into my mouth or anywhere else come to that.
posted by Stars Kitten at 12:29 PM on August 11, 2002

Who else has been waiting for a space, and whats your story

Heh, I wasn't going to respond to this, because I figured it was a trap invented by Matt to catch all the "chatty" noobs-- but then I read the comments and found out that most of the respondents were old hands.

I was really shocked when I read Tamim's post. I had more or less dismissed the comment until I got to the poster's name. I always sit up and pay attention when Tamim writes, so I went back and re-read the comment.

I am sorry, Tamim, you feel metafile has turned into an AOL chatroom, but you know very well that is a huge, huge exaggeration. When I first came on-line 4 years ago I spent a lot of time looking for a good book chat site and never did find one, but I did wade through a lot of crap. Maybe it has been awhile since you have been in an actual chat room (or maybe it has been never) but the ratio of sexual innuendo, crude remarks, and insults to actual discussion is about 99 to 1.

Even a well crafted place like Readerville which has an actual "What are you reading now?" forum is filled with a lot of meaningless dialog like:
Jayne Air: Great to see you back, Ham. How was your weekend?
Ham Lit: It was great.
Jayne Air: Great!

Plus they have those horribly annoying signature taglines that are less than amusing to read once and irritating beyond belief to read every single posting.

So imagine my delight to find this beautifully streamlined
website where people actually use skilled rhetoric to engage in meaningful dialog. Sorry I wasn't here for the golden age, sorry the web site has evolved into a discussion site rather than an interesting-weblog-related-link-of-the day site, but as long as metafile is here, I will be reading and responding.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:56 PM on August 11, 2002


What's Metafile?

(Presumably it's like a theif)


Welcome, SLOG. And I agree with you - I went looking for an empty chatroom the other day, to arrange a meeting with some people, and found that they were all just as I remembered them - noisy, inane, and really, realy annoying.
posted by Marquis at 1:23 PM on August 11, 2002

I seem to be able to work Sweden (oops I did it again) into every comment I've made so far. If you find that pathetic, drop me an email and I'll stop.
Anyway, I'm very, very happy to be a newbie. I have no idea how I found this place, I just know that I'd been pretty obsessed with it since november last year. The amounts of things I've learned so far are ridiculous. And it's nice to be able to make insignificant inputs now and again. I remember that when posts like these showed up, I almost threw my monitor out the window and cried to my suffering fiancee "I want to contribute! People need my .02$!"
I've grown up since then.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 1:53 PM on August 11, 2002

People need my .02$!"

that's definitely a quotable.
posted by lotsofno at 2:11 PM on August 11, 2002

An interesting thing about my own membership is how the telling of it makes me seem so utterly devoid of MetaFilter cred. I found MeFi through that damned article in Brill's Content, lurked for months, and then managed to sign up after that little incident last Sept. The timing of my membership makes me seem like one of the people who just wanted to join the melee, and lob shrill shots across the bow; because I found MeFi through print instead of the internet, I really seem like a boob.

Luckily though, I have managed to avoid being shrill (perhaps only because I've deleted more of my own posts than most members have written). As for the boob part, I think my continued wallflowery-ness attests to my still being one.
posted by readymade at 2:16 PM on August 11, 2002

Damn, I made a lot of grammatical errors in my previous post, didn't I? My old english teacher is probably spinning in her grave as I type this. Sorry.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:15 PM on August 11, 2002

Tamin, that was one of the more moving posts i've read. Thank you for expressing your opinion.

posted by Keyser Soze at 3:38 PM on August 11, 2002

Tamim, you may not speak out often but, when you do, it is pure gold.

I heard about MeFi from WebMonkey and, once I read a bit, I just had to get in and play. That was the last time I got any actual work done at work and, if you were to look at the dates on documents at the bottom of the piles on my desk, that would tell you the date I started here.
posted by dg at 7:11 PM on August 11, 2002

I figured it was a trap invented by Matt to catch all the "chatty" noobs
oh, hell no! it was a trap to catch paranoids.
posted by quonsar at 7:23 PM on August 11, 2002

I started reading here through discussions elsewhere that involved headspace and kristin, but didn't join for a long time because I didn't feel I had anything of interest to add (still feel that way, read my useless posts for more detail). Then the Kaycee saga came along, and there's another poster on here who intrigues me (not you, the other one), so I stick around.
posted by keli at 9:47 PM on August 11, 2002

I joined because I'm stalking several of you. Pay no mind to that van parked outside.

The restraining order says no, no, no. But your posts say yes, yes, yes.
posted by gummi at 11:24 PM on August 11, 2002

I found this site via The Guardian newspaper in the UK.. I think.
posted by Frasermoo at 1:14 AM on August 12, 2002

Do you mean this? Which I tried to draw attention to here?

Yup, that's the one. Thanks, vacapinta, I thought it was lost to history.

And thank you, rdr, for being such a great role model!
posted by jeffj at 8:13 AM on August 12, 2002

Pretty sure I found this place through either Lileks or Romanesko. Lurked forever then finally got around to signing up about a year ago. I spend far more time here than I should, but it keeps me out of trouble. (Ok, maybe it doesn't, but that's the story I'm sticking to.)
posted by aine42 at 10:33 AM on August 12, 2002

This is day one of membership for me, although I have been reading MetaFilter for about a year. I arrived here from Romenesko.
Here's a question- how long does one remain a newbie? Is there a timetable? The old "Newlywed Game" defined newlyweds as having been married for two years or less. Does newbiness have a similar deadline?
Keyser- I agree that a NewbieFilter might be a little alienating. No one liked middle school.
I don't know if I would be able to construct a truly elegant post as of right now without any practice, but I think a couple of kicks to the head from the general community would shape me up much more quickly and efficiently than simply observing forever, or posting on a training wheels filter.
posted by oflinkey at 9:23 PM on August 12, 2002

oflinkey, your answer might be here here.

I'll kick you in the head too, if you really want.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:54 PM on August 12, 2002

I honestly can't remember how I came across this site, but I do keep up with Romanesko, so probably that. Lurked for months. And for the record, I don't want to be kicked in the head.
posted by trondant at 10:09 PM on August 12, 2002

Hey look! 15k users! Does that mean that we 14kers are not newbies any more?

Please don't kick me, Mr Wonderchicken sir
posted by dg at 11:59 PM on August 12, 2002

Who's Romanesko?
posted by walrus at 1:15 AM on August 13, 2002

Even though this thread is as good as dead, if we put up a newbie forum we will just be making the next generation of people in metafilter work by their own terms, working with the "newbie" mentality. That way by next year the entire website could be changed for the better or worse. Then we will start forming generations. Generation M will be wiped out of existence by generation N.

Scary. Let's look at this another way.

Suppose when a really bad link is put up, Matt will drop it and the seasoned pro's will post back their thoughts to the newbies posting on the website.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:57 AM on August 13, 2002

Who's Romanesko?

The publisher of Obscure Store, a weblog of strange news items.
posted by rcade at 5:19 AM on August 13, 2002

My understanding of donkeyschlong's "newbie thread category" suggestion was that MetaTalk could have a "newbie" category, just as it does for "Bugs", "Etiquette" or "Feature Requests".

Personally, I think it's a great idea. No one's pushing a separate Filter for the newcomers. If you ask me, they're doing great.
posted by Marquis at 6:31 AM on August 13, 2002

I guess I've been reading along for almost 2 1/2 years. My lurking changed qualitatively on 9/11. I was at work, didn't have access to a radio or television set, couldn't get through to cnn.com or nytimes.com or any local news sites, and everyone in my office was terrified. Not only was I able to see what the hell was happening on Metafilter, I also saw the reactions of the community itself. Before 9/11 I'd check in every couple of days and while I really enjoyed the site, I was wary of getting sucked into yet another truly-enjoyable-and-completely-time-sucking online community (I'd just given up my membership in the Well and freed myself from several email lists). On 9/11 I felt as imprinted as one of Lorenz's goslings.

(How did I hear about Metafilter in the first place? I don't remember. Probably through someone's blog.)
posted by redshoes3 at 3:41 PM on August 16, 2002

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