State of the Site: Metafilter financial update and future directions June 13, 2018 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Important site updates, folks:

1. The site is running at a significant deficit and we urgently need to make that up. Part of that is through additional direct community funding; you can help here.
2. We're looking at—and inviting community input on—several big-picture questions.

Today I want to lay out our budget and income streams, to explain where we're at and what we need to accomplish. I'll also talk a bit about how the community is doing, and what's coming up in the future.

THE SHORT VERSION

Right now, because of recent steep drops in ad revenue, we're running at an $8,000/month deficit. I'm bringing this to you all now because we need to fix that shortfall soon to avoid significant cuts to our current payroll levels. We're still operating as normal right now thanks to the cushion members built up last fall, and that and conservative budgeting have worked as intended: it's given us a few more months of leeway to work on the problem, so we can consider our options and make smart, non-panicky decisions. But we need to get to work on it ASAP.

First, we're cutting spending further in the limited places we can, to buy a little more time.

Second, we're looking at ways to increase revenue. We're open to ideas in addition to this, but a core part of our plan here is moving to a more sustainable community-funded model, where we rely more on members and supporters to fund the operation of the site and less on the whims of the ad market. We never want anyone to be turned away from Metafilter for money reasons, and that's going to remain a firm commitment in whatever system we settle on. But for those who can afford it, we're considering moving toward a formal subscription model, where we'd try to meet our budget needs through a more explicit focus on monthly subscriptions. This place costs money to run, and the more that money comes from people who care about the site rather than disinterested corporate third parties, the better off we'll all be.

Some details:

- We are, specifically, running about $8,000 a month short of an operating budget of about $38,000 a month.
- This is a new problem as of this year and specifically the last few months.
- At the start of 2018, we were breaking even, but there's been a significant decline in Adsense revenue the last few months.
- We've also been affected by Amazon's reduction in affiliate program payouts starting around the middle of last year.
- At our current rate of loss, we have enough in savings to bear us through the next four months or so with no change to spending.
- After that we'll hit a critical point where cutting the budget by $8K/mo will be necessary to keep a minimum safe amount in savings month to month.
- Almost all of our budget goes to payroll, and cuts would have to come out of that, which means pay cuts and/or laying moderators off.
- Our two obvious paths to reducing or eliminating that budget shortfall are (1) new ad revenue and (2) new recurring contributions from members and supporters of the site.

I am working on the ad revenue aspect, and will talk more about that more in the future. We're also looking as a team at what we can manage for immediate small-scale, hopefully temporary, reductions in pay to slow the approach of that critical major-cuts point.

But the community funding part we can address right now, so I'll lay it out here:

If you can afford to help support MetaFilter with a recurring contribution, we need that help now.

If you already support MeFi but can afford to up that a little, we need that help now.

Every extra five or ten or twenty dollars a month, every quarterly or yearly or one-time contribution, will help.

I can never thank the MetaFilter community sufficiently for the finanical support you've already provided over the years. It has been decisive in keeping this place stable in the years since the big financial crises and layoffs back in 2014. It's become clearer over time that the stability and closely-connected nature of community funding is workable for community-centric projects in a way that can't be likewise said for disinterested ad income; expanding that support right now will be decisive in helping us avert a new looming staffing crisis and stabilizing our long-term funding model.

I'm 100% committed to keeping MetaFilter around and operating as a good place to be on the internet. I will make sure that happens one way or the other. But I also want very badly to continue to provide the MeFi staff with the jobs they have been so giving in and dedicated to over the years, and to provide the MetaFilter community with the level of attention and stewardship their work makes possible. If you can help there, that would mean a great deal to me and to the team.



THE LONG VERSION

Okay, buckle up. I'll break down our current revenue and our current expenses, talk about site activity and engagement, and lay out some short-term and long-term goals related to everything going on with the site. While we've talked about bits and pieces of this in MetaTalk in the interim, this is substantially a followup to the change of ownership announcement back at the end of July last year.


REVENUE

We currently have three major revenue sources:

1. Google Adsense ad units running on the bulk of the threads on Ask MeFi and on MetaFilter proper, for logged-out users.
2. Amazon affiliate program income from folks reaching Amazon via affiliate-coded links in comments and from members using our link when shopping.
3. Direct user contributions, via PayPal and Stripe and in a few cases paper check.

Adsense and Amazon income are down. Adsense in particular, by a lot since the beginning of the year. Direct contributions have been steady and I'm ridiculously thankful for that.

Details on those revenue streams:

1. Our Adsense income has shown a signficant decline since the start of 2018. This looks to be a combination of lower CPM/RPM rates overall -- that is, fewer clicks per thousand ads shown and/or less money per ad actually clicked -- and somewhat lower total number of ads being served in the first place. It's difficult to reduce this to a single explanatory factor; increased ad blocking, decreased advertising demand, lower levels of search traffic from some Google adjustment, and a lower total number of ad-serving threads to begin with because of Google content filtering rules may all be contributing factors. I'm trying to better prise those apart to see what we can address and how on each front.

But the overall effect is significant: the change in Adsense revenue from the January to May accounts for basically the entirety of our current budget shortfall.

In the last month, that revenue hasn't dropped further, and it's possible it will stabilize or even recover somewhat; Adsense has always been somewhat variable for us, and swung around significantly in 2017 as well, though in an up-and-down fashion rather than the current down-and-down-some-more way. But the current situation is precarious and there's no specific reason to believe it will improve, so I'm planning for the scenario where it doesn't.

Right now, Adsense represents on the order of $17,000 a month.

2. Amazon's affiliate program changed its rates in mid-2017; as a result, we are now making several thousand dollars less each month from that program than we had in the few years prior. That lower rate has looked fairly stable the last several months as the new normal. The loss of income in 2017 wasn't greatly worrying because Adsense was performing well enough. In the current situation, that extra few thousand dollars would make a big difference, but it's not something over which we have any control.

I don't expect Amazon's affiliate rates to decrease again soon, but in practice our revenue from that program is tied in part to our level of search traffic, just like our Adsense revenue is: if fewer people arrive at the site to click a link, fewer people will end up generating sales credit for MeFi. So long-term drops in traffic to the site from changes in Google's search decisions could eat at this revenue, which is something I'll be monitoring.

Right now, Amazon represents on the order of $5,000 a month.

3. Direct financial support from users and lurkers has been solid and consistent over the last 18 months. Even as we've seen revenue decreases elsewhere, y'all have been very steady in your continuing support, and goddam do I appreciate that. And when I announced the change of ownership of the site and the need to do some fundraising last July, folks dug in extra and provided about ten thousand dollars in one-time donations along with a small bump in the rate of recurring donations.

All in all direct support has been by far the most reliable stream of revenue the last few years and I find that incredibly heartening; it also leaves me with very complicated feelings about asking for more because I understand that that steadiness to some extent just represents what people are collectively comfortable with contributing.

But it's also a level of support that has corresponded to a period of relatively stability and mild financial recovery for the site. And it has declined, if very shallowly, over time, down from a high of around $9,000 a month back when the old financial crisis played out. And it has slid like that in part I imagine (and understandably so!) because of the site's stability; things have been keeping steadily along for a few years now, and folks have this or that come up and need to trim back or pause monthly donations, etc.

What it comes down to is: I don't look at these financial contributions lightly or take them for granted. It's an incredible string of generosity from the MetaFilter community. So I wouldn't ask for more if we didn't need it, and to whatever extent that folks *can* afford to do a little more without putting themselves in any kind of duress, now is when increasing that support level would really, really matter. And in the long-run, this may be the model we need to focus most on; we'll be looking at how to support and develop that going forward.

It's also, and I cannot emphasize this enough, okay if contributing or contributing more is not personally doable for you; nobody should feel they need to pay to be a part of this place, and everybody's financial situation is different.

But for those it is workable for, finding that extra little bit to help us with, finding a way to put another however much a month toward this place to help it remain stable long-term, would matter a lot.

Right now, direct financial contributions represent about $7,500 a month.


EXPENSES

Our fixed monthly expenses are about $37,500 a month. Almost all of that is payroll; we spend about $2000 a month on non-payroll expenses.

Payroll covers all costs for the seven folks on staff (me, LobsterMitten, restless_nomad, taz, goodnewsfortheinsane, Eyebrows McGee, and our technomancer frimble), which includes both full-time and part-time schedules, insurance benefits where possible, site development and maintenance work, and administrative fees from our small business HR services provider.

Non-payroll consists mostly of hosting costs on AWS; there's also couple hundred dollars a month for employee phone/data service for moderating from mobile devices or emergency data tethering during residential internet service outages, and another couple hundred in miscellaneous recurring fees and subscriptions for our site infrastructure, API services we depend on, etc.

There's very little flexibility in the non-payroll section of the budget -- MeFi just needs a certain amount of hosting infrastructure by definition -- though I am working with some folks at Amazon to try and trim a little off our AWS bill if possible.

Payroll is where we're able to make signficant cuts if it comes to that, but obviously that's a hard thing to have to do. We're currently looking at where things can give a little in what folks are getting paid, hopefully only temporarily, without any actual staffing changes. But to cover a gulf of $8,000 a month we'd have to pay for fundamentally less moderation every month.

And avoiding cutting back on moderation matters to me for two different reasons. One, MetaFilter works best when moderation can happen 24/7, when we're able to respond promptly all day every day to the kinds of questions and issues that arrive in a free-form community space. Two, I care a great deal about these folks I work with and want to provide them with the reliable employment that they deserve in exchange for their dedication to this community.

We also have incidental expenses, for things like employee equipment replacement or yearly renewals/fees and for fill-in staffing when scheduling requires it, or fees for legal or financial advice and services. These don't average out to a lot month to month -- maybe $500/mo, maybe less -- but they're there and the possibility of a large incidental expense is part of why it's important to me that we maintain some level of savings in the bank beyond just bare minimum monthly expenses.

Being tight on budget also means that we have to look much closer at whether and when to pay for extra fill-in hours (e.g. Eyebrows working extra hours beyond her normal weekend coverage, or Jessamyn doing a week of temporary modding), vs. just rearranging our basic scheduled shifts to trade off an overbooked week here for some vacation time there and vice versa. It's an expense we can avoid but it makes things more difficult and increases burnout risks.

To sum up: I'm looking at where we can recover a sliver of our non-payroll expenses, and where we can minimize incidentals; there's not much room to move there, though, and while we're gonna do a little belt-tightening right away on our monthly payroll to make our savings last longer, I'll have to look at some kind of staffing cuts by or before the end of the year to stabilize site finances if we can't improve our revenue situation.


COMMUNITY STUFF

Revenue woes aside, MetaFilter's been kicking along as the community I know and care about, and I'm thankful every day that it's here and that you're all here. This has been and remains the place I want more of the internet to be like.

It's been a hard couple of years out in the world and that's come out in how folks are feeling on the site, what they're posting about and commenting about, how their worries and their burdens inform the kinds of interactions they have here. Some of it has been pretty trying, and tiring for users and mods alike.

But there's also been a lot of good, and a lot of that comes down to people actively pushing for good stuff on the site, which I really appreciate. Sometimes that's meant carving out dedicated spaces for venting or political grar in an effort to keep that stuff from spilling out elsewhere on the site; other times, it's folks deciding to post positive stuff on the front page, or to foster fun or fascinating discussions on MetaTalk, or to organize activities like card exchanges or group games. And y'all have been finding ways to just support each other, to be there in the face of the hard stuff.

And folks have continued to do the sorts of useful, engaging things that make MetaTalk an important part of this place: reporting site issues, proposing tweaks, requesting this or that pony, celebrating milestones and saying goodbye to folks we've lost, and bringing complicated or discouraging site discussion issues to the community to try and work through. MeFi's, and MeFites', willingness to try and make self-examination and growth as an empathetic community an ongoing goal is something really valuable for the health of this place, and really important to me in how I see this place.

I think we're continuing to struggle to find a good balance for the outsized impact of the current clusterfuck of the US administration and the broader regressive elements of the geopolitical situation, but the times are what they are and I appreciate the degree to which folks on the site have shared in making some of that effort to balance things. I'm also hugely appreciative to the moderation team for sticking with this weird shambling attempt to find a throughline under such difficult prevailing conditions.

But all in all, I feel good about where MetaFilter is at as a community, notwithstanding the state of the world. This is my home online, and the same is true for a whole lot of you, and I'm glad for that.


SITE ENGAGEMENT

One thing that's been a point of concern over time is the idea of ongoing decline in MetaFilter's overall activity level. There's no question that overall daily activity has declined over time, particularly since the peak years around 2008-10. Ultimately I think that as a community MetaFilter can tolerate a pretty wide range of activity, and so a quieter site on average isn't inherently a problem.

That said, giving new folks reasons to join up, and existing members positive or interesting or fun stuff to engage with, is a good goal for such a long-running site, and there's a number of things that the MeFi team has been looking at in service of that.

Part of that is just encouraging everybody to find the things you like about the site and do them, support them, contribute to them, and I'd like to continue to find ways to do that. Several folks have made a particular effort to do so in the last while, in posts and site activities, and that's been great. We also have traditions that have fallen by the wayside over the years that I'd like to get back to more, things like organized MeFi Music album collaborations and a more visible and actively supported meetup/IRL culture on the site. I hope y'all will help us push to make those fun things happen.

Part of it is looking at what is and isn't working on the site for potential new users. There's a lot of possibilities here: some we've talked about before, like revamping FanFare to be more broadly accessible or reworking the signup documentation to be a little more modern and explanatory of contemporary MetaFilter in the context of a contemporary internet; some are more experimental, like reworking the signup process itself, or tweaking/expanding the content of the logged-out front page of MetaFilter to make it clearer to new readers and passersby the wealth and variety of interesting stuff that's lurking under our old-school reverse-chrono text interface. I'll be working through those ideas with the team and talking with the site about any developments or experiments on that front.

As a goal, I think a moderately increased rate of new users signups would be good for the site. I would not want to fundamentally change the pace or feel of new signups because I think MeFi has always benefited from bringing folks onboard through a slow-and-steady process of acclimation and modeling good behavior, but if we went from a small handful of new users every day to a medium-sized handful that'd be a positive, manageable change.

But a thing worth noting: our non-user revenue is tied to external search traffic in a way that, for better and for worse, has always been oddly disconnected from what's happening in the MetaFilter community itself. Measureably declining user activity doesn't necessarily, and hasn't historically, tracked closely with our search-based traffic revenue; the flip side of that is that increased user activity wouldn't by any account necessarily lead to an increase in search-based revenue. So I see the idea of bringing new users in and keeping existing members engaged more as a good in itself than as a solution to Adsense or Amazon revenue problems.


WHAT'S NEXT

There's a lot to think about and a lot of ideas to work through here. I've got a laundry list of things I'm working on or planning to work on, but as usual we're also interested in what all of you in the community are thinking. If you have ideas, suggestions, etc. we're all ears, so please let us know.

Our financial shortfall is clearly the most pressing issue. I'm going to be heavily focused on that right now, to try and contain the problem as much as possible. That means the push for new direct support and the belt-tightening stuff I talked about above; that also means looking at new revenue possibilities, which includes potential new/different ad approaches, new third-party ad partners, exploring a more externally-facing fundraising approach to supplement direct support from within the MeFi community, and so on. I'm incredibly averse to burying MeFi under crap in order to save it, but I think there's lower-impact possibilities worth giving a closer look. I'll keep you all posted about any changes or proposals there as they come together.

The site's 19th birthday is coming up, July 14th; next year it'll be the big Twenty. This feels like a tricky time to talk about plans for throwing any sort of big shindig, but I think anniversaries of shared spaces and shared experiences are good things, so I'd love folks to think about having a local meetup this year in the vicinity of the birthday. Maybe you haven't had one in your town in a while; here's a good excuse to get back on the horse. Maybe you throw 'em all the time and it'll be a cinch. Maybe you live in a MeFite desert and we can have a long-distance meetup in MetaTalk with y'all. But it's good to get together, and good to see each others faces sometimes. And in the long run, I'll think about what we might be able to pull off in 2019, even if only with shoestrings and paper plates and a few freshly scanned cats.

This is a lot of words and a lot of it has been kinda heavy. We're in a bind financially, and it's frankly a pretty scary situation to be resonsible for navigating and I really don't know how it's going to play out. But.

But MetaFilter's value as a place, as an idea, as an example of what is possible on an often troubled and toxic internet, is something more durable than its specific business circumstances. This is a community that matters, to me and to you and to so many people over the years. Whatever else happens, I believe in MetaFilter, and in all of you who make it what it is. I believe in that come storm or sun, and I'm glad you're all here with me as we make our way forward.
posted by cortex to MetaFilter-Related at 3:54 PM (1051 comments total) 179 users marked this as a favorite

Okay, I'll start. I've never given to Metafilter before but this place has meant a lot to me for so many years. So in honor of that I'll donate $1 for every favorite this post gets.

Shameless favorite-currying? Perhaps. But I will back it up with cash.
posted by mai at 4:08 PM on June 13 [1079 favorites]


So I just doubled my monthly contribution to Metafilter, but I feel the need to say that this isn't just an ad revenue issue. We need to all (not just the staff, but I'm hoping they're thinking about it) start thinking about how to better market and publicize the site. When and where can we promote and cite it? What are other possible revenue streams? How do we encourage and promote membership/participation?

The world, both virtual and real, are changing rapidly, and I'm pretty sure most would agree that a lot of that change is not for the better. There's an opportunity here to recruit a lot of folks who are leaving social media for something better. We are that something better. How do we tell that story and get the word out?
posted by Stanczyk at 4:08 PM on June 13 [28 favorites]


Also in general I'm on board with a subscription model of some kind, for the sake of long-term sustainability.
posted by mai at 4:09 PM on June 13 [36 favorites]


I'm still digesting this thorough post, but I just want to say I really appreciate the transparency here and the commitment to work through these issues, both financial and site culture, as a community.
posted by zachlipton at 4:13 PM on June 13 [156 favorites]


Also, just as a note: there was a whole lot to cover in the post, and it was very long as is, so there's details and next-step stuff that I didn't dig in on up there but really want to get to in conversation here and in future metatalk discussions. So, again, I really appreciate thoughts and ideas and so on, bring 'em on.

We need to all (not just the staff, but I'm hoping they're thinking about it) start thinking about how to better market and publicize the site. When and where can we promote and cite it? What are other possible revenue streams? How do we encourage and promote membership/participation?

Absolutely. One of the ways the internet has changed around us over the years is the blog-o-sphere of MetaFilter's early years has all but disappeared, and so has the kind of link-sharing culture that went with it. And I think it's really worth looking at both (a) how we can make it easier for folks to share things about MetaFilter that they like and they think people would want to see, and (b) how we can encourage folks to think of that as habit to get into.

I know I love MeFi, and I know why I love MeFi. And I know I don't like the idea of being obnoxious about the site. But there's a middle ground between being obnoxious and just quietly expecting folks to know what I know, that this place is full of great people and great stuff. And if me and ten thousand of my closest friends can each hit that middle ground a little more often, that's probably a good thing for the site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:15 PM on June 13 [35 favorites]


sorry if I missed this in the post but is there an estimate for Google Adsense revenue if ads were served to logged-in users?
posted by mullacc at 4:17 PM on June 13 [45 favorites]


Good timing - we're newly a two income family again and my budget needs reconfiguring anyway. Monthly contribution bumped up; I hope it's helpful.

Thanks for the update, and for all you all do.
posted by Stacey at 4:20 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


Thanks for the post, Cortex. I know from experience that writing these things is really hard, and we all appreciate the transparency. I've doubled my monthly pledge to $10/month and will see about increasing it further soon.

I strongly believe that subscriptions are the best way to providing ongoing support to sites like Metafilter. Whatever you can afford, even if it's just $1/month, is incredibly valuable - not just for the money it provides, but for the stability it gives to everyone who works at Metafilter. Boom and bust is no way to run a place that's been around for 20 years and should be around for 20 more.
posted by adrianhon at 4:20 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


sorry if I missed this in the post but is there an estimate for Google Adsense revenue if ads were served to logged-in users?

Didn't mention it in the post, no; the estimate is "quite low". We'd have to test it to really put a number on it, but serving generic ads to a captive, relatively very small audience isn't likely to produce much income, will mostly lead to ad blindness, and uglies up the experience for the people most dedicated to the site. So it's not an impossibility but it's far from the first thing on my list of stuff to explore.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:20 PM on June 13 [20 favorites]


(I'll clarify by contrast that serving some other kind of ad unit to logged in users in a limited capacity is a more likely outcome. We had a very good relationship with The Deck while they still existed—the loss of that income in the last couple years is another blow to our overall revenue, though one that came at a time when we were doing alright—and I am looking at ways we could replicate that approach with a different ad product that is similarly focused on putting non-sketchy ads in front of a given readership.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:24 PM on June 13 [15 favorites]


In fact I'm kind of shocked that there's only $7500 coming from monthly subscriptions - I'd imagined it was more, and perhaps because of that, hadn't realised that it'd be useful to bump mine up. Again, this is not about making people feel guilty about not donating. Everyone has their own situation and it's not always possible to contribute. But I really like Equitable Met's proposal of a sliding scale totally voluntary entry fee based on your income, and I wonder if it'd be useful here.
posted by adrianhon at 4:25 PM on June 13 [12 favorites]


I'm gonna double my monthly too! This is my home on the internet and I really hope we can keep it going foreveeeeeeeer.
posted by numaner at 4:26 PM on June 13 [13 favorites]


If AdSense ads were a toggle like the old Deck ads used to be, I would leave them on. Even if it's not a significant source of revenue to show them to logged in users, it seems like something worth pursuing as an option.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:30 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


also, how do we edit our current subscription? do we just make a new one and it'll cancel the current one? or will the new one be added to the current one?
posted by numaner at 4:30 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


I can think of very few websites I'd be happy to pay to support. I've never been a funder before, but that stops today.
posted by obfuscation at 4:31 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


Any thought to raising the initial bar to entry, ($5 sign up fee) or do you think that will end up doing more harm than good?
posted by deezil at 4:32 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


I have a weird random question: how much do business-type things (taxes etc) affect things here cashwise? I've been noodling around with my sister looking at setting up a non-profit, for $REASONS. Would a change in the corporate structure of MeFi (absent all of the "paperwork sucks!" aspects) make a dent?
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 4:33 PM on June 13 [33 favorites]


Upped my monthly contribution to $10. I, too, am very surprised to hear how little revenue comes from member contributions. Hopefully this situation will kick some more people into gear.
posted by briank at 4:34 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


But I really like Equitable Met's proposal of a sliding scale totally voluntary entry fee based on your income, and I wonder if it'd be useful here.

Yeah, that sort of thing is a big part of what we've been chatting about in the context of considering a more formal subscription model. The "pay what you want" concept has been a pretty successful thing in some contexts and to an extent it already reflects how the current contribution process works; formalizing that and make it a more built-in part of the concept of MetaFilter membership may be a helpful way to go.

Any thought to raising the initial bar to entry, ($5 sign up fee) or do you think that will end up doing more harm than good?

I've been seriously considering the opposite, in fact; the signup fee is a really small source of revenue at this point, and also as much as it's a useful gate to spammers and dinguses it's also sometimes a barrier to folks of very limited means or no good Paypal solution. So one thing we're talking about, and this would line up nicely with the pay what you want subscription model, is ditching the compulsory fee entirely in favor of just reviewing and approving new signups directly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:34 PM on June 13 [32 favorites]


I was thinking about an NFP status too. That would at least qualify us for possible grants.
posted by Stanczyk at 4:35 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


Also I am sorry and THANK YOU for being so forthcoming about money shit that should have been communicated much more transparently all along. I appreciate you trying to make things right, cortex.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 4:35 PM on June 13 [98 favorites]


Good timing - we're newly a two income family again and my budget needs reconfiguring anyway. Monthly contribution bumped up; I hope it's helpful.

Thanks for the update, and for all you all do.


Same boat here, my wife found a new (contract) job that'll leave us okay through the end of the year. I just started up my contribution again, I think at double what it was, though maybe it was the same and I misremember. We're going to be refinancing our place in another couple months, once that's done I'll be able to figure out if I can give more. Metafilter made me the person I am today, and I'm so appreciative of all the staff, I think you're all killing it. Thank you.
posted by Caduceus at 4:36 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


I also just upped from under $5 a month to $10 a month and hope that many others do the same. I certainly spend more time and get more benefit from Mefi than I do from Netflix - I should pay the same for it and so should all of you.
posted by anastasiav at 4:42 PM on June 13 [13 favorites]


also, how do we edit our current subscription? do we just make a new one and it'll cancel the current one? or will the new one be added to the current one?

If you're doing a recurring payment through Paypal, you can futz with it on your end directly via their interface (though I can't recall, and should better explore, whether you can arbitrarily alter the amount). For Stripe, it's a bit more manual unfortunately, so the easy lazy option is to just set up an additional recurring payment—they'll just both process monthly/quarterly/whatever—and the more elegant one is to drop us a line to update it.

In any case, absolutely reach out via the contact form if you need to modify a subscription and aren't sure how to proceed and we'll get you sorted. As we look at committing harder to community funding and to formal subscription stuff, I hope to revisit and spruce up our toolset for this stuff to make it simpler for folks to self-administrate these things.

I have a weird random question: how much do business-type things (taxes etc) affect things here cashwise? I've been noodling around with my sister looking at setting up a non-profit, for $REASONS. Would a change in the corporate structure of MeFi (absent all of the "paperwork sucks!" aspects) make a dent?

As much as this revenue situation suuuuucks, my impression is the overall tax situation for the business isn't different than it was last July: we still *mostly* make money from corporate income, and for a tax deductible non-profit status like 501c3 to work we'd have to have almost entirely non-corporate income, which would only be manageable with some messy-ass restructuring and basically me running an S-Corp and a non-profit simultaneously.

Still, it's something I'll talk with MetaFilter's lawyer about again. The situation could change more to the point where that's workable, and it's something I'll keep in mind.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:44 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


I just realized my recurring donation went away for some reason - probably my fault. Time to re-up.
posted by iamabot at 4:50 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


I'm ashamed to see I let my monthly recurring donation lapse in 2016! I'm doubling that monthly donation from here on out!
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:51 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Give me your QuickBooks login and I'll make all this go away
posted by beerperson at 4:53 PM on June 13 [35 favorites]


I don't know if this is just me or anyone else has this problem, but every time I've tried to use Stripe to donate since you implemented it, it declines all my cards. Which are fine normal US Chase debit cards, and I am very good at shopping with them, so I do not believe it's a data entry issue but there's nothing on the Stripe site that helps me figure this out. Is it just me? Is there a log that might provide a more verbose rejection message? (I mean, please memail me if it's sensitive, but I just wondered if anyone else is having this problem.)
posted by Lyn Never at 4:53 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


Is it just me? Is there a log that might provide a more verbose rejection message?

That is weird, and I can absolutely take a look; maybe mefimail me or hit the contact form just to verify whatever email you'd be using for those attempts. I know that Stripe does a risk-assessment thing on their end that is basically a black box, so it's plausible that you could be flagged in their system in some weird way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:56 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


ok I lied, I'm not gonna double my funding. I'm tripling it.
posted by numaner at 5:01 PM on June 13 [39 favorites]


I'm self-employed and nine months into what we are politely calling a sabbatical, so monthly has never worked for my feast or famine budgeting. But thanks to the reminder, I just dumped in 50 bucks because I happen to have it.

Thanks for everything.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:12 PM on June 13 [24 favorites]


I'll go bump up my monthly right now. I get an incredible value from MetaFilter. It honestly is my home on the internet, I'm all over the place here, and you all show me the stuff I want to see. I'm lax about posting obvs, and don't comment much, but that's OK, there's a lot of us like that here.
posted by wallabear at 5:13 PM on June 13 [23 favorites]


I also grabbed a logo shirt that I've put off buying since whenever because reasons
posted by numaner at 5:16 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


One of the many things I really like about Mefi is how you run it honestly, Josh. Thank you for keeping it up. I have reinstated my monthly contributions.
posted by jjray at 5:21 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


Yikes! I've doubled my monthly contribution to $20.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:23 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


If you are still considering going the non-profit route, I’d suggest joining Amazon Smile. For those who aren’t aware, the way it works is: you pick a non-profit you like, and then every time you make a purchase from Amazon, the non-profit gets a percentage. It doesn’t cost the purchaser any extra.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:28 PM on June 13 [28 favorites]


I can't easily see a way to modify my monthly payment through PayPal. Going through "manage payments" doesn't seem to give a way to change the amount... Before I cancel and retry, does anyone have pointers?
posted by mephisjo at 5:32 PM on June 13


Doubled.
posted by beagle at 5:32 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


I think the easiest way with Paypal is to cancel your current payment and then do a new one for your new amount.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:34 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


(If anyone is having a similar problem to my Stripe issue, try a different email. Problem solved for me.)
posted by Lyn Never at 5:35 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Yeah mephisjo, I did what ArbitraryAndCapricious said. Seemed to work fine.

Just know that your account will be charged immediately for the next payment.
posted by duffell at 5:36 PM on June 13


I have long thought the site should be more in your face about paying up. I'm involved with newspaper publishing and although they gave the store away for years with free access, that's no longer the case. The same model doesn't necessarily work here (because of all the Adsense and Amazon dough you get) but a more consistent and hard-edged effort to get people to sign up and subscribe would pay off IMHO.
posted by beagle at 5:38 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


ok tripled but in CDN $ so who knows how that will net out...

(edited to add it actually is in USD, so who knows how that will net out for me.
posted by mephisjo at 5:42 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


We are both very unemployed right now but my heart has been saying "you should give these people some dough when you can" so that will be a thing when it can be a thing.

Reducing expenses is obviously a non-starter, so how to increase revenue. The challenge when trying to find new revenue streams is to tap ones that don't require a huge investment or new skills, and have a very favourable ROI.

My mind wanders to what other successful sites derive income from. Daring Fireball, for example, has their weekly/monthly sponsors. The challenge there is that DF has a very specific audience, and it's easy to sell that tech-focused very-male audience to advertisers. What's Metafilter's audience, do you know? How does it skew logged-in vs. not logged-in?

Driving new signups to increase engagement to build recurring subscriptions makes a lot of sense. If the wide end of that funnel has a lot of friction (signup fee) then reducing that friction may help. It may increase moderation expenses too, of course. But if the extant community is proactive in flagging bad behaving signups, that at least keeps the per-incident cost lower. Perhaps some kind of [NEW] indicator on recently signed up people so the established community can more easily monitor them?

I think FanFare is really nifty but I do find it rather unapproachable. The "My FanFare" page is wonderful, but I didn't even know it existed. If the main FanFare page was more pro-active about asking you what your favourite shows were and building up your subscriptions, that might help people engage with that subsite more frequently. As might email notifications when new episodes are posted: "Episode S2E14 "Chidi's Day Out" has been posted in The Good Place on FanFare" or similar. (If this exists, I sure can't find out how to enable it.) Sometimes for me the reminder that something is there has to come externally; I will forget to check things that I'm interested in if I'm not tapped.

And, yes, rituals are a fantastic way of not only building engagement, but making real-world memories that last. Celebrations, meet-ups, events, etc. Taking MetaFilter out of the screen and into flesh and blood world cannot hurt!

Okay I had too much cider. Anyway thanks for being so honest about stuff. It's hard, but speaks wonderfully about you and the site.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:44 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


I am one of the few people on this planet that don't have a mobile phone. Sadly, to get a mobile phone would require cutting into finances that I would rather use on METAFILTER.

Right now, apparently, the donations go through Stripe and require a mobile number, so....

What can I do? Why the fuck do I have to have a mobile to keep my non-mobile site Metafilter alive and kicking?

Is there an alternative?
posted by symbioid at 5:46 PM on June 13


Is there an alternative?

PayPal is still totally viable, and the funding page does have our mailing address if paper check works best for you.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:48 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


As is the case for many other members, this site has been such a great part of my life through so many places and stages. It hurts to see it hurting. I was giving for a while and then stopped — I didn’t know it was so sorely needed — and now I’m giving again. Cheers.
posted by veggieboy at 5:49 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


We fund the site but maybe it lapsed, we'll check and try to increase.

If the site were to go the non-profit route, could we not try to set the site up with an endowment fund of some sort? Like, do a big fundraiser, get a bunch of money all in one place, and then invest most of it in a low risk, long term investment? Like universities and big philanthropic orgs do? A few big donations from a few wealthy members or allies could set us up forever, and considering what goes on here, would be a legacy well spent.
posted by vrakatar at 5:51 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


If the site were to go the non-profit route, could we not try to set the site up with an endowment fund of some sort?

Certainly, though it's mostly a Cart v Horse issue given the stuff that would need to happen for us to go that route in the first place.

One thing we have not historically done that's a little more in reach is pursuing e.g. no-strings corporate financial support in our existing context. Which is unfamiliar territory and might not have many fish out there biting, but to the extent that there may be entities willing to support something good even without e.g. a tax advantage or a quid pro quo it's on the radar.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:55 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I've felt guilty for years about not giving a monthly contribution, but I've been a freelancer barely scraping by and didn't feel I could justify it. Now I've retired and gone on Social Security, which means my income is predictable (and has actually gone up!), so I got the OK from my wife (who knows how much MeFi means to me) and put $10/month on Stripe and it accepted my card right away and pinged my phone and when I went to my userpage it already had "I help fund MetaFilter!" on it. So I finally feel I'm doing right by the site that's been my home away from LH since 2002, and I'm very glad about the level of transparency and very pleased to see so many people contributing. Let's keep this creaky old vessel afloat!
posted by languagehat at 5:56 PM on June 13 [100 favorites]


One of the many bad things about extended unemployment is guilt over being a freeloader. I’m acquiring a long list of sites and organizations I want to donate to once I’m back on my feet, and mefi is near the top.
posted by AFABulous at 5:57 PM on June 13 [22 favorites]


I'm in a tough financial spot the next month or so, but once I have a bit more breathing room, I'm going to try to set up a monthly subscription for $1 or $2. I'm glad you did this and I definitely want to help. So I'm setting myself a promise to take some of my video-game money and funnel that towards this site that I use and love so much.
posted by Fizz at 5:57 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


I have donated in one-time donations before but I've signed up for a monthly donation.

I feel ya that it's rough - a lot has changed for ad supported sites over the last several years and there's no simple answer.
posted by GuyZero at 5:58 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Haven't really been talking about this publicly yet, but I gave notice at my job last week and am about to move my family across the country in July. Once we're settled in and I have a new job and some income, I'll be happy to sign on again for a monthly donation.

I'm beyond overwhelmed right now with personal stuff, so i won't promise to make new megaposts. But I'll try to post a little more if i can, so there's at least more one more bit of content on the front page.

A July post contest (with members offering prizes) might be a way to get more eyeballs on the site, and possibly a few new sign-ups? Anyone interested?

That said, thank you for being so transparent, cortex. And for asking for help when y'all need it. Hopefully it will help.
posted by zarq at 5:58 PM on June 13 [36 favorites]


I doubled my subscription, which also bumped me over the $250 mark in total. I didn't realize I had been donating that long. Set it and forget it really does work :) Seriously, I would have guessed I had been donating for about 2 years, and actually it is a little over 4.
posted by COD at 5:58 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


Chipping in a few bucks a month, which I am slightly better able to do now.
But can I also please say I would overpay for a Metafilter mug for the fourth or fifth time? $25 + shipping should leave a fair profit? Even if you included a free sticker! For the advertising.
posted by Glinn at 6:00 PM on June 13 [21 favorites]


FWIW: I feel rather wary of the Stripe and PayPal recurring payments options on the Fund Metafilter page because there's no readily-apparent means of, or information on, modifying or cancelling them. "Use the contact form" feels much too high-friction for this -- I want to feel like *I* can stop a subscription immediately if/when I need to.

Not that I don't trust you; but just wanted to note that this does definitely lean me more towards doing a one-off contribution than a recurring.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:01 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


But can I also please say I would overpay for a Metafilter mug for the fourth or fifth time?

I've been thinking a lot about merch lately. It's fun and I'd like there to be more available.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:02 PM on June 13 [119 favorites]


If the site were to go the non-profit route, could we not try to set the site up with an endowment fund of some sort?

Certainly, though it's mostly a Cart v Horse issue given the stuff that would need to happen for us to go that route in the first place.


I'd definitely be up for giving a large-ish one-time donation in support of an endowment campaign. Heck, I'd even fundraise for it! I don't know how much money would be required to make an endowment fund viable, but an endowment campaign sounds interesting.

Hopefully some of the new/increased contributions will buy a bit more time, at any rate.
posted by duffell at 6:03 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


FWIW: I feel rather wary of the Stripe and PayPal recurring payments options on the Fund Metafilter page because there's no readily-apparent means of, or information on, modifying or cancelling them. "Use the contact form" feels much too high-friction for this -- I want to feel like *I* can stop a subscription immediately if/when I need to.

I absolutely feel you there. It's something I'd hoped to make more progress on sooner, and as we look at the possibility of formalizing a pay-what-you-want membership subscription approach to the site getting those tools in better shape will need to be part of it for sure.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:03 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


As far as what percentage of a donation is lost due to fees, is it better to donate via PayPal or Stripe?
posted by lharmon at 6:03 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


Thanks restless_nomad - I guess I went to the first option without seeing there were others below and got frustrated, I suppose with 99% of people having cells that's probably the right choice, but boy it sure threw me for a loop - to the point i close the page in anger/sadness. Now that I see the option below "Stripe" I will def use that.
posted by symbioid at 6:04 PM on June 13


I appreciate your transparency on this so much, Josh. I'd been doing annual during the holidays but I suspect maybe monthly is better, planning-wise?

And I would happily buy an overpriced coffee mug. If you had PuppyFilter dog dishes, I would also happily buy.

Arf MetaFilter!
posted by mochapickle at 6:04 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


I know nothing about Stripe, but you can log on to PayPal and stop a recurring payment on their website.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:05 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


As far as what percentage of a donation is lost due to fees, is it better to donate via PayPal or Stripe?

Basically identical, so use which ever you prefer. Basically all payment processors operate at something like $0.30 + 3% at this point.

I'd been doing annual during the holidays but I suspect maybe monthly is better, planning-wise?

Monthly consistency is definitely helpful, yeah, though again it's mostly whatever works best for any given person.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:06 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I'm finally (barely) financially secure enough to afford to support the site a bit. cortex, I really appreciate the transparency and detail, and it tipped me towards giving a bit more.

I'm sure posts like this aren't fun to write, but regular fundraising requests/drives are good to see. I appreciate regular reminders to consider what I can afford for a common resource I value.
posted by biogeo at 6:06 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


I may be way off base with this logic, but: if most of the ad revenue comes from AskMe, and most of that traffic comes from Google, and Google prioritizes "recent" content, would it make sense to allow and encourage AskMe updates for old posts? Things like "I bought this thing 5 years ago but have since replaced it with X" and "I went with this solution and it's still working." It could be an ongoing effort, like with tagging old posts after tags were introduced.
posted by Sibrax at 6:07 PM on June 13 [27 favorites]


It is easy to cancel a Paypal recurring subscription.
posted by Glinn at 6:07 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


Merch. How bout actual filters. Coffee filters. UV filters. Oil filters, for the car.
posted by vrakatar at 6:08 PM on June 13 [71 favorites]


How about a merch design contest? Let some of the creative folks of MetaFilter donate their skills if they choose to, so we can get super stylish overpriced mugs.
posted by biogeo at 6:10 PM on June 13 [74 favorites]


I may be way off base with this logic, but: if most of the ad revenue comes from AskMe, and most of that traffic comes from Google, and Google prioritizes "recent" content, would it make sense to allow and encourage AskMe updates for old posts?

It's not a crazy thought! Though also I don't know whether it would actually work out that way in Google's eyes; it's hard to say. But the idea of doing a metered/monitored/gated revisit of older threads where updates would still make sense is something I've chewed on and will revisit. Our biggest problem there historically has been late-entrant spam but spammers have gotten less aggressive in that context over time so it might be something we could revisit more generally.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:10 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


Had to cancel/redo, but I just doubled my monthly to $10.
posted by mrbill at 6:12 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


I just doubled mine to $20!
posted by zrail at 6:17 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the transparency and the years of being a great site. Upped my monthly donation, which should have been higher to begin with.
posted by Mavri at 6:18 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]



FWIW: I feel rather wary of the Stripe and PayPal recurring payments options on the Fund Metafilter page because there's no readily-apparent means of, or information on, modifying or cancelling them. "Use the contact form" feels much too high-friction for this -- I want to feel like *I* can stop a subscription immediately if/when I need to.

Just in case anyone is wondering, paypal has a page that allows you to cancel any recurring payments. I just did it to cancel my old one to replace it with one that was $5 more because I couldn't find a way to edit the existing one, but it was relatively painless.
posted by juv3nal at 6:19 PM on June 13 [12 favorites]


I just got my first paycheck for my best-paying job ever -- this is actually quite good timing to remind me to turn my monthly donation back on.
(Especially since, uh, follow-up to this question: Yes. Yes, there are well-paying jobs in data analysis, and I got one six weeks after I finished the program and I'm moving to Seattle in a few weeks!)
posted by kalimac at 6:22 PM on June 13 [39 favorites]


Would improving the social presence help drive visits? Maybe get someone to do fun-ass graphic depictions of threads or pithy comments and tweet them as teasers. McSweeney's does good guiltless click bait. I feel like social media has competed with my visits here, and the good stuff here is sort of marginal in my feed. We could probably blame bs algorithms/timeline twisting for that but the auto post cards on twitter don't cut through.

Is there some ad jujitsu where you advertise to get more ad visits you can identify? I realize the house always wins on that front, but uh moneyball!
posted by zangpo at 6:24 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


The increased level of transparency about the budgetary risks and the challenges going forward is very much appreciated, and has given me peace of mind that my monthly contribution is not just a payment for the value that I get from the site, but also a necessary subsidy to a community that provides so many others that same value. I ~tripled my contribution, and will leave it there for as long as I can.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:26 PM on June 13 [13 favorites]


A few random thoughts...

  • Nthing merchandise, especially since we have so many talented designers on the site. It doesn't have to be all in jokes and blue/yellow color schemes either.
  • Another route to offering tax benefits might be to set up a friends group/foundation, especially if that would make a difference to US members contemplating larger contributions.
  • What about making it possible for people to leave bequests to MetaFilter? It's a way to participate in the site from beyond the grave! /jk
  • Are there ancillary products that could be easily developed, e.g., a service that handles one's social media accounts following death?
  • Would a YouTube channel that collected and curated member content be viable?
  • Is there a way to set up an Acorn-style "round up" donation system? Actually, that could be a product marketed beyond the site; direct the "round up" to the entity of choice and MF takes a tiny cut.
  • We need to make better use of Twitter, etc. to drive traffic to the site.
  • Can the expertise in, say, moderation, community building, etc. be monetized or leveraged for promotion? What about trying to get exposure by responding to HARO inquiries? What about putting Cortex (or whoever) on the speaking circuit?
  • Is there value to offering up the community (on a strictly voluntary basis, of course) to people who want to test ideas, hold virtual focus groups, etc.
  • FanFare could be leveraged better to attract people to the site, IMHO. When it launched, I hoped it would replace Television Without Pity but it hasn't evolved that way. It's worth brainstorming ideas as a community.

  • posted by carmicha at 6:26 PM on June 13 [30 favorites]


    Here's the thing from my perspective: I love Metafilter and am glad I joined and it is still a daily visit for me. I've been here for a while and was (and sometimes still am) an asshole for a lot of that time, but simply wanting to remain part of things has caused me to temper myself a lot better than I used to, and understand that I've historically been simply wrong about certain things, so it's helped me as a person.

    I don't make a ton of money but I have given a few bucks just now and will attempt to be more diligent in future.

    However, one thing that has really bummed me out about Metafilter lately: I used to (and, for the most part, still do) love love love checking 'Popular Favourites' for the cream of the crop posts (obviously), but also for the witty, clever, hilarious, touching, interesting and important user comments. There are so many sharp and talented and lightning-quick people around here that it staggers me.

    But lately, all those comments have just been Trump-related shit, and it's bumming me the fuck out. And I know, I know this is important stuff, not just for Americans but for the whole damn world. And I know, I know Mefites still have expert, passionate, informed and well-written insights on it all. And I know, I know the mods have been doing their damnedest to corral all that stuff into the megathreads, and I know users are helping out with flagging and calling out etc., but it's all just been so American-politics-heavy since D-Day and it feels like it's sucked a lot of the magic, a lot of the passion and joy out of the place.

    Now 'Popular Favourites' is just a catalogue of the latest outraged responses to the latest outrages. I feel like watching clips of English panel shows on YouTube is the new 'Popular Favourites' for me. And maybe that's turning a lot of audiences off? And I get it, I really do, but...man, I guess I'm just saying I can't wait for that president guy to be over, so we can (hopefully) get back to normal.

    That said: thanks for all your hard work and commitment, Metafilter mods and users.
    posted by turbid dahlia at 6:27 PM on June 13 [114 favorites]


    I, too, would be interested in the intersection of profitable and desirable merchandise. I’m like a 5 year old with a credit card, for reals (and will also up my monthly contribution).
    posted by ersatzkat at 6:31 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    Today I bought a membership for one of my brothers, then I saw this note, so just also ordered one for my other brother and also my sister, as a means of increasing traffic & site engagement via new users. (You people are so screwed if all four of us show up in a thread...)

    Cortex, thank you for your transparency. Much of the value in this site is its members, and it's up to us to keep the lights on!
    posted by wenestvedt at 6:32 PM on June 13 [14 favorites]


    FanFare could be leveraged better to attract people to the site...

    How about auto-generating an Amazon link to the media in every FanFare posting?
    posted by wenestvedt at 6:33 PM on June 13 [25 favorites]


    A one-time drive to get folks to update their AskMe posts with a follow-up message or an explanation of the eventual resolution might ratchet up the utility of the more recent threads, and improve traffic. *shrug*
    posted by wenestvedt at 6:34 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


    But lately, all those comments have just been Trump-related shit, and it's bumming me the fuck out. And I know, I know this is important stuff, not just for Americans but for the whole damn world.

    You know, filtering the politics comments out of Popular Favorites is something we contemplated a while back and this is a helpful reminder that that's worth pursuing. I love that MeFites have apposite and funny and cutting stuff to say about The Prevailing Shitshow but it's not really a good representation of the whole of what I love about MeFi and keeping the easy-browsing spotlight on other stuff is worth some effort.

    You people are so screwed if all four of us show up in a thread...

    Oh, who knows, a good-natured sibling dustup could draw in some eyeballs!
    posted by cortex (staff) at 6:37 PM on June 13 [48 favorites]


    Monthly payment doubled.

    Thank you to Cortex and the mods for the work you do here. Thank you for the transparency and the effort to keep the lights on.

    Metafilter has affected my life in more ways than I can count. My wife and I have made true, real-life friends, I have made dozens of on-line friends (which, make no mistake, are Friends) that I swap jokes with all day long on Twitter, I MeMail and email and Facebook and Instagram with Mefites, and every day I get something from this place or learn something new. I sure as shit get more out of Metafilter than I do Netflix and HBO, so I can certainly pay more per month than I do for those things.
    posted by bondcliff at 6:37 PM on June 13 [15 favorites]


    numaner: ok I lied, I'm not gonna double my funding. I'm tripling it.

    These posts always remind me of the end scene of "It's a Wonderful Life," with the laundry basket full of cash, and one guy putting in his pocket watch.
    posted by wenestvedt at 6:39 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


    I just started a monthly contribution.
    posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:46 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    On your end, does it matter if we set up another Stripe payment and have two, versus contacting you to change the existing amount?
    posted by just_ducky at 6:46 PM on June 13


    On your end, does it matter if we set up another Stripe payment and have two, versus contacting you to change the existing amount?

    Either is fine, so if you want the lowest friction approach it's fine to just kick off a second recurring payment. But totally okay to drop us a line at the contact form to modify an existing one if you prefer to keep things neater.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 6:48 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


    Doubling my monthly donation also. It’s not a lot but it’s consistent!

    Also, I had NO IDEA MetaFilter had a Amazon referral link and I’m so pissed! I buy TONS of shit from Amazon (sorry, I know some of you are ethically opposed) and I could have been contributing this whole time. :( is there any way to bump up the visibility of that link (in a non-aggressively painful way)?
    posted by alleycat01 at 6:49 PM on June 13 [20 favorites]


    I just upped my monthly contribution. This place is a refuge for me, and I appreciate it very much.
    posted by Alensin at 6:50 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    Bumped up my payment; would do more but I'm actually trying to cut back right now in anticipation of a job change and a move. Once that's settled down, I'll look at increasing it again.

    I'm a little wary of the fact that we're trying to fill an $8,000 hole on the back of what is currently a $7,500 income source, though. A more-than-doubling of subscription income just doesn't seem that likely. I'm worried about that, although looking at what you wrote in the post I agree that there aren't any other obvious options that look better.

    I agree that it would be good if MeFi got a bit more in-your-face about soliciting donations. I'm not saying we should go full-on Public Radio, but it sounds like we need to make it more obvious that user contributions are what keep this site afloat, and that people who love MeFi should give if they can.

    Thanks a whole lot for being so honest and forthright about this, cortex. Seriously.
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:51 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    Oh, who knows, a good-natured sibling dustup could draw in some eyeballs!
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:37 PM on June 13


    we're in
    posted by eyeball at 6:51 PM on June 13 [20 favorites]


    I just logged out and had a look at the new user signup process. I'm no big-city UX expert, but it is challenging to be confronted with a wall of text. Hard not to suspect that some thought here could improve conversion rates.

    Couple of other ideas:
    - offer subscribers one extra Ask question per (week? month?)
    - get a little bit more aggressive with user accounts that aren't subscribers and haven't donated. The subtlety of the banner is thoughtful but it's OK, we know that you need the $$$. Make it more prominent, use the fact you have people's email addresses, just amp up the comms a little bit. Us old-timers will understand.
    posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:52 PM on June 13 [12 favorites]


    Went from one offs to monthlies. Should have done it sooner.
    posted by Artw at 6:52 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    Sorry for not setting up a monthly donation earlier, thanks for reminding me what the site is worth to me.
    posted by skewed at 6:55 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    Enhancing affiliate revenue may be something to think about. Product recommendations? The Wirecutter is trusted because of its process and transparency. Lifehacker is trusted for its transparency and the savviness of its userbase, who ultimately provide the recommendations. MeFi could probably do more of the Lifehacker model, with maybe a subsite (“ThingFilter”) or maybe just a tag tucked into relevant Asks so finding product recc threads is easy for people and search engines.

    Formalizing (and monetizing) that aspect of already existing site culture and activity seems like an easy, low friction thing to try.

    It’s all icky, but product reccs are legitimately user-valuable, servicewise.

    Contribution upped.
    posted by notyou at 6:56 PM on June 13 [18 favorites]


    Likewise: occasional contributor, now monthly.
    posted by SPrintF at 6:56 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    Just restarted my monthly contribution.

    I think the smart long-term move is to increase the percentage of community-funded revenue as much as possible. The broad trends I see on the internet say more people are blocking ads and tracking in general. Also, more people are willing to pay for content, services, and possible community.

    Bringing back long-term members and increasing site engagement could help tee up an increase in monthly contributions. Maybe, um, a newsletter digest?

    Encouraging new signups would be great, too - this place needs new blood! Some young bloods!

    Would it be possible to roll out features exclusive to contributing members? Things that wouldn't diminish from the existing MeFi experience, but would be a nice added value.

    Overall, I like what Stanczyk wrote at the top - MeFi is the better alternative to crappy social media. And to add to that - I see MeFi as a triumph of site moderation and proof that some kind of semi-real community can exist on the world wide web. That identity (you could even call it a brand) is really valuable.
    posted by boghead at 6:57 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


    SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT
    posted by vrakatar at 6:57 PM on June 13


    Also, I had NO IDEA MetaFilter had a Amazon referral link and I’m so pissed! I buy TONS of shit from Amazon (sorry, I know some of you are ethically opposed) and I could have been contributing this whole time. :( is there any way to bump up the visibility of that link (in a non-aggressively painful way)?

    The good news is we auto-insert it in Amazon links in e.g. comments on Ask, so to some extent you may already have been using it!

    But, yeah, looking at whether there's a way of making that higher visibility without being obnoxious about it is worth thinking about, along with other possible related "hey you're already doing this e-commerce thing anyway, so maybe use this for it and help us out" mechanisms.

    Which reminds me: I should note and forgot to in the post that the various regional Amazon affiliate links on the funding page are new. We used to only have the US/.com one, but it's possible we'll see a little extra income from in particular the Canada and UK systems, so I got those set up as a supplemental thing. We're also gonna roll out a bit of helper code to redirect referrer links in comments to the appropriate store region automatically, so if you're e.g. clicking through from Ask to Amazon and you're in England, you'll actually get a referrer link to amazon.co.uk now. ("You" in this case in particular might be a decent amount of non-member search traffic visitors.)
    posted by cortex (staff) at 6:58 PM on June 13 [15 favorites]


    If there were a dynamic page that included all the mentioned Amazon products, I think that'd be a pretty cool thing to browse, and would surely lead to an increase in Amazon revenue. Similar to Kottke.org's shop. If you start having Metafilter mugs etc, then they could just be constantly featured.

    Also, perhaps you could be a little more bold about asking for donations-- have a intermediate step after asking a question if you're not already a donator "This site is community funded-- do you mind if we email you in a week's time to ask for a donation, or perhaps you'd like to donate now" type prompts.
    posted by Static Vagabond at 7:01 PM on June 13 [20 favorites]


    Thanks for setting up the Amazon Canada affiliate link - I am pregnant and will be ordering a hilarious amount of baby stuff off Amazon in the next few months, so I will gleefully use the link!
    posted by just_ducky at 7:01 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


    Cortex, you are great and thanks for everything. I’m going from $5 to $20.
    posted by something something at 7:02 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


    I just want to say how much I value this site and this community. I was talking to my husband a couple of days ago about how I think on the whole that social media has been a negative for constructive and considered discussion and how I still miss community-minded forums from back in the day. The level of vitriol in almost any topic online these days is exhausting and depressing (I avoid the Trump threads here).

    I pointed out that Metafilter is the only place I feel comfortable discussing a range of topics, but the level of moderation just isn't practical or feasible in so many other places (or at least, people aren't willing to consider that as an option for whatever reason).

    All of that to say that I will be increasing my monthly contribution right now, and the value of this place on the internet cannot be overstated.
    posted by liquorice at 7:02 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


    Hmm I’m trying to change my Paypal donation on my phone/PP app so maybe it’s just wonky there, but it looks like the email/account associated with my current donation is Matt’s. Is that still ok? Or what’s the right address?
    posted by alleycat01 at 7:02 PM on June 13


    Take my money, please. Upped my monthly contribution - and why was I using PayPal before? Stripe is way easier and seems non-evil.
    posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:02 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    > If there were a dynamic page that included all the mentioned Amazon products, I think that'd be a pretty cool thing to browse, and would surely lead to an increase in Amazon revenue.

    Get ready to have your mind blown. :)
    posted by Secretariat at 7:03 PM on June 13 [92 favorites]


    I'm not saying we should go full-on Public Radio

    welllllll now that you mention it, it might be neat to have a semiannual pledge drive tied to a fresh piece of merch (tote bags! coffee mugs!) from a talented Mefite designer, promoted with a much more obtrusive, uh, ad-type-banner-thing: "We're having our semi-annual pledge drive! Come get your merch! Collect them all!"
    posted by lalex at 7:04 PM on June 13 [92 favorites]


    With how transparent you're apparently willing to be, it might help to have a (members-only?) page that displays the deficit that month, the number of people donating... or perhaps do some calculations: how many people would need to donate $XX to cover this month? I feel like concrete goals would make it easier to know when a donation is most needed, how much, etc.

    (Money is very tight for me, all I can give is a few bucks.)
    posted by reductiondesign at 7:05 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


    Hmm I’m trying to change my Paypal donation on my phone/PP app so maybe it’s just wonky there, but it looks like the email/account associated with my current donation is Matt’s. Is that still ok? Or what’s the right address?

    It's okay! Embarrassing for me in that it's been such an intractable little detail, and I think at this point I just need to take more annoying/drastic measures going forward, but there's nothing sketchy or misdirected going on; we just can't get his damned email off the existing account!
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:06 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


    "If there were a dynamic page that included all the mentioned Amazon products, I think that'd be a pretty cool thing to browse, and would surely lead to an increase in Amazon revenue. "

    Yeah, we're definitely kicking around some of the Amazon-related ideas mentioned here -- adding amazon links to fanfare media where available, increasing visibility of the affiliate link in a non-offensive way, and Secretariat beat me to the recent amazon links but we're talking about how to surface that better and prettier!
    posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:06 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


    So one thing we're talking about, and this would line up nicely with the pay what you want subscription model, is ditching the compulsory fee entirely in favor of just reviewing and approving new signups directly.

    I have nothing to go on except my gut instinct, but MeFi's unique, nominal, sign-up fee distinguishes it from literally every other web board, forum, or social network I've participated in on the 'net, none of which have anything like the quality of the MeFi community or its absence of spammers and trolls. Since it's become easier to pay online since MeFi's founding, would it be too much trouble to look at other payment methods, such as Amazon or Venmo, to facilitate sign-up payments?

    And n'thing the idea of offering more MeFi merch (and at the risk of being crass, promoting it on the front pages, maybe along with the dynamic Amazon links). Meanwhile, I'm cancelling my Netflix subscription to switch over to MeFi—I know I spend more time here and it's more worthwhile.

    Thanks for bringing this to the community's attention, Cortex.

    Also, fuck Google and their opaque and arbitrary AdSense program, which now ranks in my personal Worst of the Web.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 7:06 PM on June 13 [38 favorites]


    "Would a YouTube channel that collected and curated member content be viable?"

    That's intriguing! Maybe not exactly that, but I have a strong sense that MeFi as a community easily has the chops to regularly create interesting content that would have some traction on YouTube.

    "We need to make better use of Twitter, etc. to drive traffic to the site."

    My strong sense is that the longer-term viability of the site would be greatly increased if we had some sort of visible, compelling presence on social media, particularly Twitter, and possibly some alternative/additional content such as YT.

    Certainly, the most pressing issue is immediately increasing recurring member funding. I suspect we'll see some quick improvement on that front (I'm definitely increasing my contribution, as others have) but, yeah, I think the logical next step on that path would be to boost the whole member contribution stuff. Higher-profile, subtly shift toward "subscription" language -- simply make this both more visible and more formalized.

    Then we can start to think about how to invigorate MeFi in ways that will keep the community viable and increase revenue (one way or another). Stuff involving social media is a must, but somehow creating YouTube content as a community is a provocative and promising proposition!
    posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:07 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    Goddamn it, I just blew my entire wad on a short trip to NYC to buy fabric. But I will be giving soon in the foreseeable future.

    Love you all so, so much.
    posted by Melismata at 7:08 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    With how transparent you're apparently willing to be, it might help to have a (members-only?) page that displays the deficit that month, the number of people donating... or perhaps do some calculations: how many people would need to donate $XX to cover this month? I feel like concrete goals would make it easier to know when a donation is most needed, how much, etc.

    I agree, it's a good idea. frimble has done some work on fetching data in a more automated way on this stuff that may make it possible for us to more easily do things like monthly snapshots, and in general I agree that with ongoing fundraising making it an explicit goal/threshold-based thing where we can communicate needs and status would help folks stay connected to how the site's doing financially.

    This post is more detailed than we've ever been about finances and frankly it's kind of scary to do that, but it feels like the right and necessary thing and I'm going to continue to try and work in that spirit as we figure this stuff out.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:09 PM on June 13 [28 favorites]


    More Amazon questions: The bulk of what I buy is through Amazon JP, which wouldn't get much linkage here on the site anyway, but is there a way (browser extension?) to change an existing product page URL to one that has a referrer link? Or something similar?

    The only thing I use Amazon US for now is to buy Kindle books, but I do buy a lot over the course of the year, and if I could somehow help in that way I would be glad to do it.
    posted by lesser weasel at 7:11 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


    Doubled my monthly donation. (And I faved mai's comment too, for good measure!)
    posted by Quietgal at 7:13 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    I have nothing to go on except my gut instinct, but MeFi's unique, nominal, sign-up fee distinguishes it from literally every other web board, forum, or social network I've participated in on the 'net, none of which have anything like the quality of the MeFi community or its absence of spammers and trolls. Since it's become easier to pay online since MeFi's founding, would it be too much trouble to look at other payment methods, such as Amazon or Venmo, to facilitate sign-up payments?

    The revamped signup concept is a whole thing, so more something I'll revisit in detail in the near future than dig into in here tonight, but the core thing about MeFi's five bucks is not the five bucks but the introduction of friction and a sense of deliberate intent to join up. I believe we can manage that without tying it to a monetary transaction, is the very short version of my thesis.

    But looking at other payment systems more generally is worth doing in any case, yeah, to the extent that even Paypal + Stripe doesn't necessarily work for everyone.

    More Amazon questions: The bulk of what I buy is through Amazon JP, which wouldn't get much linkage here on the site anyway, but is there a way (browser extension?) to change an existing product page URL to one that has a referrer link? Or something similar?

    There are some sort of tools for that, though I need to do more reading on their affiliate toolset to be able to talk about it in detail. But Amazon JP, oddly enough, is the one affiliate program that rejected our application! Which may be fixable, so I'll loop back to it at some point. But apparently they're notoriously difficult to get approved on.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:14 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    I just set up a second Paypal monthly donation to simplify expanding my regular monthly. I love this site.
    posted by MovableBookLady at 7:15 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    Just like Metafilter my income has been going down rather than up for the past few years (and I'm probably going to be out of a job in January boohoo 6 months short of my 10 year long service leave entitlement!) so I'll have to stick with my paltry $5 a month (actually $6 something AUD) but if I get a good tax refund this year then I'll definitely be doing an extra one-off payment. I love this place, it has been a source of refuge and information and joy for over 10 years now and I'd be lost without it.
    posted by h00py at 7:17 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    Also, is there a Merchandise page? If so, where? 'Cause I'd buy some stuff. If not, is it being planned?
    posted by MovableBookLady at 7:19 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


    New recurring contribution started. I just joined in April but this is the internet I’d been missing for I don’t know how long. It can’t go away already!!
    posted by eirias at 7:20 PM on June 13 [12 favorites]


    Apologies for not reading all the above, so it may already be covered, but some low-hanging fruit for amazon might be adding their OneLink javascript snippet, which will localize amazon links to several countries automatically - Canada, UK, etc. Every little bit helps, right?
    posted by cgg at 7:23 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


    Okay that went fast! I’m about to go to bed and I’m closing in on 200 favorites, so I’m going to call it at $200 even. Thanks for playing, I had no idea I’d be donating this much but I probably should have known.
    posted by mai at 7:24 PM on June 13 [76 favorites]


    Thank you, mai!
    posted by mochapickle at 7:25 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


    And mods, if you want to put a note on my earlier comment so no one feels that they gave a favorite in vain, go ahead.
    posted by mai at 7:25 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    I just put in a donation, my first since I pony-ed up my $5 membership fee (hangs head in shame). Although I do not post or comment much here, I do stop in to catch up at least 2-10 times a day. FWIW, I do so appreciate the good work that you, Cortex, and all of the mods do on a daily basis. I will do what I can to help fund this much-needed place of sanity. Thank you.
    posted by sundrop at 7:25 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


    Another vote for formal monthly subscription. I already support UNC-TV/PBS, which is the other entity that gets my eyeballs.
    I’ll set up a monthly payment in the morning; I am snuggled with the puppy at the moment.
    posted by sara is disenchanted at 7:34 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    Thank you for letting us know, cortex. I'm reticent to set up a monthly contribution while my income is so highly variable, but I happened to have some cash so I sent some on.

    As far as suggestions, maybe it would be useful to MeMail people a reminder when their subscription is up for renewal or on the anniversary of their last contribution? Because I'm sure I could look and figure it out, but I couldn't tell you off the top of my head the last time I made a contribution.
    posted by ob1quixote at 7:34 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


    Also, is there a Merchandise page? If so, where?

    We've got a little bit of merch—some t-shirts and stickers—linked on the funding page, but in the long run I'd like to both get more merch available and make it a bit more visible on the site for folks to find easily, yeah.

    but some low-hanging fruit for amazon might be adding their OneLink javascript snippet

    Yep! I mentioned working on that above but didn't actually mention the name; we should hopefully have that rolled out pretty quick, just needs to be vetted on the test server when frimble has a breather from mods asking for announcement-related ponies and such.

    Okay that went fast! I’m about to go to bed and I’m closing in on 200 favorites, so I’m going to call it at $200 even. Thanks for playing, I had no idea I’d be donating this much but I probably should have known.

    You're a superhero, mai.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:36 PM on June 13 [17 favorites]


    I think I've bumped my monthly up to $10 now. Thanks for letting us know what was happening.
    posted by unknowncommand at 7:36 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    As far as suggestions, maybe it would be useful to MeMail people a reminder when their subscription is up for renewal or on the anniversary of their last contribution?

    Yeah, I think better feedback and explicit maintenance like that's worth working on. When stuff had been more stable, "hey, it's pretty much working fine" was easy to say, but as we look more seriously at a subscription framing for all this it'd be good for both folks subscribing and for us to track and notify about that kind of thing.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:38 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    If the coffee mugs are heavy ceramic mugs like you get in a diner it will quickly become my favorite mug ever.
    posted by COD at 7:39 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


    I can already hear the internecine coffee-mug-form-factor war drums starting to thrum in the distance.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:41 PM on June 13 [55 favorites]


    I too don’t comment or post much, but Metafilter is the first thing I see in the morning and usually the last thing I see before falling asleep. For a long time it’s been the place that keeps me sane and connected to the world of reasonable people, even more so since moving to China from the US three years ago. Just sent you a check; remind me in a year and I’ll send another one.
    posted by Wet Spot at 7:44 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


    I’d buy a t-shirt, but not in black, I have a lot of black t-shirts that I tend not to wear. Metafilter blue would be a great color for a t-shirt!
    posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:45 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


    Well, crud - I just realized I cancelled my recurring donation back in September when I got laid off, and never reinstated it! I just tripled it, as well as sending an extra one-time donation to make up for some of the missing months.

    Regarding merch - there are a ton of creative people on here (more creative than me), but I do have some experience with fundraiser t-shirt and sticker production - is there any way I could help with making more/updated merch happen? Cortex, would you be open to a user-organized merch effort?
    posted by jferg at 7:46 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    I think probably we should plan to have a new merch discussion thread soon, is what I think! Big topic, lots of room for brainstorming, and it'd be good for me to take a couple days to review options and stuff, so let me propose that as a plan for something I can e.g. post next week. (Not to say don't talk about merch in here, just want to carve out a space for a focused followup discussion soon.)
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:48 PM on June 13 [18 favorites]


    I matched mai’s contribution and signed up to be a monthly contributor.

    I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for this site. Warts and all.

    Hugs offered to anyone who needs ‘em
    posted by nikaspark at 7:49 PM on June 13 [63 favorites]


    I'm only funded for the academic year, and some unexpected expenses mean my summer budget is pretty tight, but I'll be trying to do a monthly donation come August. Would it be a simple thing to implement a reminder system people who can't commit to a monthly subscription could opt into? Sort of, "Remember to donate to Metafilter if you can afford it this month!" I'm going to put it in my task manager, but I change that so often that I'm afraid of it getting lost. I feel like it might be helpful to other people with more variable incomes as well? But I'm not sure.

    I've only been on MeFi for a little over a year, but it's become my new internet home. It's the only place that feels like it makes any sense anymore, and like I'm actually involved in a community rather than just a screaming chamber. Probably the best $5 I've ever spent. When I have the funds again, I'll definitely be willing to pay more to keep this space going. I am the sort of person that pretty much never subscribes to anything because I'm always like, "well, I can get it elsewhere, or I have other things to distract me that are free," but MeFi is the one thing I feel like I can't get anywhere else, and that significantly improves my life.
    posted by brook horse at 7:51 PM on June 13 [19 favorites]


    The revamped signup concept is a whole thing, so more something I'll revisit in detail in the near future than dig into in here tonight, but the core thing about MeFi's five bucks is not the five bucks but the introduction of friction and a sense of deliberate intent to join up. I believe we can manage that without tying it to a monetary transaction, is the very short version of my thesis.

    I know exactly what you mean about introducing friction to the MeFi sign-up, Cortex. Web 2.0 social network sites naturally want theirs to be as frictionless as possible for their users—since we all know what they really are—but I can't think of a better way of getting people to put their money where their mouths are metaphorically than literally putting up money. There's a psychological step to making that kind of decision for which I can't think of an appreciable substitute (this may be my fallen marketer talking). I genuinely believe that is the opening stage in what makes MeFi distinct from even the next-best-run forums on the web.

    (Monthly subscriptions are a different case entirely when it comes to the psychology of association marketing. But MetaFilter is worth that, too.)

    And I would happily buy an overpriced coffee mug.

    Same. And I bought t-shirts last time, but I see Topatoco also has aprons, cards, hoodies, pins, ties, etc., etc. that could easily lend themselves to MeFi branding and in-jokes.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 7:51 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    I only joined Metafilter back in December (after lurking for a while), and I've just thrown $20 into the pot. Seemed the least I could do to help keep the lights on.
    posted by Making You Bored For Science at 7:52 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    Would it be a simple thing to implement a reminder system people who can't commit to a monthly subscription could opt into?

    It's an interesting idea, I'll think about it. We may moot it by just pressing ourselves into a much more frequent So How Is Stuff update/reminder on MetaTalk, too.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:53 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    I LIKE WHAT YOU GOT
    posted by vrakatar at 7:56 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    I think some interesting, limited-edition, user-designed, more artistic shirts could be fun. We have great creative people in the community, we should use that. Especially in colors other than black, grey, or white. User art with just a tastefully placed mefi logo and URL. Conversation starters instead of in-jokes.
    posted by jferg at 7:57 PM on June 13 [15 favorites]


    Doubling my monthly. Yay!
    posted by not_the_water at 7:58 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


    but I can't think of a better way of getting people to put their money where their mouths are metaphorically than literally putting up money. There's a psychological step to making that kind of decision for which I can't think of an appreciable substitute

    I agree with this. I lurked for quite a while, and opened the sign-up page several times before finally deciding to go through with it. I felt like I needed to make sure I understood MeFi's rules and community culture well enough to make sure I wasn't wasting my $5. Like, it's only $5, but there was definitely a significant psychological weight to that that made me do the work to make sure I would be a good MeFite. Maybe that's not a common experience but I thought I'd share mine since it's still relatively fresh.
    posted by brook horse at 7:58 PM on June 13 [27 favorites]


    (And yes, I also think the $5 sign-up fee is important and should remain.)
    posted by reductiondesign at 7:59 PM on June 13 [18 favorites]


    I doubled my monthly contributions to 20 USD. I would also buy merch, but preferably not injokey stuff that doesn't translate into the real world (I even got the Hope me, Metafilter shirt even though I wasn't particularly keen on that injoke making fun of english difficulties...). Another option may be to set up a permanent MefiMall, where some percentage of the proceeds go towards the site?
    posted by dhruva at 8:02 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    Signed up for $10/month, because it was about damn time I did so
    posted by DoctorFedora at 8:05 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    I’m just gonna start mentioning metafilter a shitload more IRL.

    And posting more weird shit hanging out in the intersections of art and science. So that people feel compelled to mention IRL about some weird shit they saw on metafilter.

    “More light less heat”
    posted by nikaspark at 8:05 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


    I will definitely be signing up for $20/month on Friday and maybe I’ll see y’all Portlanders at the party!
    posted by gucci mane at 8:06 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    Another PayPal cancel/re-up here, from $5 to $25. I had no idea such a small %age of revenue was donation based. Let's get that number up!
    posted by Frayed Knot at 8:06 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


    I'm in for a monthly. Not a big content contributor, but definitely get a lot of value out of the site.

    Sites like Quora and Experts Exchange play all kinds of games with traffic trying to convince folks to sign up. Might be worth dropping a "consider joining the community" message on search traffic.
    posted by Jacob G at 8:08 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    Also what about a mefi five gift card program where we can buy them and give them to people for birthdays and whatnot. Sort of like a download code but you get a membership to here.
    posted by nikaspark at 8:09 PM on June 13 [21 favorites]


    re: reminder systems/donation emails

    It's an interesting idea, I'll think about it. We may moot it by just pressing ourselves into a much more frequent So How Is Stuff update/reminder on MetaTalk, too.

    I am 100000% against Too Much Marketing Email but I have to say that I was on MetaFilter for like 8 years before I ever set foot into MetaTalk. (I only saw this post because of the tiniest, classiest [no shade!] banner ever to grace the header of a website.)

    Obviously y'all would have accurate metrics on where users are spending their time and how isolated the silos are, but my (clearly anecdotal) sense is that lots of folks either spend the majority of their time on the green or on the blue, and that even more frequent visitors might not see MetaTalk updates. I would be cautiously for a once-yearly email -- perhaps on the anniversary of your signup? -- with a donation notice/info, plus the latest State of the Union info (or whatever interesting stats might come easily to hand).

    And if there's anyone I would trust to make judicious use of email, it would be MeFi moderators.

    I think probably we should plan to have a new merch discussion thread soon

    Lots of enthusiasm for this idea and coffee mugs!
    posted by alleycat01 at 8:10 PM on June 13 [17 favorites]


    I used to donate monthly back when the only option was checks. I got frustrated when the checks would hang around for months without being cashed and quit donating.

    Now that there are more options (and I have a job!) I'm starting it up again.

    I ❤️MetaFilter!
    posted by bendy at 8:11 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    I used to donate monthly back when the only option was checks. I got frustrated when the checks would hang around for months without being cashed and quit donating.

    *glances discreetly toward the Under New Management sign*
    posted by cortex (staff) at 8:13 PM on June 13 [93 favorites]


    Doubled from $5 to $10 a month, and will send more $ when I am less precariously employed (three part-time jobs right now, one of which might become permanent soon. Ah, the gig economy).


    Oh, and if you're making Metafilter mugs, please design some really big ones. I drink tea like Tony Benn did: once an hour, from large ceramic mugs that hold a pint of strong tea. Regular mugs are purely ornamental in this house.
    posted by vickyverky at 8:16 PM on June 13 [21 favorites]


    Hm. I'm embarrassed to admit that I apparently let my meager monthly contribution lapse when my CC expired and heading into the summer is a tough budget moment to be restarting, with my wife about to go into no income mode for two months. I'm going to see if I can splurge on a T-shirt or something (would love the idea of some more merchandise; I'm already sad I can't get a "you're the product being sold" T-shirt in anything remotely like my size) and then see about resuming monthly contributions in the fall.

    I feel bad that I can't step up right this moment; maybe instead of merchandise I'll just drop a one-time equivalent right now as that would probably be more direct benefit...
    posted by nubs at 8:17 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    To paraphrase It’s a Wonderful Life, if MeFi is in trouble, you can count on me.

    That said, I appreciate the deeper dive into the money aspect, both incoming and outgoing. I knew that the mods were paid but had no idea they drew an actual salary!

    Unfortunately, if tough decisions need to be made, there’s only one logical place to start. Jessamyn, I’m afraid you’ll have to kiss your moderator retirement pension and monthly cat stipend goodbye.
    posted by dr_dank at 8:17 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    Doubling seems to be the current trend, so jumping on that bandwagon...
    posted by Ender's Friend at 8:20 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    ....or if she really likes that”Retired” tag, she xould pony up some of that phat Equifax l00t.
    posted by wenestvedt at 8:21 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


    Speaking of merch, the sort of branding that could avoid veering too hard toward in-jokey stuff could reference site features/functions - while still being kinda specific. For example:

    - AskMe green t-shirts/mugs, etc. with “Marked as best answer”
    - MeFi blue t-shirts/mugs, etc. with “Flagged as fantastic”

    ...and so on.
    posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:21 PM on June 13 [32 favorites]


    hopefully quick question - I seem to recall reading somewhere that there's less of an administrative cut taken via Stripe than PayPal - is that still the case? Because I want to make sure that as much money as possible makes it through to the site.
    posted by nubs at 8:23 PM on June 13


    I wish the low monthly subscription was an option with more web or app things I rely upon. Glad of the reminder that I was due to set mine up.

    Sadly, I have no idea how to generate revenue or subscriptions, but I was also surprised by how low the user support numbers were!
    posted by crush at 8:24 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


    Successfully doubled!

    Re the $5 signup fee: but I can't think of a better way of getting people to put their money where their mouths are metaphorically than literally putting up money. There's a psychological step to making that kind of decision for which I can't think of an appreciable substitute

    I super agree with this and second brook horse and other's comments. I have actually always mentioned the $5 signup fee when I'm talking about MF to my friends as evidence of how introducing a slight barrier to entry helps separate the wheat from the chaff.

    I'm trying to think of other ways to introduce "friction and a sense of deliberate intent to sign up" bc I get what you mean, but my mind keeps going to onerous requirements to fill out a profile, CAPTCHA-esque quizzes, and college-application-esque essays. All of those would obviously be a huge turnoff with wayyyy too much friction. Anyway I'm sure you're coming up with something much more elegant but the $5 fee is so effective as an easy yet surmountable gatekeeper.
    posted by alleycat01 at 8:24 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    I will increase my monthly contribution. I also have a modest Twitter following where I already make it a point to cross post stuff but I will be sure to include the original Metafilter link as well.

    This place keeps me sane when I have microboredom but am afraid Twitter will send me into an anxiety spiral.
    posted by shothotbot at 8:27 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    If there were a dynamic page that included all the mentioned Amazon products,

    Wait, I think I thought Amazon purchases only counted when you clicked on ads which I don’t see. If we click on an ad in comments or links and buy from there does that help Metafilter?
    posted by corb at 8:33 PM on June 13


    hopefully quick question - I seem to recall reading somewhere that there's less of an administrative cut taken via Stripe than PayPal - is that still the case? Because I want to make sure that as much money as possible makes it through to the site.

    It should be just about the same at this point; either will work fine.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 8:33 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


    "If we click on an ad in comments or links and buy from there does that help Metafilter?"

    Yes. We have a little jiggery-pokery that appends our affiliate code to any amazon link posted in comments, like if you wanted to read Social Creature (which I read a good review of yesterday and have added to my list), you could just copy and paste the link from amazon here (which I just did) and it'll auto-convert it to have our affiliate code (metafilter-20).
    posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:38 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    Unfortunately, if tough decisions need to be made, there’s only one logical place to start. Jessamyn, I’m afraid you’ll have to kiss your moderator retirement pension and monthly cat stipend goodbye.

    Per the post, Jessamyn doing part time modding is part of what the budget covers. Making a joke over the prospect of someone losing income is not cool.
    posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:40 PM on June 13 [12 favorites]


    Hmmm... I think the joke is supposed to be that those things don’t actually exist? That’s how I read it anyway... Maybe optimistically?

    But do you know what should also exist? Flagged As Fantastic tracksuits. Cozy loungewear for optimal web-browsing performance!
    posted by mochapickle at 8:51 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


    So on the subject of getting more users -- the time people spend on phones and tablets consuming things on the internet is growing, somewhat at the expense of time spent on desktops and laptops. While MeFi has a mobile site, it pretty clearly feels like a second class citizen to the desktop site. On top of that, there aren't official MeFi applications for android/iOS. Having a free application which provided a nice mobile UI for MeFi, and then allowing for signup/payment inside the application might expose the site to a broader group of people.

    This is not without its downsides of course. First, it would obviously cost money and time to develop these. Secondly, the site is partially so good due to the sometimes long, sometimes thoughtful commentary. I don't associate either of those attributes with cellphone keyboards, and it would undoubtedly shape the way some set of users interacted with the site.
    posted by yeahwhatever at 8:55 PM on June 13 [16 favorites]


    It's likely the publication of Gemma Hartley's book this November will drive traffic to the site; if you do decide on a subscription service, it may be a good idea to implement that by early October. (Relatedly, could Ms. Hartley be a good fit for the podcast?)
    posted by Iris Gambol at 8:56 PM on June 13 [13 favorites]


    CORTEX CABLED YOU NEED CASH STOP

    MY OFFICE INSTRUCTED TO ADVANCE YOU UP TO TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS MONTHLY STOP

    HEE HAW AND MERRY MODS DAY

    CHRYSOSTOM
    posted by Chrysostom at 8:57 PM on June 13 [69 favorites]


    That must be a joke, but I am missing it...
    posted by StrawberryPie at 9:00 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


    (it's from the end of It's A Wonderful Life)
    posted by Chrysostom at 9:02 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    Regarding merchandise: is there a way to suggest some variations for things we would want to see? For example, I would totally put an "Ask MetaFilter" sticker on my laptop, but the current 8.5"x2" is too big. And someone else upthread mentioned variations in shirt colors would be welcome.

    It's clear that small merchandise isn't going to make up the funding shortfall, but it may help raise awareness, and thus eyeballs on the site and ads.
    posted by StrawberryPie at 9:04 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    I'm in monthly, only $5 but every little bit helps, right? I appreciate the site more than ever these days.
    posted by andraste at 9:04 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


    (Ah, I see. Thanks. I hate demonstrating how pop-culture challenged I am.)
    posted by StrawberryPie at 9:05 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    While this is a 100th of the full thematic amount I wish I could give a month, I will go with $14.14. Times two. So $28.28.

    At 2828°C your silicon would be well and truly fucking VAPORIZED.
    posted by Celsius1414 at 9:06 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


    I'm trying to skip stuff that's been suggested and found wanting (e.g. AdSense for logged-in members). Did see mentioned above about telling people about MetaFilter. I'm very bad at that. I have friends who I share links found here with, without sourcing them. Similarly I have friends who talk about their preferred online haunts and forums, or share twitter links on WhatsApp with the referer clearly visible. It's easy to want to keep this place to oneself and the (friendly!) barbarian hordes out, but I should probably do a bit of soft proselytising.

    While I'm on churchy metaphors, I'm preaching to the choir here but as a whole we need to find a way to make FanFare more accessible for non-Mefites. The problem with the Current!Pop!Media! part of the site should be that it's overwhelming/distracting from the rest of it, not that it's still kinda bumbling along okay if you remember it's there!

    Amazon referral links need to be more "there" too. That page Secretariat linked to should probably be default in the sidebar if not already. I'm UK based and thought .co.uk links were one of those "maybe one day" things here. I don't buy a lot on Amazon.co.uk, but when I do it tend to be a bunch of "last minute" plus "while I'm at it" birthday presents and it seems daft that Metafilter essentially misses out on the few quid for that every time.

    If I was being hard-headed or Devil's Advocate or generally edgelord about things I'd say the obvious thing. Drop a couple of mods, tell the community to suck it up and eat the loss of members resulting from the lowered quality of discussion/moderation/non-North American coverage. Like a Shit Brexit, don't do that. It's obvious you don't want to do that. Thank you for being Metafilter.

    I would definitely buy further MeFi merch, esp. via Topatoco who I as an international customer know, trust and am willing to risk larger shipping fees and random pricey UK customs issues with. If the merch is good. Various opinons given above on that, I second using non-memey site lingo like "Flagged as Fantasic" or "Marked As Favorite", but I also love The Cheese so something like "I THOUGHT I KNEW WHAT EMOTIONAL LABOUR WAS UNTIL I READ THAT METAFILTER THREAD" (but 1000% better) might tempt. I'd also steer away from really basic printed merch that anyone could get done themselves or over elaborate tshirt designs that should be on nice posters instead. Following on from the mention above of all the talented contributors to the site (as evidenced by e.g. Projects, Music, MeFi Mall, etc) it might be worth running some sort of competition to design a new MeFi TShirt or similar? Prize = 1 Free T-Shirt and infinite bragging rights obviously.

    Haven't thought properly about subscriptions. Not keen, but need to reflect more.

    Ugh! I don't know. I hate when I have a problem and well-meaning people with a poor conception of it or who are coming new to it just vomit out all the things one's already considered or dismissed. Hope I'm not doing that.

    Will bung you a few quid(nuncs) when next I have some.
    posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:13 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    I run a community advisory board for research. This type of transparency and openness is what we strive for. I am so grateful for you, cortex and all of the mods and everyone who makes MeFi what it is. Upping my donation in the a.m.

    Also, will definitely encourage folks to join. I think the idea of an app is something to consider.
    posted by Sophie1 at 9:13 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


    Restarting and doubling previous donation now.

    Desperately want a mug, a shirt, and some "flag it and move on" stickers.

    Very grateful for the transparency from Mods so we can help.
    posted by Hermione Granger at 9:17 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    I can help with an app. Designing and building them is my day job. Just say hey if that becomes an Initiative with a capital I.
    posted by Hermione Granger at 9:19 PM on June 13 [17 favorites]


    What about something similar to reddit gold, where people pay to highlight or mark a particularly great comment or post? Maybe we could have a premium version of the "fantastic comment" flag?
    posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 9:19 PM on June 13 [15 favorites]


    Forgot to say, someone mentioned reminders about donating above. For people who don't want to do a recurring monthly payment (maybe because they're on a variable wage like I am) an opt-in profile checkbox to be gently reminded "Hey! You asked to be reminded that you haven't given anything to Metafilter this month." by e- or me-mail might be a good idea.
    posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:21 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    Also, there should be post-it notes of cortex doing the panel two dinosaur comics face.

    (I probably wouldn't buy these. Probably).
    posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:26 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


    Doubled. I’m ready to shell out for overpriced merch 🤑
    posted by The Toad at 9:29 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    I haven't fully digested all of the information in this thread, but if it is helpful to know, I was a very modest monthly contributor until I went back to school full-time. When I am getting real paychecks again, MeFi is one of the first "luxuries" (read: necessities) that is prioritized in my future-budget as a monthly expense. I now plan to up my future-planned monthly contribution based on this information and appreciate the transparency and details, as always. I hope to be able to send more bucks starting in January.
    posted by juliplease at 9:31 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    I multiplied my monthly contribution by a prime number. Hope it helps.
    posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:32 PM on June 13 [12 favorites]


    Was it 7,919? Because if so, we're all done here.
    posted by Chrysostom at 9:34 PM on June 13 [57 favorites]


    How about a t-shirt reference to the wordshore cheese saga? Red leister heist 2016 or something like that?
    posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:34 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    I'd also be interested in expansion of merch options and would like to volunteer my designing/creating energies when we get to that bridge. Would there be room for handcrafted merch?
    (Maybe it could just be an unofficial thing, where crafters could donate work and the money goes to the site. I'm drawing inspiration from threads that connected folks who wanted pussy hats and folks willing to make the hats--could expand to Mefi stationery, knit/crocheted merch, jewelry...)
    posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 9:35 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


    Just gave $200USD ($275AUD).
    I read you until I fall asleep every night.
    I need my sleep.
    I need my MeFi.
    posted by MT at 9:38 PM on June 13 [55 favorites]


    Monthly donation set up! As others have said, thanks for providing info and letting everyone know what's going on.
    posted by lazuli at 9:41 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    I doubled my monthly. I’m also going to ping a couple friends who are often on the receiving end of forwarded mefi posts. I’ll see if now might be the time for them to finally make their own accounts. They are def the type to support what they love.
    posted by greermahoney at 9:45 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


    I read you until I fall asleep every night.
    I need my sleep.
    I need my MeFi.


    This is a t-shirt.
    posted by Celsius1414 at 9:47 PM on June 13 [21 favorites]


    If it's any help, as a longtime AskMe lurker who basically never goes anywhere else on the site (I hate reading about politics online and I don't watch TV/movies)—I don't really know how I would join in on Metafilter or FanFare if I wanted to.

    Like, I don't know quite what they're for, especially FanFare. Looks like there's some interesting stuff going on in there, but I don't know who makes posts, what the posts are supposed to have in them (are they summary or commentary?), what movies/TV get posts made about them and why, what goes on in the comments, etc.

    I'm just not sure where I would get started as a possible FanFare user, whereas AskMe has an extremely simple concept behind it—you get there looking for advice or an answer and it becomes clear right away what questions get asked there and the range of investment/tone that's acceptable for answers.

    I hope I don't sound like I'm suggesting you make Metafilter more like other sites that are easy to understand right away—what makes sites like this good is that they do their own thing, and if doing your own thing is kind of inherently self-limiting. Just trying to offer a Marginal (and fairly new) Metafilter User perspective as you think about ways to add more of us Marginal Users (and hopefully turn some of them into bona fide mefites).

    I love the staff's transparency, and it's wonderful to see so many people step up to support a thing they love. Best of luck.
    posted by Polycarp at 9:54 PM on June 13 [14 favorites]


    (and fairly new) Metafilter User

    Perhaps a topic for a more focused thread, but I'm curious to hear how newer folks (last couple years maybe?) found Metafilter?
    posted by lalex at 9:58 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    Also, can there be MeFi pajama pants with pockets and a comfy waistband?
    posted by juliplease at 10:00 PM on June 13 [17 favorites]


    I have read Metafilter almost every day for the last 18 years; I've been a member for the past eleven. I subscribed without hesitation to the monthly payments during the first campaign two years ago, and I will be doubling my contribution now. Thank you to the mods and my fellow MeFites for making this place somewhere I've consistently wanted to hang out, for the last couple decades.

    (And thanks to those who asked and answered how to increase monthly payments; looks like cancelling and resubscribing is the best way.)
    posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:06 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


    > What about something similar to reddit gold, where people pay to highlight or mark a particularly great comment or post? Maybe we could have a premium version of the "fantastic comment" flag?

    I'm not sure how I feel about this, but if it happens, this virtual currency must, of course, be called "MeFi Beans".
    posted by tonycpsu at 10:06 PM on June 13 [13 favorites]


    MeFis Bean, surely
    posted by reductiondesign at 10:08 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    cortex: "So one thing we're talking about, and this would line up nicely with the pay what you want subscription model, is ditching the compulsory fee entirely in favor of just reviewing and approving new signups directly."

    You could get your feet wet here by making gift memberships free (maybe limiting it to a few a month/year). The initial screening is then done by the membership and isn't quite the free for all that open membership would entail.

    One of the weaknesses of open membership is Ask is likely to be swamped. I'm a member of a professional trade website designed for trade professionals only and after years of essentially flying under the radar we've gained a high enough profile in the last six months that we are suddenly being inundated with DIYers and it is turning out to be a real hassle.

    restless_nomad: " the funding page does have our mailing address if paper check works best for you."

    I assume the site would also be happy to get international money orders at the address for those not in the US.

    wenestvedt: "A one-time drive to get folks to update their AskMe posts with a follow-up message or an explanation of the eventual resolution might ratchet up the utility of the more recent threads, and improve traffic. *shrug*"

    Good news. Your pony is awaiting in the stables. Sort of. This already happens at one month.

    cortex: "It's an interesting idea, I'll think about it. We may moot it by just pressing ourselves into a much more frequent So How Is Stuff update/reminder on MetaTalk, too."

    I'd bet all you'd need is a financial update banner twice a year to remind/notify people that donations are appreciated/possible.
    posted by Mitheral at 10:10 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    Thanks so much for the open and honest accounting. I’m so sorry I can’t donate now, but I’m an unemployed college grad. I do like the idea of a subscription model. Aren’t there studies showing that even suggesting a regular donation will increase numbers? I’m thinking of Bandcamp’s “name your price” model, as in “welcome to Metafilter! Please choose how much you’d like to contribute, if you can!”

    I still sort of feel like a new user, even though I first signed up 3 1/2 years ago. I remember what drew me to the site was seeing it mentioned on Reddit in a list of good sites worth visiting (can’t remember exactly where). The description said “moderation and a one-time signup fee keeps the trolls away.” And then there were all these smart, engaging people talking about stuff with a degree of depth and engagement I hadn’t seen elsewhere. That was enough to bring me in. But I had literally never heard of it before that point. More promotions elsewhere?

    There are barriers to participation I think might be worth mentioning, but I don’t want to start a derail or an argument. Not to say I know it all, just that I don’t know how much critical feedback you get that isn’t people shouting about being silenced all their lives. I can only speak for myself, but I wonder if other people (prospective users, especially) might pick up on the same issues I have. If that would be helpful to the site in general, I’m happy to share it here, but let me know if now’s not the time.
    posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:10 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    I look forward to the t-shirt slogan thread.

    Hackathon?
    posted by the_blizz at 10:11 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


    Okay, just as a heads up: I cancelled my old recurring payment so I could change the amount, but then when I tried to do it through the MeFi donation page, it kept defaulting to a recurring $5/mo amount no matter which radio button I checked. So I finally had to enter the amount manually. But it's done and works now!
    posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:13 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


    1) A weekly digest of curated "best-of" content would be an immediate subscribe for me. This site is sitting on a so much amazing content, but since I don't have the time to read a hundred posts a week, so much of it ends up lost to me. Start from something like the popular favorites, choose a dozen of the best posts, covering a variety of topics, then craft a blog/email, highlighting those posts along with a small amount of context. (Think something along the lines of a weekly NextDraft). If done well (with tact and humor, minimizing inside jokes, etc), then I think you'd be surprised at the reach that could have, even among non-members.

    (Meta-MetaFilter would be the obvious title, but "Best of the Web" would work too!)

    2) The twitter account could be put to much better use. Crafting tweets with more context, humor, etc could probably generate a substantial number of retweets and traffic. (With the goal not being necessarily to flood the site with new users, but to goose the ad revenue a bit).
    posted by chrisamiller at 10:20 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


    I think the idea of gift memberships is a great idea! I know a few people I would gift.
    posted by greermahoney at 10:22 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    Oh, and to attract more external readers, how about encouraging more "deep" or "original" content that may "go viral"? (I hate myself for typing that, but the impact of even one post a month that generates a million views is probably substantial). To be very clear, I'm not saying we should be all writing clickbait titles here, but some of the really well-researched posts that synthesize lots of links and data are incredible, and deserve to be shared more widely. (think of the kind of stuff that filthy light thief writes). Maybe making contests for best post a more frequent thing would help with that. Prizes might be merch, a special badge, or even just a token amount of cash (20 dollars, same as in town?).
    posted by chrisamiller at 10:23 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    You could get your feet wet here by making gift memberships free (maybe limiting it to a few a month/year).

    That's...a really simple good idea, yeah. I'm spoiled as a mod because gifting accounts is free for me, so that issue hasn't been on my radar so much. Will chew on it, might be something we could pursue on the quick side.

    it kept defaulting to a recurring $5/mo amount

    Weird! Can you toss us a quick OS/browser/version rundown at the contact form, so we can see if there's some specific thing we can test for?

    A weekly digest of curated "best-of" content ... The twitter account could be put to much better use

    Agreed on both in principle. In practice we'll need to think about what we would want to do there but also how we would want to manage it. As is there's an aspiration vs. perspiration gulf in doing stuff like maintaining the sidebar or, increasingly despairingly neglected, my Out of the Blue podcast project, where having a framework for producing some regular additional content is easier than actually regularly producing it especially when things are busy or gloomy or distracting. So I like the idea of looking at that stuff but need to be really grounded about what we consider committing ourselves to and how on any such project.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:24 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


    Upped my contribution to $10/mo. This place is well worth it.
    posted by wanderingmind at 10:24 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


    As someone who uses Mefi exclusively on her phone, and uses it probably 2-3 hours a day (*sob* That hurt to type) I would use the hell out of a mefi app. And as much as we don’t want to admit it, lots of people prefer apps over browsers. I know it would be a huge investment, but it might be worth it.
    posted by greermahoney at 10:31 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


    And I think that's it for me for tonight, though other mods will be around to answer questions (or to leave them for me or frimble if it's that sort of territory) and I'll catch up tomorrow. Keep on brainstorming etc, I really really appreciate the thoughts and ideas and experiential insights.

    And, just...thank you. Everybody. This has been a scary and worrying couple of months, and a really hard week of grappling with an undeniable This Is A Really Real Situation as a team, and I'm pretty emotionally spent at this point but also incredibly heartened by all the supportive and positive responses in here and all the new contributions coming in on the Paypal and Stripe accounts. We're not out of the woods yet but fuck if we aren't finding something that looks like it might be a path.

    I'll see you all in the morning. Thank you for being here and being MetaFilter.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:31 PM on June 13 [51 favorites]


    greermahoney: "I think the idea of gift memberships is a great idea! I know a few people I would gift."

    Gift memberships already exist; they just aren't free.
    posted by Mitheral at 10:39 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    I just want to throw my voice out here in support of a few things up-thread.

    I love the idea of adding a stated sliding scale based on income to pay-what-you-want. It provides a bit of pressure to possibly give more than you might otherwise, sure, but even more importantly it sets an anchor for what is reasonable when there's really nothing to go on otherwise. Make and show a sliding scale for the donation page. "Income $X per year -> Suggested donation $Y per month." Cortex mentioned dropping the membership fee -- you could possibly make it pay-what-you-want (including $0) with a sliding scale prominently displayed by it as well.

    I think splitting politics from the rest in MeFi Popular is a great idea, too. I'd still be interested to be able to see Politics Popular, but the default should probably be everything else. It would be of much more interest to the general audience, I think. Alternatively (or additionally -- why not have lots of ways to sort things?), you could calculate some score for comments based on the ratio of favorites to logged-in members who read that thread, or something similar, to avoid having comments rise to the top just based on the popularity of the thread they're in.

    Connected to that, and maybe you're already considering this: I always like to see "popular now" lists on news sites, forums, etc. I'm very often interested in the zeitgeist of a space, and as a bonus I often find something new of interest to me, too. They're a simple, honest way to increase engagement, in my opinion. Here, the "Popular" lists are only accessible if you really go after them; is there some way to make them visible by default? Without cluttering the page... well.

    And finally: I do think it's worth improving the interface and tooling around donations. Metafilter could keep track of what recurring donation I'm making and let me easily view and modify it. Even more importantly, Metafilter could contact me if my payment fails or lapses for some reason. Case in point: I set up a recurring quarterly donation through Stripe three years ago, almost to the day. Set it and forget it. Well I apparently made three quarterly payments. Ever. It just stopped (probably because a credit card expired), and as far as I can tell I didn't get any notice of that. I really thought it was still in place until just a few minutes ago. So I would appreciate Metafilter's help in monitoring and managing any recurring donation (Stripe sure isn't doing much there), and it would help keep up revenue, at least a little, as well.

    So yeah. I've paid up my missing contributions since the lapse -- sorry about that -- and I just added a new ongoing subscription at double what it was last time. Thanks, Cortex, mods, and all.
    posted by whatnotever at 10:45 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


    One of the many bad things about extended unemployment is guilt over being a freeloader. I’m acquiring a long list of sites and organizations I want to donate to once I’m back on my feet, and mefi is near the top.

    I said I was doubling my monthly, AFABulous, but I actually doubled PLUS one dollar, so please consider that monthly dollar in honor of you. You’re officially not a freeloader. (I mean, you never were. Your comments alone are priceless.)
    posted by greermahoney at 10:47 PM on June 13 [53 favorites]


    Ok, I doubled up my contribution.

    I am touched by all the people explaining that they want to give (or give more) but cannot currently. It speaks to what we try to be about here. I myself have only recently rejoined the ranks of the employed, so I know full well how we have to twist and scrape to keep the wolves at bay.

    This place is an oasis, dammit!

    Salutations, commendations and flowery gestures of respect all around,

    I rmn yr hmbl srvt
    posted by Divine_Wino at 10:57 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


    Also I switched to Stripe because PayPal is a dead ting.
    posted by Divine_Wino at 11:00 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


    I am going to reiterate my request that we please get some socks up for sale in the store, because I would like to pay cash bucks for them.
    posted by Going To Maine at 11:04 PM on June 13 [14 favorites]


    Thank you for this, cortex. Lots to think about here.

    One area that interests me greatly these days is user experience (and relatedly, product management). From that perspective, I see this as partly a classic product management / growth problem. While, the most profitable path to growth is retention and engagement, we still need acquisition — we need to attract new users. But it needs to not be a revolving door.

    Focusing on what we DON’T want … How do you create a revolving door? One way would be to make the content on the other side of the door inaccessible, hard to understand or use. Make it hard to stay inside. Make the door hard to enter but easy to exit.

    Accessibility isn’t always straightforward. Inaccessibility is sometimes simply “I don’t get it.” You can look at a beautifully crafted work — say, a Gaudí — and ask yourself, “Hey, why aren’t the lines straight?!” And keep walking. With some information accessible to me though, I’d understand that the not-straight lines were by design and that it was a big feat to make this structurally sound (see his inverted weighted models) … WHAAAT!? That’s interesting!

    MetaFilter has some very not-straight lines, if we’re twisting metaphors now. Some of that is by design, and for really good reason! But those reasons are completely inaccessible and the site is suffering for it. I believe MetaFilter could benefit from some small usability tweaks — things that would improve the experience greatly for new visitors, while retaining its underlying structure.

    There’s a lot we already know about the experience and we can make use of this information and improve some of the pain points that get people heading for that exit door. Other things we can learn the way we always learn – make a post and share our stories.

    For example: For me, MetaFilter is all about great comments and stories. I’m fairly busy these days and so I don’t have the luxury of finding the stories by reading through lots of content. I find the content through Feedly, where I have streams for Favorite Posts and Favorite Comments, plus Fanfare. When I see something new and interesting, if it’s not self-contained, then I click through to the original post to understand the rest of the context (“why was that comment funny? What prompted that user to share this story?"). I don’t engage as much this way, because it’s hard to do on a mobile phone, for lots of reasons.

    If we break that down into proposed MetaTalk posts, we can learn a lot more about how people use the site, and where things fall down (each one of the ‘posts' below corresponds to a sentence in my example above, in order).
    • What is MetaFilter about for you? => Updated, community-guided mission statement
    • What are you up to these days and how does that affect your MetaFilter consumption? => Understanding the user experience outside of MetaFilter, the bigger picture about the demands on people’s time and how that affects site engagement.
    • How do you find interesting content on MetaFilter these days? => focus on opportunities to improve pathways into the site and stop investing development effort maintaining areas that are outmoded and unused.
    • How do you read the content on MetaFilter these days? Where do you search for context? => Focus on organising the site better so that context is more easily accessible.
    • How has your engagement changed over time? What would make things easier? => How to remove pain points in the UX.
    The answers to these questions could help improve the experience => better engagement for existing and new visitors => revenue and growth.

    Here’s another example, a meta story, if you will: I recently shared a link to the ‘bananas in the kitchen’ story with some coworkers, prompted by something that happened at work that day. It was a perfect story to share and I wanted to have a good laugh about the similarities between the bananas story and the inanity at work that day. Plus, I love introducing people to my weird little MetaFilter world. One of the coworkers sits in a row in front of me, with his back to me. I can see his screen. This gave me a perfect opportunity to have an impromptu Usability Testing session, unbeknownst to him (secretly observing people is NOT how you run usability sessions). I saw him check his email (good), then click on the Best of MetaFilter post I’d linked (this was preferable, so that I wouldn’t dump him directly into the wall of text). He scrolled the page, trying to understand what I was showing him (Oh no! The link is right there, click it!). He finally clicked it and it took him to the massive thread. While he was waiting for the page to load, he started scrolling, seeking to understand where I’d sent him. Once the page loaded, he scrolled up, scrolled down, saw the wall of text and noped right out. End of story.

    You know what would have made the whole thing amazing, or at the very least … functional? If clicking on a link to a comment A) loaded that comment first, and B) massively highlighted that comment on the page.

    ---

    I don’t say all this to be negative or berate MetaFilter, it’s design or development. Like many of you, I LOVE this place with a serious PASSION. There are things we can do to make our crazy for MetaFilter a bit more relatable to others!

    I also realise that what I've proposed is a lot of work. If this is something that is deemed worthwhile tackling by the fine MetaFilter staff, I would like to propose to join some sort of committee of people who want to volunteer their time and energy toward these efforts. I will happily plan and execute some research around identifying areas to improve the site — things that are feasible to implement, cost-effective and would have the most positive impact on the community.
    posted by iamkimiam at 11:06 PM on June 13 [32 favorites]


    I am going to reiterate my request that we please get some socks up for sale in the store, because I would like to pay cash bucks for them.

    In addition to socks, I would like to join the mug parade. I mean, wtf. WTF. Somebody just go out and design a mug and donate that design to the website.
    posted by Going To Maine at 11:17 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


    Notorious occasional luker and rare commenter has become a contributor. Bought the t-shirt too. Would buy mug.
    posted by bjgeiger at 11:17 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


    I agree about the need to improve the site's UI around donations, I set up a monthly subscription way back during the financial crisis of 2014, and when I logged in to paypal to cancel it and start a new one just now, I realized it got suspended some time back when the card it was tied to went dark. It would be great to be able to see my current subscription level and its status on MeFi itself - maybe there could be a field on the user settings page reading "last donation: $20 on May 17th", and if you hadn't donated anything, a low-pressure "MeFi needs your help" link to the funding page. Also it would be great to be able to modify the level from MeFi itself instead of needing to go to Paypal and cancel, then back to MeFi and renew. The current setup causes some friction where you don't want any.

    The merch could use a serious revamp, too. I'm not one to pay $50 for a T-shirt, but I would gladly give a $50 donation to a site I love if I got an awesome shirt in MeFi blue or AskMe green in return. I think some of the merch could function like an NPR tote bag or whatever, where its not the main draw and it's wildly overpriced, but it's not really the thing that you're buying. I know MeFi has a lot of awesome designers, and I wonder if running a "design a T-shirt" type contest would be of value, with the winning shirts becoming available on the online store.

    I also wonder if there are some opportunities to get inbound links to MeFi more traction on social media. As far as I can tell the site isn't using microformats, which would help links to posts and comments look a little nicer when they were shared on Facebook and Twitter (and Mastodon etc, for that matter).

    Also, although I personally love walls of text, I wonder if it would make sense to have a homepage for logged-out users which is more image-driven, maybe with YouTube thumbnails or even thumbnails of the web pages linked to in article bodies. In fact, maybe the logged-out home page could just be the "Popular" page, juiced up with some thumbnails and videos.

    Finally I just wanted echo the sentiment that I am thoroughly impressed by cortex's efforts at transparency and outreach here, and that while this isn't the greatest news I do feel like the site is in good hands.
    posted by whir at 11:32 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


    As Ask Metafilter saved the lives of my friends, I take it really seriously. But I'm among those who feel like conversation here has particularly shifted - not always for the better. There is an angry, petty, deliberate misreading that happens often. It pushes lots of people away. To me, it seems directly related to your numbers, at least for direct contributors.

    There was a time when I would click the "x" on my browser, only to immediately restart it and load Mefi. That time has gone.

    I can't fix anything. I could barely help my friends. But I can tell you, things have changed and a lot of people don't feel welcome. On top of Googly algorithm changes and everything else, this is a new Mefi that is just different. If you want to talk by phone, I'm open. I've been reading since the beginning. Please read this comment with the most caring tone possible. I wish you the best.
    posted by fake at 11:43 PM on June 13 [52 favorites]


    Oh man I am a sucker for "limited time only" artsy merch and it would be amazing to have a stream of hip products i could buy from metafilter every few months. Seriously I have like 9 KEXP t-shirts because every time they have a pledge drive they do a new one and they are almost always great and worth a donation. Would be thrilled to add metafilter shirts to my collection as well.

    I think I do $5 a month now, I'll bump it to 15 or something when I get the chance. Been here under one name or another since 2007, I owe a lot to the site and I'm happy to give back.
    posted by potrzebie at 11:54 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


    . So in honor of that I'll donate $1 for every favorite this post gets.

    Shameless favorite-currying? Perhaps. But I will back it up with cash.


    I'm going to match this offer, but be up front about capping it at $49. Which I'll give anyway, so need for any favorites at all really.

    Here's The Faces tearing it up with an old Temptations tune circa 1971.
    posted by philip-random at 12:33 AM on June 14 [57 favorites]


    Get ready to have your mind blown. :)

    WHAAAAAT I didn't even know about labs.metafilter! Thank you! I'm going to definitely check out all these Amazon links now!

    And you all! I just had an entire bottle of wine and I'm super emotional right now and this thread is giving me so much good feels. I'm going to run out of favorites soon because I'm +1 every comment about upping their contributions. I wish I had more money to throw at this site. I love you all.
    posted by numaner at 12:58 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    - AskMe green t-shirts/mugs, etc. with “Marked as best answer”
    - MeFi blue t-shirts/mugs, etc. with “Flagged as fantastic”


    clearly we need a
    - Fanfare purple t-shirt with "Your favorite movie sucks!" or "I HAVE SO MANY FEELS RN"
    posted by numaner at 1:17 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Also, can there be MeFi pajama pants with pockets and a comfy waistband?

    oh good lord i would buy dozens of these as well as basketball/workout shorts
    posted by numaner at 1:27 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I've given a one off payment and started a regular contribution. This site is utterly worth it.

    On the specific subject of meetups and IRL: I think there is an opportunity to improve this area. At present these events are one-off and ad-hoc: somebody will have the idea to propose a meetup - and then - with a little negotiating and some luck - one will happen. But there is nothing to create a culture of a regular meeting session - and the site itself provides no generic reason for people to get together.

    Perhaps some of that could be improved by providing something a little more like a culture of "Meetup.com" groups: each group will have one or more local owners and there will be an expectation that the meetings will happen regularly: say once a month. Each meeting will have some kind of raison d'etre - for a recurring meeting that could be left up to the organisers - but agendas derived from topics which have been covered on the site - or local events - would be an obvious start. The site could also collect some kind of attendance fee from those who turn up - and the site itself could set some regular challenges to be completed via meetups (music, projects, charity fundraising, etc). The meetings would also be a nice event for anybody travelling to another area to drop in on - much easier to arrange if they are scheduled on a regular basis.
    posted by rongorongo at 1:31 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    Upping my monthly donation, this place is too important.

    (Side note, I also had the weird Paypal thing happen where it said I was donating $5 no matter which radio button I picked. Entering an amount manually fixed it. This was on Firefox 60.0.2/macOs 10.13.5)
    posted by garrett at 1:37 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    that happened to hurdy gurdy girl too, here was cortex's answer for that:

    "Can you toss us a quick OS/browser/version rundown at the contact form, so we can see if there's some specific thing we can test for?"
    posted by numaner at 1:48 AM on June 14


    Oh man I am a sucker for "limited time only" artsy merch

    this was initially how I acquired my many t-shirts. curse you Threadless!
    posted by numaner at 1:50 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I used to just give a yearly contribution but I've changed to a subscription model and doubled it, presuming that for a business model it's better to have steady cashflow than a birthday present once a year.

    Putting a vote out for co.uk Amazon affiliate linking please. And not just for linked products in posts, could you make a perma-link of some sort in our profiles so I just start there whenever I start my Amazon shopping?

    If you're collecting ideas for swag, would love a Mefi keychain. I have three keychains now that fit my profile: One that says "California", one that's from Seoul my aunt gave me when I last visited, and one that's a mini-plushie cat from my niece. A fourth keycnain that's Mefi related would be relevant to my interests. I have one key.
    posted by like_neon at 1:54 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    Oh wow, I love this Recent Amazon Links page. Just a filter for books vs non-books would be awesome-o.

    And labs! What is this? Please link to it maybe next to "Best of"? Or like on the MetaTalk page. I'd like to visit that more often!
    posted by like_neon at 2:02 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    I can't do a scheduled thing but I can pay some money now, and again maybe.
    posted by fleacircus at 2:10 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Oh man I am a sucker for "limited time only" artsy merch and it would be amazing to have a stream of hip products i could buy from metafilter every few months.

    I think we could potentially do this on our own as users without asking mods for much overhead work. There are lots of artists here who could sell limited edition mefi related works and then donate the proceeds. Having the metafilter mall open year-round could help with advertising this merch, but that would be all that would be required of the mods. I am a letterpress hobbyist and will definitely be doing this when I get back in the studio.

    Thanks to the mods for all they do.

    Losing metafilter would gut me. Matched mai's generous contribution as a one-time donation and am grateful I was able to do so.
    posted by sockermom at 2:20 AM on June 14 [21 favorites]


    Any interest in a charity auction? We have lots of interesting people here, many of whom make interesting things, and might be willing to ship an interesting thing to a winning bidder, with the proceeds going to MeFi. I'd spin some (literal) yarn for y'all...
    posted by sldownard at 2:24 AM on June 14 [34 favorites]


    Yeah I would totally go for a big-ass mug for my big-ass coffee. And, maybe, crowdsourcing a 'Best of Mefi'-type coffee table book might be an interesting experiment? Probably be a money-loser but possibly an awareness-raiser?
    posted by turbid dahlia at 2:41 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    Thank you, cortex, for continuing to model transparency. I am sure that is challenging to do but I appreciate it.

    Thank you, mods, for making MetaFilter what it is, which is why it is my online home.

    A few thoughts:

    1. Like many, I struggle financially. Nevertheless, I think the 5-buck price of admission needs to stay because it makes me feel safe. There are not many places online where it feels safe to be female. I won't pretend that MF always makes women (and/or others) feel safe, always has, or always will. But I do feel safe here and the fact that MF charges 5 bucks and has info on each person as a result is something I cite up front when I talk to my friends about why this is a good place.

    2. I have huge long-distance crushes on all current and former MeFi mods.

    3. I have been a member for 5 years and am also baffled by FanFare. Like, someone helped me out by posting about the first episode of a show because I wanted to talk about it and now I'm not sure how or where to post about episode 2. Hmm.

    4. Sometimes I am confused about how to present MF to others. Many of my friends are on FB (I know, I know) and I would totally post specific comments to FB if that were easy to do because there are so many wonderful comments. OTOH MF is clear that we own our own words and I wasn't sure it was okay to share, say, a single comment. But is that something people here are even okay with? It feels small and cosy here. Do I want a single comment of mine getting passed around so broadly, so much more vulnerable to attack? I am not sure.

    5. I love the idea of having an easy to access metric to let people know how we are doing financially from month to month. At Al-Anon meetings, we announce monthly the expenses and the income and tell people if there's a shortfall and people step up.

    6. I like the idea of splitting out the US politics threads in some more obvious way than in the sidebar. They are important, I don't want them to go away, but at the same time I have been using Self-Control to block myself from MF at times because those threads are addictive to me in a way others are not.

    7. The Stockholm contingent is having another IRL meet up next weekend. I am never going to be onboard for charging people who show up IRL when getting all of us just to show up at all is a challenge in and of itself.

    8. I know that we have lost some MiFites over the years. I regret that some folks no longer feel welcome. I am not sure how to solve that but we will never get the opportunity to welcome anyone back if we don't keep this place afloat. So I'll be sending over a check for 100 bucks shortly to piggyback on mai's pledge. Also, note to AFABulous: You have never been a freeloader. You make an enormous contribution to this site. You are part of why I am so grateful to be a MeFite. Hugs to all, because everyone needs a hug.
    posted by Bella Donna at 2:43 AM on June 14 [36 favorites]


    Nthing the need to keep the $5 dollar membership free. While getting rid of it might attract more users to up the traffic, I suspect it would also up the mods's workload and they already do a lot given that the US politics threads alone are practically their own separate site at this point.

    My partner, Shepherd, gifted me my membership and he donates monthly (done in both our names) but perhaps it's time to make my own donation now that I have an income again.
    posted by Kitteh at 2:54 AM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    I thought I had a monthly subscription, and I possibly do? But I have no way to check if I do - there's no emails coming in for the donations, which seems like a gap to me from a fundraising perspective, like getting a short tiny note that went "yay, thanks from us at metafilter for funding $x amount this x period, hey, these were the top 10 most popular/sidebarred posts in the last period and we're glad the site got to be open to everyone thanks to members like you, member x"

    Then when one ends or changes - in my experience v. often because a credit card got lost or reissued, not because the support was cancelled deliberately, a note can be autogenerated to say 'oh hey, thanks for all the support and if this was a temporary credit card blip, you can click here to resubscribe. If not, then we just want to say thank you anyway for being a member of metafilter and that we value your support in all ways, participation blah blah blah'

    Usually this stuff is handled by a v. basic CRM which can cost like $40-$120 a month and if it's purely handling memberships for metafilter could be only for the emails of members in a top-secret list handled by the moderators and run once a month. It'd be worth it for getting people to sign up for more - these are the members who've financially committed because they're heavily involved and have cash to spare. These are the people who by email or targeted via website cookies will buy the metafilter t-shirts/posters and do occasional fund drives much more than a random sidebar.

    If by memail someone can confirm/deny whether I already have a subscription going, I'll top it up or restart it.
    posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:05 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    To folks who are uncomfortable with using PayPal or another service, consider using your bank's online pay feature. You should be able to set up regular, recurring payments via check to MetaFilter AND you can easily cancel payments at any time, increase or decrease them, send them monthly, quarterly, annually, or be a nut and do it weekly.

    Moreover, MF gets all of your money since (I believe) there is no payment processing fee. It is old school for sure, but it means that MF gets 100% of X instead of 97% of X - 30 cents per transaction. Just a thought.
    posted by Bella Donna at 3:12 AM on June 14 [20 favorites]


    cortex: If you already support MeFi but can afford to up that a little

    You got it.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 3:23 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    I've been kind of absent from MeFi for a while becuase of IRL, but I've been coming back more and more, because this place is HOME. Doubled my contribution and damn the C$:$ exchange rate.
    posted by arcticseal at 3:30 AM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    I'm not saying we should go full-on Public Radio

    On the contrary, I think we SHOULD go full on public radio. I don't know how it works in the US, but community radio stations in Australia like 3RRR and PBS FM have a great system of annual subscription drives, that's done in a very friendly, community responsive way. I think something like that paired with the idea of pay-what-you-can would suit MeFi really nicely.
    posted by threecheesetrees at 3:52 AM on June 14 [24 favorites]


    19th Birthday is coming up? Awesome! I'm going to get MeFi one of those Fake IDs that all the kids want!
    posted by Nanukthedog at 3:58 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    sldownard: Any interest in a charity auction? We have lots of interesting people here, many of whom make interesting things, and might be willing to ship an interesting thing to a winning bidder, with the proceeds going to MeFi.

    This is a great idea and I would happily make Interesting Things and ship them all over the world to keep MeFi going.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 3:58 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I'll up my contribution.

    What happened to the non-invasive ads on the sidebar? The text ads and T-Shirt? How about links to the Amazon referral program, and additional threads and content for subscribers at a certain level? Honestly, I thought the old text ads were so non-invasive I practically regarded them as a bonus feature. They were usually pretty interesting products / services. I would not mind ads on the podcasts or reminders about how to help monetize the site. Even Wikipedia runs a banner ad fundraiser every year.

    ---------------

    As a member that only recently became active again after a long hiatus, the community seems less open to different viewpoints than it was before.
    posted by xammerboy at 4:02 AM on June 14 [14 favorites]


    I’m getting a sense that moving to a more direct subscription model is on the table and I think that or a quasi-subscription fund drivey model is a good idea. For example, monthly emails to members who have not contributed in a year but who have logged on seems eminently do-able and really quite reasonable by today’s standards of communications from organizations.

    If the numbers are 10,000 active users a month generating $7,000/ month that seems a little low to me frankly - the users are not kicking in enough in aggregate. I would think that a something between $3-5 a month on average seems really fair.
    posted by shothotbot at 4:18 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    What happened to the non-invasive ads on the sidebar?

    Those were ads from "The Deck" from Coudal Partners, and we agree that they were great and really suited the site, but unfortunately they eventually had to close shop on this business.
    posted by taz (staff) at 4:21 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I was noticing how on podcasts and some other content that advertisers have gone back to the sponsor model of yesteryear where the hosts actively plug goods and services.

    "Don't you love Pyrex dishes? They're so good for the environment, and you can find them at pyrex dot com! For 10% off your first purchase, use the code META10. Tell 'em that Cortex sent ya!"

    I personally don't love it, but I would be very willing to deal with it. If ads are a necessary evil (and they are, right?), maybe we as a community can find a way to creatively adapt the sponsor model to the text platform Metafilter uses. It would be a cinch to add to the podcast.
    posted by Stewriffic at 4:32 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Just bought a shirt, and checked to make sure my monthly recurring donation is still active. Thanks for all the financial transparency, and thanks for this amazing community.
    posted by emelenjr at 4:34 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    One potential stream that I know very little about, but could be worthwhile: Twitch subscriptions.

    Every Amazon Prime subscriber gets one included subscription, which I think is a ~$5 monthly value, with ~$2-3 going to the streamer. I don't use Twitch, and know nothing about the requirements, but I would happily use my unused subscription on MF. I'm sure there's many others in the same boat.

    Thanks for this post Cortex, this is a special place.
    posted by matrixclown at 4:42 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    Will bung you a few quid(nuncs) when next I have some.

    We need this on a shirt.
    posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:42 AM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    Just subscribed!
    Something that might be doable - right now, if you made a donation, you get the "I help fund Metafilter!" on your profile. Maybe for monthly subscribers, of any amount, they get the "I subscribe monthly to Metafilter!" or some such. It might let folks know that that is a possibility.
    Heck even put a link to the funding page when someone clicks on it, to drive traffic to that particular page.
    posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 4:53 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    One revenue-generating idea that has been tossed around for some time is a Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace style MeFi Swap where people could buy and sell things from other MeFites. Maybe MeFi could set that up and then take some kind of fee or sliding percentage off the top of any sales?
    posted by Rock Steady at 4:55 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Amazon affiliate program question:

    Is there a "set it and forget it" way people can use the Metafilter affiliate Amazon referral link for every purchase, not just things that are linked from here?
    posted by Stewriffic at 4:58 AM on June 14 [12 favorites]


    I'm going to need a Ship Truther shirt! #FanFare #GoT #TheStruggleIsReal
    posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:07 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    Some of it has been pretty trying, and tiring for users and mods alike

    Hey now - you might feel that way being in the thick of it cortex, but I urge you - if you dare - to jump in a time machine and go back 5, 8 10 years ago, and look at the kind of stuff that was getting posted in MeTa, the number of flameouts, the misogyny, the racism, etc. This place has *dramatically* improved since then, on multiple axes. Maybe the reduction in some of that has lead to a decline in users, or different patterns of engagement. But I will go to the mat arguing that it's made this place a better community, as opposed to a website.

    On boosting users:
    The "share" button is so discreet as to be invisible - I would prefer to see share below FPPs, for example, I think it would encourage people sharing. This should be pretty easy to A/B test.

    The sidebar, and the socials. This is a perennial problem, I think - and again maybe related to site user decline - but the sidebar posted content has been, frankly, dire for well over a year now. People ask about it regularly, and you guys usually say "oh yeah, we should be updating that/putting more stuff in there", but it never seems to stick. When I joined the site, the sidebar was 95% comments, not posts. And it had amazing stuff! "My dad built a boat for Gregory Peck in the 1960s"; "Actually I am an intercosmic radiologist, let me tell you about Blah"; "I gave a kidney to my cousin a few years ago, it's quite a story, you know..." - that's the kind of thing that's quintessentially mefi, and amazing! Mostly these days it's "someone posted [post title]; I know we're not trying to be Digg here, but our comments are what make the site unique, and what typically garner it attention, offsite. People are missing good comments, and then not sharing them.

    I feel like twitter/facebook/whatever engagement could be a bit stronger too. Moderation is great for a community - but you guys aren't just mods, you're running a business, too. Brand, outreach, advertising etc are all important to businesses.

    In this respect, I think - and understandably so - you guys have maybe become a bit too absorbed by moderation - hear me out, this isn't about censorship! (I'm very pro censorship on mefi lol). But how much time are you spending, as a team, on the other aspects of community and content building? How much time are you devoting each week to encouraging more high quality content, like the theme months (food month! history month!), merch, posting comps, and many other ideas? I'd love you guys to stop thinking of yourselves as "moderators" and starting thinking of yourselves as "Community managers", and that means you're responsible for engagement, not just moderation. This is how many big sites and corporate social media/s work. I work with the community manager for my employer's yammer, for example (one of the largest in the world). Her job mostly is not moderation, it's community building and value-embedding activities (I mean values in the aristotle sense, not in the money sense. Embedding values reduces the need for moderation because norms shift and realign. Our work yammer is really good).

    Theme months, "live-posting", reaching out to members who you know have something interesting to say about a topic and encouraging them to make something of it. These are not things everyone has to participate in, but a lot will.

    Along these lines, I feel like we're missing a trick with sport - there's gotta be a better way to get it involved in the site (he says, the only sport I follow is tennis and I have no idea how to mefi it).

    On boosting revenue:

    Put a widget in that makes it easy for me to link something to Amazon. Currently, I have to look it up, in a separate window, and then manually hyperlink. If you had a button that opened an amazon search, I could put my movie or whatever in, select from a list, and then close and be back in my comment with a hyperlinked movie, that would be ideal. I think you guys could double or even triple the amazon links, I barely do it on my computer, I never do it on my phone, it's too fiddly.

    Do merch, do proper, organised and planned funding drives, not an ad hoc cri de couer. I know you don't like the idea of that much, but this is a business in addition to a community. I did community radio for years and have worked/volunteered in a number of non-profits - I can tell you those annual funding drives can produce 80% - or more - of a non-profit's revenue. So plan it (October is fund-raising month - x person will be responsible for running a silent auction [or whatever] with y prizes; person c will find mefites who own businesses/offer products services, and ask them to donate some stuff; person d will organise a live-streaming/chat party/global event where people do a, b and c with fun competitions and games to donate, or whatever. This stuff is a tonne of work but it can really shift things).

    Offer actual memberships, and ones that give you something, even if it's tokenistic and free (e.g. 4 bonus questions you can use more than once a week - that can be gifted - per year)

    I know mefi is all anti-ads etc, but what about sponsorship of things if it's a good fit? I don't mean plastering the site with ads, but reach out to a network or something and get them to "sponsor" fanfare for a quarter, and you'll put up fanfare posts for three of their shows, and organise watch-alongs/live watches or something. Like mefi has things to offer, without selling out the community or what it is, it just has to be packaged right as something sellable. I think you guys have relied one passive ad revenue for a long time, but those days are gone, and you need to make the site attractive for advertising/sponsorship (without coming at the expense of community). What are metafilter's demograhics, do we even know? There are some demographics advertisers are much more keen on and I think we'd tick at least a couple of boxes. Like I think it's worth sitting down thinking about what you have to available and willing to sell, and mapping out how you can put some feelers out there about it.

    Wow this comment got way longer than I thought! I'm not saying you should do all - or even any of these things - but I urge you to:

    1) Take heart, and pride in what this community has become. It may be smaller, but it's much more inclusive - better overall, and you've been critical in that.

    2) Step back from moderation, and into community management, incorporating moderation.

    3) This site needs more money to continue, you guys have barely scratched the surface of how you could get that, there are so many options; sit down and really think and plan and prioritise which ones are easy to do and will have quick results, which ones are harder to do but could have big results, and junk the rest - for now.
    posted by smoke at 5:12 AM on June 14 [62 favorites]


    lalex: welllllll now that you mention it, it might be neat to have a semiannual pledge drive tied to a fresh piece of merch

    Yeah, fuck it, full-on Public Radio it is. We should totally do pledge drives.
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:14 AM on June 14 [18 favorites]


    1) A weekly digest of curated "best-of" content would be an immediate subscribe for me.

    I would like to echo this suggestion from greermahoney. I receive regular content emails from two sites: Pocket (which I enjoy reading) and Quora (which I usually skip). Metafilter and Ask are reasonably analogous to those two sites, and opt-in emails with ads might be a higher-value proposition. Metafilter could leverage its strengths in curation and discussion to enter this space. I would like to receive an attractively-formatted email with links to top pieces + the relevant Metafilter discussion, either selected by the mod team or generated from profile preferences. Could this be a sweetener for subscriptions?

    Possible downsides: could cannibalize habitual site visits for subscribers, requires a good bit of regular extra work and oversight.
    Upsides: can be made optional and phased out if unsuccessful without altering the character of the site; leverages strengths in curation, cache of email addresses
    posted by Svejk at 5:29 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    Switching from quarterly payments to monthly payments.

    This is a special place and community and I'd hate to loose it.
    posted by LeftMyHeartInSanFrancisco at 5:32 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Upped my contribution - I know this is one of the places where everyone feels like an expert and you're going to get a lot of people suggesting things you've already thought of. The reality, though, is it's pretty amazing that this site has been funded for 19 years with 20% or less of the revenue coming from users and very little intrusion on the membership should be proud of that. The internet is changing, and the way advertisers now want to pay for leads is completely different in the Instagram world and to a large degree would violate the way MeFi works today - invisible product placement being one such way.

    I do want to mention merch though - this comes up every single time finances come up, and yet for whatever reason it seems like there hasn't been any actual action on it in years. I don't know if that's a capacity thing, or a too many options thing, but it may make sense to pass that off to someone in the community on an "80% for Mefi/20 % for you" revenue type model so someone could actually focus on it and explore things like limited run, quarterly subscriptions for merch, or the various other great ideas for merch that exist elsewhere.
    posted by notorious medium at 5:39 AM on June 14 [11 favorites]


    As is there's an aspiration vs. perspiration gulf in doing stuff like maintaining the sidebar... having a framework for producing some regular additional content is easier than actually regularly producing it .

    Cortex, you gotta get out of this mindset mate. If you're not resourced to do this stuff, find out who can.
    - Automate the sidebar, using the fantastic flags (seriously, what are they even for these days, I feel like I haven't seen a fantastic comment in the sidebar for yonks)

    - Deputise curation of sidebar content to active, trustworthy members (it's not time sensitive like moderation, someone checking for 20 minutes twice a week could easily make that sidebar amazing again).

    - Reach out to a member and ask if they want to do a podcast, curate facebook, etc etc we have a number of radio/broadcast experienced mefites - then your job is just promoting it.

    Not resourced to do something? Why not? What's taking the time up, is it of equal or greater value? Is there a way to spend less time on that thing? Can someone else do something?

    Your job as owner/mod isn't to do everything. It's to facilitate, to plan, to prioritise. Matt used to do this, too, remember? Thinking he had to shoulder the burden of metafilter. He didn't; you don't. That's not leadership - and it's not good for you or the site to think that way.
    posted by smoke at 5:42 AM on June 14 [77 favorites]


    On the topic of expanding membership: I'm 41 and it's hard to recommend this site to people much younger than I am. There is just SO much text and no video or images. It's not like the internet that many people know.

    Mind you, for me that is a very good thing. And I think it could be even for people who typically consume video. But we'd have to get them over that hump.

    Please don't take this as a "kids these days" rant, a call to dumb down the site, or a knock on its text-heavy nature. (My pro-word credentials are pretty solid.) It's just a nudge to think about what people see when they come here for the first time: lots and lots of words.
    posted by veggieboy at 5:53 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    But that's what they're going to see the second and third time, too. That's what the site is and it makes no sense in my mind to try and disguise that. That would be misleading.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 5:56 AM on June 14 [20 favorites]


    > reductiondesign:
    "MeFis Bean, surely"

    Don't over think this now.
    posted by chavenet at 5:57 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    The first thing I thought of when I saw the info on Amazon affiliate revenue was Labs. And the frustrating thing about Labs is its short memory.

    Why not consider expanding/enhancing that Amazon link scraper into a full blown subsite, a DB of recommended products? Maybe duplicate Labs entries could increase the ranked popularity of the linked item, aggregate links back to the threads, and support further comments on the item on that page. Is it possible to embed an add to cart link right on the MeFi page so the affiliate code doesn't get dropped along the way?

    Could the same model be used for more than Amazon? Or is theirs the only worthwhile affiliate program?

    That also seems like a possible way to drive some new user engagement. Someone lands on a MeFi Marketplace page aggregating comments on some oft-linked item and follows the trail back to the Ask, etc.

    And I need to read through this whole thread, but is it better for revenue to read the site logged out if I'm not commenting? For ad impressions?
    posted by snuffleupagus at 6:03 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    We had a very good relationship with The Deck while they still existed

    I didn't mind those ads at all....and even clicked on a fair number of them.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 6:06 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Doubled because holy hell even though I'm rarely here if MeFi went away I don't know how I would deal with it. Grateful to everyone who puts hard work into keeping it going!
    posted by sudama at 6:09 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    I'll up my subscription when I get home, but in the meantime this is my annual request for a metafilter tote baaaaag.
    posted by dinty_moore at 6:10 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    = Please keep the $5 entry fee. Please. Its probably THE thing that makes the site work (particularly Ask)

    = Agree that we should go full on public radio, probably twice a year. (I do this for a living and would be happy to assist if you would like.)

    = I would pay $$$$ for a tote bag

    = Agree that Fanfare could be a cash cow but it currently .... weird? I often want to go in and talk about shows but get discouraged when there are only a few comments. I hate talking with an empty room.

    = I would urge you to consider spinning the political stuff over to its own subsite. I'm a daily #potus45 reader (its an open tab at work all day, actually) but sometimes I would like to go to the front page to get away from it all.

    = re: The Deck: would it be possible to just get two or three major sponsors to have non-closeable ads like the old Deck ads? Just run them as in-house ads.

    = re: content - I just looked and realized I have not, personally, contributed front page content in ... more than a year. I will pledge to try to make one non-political front page post per month, and encourage others to do the same.

    = Hey, Cortex?? You're great. Thank you so much for leading us and sharing all this with us.
    posted by anastasiav at 6:10 AM on June 14 [30 favorites]


    I've been thinking a lot about merch lately. It's fun and I'd like there to be more available.

    My plate is clear, so I can get to work on carving up an occult THERE IS NO CABAL design for the spookier Mefites.
    posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:13 AM on June 14 [16 favorites]


    potrzebie: Oh man I am a sucker for "limited time only" artsy merch...

    What about a subset of merch which has an artificially-high price, which intentionally supports the site?

    For example: a charity which I like named Feed My Starving Children sells logo items in two classes. Most of them are at typical prices, like this t-shirt for like twenty bucks -- but they also sell other items, called Donation Items, like t-shirts and Christmas ornaments, for $80. (Subjectively, I think they also save their better t-shirt designs for the Donation ones, too!)
    posted by wenestvedt at 6:15 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    What about a browser plugin that just inserts MeFi's code into whatever Amazon page I'm on. Regardless of how I got there. Is that a thing? Is it against their TOS?
    posted by snuffleupagus at 6:15 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    smoke: Automate the sidebar, using the fantastic flags...

    I would love a feed of comments that have received, say, five Fantastic flags.
    posted by wenestvedt at 6:16 AM on June 14 [27 favorites]


    I've been a reader for about ten years (I have a new account now, but my first question to Ask was posted when I was 16!) , and now that I have an income, I'm taking this news as an impetus to finally set up a monthly payment. Thanks to everyone who makes this place so special.
    posted by lilies.lilies at 6:17 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    I buy most of my Amazon stuffs through their iOS app. Is there a way to make sure that gets affiliationed?
    posted by Rock Steady at 6:18 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    1. Thanks for the transparency.
    2. I was paying once a year, I'll shift it to monthly.
    3. I could live with ads - in fact, whatever it takes, I'm fine with. Seriously, I think, within reason - whatever it takes.
    posted by From Bklyn at 6:18 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Reiterating smoke's excellent comments above, seriously don't hesitate to put a call out to the user base for assistance on things. Many folks here have complementary talents and skills and ideas and a willingness to help.
    posted by Jacob G at 6:20 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I was at a conference last week and they gave each of us a Bübi bottle with the sponsor organization's logo -- it was even almost the right MeFi color. *head asplode* I love this thing!! Details for custom orders here. I'd happily pay for a larger one with the MeFi type up the side.
    posted by wenestvedt at 6:20 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Well, shit. Even my hobo ass is in for $10. That star on my home page is looooong over due.

    I likely wouldn't have the job or be half the person I am today without you guys.
    posted by loquacious at 6:21 AM on June 14 [12 favorites]


    And regarding MeFi's textuality: labs also has a YT scraper that could be expanded. Maybe include code that picks up imgur and whatever twitter calls that card view.

    Put it into an endless scroll that can be filtered by tags on the underlying threads, each media entry captioned by the thread title and the comment containing the media, with contextual links back to the thread.

    So people who are visual can browse media.metafilter.com or whatever and then find the threads that interest them based on the media embedded in them....

    This is maybe not a great idea, I'm am not much of a web designer. But all the Labs stuff just seems really underutilized (and too functional to just be 'experiments.')
    posted by snuffleupagus at 6:22 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Amazon has a persistent program, called Amazon Smile, for dumping a small percentage of your orders to a charity -- but I don't think it's available to benefit .com's. That said, if you begin a site visit through an affiliate's link and end up buying something, they should still get a slice (though maybe less than by using a direct link to a single product?). So a permanent link in the footer would be cool for when I shop for other-than-linked stuff.
    posted by wenestvedt at 6:23 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Deputise curation of sidebar content to active, trustworthy members (it's not time sensitive like moderation, someone checking for 20 minutes twice a week could easily make that sidebar amazing again).

    People could volunteer to do the sidebar for a month at a time - might be fun to be really into all the threads for a limited period of time.
    posted by shothotbot at 6:25 AM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    Does Metafilter qualify for auspicing with an org like, say, Fractured Atlas?
    posted by divabat at 6:26 AM on June 14


    Don't know if it's been mentioned in the thread yet but is it possible to gift a donation for another user? I could see folks maybe doing that for their Secret Quonsars or as thanks for a helpful/great comment or something. It could show up on the sidebar as "User X (or anon) donated $x.00 on your behalf."
    posted by bondcliff at 6:26 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    Is there an alternative?

    PayPal is still totally viable, and the funding page does have our mailing address if paper check works best for you.

    You can set up bill pay through your bank to that address to set up a monthly donation without having to use Stripe or PayPal.

    I just started a monthly contribution. I had only done the one-time contribution before and have always felt guilty for not doing more. This was the kick in the butt I needed to make it continuing.
    posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:29 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Lurker for 12+ years. Just set up monthly contributions off the back of this post. Sorry it took me so long...

    Nthing a MefiMug - I'm terrible for 'donations' but give me an opportunity to spend on stuff I don't need for a good cause and I'm in!
    posted by Ultimate User The Second at 6:36 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    Re-upped at $10/mo.
    posted by pemberkins at 6:37 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    One thing that comes to mind about subscriptions is that we've had a voluntary subscription culture for a while now, but one in which the default is not to. I doubt most of us would support a culture in which subscriptions were mandatory, but there are some ways in which the site structure, copy and UI could surface voluntary subscriptions better, and gently guide users there. A random-order brainstorming list:
    • Redesign the logged-out user experience -- maybe especially from search results pages, if technically feasible? -- to make SIGN UP/LOG IN more prominent.
    • Give new members a choice of voluntary levels, instead of $5 up front. $5 up-front, $10 up-front, $.99/month etc. Continue to make it clear that not having the money shouldn't stand between you and participating - that's a critical ethos I would hate to see disappear.
    • A prominent "call to action" in the top-level navigation, linking to a/the subscription page. Something like idk SUBSCRIBE NOW. Maybe if you're an active subscriber it switches to UPGRADE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION (more on this later).
    • A periodic on-site reminder, if your subscription has lapsed for whatever reason, to re-up.
    • Periodic reminders IN WHATEVER CHANNEL (e.g. email or text maybe? Push if we had an app, maybe someday) to re-up.
    • Corporate sponsorships WAIT HEAR ME OUT YOU GUYS. I'm imagining this like the ads, but maybe sponsorships at the subsite level. Like maybe Talkspace or the Humane Society would like to sponsor Askme for $period, or Gimlet Media would sponsor Fanfare. Needless to say, total and complete firewall between sponsors and moderation. No sponsored posts. I'm imagining a link and some updated art.
    I have to go do the work I'm being paid for but, man, I got a million ideas, and you can have them all.
    posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:39 AM on June 14 [12 favorites]


    But that's what they're going to see the second and third time, too. That's what the site is and it makes no sense in my mind to try and disguise that. That would be misleading.

    I just want to trick people into liking us! Is that so wrong?! No. No. You're right of course. That is the nature of the site and I wouldn't wish to deceive people or change the site.

    But perhaps there is room for, I don't know, a link to a video that displays to first-time users, explaining the site? Possibly a bad idea. Or simply a sentence or two to tell people, "Hey, your browser isn't borked; this site is all text." Or something. I think there ought to be room without changing the nature of the site and without trying to mislead people to make some sort of concession to first-time visitors, a la "Hey, you just came from the entire rest of the internet where images and video are everywhere to here, where it's all text. Stick around, you might like it!"

    I love this site but the more I think about it, the weirder it is that we somehow don't acknowledge that SO much else online is images and videos, and, yes, sometimes text. Here, it's just text. I'm even thrown when I see an emoji on this site! It's not bad. But in the context of the rest of the internet, it can be tricky. And I think it wouldn't hurt to acknowledge it, especially to people who are coming here fresh.
    posted by veggieboy at 6:40 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    Yep, this is finally the kick in the butt I needed to contribute monthly. So I set up a monthly donation. I’m always a bit surprised that MeFi puts up with me, and I know this site has genuinely, honest-to-god, no bullshit, made me a better version of myself. So thanks you, Metafilter; this is the least I can do.
    posted by holborne at 6:41 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    Also maybe a paid service where you text MEFI to 35542 (or some other short code) and you get subscribed to CAT FACTS but actually it's links to each cat-related post.
    posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:41 AM on June 14 [13 favorites]


    My monthly donation died when I changed banks and I never thought about it until now, so here's another $5 a month.
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:43 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Oops, I promised MORE ON THIS LATER and I didn't deliver. Multiple subscription levels would be cool, even/especially if they had no substantive difference apart from cost.
    posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:43 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    On the note of amazon referral links - possibly the code detecting them needs a quick look over; I'd posted an amazon link in this comment however the referral wasn't added on. I'll note that the comment was in metatalk and maybe the rules are different there. If they are, I don't see a reason to not add the referral links to metatalk comments.
    posted by nobeagle at 6:44 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Also, in terms of spreading the word about Metafilter, if there's no email newsletter, we're really missing out. Kottke has one. The NYT has a million of them. (Hell, even I have one.)

    Some people aren't on Twitter/Faceblog/Instawhatever. Pretty much everyone online has email. And this site has so much that would/should be shareable via email. Just a monthly best-of/set of links could go a long way to reaching people where they're already reading anyway: their inbox.

    (I like the podcast, but talking about things that exist on a website is a step removed from just linking to them.)
    posted by veggieboy at 6:44 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    I propose a bot that will automatically generate new merch whenever someone posts a new metafiltercolon (i.e. “Metafilter: a collection of nonsensical taglines”).
    posted by rodlymight at 6:47 AM on June 14 [22 favorites]


    Well, I suppose that after being a member for SIXTEEN YEARS OMG I should finally contribute. Setting up a monthly donation.
    posted by aclevername at 6:47 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    I have a question about the amazon link - is there a way to use both Amazon Smile and the affiliate link?
    posted by hilaryjade at 6:49 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Doubled my contribution.

    Have you chatted with John Gruber at Daring Fireball? It's an obvious comparison as another former Deck site, but he's now earning basically Mefi's full budget by direct selling one ad slot a week. Half an hour brainstorming with him about what he's tried and how it would translate here could be great. That also makes me wonder who else was using the Deck and what they're doing now.

    Totally yes on the pledge drives. I wonder about chatting with someone at Maximum Fun, as one example of a successful modern web-based pledge drive.
    posted by john hadron collider at 7:02 AM on June 14 [33 favorites]


    Be careful about crowdsourcing community duties.

    Well-intentioned and competent people sometimes fall into death spirals when they contribute services gratis. Passionate and dedicated volunteers sometimes experience personal hardship, experience professional hardship, overwork themselves, take things personally, become territorial, leave without notice, etc.

    Communities that grow to depend on uncompensated volunteers can suffer if those volunteers falter for whatever reason. (The first examples which comes to mind is Reddit from way back and Wikipedia every now and again. Financially both sites seem OK [?] but there have been community flare-ups in both.)

    More materially, I will contribute more than just words (i.e. money) once I reenter the work force after having left it earlier this year.

    Reminders like the thin banner which brought me here will help me honor that promise. (I'm also adding it to my calendar.)
    posted by mistersquid at 7:08 AM on June 14 [21 favorites]


    I just signed up for a small monthly donation. Should have done it a long time ago. It's not much, but I hope that it makes up in some minuscule fashion for all the havoc I've wreaked over the years.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 7:17 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    I love your love and passion for this community, Cortex. So I say this with all of the respect and adoration I can muster.

    Take the damn X off of the fundraising banner at the top of the site for at least a month. It's...what...30px tall? You should not care if people are offended/feel bad/have to scroll a skosh further. Not everyone goes to MetaTalk, and above comments prove that, while loyal and highly intelligent, your userbase isn't always on top of monthly subscription charges.

    Please put the site's oxygen mask on first. <3
    posted by kimberussell at 7:18 AM on June 14 [28 favorites]


    smoke: On boosting users:
    The "share" button is so discreet as to be invisible - I would prefer to see share below FPPs, for example, I think it would encourage people sharing. This should be pretty easy to A/B test.


    Yes. This is such a small change, and it could conceivably make a large difference in traffic to the site.

    A suggestion: create a single share button, not individual links to only Twitter and Facebook. Then have it open a small menu to share a post elsewhere. And please give us more options than just those two platforms.

    Placing it near the "favorite" button on the "Posted by" line would also be helpful. Right now, the two share links we have show up at the very bottom of the mobile stylesheet. Most people won't scroll past the tags to find them.

    This doesn't need to be too complicated. Modern users are used to seeing that icon and know what to do with it.
    posted by zarq at 7:20 AM on June 14 [11 favorites]


    Yeah, count me as an Nth for some kind of regular pledge drive. Hell, just look at the number of people in this thread so far that are either, "Whoops, I didn't realize my regular donation expired" or "Hey right at this moment I wound up with a couple of spare bucks you can have some." (it me) I can't help but think that a regular nudge for money would be extremely useful in tapping both of these super-basic resources. Plus all the people who are suckers (it me, again) for special limited edition merch.

    Just as long as you don't make us watch Yanni at the Acropolis . . . . .
    posted by soundguy99 at 7:21 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    Every month when my MetaFilter auto-donate goes through it pops up on my phone and I'm briefly annoyed, and then I see what it is I feel satisfied, and maybe even proud. Do I have to explicitly state that I never get to the "satisfied" stage with ANY other monthly financial papercut?

    I find myself wondering about anonymous benefactors. Not to shame any of our m/b/trillionaire members, but legitimately if I had gobs and gobs of money I would send MetaFilter a check for $100,000. Or a million. Just to keep a fair thing in the world. I suppose that sort of magical thinking is part of why my path to billionairity is exceedingly narrow, but still.

    Or like the other day when Don Cheadle tweeted a MetaFilter post. Is he a fan, or did he just get that link from Google? Or is he a mefite? Is Don Cheadle in fact a longtime member who has always kept his identity a secret? Don Cheadle better be ponying up some of that Marvel money, is all I have to say.
    posted by dirtdirt at 7:21 AM on June 14 [34 favorites]


    Quick two cents.

    - I think the $5 signup fee is really important. If we find a workable and effective replacement, I'm into it, but I have my doubts about a lot of suggestions here. At the same time this isn't my wheelhouse.

    - N-thing merch. I would absolutely buy things that are: not too in-jokey (flagged as fantastic is great), not just a simple 'MetaFilter' logo (e.g. some more interesting designs/contests/etc), limited edition merch, hand-crafted stuff from people on the site willing to donate their time if there was an easy way to set that up, that kind of thing. One thing I will say, is for any of the merch I would buy (because I don't want it to JUST be the MeFi logo) the MeFi logo should still be on it. Small and below the collar on the back of a shirt, for example. On the opposite side of a mug. It doesn't have to be glaring but I've absolutely squinted my eyes at someone's cool shirt to see where it came from.

    - A curated email with a sort of meta-metafilter would be amazing, but I understand the workload issues. Would bi-weekly be more of a workable option? Me-Fi Monthly? Regardless, if it can't be done it can't be done, but that's something I would absolutely use as a source for cool info and would actually forward that email along to friends and say 'hey look at this one'.

    - As in fake's comment... I unfortunately feel very much the same. I am very much aligned with the general Me-Fi user base's politics/opinions, and yet... yeah. I still come here, though not as much, but I very rarely engage for exactly the reasons fake talked about. Some of it may be that I think these kind of changes are becoming a thing echoed in the internet at large. I've been here for 10 years (albeit under a different name). I love what MeFi has to offer but it's grown some of the same problems I've seen elsewhere. Maybe that's sort of inevitable.

    I put in a monthly contribution to the site all the same, partially as back-pay maybe for how much the site has given me in my time here but also partially because I still consider it one of the best places on the internet, generally. And as with fake's comment, if I'm articulating myself poorly, please read this comment with the most caring tone possible.
    posted by nogoodverybad at 7:23 AM on June 14 [21 favorites]


    Nthing occasional pledge drives. I'm happy to contribute, I just need to be reminded once a year or so because I am more comfortable with lump sums than monthly donations.
    posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:23 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    kimberussell: Take the damn X off of the fundraising banner at the top of the site for at least a month. It's...what...30px tall? You should not care if people are offended/feel bad/have to scroll a skosh further..

    Seconded. Also, another suggestion: perhaps stop it from minimizing (vanishing) when someone scrolls down. It's a tiny piece of screen real estate. Out of sight, out of mind.
    posted by zarq at 7:23 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    Totally yes on the pledge drives. I wonder about chatting with someone at Maximum Fun, as one example of a successful modern web-based pledge drive.

    Like MeFi’s own Jesse Thorn?
    posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 7:24 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    chesty_a_arthur: A periodic on-site reminder, if your subscription has lapsed for whatever reason, to re-up.

    Great idea.
    posted by Gotanda at 7:26 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Have you chatted with John Gruber at Daring Fireball?

    The very credible podcast on information security called Risky Business has monetized successfully, and they use several techniques to do so. The host also announces during shows how he's doing with sponsorships and stuff: he's commendably transparent, going so far as to say last week that an event he had mentioned had offered him a cut of any registrations that came through his site, and the only one he got was from his co-host so he told them to keep the money. He was laughing at himself, but also making sure everything was out in the open.

    The host reads out one or two brief "announcements" during the show as a one-off; they take sponsorship, and the final third of each episode is an interview with someone from that week's sponsor (but always focused on a general topic, not a new product); and then there is a whole separate series of episodes (called "Snake Oilers"!) where vendors will pay for a slot where the host talks to the about their products. The announcements are under thorty seconds; the sponsor segment of each episode is maybe ten minutes, but I always listen to them because Patrick makes sure they are useful; and I haven't listened to a single Snake Oiler episode yet, but he has said repeatedly that he's booked out more than a year in advance with sponsors!

    Could sponsors "buy" a well-marked FPP or FanFare post? Reddit has done some AMAs that turn into shitshows because the subject thinks they are on a junket but then get ambushed by the readers. But a FPP here would offer the sponsor more space than an inline ad io get their message across. *shrug* Just an idea...
    posted by wenestvedt at 7:29 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    Just switched on my subscription. Thanks for letting us know how things are going and I feel bad for not doing it sooner.

    (And I agree with wenestvedt. You could throw more ads at me during a hot thread and, honestly, I'm not gonna mind)
    posted by JoeZydeco at 7:29 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    So, I tend to resist making recurring monthly contributions to organizations, instead manually making one-time contributions around the end of each year. (And possibly I should re-evaluate that attitude, but I'm sticking to it for now.) But I just double-checked and somehow missed MetaFilter among my end-of-year donations for 2017, so to make up for that I have just made a one-time contribution of double my normal amount.

    But I wanted to mention that in support of the idea suggested above about having monthly "subscription" levels — somehow a monthly subscription, even if entirely voluntary, feels psychologically different than a monthly donation, and I'd be up for that. Even if the benefit is just something as simple as a cheesy notation on one's profile page (Member levels: $1/mo, Plate of Beans; $3/mo, Plate of Lima Beans; $5/mo, Plate of Green Beans; $10/mo, Plate of Kidney Beans; $25/mo, Plate of Navy Beans; $50/mo, Plate of Fava Beans; $100/mo, Plate of Fava Beans with Liver and Chianti.)
    posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:32 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    One potential stream that I know very little about, but could be worthwhile: Twitch subscriptions.

    I mean, Twitch Streams (Charity and otherwise) are also a thing, as is the Creative Section. Some live quaternary matricing wouldn't go unrewarded! ;D
    posted by Celsius1414 at 7:34 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Could sponsors "buy" a well-marked FPP or FanFare post? Reddit has done some AMAs that turn into shitshows because the subject thinks they are on a junket but then get ambushed by the readers. But a FPP here would offer the sponsor more space than an inline ad io get their message across. *shrug* Just an idea...

    Chevrolet once offered mathowie $10,000 to put an ad on metafilter. Their proposed mockup has to be seen to be believed. He turned them down. Twice.
    posted by zarq at 7:40 AM on June 14 [39 favorites]


    I know it's hardly a trivial thing to implement, but the lack of a mobile app for MeFi has felt more and more glaring over the last few years. I feel like we're missing out on a lot of potential engagement by being browser-only. Just my intuition.
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:42 AM on June 14 [15 favorites]


    I was trying to think of some way that we could capitalize on the blockchain hype to promote the site and the idea I came up with is that instead of getting favorites comments and posts would be like Yap stones, auctioned and traded in some cryptocurrency we make up, and valor on the field of comment-battle would involve aiming for the highest auction price or highest trading volume or something like that.

    But then I found out it's sort of already been done and is hilariously clogging up the Ethereum network.
    posted by XMLicious at 7:43 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I find myself wondering about anonymous benefactors. Not to shame any of our m/b/trillionaire members, but legitimately if I had gobs and gobs of money I would send MetaFilter a check for $100,000. Or a million. Just to keep a fair thing in the world. I suppose that sort of magical thinking is part of why my path to billionairity is exceedingly narrow, but still.

    MeFi's surely been a life school to many-a-one, so a more-fortunate-alumn funding drive would be altogether legit, no?

    (Meantime, doubled the monthly.)
    posted by progosk at 7:44 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    Count me in with fake and nogoodverybad on my difficulty with users who go from zero to Most Uncharitable Interpretation Possible as a significant problem. It probably needs its own flag option. "Intentionally Misconstrues Others' Comments" should be reason to close more things off.

    I've been a reader for many years, since near the beginning, and a member since sign-ups reopened years back. We've gotten loads better on many axes, but you know, after about 15 years there are actually only a small minority of threads that I'll even bother commenting in because I've been cast as an apologist for rape, misogyny, slavery, and genocide, without even a peep from the mods, and honestly horrible comments directed at numerous people accusing them of just those very things are just left standing. And frankly I don't bother anymore most of the time. My political inclinations are almost entirely in tune with the site, and yet even in the centrism thread it's bad faith comment after bad faith comment, straw man after straw man. Mefi can do better and part of it could be policing the vitriol and the intentional misconstruing of others' comments in the worst possible light, and letting that all just sit there.

    Hostility to people who agree on 99% of things but who aren't sufficiently orthodox and pure is a problem, here. Maybe I'm' being a bit of a jerk this morning, but I'm going to keep my monthly contribution where it is for now.
    posted by tclark at 7:45 AM on June 14 [37 favorites]


    It's been a long time since I did any affiliate stuff with Amazon, so this might have changed, but the way it used to work is that if someone buys anything after following any link with an affiliate tag, that affiliate gets a percentage. I have an Amazon link in my desktop browser toolbar that includes the MetaFilter tag, it's the only way I get to Amazon. So Metafilter should (again assuming this hasn't changed) get some percentage of everything I buy from there. If that really is how the tags work, a link on the MetaFilter site that people who don't want to make their own can just click, or bookmark, would be an easy to way to generate at least a little more revenue.

    I appreciate that a lot of people don't like Amazon, but linking to other sites (which usually link to Amazon themselves) in comments just gives the kickback to them instead of to MetaFilter.

    Off to donate now.
    posted by still_wears_a_hat at 7:49 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    I think posts like this are 100% part and parcel of keeping recurring/donation revenue from trailing off to zero. I, well within reason, encourage these posts and would look askew at anyone who (not that I've seen it) suggested they were a burden and/or offensive. I'd say bring it on with a quarterly and/or 2x yearly routine in hopes of reminding folks to update their CC information, check their donation schedule, and/or drop a few pennies in the tip jar.

    Thanks for the transparency, it's appreciated. I trust you to steer the ship as best you can and have zero reason to think that's not the case.

    So one thing we're talking about, and this would line up nicely with the pay what you want subscription model, is ditching the compulsory fee entirely in favor of just reviewing and approving new signups directly.

    Please god no. Please internet gods of all that is moderatable and parseable don't do this to us and yourselves.

    I'm all for expediting the signup process language/presentation.

    I'm all for sponsorship of new members by current members (a la membership tokens or whatever you want to call it) or mods based upon a invite system.

    I'm all for lowering the cost from $5 to $3 or something if you think that will help somehow.

    I'm all for having scheduled "fee free Fridays" where, once a month or something, the $5 fee is waived.

    I'm all for having a snapshot of a donation to a local charity for $5 count for membership if submitted with a membership request.

    I'm all for signups that could, tech/code allowing, allow for membership (perhaps without AskMe rights) for a few days before the $5 came due or the option to request the same from the mods.

    I'm not for this place moving one step closer to the nightmare that is the comments section of the rest of the internet and that's what removing the fee-barrier would do, irregardless of anything else it might also accomplish (which I theorize is not much, besides lose a bit of panache that comes with membership being worth actual real world money here).
    posted by RolandOfEld at 7:50 AM on June 14 [29 favorites]


    I'd stopped my monthly sub to cut down on expenses during the renovation of my house. Now this other home away from home needs funds... so I've resubbed. Thanks, Mefi, from a long, long time lurker.
    posted by prolific at 7:53 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    Their proposed mockup has to be seen to be believed. He turned them down. Twice.

    HOLY SHIT THAT IS HORRIBLY AMAZING. AMAZINGLY HORRIBLE. HORMAZING.

    "Hey, we need a mock up branding insert for MetaFilter for the Chevy new media campaign, and the billables are worth a quick million."

    "What the hell is a MetaFilter?"

    "Fuck if I know, some new blog bullshit. Time to put that thousand dollar webmaster class to work. Look, you and I both know TV and print will never die, but apparently the Chevy guys need to burn some account money before the quarter ends, you know how it is."

    "Ok, fine, whatever. Wait, what the fuck is Cold Fusion? How the hell is this site even serving pages? The only thing I recognize here is the background image tag!" *drinks coffee, sweats profusely, staring at the screen for six hours at $250 an hour in 2002 dollars* "Ah, fuck it. Background image it is!"
    posted by loquacious at 7:55 AM on June 14 [14 favorites]


    And can I just add that looking at the Recent Amazon Suggestion page in Labs is a really freaky way of viewing this site's personality and stuff.
    posted by RolandOfEld at 7:56 AM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    I was sending irregular contributions and should have set up a monthly subscription a long time ago. It's set up now, and I sent a larger chunk that will hopefully help a little in the short term. And I got a t-shirt.

    It's been a difficult year. Dog bless you, MetaFilter mods and peoples. I shudder to think what my life and sanity would be like without you.

    Re: Twitch stream, my brain went straight to a "MeFi Butchers The Classics" a la WFMU's annual fundraiser. (And not just because I want to experience the impossible dream of all the mods gathered together playing in a Partridge Family-type band. I'll bet one of you plays a mean tambourine.)
    posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:01 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I find myself wondering about anonymous benefactors. Not to shame any of our m/b/trillionaire members, but legitimately if I had gobs and gobs of money I would send MetaFilter a check for $100,000. Or a million.

    This is definitely on my list of unrealistic magical "I won the lottery!" thinking, except I'd set it up as an anonymous managed trust that was independent of MetaFilter itself.

    It's funny, most of my "I won the lottery!" magical thinking seems to involve calling lawyers, setting up trusts and funds and not actually spending any of the money except on a minimum of admin fees to re-invest it into a few different good things that can hopefully sustain themselves.
    posted by loquacious at 8:05 AM on June 14 [14 favorites]


    Doubled my monthly send, done.
    posted by Dashy at 8:07 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Regarding the gift subscriptions, I'm glad to know it's possible and would like to sign up my many friends who would benefit from and contribute to the site, since encouraging them to join doesn't seem to be working. However, I think a small refinement might help. Right now there are two options, both flawed IMHO:

  • give a subscription and the recipient receives a link to your MetaFilter profile. I don't necessarily want my friends to know my username, even though my identity is pretty obvious to anyone who peruses my comment history and is good with the Google.

  • give a subscription anonymously, by logging out first, and potentially creep out your friends and make MetaFilter seem suspect.

    Why not let the recipient know who gave them the membership but not that person's user name? Seems simple and potentially better for some people including, well, me.

  • posted by carmicha at 8:08 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    lalex: it might be neat to have a semiannual pledge drive tied to a fresh piece of merch

    Fresh, limited edition merch. Scratch those "gotta have 'em all" and "limited time offer" parts of the brain ;)
    posted by filthy light thief at 8:14 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I know merch is a hassle, but as long as we're spitballing - I'd love a limited-edition enamel MeFi pin (most enamel pin companies let you plug in an image and they do the rest).

    Thanks for being transparent about the finances and issues on the site.
    posted by agregoli at 8:18 AM on June 14 [15 favorites]


    Ok, so I was "that guy" who has been donating $4.20 since 2014, it managed to give Matt a chuckle during that first pledge drive, which gives me great pleasure.

    So my dilemma is how to increase my contributions and still retain the novelty value.

    Solution? Donate $4.20 via Paypal and $4.20 via Stripe.

    Double rainbows all the waaayyy across the sky!

    #Mefi4Lyfe
    posted by jeremias at 8:19 AM on June 14 [23 favorites]


    cortex: I can already hear the internecine coffee-mug-form-factor war drums starting to thrum in the distance.

    Why pick sides? Go full $DESIGNSITE and offer designs on everything -- the full range of drinking vessels, attire, device covers, and home ... things.
    posted by filthy light thief at 8:22 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    I know people don't like the idea of sponsored posts (although they're easy to ignore), but what if you allowed people who post on MeFi Projects to pay a fee to promote it to the blue? It might not help much, since Projects posts are so rare already, but I feel like Projects is kind of under-utilized, and that might be one way to get people a) to join (i.e., in order to post on Projects), and b) to handle sponsored content in a less-sleazy way.

    Also, this is a much bigger coding hassle than it's probably worth, but what about a la carte memberships? Like, you decrease the signup fee , but it only buys you access to the blue and maybe the green, and then if you want FanFare access, you add that for another dollar, etc. I don't know if this would increase membership conversion, or if it would decrease engagement, but it's something that occurred to me, and since we're throwing out ideas...
    posted by kevinbelt at 8:23 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Secretariat: Mind duly blown.

    • Upped my contribution a little, can't really do much more right now.
    • Would totally buy a mug. And a "flagged for fantastic" shirt.
    • I share links from here regularly, and sometimes with the younger crowd too. I usually tell them that it's going to be a long read and worth it. I am yet to hear any complaints. That said, I know to use the timestamp link if I want to link to a specific comment because I am An Old. Maybe having a "PermaLink" or "Comment Link"-labeled link at the attribution line of comments would be a bit more transparent.
    • As a very active volunteer in a non-profit which, alas, isn't yet at the point of paying its volunteers, I'd like to reiterate warnings about volunteer burnout. It works very well to solicit one-time things like t-shirt designs and the charity auction items suggested above, however.
    • Still trying to digest all the suggestions made above.

    This is a good place with good people and I do not want to lose it. Also, hugs to everyone, as the comment box under-note reminds me.
    posted by seyirci at 8:23 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]

    Why pick sides? Go full $DESIGNSITE and offer designs on everything -- the full range of drinking vessels, attire, device covers, and home ... things.
    Personally I'd rather see a smaller range of non-crappy merch than a huge range of crappy stuff with a mefi logo and some words slapped on it. But maybe that's just me.
    posted by jferg at 8:24 AM on June 14 [12 favorites]


    I also just doubled my monthly subscription - even though I mostly lurk, this is my home on the web.

    I don't think you should eliminate the $5 sign-up, but I really like some of RolandofEld's suggestions above, particularly the free sign-up day once a month or something. Makes it achieveable for anyone for whom the $5 is a barrier.

    I echo all the posters above who say that merchandising is something MeFi should embrace more. Wider variety of slogans and items, mixture of logos and in-jokes. It's totally OK to charge extra, particularly if you explain why on the merchandise page.

    And... I know this is probably not going to happen because of the cost involved, but... I would LOVE the old-style personalized raglan baseball MeFi shirts. The ones with the individualized username and number. I'm still kicking myself for not ordering one way back in the day. I think you could charge A LOT of money for this, especially as a limited-edition once-off fundraiser.

    I also want to say how much I appreciate the transparency, cortex. It makes me feel like I'm helping out a buddy with a pet project, vs. contributing to some anonymous entity. And also, to all the mods: you are SO appreciated!
    posted by widdershins at 8:33 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    Love you, MeFi. Doubled my monthly.
    posted by ikahime at 8:38 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    cortex: the signup fee is a really small source of revenue at this point, and also as much as it's a useful gate to spammers and dinguses it's also sometimes a barrier to folks of very limited means or no good Paypal solution. So one thing we're talking about, and this would line up nicely with the pay what you want subscription model, is ditching the compulsory fee entirely in favor of just reviewing and approving new signups directly.

    What would that mean for staff time?

    And somewhat related, like some others have said in this thread, I've paid the "entry fee" for others a couple of times over the years -- what about allowing donates to "sponsor" other would-be members who don't have known benefactors? I realize it could be a general feeling for the donor rather than a separately managed pot of money, but a "donate a membership" button could be an easy way to accept one-time $5 donations (or one-time donations in $5 increments).

    Other random thoughts: there's the MeFi Mall that's promoted around the end of the calendar year, but perhaps there could be a year-round list of shops featured more prominently where the sellers must give some small portion of proceeds back to MetaFilter to be listed, with the complete MeFi Mall promoted as normal at the end of the year?
    posted by filthy light thief at 8:39 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    Double rainbows all the waaayyy across the sky!

    *passes tiny science fiction vape discretely under the table*
    posted by loquacious at 8:40 AM on June 14


    FYI: I'm willing to whip up designs for new T-shirts, mugs and buttons and stuff and I have a deft hand at it.

    That's probably one way I could raise more money than direct cash.

    MeMail slogans and ideas at me, and I'll make whatever grabs my eye first. If we're using some drop shipper/producer for stuff like shirts and mugs, shoot me links to their design spec pages. (IE, size, form, bleed and gutter allowances, accepted files, etc.)

    And if required or desired, no problems on this end signing away copyright to MetaFilter, LLC.
    posted by loquacious at 8:46 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    I have long believed that the $5.00 sign-up barrier is one of the things that makes this place so good. There has to be some barrier to entry. I'd be in favor of users getting, say, one gift membership to give out every month or so, or maybe one gift membership for every year they've been a member.
    posted by bondcliff at 8:48 AM on June 14 [18 favorites]


    Sorry if this has been addressed above, but is it possible to allow a trial period for new signups? Sign up, and you can use the site for a week before you are asked to pay $5 to continue?
    posted by terrapin at 8:50 AM on June 14


    Good morning! There is so much thread here and it's wonderful and I was gonna try to catch up with responses to all the stuff overnight but that is clearly not doable. So I've responded to a bunch of things below that I have quick answers to and which are hopefully somewhat representative of people's collective thoughts and ideas and questions, but if I didn't get to something it's just an issue of sheer volume and me needing breakfast, not stuff not being worth noting or responding to.

    I'm gonna be coming back to this thread and reviewing the whole thing a few times over the next short while as the moment-to-moment busyness of dealing with all this calms down, but, again, thank you all.

    And I need to read through this whole thread, but is it better for revenue to read the site logged out if I'm not commenting? For ad impressions?

    Nah, that's not really an issue, for a couple reasons: the volume of traffic from logged-in members is dwarfed by the volume from (mostly search-traffic driven) non-members, and the ads we run are generally click-based rather than impression-based so passively seeing them on screen wouldn't generally produce any revenue. So: read the site however works best for you, and don't worry about that aspect.

    re: The Deck: would it be possible to just get two or three major sponsors to have non-closeable ads like the old Deck ads? Just run them as in-house ads.

    Something like that is possible, yeah, and I'm gonna explore it some more. It'd be a new kind of ad engagement for us, but...new is something we should think about a lot more in general, so that's not a bad thing. And it would be nice to be running ads where there's a solid, one-to-one relationship like that.

    My plate is clear, so I can get to work on carving up an occult THERE IS NO CABAL design for the spookier Mefites.

    yesssssssssss

    What about a browser plugin that just inserts MeFi's code into whatever Amazon page I'm on. Regardless of how I got there. Is that a thing?

    This (and a few other related Amazon things up thread) is a good question, and I'm gonna look more at the toolsets they make available. I'm averse of widgeting up the site in a MeFi, Brought To You By Amazon sort of way but there may be smaller, opt-in things and presentation details we can work with to streamline stuff in the "well you're shopping there anyway" spirit of the current affiliate links, make 'em more obvious and easy to use.

    Reiterating smoke's excellent comments above, seriously don't hesitate to put a call out to the user base for assistance on things.

    I will try to put some more serious thought into this. There are aspects of "have members help out" that can verge into the kind of territory I worry would be exploitative (and a couple folks above have talked about this well in terms of things like volunteer burnout), but I acknowledge I probably veer too hard away from that sometimes just to avoid the even the possibility. Where we can involve folks in reasonable, appropriate, small-scale ways that don't take unfair advantage of good will, I agree that it's something to try more of.

    I'd posted an amazon link in this comment however the referral wasn't added on.

    I think the referrer insert is only currently active on Ask and maybe the blue? I agree, generalizing it is a good plan even if it primarily ends up getting used on Ask.

    And... I know this is probably not going to happen because of the cost involved, but... I would LOVE the old-style personalized raglan baseball MeFi shirts. The ones with the individualized username and number.

    I've been in a real crafty place lately and was talking with Secretariat about the idea of trying to do another run of those as a home screen-printing project, because it really was a rad thing. This is a pie-in-the-sky thing and there's a bunch of other easier merch routes we should pursue first, but...never say never, basically.

    What would [reviewing and approving signups] mean for staff time?

    That's one of the big questions about such an idea. I want to emphasize that if we tried out that kind of signup process change, it would very much be a controlled experiment, not a fait accompli; I hear y'all who have concerns about the idea and I promise it's something I'm not considering lightly and I'll be very communicative about the idea and plans if we give it a shot. I wanted to include that example in the post as much to be clear that we are considering some more radical tweaks more than to worry anyone that we'd be suddenly throwing a lever on it this week or anything, and I'll think about some of the alternate takes on it folks have been spitballing too.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 8:51 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    Good morning!

    For starters, I think you should start getting up earlier.
    posted by bondcliff at 8:54 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    Also! This is super dumb and thank you very much to the couple of folks who reported it: the $35/month Stripe option was broken! The others should all be fine, but that one we goofed up the configuration on when we were tweaking the funding page yesterday, and as a result it was defaulting over $5/mo.

    So on the off chance that you tried to use that specific option last night or early this morning, check your Stripe invoice and if it's registering the wrong amount just let us know at the contact form and we'll get it sorted out.

    I'll round up a better update on how contribution stuff is going so far later today. But god damn is it heartening so far, I really can't say how much this community's generosity amazes me. Thank you all, so much.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 8:54 AM on June 14 [13 favorites]


    Ok I wanted to read through everyone else's comments but ran out of time.

    A few things:

    Regarding engagement: I just checked, I've been a member here for two and a half years. I still feel like a newbie. I'm gonna be honest, I find it intimidating to post here, and in particular posting to the main site (vs AskMe) terrifies me. And this isn't just a "me" thing, as I haven't had this with other sites.

    I joined the site because of AskMe- not because I had a question to ask, but because back when I was googling advice for a problem I was facing, MeFi was the only website where the answers were deep and thoughtful and careful and considered.

    I love the quality discussion can have here. If I had to list a dream I would want for this site-- well, there's reddit, which has the exact opposite culture as MeFi, but it also has places where I can reliably pop in to have a discussion about writing, or art, or clothing, or whatever. I do kind of wish the site had that, an art thread or something. But maybe I'd be intimidated by that also...

    I wish it was easier to archive dive. I like being able to go through the bests, I wish I could do it by month, not just "this past month" but "a month in 2015".
    posted by Cozybee at 8:57 AM on June 14 [24 favorites]


    Once my paycheck comes in tomorrow, I'll bump up my monthly donation. Metafilter forever!
    posted by merriment at 8:58 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    oh, and if there was the ability to contribute to the code base on a volunteer basis a la open source projects (and I genuinely have no idea how doable that is) that is something I would be interested in.
    posted by Cozybee at 8:59 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I don't use Amazon for ethical reasons; are there other sites/stores that use an affiliate program? (tbh I don't shop much at all these days, but maybe others have the same question)
    posted by AFABulous at 9:03 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    Oh, oh, oh, this breaks my heart. Okay. Let's see. We're... pretty broke right now (house flooded again last week, it turns out I'm a human pug and will probably need to have my jaw surgically broken, partner went back to school which is Great for many reasons but not our finances) but I think I can manage a tiny amount on a recurring case in the budget. Christ knows I could just unsubscribe from Habitica and pay for it that way. I can only do tiny stuff but those tiny recurring donations are at least predictable, right?

    And I love this site and I love this community, even if I've been away. I've been bouncing right back as the, mmm, call it the primacy of the politics posts has ebbed a little, especially as I cut my hyperfixation on politics with an eye to fixing my work burnout and actually making research progress. (I bet you I can promise that paper on leptin and my singing mice by the end of the year; it's about half written right now.)

    ....huh. Y'all love the singing mice, right? Would there be a way to turn a Q&A about them into a fundraiser? I could do that, easy, and I can even get some of the photos from my lab together for you all.

    Anyway, I'm still burned out, but I'm back to bouncing back to the blue and going "oh oh look at this interesting thing!" and the more I do that, the more I'm likely to find interesting things and bring them to you guys. I think corralling the political focus and containing it so that people who can't currently cope is a great idea, and I want to second turbid dahlia's suggestion about filtering the Popular favorites. (Maybe you could have two categories for Popular for folks who love PoliticalFilter, I don't know.)
    posted by sciatrix at 9:08 AM on June 14 [15 favorites]


    I’m not a pet owner, but I am convinced that Metafilter pet merch would go over rather well.
    posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:12 AM on June 14 [25 favorites]


    And in the wake of Deck going away, has there been any thought of coordinating with those companies directly for advertising and/or MeFi associate codes to kick some money back to MetaFilter? Field Notes would pop up pretty frequently, and they seem to be the sort of shop that would support MetaFilter directly.
    posted by filthy light thief at 9:15 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Just activated a subscription. Having gone through a financial crisis on a (much smaller scale) site along these very lines a couple years ago, I feel your pain, cortex.

    In the interest of providing every means possible for folks to contribute, would it make sense to create a Patreon option?
    posted by me3dia at 9:17 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    This might be worth its own MeTa post, but I want to echo what a couple people have said upthread about barriers for new users.

    The three main things, as I see them, are: the all text interface, the atmosphere here, and the demographics. All text is something I know people have talked about as being fundamental to what the site is, but I think it’s also fundamental to making it seem less attractive for new users. I wonder if even pictures on the front page might make a difference. I mean, I was looking at the Amazon Labs link and it struck me how different that page felt compared to the rest of the site. Pictures are engaging. They’re a big part of pretty much every other social media site.

    The bigger thing is the atmosphere. As the site is now, I like it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any of my friends. This site can be unrelentingly negative, and people can be incredibly rude and dismissive. I never post anything because I don’t want to put the effort into posting, just to have it turn out to be one of the many threads where people are just shitting all over it. I comment less than I used to because I keep seeing threads and thinking “you know, it’s not worth it.”

    I know the atmosphere here is a lot better than it used to be, and this is one of the few places where I don’t expect to encounter straight-up bigotry, which is obviously crucial. But people are still really quick to take a bad-faith read of something as a jumping point for a big smackdown. People make stuff super personal, and not only does it suck when it’s directed at you, but it just sucks to be around in general. This site thrives on a certain kind of drama, and it’s that drama that makes it more and more of a drag to participate. Yes, I think it’s gotten worse since 2016.

    Demographically, the site appears to be mostly American, mostly pretty white, mostly above a certain age (I’m 32 and I feel like I’m one of the younger users), and mostly of a certain social and economic class. Actual statistics may be very different, but this is the impression I’ve gotten. Lots of people over the years have indicated that they feel like outsiders here. It can very easily feel like you’re not really a part of that core demographic, or that you just can’t relate to most people here.

    Obviously these are complicated things that can’t be solved by top-down fundraising (this is maybe the wrong thread for this comment, but I don’t want to be the one to make a new MeTa thread on this and deal with the consequences). What they can do, I hope, is point out where some changes might be necessary. I know it’s valuable to preserve aspects of this site that echo the promise of the old internet, but I think it’s also coming at a cost. The atmosphere and site interface reflect certain values and preferences that aren’t necessarily shared by the broader internet (meaning people who might otherwise be a good fit, but who would be put off). It might be worth considering what really matters; this is why I’m suggesting stuff like pictures. I know it’s not how we think of this site, but this is why I want to call into question how we should be thinking of it. I want this to be a site that I recommend to my friends, but even my girlfriend, who sees me on here a lot, doesn’t think it’s worth it to get involved.

    I’ll also mention that what brought me back to the site after I deactivated my account was AskMe. I think that subsite as a community is culturally and functionally very different than other parts of the site. Is there any way to increase engagement there? More posts per week?
    posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:22 AM on June 14 [35 favorites]


    I just started a monthly subscription and I noticed that even though $10 is the radio button that is chosen for the PayPal option, when you click on the button, it shows $5 a month. So I went back and keyed in $10 in the "other" section and that worked. So maybe take a look at that in case some people are off on other tabs while PayPal does its thing and don't even notice that it did $5 instead of $10.
    posted by dawkins_7 at 9:27 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    If we're just throwing ideas at the wall, why not have one category in which you can tap a vein of money, and which users will expect there to be advertisements if they click on a post? I'm thinking auto manufacturers: every AskMe or FPP with the tag 'cars' automatically has a visual car ad on the right-hand side (or at the top, right-hand ad is my preference).

    Not advertising on every part of the site, not advertising on every post: advertising to a targetted audience on a single subject. Plus auto makers spend oodles of cash on ads. I don't know who would initiate that or have the professional chops to cut a deal that's good for the site.
    posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:29 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    > I know people don't like the idea of sponsored posts (although they're easy to ignore), but what if you allowed people who post on MeFi Projects to pay a fee to promote it to the blue?

    Also, this is a much bigger coding hassle than it's probably worth, but what about a la carte memberships? Like, you decrease the signup fee , but it only buys you access to the blue and maybe the green, and then if you want FanFare access, you add that for another dollar, etc.


    No and no.

    > All text is something I know people have talked about as being fundamental to what the site is, but I think it’s also fundamental to making it seem less attractive for new users. I wonder if even pictures on the front page might make a difference.

    Yeah, it would make a difference. A bad one. That would be the first step to making this Just Another Internet Site. If this site stops being all text, I'm sure I'm not the only one who will feel it's changed beyond the point where I want to be part of it. We need new members, but not at any cost. They have to be people who like the site as it is, and we have to hope and trust there are enough of them to keep it going.
    posted by languagehat at 9:29 AM on June 14 [39 favorites]


    cortex:What about a browser plugin that just inserts MeFi's code into whatever Amazon page I'm on. Regardless of how I got there. Is that a thing?

    This (and a few other related Amazon things up thread) is a good question, and I'm gonna look more at the toolsets they make available. I'm averse of widgeting up the site in a MeFi, Brought To You By Amazon sort of way but there may be smaller, opt-in things and presentation details we can work with to streamline stuff in the "well you're shopping there anyway" spirit of the current affiliate links, make 'em more obvious and easy to use."


    so this exists in greasemonkey/tampermonkey userscript form - I did not write it, but I found it somewhere years ago, and have been using it ever since, It's a very simple script that rewrites pretty much any link to amazon on any webpage to include the metafilter affiliate tag.

    It will be publicly available from the previously discussed mefiscripts github repository just as soon as someone approves my PR. I'll post again with a link and instructions once it's "accepted".

    I'm happy to help anyone who doesn't feel comfortable installing the necessary browser extension which will allow you to use the script - memail is open.

    (oh, and I upped my since-2014 recurring payment from $5 to $20 - as many others have said, mefi is my internet home and I'd be lost without it. I'm ashamed I haven't contributed more for longer.)
    posted by namewithoutwords at 9:30 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    The three main things, as I see them, are: the all text interface, the atmosphere here, and the demographics. All text is something I know people have talked about as being fundamental to what the site is, but I think it’s also fundamental to making it seem less attractive for new users.

    Personally, the text-heavy interface was one of the things that really attracted me to this place back in 2013/2014. I like conversation, and I like people talking to each other, and I like having things to read. I don't like having to sort through barrages of images that take a long time to load or masses of (god forbid) videos and gifs, particularly when I am browsing on mobile. I fundamentally do not want more images. I can't speak to the Youth Of Today, but I'm 28 and I joined age 24. I'm not sure how different the Kids are from that. Some of us enjoy the break from the constant barrage of attention-grabbers and the ability to focus.

    It did take me a while to actually join, largely because of the price barrier. One thing I want to encourage people to think about with respect to opt-out subscription is the possibility that people will balk at joining if doing so requires that they link up a payment account--but then, there's the joining fee. It might be a good idea to have a gentle "so just so you know, this site survives heavily on community funding, we'd appreciate it if you'd pay what you think we're worth to you" nudge at joining, though.

    I actually really like the idea of free gifted subscriptions (possibly with some sort of time-based limit--one free gift per month or three months or whatever) because I think it would help a lot when it comes to convincing friends to come by. I also think it would be really helpful with respect to getting people to talk about MeFi and encourage others to have a look.
    posted by sciatrix at 9:31 AM on June 14 [23 favorites]


    Regarding engagement: I just checked, I've been a member here for two and a half years. I still feel like a newbie. I'm gonna be honest, I find it intimidating to post here, and in particular posting to the main site (vs AskMe) terrifies me. And this isn't just a "me" thing, as I haven't had this with other sites.

    I've been here for 17 years, and I also find it intimidating to post to the main site (only 19 posts total). So many posts just get slammed; the probability of it rapidly ending with me feeling ignorant, embarrassed, or just plain bad about my poor little article or link is so high that I would rather not post.

    I used to be a big fan of the flameouts on the gray, but these days I get tired of reading endless bickering really quickly, and that thread about the last royal wedding just did me in. Obviously I'm not as gone as I said I would be, but my engagement, meaning participation as opposed to just reading, is going to be very limited for some time to come.

    That said, I do enjoy the other reading that I do on here, article links, book recommendations, goofy animal stuff, etc., so I will be coughing up some cash, especially since I probably contribute to the problem by using an ad blocker.
    posted by JanetLand at 9:42 AM on June 14 [22 favorites]


    I’ll also mention that what brought me back to the site after I deactivated my account was AskMe.

    I wonder if it instead of the Blue being default MetaFilter, the homepage showed posts across all subsites? Logged in users could see My AskMe and My FanFare from one interface. I’d love to go to the homepage and get an overview of the entire site keyed to my interests.

    Of course, in this scheme the Blue becomes another subsite, and would need its own name. TellMe?
    posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:45 AM on June 14 [17 favorites]


    Hitting that monthly donate button after 13 years of having the privilege of answering your questions about how to send your teen on a daytrip to CERN or how to live in an apartment for ants or how to buy a mortar and pestle in Bangkok. AskMe is the librarianship I never had and I am grateful every day for what I learn from you all and what I am sometimes able to help people figure out. (I think I simply need to answer questions all the time or I will die. This explains my career as a teacher.)

    Also - and I recognize this is a somewhat controversial opinion, but please hear me out - the insight I get from the US politics threads daily is literally the only thing keeping me sane as an American overseas, and is my number-one source of information (not news!) on what is happening at home. No one in my office really pays attention to what's happening there, and I seem to be the only overseas voter in the office. I get that I'm a weird use case as one of probably a few MeFite Americans overseas, but local news is time-delayed and nothing else I've found or tried has the mix of granularity, big-picture awareness and coverage of information that the politics threads do for me.

    Thank you to everyone here. I really, really value the thought, experience and just plain reality you bring to me every day (even if I have to ration you to breakfast and before-bed reading so I still get work done at my actual job).
    posted by mdonley at 9:46 AM on June 14 [21 favorites]


    One of the ways the internet has changed around us over the years is the blog-o-sphere of MetaFilter's early years has all but disappeared, and so has the kind of link-sharing culture that went with it. And I think it's really worth looking at both (a) how we can make it easier for folks to share things about MetaFilter that they like and they think people would want to see, and (b) how we can encourage folks to think of that as habit to get into.

    Ooooooh!! What about actually letting people pay a subscription fee to run their own mefi blog?? Like, bring back what was so great about the internet blog culture and add some tie-ins to the mefi system like Projects does already with voting and posting an FPP? Like, literally run blogs.metafilter.com/~username/ and offer the kind of basics of a blog host from the late 90s.
    posted by odinsdream at 9:47 AM on June 14 [22 favorites]


    Embarrassed to admit I hadn’t noticed my monthly Stripe payment had not occurred since Feb due to my credit number changing - so I’ve reset that now.

    Also, I can’t be the only one who is thinking tax-exempt Church of the Metafilter status is an option? Metatalk confessionals, and sacramental plates of beans anyone?
    posted by inflatablekiwi at 9:49 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I think an all-text MeFi mobile app would be a nice compromise between fidelity to site norms/culture and a desire to expand the user base.

    (As I tried to make this comment, the site broke my phone twice
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:50 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    Personally, the text-heavy interface was one of the things that really attracted me to this place back in 2013/2014

    Yeah, and pictures on the front page isn’t a hill I’m going to die on. It’s just that it sometimes feels like there’s tons of resistance to any changes here, because “then it’ll just be any other site.” I remember people saying that when there started being threads asking them not to make so many snarky jokes in the politics threads: “but I come here for the snark!”

    I’m not claiming to be an expert on site UX, but sometimes it feels like the site is, I don’t know - the best I can think of is to compare the site to its code: as I understand it, it’s basically a hodgepodge of code going back nearly 20 years, with some major idiosyncrasies and workarounds. It feels like some aspects of the site can sometimes be like that, built on an existing foundation that creates its own problems, but is also what has been proven to work, with limitations.

    Does that make any sense? (I’m going through the worst insomnia of my life, so I’m pretty out of it, but bear with me.) I just want to call into question what exactly it is that makes this site great, because when it’s great, it’s better than anywhere else online. But I’m thinking it can’t just be a carbon copy of what the site has been for nearly two decades. Where does the line need to be drawn between preserving the site we know and adapting to what people need? Otherwise I worry that the site will just age out and die as a relic of a different time.
    posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:53 AM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    Also, I can’t be the only one who is thinking tax-exempt Church of the Metafilter status is an option? Metatalk confessionals, and sacramental plates of beans anyone?

    And for $50,000 in the collection plate, you can find out how all those cats got wedged into all those scanners.
    posted by busted_crayons at 9:56 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I made my first contribution by check. It's well past time for me to give back financially to this excellent community. Thanks for sharing all this information, cortex.
    posted by cheapskatebay at 9:58 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Does Stripe or Paypal's admin consoles include reports to identify repeated payment method declines that result in stopped pledges? Seems like pledges unexpectedly stopping [1 2 3 4 5] are a refrain in this thread. Crafting a tactful automated mefimail message for scenarios when the card is about to expire or the card declined twice in a row would help re-engage supporters. This will be doubly important if we do the pledge drive and community funding becomes a bigger revenue source.
    posted by enfa at 9:59 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    From the email receipt I just got, the PayPal email address that contributions go to is matt@haughey.com. Is that right, or did I manage to screw it up? I've contributed before and don't remember that.
    posted by still_wears_a_hat at 10:01 AM on June 14


    So... If there were a way to have a MeFi Savior plug in that could allow us to blacklist certain topics/tags and yes, users, from appearing on the Green and Blue, that would be one pony that could make the site friendlier to both new and existing users. I know there are some ways to do this (My AskMe, My Meta) but it's seriously not enough. There are a few posts on the Blue right now that if I had a blacklist plugin I wouldn't have to see, and I am really, really frustrated that I can't hide them because they're leaving me stressed out.
    posted by Hermione Granger at 10:02 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    it kept defaulting to a recurring $5/mo amount

    Sorry about that. When we updated the funding page, $10 was changed to being checked by default, but I missed that it was updating a form field with Javascript, and the default value for that field was $5.

    Meaning that, going through the PayPal side of the form without changing anything, $5 was the value sent further to PayPal, rather than the checked $10.

    It should now be doing what it's supposed to.
    posted by frimble (staff) at 10:02 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    And checking my email - Stripe didn’t let me know the payment had failed...it just didn’t send me anything after February.....
    posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:02 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    So... If there were a way to have a MeFi Savior plug in that could allow us to blacklist certain topics/tags

    Would MeFi NOPE! work?
    posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:09 AM on June 14


    I'm probably dragging this even further off-course, but I like all-text for two reasons, one philosophical and one practical. Philosophically, I think text is a medium that allows for greater engagement on the parts of both the poster and the commenter. Even on fairly short comments like this, I write out a sentence, backspace and revise, and repeat several times before I'm happy with what I've written. My comments may be rubbish sometimes, but you should see my thoughts before editing.

    Plus, if people are concerned about the culture being toxic now, being able to post Willy Wonka memes in comments would probably not help.

    Practically, there's one big advantage to all-text. In the Modern theme, a wall of black text on a white background arouses very little suspicion when I'm reading at work and someone comes up behind me before I can minimize. Having images and video, or heck, even just divs with background colors draws a lot more attention. Around 60-70% of the time I spend on Metafilter is at work, so moving away from text would probably decrease my engagement. (The rest is on mobile, which is also better with just-text.)
    posted by kevinbelt at 10:23 AM on June 14 [32 favorites]


    Also: immense thanks to you for being transparent, honest, vulnerable and open about the current site status. It's extremely rare. Even "good" businesses fall into routine secrecy for no actual reason because it's easy. You've done the harder thing by refusing to go there, and I deeply appreciate that. It's part of what makes this place unique and valuable on the internet.
    posted by odinsdream at 10:24 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    I'm among those who feel like conversation here has particularly shifted - not always for the better. There is an angry, petty, deliberate misreading that happens often. It pushes lots of people away.

    The bigger thing is the atmosphere. As the site is now, I like it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any of my friends. This site can be unrelentingly negative, and people can be incredibly rude and dismissive.


    Yeah, this is my thing with recommending the site to people. I used to hang out a lot in the politics/social justice threads, and the moderation both by actual mods and the behavior of other users means that a fairly narrow subset even of left-of-U.S.-center views is heard.

    (To be clear, I do not think the moderation has any kind of political bias. I do think there's a heavy anti-conflict bias that leaves nasty and abusive comments that hew to the Accepted View standing while even milquetoast pushback, often from the left, is deleted.)

    This isn't as big of a deal in posts about art or music or whatever, but the front page is increasingly social justice/politics-heavy (which is fine by me), so it leaves a lot of folks out of a lot of posts on the blue.

    *****
    With that in mind, I think of AskMe as the "gateway drug" to the site. To me it is the most marketable subsite BY FAR and the most lucrative potential target for new user engagement, especially in this era of Researching Everything on the Internet.

    It's simple to understand (questions! answers!), the ethos is easy to pick up, the moderation is consistent, and almost everyone has knowledge, opinions, or questions to contribute.

    The norms, culture, and moderation on the blue are...hard to explain succinctly to a new person, but it's so easy for me to say "hmmmm, I don't know, but that would make a great question on this site called Ask Metafilter!" or "I bet someone on Ask Metafilter would know this!" etc., and in fact I do so with some frequency.
    posted by lalex at 10:24 AM on June 14 [28 favorites]


    On the general text or ??? subject:

    One of the things I think is worth chasing down is, not so much "what if MetaFilter but not so text-based" since I agree that that's the site at its heart, but "what if MetaFilter but not whacking people with a wall of text". So some of the ideas about revisiting sharing and how snippets are presented are on my mind, even as stuff I've previously felt kinda nah about. It would be easier to say "hey check out THIS SPECIFIC RAD THING" instead of "hey load THIS GIANT THREAD and don't get lost on the way to the anchor", etc. Cf. the idea of trying to manage a bit more curation of the really good stuff, above and beyond here-and-there sidebar updates.

    So, chewing on that stuff. I kind of want to think of it in terms of helping new people fall in love with our weird old wall of text, basically.

    Of course, in this scheme the Blue becomes another subsite, and would need its own name. TellMe?

    MetaFilter Classic™

    Ooooooh!! What about actually letting people pay a subscription fee to run their own mefi blog??

    There are like a million things that could go wrong with this but I'll admit it's still something I think about at least once a year. It'd be a big project to contemplate but might be something we do contemplate at some point.

    Does Stripe or Paypal's admin consoles include reports to identify repeated payment method declines that result in stopped pledges?

    They do, and that's something I want to start making better and more active use of, yeah. Ongoing active reviews, and potentially putting that into an automatic notification process, etc.

    From the email receipt I just got, the PayPal email address that contributions go to is matt@haughey.com. Is that right, or did I manage to screw it up? I've contributed before and don't remember that.

    You did nothing wrong; it's just the damn spot that won't out, for whatever ridiculous administrative reason with PayPal: it's been essentially impossible to dissociate the account from the address Matt started it with.

    I'm gonna go back to that well again and try and fix it one way or the other, though, because it's more and more of a "wait, huh?" thing as time passes.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:28 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    zarq: Chevrolet once offered mathowie $10,000 to put an ad on metafilter. Their proposed mockup has to be seen to be believed.

    *hangs head* How could I have forgotten that?

    I would like to believe that a lot of companies are better-informed about Internet marketing these days, but thinking of how IHOP got dunked on so thoroughly and so hard last week ... Yeah, never mind. (Can we get back to talking about Rampart now, please?)
    posted by wenestvedt at 10:29 AM on June 14


    thinking of how IHOP got dunked on so thoroughly and so hard last week

    excited to introduce "metafilter brojects"
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:31 AM on June 14 [26 favorites]


    I’m doubling my contribution right now - i’m a very casual commenter, but it’s super important to me that Mefi exists on the internet. That’s the place i’d hall home on the internet.
    I have to say that fanfare has been my favorite part of the site lately - i like the mix of chattiness and focus the episode by episode threads bring.
    I wouldn’t mind a newsletter covering site highlights - I recognize this takes time to write, but sometimes I can’t figure out how to catch-up on what I might have missed on the blue.

    Thanks to the whole mefi team and cortex for this level of transparency !
    posted by motdiem2 at 10:32 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    JanetLand: "I've been here for 17 years, and I also find it intimidating to post to the main site (only 19 posts total). So many posts just get slammed; the probability of it rapidly ending with me feeling ignorant, embarrassed, or just plain bad about my poor little article or link is so high that I would rather not post."

    I'm sorry. :(

    For whatever it's worth, I think the kinds of posts you make are ones we need more of. They're quite interesting.
    posted by zarq at 10:32 AM on June 14 [13 favorites]


    > The good news is we auto-insert it in Amazon links in e.g. comments on Ask

    > if most of the ad revenue comes from AskMe, and most of that traffic comes from Google, and Google prioritizes "recent" content

    Huh, so if a community member, through their own efforts, happened to craft a SEO friendly and timely AskMe question right before a seasonal event that people would search on (e.g. last minute Father's Day Gifts available via Amazon Prime), it would be a little tacky and chatfiltery but might help things along, right?
    posted by enfa at 10:37 AM on June 14 [12 favorites]


    I think Projects is neat, but also underutilized. If the site helped people move their work forward, would it get more traffic?

    Like, if there was a pipeline for someone who uploads an MP3 of their own music that also set them up on Bandcamp (or whatever), and adds the music to the MeFi Marketplace, and throws an announcement in the Sidebar....would that be useful? Or if someone shows off art that they make and sell, could we automagically roll their link into a Marketplace?

    And how come the Marketplace is only a holiday thing? If the house gets a cut, why not run it year-round?
    posted by wenestvedt at 10:37 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    I think Projects is neat, but also underutilized. If the site helped people move their work forward, would it get more traffic?

    I agree it's underutilized, and it's one of a bunch of things I'd like to spotlight more and encourage folks to contribute to more; it's one of my favorite things on the site, we always talk a bunch about it on the podcast each month.

    Adding workflow/progress stuff to it is a complicated idea, more something to chew on, but I am down with the idea of considering focusing on a little more of a collaborative culture there than we've historically kept it to.

    And how come the Marketplace is only a holiday thing? If the house gets a cut, why not run it year-round?

    Making the MeFi Mall a year round is on our to do list, yeah; it's a little bit of administration year every work to fire it up for the holidays, but year round would like as not spread that work out to the point of being basically negligible, and might encourage more folks to get involved since the "oh shoot I'm not ready for it in time" thing isn't so much of an issue.

    I can see tying that together with MeFi's own merch stuff to basically have a Shop MeFi landing page.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:43 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    We just ended a rough time financially in our house, but things are looking up, so I'm back on board the monthly giving train. This site is worth the world to me.
    posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:44 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    Is this where I again beg, literally BEG for new t-shirts? I would be happy to pay 200% of the cost of the shirt as a true fundraising incentive just to have one at all.

    I know a new slate of shirts is something you want to do, you've been talking about it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over - but it's starting to feel a little like a carrot on a stick.
    posted by ApathyGirl at 10:52 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    Is it possible to come up with a centralised place to leave feedback or comments for site improvements? Something like Gitlab could be ideal, but even a Google sheet would work sufficiently enough. That way, the feature improvements could be categorised, weighted (in terms of importance as well as effort to implement), favorited and prioritised. MoSCoW that shit!

    There are a lot of smaller things that can be done to make a big difference to the UI, UX and engagement. Some random ideas (many from upthread):
    • Make it easier to favorite on a mobile phone
    • Highlight comments when linked so people can see what is being pointed to
    • Single share button with more sharing options
    • Bulleted and numbered lists in text editor
    • Persistent donation stripe at the top of each page
    • Pledge drive reminders
    • Welcome text/video explaining the site
    • Incorporate the most popular userscripts into the site code
    • Automate the sidebar updates
    • Sharing snippets and comment previews
    • Make it easier to edit subscriptions
    • Subscription lapse email reminder
    • Improved search – link to Infodumpster?
    Some of these things are likely much harder than I realise. But others are probably not … seems like right now there is a big need for A) cash, and B) easy wins. Creating a mechanism for identifying the easiest wins with the biggest impact, using code that already exists seems like one of several sensible ways forward. Especially if there's literally hundreds of people who want to help crowdsource that.

    tldr; I'm keen to contribute to the ongoing development of the site as a community member. Giving money and leaving comments in MetaTalk threads are both great, but I feel like there's more I could do.
    posted by iamkimiam at 10:53 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    I was going to try to read this whole thread before commenting, but I gave up. Sorry.

    Here's my input:

    I hate reoccurring payments. With a passion. This is why I detest software as a service so much. I want to pay once and be done until the next time. This said, I don't mind annual or even semi-annual memberships or fund raisers. This is how I contribute to NPR. They have made a move towards wanting "sustaining" members, and I am sure they have run the numbers and know what works out best, but I would much rather pay one shot of $120, than $10 a month.

    Consider hiring someone dedicated to fundraising/advertising.

    Consider replacing "The Deck" with a home-grown solution, or add a second ad block for this. This is what Daring Fireball did. Also perhaps some podcast sponsors? How many subscribers does the podcast get?

    Maybe directly hit up some of the wealthier members?

    More merchandising. I would love a Metafilter journal/notebook.

    I like the $5 sign up fee. It makes me feel like a bit of an "owner" like my credit union or my food coop.

    I do spend less time on the site. Some if this is because the site has changed since the "old days," and in a lot of ways for the better, but it's also a lot more echo-chamber than it used to be. There's seldom good faith robust debate. I'm not suggesting that somehow the site needs more diversity of opinion, but that politically it's a safe space for those of us on the left.

    I'll mull it over and try to think of more ideas, but in the mean time, I'll throw a bit more into the kitty.
    posted by cjorgensen at 10:53 AM on June 14 [11 favorites]


    If I remember correctly, ApathyGirl, this is also the part where we beg for breast-inclusive tees.
    posted by lalex at 10:53 AM on June 14 [22 favorites]


    Ask is the site's USP/bread and butter/insert buzzword, really, isn't it? (A Google search for answers to, usually, emotionally loaded questions is what led me here, and lots of others, probably; seeing high-quality answers is what led me to stay.)

    If that's true, I think focusing on that core strength is the way to go (v.s. perhaps striving to get non-Mefites to know other parts of the site that are perhaps lower-profile, outside of the site... Idk, personally, I find FanFare's structure confusing, and if someone wanted to dig deep into convos about a show or film, I guess there are a lot of places one could go, no?).

    (It's ok to throw ideas around, right? I have two)

    1) Ask questions aren't currently tagged or catalogued in an easily findable way, which leads most of us to use Google [or favourites] to dig through them - is there a not-too-expensive way to catalogue past questions to help off-site searchers find what they're looking for?

    2) The quality of answers is what's stellar about Ask. Borrowing from Quora, and the Reddit subs Ask Docs & Ask Historians, and probably others - what about tagging subject "experts" (verified by MetaFilter, with users' anonymity retained) and top community answerers (no special expertise required, just people who tend to provide useful [heavily favourited?] answers)?
    posted by cotton dress sock at 10:53 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    "I help fund Metafilter!" on your profile.

    This may sound bad, but a small label or symbol by a poster's name under posts indicating they subscribe, just as staff have a label. It's a signal someone is a valued member, may encourage civility, and people would covet the status. I'm sort of not crazy about it, but it seems like it might be easy to do...
    posted by xammerboy at 10:58 AM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    Suggested Fanfare improvements that might draw in new folks:

    - allow users to rate media, even just good/bad
    - show ratings on the home page, with top rated in the sidebar (filterable by past month, year, all time, whatever)
    - allow the option for users to display a "liked" list in their profile
    - suggest media to users based on past ratings
    - this sounds difficult, but remind users to rate what they've posted/commented on in the past (so we build up an archive we can use now)

    My tastes align closely with a lot of mefi users, so I would love to know what's good without having to click on a show's thread and expose myself to spoilers. Number of comments doesn't always correlate with whether or not people recommend it, especially if comments trail off later in the season. Sometimes a show is great but it's so self-explanatory that there's not much to discuss about it.

    Also, there are so many "what should I watch next" askme questions that could be answered via the suggestions I made above.
    posted by AFABulous at 11:01 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    Having better subscription management on Stripe seems very important to me. As far as I can tell I can't cancel my subscription myself, I can't change the amount, I can't see how much I'm paying or change the payment method.

    I give my $5, and I'd be very happy to up it quite a lot but not if I can't manage the payment.
    posted by ElliotH at 11:04 AM on June 14


    I've been here for 17 years, and I also find it intimidating to post to the main site (only 19 posts total). So many posts just get slammed; the probability of it rapidly ending with me feeling ignorant, embarrassed, or just plain bad about my poor little article or link is so high that I would rather not post.

    300+ posts on the main site and have given up exactly because of this. Drive-by threadshitting, which has become considerably worse these last four years, is a big deterrent to creating posts. Which was the thing I most enjoyed doing here (I still have around 20 in various draft stages). Hence am not around here much, and it's summer outside anyway. Maybe things will change, maybe not.

    Not to shame any of our m/b/trillionaire members, but legitimately if I had gobs and gobs of money I would send MetaFilter a check for $100,000. Or a million.

    Aye. Though, again, thanks to rampant drive-by threadshitting and the sanctimous brigade (thankfully a small minority of MeFites but unfortunately a very active number), many high profile millionaires will do a cursory search of the site, find an obnoxious comment about them (merely because they are rich) and be disinclined to cut a big cheque.

    Not a millionaire myself but will paypal some more dosh MetaFilter's way and look to set up a monthly thingie. I still learn a heck of a lot from lurking, and I would even as a non-member*.

    Two suggestions:

    MetaDating. Subscription-only service for members only. A small one-off fee, but then a sliding scale of additional fees depending on how it goes:
    - $1 if you and another MeFite both swipe right on each others profiles.
    - $5 if you then have a date which doesn't result in one MeFite submitting a "have I made a terrible mistake?" AskMeFi question about the other.
    - $10 if you and your MeFite partner brazenly smooch or make cute eyes at each other during an IRL meetup.
    - $25 if you hook up for sexytimes (mods will just take your honorable word for it; don't send them evidence).
    - $50 if the relationship results in a partnership or wedding.
    - $100 if the union of two MeFites results in a child.
    - ($150 if the union results in a cat).
    I am sure that a MetaDating subsite can practically run itself and will require little or no moderation weird; as I typed that sentence I swear I could hear existential screaming from the direction of Portland.

    Political verbosity fee. On the US political threads only, everyone gets one comment they can make per 24 hours free of charge - like now. After that, a MeFite needs to pay (just) $1 per additional comment made in that same 24 hours. No refund if it's threadshitting or some other reason that the mods deem fit to delete your comment. Worst case scenario: far less comments in the political threads as people think more carefully before rage-typing or arguing.

    * - one serious point. If you are not a member, the page URL for giving a contribution contains 'login' which looks kinda weird and may put off some non-members who are hyper-alert to anything that looks not quite right when it comes to money.
    posted by Wordshore at 11:11 AM on June 14 [38 favorites]


    Contributed. I get much more value out of this place then $5 upfront.
    posted by figurant at 11:12 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    (To be clear, I do not think the moderation has any kind of political bias. I do think there's a heavy anti-conflict bias that leaves nasty and abusive comments that hew to the Accepted View standing while even milquetoast pushback, often from the left, is deleted.)

    Yeah, basically. I have sometimes toyed with the idea of just making a word document with all of the nasty things people have said to me in response to basic disagreement but it's kind of depressing. I think that some of the mods in particular have really modeled/encouraged a nasty, personal, crowing tone in response to disagreement and I find it really unpleasant. It's the main reason I wouldn't suggest the site to others. It's one thing if it's just a few people doing it, but when it's essentially condoned by the mods, 🤷🏻‍♂️
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:14 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    I’m getting a kick out of the idea of Matt’s email blowing up today with donation notifications.
    posted by arcticseal at 11:18 AM on June 14 [11 favorites]


    - $10 if you and your MeFite partner brazenly smooch or make cute eyes at each other during an IRL meetup.

    I'm fine with this if they have to pay the other IRL attendees who have to watch.
    posted by AFABulous at 11:22 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    Doubled! Thanks for all you do here!
    posted by evadery at 11:25 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    If I remember correctly, ApathyGirl, this is also the part where we beg for breast-inclusive tees.

    Yes, yes it is.

    I think at this point I'm just going to buy the Men's 3XL and cut the collar and edges off, 80's stylee. It'll be retro cool.
    Or maybe I'll buy a small logo shirt, cut the print out, and turn it into a patch.

    Maybe it'd be better if I just gave the site whatever it would cost me to buy a shirt from the MeFi shop today, and continued to wait patiently for a better shirt option.

    Okay, maybe patiently isn't the right word. But come on! It's been more than five years!
    posted by ApathyGirl at 11:26 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    Hey all, I don't have any special pony requests (although many of the ones I've read so far sound like pretty good ideas), but I did just upgrade my sub from $50/yr to $25/qtr! Thanks for everything you guys do!

    I'm going to make an effort to share more of my favorite posts on Facebook, since I travel in circles that are comprised of people who really should be on MeFi but for whatever reason aren't, and I feel like maybe that needs to change.
    posted by Strange Interlude at 11:27 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    What happened to the non-invasive ads on the sidebar? Those were ads from "The Deck" from Coudal Partners.

    Then how about a link to "Sponsors" that links to a web page listing sponsors with their two sentence descriptions of their products and a product link? You could simply charge them a fee using the same code you are using for subscriptions. Maybe even just ask for $100 fee and then list the ad? No, it's not very sophisticated or the right pricing model, but ... so what?
    posted by xammerboy at 11:28 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Just added a stripe monthly and dang that flow was neat. Pulling for everybody here <3 <3 <3
    posted by wemayfreeze at 11:34 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Breast-inclusive tees are 1000% one of the things on my personal "bug cortex about every time t-shirts come up" list, for what it's worth. There just haven't been any new t-shirts in probably at least 5 years, definitely none since the last few times the topic of sizing came up- merch has been pretty status quo, just making sure the topatoco shop continues to exist. So I'm excited about the possibility that there could be some new shirts, or old shirts printed on different types of shirts, including those that flatter chests of various sizes! (uh, that said, it's probably more useful as a topic for discussion in some future "merch" thread than in the "please help" thread.)
    posted by Secretariat at 11:35 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    you've been talking about it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over

    Yeah just to build on this comment, there seems to be an awful lot of stuff that is perennially on the to-do list (merch, FanFare improvements, etc.) that never moves off the list.

    This is 100% understandable - it's obvious that the site is understaffed for the level of very hands-on moderation you are invested in PLUS additional projects - but the site is in crisis and I think it is well past time to start outsourcing some of this work.

    frex, a team of members could be responsible for investigating merch sourcing options, soliciting design proposals*, etc., and presenting the information to cortex for final decisions.

    I really understand the concerns about volunteer labor (and I think it speaks very well of cortex that he has them), but I feel like there are a ton of cash-poor, talent-rich mefites who would like options for contributing that don't involve literal cash money.

    * I would love, for example, to see a semi-annual fundraiser where the schtick is that each fundraiser offers merch with a different visual interpretation of the MeFi logo.
    posted by lalex at 11:37 AM on June 14 [18 favorites]


    It's more work than it should be to find the donations/subscriptions page and update it. I know you said you're going to be doing some work on subscriptions. When you do, I think it would be good to link it from the sidebar where the Deck ads used to be. It might also be good to have it somewhere on the profile page - maybe next to the edit profile link?

    Also, I really want metafilter merch that does colorblocking or stripes with metafilter colors - something like this in the appropriate colors with a very small, subtle logo.
    posted by congen at 11:46 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    This site and the community we have here has meant way more to my wife and me over the past 15+ years than the $5/month we've been giving in recent years reflects. We just made a bigger lump sum contribution.

    Thanks, mod team. Thanks, everyone.
    posted by Zed at 11:47 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    but it's starting to feel a little like a carrot on a stick.

    I super feel you, it's been a total enthusiasm–execution gap. I've let wanting to not fuck it up get in the way of just doing it several times, and that sucks.

    So, we'll have a dedicated thread about merch next week and mod-side we're collating merch notes (thanks Eyebrows for taking the lead on that, btw). And by god we're gonna get to Good Enough and just move forward this time.

    Ask questions aren't currently tagged or catalogued in an easily findable way, which leads most of us to use Google [or favourites] to dig through them - is there a not-too-expensive way to catalogue past questions to help off-site searchers find what they're looking for?

    It's a pretty broad question, mostly; there are probably a lot of approaches we could try and take on this, and different ones would be more or less labor intensive, tech-driven, and effective for this or that search/visibility goal. I think it's a good thing to think about, I just don't have a specific pat answer for it. Definitely one of those "how does the site work for folks who don't know it like the back of their hand?" issues.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 11:50 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    I've been mulling engagement/growth issues for awhile now. Some ideas:
    • First, I *STRONGLY* recommend returning to the old colored backgrounds for non-members. This was a unique design and also a powerful branding tool -- people who keep coming across interesting threads in their Twitter feed or useful advice in their Google searches are much more likely to notice and remember the source if they all share the same striking blue or green styling. I don't think Matt ever A/B tested the change and just assumed generic black and white would be better for engagement, but I really think this is worth investigating.
    • Make it easy to highlight and share posts and comments in a visual way. For example, I don't actively use Tumblr/Tinder/4chan/Twitter, but know about their top posts and memes from screenshots that spread virally through Reddit, Imgur, etc. So how's this: put the text of every comment at the top of its own "Favorited by..." page, in big, serif, blockquoted text, plus a link back to the thread with comment/favorite count included to highlight the community aspect. Add a social sharing tool that can generate a nicely framed screenshot of the text (or excerpt) with a prominent MeFi logo and blast it out to Twitter, Facebook, Imgur, etc. Let a million colorful screenshots bloom. (Bonus: adding content to the "favorited by" pages could improve search rankings.)
    • Move the Blue to its own subsite, and make the homepage a melange of content from all parts of the site -- MeFi, Ask, FanFare, Music, IRL. Maybe experiment with various presentations, like a Tumblr-esque collage of active FPPs, popular comments, resolved AskMe posts, recent Amazon links, sidebar snippets, etc. Really emphasize the breadth and scope of the total MeFi universe. Add a prominent welcome/FAQ panel for non-members briefly describing the site and linking to the sign-up page.
    • Include "sort by favorites" as a search option, to help new users exploring the site find popular content.
    • Replace the hourlong monthly podcast with shorter weekly bull sessions. Maybe livestream this on Twitch, too -- the podcasts have some wonderful bonhomie and good good content, and could appeal to a younger cohort looking for some authentic and wholesome positivity. (Just look at the success of the McElroy podcasts, the Bob Ross/Mr. Rogers marathons, etc. Heck, if there's an audience out there for "social eating" streamers, there must be folks who just want to hear friends jawing about the best of the web.)
    • Targeted (crowdfunded?) advertising pushes on popular podcasts like MBMBAM and the Crooked Media network (Pod Save America and friends), and select healthy subreddits in MeFi's wheelhouse like TwoXChromosomes, TrueReddit, DepthHub, Books, etc.
    • As part of any new subscription system, let users pay a buck to add a gold star to fantastic posts and comments, Reddit-style. All proceeds go to support the site. Slap a daily/weekly/monthly donation meter on the front page for that period's funding goal, to both remind and encourage people to fund the site in this way on a regular basis.
    • Long shot, but maybe allow posters to upload small illustrative pictures with FPPs, to help enliven the look of the front page.
    • Lastly, would it be possible to do a more specific breakdown of site costs? Like phone plans used, hosting details. Folks may be able to identify more affordable options, obscure discounts, loopholes, what have you.
    PS: Some of the calls to use emails to solicit donations -- might this run afoul of the new EU web privacy law?
    posted by Rhaomi at 11:50 AM on June 14 [35 favorites]


    Canceled the $3/month via Paypal, updated to $10/month via Stripe.

    (Slowly lessening my dependence on Paypal and increasing support of one of my favorite sites? Double win!)
    posted by pianoblack at 11:51 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    First, I *STRONGLY* recommend returning to the old colored backgrounds for non-members.

    I think about this regularly. Regularly.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 11:55 AM on June 14 [55 favorites]


    Note to everyone: MeFi's own tom_r wrote the forerunner of OKCupid while working for TheSpark.com. He just offered the best advice I have ever read about online dating. So feel free to highlight his comment on the sidebar later as suggested way above about groovy content. :-)
    posted by Bella Donna at 11:58 AM on June 14 [12 favorites]


    I think about this regularly. Regularly.

    Praise the lord, hallelujah!
    posted by Melismata at 12:03 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    I wonder if it instead of the Blue being default MetaFilter, the homepage showed posts across all subsites? Logged in users could see My AskMe and My FanFare from one interface.

    Relatedly: I've been thinking it'd be useful to show a www.metafilter.com homepage to logged-out users that gives more of a best-of-Metafilter all-the-subsites experience. To logged-out users the home page is basically our shop window for new signups -- well, that and the "gotta sign up right now to participate in this thread I just got linked to" -- but at the moment it's all Blue and all recent.

    Maybe the home page could be some sort of combination of each subsite's Popular Posts & Comments, which would highlight both content and community across all subsites; with "see all posts" links to each subsite?

    On increasing engagements onto social sites:
    • Yeah, the "Share" button is so subtle that I basically never use it; when I do share I more often copy/paste the URL into Twitter. That's not great.
    • And it shares posts, not comments, and often it's "hey, look at this specific cool comment" that people want to share. (Or, to be honest, "hey, look at this specific awful comment", but hey.)
    • It's nice that the site provides Twitter cards for links to posts, but it's annoying as hell that links to comments result in a Twitter card for the post rather than for the specific comment: it makes links to specific comments rather mystery-meaty.
    • Agree with the comments above that following a link to a comment drops you into a confusing wall of text with no obvious "HERE IS THE THING THE LINK POINTED TO" marker.
    • ...and also that following a link to a comment often commits you to loading a huge page before seeing the comment. Links into politics threads are terrible for this: I basically never follow these any more because oh God it's going to take so long to load just to show me maybe two sentences.
    • Sharing could be more frictionless: it'd be nice to be able to select text in the post or a comment and have "share this" automatically populate the Twitter comment with the selected text.
    • Toot-your-own-horn sharing: make it easier/optionally automatic to share "I just posted to Metafilter" links to Twitter etc when creating a new post.
    (and on preview, yeah what Rhaomi said)

    On affiliate links: is there more we could be doing -- for example maybe NewEgg for "help me build a computer" questions -- or is Amazon basically by far the biggest game in town?

    Does FanFare get organic search traffic for people looking for movies or TV shows? It never seems to show up in Google searches for me. Why not? Could this be improved? Could FanFare traffic be monetized by adding, for example, affiliate links for "buy this show on Amazon / iTunes" or "subscribe to Netflix/Hulu/HBOGo" etc?
    posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:05 PM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    I humbly offer "Flagged AF" as an alternative for merch emblazoning.

    Only Friends of Mathowie Cortex would understand.
    posted by emelenjr at 12:07 PM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    Demographically, the site appears to be mostly American, mostly pretty white, mostly above a certain age (I’m 32 and I feel like I’m one of the younger users), and mostly of a certain social and economic class. Actual statistics may be very different, but this is the impression I’ve gotten. Lots of people over the years have indicated that they feel like outsiders here. It can very easily feel like you’re not really a part of that core demographic, or that you just can’t relate to most people here.

    yeah. thanks for bringing this up. I feel this way too, and I feel tired thinking of all the times this issue was brought up to the mods over the years with... not much action taken (although I understand the admin feels there is only so much they can do within their constraints). All that pleading for at least one PoC mod, for years. I wish at least part of my donation could go towards supporting or hiring a PoC mod, but at this point I know it's just empty wishing, like it has been for years. And there was the chance in 2015 to hire a PoC mod, after an extensive community discussion about that and the admin promising to make an effort etc and - yeah, a PoC mod was not hired. And since then it's felt like more of the same, except maybe worse; maybe we're just getting used to it (or more often, leaving rather than having to tolerate it). It's difficult to want to financially support a community that feels less and less supportive/inclusive towards you.

    So much talk here about how content can be improved, but - to get diverse and engaging content, it's important to have diverse community members that can post/comment on this content. We've talked about this problem (the increasing insularity and decreasing user participation/engagement/retention) for years and we've seen this coming for years... it feels like we just keep having nice discussions with many seemingly well-meaning words only to ...not really see much done (in the sense of incorporating the suggestions/promises/resolutions in the discussion) in this regard.
    posted by aielen at 12:14 PM on June 14 [22 favorites]


    I don't get how to see what Stripe has already stored for me. I tried logging in by creating an account on their site, but apparently that's the route to set up a merchant account for accepting payments.

    This is kind of non-intuitive. I suspect I've got two recurring payments based on receipts, but I need to clear those out and add a new one with a larger amount. Do I need to contact mods for this or can I somehow self-serve it?
    posted by odinsdream at 12:15 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    In addition to any merch suggested above, I would like to suggest some merch (at least a t-shirt) without any site-specific jokes. I hate wearing clothing that I have to explain to people. Something like "Metafilter: The Web's Longest-running community*" or some such would be just fine.

    *don't think that's actually true but it's not like usenet is going to sue us or anything.
    posted by bondcliff at 12:15 PM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    This is kind of non-intuitive. I suspect I've got two recurring payments based on receipts, but I need to clear those out and add a new one with a larger amount. Do I need to contact mods for this or can I somehow self-serve it?

    With Stripe stuff you need to hit us up on the contact form, yeah; that's something I'd like to have work less manually in the future.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 12:16 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Having better subscription management on Stripe seems very important to me. As far as I can tell I can't cancel my subscription myself, I can't change the amount, I can't see how much I'm paying or change the payment method.

    Agree. Not being able to cancel the subscription or change the amount seems like low functionality. PayPal is a non-starter for me because I had an account that got hacked and I didn't like the way they handled it.
    posted by fuse theorem at 12:18 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    300+ posts on the main site and have given up exactly because of this. Drive-by threadshitting, which has become considerably worse these last four years, is a big deterrent to creating posts. Which was the thing I most enjoyed doing here (I still have around 20 in various draft stages). Hence am not around here much, and it's summer outside anyway. Maybe things will change, maybe not.

    Jesus fucking christ, this forever. I try to flag them, but lately it seems like mods haven't been hitting them--and actually, having just checked, that's very unfair, because I apparently thought I'd flagged a bunch on this recent FPP where it felt strongly to me like people who had just read the title of the article (about why true crime is overwhelmingly popular among women) raced to complain about true crime being misogynistic and/or terrible and/or hatable.

    Upon checking, I had instead merely meant to flag them. Mea culpa, but--jfc, it's getting to the point that I'm deliberately rushing to make friendly and "thank you!" comments on FPPs I like specifically to make sure that the inevitable drive-by threadshit doesn't kill the poster's joy and dampen any pleasant conversation.

    Flag. We need to flag. I need to flag. But god, I would kill for that type-in flag reason y'all promised us like a year ago. It would be much more helpful for calling things to your attention, you don't even know.
    posted by sciatrix at 12:20 PM on June 14 [39 favorites]


    A side note, vis a return to a white on colored background text: from a legibility standpoint (which is something I've done research on as a postdoc), you'll actually get better legibility on screens for white-on-background than for black-on-white. That's going to drop precipitously for color-on-color (e.g., links), but for the main body text, it's probably easier to read.
    posted by Making You Bored For Science at 12:21 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    I probably should have avoided the pull quote and done a better job summarizing on that one TBH.
    posted by Artw at 12:24 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    I would put up with a "threadshitting" option, even! I would take more reasons! But as it is, the requirement to have a reason before executing a flag combined with the inevitable issue when a desired flag reason doesn't fit into the acceptable categories is incredibly enervating. I know there's an 'other' category, but particularly when there's the flag as fantastic option it feels very undirected, and it's way at the bottom where you don't quite notice it. If you put it at the top or you put a "Uncategorized" or even just a "please look at this" option at the top, I suspect flagging would increase.
    posted by sciatrix at 12:24 PM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    I probably should have avoided the pull quote and done a better job summarizing on that one TBH.

    At the same time, Art, you're one of the most prolific posters currently throwing things at the Blue, and if you or one of the other dozen very prolific FPP folks on the Blue gets discouraged and stops, that's going to be a massive proportional drain on the content in the site and a secondarily massive loss of potential content (both in the form of FPPs and discussions) to attract both new users and older ones.

    Threadshitting is the biggest thing that makes me stop bringing FPPs. It's made Wordshore stop posting. It's a frequent complaint and a massive reason that FPP posting is intimidating. This is a problem, and it really goes beyond the framing of that specific FPP.
    posted by sciatrix at 12:27 PM on June 14 [30 favorites]


    Check out SlateStarCodex's advertising model; the scaling laws might be all weird, but there might be something useful in there.
    posted by zeek321 at 12:31 PM on June 14


    Hi. I'm mostly a lurker who is one of the younger members of the site! I love the wordiness of the site, however!

    There was a thread a few weeks ago, about someone resigning because of a sexual harassment scandal. I was actually kind of "excited" to see the topic, because I thought the blue would be full of witty, thoughtful responses. Yeah, that thread derailed so hard that I couldn't click REMOVE FROM ACTIVITY fast enough.

    I flagged a bunch of posts, I considered making a MetaTalk thread about it at the time. But I didn't. Still though, the thread and the response lingered with me, more than it should have, and I know it's soured my opinion of the site the last few weeks since then.

    I'll donate something though, because I've loved this site hard over the years, but I keep wondering how much I really belong here.
    posted by PearlRose at 12:36 PM on June 14 [20 favorites]


    As a fan of single-stone, multiple-bird solutions, I wonder if there would be a way to combine Projects, advertising, and MeFi funding? Raise the profile of your Projects submission by buying unobtrusive MeFi text ads?
    posted by Celsius1414 at 12:38 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Long shot, but maybe allow posters to upload small illustrative pictures with FPPs, to help enliven the look of the front page.

    Fanfare's use of graphical elements -- thumbnail images on episode/movie posts, banner images on show pages -- certainly do make it feel a little less wall-of-text archaic than the rest of the site. Although FanFare's images are at least somewhat curated, so there's a lot less chance of inadvertent or malicious front-page penis than there would be with user-provided images.
    posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:41 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    * I would love, for example, to see a semi-annual fundraiser where the schtick is that each fundraiser offers merch with a different visual interpretation of the MeFi logo.

    This is an excellent, excellent, excellent idea. It works for PBS and NPR... Hell, I even gave KCRW $60 one year when I was like, eating-top-ramen-every-meal-broke, just because I loved that year's shirt.
    posted by ApathyGirl at 12:43 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I wonder if there would be a way to combine Projects, advertising, and MeFi funding? Raise the profile of your Projects submission by buying unobtrusive MeFi text ads?

    Years and years ago Matt ran some little text ads on the side of the frontpage, up where the Deck ads later ran, which were basically just that: user-funded ads, for a little money to I think be in the rotation for a month, not necessarily even advertising anything per se but buying visibility for a goofy message sometimes, etc.

    I have no idea how much work it was and don't get the impression Matt took it terribly seriously at the time, but it was kind of a fun little thing and looking at that in among everything else could be fun.

    I wouldn't want to particularly bind it to Projects, though; I like that Projects is mostly about "I made a thing!" for its own sake, and the natural organic flow form there to the front page for the kinds of stuff that are a good fit is a nice part of site culture. So I'd rather put effort into just supporting and adding new energy to that existing Projects/MeFi vibe than to tie it into an explicit pay-for-visibility scheme.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 12:44 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    get a little bit more aggressive with user accounts that aren't subscribers and haven't donated

    I am vehemently opposed to this. This seems like a violation of a core principle. MetaFilter attracts people from all demographics, and I suspect our percentage of folks with anxiety-related issues is higher than average. Someone who finds value here but can't contribute financially should not be made to feel guilty about it.
    posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:49 PM on June 14 [53 favorites]


    "Move the Blue to its own subsite, and make the homepage a melange of content from all parts of the site -- MeFi, Ask, FanFare, Music, IRL. Maybe experiment with various presentations, like a Tumblr-esque collage of active FPPs, popular comments, resolved AskMe posts, recent Amazon links, sidebar snippets, etc. Really emphasize the breadth and scope of the total MeFi universe. Add a prominent welcome/FAQ panel for non-members briefly describing the site and linking to the sign-up page."

    This is one of my pet ponies that I've been collecting lots of ideas for and advocating for since about the New Year. Probably not as "metafilter.com" but maybe as "metafilter.com/welcome" with lots of stuff you've just suggested and some other fun bits besides ("On this day in MetaFilter History ..." highlighting old posts maybe!) So I'm definitely hearing you and adding these ideas to my running list!
    posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 12:50 PM on June 14 [23 favorites]


    umm... there's a share button? I had no idea there was a share button. I just quickly glanced to check and initially still didn't see it. Having finally found it, may I suggest that if sharing is gonna be a thing, that the button scroll down with you? not a chance I'd scroll back up a long thread to find that button, nope.

    (but while we're on the topic, I want to STRONGLY SECOND that it would be nice to link a specific comment without linking the entire thread! Some of these threads take a while to load. I do not have the patience to wait for a thread to load to find out what comment I'm being sent to read. If it takes more than two seconds I close the tab. Being able to share a link to the comment itself (and I agree that the "favorited by" page is the most sensible place to stick this, why do we need a page of a list of people who favorite it without the "it" itself I do not know) would be great!

    and Nthing the call for maybe people to be less mean to each other.
    posted by Cozybee at 12:56 PM on June 14 [12 favorites]


    I know you said you'd talk about merch later, but I just want to lend my voice to the background chorus of tote bags, tote bags, blue and green and gold tote baaaaaaaags
    posted by Mizu at 12:57 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    many high profile millionaires will do a cursory search of the site, find an obnoxious comment about them (merely because they are rich) and be disinclined to cut a big cheque

    please Mr Bezos i was just kiddin around please shower us with like 5m of your bounteous bounty

    ty for your obscenely valuable time

    posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:00 PM on June 14 [11 favorites]


    Automate the sidebar, using the fantastic flags (seriously, what are they even for these days, I feel like I haven't seen a fantastic comment in the sidebar for yonks)

    Also YES THIS. You have flagged-as-fantastic, favorites, and pageviews as metrics that could be used for automatically building best-of / sidebar / promote-on-social-media content. Why not automate that rather than making "post stuff to Best Of" a manual mod activity that inevitably falls towards the bottom of the workload pile?

    As it is: I don't flag as fantastic very often any more because there's not really much evidence that it has any effect.
    posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:04 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    My existing monthly donation was less than what I pay for Netflix each month, which is indefensible given that I spend at least as many hours a week on Metafilter as I do watching Netflix (some of those hours of usage being simultaneous). So, consider it doubled up. Or doubled down. Or whatever. Just doubled.
    posted by mudpuppie at 1:04 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    (a) how we can make it easier for folks to share things about MetaFilter that they like and they think people would want to see
    (b) how we can encourage folks to think of that as habit to get into


    These ideas may feel against Metafilter culture, but then again, adaptations to the culture might be necessary to increase by what amounts to nearly $100,000 a year. Forgive me if they've already been spoken to above.

    (1)
    I would suggest automatic syndication of some of the subsites into Facebook and Twitter pages for Metafilter and perhaps other subsites (Fanfare, Projects -- not Ask Mefi). Instagram too if a feasible way to do that can be found. I know little about the "stories" end of thing on Facebook/Instagram, but perhaps if it can be made not-labor-intensive, have a "story" that essentially acts as a daily summary of posts. Some of this can potentially set up to be be set up automatically from the sites' RSS feeds (Buffer, IFTTT). People are already used to sharing their content, both publicly and via message to friends, VIA THOSE SITES, and adapting to existing widespread social sharing behavior is more likely to be successful. Asking people to come here first and then share OUTWARD from here to Facebook and Twitter -- the current model -- is likely not.

    (2)
    I would suggest a slight "glitzy" PR spin on the idea of paying the $5 to become a member. Maybe write up what would essentially be some ad copy about how Metafilter gets moderation right, how it's one of the last civilized online communities in a world where "avoid the comments" is the rule, etc. Basically spin Metafilter (correctly -- you wouldn't be lying, that's the great part!) as a place where adults can come to talk and interact on what's being discussed with the mouthbreathers mostly being left out of the mix.

    (3)
    It is kind of asinine, but it seems to work for them -- Reddit has Reddit Gold. Perhaps copy their model, essentially, to the extent one can avoid any patent/trademark involved. On Reddit, each user even has a little display where they're told exactly how much server time the "gold" they've given or earned has contributed to.

    (4)
    Ask around with some of Mefi's technologically knowledgeable friends (paging ftrain, pb, etc.) and see if you can get a good, solid recommendation for a legit and actually talented "social media strategist" for advice along the above lines on a professional level: Metafilter has been around for decades and is a giant in terms of quality content and community. These are things that are deeply desirable, and I suspect that the mods can leverage them, given the correct advice, in order to get the necessary audience to keep the site afloat.
    posted by WCityMike at 1:08 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    There's always been so much hangup about the flag options, I propose simplifying them to:

    Flag as Fantastic
    Flag as Bad
    Flag as Broken code/link/other technology problem
    Flag as Spam/Suspicious

    I have a lot of faith in the moderators to see some flags on a comment and understand what's wrong and why it's getting flagged without needing 47 slightly-differentiated reasons (most of which boil down to *isms and *phobias, or threadshitting/whocaresing/meanness) in a dropdown, and if it's actually really complicated someone's going to need to hit the contact form *anyway*. I believe the mods are able to see how many times something's been flagged, which is probably a pretty great indicator of how urgently they need to deal with whatever turd is in the punchbowl, without needing a lot of remedial education on why it's flagged.

    Yes, every once in a while some new bigotry/dogwhistle crosses the internet so fast that it needs to be explained. Flag as Bad, use the Contact link to provide context, same as you'd need to today.
    posted by Lyn Never at 1:10 PM on June 14 [14 favorites]


    I distinctly remember some sort of sneak preview of the free-form flagging thing. Why was that never enabled site-wide?
    posted by tonycpsu at 1:13 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Ooooooh!! What about actually letting people pay a subscription fee to run their own mefi blog?? Like, bring back what was so great about the internet blog culture and add some tie-ins to the mefi system like Projects does already with voting and posting an FPP? Like, literally run blogs.metafilter.com/~username/ and offer the kind of basics of a blog host from the late 90s.

    My guess is, this is a super-niche thing that few people would be interested in, BUT I WOULD BE SO INTO THIS. You don't even know.

    There's always been so much hangup about the flag options, I propose simplifying them to:

    Flag as Fantastic
    Flag as Bad
    Flag as Broken code/link/other technology problem
    Flag as Spam/Suspicious


    Flag as Fantastic, Flag as Bad, Flag as Glitchy, Flag as Sketchy. An optional "tell us more" field for each.
    posted by duffell at 1:16 PM on June 14 [13 favorites]


    I distinctly remember some sort of sneak preview of the free-form flagging thing. Why was that never enabled site-wide?

    Not yet; it's been lurking in a "pretty much built, needs time and attention for testing" holding pattern for a while since it has enough moving parts and implication for mod work flow adjustments that rolling it out casually wasn't a good idea. It's another of the perennial Real Soon Now things, and one I'd like to actually get out in action. The spirit of revisiting stuff is a good one in which to look at finally tackling that.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 1:24 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Metafilter: The spirit of revisiting stuff is a good one in which to look at finally tackling that.
    posted by Melismata at 1:25 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    Somehow on mobile I frequently manage to randomly flag things when trying to fav them, probably with a bad flag, so an "unflag" would be good.

    (If they all accidentally get flagged as fantastic it's fine I'm sure. Glad that one is at the top.)
    posted by Artw at 1:31 PM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    I would suggest automatic syndication of some of the subsites into Facebook and Twitter pages for Metafilter and perhaps other subsites (Fanfare, Projects -- not Ask Mefi).

    Unfortunately, as a lot of magazine and newspaper publishers and independent web sites are discovering, this results in Facebook and Twitter capturing content and confining interaction to their platforms in the long run, whatever the short-term benefits of driving traffic. Be very wary of automatically supplying Zuckerberg and @Jack with free content with which to build their communities, and remember the adage, "Facebook is a lobster trap."
    posted by Doktor Zed at 1:35 PM on June 14 [13 favorites]


    sciatrix - Would agree about the threadshitting*. Mostly it just bounces off me, though I get annoyed if a perfectly good link gets sunk by it, mostly at myself for not presenting it better.

    And yeah, first time posters getting hit by that straight out the gate is bad.

    * mostly. There's some shit that needs calling out immediately, like nazi apologia, but that's rare.
    posted by Artw at 1:35 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    If there's not a good advert company to use (goodbye the Deck) and building/running an internal ad system would take too much resource allocation, would it be possible to partner up with a "Friend of the Site" podcast network and leverage their ad-team? The only advertising I really hear any more is via podcast, so would a MaximumFun or Radiotopia be interested in funneling some of their relationships over onto Metafilter?
    posted by jazon at 1:36 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    ....not necessarily even advertising anything per se but buying visibility for a goofy message sometimes, etc.

    We did this at the college paper and it brought in plenty of money, and also boosted readership. (A bunch of them were staffers with poorly-hidden relationships, but the real customers had no idea. I think.)
    posted by wenestvedt at 1:39 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Popping back in because I realized I had an AskMe question to ask and was thinking about traffic/search: Right now there's an implicit AskMe House Style that involves writing headlines that are funny and obliquely about the question you're asking. This is good for AskMe but bad for Google—or at least it was back when I was a pro blogger/SEO-thinker-about.

    I would hate for there to be a ton of pressure applied to making those headlines less fun and more search-parsable, but maybe there's a middle ground? Lots of sites have adopted headlines (very searchable) and subheds (fun, vague, voicey) to reach both Google and organic traffic. AskMe already kind of has this, but maybe the headline could be divided one more time, so that there's a headline, a subhed, above-the-fold question, full question?

    i.e. for the one I'm about to ask:

    Headline (new, very direct, builds the permalink/URL): Where can I find round landscape lighting?
    Subhed (previously just the headline I'd use): Please return my backyard to 1973.
    Question: I'm looking for landscape lighting for my backyard, but everything I see at Home Depot is a little too fussy. Make my backyard look like the inside of a Waffle House.

    Long-form: Whatever snowflake details I'm adding.
    posted by Polycarp at 1:39 PM on June 14 [12 favorites]


    Merch. How bout actual filters. Coffee filters. UV filters. Oil filters, for the car.

    While I like this idea, I think we'd want some sort of process for sorting the various filter ideas so that the best filter ideas make it through to the merch store, a sort of filter for filters, if you will.
    posted by straight at 1:42 PM on June 14 [14 favorites]


    My guess is, this is a super-niche thing that few people would be interested in, BUT I WOULD BE SO INTO THIS. You don't even know.

    Seriously! RIGHT??? Like, a ton of us came here because of the way the internet kind of used to be. Honestly mefi is like, a remnant of how good and awesome the community of internet nerds used to be, with their little niche sites and weirdo blog posts about random shit, and that's just... not as prevalent anymore.

    This place, here, right now, is a special kind of site. Let's do something to rejuvenate that kind of internet we all know and love, which has been losing out to the "social media engagement!!!1" type of shit that's just ruining everything it touches. All of that bullshit VC-funded clickbait crap. Let's prove it can be different. That a web community can actually exist that isn't predicated on everyone glomming onto some other kind of branded experience (e.g., wikis for TV shows, types of cars, hobbies, etc). Let's actually be here to live and, just, BE, on the internet, but in a connected, truly social kind of way.
    posted by odinsdream at 1:43 PM on June 14 [22 favorites]


    I wonder if a new 'PolitiFilter' subsite for political posts would solve some problems.
    posted by reductiondesign at 1:46 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    What about actually letting people pay a subscription fee to run their own mefi blog?? Like, bring back what was so great about the internet blog culture and add some tie-ins to the mefi system like Projects does already with voting and posting an FPP? Like, literally run blogs.metafilter.com/~username/ and offer the kind of basics of a blog host from the late 90s.

    I would have never thought of this. But this might be something I would very much pay to do. I feel like it would be a big effort, but it might also have a good payout and encourage more people to be here/be involved/share the site by tailoring the experience more.
    posted by nogoodverybad at 1:47 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I wonder if a new 'PolitiFilter' subsite for political posts would solve some problems.

    Counterargument: All posts are political.
    posted by Artw at 1:49 PM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    I wish we could do more, but with both tonebarge and me being retired now, we are able to just send in some $$ and sincerely hope it is of some help. I ♥ this place and you all!
    posted by Lynsey at 1:51 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I agree, but I also think moving politics away from the blue might be the best solution for the apparent shift in tone on the site. I'm not even sure if I personally like this idea - I just feel like it might actually work.
    posted by reductiondesign at 1:52 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    My oldest brother is this really interesting man. Without saying anything, he does things that he sees need to be done, maybe a neighbors sidewalks and driveway are snowed in, and they're in their 80s, the open their door at 7 AM and it's like magic -- their sidewalks and driveway are clear. Phil does these sorts of things all the time, and never says a word to anyone.

    I went for a long time without contributing here, in large part because when contributing "Now I get a star! I'm an official contributing member! What a fine citizen I am!" (I just now read here that can be turned off in my profile, so good enough. I don't know now that I will turn it off; it does, however, feel a bit slippery to me.) It's like that bible guy, where he says "They have their reward."

    Money is a wonderful servant. Without it no one is going to go very far at all. So, hey, money is just great. As a servant. But it's a terrible master. And I can't help but wonder what sort of checks/balances you've put in place, to keep Metafilter for all, and not tilting toward the opinions/beliefs/etc of those who are perhaps able to contribute the most.

    That whole "Whoever pays the fiddler calls the tune." is a real thing, and a real danger, or so it seems to me. I'm not hallucinating Cortex in some beady-eyed backroom deals going down (I *can* see Jessamyn in that scenario though, probably with a Glock in her backpack, maybe a machete, too.) but just human nature, human nature at the intersection of money and fairness toward all. At the intersection of money and civility.

    Has any sort of checks / balances been considered by the brain trust here? I expect that it has but it's been rolling through my mind as I've read this thread.

    Thx for laying this out on the table. If we don't know about it we can't help to fix it. It's got to have been a bit humbling to write this out but it's just facts, is all, and we all want this place to stay.
    posted by dancestoblue at 1:54 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    Oh man, I would also be SO DOWN for a little blog platform thing. SO DOWN.

    COMMENTS. PLAIN OLD NON DISQUS COMMENTS.

    Question, though: what would the moderation look like? Would these be a much more loosely moderated space? What are the rules for engagement on such a thing?
    posted by sciatrix at 1:54 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    So much talk here about how content can be improved, but - to get diverse and engaging content, it's important to have diverse community members that can post/comment on this content. We've talked about this problem (the increasing insularity and decreasing user participation/engagement/retention) for years and we've seen this coming for years... it feels like we just keep having nice discussions with many seemingly well-meaning words only to ...not really see much done (in the sense of incorporating the suggestions/promises/resolutions in the discussion) in this regard.

    I can't favourite this hard enough. I think a lot (the majority?) of the bias isn't even conscious, and that people are working with the best of intentions. But they are working from within a particular worldview/social position etc, from where that bias just feels like 'business as usual'. If there's a narrowing of user participation because of the feeling of not being welcome within that worldview, that worldview just gets more entrenched because it's not challenged. There feels like a MetaNorm which is quite narrow, and quite possibly getting narrower.

    I see this from a non-US perspective; I know that metafilter is a US site, and I'm not expecting (or even particularly wanting) it to change. But what you might call a "USA is universal" perspective is present on all parts of the site - whether it's an AskMe about something health related or a post on the blue about an event in the UK like the Royal Wedding. When it's something like that, where that universalist position is implicitly exclusionary of you personally, the site can feel very unwelcoming in quite a visceral way. I suspect that this is true for lots of other people who are in someway outwith the MetaNorm, and probably worse for those groups outwith the MetaNorm who experience everyday opression/microagression on top of that exclusion.

    I've still punted you guys a monthly subscription. Much like universal healthcare, Metafilter has many faults, but is still vastly better than the alternatives.
    posted by Vortisaur at 1:56 PM on June 14 [29 favorites]


    I won’t be contibuting. Just like i have not been posting or commenting on metafilter much over the last few years. when i first joined metafilter I remember it as a source of joy and obscurity. Unfortunatley I think this has become a website that sneers and is hostile to all but a very narrow, cynical worldview. I expect this fundraiser will be very succesful because clearly most people don’t share my view.. but i hope that the admins at least consider there could be a metafilter where optimism and compassion not hatred and cynism ( just look at top comments right now if you don’t think this is what defines metafilter) could exist...
    posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 1:58 PM on June 14 [15 favorites]


    I'm sorry you feel that way. I'm hopeful that staying and talking about what would make this community work better is likely to help make it more inclusive, but that's work and not work everyone is willing to invest.

    I hope you find the kind and optimistic community you seek elsewhere, I guess.
    posted by sciatrix at 2:01 PM on June 14 [19 favorites]


    I've literally deactivated my account for months before, and have been highly critical of the way that Mefi handles things around gender and racism, but yeah, this is by and far better than anywhere else I've found on the internet.
    posted by odinsdream at 2:05 PM on June 14 [13 favorites]


    odinsdream: What about actually letting people pay a subscription fee to run their own mefi blog??

    [This is good]
    posted by dhruva at 2:06 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    So, we'll have a dedicated thread about merch next week and mod-side we're collating merch notes (thanks Eyebrows for taking the lead on that, btw). And by god we're gonna get to Good Enough and just move forward this time.

    Can I pre-suggest/mention that I don't think it's the worst idea ever to possibly form task forces of members for various and sundry tasks like this?

    Rundowniest of rundowns on my thought process for examples of what those 'task forces' could do follows:

    - Mods wouldn't have to step out of their comfort zones to make logos or slogans into merch.
    - Learn how to best make T-shirts that fit persons with breasts such that they can finally stop saying "here, take my money!"
    - Decide which applicants have the chops to be allowed to possibly look for things they can improve in the codebase and/or volunteer for backend coding experience/references in the webdev field or how to facilitate the same without gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair on the Mefi admin side of things, if possible.
    - Generate [non-binding] surveys of the userbase for ponies to add to the pony list and/or prioritization of the same (donation stars next to profile, Flagged as Extra, bean related achievements in profile pages, invite tokens, freebie signup days, etc)

    I say that because, to focus in on the merch and webdev side of things, in this very thread (which is only tangentially related to things like that/idea generation and is mostly about funding and going forward type things) I've seen no less than 3 or 4 folks say "I want to help" or "Let me know" or "I 1000% want X or Y and mention it everytime it comes up". That to me is an offer of help from, what I consider anyway, a very skilled and wonderful populace. Of course there's trust and burnout and reliability and timeliness questions and concerns, and I'm not neglecting those at all, but I can't help but wonder if there isn't a task or two that could benefit from dedicated and available and interested folks that really want their ****ing T-shirts.
    posted by RolandOfEld at 2:07 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    A thriving community site should also have an active email list, where users can be informed of what's going on on the site and asked to donate regularly.
    posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 2:11 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Well given that it now seems 10 years have passed since I joined, and that recent life twists both good and bad have given me more time than I've had for some years to be idle on the internet and thus making use of the site, this was a very timely shove. I'm now signed up monthly, and fingers crossed should be able to up the amount once things unwind later this year.

    2 thoughts re. exposure of the site to potential new users;

    1. I've realised while mulling over this thread that I often just send friends links to content found on the blue rather than links to the posts themselves. I do this more than I used to before the site redesign; somehow "ps the community blog site this is linked off is amazing, unlike anything else out there online - have a browse around it if you have the time" felt more likely to ring true with the old, more distinctive colours and UI.

    Still, that's no reason not to change this habit and engage in some active MeVangelism. I very much like the idea of a "best of" aggregator page, this would be great to point people towards in a ps like the above.

    2. AskMe does feel like a more natural potential gateway for a lot of people I know. Maybe this has been mooted before, but the idea comes to mind of some sort of referral link facility to act as a "first hit"... turning those "asking for a friend" posts into more new people directly interacting with the site. Allow members to generate a one-time AskMe link a few times a year, which could be shared to post a question from "a friend of protorp" etc.
    posted by protorp at 2:11 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    I am particularly concerned about not only the death of blog culture across the internet, but how it's being replaced by walled-gardens like Facebook, Twitter, and even more "community" driven things like Mastodon. We're getting into a really weird spot where a lot of the *stuff* that makes mefi possible (as in, content for FPPs, links to answers for AskMe, etc) are just.... not accessible. Either they're behind a corporate paywall news site, stuck on some hellish AMP link that'll expire in a month, or behind a login-required FB/Twitter account.

    More generally, content on the internet is becoming even more ephemeral, even though the infrastructure of the net has grown such that it *should* be easier to support longevity and archivability for stuff as trivial as text-based blogs.

    My "best case" dream scenario is for Mefi to become a worker-owned cooperative where people can actually have a home to produce the content that makes the internet worth having, and vice-versa.
    posted by odinsdream at 2:17 PM on June 14 [19 favorites]


    I went for a long time without contributing here, in large part because when contributing "Now I get a star! I'm an official contributing member! What a fine citizen I am!"

    I had the same thought at first, then I chewed on it for a while, and finally I decided that having the star visible on my profile might make others aware that helping fund MetaFilter is a thing you can do. So that's why I'm showing it: in the hope of encouraging others.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 2:22 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    And I can't help but wonder what sort of checks/balances you've put in place, to keep Metafilter for all, and not tilting toward the opinions/beliefs/etc of those who are perhaps able to contribute the most.

    I get you on this question! It's a very sticky thing about money and how it can interact with social systems.

    So, the deal is: I have deliberately kept folks' financial contributions as far from the daily working process here as possible, to the point where if you haven't asked me to go check on a Paypal or Stripe thing in the last few days I almost certainly have no idea whether or how much you're contributing or have previously contributed. Nobody else on the team is exposed to those processes at all; they wouldn't under anything but extraordinary circumstances be able to know about individual contributions in the first place. To the extent that we deal with Paypal and Stripe income numbers as a team, it's entirely in aggregate, looking at totals and payment-type cohorts without mapping it to individual members or contributors.

    In short: I don't want to know, and manage to not know to the extent that is possible while still being responsible for it; the team knows even less, by design and preference; and I take advantage of my limited headspace to overwrite other more important information about what's going on on the site instead in the cases where I have a reason to temporarily know any of that info.

    This is the deal, by very explicit design: no one has ever gotten, or will ever get, a pony request granted on the strength of personal financial support for the site. No one has ever avoided a banning or a moderator note or warning because they have an "I Help Fund MetaFilter" star on their profile page. I know perfect self-awareness of biases etc. is far from possible, but I take this aspect of how money + community interact seriously enough that I really actively work to avoid any possible conflict there because I find the idea anathema.

    Relatedly, I totally get the spirit in which some of the "hey, what if we tied specific benefits to subscription level" suggestions up thread have been made but that particular approach is a non-starter. A MeFite is a MeFite, period; whatever other fun or fundraiser stuff we might pursue, this place isn't pay to play even at a trivial level and it's not going to be.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 2:33 PM on June 14 [57 favorites]


    Old white cis lady here will almost no money. Even so, I am about to throw some money at MF as pledged above. The current MF just as it is. You know what else I would like to throw some of my money at? A MF moderator who is a PoC as an investment in a future MF that is even better.

    I cannot make it happen on my own. I cannot endow a MetaFilter chair or create a new MF job. None of us but cortex actually owns MF even if we feel like we do. Still, I am willing to help fund that job, and I bet I am not the only one. Because I want to be the change I want to see. I want MetaFilter to be more diverse. I want PoC to feel more welcome. I want my MetaFilter neighbourhood to be more like my actual neighbourhood, which happens to be a surprisingly diverse area of greater Stockholm, Sweden.

    This is a stretch; I don't expect this to actually happen. But as long as we are asking for ponies, this is the pony I want most of all. Hey white people, if this matters to you then speak the hell up and put your money where your mouth is. More diversity has to be our goal, too. So 1. Survival. 2. Diversity. 3. Diversity. 4. Diversity. Let's crank the diversity up to 11 while battling threadshitting, getting our friendly on, and ordering some totes.

    If we can't do all of those things then I vote, again, for developing greater diversity among the mod staff (once MF is stable again) as a worthy investment in MF's future. Thanks again, cortex, for your bravery in being so honest as well as your willingness to listen to things that may be awkward or uncomfortable to hear. (And now I will sign off because it's past my bedtime.)
    posted by Bella Donna at 2:36 PM on June 14 [29 favorites]


    How about a pledge week where we see one post followed by the mods TALKING IN THEIR FIXED-PITCH INDOOR YELLING VOICES ABOUT HOW MUCH LISTENERS LIKE YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE for a page or two?
    posted by 0xFCAF at 2:37 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    Cancelled my old recurring and tripled it...I note my old recurring subscription, on PayPal, was being sent to Matt. I assume that means y'all still got it?
    posted by maxwelton at 2:43 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Upped, thank you for updating us! Also, I really like the ideas of some gift subscriptions for members to give out and the idea of a free day a month (or some other timeframe) for the few people who want to join but are deterred by the $5 signup.
    posted by ldthomps at 2:46 PM on June 14


    Relatedly, I totally get the spirit in which some of the "hey, what if we tied specific benefits to subscription level" suggestions up thread have been made but that particular approach is a non-starter. A MeFite is a MeFite, period; whatever other fun or fundraiser stuff we might pursue, this place isn't pay to play even at a trivial level and it's not going to be.

    *appears in a puff of smoke ina devil costume on cortex's shoulder*

    Hey: You Could Auction Off Bannings!
    posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:46 PM on June 14 [12 favorites]


    Thank you, Cortex, for your prompt response. I trust you, and I trust the organization here, it's layout. Those were just questions that rolled in my mind, and I put up that comment for others, also, who perhaps hadn't considered it. I'm glad we've got cards face up on the table.

    One thing I did not ask -- i do use an adblock or three. Would it help if I whitelisted MetaFilter (and subsites). I'm assuming that any ads would not be offensive -- I almost threw my cell phone into the river night b4 last, I'd listened to a John Prine song and it was so fine and then here's some screaming shouting "BUY BUY BUY BUY" garbage on youtube. No more youtube on the cell phone for sure, not ever.

    Anyways, if I can help by whitelisting or whatever else plz let me know.
    posted by dancestoblue at 2:54 PM on June 14


    Cancelled my old recurring and tripled it...I note my old recurring subscription, on PayPal, was being sent to Matt. I assume that means y'all still got it?

    Yup yup. It's just his damn email address tied to the account, but it's our paypal account and bank account.

    Question, though: what would the moderation look like? Would these be a much more loosely moderated space? What are the rules for engagement on such a thing?

    Heh, like I said: there's a million things that could go wrong. That's the main reason there isn't a MeFi Blogs platform already. There might be a throughline to workable answers to that and a bunch of other questions, so I'll keep thinking about it in the background, but it'd be a heck of a project.

    When it's something like that, where that universalist position is implicitly exclusionary of you personally, the site can feel very unwelcoming in quite a visceral way.

    Yeah, I think that's one of the really difficult dynamics and I feel you. It's a hard problem that I wish we had better answers for already, but we're gonna keep working on it. If nothing else, working to remind people to be aware of that and to try to avoid perpetuating that kind of universalist vibe and instead carve out space (whether proactively or by choosing to hush in a given moment) would I think help.

    And more generally I appreciate folks have brought up a few things in here along the lines of frustrating or dispiriting site dynamics and interactions. I think that stuff is really important, and how we can work to try and help the overall vibe and interpersonal tone of the site be more inviting and accessible while still maintaining our general expectations for acceptable user behavior etc. is something we've been talking about as a team pretty much constantly. In the context of how to get folks to engage with MeFi as new users, that stuff comes even more tightly into focus.

    And basically none of that stuff has quick asked-and-answered stuff I can say about it, compared to the other sorts of brainstorming in here, so I just wanted to take a sec to acknowledge it even though I don't have quick proposals for solutions right here.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 2:56 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I'm hopeful that staying and talking about what would make this community work better is likely to help make it more inclusive, but that's work and not work everyone is willing to invest.

    I know i am not even Canute. The tide is both Terrible and Influenced by forces beyond my control(US politics). Its pointless to stay here when these forces twist everything unless you want to be crushed like a twig. A few small fooolish remarks in the comments will either be ignored or be crushed in the waves. Better to find new planets to explore and let this one do what it will.
    posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 2:58 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    One thing I did not ask -- i do use an adblock or three. Would it help if I whitelisted MetaFilter (and subsites).

    If you read while logged in, it'd have literally zero effect: we don't currently serve ads to users, and aside from some possible low-impact Deck-alike solution I don't have any active expectation for that to change. I'll keep folks posted if that ever does change.

    If you read while logged out, it'd have somewhere between literally and effectively zero effect, since Adsense runs on a pay-per-click model rather than a pay-per-impression model, and most regular visitors to a given site don't click on many ads. And Adsense tends to take a dim view to regular visitors to a given website who DO click a lot ads and just flag those clicks as fraudulent.

    Basically, if you use an Adblocker, keep on using an Adblocker.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 2:59 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    Thinking out loud on the MeFi Blogs idea. There are plenty of places online to post a blog. I think what I really want is a central place to keep up with MeFi bloggers. We had the conversation earlier this year that resulted in a bunch of MeFi bloggers raising their hands, and I'm following a bunch via RSS.

    What if blogs.metafilter.com was simply a place that simply displayed rss feeds from any member who wants their blog displayed there? I imagine you could add a RSS feed field on the user profile and scan the profiles a couple of times a week for new feeds to add or remove from the page, and update the feeds hourly or whatever.

    That seems like it would be a relatively low LOE, at least as compared to actually building a blogging platform, and would provide some if not much of the same benefit.
    posted by COD at 3:49 PM on June 14 [22 favorites]


    Another old Fanfare-specific pony that would single-handedly transform my ability to take part on that site:

    Please, please, please can we have a switch to auto-add posts in a book club or a television series or whatever to our activity? I never remember to click on club sites and add new things to my activity, so inevitably I get excited, comment on one episode, and then wonder three months later what happened to the other one. More people means more discussions! I know I'm not the only person with this issue, I know the site was enthusiastic about the pony, and I'm pretty sure that this one also fell under the whole "gotta do it perfectly but I don't have the bandwidth to right now" category.
    posted by sciatrix at 3:54 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    Like it or not, a massive amount of eyeball-hours have migrated to Facebook and Twitter in the last five years. Can MetaFilter do more to bring in page views (and corresponding ad revenue) from social media? Maybe.

    People are shallow and fickle, and presentation is important. What does MetaFilter look like for someone who sees a story shared on Facebook?

    - Facebook tries to automatically identify an image to go with the link and ends up with a MetaFilter logo. This is what people see in their feed, and it has nothing to do with the content of the post being shared. Can MetaFilter supply some meta information that helps Facebook pick a relevant image?
    - Clicking through, they are hit with the wall-of-text that we all know and love, but they might find bewildering and "nope out", as iamkimiam's colleague did
    - Most MeFi posts are not framed in a way that visually tells a first-time viewer what they're looking at, e.g., "This page is an analysis of a Washington Post article that includes some background links and then a bunch of commentary"
    - Post text is not visually very distinct from comments
    - Clutter on the sidebar and header that a transient user doesn't care about

    I guess where I'm going with this is that there should be a different page template for click-through users from external sites that encourages them to stick around and maybe does some MeFi self-promotion.

    It would be easy enough to measure the effect. MeFi has a strong user base that wants to help out... how about a "sharing drive" to share our MeFi favorite posts on social media? Combine that with some A/B testing on landing page layout.
    posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 3:58 PM on June 14 [6 favorites]



    One of the many bad things about extended unemployment is guilt over being a freeloader. I’m acquiring a long list of sites and organizations I want to donate to once I’m back on my feet, and mefi is near the top.


    Exactly the same here.

    I've noticed for quite a while that there are fewer AskMe questions than there used to be.
    posted by jgirl at 4:22 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    Before I read 490 comments and send $, my merch request is a big 20-22 ounce ceramic (tea) mug that says

    Metafilter

    Flagon and Move It
    posted by vers at 4:25 PM on June 14 [27 favorites]


    Take the emotional labor thread, turn it into a paperback, and sell it.

    Take the most relatable AskMe questions and the best answers that won't get you killed or thrown in jail, turn them into a paperback, and sell it.

    Take the most off-the-wall AskMe questions with the most hilarious answers, turn them into a paperback, and sell it.

    Take the... hang on, I'm getting an imaginary call from my lawyer.
    posted by Johann Georg Faust at 4:36 PM on June 14 [20 favorites]


    I missed this earlier.

    I've never contributed beyond my initial $5 sign up. That was a mistake. I just signed up for a $20/mo recurring contribution.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 4:44 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    I just realized my 10-year membership anniversary was earlier this month, though I was a lurker for a while before that. I would have been just winding up my sophomore year college when I ponied up my initial $5. I honestly have no idea what brought me to the site originally -- I wish I could remember!

    This site is the jumping off point for the majority of my non-social-media Internet consumption. Like others above have said, I spend at least as much time on here as on Netflix, so I should probably get my spending to align with that. Just signed up for a $25/quarter recurring contribution.
    posted by bassooner at 4:59 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    Metafilter has changed my life in such profound ways and I should have started contributed financially a long time ago. So I just set up a monthly donation - and did a one-time payment for all the months I missed since signing up.

    I unfortunately cannot afford a donation of all the months I spent lurking but I would be extremely willing to write a romantic epistolary fanfic between Cortex and the highest one-time giver from this thread.
    posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 5:00 PM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    Hi. I want to join the choir calling for livejournal.metafilter.com. Thank you.
    posted by chrchr at 5:07 PM on June 14 [11 favorites]


    What if we had a little flag that said “newbie” or something next to new members’ names, if they want it. Just a little symbol or word that says “hey, I’m new and I’m still learning the ropes here” and hopefully chills any potential terseness directed at the user.

    It would be something the user could turn off if they don’t want to identify themselves as new.
    posted by delight at 5:12 PM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    In Facebook groups, the new-person symbol is a little hand waving “hello” next to their name when they post.
    posted by delight at 5:14 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    1. Seconding making books from some of the more infamous threads / thematic topics. I run a publishing company and am on the board of the Independent Book Publishers Association, I can run down numbers for you on some ideas. Bonus: reaches entirely new audience, can be set up for digital sales and print on demand so no inventory sitting around. TEXT IS OUR STRENGTH and we have an in-house gang of editorial nitpickers.

    2. Amp up PR efforts leading up to the 20th anniversary. This is a special place. There are a lot of major-media-friendly stories waiting to happen.

    3. Make it easier to share content to social media. Implementing Pullquote or something like it to share specific comments from long threads would be great.
    posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:22 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    I admit I don't hang out much here these days, but I'd hate to see it go. I'm in for a few bucks a month!

    I *STRONGLY* recommend returning to the old colored backgrounds for non-members. This was a unique design and also a powerful branding tool -- people who keep coming across interesting threads in their Twitter feed or useful advice in their Google searches are much more likely to notice and remember the source if they all share the same striking blue or green styling. I don't think Matt ever A/B tested the change and just assumed generic black and white would be better for engagement, but I really think this is worth investigating.

    100% agreed.

    Years and years ago Matt ran some little text ads on the side of the frontpage, up where the Deck ads later ran, which were basically just that: user-funded ads, for a little money to I think be in the rotation for a month, not necessarily even advertising anything per se but buying visibility for a goofy message sometimes, etc.

    I have no idea how much work it was and don't get the impression Matt took it terribly seriously at the time, but it was kind of a fun little thing and looking at that in among everything else could be fun.


    I really like this idea! I wonder if there isn't a version of it sort of like Maximum Fun's "Jumbotrons" that would work for MeFi…
    posted by danb at 5:31 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    I have never had a subscription to Metafilter, but I just changed that to $10/month. I only wish I could afford to give more for the site that has so inspired and entertained me throughout the years. Once I can, I will.
    posted by triage_lazarus at 5:34 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I downloaded my comment history from here and edited it into a book that’s chronologically interleaved with my Facebook and tumblr posts.

    Buy it from amazon to get metafilter some amazon mojo: The Lipstick Ends Of Tomboy Femmes
    posted by nikaspark at 5:41 PM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    Well crap that didn’t seem to work and now I feel dumb. Can someone help me figure that out.
    posted by nikaspark at 5:43 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    Just to comment a little on some of the things that have come up.

    1. I don't disagree that the level of vitriol has increased on MeFi, but I'm not sure that's anything to do with MeFi. It's everywhere on the internet and as much as we are a gated community, we will never be immune to that. More moderation in this space would be useful, but if people aren't flagging then no one is going to know. I say this as someone who has rarely flagged, so I need to take ownership of that responsibility as well.

    2. Please keep the $5 entry fee. Please. Happy if those other suggestions are trialed out but longer term, I think a monetary barrier has to remain. Many large Facebook groups I am part of have an application form you have to fill out to gain entry. While I'm sure that prevents some trolls getting in, it's not a sufficient barrier at all, will just require more work for the mods and will change the tone of community here.

    3. I think it might be a good idea to have a play with the format and seeing how the front page could be less daunting (or potentially having an actual front page that is more image and link heavy) but don't include images on the pages themselves or reduce the text. Like others, I spend most of my time reading MeFi at work on the "professional white background" and images and whatnot would really remove the ability to do that. I think I joined MeFi when I was around 18 (yikes), and that this site looked so different to everything else is one of the reasons it appealed to me. Don't assume that young people won't be drawn here just because of the way it looks.

    4. I've been here for about 12 years at this point and I've made all of 3 FPPs. I think all 3 were made during those "posts by women" months. This is not a new problem. It has been discussed at length and efforts have been made. I'm still not sure how we can make people feel more comfortable and confident to make a post. More supportive comments that don't directly target the OP for their post, sure. So I guess this links back to comment one which is that we need to cut back on that ugly level of discourse as it's clearly shutting down conversation and growth. Which is all the more reason why we don't want to lose moderators due to cost.
    posted by liquorice at 5:50 PM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    I think the site is over-moderated. I think in attempts to keep fightiness down, mods often end up deleting comments which offer differing perspectives or offer nuances to an existing conversation. I say this with all the love in my heart for this site, but I have been close to buttoning many times in the last 2 years, and have basically resigned myself to a slow fade. There is a community niceness issue at play here as well, but I do not think it is altogether unrelated to the drastic increase in heavy-handed moderation we've seen in the last few years.

    The few times I have contributed more recently (including innocuously!) have resulted in my receiving hostile memails privately, which I think is related to how conversations are treated in-thread. Ie., that conflict isn't disappearing, it's just changing forums. It has been extremely unpleasant to be on the receiving end of that hostility, and I know I am not alone in feeling like there is often a weighing before commenting of "is making this point really worth taking all the abuse"? I feel that way about making this comment, too.

    I'm by no means advocating layoffs, but I do think mefi needs to seriously consider moving towards a moderator downsize, and I think it is the long-term solution to the money problems as well. It is insane to me how much the site is spending on personnel, and it is making me uncomfortable watching folks in this thread, who seem like they can barely afford to feed themselves or who are on fixed low incomes, donating their last pennies toward an effort that I think is decreasing the quality of the site overall. Obviously ymmv.

    Again, I am sharing this with love, and after waiting 24 hours because I didn't want to threadshit so early on what is a long post with a lot to talk about. Mefi has been special to me for decades and will continue to be, but it's been some time since its been easy to hang out here.
    posted by likeatoaster at 5:55 PM on June 14 [39 favorites]


    I think a big part of what encourages good discussion is the fact that all users seem to have equal weight - not sure highlighting new users would help anything.
    posted by reductiondesign at 5:55 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    likeatoaster, I ask this in good faith (really) but would less moderation solve this problem? You say the moderators are deleting different perspectives on comments to avoid fights and yet the fights are happening in private anyway. If the comments were kept those fights would still occur, just in the thread themselves and likely derail the conversation. If the comments were to stay (which I am not opposed to), how can we ensure civil discussion without moderators? I mean the reason the moderation swung to this extent is because the derailment and fighting within the threads was getting out of hand and we were losing the nuanced discussion about the topic itself to begin with.
    posted by liquorice at 6:15 PM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    likeatoaster, that really sucks about the messages you've received, I'm sorry.

    I am curious--you start a paragraph by saying "I'm by no means advocating layoffs," followed by saying that Metafilter needs to downsize its moderators and that the site spends too much on personnel, so... how is that not advocating layoffs?

    Like, it's a legitimate view to hold, albeit one I disagree with, but in what way are you not advocating layoffs?
    posted by duffell at 6:15 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I've only skimmed the bulk of this since my lost jokey comment, but I want to swerve to an idea I had: I seem to recall Mefi making the NY Times before the tenth anniversary thing, then we garnered a lil press for the tenth. Point is, the 20th is an even bigger deal. We should get some press coverage, throw some groovy parties, etc. The site could get support from academic, philanthropic, professional, or perhaps even corporate sources through partnerships, grants, internships, what have you.
    posted by vrakatar at 6:21 PM on June 14


    likeatoaster: there's like, 4 moderators, wtf.
    posted by odinsdream at 6:21 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    > Like, it's a legitimate view to hold, albeit one I disagree with, but in what way are you not advocating layoffs?

    My guess is "fewer hours", but since it sounds like some (many?) of the mods get benefits, that's obviously inefficient as compared to laying off one or more of the members who get benefits. <sarcasm>Or maybe VTO is the answer.</sarcasm>

    As for "over-moderated"... There are plenty of places to go that have more lenient moderation standards. If what you're seeking is the community you've grown to love over the years, but with less moderation, isn't it possible that if there were less moderation in the first place, you wouldn't have grown to love the community quite as much?
    posted by tonycpsu at 6:23 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    Since not everyone reads MetaTalk (I didn't for a long time), might it be worthwhile to post some sort of temporary Emergency Fundraising banner at the top of the various main pages? Is that feasible?
    posted by Secret Sparrow at 6:30 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    > Since not everyone reads MetaTalk (I didn't for a long time), might it be worthwhile to post some sort of temporary Emergency Fundraising banner at the top of the various main pages? Is that feasible?

    I think there is/was a banner, but we're able to hide those. I would wholeheartedly endorse making that semi-permanent (not hideable), using bold red text, putting cortex's face on it... at least for a while.
    posted by tonycpsu at 6:33 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I've been meaning to kick in monthly for a while, and now I have. Also on board w/a subscription, if that's what it takes.
    posted by ryanshepard at 6:39 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    I would definitely vote for making the banner more obtrusive. I'm suuuuper unobservant and also really focused on whatever I'm doing, so yesterday I opened Metafilter, got caught up on that, opened AskMe, got caught up on that, opened MetaTalk, read this thread, and then realized there was a banner. I think I was on mobile at the time and I think it blends in even more there. On the computer it's more obvious because of the difference in widths in comparison to the top menu bar (or whatever you call it) but on mobile I... I'm pretty sure my brain just assumed there had always been a green divider bar there and didn't even register the text.

    But I may be a little too cognitively disabled to generalize UX from.
    posted by brook horse at 6:45 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I really empathize with a lot of likeatoaster's comment, which speaks to my dissatisfaction with the status quo.

    Many, many people, especially since the start of the U.S. politics megathreads, have commented in MetaTalk about how they have been subjected to nastiness and abuse for sharing an opinion that leans slightly to the right or left of prevailing views on the blue. Nothing has changed in that regard even as moderation of those threads and the site in general has grown more intense. I have accepted that nothing is going to change.

    So now we have a situation where nastiness and abuse that hew to the prevailing views are allowed to stand, but dissenting opinions are screamed down by other users or moderated away as "fighty" or "derail" or "you've made more than two comments about this, please stop."

    My own view is that this is the worst of both worlds - heavy moderation for one category, and very light moderation for the other. I would rather have both or neither. Obviously many people disagree, and that's ok!

    But is does mean that I struggle to support the status quo and that it is an almost impossible environment to recommend to potential new users who don't have preternaturally thick skins.
    posted by lalex at 6:54 PM on June 14 [41 favorites]


    likeatoaster: there's like, 4 moderators, wtf.

    ...

    This is a super rude way to phrase this and you're not even right (there are seven).
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:59 PM on June 14 [24 favorites]


    Oh yeah, I see it now... "Site news: revenue is down, you can help"

    Y'all my eyes rolled right past that multiple times, even after tonycpsu and brook horse said there was a banner. I was sitting here wondering why MY browser wasn't displaying this supposed banner. Clearly I (and others like me) need something bigger, brighter, and with more alarmist language: FINANCIAL EMERGENCY: SITE SHUTDOWN EMINENT. PANIC AND FREAK OUT. GIVE GENEROUSLY. In red. Maybe with a blink tag for good measure. (I won't go so far as to suggest auto-play audio with a message on loop)
    posted by Secret Sparrow at 7:01 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    Question. Is this happening on the political threads only, or is it a general problem with the site?
    posted by sciatrix at 7:01 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    Metafilter is important to me. It helped me name a room in my house “Norbert.” It helped me change my thinking about a number of social justice issues. It even got me tenure (seriously, my major research project came from something I read about on MeFi posts). If I post less here, it is probably because I have found Twitter scratches some of the same itches as MeFi, but still isn’t close to the experience here.

    There have been complaints about the site the entire time (14 years) I have been here (I even made some of them), and almost always the view expressed is that it is getting worse. I think it has been changing, slowly, but the rest of the world is evolving faster. I am happy to see the site continue to evolve, while still being a bit of throwback - the last bastion of the old internet.

    The short version: MeFi is great, but sometimes annoying. I tripled my contribution.
    posted by blahblahblah at 7:03 PM on June 14 [18 favorites]


    The thing that's never changed about metafilter is the people who are like 'oh a mild criticism of the website? go to a different website where it's worse'
    posted by beerperson at 7:06 PM on June 14 [22 favorites]


    As for "over-moderated"... There are plenty of places to go that have more lenient moderation standards. If what you're seeking is the community you've grown to love over the years, but with less moderation, isn't it possible that if there were less moderation in the first place, you wouldn't have grown to love the community quite as much?

    I don't know about likeatoaster, but I fell in love with a community with less intrusive but, IMO, higher-quality moderating. For example, we used to have a functioning community governance system in metatalk, not something with a queue (despite 24/7 mod coverage?) in which a bunch of stuff gets deleted.

    That's just one example of what I see as overmoderation out of a distaste for conflict that has led to an overall degradation in the quality of the site.

    Question. Is this happening on the political threads only, or is it a general problem with the site?

    It's a general problem anywhere people might happen to disagree.
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:07 PM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    On the topic of donations etc:
    - If the $5 reg doesn't really contribute to the bottom line, how about gently guiding new members to a recurring donation instead?
    - Merch is fun for members but you're never going to run the site on mugs and t-shirts
    - I hear you that you don't want to associate special privileges with membership - prior to reading that I was going to suggest replacing Chat with a members-only Slack, some podcasts do this as a funding stream
    - I wouldn't mind some sort of Sponsored Post on the Blue- could be available only to members with a history at first
    - I'd pay $250 for a full day meetup in NYC or Vegas
    - Some sort of stupid IAP-like profile bling - $5 for a pink background, etc
    - I'm generally skeptical of affiliate links as a revenue source, but if you could somehow take the product recommendations from Ask and build a weekly Wirecutter-like newsletter/editorial around them, that could be cool
    - Experiment again with a travel recommendations site - you should be able to get decent ad revenue from online travel agencies, and these type of questions get great answers in Ask
    - oh and can I send money by venmo? I always have a balance there.

    And if I can figure out my paypal login I'll double my monthly too.
    posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:10 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Are there 7 moderators or are there 6 moderators? And how many moderators are actually on at any given time given that there is full-time/part-time maneuvering that goes on.
    posted by liquorice at 7:10 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    I don't really see this and I browse the site WAY more than is healthy. (but I never read the megathreads).

    Then again, I am old enough to remember the light moderation era of the site and it was such an incredible shitshow, especially if you were a woman. I hung around, but then again I was a fucking prick in 2004. (Thanks MF for preserving this fact in amber forever). So I am inoculated to a much higher level of unproductive snark.

    I just reupped for 4x, the site is still a bargain at that price. I would really like an alternative to manually emailing someone every time to change my donation value, though. Last time I emailed to cancel it because my card was changing and then I just forgot to add a new one.
    posted by selfnoise at 7:10 PM on June 14 [23 favorites]


    The thing that's never changed about metafilter is the people who are like 'oh a mild criticism of the website? go to a different website where it's worse'

    "Mild criticisms" like "moderator downsize".... Cool.
    posted by tonycpsu at 7:12 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Are there 7 moderators or are there 6 moderators? And how many moderators are actually on at any given time given that there is full-time/part-time maneuvering that goes on.

    My bad, there are 6 moderators (frimble is not a moderator)
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:12 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    And how many moderators are actually on at any given time given that there is full-time/part-time maneuvering that goes on.

    There is one moderator on at a time, six total, plus frimble on the tech side. That is the minimum number of mods to have 24/7 coverage with any outage coverage at all. (We tried with just five for a while. It sucked. A lot.)
    posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:13 PM on June 14 [14 favorites]


    I only have a few haunts on the internet and MF is one of my favorites.

    As I think about the future of the site, however, there are a few things that I'd like to mention.

    1. The $5 sign-up fee is a critical part of what makes this community so special; doing away with it or modifying it significantly seems like a big mistake. I really like the idea of a sponsorship program for folks who'd like to join, but don't have the funds/access to a credit card, etc.

    2. My activity on the site has been almost exclusively limited to AskMe - a section of the site that is supportive and typically well-intentioned. I'm able to spend time reading responses that showcase the goodwill and extensive knowledge of the user base. I leave my time on AskMe feeling informed or with questions/anecdotes to share with my husband and friends. On the other hand, whenever I wander over to the MetaFilter main site, I'm reminded of why I don't participate there. The intense levels of negativity and lack of good faith responses are not appealing. As a high school teacher, I work hard to make sure that my students are prepared to respectfully engage with ideas and opinions that are different from their own. This is not something that I see consistently modeled on the blue. Maybe I'm being a baby about this, but it just feels so unfriendly.

    3. I love, love, love the idea of a yearly fundraiser/pledge drive (ala NPR). It would be a good opportunity for users to check on their monthly contribution or make a one-time gift. The little "perks" that are exclusive to pledge drives (canvas bag/mug/t-shirt/stickers/etc.) encourage ownership and community camaraderie.

    4. Thanks to you and the mod team for all that you to tend this lovely little corner of the internet.
    posted by WaspEnterprises at 7:14 PM on June 14 [13 favorites]


    and now the word moderator doesn't look like a word anymore

    moderator moderator moderator
    posted by liquorice at 7:14 PM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    not something with a queue (despite 24/7 mod coverage?) in which a bunch of stuff gets deleted.

    Oh, c'mon, man. Do you trust the mods or not when they say repeatedly that no one who submits a post and wants to go through with it is not allowed to post it, and that encouragement to not go through with a MeTa is usually more about not starting a big brawl in which the OP is likely to be dogpiled? Because I have personally put in ten MeTas to your one, including at least two big community discussions, and I'm basically the only person I've ever been aware of who wanted to put one through and didn't for some time and it was my own damn fault for not getting back to the mod staff. The mod staff have been extremely clear about the purpose of the queue being to delay difficult posts until they have extra staff to handle things and make sure that the site ethos of respect is being enforced. I feel very, very strongly that this is a net good thing.

    I mean, I literally wrote up a MeTa tonight and within minutes got a cheerful note to the effect of "we're still following this thread right now and making sure we get the Stripe and payments right, so we'll delay a couple of days, but this is really good!" Which is completely fair and reasonable in the context of wanting to make sure they have a chance to read and process things and take comments on board.
    posted by sciatrix at 7:17 PM on June 14 [18 favorites]


    I know more about this than you can possibly imagine
    posted by beerperson at 7:21 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    Oh, c'mon, man.

    I mean that metatalk has a lot of comments deleted. I don't know if the queue has posts or deleted or not; I would have no way of knowing and I kinda don't care. (Your description of it makes it sound way worse than I actually thought it was, funny enough).

    Either way, I don't like the queue. Mods used to delete misguided posts with similar effects but with much less babysitting, much less discouraging of metatalk posts, and much less jumping-on-new-posts. It's controlling and resource-intensive while discouraging community investment and participation. If you do like it then great for you. But again, it's not the site I fell in love with.
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:22 PM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    I'm also just... I'm not doubting that people get furious responses, but I think it's been something I've been involved in all of twice: and one time I was furious and behaved very badly, and the person I was yelling at honestly was kinder than I deserved. (In my defense, it was driven by terror about my family--but I did not handle it well.) And the other time, when someone came after me on MeMail I eyed the memail, raised my eyebrows, and reported it to the mods. They handled it for me immediately. (They also censured me, fairly, in the first instance.)

    I get the impulse to wish that more people treated each other in good faith, but it's weird to me that some of the same people calling for less moderation, more treating each other with good faith and minimizing the snarky one-liners are... really coming at the mod staff with pretty bad faith themselves.

    On preview: I'm terribly sorry, would you prefer that I just keep quiet about my own directly relevant experiences? Jesus.
    posted by sciatrix at 7:25 PM on June 14 [12 favorites]


    I've had problems with recurring monthly charges in the past (especially with Paypal, because I don't have a Paypal account) so I just sent a decent-sized one-time donation. I have calendar reminders to do this again in the future.

    I'm on Twitter a lot, and I'll make a point of sharing MeFi posts there in the future. That's not something I really thought about doing in the past, and a number of people who follow me might like MeFi (if they aren't already here).

    And I just want to send a thank-you to Cortex for all he does, and to the moderators for their valuable work. It's hard to be a community moderator, and you may not always agree with the moderators' choices, but the moderation is big part of what makes MeFi special.
    posted by jeri at 7:25 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I see, and I'm sorry for misreading you on posts versus comments; I was confused by the reference to the queue.
    posted by sciatrix at 7:26 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Many, many people, especially since the start of the U.S. politics megathreads, have commented in MetaTalk about how they have been subjected to nastiness and abuse for sharing an opinion that leans slightly to the right or left of prevailing views on the blue. Nothing has changed in that regard even as moderation of those threads and the site in general has grown more intense. I have accepted that nothing is going to change.

    I think things have gotten less nasty. In part because deletions have increased dramatically. Consider that most normal threads may not ever see any deletions, but in politics threads double digit numbers of comments seem to routinely get the axe. Multiple mod notes are also common, pushing the conversation away from various topics, or curtailing those that might turn into a derail. And most regular threads don't get a single mod note. If the conversation in a politics thread turns to the 2016 campaign, the mods will shut it down if there's even a whiff of Clinton v Sanders.

    Since the queue began, metatalk comment deletions have also become par for the course. Having a comment deleted in metatalk was once incredibly rare. No longer.

    The mods have also gone out of their way to actively defend a couple of our more conservative members through deletions, (which remove shitty, classist, sexist or racist comments from their histories,) cutting off conversations and telling other people to let things go, or that the conservative mefite should drop the subject.

    Things do feel like they've changed.
    posted by zarq at 7:28 PM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    A couple people mentioned making the share buttons more visible (agree, incidentally). They are inconspicuous because people bitched that they were too noticeable.
    posted by Chrysostom at 7:30 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    I started a subscription, which may not be the wisest idea financially but I considered a world without Metafilter and holy damn, it's not a world I want to be in.
    posted by schroedinger at 7:31 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I see, and I'm sorry for misreading you on posts versus comments; I was confused by the reference to the queue.

    No worries, it happens; I'm not the clearest writer (obviously), though I do my best
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:32 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Is there a reason why making recurrent payments via PayPal balance, rather than through a linked bank account or credit card, isn't an option? I just tried to set a new payment up that way, so that PayPal wouldn't take a percentage out of the total (AFAIK PP-to-PP payments do not incur fees for the recipient), but it didn't seem to be an option.

    And I think I've said it before, but my main suggestions are:
    1) More frequent and obvious reminders that giving is even an option—whether through periodic "pledge drives" or something that doesn't just pop up in fiscal emergencies, annual email or MeMail reminders, or whatever; and
    2) Overpriced merch! It's frustrating that people frequently beg for this ability to support the site, while storefront, fulfillment, etc. solutions seem to be getting better and easier all the time.

    I like a lot of the ideas brought up so far!
    posted by obloquy at 7:32 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    I think the whole nastiness/meanness/etc issue should probably be its own thread at this point. This is something I think about whenever I use (or frequently decide to walk away from) this site. I’ve got a lot of unresolved issues that have been bugging me for years, but I don’t want to have that be a separate thread within the bigger issue of getting the site in the black today. And honestly, I’m just not sure how valuable it is to air those kinds of frustrations anymore. It feels like when my family fights at holidays - everyone gets to say what’s on their mind, but it’s not like the family is better off, or like anyone wants to go back. In other words, I think there are major issues with the site dynamic, but I don’t know how to approach it in a way that won’t just leave everyone bruised and worse off.
    posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:39 PM on June 14 [17 favorites]


    I agree it should be a separate MeTa, if we need to talk about it.

    More broadly, the issue is that we have people saying we need firmer moderation and simultaneously people saying we need more permissive moderation.
    posted by Chrysostom at 7:48 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    I'm not convinced that 24/7/365 moderation is necessary. It feels to me like when the mods when from 3 (or 4 when vacapinta came on board parttime) to the 6 we have now, it was fixing something that wasn't actually broken. Maybe someone could explain why 24/7 modding is seen as an uncompromisable site feature at this point?
    posted by likeatoaster at 7:52 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    > shapes that haunt the dusk:
    "I think the whole nastiness/meanness/etc issue should probably be its own thread at this point."

    It's an eternal super-thread on MetaTalk.

    We talked a lot about it in the Stop the Violence thread recently.
    posted by cichlid ceilidh at 7:54 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    "One of the things I think is worth chasing down is, not so much 'what if MetaFilter but not so text-based' since I agree that that's the site at its heart, but 'what if MetaFilter but not whacking people with a wall of text'."

    Yeah, exactly. I think that allowing some images in posts, that would optionally appear on the front-page, would help a lot without changing the character of the site or the expectations.

    I'm strongly text-oriented and would likely have reflexively defended the Wall Of Text, but I noticed something recently that altered my opinion about this. One of the (few, remaining) bloggers I regularly read almost always includes some kind of image for each post and, after some reflection, I realized that no matter what I think my preferences are, I do find some images mixed-in to be more engaging. That's not necessarily true for everyone, but it's my understanding that there's quite a lot of evidence that this is generally true.

    When I wrote "optionally", what I had in mind was that, as is the case with text, things can be above-the-fold or below-the-fold. An option for one (and only one) image above the fold, and possible more below the fold, might work out well. But I certainly don't think we should ever have images in comments again.

    Making the main MeFi page more engaging for the wider-audience is important. I second the suggestion for considering changing the main page into some kind of composite of all the subsites would be good (and having the blue proper be sort of a subsite). Not just for non-members, but for members, too.

    A re-tooling of the FanFare's UI is urgently needed -- there seems to be a consensus that FanFare is or might be pretty great, but most people are confused by it -- and that and some related things with a friendlier, composite front page would really improve the fundamental experience of MeFi for everyone, which would help to secure the site for the longer-term.

    "Question. Is this happening on the political threads only, or is it a general problem with the site?"

    I'd like to know the answer to this because how I feel about this depends entirely on what the answer is. With regard to the site as a whole, I think that the "it's more scary to post/comment than it used to be" falls more heavily on those of us with relative privilege and that it's not a bug, it's a feature. I mean, ideally, no one would ever feel this way and I'd love that ideal -- and I think maybe we can improve that somewhat by just trying to be nicer to each other -- but it seems very clear to me as someone who's been reading and participating on the site since 2004, that on balance we've gained more people who were previously run-off by stuff than we've lost more recently because of "over-moderation". I'm not really interested in disputing anyone's attestation about feeling this way, because if you feel that way, you do and, anyway, I know that I've felt that way at times. But, again, personally, as someone with relative privilege on many axes, this is good for me.

    Now, on the other hand, if this is about political stuff and political threads, then I'm much, much more amenable to thinking these complaints represent a problem that does need to be addressed. I don't know, because I almost not at all read any of the political threads and, overall, my participation is down, anyway. But my sense is that because the political stuff is so difficult, and people are understandably stressed and touchy these days, that the political threads have artificially greatly narrowed the range of opinions that, in practice, are "allowed".

    If so, that's a problem, especially if it's spilling into the rest of the site. But it's a difficult problem in the same way and for the same reasons that we have this apparently unsolvable problem of these political mega-threads. It may be that there's no good solution (except possible time) and there are only less bad solutions. I dunno.

    I'm very leery of having this particular perennial discussion again, especially in this thread, but if people insist of talking about it, I do want to know if this is actually just a repeat of the same discussion we've been having for ten years, or if it it has to do with the political stuff.

    "Be careful about crowdsourcing community duties."

    I think you are quite correct to caution about this, but, at the same time, I also feel certain that there's a huge, largely-untapped resource in the membership with regard to many of the things we've been discussing. It might be that because of financial constraints, it's better to utilize that resource and deal with the issues that come up.

    "I think the idea of an app is something to consider."

    Like other people, this is an idea I keep pondering. I've thought about doing it myself. There are various potential problems with the whole idea, but for me a fundamental issue is that there's not any sort of API, and at present it'd necessarily be a lot of fragile web-scraping. But, yeah, for a long while my sense is that the larger part of the membership now engages with MetaFiler almost exclusively on their phones. I guess the theory is that designing for a mobile browser should solve all problems, but I have the sense that this isn't true in practice.
    posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:55 PM on June 14 [13 favorites]


    Maybe someone could explain why 24/7 modding is seen as an uncompromisable site feature at this point?

    When I came on, Jessamyn and Cortex and Matt were effectively 24/7 on-call. Matt would wake up on Sunday morning at 5am to clear the overnight flags. None of them had gotten a clear-cut break in a long time. That is really not a sustainable situation for any given person. Moderation doesn't really allow for breaks without actually turning off comments, because the fights you don't mod set the tone for the rest of the time.
    posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:55 PM on June 14 [43 favorites]


    A couple people mentioned making the share buttons more visible (agree, incidentally). They are inconspicuous because people bitched that they were too noticeable.

    Yea...this seems like an easy improvement. If finances are hurting, making voluntary options more visible just has to come over complaints about slightly reduced screen real estate. A couple bigger buttons and a bi-monthly banner is way less intrusive than serving ads to logged in members, but honestly that should be on the table too if the fate of the site is in doubt.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 7:55 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    More broadly, the issue is that we have people saying we need firmer moderation and simultaneously people saying we need more permissive moderation.


    We need more permissive moderation [for me] and firmer moderation [for them].

    Also, if you don't want to use PayPal or Stripe, the mailed check option works - and may be automated via the bill-paying settings of your bank or credit union account.
    posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:55 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I think the site is over-moderated. I think in attempts to keep fightiness down, mods often end up deleting comments which offer differing perspectives or offer nuances to an existing conversation. I say this with all the love in my heart for this site, but I have been close to buttoning many times in the last 2 years, and have basically resigned myself to a slow fade. There is a community niceness issue at play here as well, but I do not think it is altogether unrelated to the drastic increase in heavy-handed moderation we've seen in the last few years.

    I am sad to say that I agree very strongly with this and have been trying to find a way to say it all day. I feel this especially strongly on the green where attempts to strike down chattiness has flattened the general usefulness of the answers to me. I've had a lot of questions just fall super flat or go unanswered. For advice, I'm more likely to go to reddit or even metafilter-based but private FB communities now, where the mood is more conversational.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:55 PM on June 14 [20 favorites]


    I'll hazard a guess as an unpaid moderator of a reasonably high traffic forum site that doesn't have 24/7 coverage. As soon as you have blocks of tome where there's no moderation, a single fight-starting to post becomes 20, making it even more labor intensive to clean up. I'm sure there are other reasons, but that seems like a major benefit of always-preset moderation.
    posted by tonycpsu at 7:57 PM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    Less moderation= me gone. I come here knowing I won’t be attacked for who I am or what I believe in, and if someone makes an offensive argument or an attempt to belittle someone or troll they will be deleted and if they persist banned. This is a feature not a bug. I know metafilter isn’t a safe space but I’m a tumblr reject and it got BAD over there. Nazis and trolls sending pictures of gas chambers to Jewish users, anon messages telling trans people to kill themselves etc. and when we banded together to try and get staff to deal with it- crickets.

    I’m not going back to that, I deleted my tumblr and now I stay here where sanity prevails. Less moderation= me gone.
    posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:58 PM on June 14 [25 favorites]


    Yeah, a big part of why I am here at all is for the level of moderation currently offered. I upped my monthly donation specifically because I don't want to see a loss in the level of moderation.

    Thanks, mods, for all you do--I can't imagine this is easy, but I'm so glad you're here doing it, and I think you're doing a pretty damn good job.
    posted by duffell at 8:02 PM on June 14 [13 favorites]


    it turns out I've got $20 extra monthly that is available after cancelling my NYT and NPR subscriptions
    posted by localhuman at 8:03 PM on June 14 [25 favorites]


    It seems to me the moderation here has clamped down on the clickbait-effect that happens elsewhere. No, we don't get into as many flame-worthy drama-fests, but that's a good thing. Those seem to have migrated over to Facebook and maybe other social media sites.
    posted by lazuli at 8:03 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    There are different forms of "moderation." I don't think anyone here is saying we should allow abuse or hatespeech. My impression though is that the current mod team is pretty jumpy about what they define as chatfilter and the site feels muted as a result. I know that I'm less likely to respond to ask metafilter questions personally because of this.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:06 PM on June 14 [15 favorites]


    Just subscribed to the $5 a month but if you pay for a year up front get 10% off plan.
    posted by furtive at 8:07 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Micro-monetize the entire site. Charge a quarter for an FPP, and a nickel for every comment, mefi-mail, and flag. Run polls for pay. Charge a penny for a favorite, and allow the transfer of credits to anyone's account (no withdrawals), which will fund most contributors. It can help make up for the shortfall, and add value and users by allowing support for specific viewpoints.
    posted by Brian B. at 8:09 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    My impression though is that the current mod team is pretty jumpy about what they define as chatfilter and the site feels muted as a result

    I and another user got scolded in-thread by a mod for exchanging a handful of goofy riffs on making up LotR characters in a thread which was not about LotR. The mod suggested, in-thread, that we might have been behaving thusly because we hate mefites or metafilter. That other user has since closed his account
    posted by beerperson at 8:11 PM on June 14 [11 favorites]


    "My impression though is that the current mod team is pretty jumpy about what they define as chatfilter and the site feels muted as a result."

    Chat has always been verboten in AskMe. Maybe it's a rule that's not always been strictly enforced, but it's a foundational, non-negotiable rule of AskMe. I'm not as AskMe user, so I don't know what's actually happening, but I believe you when you say it's more strictly enforced. However, it's always been a strict rule in principe.
    posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:13 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Yes, of course, but what's defined as "chat" these days feels suuuuper strict to me. And is the reason I'm not likely to expend the effort on typing out answers, and also the reason I'm more likely to seek advice or look for recommendations elsewhere. Including, again, at least one metafilter spin-off community on facebook, to which I've added non-mefites to whom I would never recommend seeking advice on ask.metafilter these days.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:20 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    I would caution against the idea of making books out of Mefi threads. We’ll need the consent of everyone who commented and that’s a tricky undertaking especially for older threads where members may not be there anymore.

    Re chatfilter: yeah I have noticed the chatfilter/threadsit ban being stifling. Sometimes people give really unhelpful advice but trying to explain what’s so unhelpful about it gets called a “threadsit”. I’d rather there be more room for discussion on AskMefi.
    posted by divabat at 8:36 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    "I wonder if a new 'PolitiFilter' subsite for political posts would solve some problems."

    We've been discussing the Blue becoming a sub-site. Can it become two subsites, "cool things on the internet you should see" and "current events"?

    Sure, it means the problem of current events being fighty and narrow isn't solved- but i think once divided, they could also have different moderation standards, to help with that...

    ---

    As per the note on everyone needing the hug, I just want to thank the moderators. I've modded myself elsewhere and it's a hard job. Thank you.

    hugs to everyone else, also.
    posted by Cozybee at 8:47 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    I'm in a non-great work situation right now (super-limited, uses a small fraction of my skillset, requires a LOT of attention to detail, and I'm getting paid 25% less than I normally do. It was a bad year.) but hopefully that will change soon. Added a one-time donation because right now that's all I can do.

    ...but since browsing MeFi has kept me sane manymanymany days at this contract and has quite possibly helped keep me from standing, primal-screaming, and staggering out of the building, it truly is in my best interest to help keep this place going.
    posted by Tailkinker to-Ennien at 8:48 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


    I sextupled my monthly donation (it was terribly low for far too long, and I'd meant to fix this since probably the last time we all discussed this). All the love.

    I would happily buy oversize mugs. I would happily buy limited-edition new T-shirt designs, as long as they're available on black T-shirts (or as dark as possible shirts otherwise; I won't buy white or light-colored shirts). I favorited a lot of other things above that I would buy. I'd be very happy to buy a MeFi enamel pin, or multiple pins for multiple subsites. I would also buy patches and more stickers. A friend of a friend just wrote this post about how to get enamel pins made, in case it's useful. I really like Signature Pins, myself, and they'd be worth soliciting a quote for pin production from as well. Let me know if you need any help on legwork!

    Please make more tl;dr shirts, maybe in black this time to switch it up. As an editor, I wore. the. hell. out of my old gray one.

    I need this place to keep going. Help me have more ways to do that! And thanks again for being awesome.
    posted by limeonaire at 8:54 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    *glances discreetly toward the Under New Management sign*

    So noted. Contributions reinstated.
    posted by bendy at 9:01 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Yes to merch! Sticky notes! Notebooks (Field Notes partnership?)
    Yes to a "Friends of MeFi" 501c3 if switching to nonprofit is too much of a hassle for MeFi proper.
    Yes to Twitter and more social media presence!
    A very hesitant maybe to more affiliate revenue? I have some concerns about going too much toward affiliate revenue, I've been bummed out that so many (the majority of?) personal blogs (eco! fashion! etc) as well Lifehacker and all those types of sites have so much content pointing to shopping affiliates.
    posted by spamandkimchi at 9:25 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    Catching up on a bunch of stuff before turning in for the evening.

    What if blogs.metafilter.com was simply a place that simply displayed rss feeds from any member who wants their blog displayed there?

    That's certainly a lower-friction idea than a full-fledged blogs subsite, and worth thinking about in the spirit of e.g. Projects and Also On stuff.

    I unfortunately cannot afford a donation of all the months I spent lurking but I would be extremely willing to write a romantic epistolary fanfic between Cortex and the highest one-time giver from this thread.

    I am both profoundly uncomfortable with and grudgingly, morbidly in favor of this.

    Amp up PR efforts leading up to the 20th anniversary.

    I have a complicated relationship with the intersection of my nascent role as Business Person and my long-established inclination toward sailor mouth, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought more than once about a leitmotif of "Twenty Fucking Years!".

    The few times I have contributed more recently (including innocuously!) have resulted in my receiving hostile memails privately

    For the record, this not okay and is 100% a thing to contact us about. We don't directly monitor mefimail traffic as a general privacy concern but if someone is being a fucker or being abusive we want to know about it and we will deal with it. I'm very sorry that happened to you; you can reach out to let us know what happened any time and we'll check it out and follow up if it's a situation where someone been abusive in a serious or ongoing way.

    This is a super rude way to phrase this and you're not even right (there are seven).

    To be pedantic: there are six, only four of them are full-time, the headcount is specifically in service of the 24/7 coverage that avoids dead times where shitstorms spin up unabated, and as much as I am sympathetic to preferences for lighter moderation there is no way to totally square "I'm not proposing less moderation" with "I wish the amount of moderation that happened was less than what is currently paid for". Talking about how jobs should not require the work that justifies their existence is inherently kinda sticky territory at best. Doesn't meant a personal preference isn't valid, but in practice it means what it means.

    not something with a queue (despite 24/7 mod coverage?) in which a bunch of stuff gets deleted.

    Few posts gets rejected, always on the strength of a discussion with the submitter, generally on the grounds that the proposed post is the kind of shitshow that would have melted down and/or gotten deleted outright form MetaTalk in the pre-queue days; not much gets deleted from the comments within thread either, though it's more than the zero that some folks mistakenly take as ever having been the real standard. Old-school MetaTalk's reputation as a no-holds-barred thunderdome are a mixture of mistaken and deeply regrettable.

    I continue to think that the platonic ideal of a queueless MetaTalk is a nice thing to yearn for but, seriously, look at the clusterfuck that was the pre-queue days and tell me that that was actually A Good Thing and I will have a bridge to sell you. I have zero fondness for the "don't delete people's hostile toxic bullshit in the comments, that was the real stuff" history of early MetaTalk threads.

    Shit's complicated and I like the idea of people speaking their minds, but people Speaking Their Minds frequently translated to people losing their goddam minds and other people mocking them fairly cruelly for it. That happening in the grey unfettered is not a proud part of this site's heritage and I do not remotely miss those shitpile days of yore and have no patience for their recollected value here in the year 2018.

    Is there a reason why making recurrent payments via PayPal balance, rather than through a linked bank account or credit card, isn't an option?

    Mostly comes down to the Paypal widget, which we can revisit; if there's an easy way for us to enable that variation, I'm happy to do so. Will take a look.

    When I came on, Jessamyn and Cortex and Matt were effectively 24/7 on-call. Matt would wake up on Sunday morning at 5am to clear the overnight flags. None of them had gotten a clear-cut break in a long time.

    Yeah. And Matt was getting ulcers and having anxiety attacks in the long haul. There are a lot of reasons why things like management and staffing levels have changed here over the years, but if you want to look closely at it a significant part of it is that overworking an understaffed moderation team was actively fucking bad for our health. I don't try to keep us staffed up to a reasonable round-the-clock level just for funsies or out of largesse. I can understand a preference for a lighter touch but MeFi is MeFi and we've tried to be really communicative over the long term about our goals and priorities, and part of 24/7 hands-on moderation is that that is essentially the bare minimum ethical standard for responsible community moderation, as expensive and non-standard as it may be.

    My impression though is that the current mod team is pretty jumpy about what they define as chatfilter and the site feels muted as a result.

    I am totally game to hear you out on the details of your perception of this; I want to note for the record that I've been in the last couple years specifically pushing a bit toward more permissiveness of non-clusterfucky chatfilter in general because I think it's fun and engaging and good for morale. It may be this comes down instead to stuff that falls more in my view of People Arguing In Threads and that may be a cultural disagreement, but I don't think that non-combative slivers of discussion in Ask is a particularly bad thing and have been trying to express that in my moderation decisions and my guidance to the team there.

    The short version: MeFi is great, but sometimes annoying.

    This is, I think, a good summary of the problem of a large heterogeneous community managed by a small staff. The annoyance is unavoidable and understandable; I don't think MetaFilter can be everything to everyone, and I appreciate the frustration that can produce even for long-time members. Whether how good the place is justifies those annoyances for any given person is also understandably variable. I happen to love it to death despite the warts, but that's me, and everybody's got to make their own personal decisions about that balance and how they spend their online time and energy and money.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 PM on June 14 [31 favorites]


    Stewriffic: "Is there a "set it and forget it" way people can use the Metafilter affiliate Amazon referral link for every purchase, not just things that are linked from here?"

    It's intentionally designed to switch to the last affiliate link you clicked on. However a popular choice is to make the link a bookmark and then get in the habit of always going to amazon with that.

    zarq: " perhaps stop it from minimizing (vanishing) when someone scrolls down. It's a tiny piece of screen real estate. Out of sight, out of mind."

    Please, please don't do this unless you can make it work properly with page at a time scrolling.

    WCityMike: "It is kind of asinine, but it seems to work for them -- Reddit has Reddit Gold. Perhaps copy their model, essentially, to the extent one can avoid any patent/trademark involved. On Reddit, each user even has a little display where they're told exactly how much server time the "gold" they've given or earned has contributed to."

    I'm voting against more score keeping here; especially score keeping only available to people with disposable income.

    beerperson: "I know more about this than you can possibly imagine"

    I don't know, I can imagine quite a bit!

    Ivan Fyodorovich: "Chat has always been verboten in AskMe. Maybe it's a rule that's not always been strictly enforced, but it's a foundational, non-negotiable rule of AskMe. "

    Early AskMe was way, way, way more chatty. _Way_ more. The clamp down on it was necessary but maybe has, IMO, drifted to being a little too tight. There were times in the past where a bit of back and forth come up with a solution and one doesn't see that anymore.
    posted by Mitheral at 9:32 PM on June 14 [11 favorites]


    I'm sorry to hear this is happening. I finally stepped up and committed to my five bucks a month. I hope enough of us do. And I so appreciate all the work that goes into this site.
    posted by latkes at 9:38 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    I don't think that non-combative slivers of discussion in Ask is a particularly bad thing and have been trying to express that in my moderation decisions and my guidance to the team there.

    Good! Yes! I like hearing that, and hope you continue to. The type of thing beerperson talks about is something I've noticed, too, and really not okay. I do worry on some level that the damage is done. If we have a shrinking participant base, because people are filtering off to other sites, then the blue and the green and fanfare just . . . become ghost towns. And no one wants to shout into a ghost town, no matter how politely.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:39 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    Few posts gets rejected, always on the strength of a discussion with the submitter, generally on the grounds that the proposed post is the kind of shitshow that would have melted down and/or gotten deleted outright form MetaTalk in the pre-queue days; not much gets deleted from the comments within thread either, though it's more than the zero that some folks mistakenly take as ever having been the real standard. Old-school MetaTalk's reputation as a no-holds-barred thunderdome are a mixture of mistaken and deeply regrettable.

    I continue to think that the platonic ideal of a queueless MetaTalk is a nice thing to yearn for but, seriously, look at the clusterfuck that was the pre-queue days and tell me that that was actually A Good Thing and I will have a bridge to sell you. I have zero fondness for the "don't delete people's hostile toxic bullshit in the comments, that was the real stuff" history of early MetaTalk threads.

    Shit's complicated and I like the idea of people speaking their minds, but people Speaking Their Minds frequently translated to people losing their goddam minds and other people mocking them fairly cruelly for it. That happening in the grey unfettered is not a proud part of this site's heritage and I do not remotely miss those shitpile days of yore and have no patience for their recollected value here in the year 2018.


    You obviously personally disliked the old metatalk; I found its openness and availability without having to go through moderators to be a huge plus of the site. Kind of irritating to be told that I am gullible or don't remember it or whatever because I have a different opinion, but what are you gonna do.

    Also, I know it's 6 mods, I corrected down thread. I wish that similar levels of pushback/give a shit were directed at the person who was nasty to likeatoaster as well as at me. I mean that guy also got the # of mods wrong, yeah? I'm not trying to pick at you but this is the exact kind of "harsh to people who disagree, but let people who agree be dicks" kind of modding that is both labor-intensive and not actually improving the tone of the site.
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:06 PM on June 14 [10 favorites]


    Old style MetaTalk also led to a lot of people buttoning. Something to keep in mind.
    posted by Chrysostom at 10:14 PM on June 14 [21 favorites]


    You obviously personally disliked the old metatalk

    I liked the old MetaTalk a lot! I spent a lot of time there, I fucked around there constantly, I oohed and aahed and laughed and gossiped and recollected about the crazy shit that went down there. I was pretty hesitant about instituting the queue and still think that, for reals, in an ideal universe we wouldn't need one.

    I like the idea, the platonic notion, of an unmoderated, unchecked, folks-just-working-stuff-out-for-themselves space for conversation. I enjoyed the outright goofiness, the freewheeling process of trying to figure out what the boundaries even were in a site that was young and finding its feet and looking for answers to questions it was still figuring out how to even ask about itself.

    But old MetaTalk also was also a shitshow. An absolutely awful, hurtful shitpile of a place. It was a showcase for cruelty and the kind of performative assholery that the worst circles of current toxic social media often valorize. It often performed very, very poorly as a community discussion space, prioritizing the loudest and meanest voices over any kind of attempt at careful and thoughtful mediation of complicated community conflicts.

    Like I said: it's complicated. I think there's a sort of rosy liberatarian-flavored ideal of a MetaTalk where everybody just hashes stuff out well without any guidance, where no one's an asshole unless someone really deserves it and what "really deserving it" means is unambiguous and very narrowly defined.

    But there's thousands of people here and it takes very little poor judgement to swerve from that imagined ideal into the kind of ugly clusterfuck that chases off all but the loudest, most awful voices, and as much as I understand and even actively sympathize with the wish for something more utterly free-form I cannot get behind the practical reality of how shit actually plays out when no one is minding the conversation, and I have no patience for the canonization of that old lousy fuckaround awfulness as some better, more healthy period of site history. There are other places on the internet where that kind of shit is not just tolerated but valued; this isn't one of them.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:25 PM on June 14 [47 favorites]


    I wish that similar levels of pushback/give a shit were directed at the person who was nasty to likeatoaster

    Seriously, please let me know the details at the contact form if someone is being a shithead over mefimail, etc. We cannot act on stuff we don't know about, and I consider people being shitty over email or mefimail to be absolutely a problem and actionable.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:28 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


    bitter-girl.com: "3. Make it easier to share content to social media. Implementing Pullquote or something like it to share specific comments from long threads would be great."

    This is awesome and exactly what I had in mind regarding visual sharing of site text. Just style it blue and add a MeFi logo and it would be perfect.
    posted by Rhaomi at 10:36 PM on June 14 [6 favorites]


    First, I *STRONGLY* recommend returning to the old colored backgrounds for non-members.

    cortex: "I think about this regularly. Regularly."

    Cortex, YOU... HAVE... THE POWER. *thunderclap*
    posted by Rhaomi at 10:40 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    Would like the “pullquote” feature also. With appropriate links back to context of course.
    posted by Artw at 10:41 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


    First of all, thank you to cortex and the other mods for all that you do.

    I feel like weighing in even though others have already more eloquently said most of what I wanted to. I, too, am concerned by the shift in tone and moderation over the 10+ years I've been mostly-lurking here. It feels like such a weird dynamic, because on the one hand, racism/sexism/bigotry of all kinds are much less tolerated than in the past, which is a change that I'm 100% in favor of. But on the other hand, there's a frequent phenomenon where nasty, hostile comments are permitted or outright condoned in comment threads, as long as they get support from enough users. I saw it happen just yesterday, in the most recent #potus45 thread.

    (The worst variant of this pattern, which I've lost count of how many times I've seen: User A makes a civil comment that's 95% in agreement with the general consensus; user B seizes on that 5% difference and responds with some snide variant of "if you really believe [gratuitous distortion of A's comment] then you're a horrible person who should fuck right off"; other users take the exaggeration as if it was A's actual position and pile on, gathering dozens of favorites; A tries to clarify or defend their position, and is told to "back off" or similar by the mods. Any attempts to call out B's incivility are construed as an endorsement of whatever shitty viewpoint was attributed to A.)

    It hurts my soul a little bit every time I see someone turned into a punching bag over a minor difference of opinion, or even a misunderstanding. It hurts my soul a bit more when I sit back and let it happen because I can't muster the energy to put myself in the firing line instead. And to be honest, the fear of being on the receiving end of it is a big part of why I don't post or comment more often.

    Again, none of this is meant to diminish the vital importance of the moderation that does happen.

    ----

    On a more directly related note: I would feel a lot more comfortable about making regular donations to the site if it was organized as a non-profit, for reasons that haven't changed since the topic came up in 2017. The level of transparency in this post is an absolute breath of fresh air, and I would love it if the site was legally structured so as to make it the rule rather than the exception.

    I don't have the slightest idea what non-profit lawyers charge, but I just kicked in $150 to hopefully help defray the cost of that consultation cortex mentioned earlier.
    posted by teraflop at 10:42 PM on June 14 [36 favorites]


    The worst variant of this pattern, which I've lost count of how many times I've seen: User A makes a civil comment that's 95% in agreement with the general consensus; user B seizes on that 5% difference and responds with some snide variant of "if you really believe [gratuitous distortion of A's comment] then you're a horrible person who should fuck right off

    Yeah, this is a problem and something we're trying to find a better approach to pushing back on. The catch-all threads are especially frustrating because they're so long and busy and just by virtue of the subject matter a relentless onslaught of crappy news to sort through, and so it's harder to consistently catch and fix this stuff than it would be for an isolated dustup in this or that thread. We've worked to address the problem on a per-user basis some over time but it can be a whack-a-mole dynamic where quashing one specific bit of crappy behavior ends up opening up space for another. We're talking a lot about finding ways to be more broadly effective on pushing back on it that kind of overall vibe, because it's not good for the site and it's not good for us to be constantly wading through.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:49 PM on June 14 [12 favorites]


    (Still catching up, but my gut-level reaction to adding images to posts is that there may be some copyright issues involved in the ownership of the photos, especially if they're taken from the links in the FPP itself. Not that I expect
    a mountain of litigation from doing so... but something to keep in mind, I suppose, if we want to keep the site's reputation distinct from the relative lawlessness of other social media sites.)
    posted by lesser weasel at 10:50 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


    Serious question: How often do the Metafilter staff get a chance to get together in a room physically in a business context and actually strategically plan / think through these sorts of issues? I know there is a lot that can be done day to day over video chat etc, but nothing beats having people in a room, with a whiteboard and a blank sheet of paper and innovate/prototype/plan or whatever. Maybe with a very limited number of community nominated/respected members who are prepared to contribute their time/experience to help. The outcome could be shared with the community / maybe even do a video conference round table at the end to talk it through in live format. It doesn’t solve the problem - but maybe it’s a better approach then a 500 comment thread followed by 1 or 2 people being expected to somehow go solve the problem on their own.

    Proposal: The community sponsor this (a Meta Summit if you will). I’ll go on the record as personally being ok donating 75k AA airmiles / some SPG hotel points one time to have a few folks fly in and stay a few nights somewhere in the US - easier for me to donate then an equivalent cash donation. I suspect we have a lot of other high-travel members with points balances who could make this incredibly doable with only a few contributors. Others maybe able to help with an appropriate office space to do this properly or something else.
    posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:55 PM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    lesser weasel: "(Still catching up, but my gut-level reaction to adding images to posts is that there may be some copyright issues involved in the ownership of the photos, especially if they're taken from the links in the FPP itself. Not that I expect a mountain of litigation from doing so... but something to keep in mind, I suppose, if we want to keep the site's reputation distinct from the relative lawlessness of other social media sites.)"

    IANAL but I feel like this is a solved problem via DMCA/safe harbor stuff, right? Twitter, Reddit, Imgur, etc. are built largely on automated thumbnails and user-generated image sharing. As long as there's a takedown system for people with copyright complaints I doubt this would be a legal problem.
    posted by Rhaomi at 11:01 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


    cortex: The revamped signup concept is a whole thing, so more something I'll revisit in detail in the near future than dig into in here tonight, but the core thing about MeFi's five bucks is not the five bucks but the introduction of friction and a sense of deliberate intent to join up. I believe we can manage that without tying it to a monetary transaction, is the very short version of my thesis.

    I would love to see MetaFilter separate membership from a required financial cost (however small). For many years (probably since Matt introduced the $5 sign-up fee), I've been noodling on an idea for a non-financial barrier to entry, so why don't I just write it up here for kicks:
    1. A visitor fills out an "I'd like to join!" form, which offers them a choice of either paying to sign up or waiting for a free account. If they choose the free option, they get a temporary account with no username, no profile page, no posting privileges, or anything else.
    2. Once per 24 hours (or week or month or whatever), an automated process (or a human moderator?) picks some number of the oldest temporary accounts to become eligible for full membership at no cost.
    3. When a temporary user visits the site while they're eligible for free membership, they see a big message on the site to that effect. If they choose, they can now complete the sign-up process.
    4. If a user doesn't complete the sign-up process within some time frame (a month?), the free membership window closes and their account just goes to the end of the potential members queue.
    5. If a temporary user doesn't sign in for some duration (six months? a year?) their temporary account is deleted automatically. They can make a new one when they come back.
    6. At any time, a temporary user could change their mind and pay the normal sign-up fee to become a member immediately.
    This would be open to anyone, regardless of how they discover the site (rather than just friends of current users, like invite links would be). It only hands out free accounts to users who are actually logged in to the site itself, not by email notification or anything else, which rewards the folks who are actively visiting the site while discouraging (to some extent) spammers or account speculators. The number of free users per day/week/month could be metered based on any number of factors: slow/busy modding seasons, site finances, and so on. I'm sure there are flaws here that I'm blind to, too, but I obviously think this is a direction worth exploring and experimenting with.

    Rhaomi: First, I *STRONGLY* recommend returning to the old colored backgrounds for non-members.
    This would quietly make me very happy.
    posted by Lirp at 11:02 PM on June 14


    Thank you so much for sharing all this with us.

    To echo several others, I think it would be great to be able to share a link to a single comment from a post. I'd like to suggest showing the comment more or less alone on its page, with a note below that says "This comment is part of a larger conversation, which is what Metafilter does best. Read the full conversation here."

    I also wonder if you might consider selling advertising to Mefites - especially for selling services. I do computer consulting, and I'm lucky enough not to really need more clients, but I'd be happy to advertise my services on Metafilter. You could even consider a two-tiered system where professionals or small companies could pay a reasonable amount for an ad, and people who have a side gig or a small Etsy store or something could pay a much smaller amount, closer to a donation than ad ad rate. It would be especially spiffy if advertisers could choose whether to show their ads to all visitors or logged-in members only, and if logged-in members could choose to see MeFite ads or not.

    Just a thought.

    Thank you, cortex, for doing all the tedious work of keeping the business running, and my thanks to all the mods, who keep Metafilter fabulous.
    posted by kristi at 11:16 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


    Seconding that I wouldn't mind seeing ads from other members' personal businesses, especially if we could manage which categories of products/services we would see ads for while logged in.
    posted by lesser weasel at 11:22 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


    A bit late to this, but thank you Cortex for sharing details. I'll make another donation this weekend. Also, as a person who runs his own design studio, I am open to creating a fanciful MeFi t-shirt design pro bono, so hit me up if that is of interest.

    I have an idea I wanted to throw out there. I learned about this MetaTalk thread on Kottke.org. Several people have commented about possibly making a more inviting front page for MeFi, at least for logged out users, that highlights great content. I know a lot of people hate Twitter's Moments feature, but personally I think something in that spirit could be smart.

    I think a core problem for MeFi, in terms of generating traffic, is that there is great content, but it is not very shareable because the greatness is not atomized into consumable edited nuggets. Of course, what's GREAT about MeFi is exactly that — it's deep and rich, rather than shallow and shiny. But deep and rich things tend to suffer if they don't have some sort of shiny front.

    So, I like the idea of somehow creating "best of" edited content that is more consumable (and thus shareable), basically like if there was an old-school proper blog with well-written and well-illustrated posts composed based on the vast contributions in a thread. But that means creating a whole new product, which is hard and risky and time-consuming and expensive. So what about joining forces with popular existing sites that already do this sort of thing?

    The obvious target is Kottke.org. For a lot of people it's the home of the independent web, at least in the liberal arts realm. I notice that almost every single Nerdwriter video gets a post on Kottke, to the point where I've wondered if Nerdwriter has some kind of deal with Kottke. But even if that were the case, I wouldn't mind, because Nerdwriter videos are generally very good.

    So, is it feasible to talk to Kottke about a deal where a MeFi moderator or maybe a volunteer would write a great summary-post derived from a particularly great thread per week, and have that posted on Kottke.org in a way that makes it clear that this is the weekly MetaFilter post? I think it would help increase the visibility of MetaFilter and bring in more traffic from a receptive audience.

    The pitch to Jason would be that it's free, good content, where he doesn't have to do the heavy lifting of combing through a million words on MeFi to produce an interesting post, and it would help out a site I believe he has some affinity for.

    Obviously there are a hundred reasons why Jason might not be into this, and it would be stupid to propose just trying this with Kottke.org. But one could imagine the same idea pitched to at least a dozen other relatively prominent sites like Digg, Swiss-Miss, Messy Nessy, 3 Quarks Daily, etc — maybe even a few more traditionally commercial editorial sites, like Slate or something. Maybe it's almost like a syndication type thing.

    Anyway, just a thought. Also, while I'm on the podium: Please take the comments a few smart people above are making about the lack of people of color and the overwhelming whiteness of the site very seriously. Thanks for listening!
    posted by edlundart at 11:44 PM on June 14 [9 favorites]


    It feels to me like when the mods when from 3 (or 4 when vacapinta came on board parttime) to the 6 we have now, it was fixing something that wasn't actually broken.

    Firstly, I want to say that anyone using memail to disagree with a person is straight up being a dick. It's threatening, it's covert, it's not nice. If you don't want to say it in thread, why not?? Cause its not cool, is why. Memail should only be used for variations of "right on!" and follow up questions that would be a derail.

    On your second point above, Im not disagreeing with your perception at all, but I want to also share mine from the same period :

    Metafilter had some great content, and an engaging, fun user base. There was also a shocking level of misogyny, casual racism and harrassment. The blue and especially the grey were dominated by a clique of new york mefites and a few other long time members who often treated the place as a private chat room, and it felt exclusionary due to the preponderance of in jokes, their "house tone" and the mocking they engaged in. It made me feel like an unpopular nerd at school. I've only had like three hostile memails in my time here, and two of them came from members of this group. As a non American the site also wasn't very welcoming (still a work in progress there...)

    Metatalks usually escalated, disastrously, mefites were bullied and harangued from the site (maybe they were being assholes, still not cool). There was a culture of heroes and villains. It felt very... In and out groups.

    The site is surely more sedate, even sanitised now. I prefer it. I also think some of the drop off people are referring to is a result of the community shrinking in general, rather than specific mod policies.


    I and another user got scolded in-thread by a mod for exchanging a handful of goofy riffs on making up LotR characters in a thread which was not about LotR


    Again, this is fun for you, but for me I find that really annoying and performative when someone's making jokes over and over like this in a non jokey thread about a real topic.

    Not saying you're wrong, just that different people want different things from the site and they are hard to reconcile.

    I support the idea of breaking politics threads out, I do think they've changed the character of the blue and they are not very engaging for non Americans. But maybe thinking about areas that can be more chatty? I know chat was meant to do this but it feels like it's not used that much?
    posted by smoke at 11:53 PM on June 14 [26 favorites]

    've been seriously considering the opposite, in fact; the signup fee is a really small source of revenue at this point, and also as much as it's a useful gate to spammers and dinguses it's also sometimes a barrier to folks of very limited means or no good Paypal solution.


    You are not Payless shoes and I am not your ecommerce payment provider but they let people pay via cash at places like 7-11. It might be a case of talking to PayPal or stripes api and making it happen.

    Did not read whole thread but re: Politics split. I don’t know your code but if you can reuse some of the fanfare code to “hide” it? Toggle A is no politics threads and popular sidebar of pops from politics, toggle B is including.
    posted by tilde at 11:55 PM on June 14


    I would love to advertise my stuff on Metafilter.
    posted by philip-random at 12:00 AM on June 15 [6 favorites]


    Also Wisebread did this. Perhaps MF can do something along those lines via self pub Kindle; holler if I can help.
    posted by tilde at 12:00 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    > Hostility to people who agree on 99% of things but who aren't sufficiently orthodox and pure is a problem, here.

    It is. And this isn’t just a nostalgia for the more free-for-all low-modding days of past MeFi, either.

    To give one example from my own experience: I’m a female MeFite who lurked on and off for years before joining, in significant part due to the boyzone culture on here, and I nearly buttoned a few times in the past over it too. I have no wish to return to the days of “I’d hit it”. But, over the past couple of years I’ve done a lot less posting about/discussing/reading issues close to my heart about women and feminism on here, because the tightrope act of treading exact consensus opinion or risking a pile-on is more trouble than it’s worth.

    This kind of dynamic definitely does make the site less recommendable to outsiders, and that’s a shame.

    On another note: I’d like to cast another vote for blogs.metafilter.com in some form. Hosting a whole blogging platform seems like a lot of work, and as others have said, there other platforms out there. But what the web has largely lost is the sense of blogging communities and that’s missed outwith MeFi as well as on here. I think it’d lead to a lot more engagement with the site as a whole.

    Also, I’ll be upping my subscription and I appreciate cortex & co keeping us up to date on site finances in this way.
    posted by Catseye at 12:45 AM on June 15 [32 favorites]


    That's a great point about blogging communities, Catseye.
    posted by Chrysostom at 12:54 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    re: regional Amazons - Australia is soon going to be restricted to our own .com.au version so please don't forget to include us in any redirects and alternatives. I spend a stupid amount of money on Kindle books so could probably fund half a pony all by myself that way, in addition to my existing monthly donation.
    posted by harriet vane at 1:00 AM on June 15 [6 favorites]


    In terms of using social media to drive traffic to the site: how about asking folks to use a specific hashtag during a funding drive? I don't use twitter or instagram etc much myself (except as an occasional reader), so I'm no expert, but some candidates off the top of my head:
    #mefidrive
    #helpmetafilter
    #longlivemefi
    #ilovemefi

    And people who do use social media can tag their tweets/pictures/videos/media of why they love MeFi, or that they're a subscriber/they donated; or it could just be a message encouraging people to donate or become a subscriber. Maybe a few famous people who are #mefisown or are MeFi lurkers would join the bandwagon and help pass the word along to their many followers. Again I'm not much of a twitter user, so maybe this is already happening!

    Possibly an AskMe-specific drive, too, for people who love AskMe but may not spend a lot of time on other subsites.

    Also: when making a donation on charity sites, or even buying stuff, after you make a payment I've seen prompts to tweet about it, e.g. "I just donated to ____!" or "I just bought ___!" with whatever the official hashtag is. Something like this could be added to the MeFi subscription/donation workflow. "I just subscribed to MetaFilter!" Of course anyone who doesn't want to do this sort of thing should be able to skip it.

    I also thought about a similar thing after someone creates a post, so they can see a link to share their new post immediately from the confirmation page or the auto MeFiMail confirmation. I guess one drawback would be if the post turns out to be deleted for whatever reason before they even get to the post; so an alternative would be adding a ProTip that they can use Twitter/Facebook share links from their post. Something like that could fit right in the auto MeMail confirmation (for people who have them enabled).

    In terms of the site features and development growing in ways that might not be obvious to a user (such as share links, or labs, or social explorer etc): over the past few years I've more than once thought it would be nice to have:

    A. A page that explains the benefits of being a member, including a comparison chart (because who doesn't love comparison charts? rhetorical question). e.g. MyMeFi, MyAsk, personalized recommendations, Add to Activity, Recent Activity, IRL notifications, etc. A friendly intro of all the subsites that members can participate in.

    One of my favorite things of all on the site is that logged-in members get new comment alerts in the browser tab title and inline in the thread. I think that more lurkers might pay to sign up if they knew about that and other features that may/may not require actually commenting or posting anything.

    B. MeFi tour(s) that go into the features in detail: something like a guide with screenshots. Here's where Recent Activity is, what it does, how you can use favorites, what options are available in your preferences, how to hide your activity from non-members, etc.

    Both A+B could be crowdsourced and started on the wiki (it's literally been on my "if I ever have time" todo list for years). However, a more prominent, official page of membership benefits would be great, and helpful to both potential members and existing members.

    Anybody who writes MetaFilter greasemonkey/user scripts or stylish user styles: I've tried always to post a note saying something like "If you like this user script/style, please consider donating directly to MetaFilter" with a link to the funding page. Because without MeFi there'd be no need for the script. I welcome and encourage people to take that idea and run with it for their own scripts, or anything they make for MeFi.

    Anyway, just some thoughts. I think the above hasn't been mentioned yet -- if it has, I'm sorry for missing it and hope I didn't retread anything.

    Thank you, cortex, for the comprehensive state of the site report. I love MetaFilter and like so many other folks who have said it here, this community is an essential part of my life and has been there for me in countless ways. One of the many things I've learned here is that it is okay to ask for help. Honestly I still have a hard time with that one, more often than I would like, but I'm working on it. Thank you for letting us know the truth of what's happening and for asking for help, so that we can pitch in if we can, however we can.
    posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 1:51 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    I think probably we should plan to have a new merch discussion thread soon

    Cortex plushies!

    Would a YouTube channel that collected and curated member content be viable?

    Start with putting the podcast on Youtube! That after all neatly showcases the breadth and depth of what MeFi has to offer and having it on Youtube is easier than having to find it in itunes or whatever.

    In the age of social media and people reluctant to actually visit other websites, the greatest struggle for MeFi is finding the sort of people who'd really really like it, but don't know that they would yet. Text based, discussion orientated websites created by members for members have become rare when people are conditioned to passively receive streams of content and at best can only comment on it. Most people are satisfied by that, but we need to find that one weirdo in a hundred who'd take like a duck to water here if only they know we existed.

    Getting and keeping a steady stream of new people here is essential if MeFi is going to survive when advertising cannot sustain it. Because you can't keep asking the current users to keep upping their contributions.

    Though I did of course. Don't want MeFi to go away before I've posted my 1000th post...
    posted by MartinWisse at 2:14 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    Upped my donation. MF has given me answers to a bazillian questions, new music, knowledge about stuff I didn't even know existed, not to mention an amazing husband and, by proxy, an under-construction baby. So it would be rude not to, really.
    posted by greenish at 2:31 AM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    Another suggestion - experiment! I sense some trepidation regarding adding sidebar links to referrals, shopping, subscriber content... Try it. You don't have to keep it.

    A merch Metatalk thread is probably a good idea. I like the idea of design contests. Great way to engage the community.

    Another idea would be to add a Shopping section to the site. I don't know about other people, but I love Metafilter gift, food, and other product suggestions. I've done a lot of XMas shopping from Metafilter lists in the past. It would either work or be terrible. :-)
    posted by xammerboy at 2:47 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    I'm not too fond of the idea of a Shopping section because it would be either very US-centric, or very online-shopping-centric, and there are already a ton of sites for online shopping recommendations. I'm also not sure how it would help MeFi gain revenue.

    The suggestion to experiment more is one I can get behind.

    Not many people seem to care for the idea of a charity auction, which is a shame. I'd love to get my crafty on and make some monies for MeFi.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 2:59 AM on June 15


    I like me some good merch and I'd be up for buying community-designed T-shirts and magnets, but merch sales are never going to provide the kind of steady income that Metafilter requires. There's only so many T-shirts people can buy.
    posted by adrianhon at 3:04 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Today is payday for me, and I’ve just doubled my monthly contribution. MetaFilter means a lot to me, and I want it to thrive and to be a good place for all us, and especially for those who work here.
    posted by Songdog at 3:20 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    I'd pay something for the ability to ask more then one askme a week.

    One thing that might help is some press coverage. I know Borderland Books in SF has sponsors that do a $100 dollar a year sponsorship, and a historic gay bar, The Stud, got taken over by a group from the community as well. There might be a possible news story in community in talking about community supported businesses, on and offline. Or maybe LifeHacker will write an article, given how many articles they've ripped from AskMe. I incidentally submitted a link to this to boing boing, but reaching out personally is probably better then me as a random internet stranger doing it.

    Metafilter has at least a small celebrity status, at least in certain circles. Another thing, and you might already be doing it, would be to reach out to various well known people and ask if they have any suggestions for support, or can help in any way. Maybe Craig Newmark will donate something, maybe Charles Stross will plug you in his blog, or maybe Amazon will forgo expenses for a year, if you ask Jeff Bezos.

    You might be able to up amazon referral revenue if there was an explicit product review/product suggestion filter, separate from askme.
    posted by gryftir at 3:47 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Thanks for the update, the transparency, and for being a good human in looking out not only for your mods' stable employment but also for those of us needing the community during Our National Dumpster Fire. MF is one of the tabs I keep open all day, every day. I read it at work when I can, I read it during dinner sometimes, I read it every morning when I wake up, and I read it in the middle of the night when I can't sleep.

    I have used more than I've paid for over the years, so today I began a monthly $35/month contribution, and bought t-shirts and stickers.
    posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:04 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    I have two things to say.

    1) While a lot of ideas to increase revenue have been thrown out there, I'm concerned that a lot of them will have limited effect on revenue on a regular basis, and that the time to implement won't pay off in the long haul. Entire sites are devoted to recommendations or merchandise so I am not sure that those or other avenues are going to create the needed revenue stream.

    2) I am strongly opposed to chatfilter on ask. It is really irritating when you are trying to solve a problem and people are making off-topic jokes or making comments that are only tangentially related. That is what has made askmefi different from other sites, at least for me. It's also the only part of this site I regularly visit and I'd probably stop coming here altogether if it became chatty because it's a slippery slope. It's why I can't get into the other parts of metafilter and it would be a shame to see it go that way, for me.
    posted by Aranquis at 4:35 AM on June 15 [8 favorites]


    If we're gonna have more ads on MetaFilter, especially ads for logged-in users, the scenario I'd hate the least would be MeFites advertising their own products/services to other MeFites. I probably wouldn't even block them.
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:12 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    Added a monthly subscription, and I would be quite happy to install a Chrome extension to route my Amazon purchases via affiliate link.
    posted by MattWPBS at 5:12 AM on June 15


    Can't we ask more than one question per week on askme now? I thought Team Mod changed it to twice a week a few months ago.
    posted by zarq at 5:13 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Here's the "two questions a week" metatalk thread.
    posted by zarq at 5:16 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    part of 24/7 hands-on moderation is that that is essentially the bare minimum ethical standard for responsible community moderation

    I get it. But what is the plan if you can't get the roughly $450,000/year needed to pay for it? Do you shut down the site altogether? Shut down comments in the hours when site participation is the lowest? Sell it and let someone else deal with the problem?
    posted by grouse at 5:19 AM on June 15 [7 favorites]


    Do you trust the mods or not when they say repeatedly that no one who submits a post and wants to go through with it is not allowed to post it

    I am not sure if this is a claim that the mods have actually made, but it's not true. The only time I tried to make a MetaTalk post since the queue system was set up, cortex vetoed it, the end. I no longer bother trying to make posts here because I don't feel like sinking the effort into something that will not actually make it to the site.
    posted by enn at 5:20 AM on June 15 [6 favorites]


    Am I the only one who actually just doesn't feel like the moderation here has gotten more heavy-handed over time? I've been around here in one form or another since 2004 and other than the fact that we have 24/7 coverage now, I feel like the mods' hands weigh about the same, so to speak. The values of the communuty have certainly shifted and moderation has adjusted accordingly, but while the types of things that get moderated have changed, I feel like the overall intensity of moderation has not. Really. Just me?
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:29 AM on June 15 [35 favorites]


    Oh, except for on the neverending shitshow that is the politics thread, but that's a really special case and I think if I were King of Metafilter I would just nuke that thread completely, just shut it down. I know a lot of people like it but I really think having that thread is bad for the community and bad for the site.
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:35 AM on June 15 [11 favorites]


    Just a quick note to say that I’m another person whose MeFi experience has been significantly improved by changes in moderation in recent years. The changes made me comfortable to participate instead of just lurk, and a return to the earlier style of moderation would likely have the reverse effect. Which isn’t to say that I’m right and people who preferred less/different moderation were wrong, just to shore up the notion that any change in moderation is a win for some folks and a loss for others, and therefore more complicated than just “if we dial back moderation, people will return and the site will get more lively.”

    Thank you mod staff, again, for your work making this a place where I’m willing to be a queer woman with mental health issues, out loud, on the internet, which is otherwise a thing I do mostly in locked spaces because ugh, it’s a cesspool out there.
    posted by Stacey at 5:42 AM on June 15 [19 favorites]


    Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The: Am I the only one who actually just doesn't feel like the moderation here has gotten more heavy-handed over time?

    I am a relative n00b, but I don't feel like we're slowly being smothered.

    My own deletions have always been smart-arse noise, which are totally valid to get nuked. And I don't feel like the walls are closing in....but how would we know, since he evidence is all gone? *cue "X-Files" theme*
    posted by wenestvedt at 5:47 AM on June 15 [5 favorites]


    My own deletions have always been smart-arse noise, which are totally valid to get nuked.

    Same. Also I feel really really really guilty afterwards for making extra work for mods, so I self-edit a bit harder for some time afterwards. (Just to be clear, this is a good thing. I have a Tumblr and Twitter and the whole entire internet in which to spew my unadulturated brain-droppings, it's frankly kind of comforting that there's one place where I check myself more carefully.

    Also I wound up reading a post from 2003 that started off with one of the most shockingly vile comments I've ever come across. I am very, very okay with not accepting that kind of discourse any more.
    posted by kalimac at 6:06 AM on June 15 [11 favorites]


    Am I the only one who actually just doesn't feel like the moderation here has gotten more heavy-handed over time?

    I'm with you on this. I've been around for 10 years probably and there has been a gradual evolution of how the mods work, as Cortex discussed up thread. But it certainly doesn't feel overbearing to me. If anything, I sometimes feel the mods are trying to give the benefit of the doubt to people who are clearly just trying to be assholes. But then, I also haven't been in the politics mega threads all year, which probably insulates me from a lot of places where the mods are working the hardest.

    The bottom line for me is that if you want a place where you can say whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, start a blog. That is literally what they are for.
    posted by COD at 6:08 AM on June 15 [5 favorites]


    The bottom line for me is that if you want a place where you can say whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, start a blog. That is literally what they are for.

    Yes but this is a big, big practical problem if it's driving away participants and useful conversations from parts of the site that once created revenue, such as ask. People don't blog anymore. They go and ask their friends questions on facebook and twitter and talk to strangers on reddit. The idea, too, that link-sharing culture is gone now, is just inaccurate. If I want to talk to my friends about something, or ask for advice, I post about it on fb now, where I'm guaranteed to have an interesting discussion with smart people--many of whom I met through metafilter but who no longer post here at all.

    If people like the moderating style, it's okay, I guess, except it feels like we're applying band-aid solutions to a problem rather than addressing it at its core. And it's not as if there's not a problem here. This thread is directly about that.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:17 AM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    I think we should differentiate between "modding chatfilter in the politics thread" and "modding chatfilter everywhere else." If you participate a lot in the politics thread it can feel like the mods are extremely strict--and that's because in that specific thread they are. We've had discussions about why this is so. Ultimately it helps make the thread a bit more manageable for both mods and users.

    AskMefi has never been a place for chat and I feel that's what makes it so effective. Would someone be able to provide examples of comments that were deleted for being chatty that they feel would've contributed to the overall question?

    Also: I think sometimes people take comment deletions extremely personally. I would warn against that.

    Also also: I've never felt the mods were overly strict in moderation. I think it has improved though. I've been on this site since 2004. MeFi moderation has evolved with our culture--it is far more sensitive to issues involving marginalized communities and I'd never want to go back to the world of jokes about trans people and "I'd hit it" and all that. Do people not remember how ugly it used to be? Or do you resent that you don't get to make those jokes any more?

    Obligatory: this discussion is getting off-topic from the funding issue (said the person contributing to the off-topic discussion)
    posted by schroedinger at 6:19 AM on June 15 [16 favorites]


    To a degree, I understand that people are being nostalgic, or missing the old MeFi, when they talk about the "heavy-handed" (or whatever adjective you want to use) moderation — but a ton of people say they would leave in a hot second if the moderation declined.

    A good garden takes tending and pruning, otherwise it's just a overgrown field full of fertilizer.
    posted by Celsius1414 at 6:24 AM on June 15 [8 favorites]


    Obligatory: this discussion is getting off-topic from the funding issue (said the person contributing to the off-topic discussion)

    It's not. Cortex said in the main post that lower engagement is a contributor here. (See: the section titled "site engagement.")

    Again, this isn't about wanting abusive comments. And it's not about one particular comment or thread. This is about an overall tighter modding style that in aggregate shifts the tone of the site. If you read questions from 8 years ago, the tone shift is obvious.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:25 AM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    Haven’t noticed any change in moderation outside of the megathreads. Not entirely a fan of the megathread moderation because it can feel a bit arbitrary but those are a 1000+ comments long on on potentially fighty subjects where people are often stressed and venty, so it’s Not surprising things get a bit ragged around the edges there.
    posted by Artw at 6:25 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Old style MetaTalk also led to a lot of people buttoning. Something to keep in mind.

    Not just The-MetaTalk-That-Was, either: the most recent MeTa that turned into a transphobic mess (yes, there have been more than one) with multiple users buttoning was all of eight months ago.
    posted by zombieflanders at 6:27 AM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    Late to the party. But I’m so sorry you’ve all been stressed. This place gave me and my family some of the most precious friends I’ve ever had, who are as cherished as family.

    Subscription tripled. Soz it’s not more. You’re worth a bloody lot more.
    posted by taff at 6:45 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    I am both profoundly uncomfortable with and grudgingly, morbidly in favor of this.

    Some-Person: I don't know, it's probably silly, just a pony request.
    Cortex: No request is too pony for you.

    (I will stop now)
    posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 6:45 AM on June 15 [6 favorites]


    Do people not remember how ugly it used to be? Or do you resent that you don't get to make those jokes any more?

    Taking this kind of approach to other users mentioning issues with site culture is itself a pretty good example of those issues with site culture.
    posted by Catseye at 6:56 AM on June 15 [40 favorites]


    Micro-monetize the entire site.

    I'm quite happy this seemingly has no legs and no other support, at least insofar as it could be a thing in this thread. Screw this in particular.

    Metafilter: I am both profoundly uncomfortable with and grudgingly, morbidly in favor of this.
    posted by RolandOfEld at 6:56 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    FWIW I think the amount of moderation is just right, but then again I don't usually read the political mega-threads because holy hell why would I want to subject myself to that?
    posted by bondcliff at 6:58 AM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    I thought Chrysostom was referring to cortex saying "old MetaTalk also was also a shitshow. An absolutely awful, hurtful shitpile of a place." Apologies if I misread that.
    posted by zombieflanders at 6:58 AM on June 15


    I've been on MetaFilter since 2010 and I agree with everything schroedinger wrote upthread about moderation. I realize I may not have the perspective other people do, but for me, moderation has seemed to be very well balanced and I for one appreciate the outstanding work the mods have done. It's a thankless and difficult task and there is no perfect approach. IMHO, reducing moderation would lead to a steady decline in the quality of MetaFilter. I hope the current funding issues can be resolved so that we don't see that happen.
    posted by StrawberryPie at 6:59 AM on June 15 [6 favorites]


    I don't read the politics threads so that isn't about this for me.

    Not just The-MetaTalk-That-Was, either: the most recent MeTa that turned into a transphobic mess (yes, there have been more than one) with multiple users buttoning was all of eight months ago.

    Ugh. Wish I hadn't read that.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:11 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Moderation has certainly got better since it was just Matt and Jessamyn when there were several users who got way more slack than they should have. The expansion of the team has levelled that out.
    posted by Mitheral at 7:23 AM on June 15 [7 favorites]


    Welp, I’ve been a regular participant here for 15 years, and an avid reader/lurker for at least three before that. My two cents:

    1. The mods have done an exceptional job with this place, and I feel truly fortunate to be a part of this community.

    2. Although I’d donated bits and pieces, I never realized the financial situation until just this morning when I read this thread. So I’m initiating a monthly recurring donation as soon as I post this comment.

    3. The US politics megathread has been a blessing and a curse for me, personally. It has given me hope by knowing there are so many others that share my concern, outrage, and frustration. But it has also contributed to orchestrating some of that same concern, outrage, and frustration. As a MeFite who has been deeply engaged in those threads, I nevertheless think there should come a time when they are phased out, for the good of the site.

    To that end, I might offer a couple of suggestions:

    a. A comment limit in Potus45 threads of once (or twice) per day. Or a thread comment limit of 1000 (or 1200, or 1500) comments per week. That will allow people to still interact and contribute in them, but may take the inflammation and fever down a bit for both members and mods in that thread.

    b. I sincerely hope that the politics megathread is an aberration on MeFi, due to the aberration currently in our White House. There are so many overlapping areas of outrage that it makes sense to have an omnithread in which to address them. But perhaps, once the latter is gone, the former can be discontinued, as well. Once the infection is out of our system, then MeFi can go back to having more narrowly-focused political issue threads.

    c. When I was on LinkFilter in its heyday, the Chatter was the main way members interconnected. It was a very robust discussion forum, and being so, it reduced a lot of the chatfiltery comments on the link threads. In contrast, MeFi’s chatter seems to be fairly...distant? Disengaged? I’m not sure why that is. (BTW, for various reasons, LiFi is moribund these days.)

    d. Another thought from the old LF days was that individuals could write their own Journals. These were discussion threads subordinated to the member’s Profile Page. Other members could post comments on them, but the Journals did not appear on the main page. The mods did not generally moderate them, unless someone flagged a comment for review. Something like this would allow individual members to have their own forum, where the posting rules were less rigorous.

    If MeFi were to introduce a Journal feature, it could allow a lot of the discussion that currently goes into the megathread to be handled away from the front page. If, for example, I have Chrysostom as a contact because I enjoy his contributions, I’ve basically subscribed to getting notices when he posts new content. So, when he posts a new Journal, a notice would appear in my sidebar, just as it does currently when a contact has a really popular comment now.

    I’d be really happy to see the megathreads eventually go away, but have more manageable Journals available for folks who want to discuss the political outrage of the day, celebrate hard-won victories, or mobilize action for the next big fight.


    Anyway, that’s all I have for now. Thanks to the mods and the awesome members for all you do to make MeFi a community I want to be a part of. Now, off to make that recurring donation!
    posted by darkstar at 7:43 AM on June 15 [13 favorites]


    I love the politics megathread (in the way that you love something that is horrible but necessary), but it needs to walled off from the rest of the site as much as possible (not on the sidebar, not in popular posts, etc). If it's opt-in, then the people who want it can have it, and everyone else can just pretend it's not there.
    posted by Mavri at 7:48 AM on June 15 [5 favorites]


    I've been a member since 2009 and a lurker for much longer. AskMeFi taught me the conflict resolution skills that my parents didn't, and a whole lot of relationship stuff - my happy marriage can be partially attributed to things I learned here. Metafilter taught me so many things that changed my worldview. Sadly I've been unemployed for a while and we're cutting the budget to the bone - I would appreciate occasional fundraising emails to remind me to subscribe when things are better.

    I've always been far more a reader and a lurker than a participant, so maybe my views are less nuanced, but the moderation feels about right to me. I like to read old posts but don't bother with anything before 2008, because I find them less enjoyable. I also used to read old metatalk a lot, and 'aggressive shit show' was basically my impression. I never would have dared comment there, at all, ever.

    That said, the issue of people threadshitting and reading the worst possible interpretation of someone's comment is real, and makes the threads feel a whole lot more fighty. I don't know if that has changed much though - I read a thread from 2010 today where the third comment was a negative, threadshitting rant. But see the recent 'interrupting' thread where the first comment out the gate just called people assholes, it doesn't set a great tone. I think the 'calling other people names' rule could be applied a bit harder to those generalising about whole groups of people.
    posted by stillnocturnal at 7:48 AM on June 15 [10 favorites]


    Not for nothing and it's a bit off topic, but it would be really great if we could get that free-form flagging option actually implemented sooner rather than later.
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:59 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    -PAY FOR PLAY CHATFILTER!!!! If you had to pay five dollars for a chat filter post, it would keep the number of them down, but it would let people have them, and oh man I want them so bad. Not even for myself! I want to see other people’s chat filters.

    -“Problematic Fave” posting options on Fanfare, maybe? Or the ability to tag posts with it? One reason I never want to discuss any television or movies or sports or ANYTHING on fanfare is because everything is problematic, but there are other spaces online where you can discuss problematic things without every single conversation being overwhelmed with the problematicness of the thing, but I feel like this tends to happen with a lot of FF threads I’ve gone looking for. Nothing like wanting to talk about something, and finding a group of people talking about how anyone who found anything worthwhile in it means you are a trash person to make you close out the thread and never come back.

    I just wish you could sometimes say “let’s take it as a given that this is a big old mess with a lot of problems but I want to take a mind break and talk about it anyway” because everything is the worst and sometimes finding little diamonds in the trash heap of life is allowed and possibly even encouraged.

    I dunno. I’m just so tired, you guys, and sometimes I find a thing that makes me smile, and my instinct is to say “hey, look at this thing! It made me smile!”, and getting back “that thing is garbage, you should feel bad for even bringing it up” just seems omnipresent around here sometimes, and lately, most of the time. I wish we had a way of signaling “I KNOW this media product is deeply flawed but also check out this character’s culottes” or “can I be stoked about Devante Smith-Pelly's NARRATIVE without prefacing it with my professional credentials to prove I care enough about CTE” or whatever.

    With my friends, or in other online spaces, I can say “I know this is problematic for X, Y, and Z reasons but this is still bringing me joy so I’m temporarily pretending the bad stuff is fake and I’m going with it” and they say “got it, tell me all about it”. I just wish we had more space for that on this site, about lots of things. It isn’t that the problematic stuff shouldn’t be up for discussion— but maybe it doesn’t need to be the overwhelming central focus of EVERY discussion, all the time.

    (ps I am not talking about “your movie stars a known sexual predator” here— I mean more like the time I sent my friend a sweet picture of a dog and a cat cuddling and she wrote back “the dog is going to murder the cat, dogs hate cats” and I burst into tears because WHY.)
    posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:00 AM on June 15 [26 favorites]


    Hell, I'd throw more money towards MeFi if we could wall off the US poli megathreads. This is not to say that they aren't useful or important, especially for people they directly affect, but they aren't self-contained. They are bleeding over into nearly everything on here, despite being told by the mods to flag it. Some days it just happens so often that I am too mentally exhausted to flag that stuff.

    And I do wonder if the stress of the current "administration" isn't also causing more fightiness. F'rex, the most recent thread about the Mortal Engines trailer (or hell, nearly any trailer at this point). It goes from MeFites who are fans of the source material being genuinely excited/intrigued/concerned to people who don't know the source material or care about the movie in any context to saying "this movie will suck" or "ugh this is terrible why would anyone want to watch this movie" or "god even the books sound stupid," etc. I mean, I've never read the books either and have minimal interest in said film, but I thought the trailer looked pretty neat.

    I have wanted to post something about a movie I am honestly excited for, but after reading that thread, I just don't want to anymore. I don't have enough spoons to watch people creep in, threadshit, and creep out. It's get real tiring real fast.
    posted by Kitteh at 8:10 AM on June 15 [13 favorites]


    If I were looking to retool moderation practices to foster more engagement, I'd get a lot more permissive about chatfilter (especially chatty questions—some of my favorites are those rare questions where someone just poses an open-ended question that's ripe for spitballing and storytelling and it's miraculously allowed to stand) and a lot more strict about threadshitting. I think that's kind of the general direction Team Mod has already expressed that they want to go, which is great. More people talking and having fun, less "this is bad and you should feel bad."
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:15 AM on June 15 [5 favorites]


    a fiendish thingy: -PAY FOR PLAY CHATFILTER!!!!

    Premium access restrictions for specific questions would likely reduce participation and thus the utility of AskMe. AskMe functions best when the entire community (the deepest possible well of experience) has the opportunity to offer helpful answers.

    Ivan Fyodorovich: Chat has always been verboten in AskMe.

    Well, not always. It's just been a long time.

    Chatfilter (not the same thing as chat) are open-ended questions that spark a wide-ranging discussion. Chatfilter has not always been well-defined, and as a result, it hasn't always been verboten. Plenty of chatfilter questions survive in the archives. Such as "How long could humanity survive if the sun is destroyed? or Do you think a super strong person could yank off his own head?.
    posted by zarq at 8:19 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    Do you think a super strong person could yank off his own head?.

    this question should have elucidated a division in the community just like Ask vs Guess

    but obviously the answer is yes
    posted by beerperson at 8:22 AM on June 15 [10 favorites]


    No pay to play for anything ever. Even the signup fee has always been waivable, if one can explain to the mods that five bucks is a financial hardship for you. I'm really glad that cortex doesn't seem interested in considering anything that would create a stratifiation of user classes based on ability or willingness to pay, even in a minor way. A mefite is a mefite.
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:23 AM on June 15 [21 favorites]


    Politics needs its own subsite is what it comes down to but the structure of metafilter isn't great for certain types of subsites which is part of the reason fanfare is so weird and somehow talking about television on here felt better back in the day of the Mad Men live threads on the blue.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:26 AM on June 15 [5 favorites]


    A “politics filter” subside like everything isn’t to some extent political would be a disaster.
    posted by Artw at 8:29 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    To a degree, I understand that people are being nostalgic, or missing the old MeFi, when they talk about the "heavy-handed" (or whatever adjective you want to use) moderation — but a ton of people say they would leave in a hot second if the moderation declined.

    I don't think we should have lighter moderation. Far from it. I think we actually should have stricter moderation. Specifically, for the many, many comments that are clearly made in bad faith but happen to align with the consensus view.

    Consider this illustration, which I've seen. User 1 says something to the effect that the FLDS "lost boys" are victims of their horrible religion, booted from their communities wherein they had virtually no chance to succeed in life or to find love because the Prophet has 30 wives, and these boys are considered superfluous. User 2 rapidly comes in with "women don't owe men sex." The second comment is left up despite being utterly made in bad faith to cast the original poster in a misogynist light. The fact that women don't owe men sex being utterly true notwithstanding, that comment was utterly, and intentionally misconstruing the original poster.

    Hair-trigger Uncharitable Interpretations R Us might as well be the Metafilter motto. And the mods just let it happen.

    Far from less moderation, I'd like to see stricter moderation. I've seen many good yet tense discussions where people are arguing passionately in good faith. Those tend to be outnumbered by bad faith miscasting of arguments that just are left standing.
    posted by tclark at 8:29 AM on June 15 [25 favorites]


    G'morning, catching up on stuff in pieces:

    Serious question: How often do the Metafilter staff get a chance to get together in a room physically in a business context and actually strategically plan / think through these sorts of issues?

    In the same physical room: very rarely historically (Matt and pb and I all lived within a couple hours drive but Jessamyn lived in VT, so grouping up meant her coming into Oregon or us all meeting up during travel); never in our current composition since we've got folks in four countries and an ocean between and the logistics there are pretty rough. I did have a chance to finally meet up with taz and LM a couple years back which was really nice.

    But in virtual terms we try to get together in the same "room" sometimes during set-aside meeting time to brainstorm and plan together in a really active way, as a supplement to our usual team email chains and the more casual one-on-one or small group discussions we have in Slack and over IM etc on a day to day basis.

    I agree that the organized meeting/brainstorming times are really valuable, and we're gonna up the frequency of that for the next bit to help us hash through more of these ideas quickly and work out next steps and a re-organized todo list.

    But what the web has largely lost is the sense of blogging communities

    Yeah, that's a big part of why I like the idea and will think on it more; it's not so much "what if random MeFite x had a blog" as it is "what if we supported and promoted a culture of blogging", which for a site that literally emerged as an experimental foray into that area has a strong resonance for me.

    Australia is soon going to be restricted to our own .com.au version so please don't forget to include us in any redirects and alternatives.

    Good to know! Taking a look, it seems like currently that region isn't incorporated in Amazon's OneLink stuff that would do the clever auto-switching of referrer codes, but I can get the direct link set up in any case to add to the funding page list and wherever else we might try to make those visible. And I'd guess the OneLink integration's just a matter of time.

    A. A page that explains the benefits of being a member ...
    B. MeFi tour(s) that go into the features in detail ...


    Aye, I think these are both good lenses to look at the process of demystifying the site and helping new users get on board (and understand why to get on board). I've roughed out a couple ideas along those lines before with the team and it's something to revisit. And I agree it could be a good spot to let folks in the community help work out this or that bit of without making it any one persons JOB job, etc.

    I'd pay something for the ability to ask more then one askme a week.

    Heh, as noted above: I have some very good news for you! And it's been working out totally fine, which is nice; it's enough of a non-event that folks don't particularly notice, and no one's been abusing it.

    While a lot of ideas to increase revenue have been thrown out there, I'm concerned that a lot of them will have limited effect on revenue on a regular basis, and that the time to implement won't pay off in the long haul.

    Yep, a lot of sorting through is is looking at what we can get good bang for buck out of. Some of this stuff is relatively simple; some of this stuff is likely to produce ongoing new revenue; the stuff that lines up on both of those qualities is where a lot of the team's attention will go first. Big infrastructure projects are their own thing; fun stuff like merch isn't going to solve a fundamental problem but is good for fun and morale and worth pursuing mostly just for that purpose (and maybe some one-off Overpriced For Fundraising stuff).

    But it's good to get everybody thinking and brainstorming; I like having y'all involved in spitballing stuff.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 8:32 AM on June 15 [5 favorites]


    I worry some may be treating the politics threads as a metonym for the awful political reality happening. The dead goat phenomenon is real but it predates the politics threads. I’d like to say more but any time I hit backspace while trying to comment, my phone freezes for 45 seconds. And I have to start again. Mobile app plz! And a vote however unpopular for the politics threads. Thank you mods and fellow negates. Mefites! But I darent hit backspace.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:33 AM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    Well, we still see media-related posts on the Blue even though there's FanFare nowadays. In my mind, a PoliticsFilter would be for posts that are explicitly about politics, and where people want to have a more focused discussion about that stuff. Also there would need to be different guidelines and expectations re: user behavior and moderation, as seen by how differently the current politics megathread is run compared to the rest of the Blue. It wouldn't mean no politics on the Blue ever, it would just serve to create a buffer between some of the sweatier, more intense stuff and the "cool stuff on the web" ethos that I think MeFi proper does best with.

    If we're going to have a 24/7 political discussion thread, which apparently we are, I'm in favor of getting it out of the Blue and into somewhere that's better suited for it. I agree that the negativity, fightiness, anxiety, and overall angst in that thread is negatively impacting the rest of the community.
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:36 AM on June 15 [6 favorites]


    If we're going to have a 24/7 political discussion thread, which apparently we are, I'm in favor of getting it out of the Blue and into somewhere that's better suited for it. I agree that the negativity, fightiness, anxiety, and overall angst in that thread is negatively impacting the rest of the community.

    Yeah, just, like, a separate tab or something. I do think a lot of this is problems with the metafilter interface, which is dated and seems very specific to a certain type of presentation. And I really, really think this is obvious with fanfare which could be wonderful but ends up just being odd to use and quiet. I'm not a UI designer though. I don't know why going to a subreddit for a specific TV show works better for me than fanfare, honestly, or why TWOP did. Part of it is just a larger audience, too.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:45 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    I honestly wish megathreads could just be their own spinoff site. I’m not saying that will or should happen, it just seems like the mods had to suddenly take on a new dual role as moderators of a community weblog and moderators of an intense 24/7 politics discussion site. The rest of us have been along for the ride. I remember there being arguments that this is the direction the community wants to go in, but I’ve never been convinced that it actually was. I know how valuable and important these threads are to people, but I don’t think the negatives have been fully addressed yet, and I’m not sure that something like a politics tab will actually do that much to change things. These threads will still be sucking up the same limited mod resources, and they’ll still affect the rest of the site, even if the threads themselves are out of sight for the rest of us.
    posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:56 AM on June 15 [15 favorites]


    Well, my preference would be for them to go away and for MeFi to go back to having limited, one-off discussions about specific political and current events issues rather than a nonstop liveblog of every shitty thing that is happening in America right now, but if we must have the megathread I'd love it if it were more contained somehow.
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:01 AM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    With kindness, you’ve made your position on it very clear.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:02 AM on June 15 [11 favorites]


    Unrelated, I really, really like the idea of some kind of blog feed. It’s a great way to connect people as a community. I think it could get tricky finding something workable - a super long RSS feed (tons of blog posts on one page) becomes hard to keep up with, and an index of personal blog links means most people’s will never be clicked on. But if it’s implemented right, it’ll be great.
    posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:02 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    The effect that contemporary politics in general, and that specifically the politics megathreads here, are having on MeFi is a worthy topic and something we're very definitely going to need keep talking about and examining, but I'd like to suggest we think about aiming for a dedicated MetaTalk to dig in on the details there beyond what's already been addressed so far in here. It's not off-topic per se but I feel like it could become sort of an all-consuming subthread and I'd prefer to make a more focused space for it some time soon instead.

    Not for nothing and it's a bit off topic, but it would be really great if we could get that free-form flagging option actually implemented sooner rather than later.

    Yup, right there with you. And more generally I think one of the good "hey, here's how x works on MetaFilter" discussions we could benefit from revisiting is Let's Talk About Flagging, When To Use It, Why It Helps. That would also be a good place to address some of the constellation of issues folks are talking about as far as people going for the dark/grumpy/combative/doomy takes on threads, too, or politics spilling out into the site in general, since as noted that's an ongoing challenge.

    But what is the plan if you can't get the roughly $450,000/year needed to pay for it? Do you shut down the site altogether?

    Nope. I don't consider that an option, period.

    Shut down comments in the hours when site participation is the lowest?

    That's a possibility; I don't love it but if we find ourselves seriously short-staffed it's one solution. The site could just straight up take Saturdays off, say, other than specific carve-outs like keeping IRL active for meetup stuff. On the softer side, we could end up just aiming for more alert-based, on-call mod coverage for some hours to spread fewer hands-on hours across the schedule, much like it was back in 2007 with just Matt and Jess and I.

    None of those solutions are ideal, but there's worst-case possibilities that aren't as bad as MeFi just going poof, if it comes to that.

    Sell it and let someone else deal with the problem?

    Absolutely not. Ever. Period. MetaFilter's a community, not a commodity, and selling it off to a disinterested third party is out of the question.

    Speaking to it broadly: what we do if the money to pay our current budget isn't there is find a way to make it work on less, even if that means staffing down. It's something we've talked about as a team before as a possibility, because we know we can't rule out the idea that the revenue just won't be there at some point. We have to plan for that ugly possibility, and we have planned for it; the recent situation sucks but it didn't hit us as a "how could this possibly happen" thing, because it could always very obviously possibly happen. In the face of that, I'm nonetheless 100% committed to MeFi sticking around one way or another.

    But it should be obvious that not laying people off is a high priority for me and for the team, both because it's people's livelihoods at stake and because it means maintaining a reasonable work-life balance for the moderation team. So I'm going to start by trying to solve the problem of making the revenue situation work first; if we can do it, that is the absolute best outcome.

    And so far, folks in and outside the MeFi community are...really really stepping up there. I'll get proper numbers together today when I have a chance to connect with frimble and crunch through it all, but I can say even just from napkin math that 2018 no longer looks like The Year We Lay Anyone Off and I am just tremendously fucking grateful for that.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:05 AM on June 15 [58 favorites]


    And I really, really think this is obvious with fanfare which could be wonderful but ends up just being odd to use and quiet. I'm not a UI designer though.

    I'm no UI expert either, but it seems to me that having something like the Watercooler view be the default landing page for FanFare might help.
    posted by nubs at 9:06 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    Yeah, that's the basic focus of the FanFare redesign stuff we've worked on. Help people get to the stuff where people are, and help people find the stuff they might be interested, as a landing page goal vs. the classic reverse-chron approach of other subsites.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on June 15


    give the mod dashboard to whichever logged-in member at any given moment has the lowest user number to spread around some of the moderating duties
    posted by beerperson at 9:10 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    The effect that contemporary politics in general, and that specifically the politics megathreads here, are having on MeFi is a worthy topic and something we're very definitely going to need keep talking about and examining, but I'd like to suggest we think about aiming for a dedicated MetaTalk to dig in on the details there beyond what's already been addressed so far in here. It's not off-topic per se but I feel like it could become sort of an all-consuming subthread and I'd prefer to make a more focused space for it some time soon instead.

    I would be happy to create one, but we already have this large thread happening.

    Should the new one wait, or would you be okay with them running simultaneously?
    posted by zarq at 9:14 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    I'm asking out of consideration for your (Team Mod's) time and energy.
    posted by zarq at 9:15 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    Yeah, I appreciate that. I'd prefer to wait a couple days at least; we have some other stuff in the queue already and it's been a pretty draining couple of days all around.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:16 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    (I mean, it's been a pretty draining couple of months, really, but, you know what I mean. I'd rather avoid too much risk of Salty Cortex, for my sake and everyone else's.)
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:17 AM on June 15 [6 favorites]


    No problem! Completely understandable. Hopefully things will start to get a little easier.

    --

    Since we're going to have a metatalk post about the politics threads (let's say within the next week or so to give this one (and the mods) time to breathe,) we can all table that aspect of the discussion until then, if everyone's amenable?
    posted by zarq at 9:19 AM on June 15 [7 favorites]


    Engagement's just tough on a phone, IMO. There've been posts I would have participated in a lot more (or FPPs I might have made) if I were in front of a proper computer with a keyboard when I read them. It takes at least three times as long to type anything (and more so if including links) on a touchscreen keyboard for me, so my comments that way are a lot more likely to be stupid jokes than anything else. Or an Ask I feel a need to try to answer well and thoroughly Right Now, which I do my best at and then I regret it because ow my wrists.

    I seriously need to set up an RSS reader again. It's hard to come across good post material when most of my internet stuff starts here already nowadays; I don't like or use Facebook. So I guess I'm not gonna be much help in promoting the site to others directly, but I will try harder to post more stuff that's not outrage-based. It makes me a little sad when people talk about all the great conversations they're having elsewhere, in that no-Homers-club way.
    posted by asperity at 9:20 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    If you read questions from 8 years ago, the tone shift is obvious.

    Chatfilter has not always been well-defined, and as a result, it hasn't always been verboten. Plenty of chatfilter questions survive in the archives.

    The thing is, I would be leery about drawing too direct a connection about levels of user engagement by comparing the chattiness of Ask now to the chattiness of Ask 8 or more years ago. I understand that we may be considering long-term shifts possibly caused by subtle and cumulative shifts in mod approaches, but a LOT has changed about the Internet in general over a decade-ish, both economically and in how people use and engage with the web. 8 years ago there were a ton of specialized forums about topics, many are now ghost towns or gone because it was easier & cheaper to make a FB group and they had to find a cheaper alternative because ad/sponsor monetization and/or search engine results changed (sound familiar?), just for one example. I'm not denying there may have been a shift in tone & chattiness on Ask, I just suspect that the levels of user/visitor engagement are not so much directly connected with that element of the site culture.

    I'm also unclear on how much of this shift can be solely laid at the feet of mod choices - my impression was that most if not almost all deletions in Ask (questions and comments) are driven by flagging, which suggests the possibility that a fair amount of the tone shift is driven by the userbase having less patience with or interest in chatty answers or what are basically repeat questions from askers trying to use Ask as a tool for more-or-less-continuous processing.
    posted by soundguy99 at 9:23 AM on June 15 [7 favorites]


    Also also: I've never felt the mods were overly strict in moderation. I think it has improved though. I've been on this site since 2004. MeFi moderation has evolved with our culture--it is far more sensitive to issues involving marginalized communities and I'd never want to go back to the world of jokes about trans people and "I'd hit it" and all that. Do people not remember how ugly it used to be? Or do you resent that you don't get to make those jokes any more?

    Tfw anyone with any complaint about current site culture must be a frustrated bigot
    posted by grobstein at 9:27 AM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    I'm also unclear on how much of this shift can be solely laid at the feet of mod choices - my impression was that most if not almost all deletions in Ask (questions and comments) are driven by flagging, which suggests the possibility that a fair amount of the tone shift is driven by the userbase having less patience with or interest in chatty answers or what are basically repeat questions from askers trying to use Ask as a tool for more-or-less-continuous processing.

    There has been a shift in tone on Ask. It was partially mod-driven, with the intent of keeping AskMe as helpful and easy to read as possible. It was also partially community-driven. It may have also been driven by changes to the internet as an environment, but I'm not sure how we can quantify that.

    There have been over 150 metatalk posts tagged with chatfilter across many years. We've been debating what chatfilter is and how much is or isn't acceptable for all that time, and that, far more than flagging, has helped guide community norms and moderator deletion decisions regarding it.
    posted by zarq at 9:31 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    (The worst variant of this pattern, which I've lost count of how many times I've seen: User A makes a civil comment that's 95% in agreement with the general consensus; user B seizes on that 5% difference and responds with some snide variant of "if you really believe [gratuitous distortion of A's comment] then you're a horrible person who should fuck right off"; other users take the exaggeration as if it was A's actual position and pile on, gathering dozens of favorites; A tries to clarify or defend their position, and is told to "back off" or similar by the mods. Any attempts to call out B's incivility are construed as an endorsement of whatever shitty viewpoint was attributed to A.)

    Yup. This happens to me relatively frequently, often on topics that I have (relatively) in-depth knowledge of, meaning that the 5% difference is sometimes not even disagreement, just a different perception/framing/word choice. It's incredibly dispiriting. Sometimes the mods don't say to back off, they just delete you defending / explaining, so it's just a bunch of comments hanging there calling you a bigot etc.

    For an anti-example of this, see this thread. I am completely shocked that nothing in there that I've written has gotten deleted. As a result, we've come to some reasonable levels of --- if not consensus, at least discussion. But again, I am shocked that it's gotten there.
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:40 AM on June 15 [10 favorites]


    I wish that similar levels of pushback/give a shit were directed at the person who was nasty to likeatoaster

    Seriously, please let me know the details at the contact form if someone is being a shithead over mefimail, etc. We cannot act on stuff we don't know about, and I consider people being shitty over email or mefimail to be absolutely a problem and actionable.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 22:28 on June 14 [+] [!]


    FYI, that appears to be a reference to this comment, not a private comment.
    posted by Bella Donna at 9:41 AM on June 15 [5 favorites]


    I am strongly opposed to chatfilter on ask. It is really irritating when you are trying to solve a problem and people are making off-topic jokes or making comments that are only tangentially related. That is what has made askmefi different from other sites, at least for me.

    Just want to agree with this. An occasional joke isn't bad, but it can quickly get out of hand. For instance, the first person who responded with a joke to the question about inaccuracies in songs was funny. After that, not so much.

    Also, added a monthly donation for the first time. Thanks for the reminder.
    posted by FencingGal at 9:42 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    Getting new eyes on the site: I'm just going to be really honest. I'm probably one of the younger members here, I've talked in the past about the ways in which I am marginalized making me feel unsafe commenting or engaging on my own despite having been here for some time. I can't recommend metafilter to my friends of similar backgrounds, because I know there are aspects of how the community is handled, whether or not those are new or old things, that would make them feel unsafe and unable to engage. We talk a lot about mefi being the most progressive place online but again, that trans metatalk linked to upthread was only eight months ago. There is definitely a roadblock in general site vibe that is keeping it from growing in the way I think people would like it to, in terms of new voices and ideas and members. I don't have a solution for that, either.
    posted by colorblock sock at 9:45 AM on June 15 [10 favorites]


    Shut down comments in the hours when site participation is the lowest?

    This feels like it would have the unintended side effect of worsening the already insular Americanness of MeFi.
    posted by Celsius1414 at 9:52 AM on June 15 [29 favorites]


    Tfw anyone with any complaint about current site culture must be a frustrated bigot

    Tfw when hyperbole is a thing because reasons.

    I mean this is a good example of what has been talked about in this thread — assuming the worst of who you were replying to.

    The point isn’t that dissent = bigotry, it’s that there’s a reason MeFi moderation exists and that there has been a general increase in it over the years.

    Talking about moderation is totally invaluable. Snark about moderation, way less so.
    posted by Celsius1414 at 9:58 AM on June 15 [7 favorites]


    I think it's disingenuous to conflate people who think moderation is too quick to delete off-topic chatting with people who think transphobia is really hilarious, which is what that comment does.
    posted by beerperson at 10:02 AM on June 15 [15 favorites]


    I mean this is a good example of what has been talked about in this thread — assuming the worst of who you were replying to.

    He's not assuming, it's right there in the comment grobstein was responding to. It gave two options:

    Do people not remember how ugly it used to be? Or do you resent that you don't get to make those jokes any more?

    I guess we could be amnesiacs instead of frustrated bigots, but this binary construction intends to foreclose any possibility that someone can both remember and understand the history of the site and disagree reasonably.

    I don't want to pile onto that comment, because I remember how bad shit used to be and understand why someone might be frustrated that people seeming want to return there (I don't) but it is frustrating (and yes, insulting) to have someone imply that I am either ignorant or want to make bigoted jokes.
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:06 AM on June 15 [18 favorites]


    MetaFilter provides enormous value to my life. I don't even know where else I could go to find the same volume of information, intelligent insights, compassion and resourcefulness.

    So consider my monthly contribution quadrupled, a one time emergency donation made and several t-shirts purchased.
    posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:15 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    The thing is, I would be leery about drawing too direct a connection about levels of user engagement by comparing the chattiness of Ask now to the chattiness of Ask 8 or more years ago.

    There's at least one metafilter spin-off group composed almost entirely of mefites asking questions and chatting with one another about articles on facebook rather than metafilter. I know that I'm much, much more likely to ask or answer questions there, for a variety of reasons which I think are worth digging into else the site bleed more members into splinter groups elsewhere.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:19 AM on June 15 [5 favorites]


    To be super clear: as much as I may disagree with the specifics or assumptions of some folks stated preferences for Old MetaFilter or Old Moderation or etc, I don't think it's an issue of people wanting thing to be bad in the way they were bad and yes I'd ask folks all around to ease up on digging in about that. I don't think people who are arguing a preference for less moderation are doing so out of a desire to get away with or enable shittiness, and I don't want folks implying as much.

    On the flip side, I'd refer back to what I wrote last night for why a lot of folks have trouble seeing that sort of appeal for less moderation and old-school MetaTalk as a neutral thing; the context in which those lower levels of mod staffing and that more wild west vibe in MetaTalk were operating is also a context where the site was pretty damn awful about a lot of stuff that has since gotten better. The two can't be cleanly prised apart, the site has a really clear historical record that it ties to.

    As a practical matter, folks who would have actually been motivated to have lower moderation standards so they could get away with intentional assholery are the same people we've proceeded to just fuckin' ban in the years hence.

    The remaining conflict here is I think mostly playing out between people just disagreeing about preferences and druthers despite generally being on the same page about overall social goals. It's just that it's hard to get out of the shadow of the historical awfulness that some of those preferences resonate with for folks who remember clearly how bad the bad was.

    I don't think we're gonna solve that disagreement about moderation preferences, and I'd really like people not to joust about it; I've been pretty clear about what MetaFilter's actual intentions and goals are with moderation and that's not a reversion to earlier times in any case, so folks at an individual level will make up their minds about how they feel about that and hopefully just move forward productively one way or the other with how they feel about and how they spend time on the MetaFilter that actually exists today.

    If folks can generally just draw back on that in here at this point, go back to your respective corners etc. and let this get back to broader brainstorming and such, I'd really appreciate that. Even if you feel like the other person got the last word or etc.

    FYI, that appears to be a reference to this comment, not a private comment.

    Ah, I was focused more on the issue likeatoaster mentioned of getting hostile emails, which on my plate of concerns is a much more serious issue than people being mildly GRARish in a MetaTalk thread.

    Which, yeah, I'd rather people didn't do that, either, for the record. See above; I'd appreciate people being a little more chill all around.

    My main point there is that gripey comments and email abuse are different weight classes. If someone's being uncharitable in a thread, saying "hey, that's pretty uncharitable" is a good proportional solution. But if someone is being abusive over mefimail I absolutely want to know about it so we can do something about beyond the scale of Hey, Cool It A Little about headbutting. People should not be expected to quietly put up with private shittiness, that's not what mefimail is for.

    > Shut down comments in the hours when site participation is the lowest?

    This feels like it would have the unintended side effect of worsening the already insular Americanness of MeFi.


    Yeah, that's part of why I'd be inclined more toward the "take a weekend day off" approach than shutting down at night, etc. It's all hypothetical in any case and with luck will stay that way.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:40 AM on June 15 [6 favorites]


    Sorry if this has already been mentioned upthread, but:

    What if you were a little more, well, "proactive" about soliciting donations/subscriptions?

    If a user is logged in, but isn't a paying subscriber, show a little (non-dismissible) banner at the top of every page: "MeFi relies heavily on user funding. Click here to set up your subscription."

    ...and that would link to a page which briefly explains the situation (MeFi is a unique place on the web; ad revenue enough isn't enough to sustain it; it will disappear without user contributions), and presents a form which allows the user to make a one-time or recurring donation, with as little friction as possible.

    Yes, people would (to some extent) learn to not even see that banner – but they would notice it from time to time, and that would remind them that, hey, you should help out a bit, if you're able to do so.

    Maybe rotate the banner color automatically once a month, to combat the ad-blindness effect.

    Just spitballin'.
    posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:46 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    given how unobtrusive the ads are for users who aren't logged in, i (as a Very Online User) would think it should be a fairly low-friction thing to display those same ads for logged-in users
    posted by beerperson at 10:48 AM on June 15


    Real Guacamole Recipe: BBC Food

    Ingredients

    * 4 mild chillies, finely chopped.
    * Bunch of coriander or cilantro, chopped.
    * 2 tomatoes, finely chopped.
    * Salt, to taste.
    * 1 onion, finely chopped.
    * Half a lime, juice only.
    * 3 ripe avocados.
    * A pot of tea, made correctly.

    Method

    1. In a pestle and mortar, pound the chillies, coriander, tomatoes, salt and onion to a fine paste like you would pound [redacted] until sweaty and exhausted like never before.
    2. Break for five minutes for a nice cup of tea.
    3. Add a little water and lime juice to make a looser mixture. Pretend you are a chef to millenials and mash in the avocados.
    4. Serve with nachos, tacos, or as an accompaniment to meat of any kind. Yes, even that post from yesterday on the blue which I'm not linking to because good grief is there no line?
    5. Send the difference in the cost of your ingredients, and the cost of eating out for that meal, to MetaFilter as a donation.
    6. Simultaneously enjoy your guacamole and enjoy keeping MetaFilter going.
    posted by Wordshore at 10:59 AM on June 15 [23 favorites]


    The Internet has changed enormously in the last ten years. To suggest that changes to and decline of engagement on Metafilter are the result of moderation changes is like suggesting that decline in network TV viewership is due to Seinfeld going off the air. People have left Metafilter for social media and they’ve left computers for mobile phones. Which is all to say that for Metafilter to rise again, it will need to create a platform for consumers to engage with brands they love.
    posted by chrchr at 10:59 AM on June 15 [11 favorites]


    I'm a few weeks away from my ten-year anniversary as a contributing member of MeFi, and I've been reading the site for about 15 years. I love this place so much, even as I acknowledge its flaws. It's one of precious few places online that I feel like most of my bean-plating input as a nerdy aging feminist queer heathen woman is not only welcome, but encouraged and valued. I'm going to scrutinize my shoestring budget this week and think about what I can do to contribute. I had no idea what kind of funding it takes to run a site like this. Thank you, cortex, for the exemplary transparency and openness about the financials and behind-the-scenes stuff. It makes me love MeFi even more.

    Upthread, chrisamiller suggested a weekly digest of curated best-of-MeFi material, and veggieboy suggested an email newsletter. I think these are excellent ideas. Perhaps a community-curated best-of-MeFi email newsletter through Substack could boost revenues and reach a larger audience? It could be offered with two tiers - one all-access tier and an optional paid tier, to ensure that every subscriber received something to read regardless of their ability to pay. I think a lot of people would choose to pay as a way of supporting the site. And as DevilsAdvocate mentioned above, a subscription feels different than a donation; there's probably some untapped potential there to foster more long-term sustainable engagement.

    There's been a fundamental shift in the climate of social media, blogging, and digital publishing in recent years. Most of us are now swamped with a sea of material online every day making demands on our attention, and a lot of it is "brainjunk." What we do here on MeFi - especially on AskMe - is the opposite of brainjunk. This site attracts critical thinkers: people who love to read, write, and discuss things with a level of depth and nuance that's difficult to find elsewhere. We produce a great deal of thought-provoking brain-nourishment within the context of a well-moderated, real community. People who don't have time to read huge comment threads to find the best-of-the-best would surely appreciate being pointed to outstanding brainfood. I realize that the on-site context is part of the value, of course, but the fact remains that there's a lot of brilliant material here that richly deserves to be more widely read, and many people simply aren't going to read it unless it's made more accessible - not for lack of interest, but for lack of time to go digging.

    I also like kristi's idea of offering ads for members' personal businesses. I would gladly do business with other MeFites, especially if I knew it would help support the site.

    There was some talk upthread about "freeloading." No one who contributes quality content to this site should consider themselves a freeloader, even if they've never paid a dime to support MeFi beyond their signup fee. Your writing has value. Your site participation is important. You are not a freeloader. You are a contributor.
    posted by velvet winter at 11:04 AM on June 15 [39 favorites]


    There was some talk upthread about "freeloading." No one who contributes quality content to this site should consider themselves a freeloader, even if they've never paid a dime to support MeFi beyond their signup fee. Your writing has value. Your site participation is important. You are not a freeloader. You are a contributor.

    Yeah, I think this is important. The value of the site is in the people and discussion.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:07 AM on June 15 [13 favorites]


    I haven't read the whole thread yet, but just popping in to say I've been giving MetaFilter $5 a month for a while now because I am so grateful for this odd little community that has been a near daily visit on the internet for me.

    $5 is the max I feel comfortable setting on a recurring donation I can't modify without contacting the site (I just imagine feeling embarrassed if I have to lower or cancel it). So, anyway, I made a one-time donation for $50 which in theory doubles my donation for the next 10 months. I plan to continue to make one-time donations throughout the year.
    posted by Is It Over Yet? at 11:12 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    for Metafilter to rise again, it will need to create a platform for consumers to engage with brands they love.

    Oh wow, I was wondering why I suddenly got a headache about 15 minutes ago.
    posted by ODiV at 11:17 AM on June 15 [21 favorites]


    Upthread, gryftir brought up the Borderlands Books sponsorship model, which has worked really very well for them these last few years (Dr. Bored for Science and I were initial sponsors, but we stopped when we moved cross-country a few years ago, although I still buy a bunch of books from them every year). Borderlands' Sponsor program pretty much buys you access to occasional meetups, the ability to buy sponsor-specific swag and that's really about it. Mostly, I interpret it as "I like Borderlands and want them to stay around".

    We've kinda got something similar here with the one-time donations, but it'd probably be useful, just in terms of people's headspace, to do an annual "help sponsor Metafilter" type of thing.

    On the topic of moderation: I joined after lurking for a while because Metafilter has active, excellent moderation compared to literally any other space I've seen online. I'd been an active participant in another online community that's basically withered (and was also very actively moderated), and that's a minimum threshold for my being willing to put time into an online community.
    posted by Making You Bored For Science at 11:24 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    Which is all to say that for Metafilter to rise again, it will need to create a platform for consumers to engage with brands they love.

    Thankfully this isn't something we've ever really done at MetaFilter short of the usual Apple fan threads, and even those are full of detractors and critics.

    Unless by "engage with brands" you mean hack at them mercilessly with a machete, which, ok, yeah, we like doing that. Hell, we have arguments about pens and notebooks and even rarely agree there.

    A huge part of MetaFilter's identity is that a ton of us are 40-50+ year old and genuine generation X'ers that remember the internet before ads, or broadband, or even web pages or servers. Or even pre-internet computer-based communities through BBSes and other pre-internet services.

    I still remember my first banner ad. It was THE first banner ad, the one that started it all on Wired's HotBot. My "brand engagement" was essentially thinking "Oh, shit, here we go." and to stop using HotBot and then go write an angry post to Usenet.

    I come here to get the fuck away from "brand engagement" and being the product being sold. As politely as possible: Fuck everything about "brand engagement".
    posted by loquacious at 11:30 AM on June 15 [21 favorites]


    I am currently taking a marketing class and the textbook is littered with press releases posing as educational content. I say this with the utmost sincerity and with every once of conviction I have in my body, fuck brand engagement.
    posted by Apoch at 11:34 AM on June 15 [14 favorites]


    Fuck everything about "brand engagement"

    I #hardsame second this sentiment.
    posted by nikaspark at 11:35 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    fuck brand engagement.

    Well there’s a t-shirt.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:36 AM on June 15 [38 favorites]


    yeah, if we have some kind of Metafilter Blogs, I’d be more than happy for it to come with advertising but would rather it didn’t do the Brand Sponsorship stuff that’s made the blogosphere so vapid over the past few years. (“Me and my five adorably-dressed children were SO HAPPY to get the chance to review Acme Co.’s latest combo meat-tenderising leafsweeper!”)
    posted by Catseye at 11:36 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    I'm trying to think why I'm more engaged with other discussion sites than Metafilter.

    1. One can opt-in to be notified when someone interacts with my content

    2. I have a small handful of friends there that I know and interact with

    3. Sometimes the community policing feels overwhelming.
    posted by mecran01 at 11:36 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    A+, would buy that t-shirt if it came in my size. (Plspls, when we have that merch thread in a few days or whenever we have it, let's talk about larger sizes.)
    posted by Stacey at 11:37 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    Which is all to say that for Metafilter to rise again, it will need to create a platform for consumers to engage with brands they love.

    And lo, a veritable chorus of publicists, marketers, advertisers and brand representatives descends upon AskMe to peddle their wares.

    "HAVE YOU TRIED THE LATEST BREAKTHROUGH IN...."
    posted by zarq at 11:38 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    Maybe it's just me bringing my own experience and attitude, but I totally read that line about brand engagement from chrchr as 100% resigned cynicism instead of optimistic suggestion.
    posted by ODiV at 11:42 AM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    On the specific question of MetaTalk: it's my belief that many of the positive changes in tone that people are referring to here came out of (often very heated) MetaTalk discussions hashing out site norms, collectively, over years. It's not like the mods woke up one day and decided out of the blue, hey, let's try to be a little less forgiving of (say) misogyny or transphobia. Rather, the membership pushed for those changes from the bottom up and the mods responded.

    What I think is unfortunate is that the mods' lower tolerance these days for hateful or offensive comments (a good thing!) has been accompanied by a lower tolerance for conflict of any kind—including the kinds of necessary conflict that made us a place less tolerant of hateful views in the first place. There is much less of a sense now that the mods are at all open to learning from the membership. MetaTalk used to be a place where these norms were worked out, collectively, in the open; then the queue was implemented, and now it's a place to congratulate ourselves for media mentions and to post corporate-icebreaker-style "if you could be any kind of animal what animal would you be" quiz threads.
    posted by enn at 11:42 AM on June 15 [16 favorites]


    Donated! I tend to prefer one-off donations to recurring ones (particularly when there's any level of friction to updating them), so that's what I've done -- but I would very much be in support of more regular reminders/fundraising drives. Long live MetaFilter!
    posted by cellar door at 11:43 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    If that ends up being the choice, I'd rather see metafilter die a graceful death than turn into a brand-engaging zombie.
    posted by stillnocturnal at 11:45 AM on June 15


    Putting in another plug for curated emails (with the ability to decline them or adjust frequency and the like, of course), but also wanted to touch on the whole "show new people just how much of the site there is!".

    A welcome series of emails when you first join that gives this tour would be perfect -- or even a little video overview to describe it all!
    posted by knownassociate at 11:47 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    As more users are on mobile phones more of the time, would it be possible to allow people to make FPPs and ask questions on the mobile site?
    posted by ChuraChura at 11:56 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    then the queue was implemented, and now it's a place to congratulate ourselves for media mentions and to post corporate-icebreaker-style "if you could be any kind of animal what animal would you be" quiz threads.

    I agree with the first part of your comment, but this part is just directly contradicting what cortex has already stated regarding MetaTalk posts. If you're going to call him out on this, you ought to be clear why you think what he's said isn't true.
    posted by odinsdream at 11:56 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    avoid too much risk of Salty Cortex

    You may need to consider spending less mod time inside that seawater-based sensory deprivation tank.
    posted by Greg_Ace at 11:58 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    As more users are on mobile phones more of the time, would it be possible to allow people to make FPPs and ask questions on the mobile site?

    This would be REALLY GREAT! My work around has been to go to the hidden Contributions page and work from there.
    posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:59 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    As more users are on mobile phones more of the time, would it be possible to allow people to make FPPs and ask questions on the mobile site?

    Already works fine (as usual for classic, and for modern go up to the person-head icon), but today I learned that tags are only visible on mobile with the modern theme, not classic.
    posted by asperity at 12:00 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    As more users are on mobile phones more of the time, would it be possible to allow people to make FPPs and ask questions on the mobile site?

    That's been on the list of stuff to try and get to. I'll note that with the Modern theme that's all supported on mobile already; the mobile view is just a responsive reflow of the normal posting form, etc. So the issue is revisiting what is available, and how it's presented, on Classic mobile, which is a much older and far more twigs-and-duct-tape approach to mobile and harder to build out nice mobile-friendly forms for. (That was a big part of the original motivation for Modern, to improve the baseline mobile experience of the site.) So hopping to Modern for posting purposes even if you otherwise prefer Classic is one workaround.

    In general looking again and closer at the state of mobile browsing vs. MetaFilter is part of what we'll need to do, yeah.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 12:01 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    See, I took "engage with brands they love" to mean that MetaFilter is the brand we love and need to engage with, not consumer products.
    posted by briank at 12:02 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    How about a member's only classified section with paid ads? I'd rather rent my house/sell my car/hire a babysitter/hire a lawyer from the Mefi community.
    posted by karst at 12:02 PM on June 15 [13 favorites]


    +1 on the Metafilter newsletter idea. Perhaps some of it could be free, and the rest requiring a $X subscription. I’d definitely pay for it, and if it’s popular, it could pay for someone’s time to write nd edit it.
    posted by adrianhon at 12:03 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    MetaTalk used to be a place where these norms were worked out, collectively, in the open; then the queue was implemented, and now it's a place to congratulate ourselves for media mentions and to post corporate-icebreaker-style "if you could be any kind of animal what animal would you be" quiz threads

    MetaTalk circa 2013 was a place where trans people were horrifically shat upon through endless rounds of psychologically tormenting conversations that are reducible to "prove to me that you exist and why I should believe you when you say you're not actually the mentally ill pervert I think you are".

    And my fellow mefites, it fucking sucked.

    Now we have MetaTalk threads and FPP's where we've at least gotten past that particular conversation rail, and yeah the mods fuck up but it seems like they learn a little more each time we get on the trans Meta Train. So where we land with the current "atmosphere" of the site is that I don't have to wade through a phalanx of skeptics who demand that I prove that I actually exist and justify that I'm not a mentally ill predator while the mods stand around saying "no, but the skeptic is asking a valid question" and we're at least engaging on "here's what a TERF dogwhistle looks like, here's what cis-dominant thinking looks like" etc. The conversation has improved, even though it still hurts.

    I'll take what we have today over anything we ever had in the past and if we go back 1 inch towards that mentality then I can't abide.
    posted by nikaspark at 12:05 PM on June 15 [10 favorites]


    How about a paywalled garden within a garden? If the polltics threads were paywalled I, for one, would gladly pay for it. I think MetaFilter was great before as a collection of random posts, but the politics/Trump threads are indispensable. Plus, it would have the added benefit of quieting the room a bit.
    posted by karst at 12:06 PM on June 15


    loquacious: "I still remember my first banner ad. It was THE first banner ad, the one that started it all on Wired's HotBot. My "brand engagement" was essentially thinking "Oh, shit, here we go." and to stop using HotBot and then go write an angry post to Usenet."

    Usenet had already been ruined by Canter & Siegel.
    posted by Chrysostom at 12:08 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    There's a fierce irony in the idea of setting up pay-to-play politics threads about our pay-to-play presidency.
    posted by mochapickle at 12:11 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    I'll take what we have today over anything we ever had in the past and if we go back 1 inch towards that mentality then I can't abide.

    Seriously everything Nika just said above is absolutely true. MetaTalk "discussions" of just a few years ago drove dozens of people off the site because of the unchecked hatred, including myself. Some of us never came back.
    posted by odinsdream at 12:11 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    This would be REALLY GREAT! My work around has been to go to the hidden Contributions page and work from there.

    Holy crap. Been here 14 years and I had no idea this existed.
    posted by zarq at 12:15 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    I work here and I didn't remember that existed, so, heh.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 12:18 PM on June 15 [14 favorites]


    MetaTalk circa 2013 was a place where trans people were horrifically shat upon through endless rounds of psychologically tormenting conversations that are reducible to "prove to me that you exist and why I should believe you when you say you're not actually the mentally ill pervert I think you are".


    Huh, I must have missed this, or ignored it. Maybe even internalized it. Maybe I just don't care through blind ignorance or stubbornness, I pass that constitution check roll rather too often.

    But my first "Hi, I'm trans" comment on mefi was pre 2010. It's just about 10 years between that comment and when I actually engaged medical treatment.

    I don't really have anything important to say about this, except maybe it gets better.

    I did finally just get this sparkly nail polish to set right and I only fucked up TWO fingers this time by marring them by bumping them too early on something. And we have our own little pride fest in town tomorrow and I'll be working that all day and I am apparently on the volunteer committee. Hence taking way too much time trying to get my fucking nails right, which I'm horrible at. I believe I have managed to wrangle about half a dozen volunteers in that direction in less than a week, which is pretty good.
    posted by loquacious at 12:18 PM on June 15 [8 favorites]


    I work here and I didn't remember that existed, so, heh.

    Pffft, right. Next thing you'll tell me you own the frickin' place.
    posted by loquacious at 12:19 PM on June 15 [6 favorites]


    I love the idea the MeFi is riddled with forgotten rooms and abandoned secret contribution pages corridors.
    posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:21 PM on June 15 [15 favorites]


    Holy crap. Been here 14 years and I had no idea this existed.

    I like looking at the address strings to see what's underneath. test post please ignore.
    posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:25 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Is there a post in the MeTa queue to address some of the general site atmosphere issues more directly? I'll reluctantly make one if it'll help things, but for all I know now's not a great time anyway (although when will it be?). It SEEMS like MeTa posts are overall less hostile and hurtful than they were when I first joined in 2015, and they're certainly much better than what I've heard they used to be like. So yes, progress for sure. But it also feels like part of the reason they're less hostile is that a lot of stuff just goes unaddressed, whereas before at least people could say when stuff was shitty. Or, I don't know. I mean, I want to be able to talk about this stuff because I think it's important to identify how this site as a community will move forward, but I just can't see it happening without people getting really hurt. At some point it starts to feel like the process is more damaging than whatever good it'll ultimately produce. And besides, as much as I want to unload about site dynamics that drive me crazy, what are the mods going to be able to do about it? How many people will read these threads and get something workable out of them?

    I don't want to keep making this a derail in this specific thread, but I do think that people on this site can be really shitty, and it makes me and (what sounds like) a lot of people not want to participate. Site participation is a factor in keeping this site alive, so that's why I'm asking if I (or anyone) should be volunteering to make a MeTa post, knowing that it's going to be really difficult, and may not accomplish as much as we'd like for as much effort as it'll require from users and mods alike.
    posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:26 PM on June 15 [8 favorites]


    My favorite hidden bit is interest areas, which for some reason I can only ever find by googling "gay tag site:metatalk.metafilter.com"

    psst, loquacious, do you know the sponge trick for applying sparkly polish? I was in my late 30s before I figured that shit out.
    posted by slipthought at 12:31 PM on June 15 [14 favorites]


    I like looking at the address strings to see what's underneath. test post please ignore.

    Australopithecusidebar

    Also, Fundraising for Fun, which was part of a contest announced in MeTa.
    posted by zarq at 12:32 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    Is there a post in the MeTa queue to address some of the general site atmosphere issues more directly?

    Yes--this is the draft in the queue I mentioned writing earlier.
    posted by sciatrix at 12:33 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    enn: then the queue was implemented, and now it's a place to congratulate ourselves for media mentions and to post corporate-icebreaker-style "if you could be any kind of animal what animal would you be" quiz threads.

    I'm not sure if that's a jab of some kind at the MetaTalktale Hour, but I personally love those questions and look forward to them every week. It's neat to see what people share and to see how folks're doing in general, and I think it's really cut down on disconnected chattiness in other threads. It just makes this whole place friendlier.
    posted by mochapickle at 12:36 PM on June 15 [24 favorites]


    Some of us never came back

    and many of those people are thanked in the acknowledgements page of my book. It's sad.
    posted by nikaspark at 12:37 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    Do people not remember how ugly it used to be? Or do you resent that you don't get to make those jokes any more?

    I stand by the former sentence--but apologize for the second comment, it was not in good faith. It was building off the "ugly" comment--I remember the MetaTalk threads with users vociferously defending assholery as being a "difference of opinion" or making the dreaded "free speech" argument. We've had users button in a huff because they felt moderation was overbearing when they weren't allowed to make shitty comments. But nobody is doing that here.

    Would having a little sentence above the comment box that says "Please remember to take other users' comments in good faith" or similar be something worth implementing? I certainly know it's the sort of poke that might help me rethink shooting off a heated comment. I know there's "Everyone needs a hug" but dang, it is small.
    posted by schroedinger at 12:37 PM on June 15 [11 favorites]


    I have always wanted to join in on those MetaTalkTail threads and often feel weirdly shy about doing so because I usually see them rather late in the game and often want to natter about totally off-topic things. But I think the general idea is a stroke of genius and am always pleased to see them chattering away.

    It's funny what people will feel shy about!
    posted by sciatrix at 12:38 PM on June 15 [19 favorites]


    I'm not sure if that's a jab of some kind at the MetaTalktale Hour, but I personally love those questions and look forward to them every week. It's neat to see what people share and to see how folks're doing in general, and I think it's really cut down on disconnected chattiness in other threads. It just makes this whole place friendlier.

    I always feel intensely awkward about participating in them, and never manage to do so.

    On preview, my feeling about being a part of them is similar to sciatrix'.
    posted by zarq at 12:41 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    It’s fun!
    posted by mochapickle at 12:46 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    I force myself to participate in the MetaTalktail posts because I want to be a more active person here. The more you answer the easier it gets and they are so, so, so warm and friendly. Please do participate if you're feeling shy.
    posted by kimberussell at 12:51 PM on June 15 [11 favorites]


    It's okay. I feel the same way about meetups.
    posted by zarq at 12:52 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    I force myself to participate in the MetaTalktail posts because I want to be a more active person here. The more you answer the easier it gets and they are so, so, so warm and friendly.

    Seconded. It's a super supportive place where people are genuinely happy for each other. They are probably the safest spaces on Metafilter.
    posted by bondcliff at 12:54 PM on June 15 [10 favorites]


    a way above Polycarp wrote:
    Right now there's an implicit AskMe House Style that involves writing headlines that are funny and obliquely about the question you're asking. This is good for AskMe but bad for Google—or at least it was back when I was a pro blogger/SEO-thinker-about. [...] Lots of sites have adopted headlines (very searchable) and subheds (fun, vague, voicey) to reach both Google and organic traffic. AskMe already kind of has this, but maybe the headline could be divided one more time, so that there's a headline, a subhed, above-the-fold question, full question?
    (thinks back to how *fighty* the addition of titles to MeFi was)

    I think that risks duplication of the question into both head and subhead -- in the same way that every now and then we get an AskMe that pretty much states the same short question into both title and body (and sometimes also again into more-inside). It also increases friction by adding more "wait, so what do I put into which field?" confusion; overcomplicating the interface might simply cause some questions to go unasked.

    Anyway: SEO is already partially a function of AskMe tags. In addition to their internal use, the first 3 tags also get appended onto the page <title> as an attempt to tickle searchability. Matt mentioned this in this comment on a related MeTa. (ISTR that for a while the tags also got put into <meta name="keywords">? but they're not now, presumably because meta keywords got so abused for SEO that none of the search engines take any notice of them any more.)

    That does suggest that encouraging users to add good tags could help to make AskMe threads more tasty to Google. I wonder also if it might be worth us picking the 3 most popular tags, rather than the 3 first tags, as the SEO ticklers?
    posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:59 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    Yeah, totally totally hop into those fun threads! That's why they're their, for folks to just no-stakes pop into. I don't comment in 'em as much as I'd like because I just get busy with other site stuff, but I love that they're their and it's a lot of fun to read through what people are up to or how they do thing x.

    Is there a post in the MeTa queue to address some of the general site atmosphere issues more directly?

    Yeah, as mentioned there's a good one from sciatrix that I was just waiting on some breathing room for. I'll put it through in a sec here since I think now's as good a time as any.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 12:59 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]




    Great, thanks!
    posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:34 PM on June 15


    Random thought: MeFi being so text-based makes it really easy for mod notes to go unnoticed (and house style is to make them smaller!), so maybe there ought to be a way to have something (much?) more conspicuous displayed when a thread needs its behavior to be curtailed.

    e.g. cortex asked everyone in this thread to drop a subject, but those instructions are in a pretty big comment and easy to miss!
    posted by reductiondesign at 1:45 PM on June 15


    > There is much less of a sense now that the mods are at all open to learning from the membership.

    Speak for yourself. I've never had such a sense, and this very thread is evidence to the contrary.
    posted by languagehat at 1:48 PM on June 15 [8 favorites]


    I stand by the former sentence--but apologize for the second comment, it was not in good faith. It was building off the "ugly" comment--I remember the MetaTalk threads with users vociferously defending assholery as being a "difference of opinion" or making the dreaded "free speech" argument. We've had users button in a huff because they felt moderation was overbearing when they weren't allowed to make shitty comments. But nobody is doing that here.

    No worries (at least on my end). Like I said, I was here before and understand why it provokes strong feelings --- it was pretty terrible.
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:53 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    I almost never see the MetaTalktail posts until Sunday AM, a good 12+ hours after they go live, but participating hasn't been an issue at all. They are still fairly lively then.
    posted by COD at 1:54 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    Wait...are you saying that the mods are or are not open to learning from the membership?
    posted by Chrysostom at 1:54 PM on June 15


    Wait...are you saying that the mods are or are not open to learning from the membership?

    I'm the last relevant comment and happy to respond if this is directed at me, but I'm not sure if it is!
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:58 PM on June 15


    > Wait...are you saying that the mods are or are not open to learning from the membership?

    If you're responding to me, I can see how the combination of the wording of the comment I was responding to and that of my comment might have been confusing. I'm saying that the mods are open to learning from the membership.
    posted by languagehat at 2:01 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Yes, I was responding to languagehat, and I appreciate the clarification.
    posted by Chrysostom at 2:03 PM on June 15


    Doubling my monthly when I get home. How much did this call to arms raise so far?

    I got about 350 comments in so apologies if this is a repeat: what about kickstarting the features we want? I’d happily give $20 toward an app.

    Also very much in support of a fundraiser auction! I can donate, help organize, whatever helps.
    posted by mrcrow at 2:39 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    I LOVE the idea of paid jumbotrons/messages from members, for either personal messages (aka “HAPPY BIRTHDAY CORTEX” or “HAHA BUTTS”) or ads (“Check out my etsy store!”). I vote that they should visible by default and opt-out for members, though I’d definitely keep mine on. No idea of what fair pricing would be, though I like how Max Fun has different rates for personal and advertising jumbotrons. I doubt I would actually buy one myself, but I’d love to see what the community would post.
    posted by insectosaurus at 2:46 PM on June 15 [15 favorites]


    “HAHA BUTTS”

    I believe that, canonically, it's LOL BUTTS.
    posted by Chrysostom at 2:51 PM on June 15 [7 favorites]


    No, it's BUTTS LOL.

    Or, butt elephant.
    posted by Melismata at 2:55 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]




    OK, here's my card, I'm in. The Butt jokes must stay.
    posted by Captain Shenanigan at 2:57 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    Lols butt, surely.
    posted by darkstar at 3:01 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Old style MetaTalk also led to a lot of people buttoning. Something to keep in mind.
    posted by Chrysostom


    My partner buttoned due to a pile-on in the "new" Metafilter.

    I don't think that's a moderation issue, that's more about the problem that people seem to have remembering that people who disagree with them are still people.
    posted by jb at 3:03 PM on June 15 [25 favorites]


    > the problem that people seem to have remembering that people who disagree with them are still people.

    This is absolutely the base problem, and I'm glad you put it so succinctly.
    posted by languagehat at 3:09 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    I've been failing to catch up in this thread while also doing at least some work today, so I might have missed this, but what about paying for more butt elephants once you have exhausted yours for the day.

    Yes, I meant favorites, slogger's greasemonkey replacement will now look weird.
    posted by numaner at 3:22 PM on June 15


    I LOVE the idea of paid jumbotrons/messages from members, for either personal messages (aka “HAPPY BIRTHDAY CORTEX” or “HAHA BUTTS”) or ads (“Check out my etsy store!”). [...] No idea of what fair pricing would be,

    Facebook repeatedly pitches me promoting my page to (not that many people) for $12. Which I never take seriously, because I know there must be a better way to reach the right people than whatever self-serving algorithm Facebook is likely to use. But I do keep thinking, I should put $12 aside ever time they pitch me ... because eventually the right pitch will come along.

    Metafilter -- I'm talking to you.
    posted by philip-random at 3:30 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    I believe that, canonically, it's LOL BUTTS.

    Butt seriously
    posted by Celsius1414 at 3:34 PM on June 15


    I just wanted to make note that Metafilter is made up of many people from many countries around this old world of ours; in fact, I remember reading about a tiny Metafilter meetup that occurred in Antarctica, of all places! That means different time zones, so that the site is active 24/7, so it totes makes sense to have moderators who can mod when another part of the globe besides the USian part is awake and active. I am delighted that we are lucky enough to have the outstanding crew that we have doing mod duty and I ♥ each and every one of you!

    Also? {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Everyone}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}
    posted by Lynsey at 3:36 PM on June 15 [7 favorites]


    Serious suggestion.

    Of the various MetaFilter threads I send to (non-MeFite) friends and colleagues, the one which usually gets the most positive reaction is the Penis Beaker one from 2013, which has had people engaged right to the end, finding the comments somewhere between amusing and hysterically funny.

    But when they do get to the end of this post, they see a message which just glumly says (without even a full stop):

    This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments

    As many seem in a very positive mood or state of mind at the point of reaching the end of the thread, it seems like a lost opportunity. How about:

    This thread has been archived. Did you enjoy it, or find it useful? Please consider a donation to maintaining MetaFilter; thank you.

    Most people won't click through and donate; but a few will. Advantages of having this message and link at the end of every archived thread include:

    - It should be a relatively simple, one-off piece of code tweaking. Implement, test, forget about it.
    - It's unobtrustive; only text, and only appears right at the end of threads.
    - It'll also only appear once a thread has been archived. Therefore regular commenting MeFites, who by that time will have moved on to other, live, threads won't see it much. Only people looking at archived threads, and who read to the bottom will see it.
    - There are a lot of archived threads, so that's lot's of potential places for people to come across the link.
    - Someone who has read all the way to the bottom of an archived thread is more likely to be emotionally engaged or invested in it, and therefore may be more likely to donate.
    posted by Wordshore at 4:41 PM on June 15 [78 favorites]


    There are a lot of archived threads

    Several dozen, by my count.
    posted by Chrysostom at 4:55 PM on June 15 [5 favorites]


    How about "pay five bucks to embed a cat gif in a comment"?
    posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:58 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    That would put me into bankruptcy please don’t.
    posted by nikaspark at 4:59 PM on June 15 [16 favorites]


    I know regularly scheduled giving is the best model for this kind of thing, at least from the perspective of the organization that you're supporting. But I hate PayPal and I wasn't that keen on Stripe from what others have said in this thread about not being able to manage the payment yourself. So I got out my checkbook and an envelope and a pen and was all set to write a REAL CHECK to mail to Oregon. But then when I clicked through to the appropriate page, the Stripe setup was so easy! For better or worse, Chrome already knew my email address and credit card number, so all I had to enter was my CVV (which I know from memory, sadly). Didn't even have to get up to get my wallet. And now I guess I can put this envelope back in its box.

    Still would rather a self-unsubscribe mechanism, but I'm not worried enough about it to bother mailing a check, apparently. Thanks for inspiring me to cancel my YogaGlo account and put those dollars to better use.

    Also, very much +1 to Wordshore's latest suggestion about the archive text. Seems like almost zero effort for non-zero potential benefit.

    I would also buy merch, especially t-shirts in ladies' sizes. Really liked Robocop's "THERE IS NO CABAL" concept from earlier.
    posted by slenderloris at 5:19 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    I would also buy merch, especially t-shirts in ladies' sizes. Really liked Robocop's "THERE IS NO CABAL" concept from earlier.

    I have seen a working sketch of it now and oh boy oh boy oh boy.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 5:29 PM on June 15 [8 favorites]


    I’m thinking of a MeFi branded bean plate. In blue, of course.
    posted by darkstar at 5:53 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Alright, I really want to share some numbers on how we're doing before the evening gets away from me. Which...folks. My gosh.

    In the last two days, since this post went up Wednesday afternoon, we’ve seen approximately $24,000 of new contributions come in.

    That's enormous; even if everything else stayed the same, that represents months of additional breathing room to work on revenue issues before we would hit a critical point; we'd be talking about early 2019 at that point instead of this fall as when we had to make a hard budget move. It's a huge boon to our savings under the circumstances.

    But that number includes one-time contributions as well as the initial payments of new and newly-restarted recurring contributions. And doesn't yet include the gains from subscriptions that were bumped up in place and will process later in the monthly billing cycle.

    We’re still parsing out exact numbers there—this rate of shift in the volume of recurring contributions isn't something we've previously needed to build out a toolkit to track at a day-to-day rather than month-to-month level, but:

    But it's on the order of $3,000/month of additional income. That's more than a third of our deficit, right there. After two days.

    It's...a lot. It's an enormous act of collective generosity and I am pretty overwhelmed. I can't thank everybody enough for this show of support; it is going to make a world of difference to us as we sort this all out.

    And we do still have a lot to sort out; the remaining revenue shortfall is still a critical problem and I'll be working on all of the stuff I mentioned in the post to wring everything I can out our budget and get our other revenue up wherever possible. And we'll keep developing and refreshing the subscription/contribution model we've been talking about in here, to formalize and support this community funding process as well as we can and encourage it to grow over time.

    But this is such a good start. It's such a huge step. And it will help us spend the next couple of months really focusing on building things, rolling out site improvements, and organizing our processes, instead of just gearing up for looming hard cuts. And that means the world to me.

    I don't do a lot of weepy typing, in MetaTalk or anywhere else, but, look, y'all have done me in with this. I've got a lot of work to do but I'm gonna be able to breathe now while I do it, and I can't express my thanks enough. Thank you for caring about MetaFilter, thank you for helping out where you can. You're wonderful and ridiculous and I love you all.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 6:01 PM on June 15 [169 favorites]


    " often want to natter about totally off-topic things. "

    MetaTalkTail threads explicitly welcome off-topic chatter! I used to always say "Remember, it's a conversation-starter, not a conversation-limiter" but then I worried I was repeating myself too much, but I'll say that for the next few at least. Anyway, the idea is to have a topic starter to get people chatting, but we also want to hear about people's lives, what's going on in their worlds, what's on their minds.

    We ask people NOT to discuss politics ("Been canvassing for a local candidate" or "Enjoyed a rally this weekend in support of the Dreamers" is fine, like "here's a thing I did that I'm mentioning in passing," but not digging in on politics or policy or political rage), but otherwise everything is pretty fair game!
    posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:07 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    ... And now I am weepy as I sit here in a McDonald's to which I have fled because my hotel may or may not be on fire, no one seems quite sure, and I thought it prudent to be elsewhere. I'm so glad we've been able to provide some breathing room. I'll just cry into the French fries for a while, they're already salty.
    posted by Stacey at 6:08 PM on June 15 [11 favorites]


    I have made a one off donation and also restarted my monthly donations that stopped for some reason I can't remember.

    I find metafilter a very valuable resource and a great place to hang out on the web. This is mostly due to the excellent moderation.

    In terms of an outlet for chat filter what about a daily/ weekly chat filter question posted by the mods to a hypothetical new front page? This could be in conjunction with the existing metatalktail threads. I imagine these threads being about burning issue such as sit / stand, shoes on/ off indoors etc but with people able to suggest new ones as well.
    posted by poxandplague at 6:11 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    Oh my goodness, Stacey, are you okay? Do you need a hug?

    the other reason I haven't posted is that my life is a goddamn dumpster fire again right now and frankly I feel like I bring everyone around me down, but that's absolutely a me problem. I'll try and check in this week!
    posted by sciatrix at 6:13 PM on June 15 [6 favorites]


    I’m sitting working on my second beer of the night after a week that was psychologically hard on a lot of fronts, so yeah I’m weepy and maudlin.

    I’m glad there’s some breathing room. It also says to me that while we have some issues to thrash out as a site, collectively we value this place enough to do it.
    posted by nubs at 6:18 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    (You're a darling, sciatrix, but I'm okay. Probably the fire alarm was just being funky, the staff do not seem terribly concerned, but I am of a nervous constitution and decided I would maybe just, you know, pack up my valuables and spend the next hour or so elsewhere just to be very sure everything is cool. Vacation! So relaxing!)
    posted by Stacey at 6:23 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Long-time member (low 4-digit user-number, yo!) but I don't contribute much more than the occasional '+' on a comment these days. However, MeFi is a REGULAR stop and browse for me on these here intarwebz for almost 2 decades now; I've learned a lot from AskMefi over the years, AND the Emotional Labor extravaganza from a while back was amazing. So, I've finally got around to setting up a small regular contribution - just a note, in case any other quiet oldsters are reading and want to join me.
    posted by Medley at 6:24 PM on June 15 [12 favorites]


    You mentioned that the monthly staff expenses are about $37,500 per month; for planning future budget shortfalls, could we get a breakdown of how much of that goes to which staff members?
    posted by Shitty Baby Animal at 6:32 PM on June 15


    Asking cortex to divulge staff income feels pretty squicky. I'm not sure how knowing that information would help--what would the community do, vote on who should get paid less?
    posted by schroedinger at 6:41 PM on June 15 [58 favorites]


    I used to always say "Remember, it's a conversation-starter, not a conversation-limiter" but then I worried I was repeating myself too much, but I'll say that for the next few at least.

    Eyebrows, I really appreciate it when you explicitly say that off-topic chatter's ok. I've participated in almost every MetaTalkTail thread, and the one time you didn't mention that, I thought, "Oh, I guess this needs to be more focused this time, maybe?" and got shy about wandering off topic (or maybe posting at all, I don't remember). You certainly don't have to use that phrasing every time, but I like it when you do say it's ok to talk about our weekends, what we're thinking about, etc. Feels more inviting and cozy.

    And I also really appreciate the threads themselves. Like others, I really look forward to them. They've humanized a lot of usernames for me, especially those who don't participate that much in AskMe, which is where I normally stay.
    posted by lazuli at 6:41 PM on June 15 [7 favorites]


    Agreed, shroedinger. I can't imagine the utility of that information.
    posted by duffell at 6:44 PM on June 15


    Cortex makes $37,500/mo and everyone else does it for the exposure.
    posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:46 PM on June 15 [50 favorites]


    Company scrip!
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:47 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    "Eyebrows, I really appreciate it when you explicitly say that off-topic chatter's ok. I've participated in almost every MetaTalkTail thread, and the one time you didn't mention that, I thought, "Oh, I guess this needs to be more focused this time, maybe?" "

    I will do it every time, then! Repeating myself is hardly the worst offense I've committed this week. :)
    posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:50 PM on June 15 [8 favorites]


    If we're expected to pay their salaries then we should know what they are.

    Metafilter is not a charity, after all.
    posted by svenkatesh at 6:50 PM on June 15


    (I initially posted this in the wrong thread so sorry for those of you who read it twice.)

    Something has been nagging me from way up in the thread and I want to respond to it. I think it was cortex who suggested that if we don't have the funding, the solution may be to shut down the site for Saturdays.

    I strongly believe that this would be terrible and I am as opposed to it as is possible to express. I understand the concern about us-centrism weighing against cutting back staffing in the middle of the night (although honestly the U.S. politics megathreads seem to be accomplishing that U.S. centrism on their own anyway) but I worry that taking the site offline on weekends would solidify us even more as an upper-middle-class/rich community, and would box out many working people. It is a privilege to read metafilter during the 9-5 that many people cannot afford, especially as the economy changes and few people have office jobs that allow any downtime at all. While I understand that those hours are when the high traffic is, there are a lot of us who browse on the weekends, and many potential new users who also are more casually online and more likely to find the site on Saturdays than during a workday.

    I know no one is advocating closing Saturdays right now and it is an only-if-absolutely-necessary measure but I think there has to be a better fallback option than that. And I guess I just didn't want that idea to slip by without some community pushback.
    posted by likeatoaster at 6:52 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]

    If we're expected to pay their salaries then we should know what they are.
    ? I don't feel that way, for what it's worth. I'm not expected to do anything. I value this place and want to contribute to its continuing existence. And I don't need to know anyone's salary. It's none of my business and not really relevant to the reason that I'm contributing.
    posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:56 PM on June 15 [43 favorites]


    If we're expected to pay their salaries then we should know what they are.

    I strongly disagree with the premise. We volunteered en masse to cover the site's budget deficit after being presented with a picture of the site's finances. A request was made for increased donations, but in the overall context of looking at various ways of generating more revenue for the site. In fact, cortex has made it very clear that we are not "expected" to pay up. There's a world of difference between being expected to pay and volunteering to help.

    I'm helping cover the site's finances in my small way and just want to put it on the record that I don't need to know salary information.
    posted by duffell at 7:00 PM on June 15 [37 favorites]


    Let me just say that I actively don't want to know mod salaries? Please and thank you, I'd really rather not know beyond "everyone agrees it's a fair wage, and insurance and benefits are covered for the full-timers so everyone has access to health care."
    posted by sciatrix at 7:00 PM on June 15 [53 favorites]


    Sorry, I think it came across a lot more caustic than I intended, but I won't edit it to fix it.

    From my post-count, I'm obviously a profound lurker. At the same time, between jessamyn leaving the mod team only to be quickly replaced by a new hire, the handover of the site from matt to cortex, and the fundraising drives that happened before and after, things feel weird.

    Maybe it's just sour grapes on my part - I'm not in a position to donate now - but MeFi hasn't felt the same in a long time.
    posted by svenkatesh at 7:00 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    I fell in love with a community with less intrusive but, IMO, higher-quality moderating. For example, we used to have a functioning community governance system in metatalk, not something with a queue (despite 24/7 mod coverage?) in which a bunch of stuff gets deleted.

    That's just one example of what I see as overmoderation out of a distaste for conflict that has led to an overall degradation in the quality of the site.

    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:07 PM on June 14


    This.
    posted by dazed_one at 7:04 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    Bloody hell. I don’t want to know anyone’s salary. How gross. It’s commercial in confidence anyway. If you were a charity we could ask. But I’d still find that revolting. Please don’t tell anyone. Gross. Gross gross. Gross.
    posted by taff at 7:18 PM on June 15 [18 favorites]


    between jessamyn leaving the mod team only to be quickly replaced by a new hire, the handover of the site from matt to cortex, and the fundraising drives that happened before and after, things feel weird.

    Maybe it's just sour grapes on my part - I'm not in a position to donate now - but MeFi hasn't felt the same in a long time.


    Ok, I’m trying to be charitable in interpreting your remarks but I’m going to need you to be explicit: are you alleging financial shenanigans, or just that the “feel” of the site has changed? Because you seem to be implying something, and I’m not sure if it is what you mean to imply.
    posted by nubs at 7:19 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    I admit, I never have liked the queue for MeTa, although I think I understood the need for it at one time, because there were three mods plus pb.

    It might be time to only put it in place for holidays again.
    posted by hippybear at 7:21 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    I like the queue. I think it's reasonable not to drop unexpected GRAR deserving of immediate moderator response at unpredictable times. I like that it no longer feels like a weird improv task with the entire audience throwing suggestions out.
    posted by lazuli at 7:32 PM on June 15 [13 favorites]


    Yeah, before the queue we would get MeTas that were basically "Hey did you see what User X did? Fuck that guy, amirite?"

    Count me in as another who doesn't want to know what mods make. I care that they make a fair salary and get paid a living wage. Beyond that, I don't want to know.
    posted by bondcliff at 7:36 PM on June 15 [15 favorites]


    apologies that i didn't read the preceding 700 comments so this sentiment has surely already been expressed in various forms but I'll add to the pile:

    it also leaves me with very complicated feelings about asking for more because I understand that that steadiness to some extent just represents what people are collectively comfortable with contributing

    i think the way these issues are occasionally brought up is totally reasonable and appropriate. no one feels pressured to give, or shamed if they can't. that's really important and good and appreciated.

    that being said, people's circumstances change! metafilter's been crucial to me through going on a decade of my "formative" (= broke) years. I'm still broke, but in a couple more years I'll be much less so. I'm sure lots of others on here have similar circumstances. It's good to have the occasional reminders and updates, so that if maybe we passed on donating last time because we couldn't afford it- by the time it comes up again, maybe that next time we can and will. It's easy to forget about it and just assume Metafilter's doing fine when you're distracted by other stuff and haven't heard anything about it lately. Occasional nudges and reminders seem fine. And especially in this context of transparently updating us- it does make us feel like we're a community and it feels good and meaningful to be able to contribute to that, because we have a sense of ownership here.
    posted by robotdevil at 7:47 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    Nothing against Gruber, but it’s a bummer that a lot of the same people read both sites but the same quality (imo) advertisers don’t have a direct way to pay to reach us. Shouldn’t MeFi at least be getting that Squarespace money?
    posted by michaelh at 7:51 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    I think the metatalk queue makes sense. I'd rather that unintentionally fighty metatalk posts get smoothed out (by the OP with mod advice) and intentionally fighty ones get posted at a time when the mod team can handle them.

    It's not like the mods could refuse to post something and hide it forever. I'm sure that someone who wanted to share that they felt unfairly silenced by a MeTa post never going up would find a way (comments, posts on other subsites, Twitter, etc.).

    Websites change. I love Metafilter but it isn't perfect (my wife buttoned a while back after an negative interaction that left her pretty upset). I personally am happy with the current level of moderation but totally understand why others dislike it. But I just don't get the hate for the queue.
    posted by insectosaurus at 7:54 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Just picked up a subscription.

    Also maybe we can diversify from Amazon affiliate links?

    -Rakuten is pretty big, I think, and better for people living in Asia
    -I know I'd buy from Ebay

    And uh hey if people sold things through the site, like the same way we do for the holiday market, but year-round and with a kickback to MeFi, I'd buy things.

    Also don't show us the salaries. At $36,000 total personnel budget, greed is not an issue.
    posted by Grimp0teuthis at 7:58 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    That's just one example of what I see as overmoderation out of a distaste for conflict that has led to an overall degradation in the quality of the site.

    the phrase "distaste for conflict" is irritating the hell out of me and raising feelings inside me of wanting to bail out on this site forever.
    posted by nikaspark at 8:01 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    There's only one sure-fire, can't-miss fundraising option. Its time may be at hand.

    Telethon. Just think now, 24 hours straight of variety entertainment by and for MetaFilter, okay? Or, as we'll be known for that 24 hours, "Quonsar's kids". Cortex emcees in a wide lapel tux with an honest-to-gosh rolly-number-counter on our way to the top goal. One meelyun dollars.

    Think of the glamour, the pageantry - laptop-cam footage from all over the globe in segments of 5-10 minutes to sing, dance, uh, graphic design . . y'know a real bang zoom kinda thing! I myself will perform my historical re-enactment of Lincoln doing under-arm farts (always a show stopper).

    pre-recorded cameos from Beyoncé and Chomsky, 1-800 numbers, phone banks, paid advertising, free popcorn for the liberals. Man that would have it all. Just think about it, and ask yourself: If not now . . . when?!
    posted by petebest at 8:03 PM on June 15 [14 favorites]


    A Brady Bunch grid of squares, revealing the cast of characters, but then they start subdividing, and subdividing... Oh no, it's a Menger Sponge!
    posted by Artw at 8:07 PM on June 15 [6 favorites]


    FFS if MeFi were a charity there might be some room for demanding to see specific numbers about which staff make what — but Cortex has already gone above and beyond the call of duty in terms of what a private business should be transparency-wise. In this thread. At the top.
    posted by Celsius1414 at 8:09 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    If you're someone who wants to see the salaries--are those demands made of every site you use and every business you patronize?

    between jessamyn leaving the mod team only to be quickly replaced by a new hire, the handover of the site from matt to cortex, and the fundraising drives that happened before and after, things feel weird.

    - Employees leaves and are replaced. This seems . . . normal?
    - Businesses transfer ownership. Also normal?
    - As businesses expand, expenses increase. Also pretty normal?

    I would also like to know the explicit concern beyond "things feel weird", because the latter sounds like you're insinuating misdeeds and it would be helpful to know exactly what the misdeeds are that we should be watching for.
    posted by schroedinger at 8:16 PM on June 15 [13 favorites]


    colorblock sock: I'm just going to be really honest. I'm probably one of the younger members here, I've talked in the past about the ways in which I am marginalized making me feel unsafe commenting or engaging on my own despite having been here for some time. I can't recommend metafilter to my friends of similar backgrounds, because I know there are aspects of how the community is handled, whether or not those are new or old things, that would make them feel unsafe and unable to engage. We talk a lot about mefi being the most progressive place online but again, that trans metatalk linked to upthread was only eight months ago.

    Honestly, I agree with them. The first time I was the subject of an FPP on Metafilter was for a post I wrote that went ridiculously viral. Across all the places it got posted on (Mefi, Reddit, media sites of all kinds, Facebook, Twitter, whatever), Metafilter was the worst. I got very violent comments (something about cutting myself with razor blades), people dismissing me outright, just being hostile in a way that I had not seen anywhere else.
    I've also faced some extremely weird hostility, a lot to do with my marginalised status, as a commentor on Metafilter to the extent that I hadn't even really gotten on somewhere like Reddit.

    It gets extra frustrating because Mefites like to proclaim themselves as "a good place to read the comments" or whatever, and yes I have gotten a lot of good out of Metafilter, and I deeply appreciate that. But like colorblock sock I don't feel comfortable necessarily recommending Metafilter to others wholesale because of what we've faced. There are specific threads and comments that I do share, but as a whole? Dicey.
    posted by divabat at 8:16 PM on June 15 [30 favorites]


    I finally made it into "eh, this is close enough to livable wage for where I'm living" territory shortly before the holidays so I gave MeFi and MeFightclub some money.

    Between loquacious' reminder to me how long MetaFilter has been in our respective lives a little while ago, and being make aware of MeFi's finances by cortex now (I feel the respect conferred by the transparency, thank you. Salary is a US/ N.Am. bugaboo given the historic disparities based on gender and race and owners vs. managers vs. workers - it might be enlightening to see how MeFi is set up, but this is one sausage I'm not going to fight to see how-done), count me in as another monthly donor that just got set up.

    I absolutely love wordshore's suggestion of having a note at the bottom of archived threads - my suggestion would be that instead of "would you like to donate" reword it more towards something like:

    'We hope that you have enjoyed this thread:

    Would you like to participate in threads like these? Join! and/ or donate to keep making these conversations possible.'
    posted by porpoise at 8:26 PM on June 15 [13 favorites]


    between jessamyn leaving the mod team only to be quickly replaced by a new hire

    Jessamyn was a voluntary step-down due to lack of funding for the site, and two other mods left at the same time, also voluntarily, because of funding. Matt talked about all this back in May of 2015. A part-time hire in order to provide flexibility to the still-reduced mod staff was done in December of that same year. 7 months isn't exactly a quick replacement, and it wasn't a full-time replacement.
    posted by hippybear at 8:33 PM on June 15 [8 favorites]


    the phrase "distaste for conflict" is irritating the hell out of me and raising feelings inside me of wanting to bail out on this site forever.


    I see your comment as itself being you engaging in conflict with me, but I also see that as okay, normal, and 100% inevitable on a site where more than one viewpoint / perspective is allowed to be expressed

    I would like to respond more directly to your concerns w/my comment, but I would rather not put words in your mouth or respond to something you're not saying
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:33 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    There's a timeline of mod hirings and departures in the FAQ.
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:44 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    Divabat, I am so sorry that happened.

    FWIW, I love your contributions here.
    posted by mochapickle at 8:44 PM on June 15 [12 favorites]


    Bumped my monthly contribution from $5 to $10. I value this place a lot, happy to keep supporting it.
    posted by Existential Dread at 8:49 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    I just needed to say how I felt Rock 'em Sock 'em, I should have probably kept my feeling to myself, but the phrase just felt like, kinda belittling to people who maybe see some of the conflict around here as something more than distasteful, but rather actively harmful.

    Maybe in the future put some qualifiers around your statements so they don't come off as global proclamations of all conflict on the site or something?

    like you could say "distaste for certain kinds of conflict such as..." then list what specifically it is you are trying to enumerate?
    posted by nikaspark at 8:50 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


    and hugs offered if you want em.
    posted by nikaspark at 8:51 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    So, my bank account doesn't really allow for subscription payments, but I just created a Reminder on my Mac (I didn't even know I had a program called Reminder!!!) set for every payday to toss MF $5. That seems easy enough.
    posted by hippybear at 8:52 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    $24,000 in two days? That's amazing.

    All right. I'm feeling inspired and joyfully teary-eyed now. I'm inspired by the transparency, openness, and generosity of this community I consider my online home. How many online communities last nineteen years? That's ancient in internet time. We've got our flaws, no doubt. But that kind of longevity surely means the site is doing something right.

    All day long I've been scrutinizing my budget and thinking about how I can figure out viable ways to contribute more to support this community that has done so much for me and so many others over the years, despite the fact that I'm a struggling freelancer with a meager variable income that remains below the federal poverty level.

    I have never before supported MeFi financially, but I want to start doing so as soon as it's feasible. For now, I'll make a point of using the Amazon affiliate links whenever I order things there. However, ideally I'd like to support MeFi with an ongoing monthly subscription as part of my normal budget, just like I'd pay every month for anything I consider essential. In order to do that, though, I need to figure out how I can improve my own financial situation so I'm not living hand-to-mouth. This is something I want to do anyway, but now I have even more motivation.

    So I want to float an idea.

    A kind-hearted MeFite got me my first paid writing gig back in 2010. I've come a long way since then. I now work remotely, full-time, as a self-employed professional freelance copywriter and proofreader. I recently got a promotion and a pay raise through my main US client, and I'm thrilled about it. But nonetheless, I'm stuck in a poverty trap: I have no viable choice but to turn down paid work every month in order to keep my affordable health care, because I'm on Medicaid and the state will drop me from it if I earn even one dollar above the income cutoff. Because of my health conditions, I can't afford not to have Medicaid.

    It's maddening to be stuck in this position. I have evidence right in front of me, every month, that I could be earning more money if I could just get out of this trap. And I would gladly give some of that money to MeFi.

    I've been working on it intently. I'm trying to get hired on with a publisher in Sweden. I want to move to Sweden, where I have strong religious and friendship ties. I want to work there, live there, and eventually retire there. The Swedish publisher that has expressed interest in hiring me has not yet made me a formal offer; they're still interested, but they've indicated that it may be some time yet before they can do so. So I'm considering other options.

    If anyone who reads this can help me get out of this poverty trap and start bringing in more income in a way that works for my situation without losing health care (it's complicated, but I'm happy to discuss details; email's in profile) - whether that means getting me hired on with a Swedish publisher, or something else I can't foresee - I hereby pledge to support MeFi steadily and generously as soon as I have that income.

    I also pledge to pay the kindness forward by using my skills, knowledge, and networks to help other MeFites. If you or someone you know is in a situation like this, for example, I may be able to help you sort things out.

    (If this isn't cool here, mods, please delete it. I can modify it and turn it into an AskMe.)
    posted by velvet winter at 8:54 PM on June 15 [8 favorites]


    I just signed up for a monthly contribution, and I'd be super-happy to help design some sweet merch!
    posted by D.Billy at 9:04 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    Me3dia mentioned it above, but I think a Patreon option would be good, Cortex has made it clear that a Mefite is a Mefite, so no actual reward gifts for levels. But, it is easy and it might make a few more people aware of this place who would appreciate it.

    Also for whatever dumb reason even though Stripe just sent me a receipt for my set up of an annual donation a while ago they can't find my dam email in their system. Removed by GDPR? Whatevs. Dealing with PayPal is a drag. Multiple ways to give would be great. Thanx.
    posted by Gotanda at 9:43 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


    I love metafilter a lot but it has some specific flavors that make it inherently appealing to a pretty narrow audience. When I've shared the site with loved ones the generally are kind of confused about what it even is. Further, whatever moderation style we have, people talk about big stuff here, it seems inevitable there will be hurt feelings and anger at times. I don't think that's why we have decreasing engagement though. The biggest factor in lowering engagement with the site seems pretty obvious: most people get their internet on the phone now (not conducive to extensive dialog) and meditated through Facebook, Twitter, etc. The internet changed much more than metafilter did. And there is just less metafilter type internet than there used to be.

    My one possibly not brilliant idea is that I do think fanfare has a lot of potential to pull in new users and to increase site engagement. People love to share their feelings and thoughts about media. I know there was a redesign of some kind planned. I think a creative design that facilitated people quickly finding the stuff they want on fanfare could be really appealing. That's kind of my hobby horse though.

    Anyway, I'm not sure there's a magic solution. I really doubt, based on other discussion forums online, that lighter moderation would help the site in any way.
    posted by latkes at 10:26 PM on June 15 [14 favorites]


    Just want to say thanks to all y'all on the MeFi staff. Thanks for having the courage to ask us all for help ; the integrity to be transparent about why the help is needed; and for your diligence and commitment to the site. Just... fuckin' A. You guys rock.
    posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:38 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


    I think it would be a good time to shamelessly lobby the hosts of Reply All to do a special on MetaFilter.
    posted by Going To Maine at 10:59 PM on June 15 [16 favorites]


    beerperson: "give the mod dashboard to whichever logged-in member at any given moment has the lowest user number to spread around some of the moderating duties"

    Ya that will wendell.

    slipthought: "My favorite hidden bit is interest areas, which for some reason I can only ever find by googling "gay tag site:metatalk.metafilter.com""

    Ah Interest Areas. It's got to be the shortest lived pony ever. But available in reduced exposure form temporarily - for nine years.
    posted by Mitheral at 11:05 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


    "give the mod dashboard to whichever logged-in member at any given moment has the lowest user number to spread around some of the moderating duties"

    I promise I totally won't go power-crazy. Much.
    posted by litlnemo at 11:41 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


    "give the mod dashboard to whichever logged-in member at any given moment has the lowest user number to spread around some of the moderating duties"
    Ya that will wendell.

    Long ago, when I was using my first MeFi ID, I applied for a Moderator position here and lost out to - guess who - cortex. And for all these years, he hasn't thanked me for being such crappy competition.

    I haven't said anything in this thread, and I wasn't going to until I got my own financial situation more settled (I'm currently running a personal deficit 1/50th of MeFi's) but I realized I could use PayPal, which I don't like, but currently has my Credit Line of Last Resort . So you're going to be getting not-exactly-regular payments from me (starting today) that I hope will become more regular soon. It must be noted that my original 3-digit membership was free, but my current one was acquired soon after the $5 fee was established, and I paid for 4 other one-time-use 'sock puppets' that, at the time, were more than worth it. I also have acquired pretty much all of your past swag and confused people around San Luis Obispo by wearing shirts declaring "Flag It and Move On", "If You're Not Paying For It (etc)" and just "MetaFilter". I will somehow find the money if you make "There Is No Cabal" shirts or Official MetaFilter Bean Plates available.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 12:23 AM on June 16 [12 favorites]


    To my mind, considering nonprofit status makes sense because it would enable MetaFilter to seek out large donations from philanthropic organizations. If MetaFilter is not able to continue to make a go of it as a commercial enterprise backed up by users donations, this route seems like the best alternative.

    Entirely separate from the above, I just want to note that commenters are a very different group from readers. If such statistics haven't yet been posted in this thread (apologies if I missed 'em!), I'd love to see a breakdown between the amount of traffic derived from people who comment or post here (say, 1x in the last month) versus people who just read the site.

    The reason why I raise the issue is because if you're figuring out ways to grow your site's audience, it's important to take into consideration the preferences of non-commenters as well. These folks generate ad revenue and donations, but they may not be interested in the same things as commenters.
    posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:28 AM on June 16 [9 favorites]


    Well, I am down for whatever model people want to do funding. I already do monthly and did the one-time injection because y'all my dating pool after I DTMFA.
    posted by jadepearl at 2:24 AM on June 16 [8 favorites]


    My one possibly not brilliant idea is that I do think fanfare has a lot of potential to pull in new users and to increase site engagement.

    I've been thinking about this a bit - and I wonder if there's scope/interest for gaming related discussion too? I'm not a gamer myself, so I'm not sure how much interest there would be - but I know there's a huge amount of gamers in the world, andI'm not aware of a million places where people can talk about gaming, mefi style. Is mefightclub still a thing? I think tapping areas of general interest - things mefites are interested in but don't necessarily express here except in ad hoc ways - could be useful. For my own interests, Cooking and reading are the obvious ones. I know we have specialist read-alongs in fanfare, I'm gonna setup a general book club I think..
    posted by smoke at 2:49 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    I'm hoping that the new merch includes a grey pony with the text:

    "CORTEX GAVE ME MY PONY".
    posted by Juso No Thankyou at 3:11 AM on June 16 [10 favorites]


    Maybe if favorites are logged on a blockchain we can soak up some indie tech grants.

    I was kicking around the idea of MeFi offering some kind of really nicely art-bound edition of the EL thread, with the book coming out...but I suppose the copyright policy makes that kinda hard. And it's another one of those one-offs that might not help that much after the cost of seeing it through.

    I'd put it in my living room and (almost literally) club poorly socialized friends with it.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 4:09 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


    My thoughts. There’s dating potential $ in here. DatingFilter. And a Dear Jessamyn podcast. I’d subscribe. Or enspouse. Whatever it is. And buy the Blue Apron whatever tf that is.


    I bet there’s scope for a nsfw site DontAskMetafilter. I’d click that.

    I also still really want a podcast of mefites from diverse backgrounds paid to talk about stuff. With advertising.

    I’d also subscribe to guest host podcasts of long time users (Desert Island Asks) and encourage you to get sponsors for that. Rabia Chaudry gets free food delivered. Dan Savage gets undies. Dan Ortberg gets tea!
    posted by taff at 5:05 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


    Can't say how long it will last given the way things are going, but I'm reinstating the monthly payment as we speak. Should be able to swing it for at least a few months..
    posted by wierdo at 5:36 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


    Finally subscribed. Sorry it took so long. Glad to keep paying for moderation to make MetaFilter a welcoming place for everyone except bigoted assholes!
    posted by hydropsyche at 5:36 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


    Ok, I did a quick search but I have not seen anyone semi-seriously bring up the metafilter-dating suggestion which I think does bring in cash for The Guardian and the London Dating Review sites and I will frankly admit, I would shell out for instantly if I could send ascii-kisses at poffin boffin and my other shortlist of metafilter hotties.

    Metafilter members who get hitched through it would have to list the site on their wedding/ceremony-of-choice registry.
    posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:49 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


    A few deleted. This isn't your chance to come blazing in with hate speech against minority and marginalized members. No.
    posted by taz (staff) at 5:54 AM on June 16 [29 favorites]


    When I read "disgust for conflict" I think of the conflation of discussions with echo chambers. The lack of fighting doesn't mean vibrant, informative conversations aren't happening.
    posted by schroedinger at 5:58 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


    The lack of fighting doesn't mean vibrant, informative conversations aren't happening.

    No, it doesn't, but the dynamic that many MeFites have mentioned already whereby any non-majority view gets piled on does reduce the possibility of having vibrant, informative conversations. And I say this as someone who is on board with the MeFi consensus view in general.

    I would greatly prefer disagreement without fighting. But I definitely feel like the scope for doing this is less, as the range of issues on which it's accepted that reasonable people can disagree is increasingly narrow. Disagreements turn into a fight when everyone takes turns in putting the boot into the one Mefite who says "but I think tribbles CAN make great pets if you get proper vet care, guys" or whatever, and it ends up in a snarly row until the moderators wade in to say "you've posted enough on this thread, TribbleLover47, maybe let the discussion cool a bit. Everyone else: drop the tribble-neutering derail please."
    posted by Catseye at 6:13 AM on June 16 [20 favorites]


    Well, damn. I was just hunting through paypal and email to work out how to up my 5 bucks a month subscription, and discovered an email in my junk saying it had been stopped nearly two years ago when my bank cards were updated.

    Going back in to multiply my donation now and will try and make a one-off when funds allow to make up some of that shortfall.
    posted by penguin pie at 6:40 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    the dynamic that many MeFites have mentioned already whereby any non-majority view gets piled on does reduce the possibility of having vibrant, informative conversations. And I say this as someone who is on board with the MeFi consensus view in general.

    If the perception of that dynamic by site visitors is real, it needs to be dealt with.
    Or, to not put too fine a point on it, if people outside of the site's consensus are fragile, they are going to happily nope out of spaces that reinforce the site's consensus. There is a reasonable argument that, instead of suggesting that MetaFilter's discussion is wide-ranging, it should double down on getting new members who already generally agree with the consensus øpinions.
    posted by Going To Maine at 6:44 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


    (My comment above may seem very fighty. I was responding to the horribleness that has thankfully been deleted. If you didn't see it, there was a bigoted asshole here. But he's gone now, thanks to taz.)
    posted by hydropsyche at 6:50 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    My apologies if this has been mentioned up-thread; it is a very long thread and I haven't read it all.

    I think going to a subscription model makes sense and, despite decreased involvement with and alienation from the site, would still pay a subscription. However I would really love to see options for payment frequency other than monthly. One of the reasons I stopped my monthly donation was that it cost nearly as much in international currency conversion fees as it was worth. I had intentions of doing one-off donations but that hasn't happened, sorry! But yeah, a US$5 monthly fee is not much and it's not that I even mind that it's more for me living in the arse end of nowhere, but I do resent the conversion fees.
    posted by Athanassiel at 6:52 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    (My comment above may seem very fighty. I was responding to the horribleness that has thankfully been deleted. If you didn't see it, there was a bigoted asshole here. But he's gone now, thanks to taz.)

    I saw that and wtf'd, but before I could flag it the comment had been zapped. Which, ironically, justifies the absolute need for moderation and the fundamental point of this thread.

    Also, top speedy moderation there, taz.
    posted by Wordshore at 6:56 AM on June 16 [10 favorites]


    An idea for revenue: A new site. An additional site, without the constraints (text-only, not wanting ads, etc.) of current MetaFilter. A site that would take less staffpower, be geared entirely toward revenue, and take advantage of so much of the talent and brains that are here.

    A site with sections that would be attractive to new, casual readers, and to advertisers. Spin off FanFare, make it look as much like TelevisionWithoutPity as you can without getting sued. Add other sections with discussions that are currently underserved on the internet. Have MeFites with talent and time write articles aimed at the casual readers, and easily shared on social media (maybe not clickbait, but in that direction). Have MeFites with knowledge and time contribute informative articles on subjects people might be searching for.

    You've got the infrastructure. Maybe not for a more mainstream forum, but I'm pretty sure those are widely available. You've got hosting. You've got staff - I realize that they're busy, but this would (ideally, I know things don't always work that way) be designed to need much less moderation. You've got an established community of users who can provide the critical mass you need to get a good start, providing comments and sharing links on social media, and visiting enough to get some decent Google rankings. But most of all, you've got a lot of very smart people who want to help. You've raised $24K in 2 days. You've got people who can write. People who can be funny. People who can pull together listicles and light, fun content. People who can contribute useful information. People who can turn (for example) a current AskMe thread with recommendations, or information that isn't that easy to find into a stand-alone page. People who can contribute ideas for other sections. People who can maybe even staff it on a volunteer basis.

    This would not be MetaFilter. It would not be a site for serious, thoughtful discussion of issues. It would just be a way to take advantage of MetaFilter's assets without compromising what makes MetaFilter what it is, and maybe turn enough of a profit to keep MeFi running more smoothly.
    posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:59 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


    You've got staff - I realize that they're busy, but this would (ideally, I know things don't always work that way) be designed to need much less moderation.

    You realize that Television Without Pity was one of the highest-staffed, most intensely moderated sites on the internet in its day, right?
    posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:13 AM on June 16 [23 favorites]


    Three things:

    1) I am now a monthly subscriber.

    2) I thought I had signed up for MF a long time ago. Maybe as long as a decade ago. But MF didn't remember me, so I had to reup with the $5. That was fine with me because I've known about this community and its people for a long time and I trust it, but it might be off-putting to people less familiar. Is there any kind of resource like a "MF scholarship fund?" For example, folks nominate people they want to sponsor to join MF, and if the folks decide they want to join they get on a list. I kick in $20 to the scholarship fund and 4 people join. It's not that I think $5 is horribly onerous, I'm just concerned that people who do not know MF well will not take the $5 as I think it is intended (a gentle barrier to entry meant to keep out bad actors and casual destroyers) but in a more negative way (if they're asking for $5 before I even join what else are they going to ask for?)

    3) I think you all are marvelous.
    posted by ResearchBuzz at 7:13 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


    Christ, let's not look to TWOP for a moderation model. I still have nightmares about what went down on the BSG chat.
    posted by Catseye at 7:17 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


    You realize that Television Without Pity was one of the highest-staffed, most intensely moderated sites on the internet in its day, right?

    I didn't, actually. That wasn't my impression from reading it, but maybe I'm mixing it up with something else.
    posted by still_wears_a_hat at 7:18 AM on June 16


    Yeah, it's *legendary* for having super-rigid and very very hands-on moderation. I was a regular back in the day, and it was great (although went way farther than I thought was practical or necessary in some cases) but it was in no way not labor-intensive.
    posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:20 AM on June 16 [7 favorites]


    Not to keep flogging the idea....but can the Labs Amazon feed be made to vomit itself onto Twitter? "@MeFiPicks" or something? Through some kind of ugly but hopefully not laborious pipe-gluing-web-hackery? Is that allowed? Will Twitter strip the affiliate links, and if so maybe still worth it to pull people back to the Ask threads?

    yes the 'picks' thing calls out the warehouses I know I know
    posted by snuffleupagus at 7:24 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


    A curated, best-of ask that essentially helps people find the madness they crave is an ok basis for a newsletter or some kind of metaaskmetafilter. Come for the over-the-top question, stay for the down-to-earth response.
    posted by Going To Maine at 8:08 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    It's really weird that any push for a change in moderation gets construed as being about the amount of moderation. Like, moderation is not a fungible good, it's not like the only question is whether to moderate at the 70% level or the 85% level. Moderation decisions are intensely qualitative and there are many different styles or focuses with which moderation could be applied, completely separate from the question of how many moderators there are or how much time they put in.
    posted by enn at 8:11 AM on June 16 [18 favorites]


    For example, folks nominate people they want to sponsor to join MF, and if the folks decide they want to join they get on a list. I kick in $20 to the scholarship fund and 4 people join.

    I know this idea was meant in the best possible way, but (IMHO) any such scheme is certain to be abused to let spammers and worse people start flooding the site. While this could be partly mitigated by moderation, it means more time & effort for mods, and even then, moderation will never be 100% accurate or effective. The latter is (IMHO) a worse consequence: the continued pernicious influence of bad actors will subtly corrupt the whole family of MF sites and slowly destroy them. So, I for one hope we find a different way of addressing the issue underlying this proposal.
    posted by StrawberryPie at 8:31 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    "However I would really love to see options for payment frequency other than monthly."

    We will definitely do this; I, for one, hate monthly subscriptions and prefer to pay for things in one chunk far less often.
    posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:46 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


    The Stripe options on the funding page do include quarterly and yearly subscription options! There's a drop-down menu "Frequency" where you can pick your time period. We don't have that choosability for Paypal tho.
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:50 AM on June 16


    Every once in a while, an asshole who fucked off of their own accord long enough ago that I forget we never actually banned them wanders back to remind us that, no, we still need to do that part. Sorry that happened, folks, and thanks to the team for promptly shutting that shit down. Account's banned now, no more of that.

    I know no one is advocating closing Saturdays right now and it is an only-if-absolutely-necessary measure but I think there has to be a better fallback option than that. And I guess I just didn't want that idea to slip by without some community pushback.

    I hear ya; if we do end up looking at some kind of Read-Only Hours process at some point, we'll talk about it in real detail to figure out how to make it work best for everyone. Very much meant it as just a for-example, I appreciate your thoughtful take on it.

    I've been thinking about this a bit - and I wonder if there's scope/interest for gaming related discussion too? I'm not a gamer myself, so I'm not sure how much interest there would be - but I know there's a huge amount of gamers in the world, andI'm not aware of a million places where people can talk about gaming, mefi style. Is mefightclub still a thing?

    I think there's a lot of room for video game talk on FanFare, yeah; if I were to have put my personal media priorities first we'd be there already because I'd love to spend more time talking about games stuff here and e.g. I love all the games posting Fizz has been doing and supplementing that kind of high-effort front page stuff with simpler "hey, let's talk about Dragon Quest Builders!" threads would be great.

    Likewise I think there's room for music chatter on FanFare, and finding a better way to broadly support televised sports stuff.

    So we're gonna look at opening up more of that, though more critical rework stuff for how the subsite works and presents content overall is definitely a higher priority there.

    And, yes, MeFightClub still exists and is still a great little MeFi-adjacent oasis for good video game etc discussion on the web. If you're hungry for a friendly, no-bullshit MeFi-like place to nerd out about such stuff or try to organize or get in on multiplayer stuff, I can't recommend it enough. Slightly different culture and mechanics than MeFi (everything is locked up behind a free login, for example, so you can't search or link to it publicly) but wonderful group of people, some of them MeFites, and run by stavrosthewonderchicken.

    It's really weird that any push for a change in moderation gets construed as being about the amount of moderation.

    I think part of it is that in a context like this, where we're discussing an issue of people's livelihoods being in jeopardy, people are gonna be pretty understandably primed to hear a response in the semantic vicinity of "yeah but what if the moderation I don't like wasn't happening" as meaning that that whole we-might-have-fewer-mods risk would be an actual good outcome.

    I don't think the two ideas are inherently connected—I think in a null context it'd be possible to have a discussion about style and level and areas of moderator engagement without it being premised on literally cutting hours, however much any given user would agree or not with those premises—but I don't think it should be surprising that going there in this very-not-neutral circumstance sets people's teeth on edge.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 8:51 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    I've let my recurring donation lapse earlier this year. My life, including financial life, is in a medium high amount of disarray right now. I'll set up the donation again later this year when things settle down again.

    I haven't had time to read much of any of this, but I still feel like Metafilter is in great hands and it remains an important part of my life.
    posted by Kwine at 9:06 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    Also, just as an aside re: ideas about curated best-of type stuff: I do want to give a shoutout to the team, in particular LobsterMitten and Eyebrows and taz, for the ongoing bunch of work they've done on more frequently collating and posting stuff to the sidebar and the existing Best Of blog.

    I agree that there's a lot of stuff we can think about in terms of reworking and expanding that process or something similar for more effective public consumption, etc, but I really do appreciate the effort they've managed to put in around the edges of the more straight-up moderation work that always needs doing.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


    You realize that Television Without Pity was one of the highest-staffed, most intensely moderated sites on the internet in its day, right?

    Cortex asked for suggestions, and the people making suggestions are not necessarily experts. So no, this person did not realize that, clearly. But there’s no need to try to make them feel bad about it.

    Moderators really need to take the lead in terms of making this place welcoming.
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:17 AM on June 16 [15 favorites]


    Sorry, apparently my control of tone is not on point this weekend.
    posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:19 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


    Yeah the sidebar has been HUGELY improved by the work of the mods. I especially love the "Grab Bag" entries (example) and the entries that collect posts around a theme (mysteries! example).

    AskMe roundups via Lifehacker are what got me and a whole lot of other people into the site, so this is the kind of content that I think would be really great to publicize elsewhere because it's a super-appealing hook.
    posted by lalex at 9:20 AM on June 16 [6 favorites]


    R_n: Understandable given the circumstances. Hope things improve/settle going forward.
    posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:21 AM on June 16


    Not sure whether to ask this here or in the other thread on site engagement, but - on the topic of sponsoring memberships:

    Is it possible to offer free memberships to LGBTQ and PoC?
    posted by aielen at 9:23 AM on June 16


    Thanks for answering my questions in detail, cortex.
    posted by grouse at 9:30 AM on June 16


    on the topic of sponsoring memberships

    I'm chewing on a few possibilities about how to deal with streamlining new member stuff, yeah.

    One thing I want to look at very actively there, inspired by a suggestion upthread, is revisiting how gift accounts work so that folks who are established members can just do that for free, maybe limited to a few times a month and after x amount of time as a member to reduce any potential chain-of-spammy-dinguses worries.

    Basically, make it painless/costless for someone who already has a relationship with the site to bring in new folks. I don't need five dollars from you to believe that you think someone else would be a good addition to the community; it should just be a thing to do when the thought comes to mind. I trust MeFites to show pretty good judgement there.

    Sponsoring, per se, I'm less into, just in the sense of paid-sponsorship. Like I said, I'm not worried about that $5, that shouldn't be what it's about. Sponsoring-as-in-freely-inviting I'm totally down with.

    As far as the current situation: right now I'll hook someone up with a free account any time they ask, or anytime someone asks me "hey could you send this person an invite"; I'm happy to do that, zero hesitation.

    I think one thing we can do even if we change nothing else about the signup process is to signpost very clearly on the new member page that if the someone wants to join but the $5 is a hassle or hardship, they can just drop us a line. Making it easier for folks to not feel like they're asking for something irregular or impositional would be a good aim.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:32 AM on June 16 [8 favorites]

    If you're someone who wants to see the salaries--are those demands made of every site you use and every business you patronize?

    - Employees leaves and are replaced. This seems . . . normal?
    - Businesses transfer ownership. Also normal?
    - As businesses expand, expenses increase. Also pretty normal?

    I would also like to know the explicit concern beyond "things feel weird", because the latter sounds like you're insinuating misdeeds and it would be helpful to know exactly what the misdeeds are that we should be watching for.
    Every site I use does not ask for donations regularly. The nonprofits I donate to make their salaries known either on Form 990, or they have financial statements available by request. Since MeFi is not a non-profit and has no intent to become one, this is a moot point.

    I'm not going to speak for jessamyn and she won't interject because she's too gracious, so I'm going to drop this.

    Regarding the transfer of ownership - isn't it weird that matt "sold" the company to cortex by draining the company's reserves? This reeks of LBO-level corporate piracy, but that's just my opinion. The buyout continues to leave a bad taste in my mouth.
    posted by svenkatesh at 9:42 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    thanks cortex!

    I'm just wondering if there's a way to explicitly welcome/appeal to marginalized/minority groups, for signups. Like maybe something on the signup page saying, "If you identify as LGBTQ and/or PoC, we'd like to offer you a free account."
    Or if you don't want to have that as a permanent policy, maybe something like that could be in place for a month - and during that month, we could publicize it in our networks. Basically an official drive to increase diversity membership.
    posted by aielen at 9:44 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]

    I'm not going to speak for jessamyn and she won't interject because she's too gracious, so I'm going to drop this.
    And again with the ?. It's good that you're not speaking for jessamyn, because why on earth would you think that you were in a position to speak for jessamyn? Or that it was cool to drag her into this? Or that telling us why she's not interjecting is not, in fact, kind of speaking for her?
    posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:47 AM on June 16 [14 favorites]


    Ah, I get ya aielen. Yeah, I think finding one way or another to clearly communicate a notion of "hey, we really want to foster a diverse and inclusive membership and encourage folks in underrepresented groups to join up, [insert details]" in concert with making that signup process more accessible is a good idea. Will think about how that could play into the other stuff I've been talking about.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:54 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


    Sheesh! I'm another someone who'd just assumed that his recurring donations were still happening, when in fact they seem to have stopped long ago. Probably due to a card being re-issued. From skimming this thread, I'm not the only one who's been basking in a false sense of virtue.

    One of the podcasts that I donate to uses MoonClerk for its subscription interface (payments themselves are ultimately processed through Stripe). They send monthly receipt emails, notify you when the card on file is about to expire, allow you to modify an existing subscription... generally provide the communications that make the subscriber relationship less opaque. I assume there are several businesses providing similar services in the Stripe ecosystem. Fixing entropy-related revenue loss seems like it might be low-hanging fruit.
    posted by mumkin at 10:05 AM on June 16 [6 favorites]


    Qurey-If I go to Amazon via MeFi link is everything I buy at that session attributed to MeFi?
    posted by bjgeiger at 10:11 AM on June 16


    The nonprofits I donate to make their salaries known either on Form 990, or they have financial statements available by request.

    990's are required to include the salaries of executives and key staff, not all staff. Financial statements that I've seen have a "wages" line but certainly don't list all salaries. When I donate to a website or artist through Patreon or Ko-Fi, I don't get or expect a financial disclosure. If that's what you want from donor recipients, you can choose what to do with your money, but stop implying that Metafilter is doing something shady or unusual by not disclosing salaries.
    posted by Mavri at 10:12 AM on June 16 [16 favorites]

    It's good that you're not speaking for jessamyn, because why on earth would you think that you were in a position to speak for jessamyn? Or that it was cool to drag her into this? Or that telling us why she's not interjecting is not, in fact, kind of speaking for her?
    This type of nitpicking is why I usually refrain from commenting.
    posted by svenkatesh at 10:13 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


    If I go to Amazon via MeFi link is everything I buy at that session attributed to MeFi?

    That's the basic deal, yeah. They treat it as a shopping session (so not so much that one link you followed but rather the stuff you buy in that trip), so you don't have to worry about getting there straight to the one specific thing you buy etc.

    I don't know how much affiliate stuff persists across things like multiple discrete shopping sessions, leaving stuff in a cart and coming back that afternoon or a week later, etc. But the basic system is pretty good at appropriately recognizing "how you got here" credit as far as I've seen.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:14 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


    Really liking some of the ideas (whoever had that Telethon idea is some kinda genius, and probably handsome and well-coiffed, too) but just $0.02 that I don't want Twitter or Facebook-style "social media".

    One of the key pieces of MeFi is it's lack of tentacling into everyone's data profile. Big blue background, well kerned text, and the wind at your keyboard. Nothing but. Mmmm! 1997 4 lyfe, yo.

    And T-shirts. Maybe those "projector" nightlights with the logo. e.g., Stuff.
    posted by petebest at 10:23 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


    The buyout continues to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    Nothing about your allegations is supported by any evidence, so far as I can see, and the transfer of ownership has not resulted in MF becoming worse or busted up and sold for parts. Do you think MF is some kind of secret cash cow for the owner(s), warranting this kind of suspicion? I mean, look at it.

    Honestly, your comments are what leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
    posted by StrawberryPie at 10:24 AM on June 16 [18 favorites]


    the transfer of ownership has not resulted in MF becoming worse or busted up and sold for parts

    The transfer of ownership has been unambiguously good for the site overall. But the payout that was part of that process left the company with less financial reserves, which is suboptimal.
    posted by Dip Flash at 10:33 AM on June 16 [10 favorites]


    This type of nitpicking is why I usually refrain from commenting.

    Exactly what about anything ArbitraryAndCapricious said was wrong? You clearly did bring jessamyn into this, and you can pretend that you don't mean to speak for her but by implying that someone does you're effectively saying she was wronged somehow. You keep dancing around accusations and now you're dismissing direct confrontation with accusations of nitpicking.
    posted by schroedinger at 11:54 AM on June 16 [11 favorites]


    There’s dating potential $ in here. DatingFilter.

    I would pay extra for this subscription.
    posted by hishtafel at 12:15 PM on June 16 [4 favorites]


    RE the buyout, if MeFi had retained large cash reserves on their balance sheet, then the buyer would simply have had to pay more for the acquisition. Meaning cortex would have had to pay himself a higher salary to recoup the greater initial outlay. Meaning the cash reserves would be depleted soon, anyway.

    Which would simply mean our having this conversation a few months from now, instead of today.

    Cash reserves on date of acquisition isn’t the issue here, and is not inherently a sign of questionable business practices. It's the ongoing revenue that needs to be (and is being) addressed.
    posted by darkstar at 12:34 PM on June 16 [4 favorites]


    I too sideyed the jessamyn thing, looked around at the comments to see how she was involved in all this, couldn't figure it out, and then said "hmm" to myself in a vaguely disapproving tone. It was a weird thing to say. I'm not surprised that other people picked up on it. I don't think it was nitpicking.

    For what little it's worth though I also kinda would like to move on from relitigating the buyout thing. What's done is done. I trust that cortex did what he thought was best for the site under the circumstances. Even if I deliberately try to think of it in the least-charitable way I can, the only "villain" I can see is Matt, and he's not here anymore.
    posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:45 PM on June 16 [9 favorites]


    I am searching through the thread, but is there an explanation why Quora gets the link juice in searches thus traffic more than askMefi? If Ask was the path for many new members, at one point, why is Ask getting less love than reddit or Quora, now?

    If my search results are skewed due to personalization then I think it is even weirder since I frequent MeFi sites WAY more than the other two.
    posted by jadepearl at 3:00 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]


    Google just wants to sell shit these days, that’s the primary problem I see with relying on google for traffic.

    A metafilter app would go a hell of a long way honestly.
    posted by nikaspark at 3:08 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


    I want MeFi RPG Club. You know we all want to roll dice with each other! ADMIT IT.
    posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 3:10 PM on June 16 [17 favorites]


    OMG I’m literally writing an RPG right now please yes let’s do this. Can it be in projects? Fanfare?
    posted by nikaspark at 3:12 PM on June 16 [6 favorites]


    but is there an explanation why Quora gets the link juice in searches thus traffic more than askMefi?

    That's where stuff like creating AMP page templates might come in handy (issues about Google monopolies & the like momentarily aside for the sake of "what gets the Google juice?").

    Looks like AskMeFi has AMP pages now that I'm looking at it, though I notice there's a small bug where the AMP homepage doesn't link to AMP questions, so that might be already as optimized as there's room for
    posted by CrystalDave at 3:14 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    Upthread the whole 'Metafilter going from Matt to Cortex' thing was dismissed as a normal business ownership transfer and whether or not one sees anything hinky about it, there was a lot more to it than that.

    Correct me if I get anything wrong, but the ownership of Metafilter went from Matt to Cortex, in exchange for an undisclosed sum taken from the cash assets of Metafilter. The reason those assets existed is that there had been a prior fundraising drive when Metafilter had serious financial problems and many members had contributed, believing their donations were going to pay the bills and rebuild the reserves.

    Certainly the bills were paid, but a large chunk of the reserves were used to pay for the business to be transferred from Matt's ownership to Cortex's. As a result, there was another request for donations to rebuild the reserves.

    Were people misled about how their donations would be used? Few donors seemed to mind and there's a strong argument that stabilising the site required a hands-on owner given that Matt had practically moved on, so it was in the spirit of the fundraiser. But I don't think it's unreasonable to see it as less than ideal in terms of transparency.

    Did Matt take an unreasonable payout from the reserves when Metafilter was financially weak? I have little sympathy for that idea. Matt built Metafilter through hard work and smart management, feeling the strain when things were tough and as a result owned a business with a certain financial value. If he was going to give that business to someone else, why shouldn't he be paid for it?

    So the remaining question is why Cortex should gain ownership of Metafilter, paid for out of donated cash reserves. On one level, that's Matt's decision - as the owner he chose Cortex to receive it. Also, Cortex sees Metafilter not as a collection of IP, code and other items with a cash value, but as a community that he has taken over the responsibility of maintaining. And, like Matt, he has devoted many years of labour, emotional and otherwise, into Metafilter, so few would begrudge him a bonus that is as much a millstone as a perk. (Although he is not the only person to have invested a huge chunk of his life into building the site. It's hard to follow that line of thought without speaking for other people in a way I'm not comfortable doing.)

    So although I'm on balance mostly OK with how the ownership transfer went, I can totally understand those who are less comfortable and I'm side-eyeing some of the suggestions that their concerns are inappropriate in a thread about Metafilter finances and fundraising.
    posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:36 PM on June 16 [17 favorites]


    I am searching through the thread, but is there an explanation why Quora gets the link juice in searches thus traffic more than askMefi? If Ask was the path for many new members, at one point, why is Ask getting less love than reddit or Quora, now?

    It's a volume thing, too. Quora (And reddit) are way, way bigger than Ask.me is these days. It also gets very different kind of questions, some of which I suspect are more google friendly.
    posted by smoke at 3:38 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    I really wish things like this would be brought up sooner than later. Either way, sadly I think decreasing expenses is the only way the site's gonna survive.
    posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 3:40 PM on June 16


    I want MeFi RPG Club. You know we all want to roll dice with each other! ADMIT IT.

    Can it be an RPG about managing a web community? That would be so... oh, what's the term?
    posted by duffell at 3:42 PM on June 16 [10 favorites]


    I'm side-eyeing some of the suggestions that their concerns are inappropriate in a thread about Metafilter finances and fundraising.

    The concerns were originally a request for salary breakdowns, followed by intimations that financial malfeasance happened and jessamyn was somehow screwed over.

    There is a big difference between that and openly asking for more details about the ownership transfer.
    posted by schroedinger at 3:47 PM on June 16 [8 favorites]


    I would buy a t-shirt that said "Flagged as Fantastic" and a collection of pint glasses with Metafilter in-jokes.

    I have a project in mind and I think I'm going to post it on Mefi Projects. I know I haven't given that subsite enough love, but every time I go there I always see lots of neat stuff...
    posted by bendy at 3:56 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    I think that as long as the politics threads exist at all, no matter how conceptually walled off they are from the rest of the site, they will continue to serve as a breeding ground for a really disagreeable site-wide culture. A large chunk of the usernames I recognize around here now are people who I first noticed in the first few politics threads (before I bowed out) due to their fiery invective and their evidently close relationships with the Caps Lock key and the <strong> tag. I still recognize a lot of usernames who came to my attention in the first place because of their kindness, or their erudition, or their humor, but those users always seem to be ones that have been around here for years. Until the last two years or so I recommended MetaFilter to friends all the time, and a good number of them either joined or continued to read the site. I can't honestly see myself doing that now, and I can't imagine my recommendees sticking with the site now either, even if I did keep talking it up. If new users are to be a driver of revenue in any way, then I think the site remaining in its current configuration is going to present a significant barrier towards meeting that budget target.
    posted by invitapriore at 4:11 PM on June 16 [17 favorites]


    Quora (And reddit) are way, way bigger than Ask.me is these days.

    It makes me really sad that search engines are sending more people to Quora these days than to AskMe, because AskMe is so clearly superior to Quora in quality, depth, insight, and readability. I myself originally discovered AskMe through a Google search on some kind of thorny relationship question back in...2003, I think it was? Maybe 2004? I got hooked once I realized that for human relations questions I wanted to explore in depth, I often preferred to search AskMe rather than seek out a book or a therapist. 15 years later, I still feel that way - even more so, in fact, because the searchable archives of all that wisdom have greatly expanded.

    If the site does start a community-curated newsletter, I think it should feature "best of AskMe" prominently, if not exclusively. In a just world, AskMe would be much more popular and widely respected than Quora.
    posted by velvet winter at 4:45 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


    24/7 hands-on moderation is...essentially the bare minimum ethical standard for responsible community moderation

    Just wanted to say amen to cortex on that.
    posted by mediareport at 4:47 PM on June 16 [4 favorites]


    It makes me really sad that search engines are sending more people to Quora these days than to AskMe, because AskMe is so clearly superior to Quora in quality, depth, insight, and readability.

    Quora's bigger, has questions in more categories and notifies members of questions they may be interested in answering/reading.

    I answer questions on Quora because that's where more esoteric questions are asked that pertain to my knowledge of certain historical categories. On AskMe, the questions seem to be more practical or are relationship oriented. Maybe it's people worrying about chatfilter that keeps them from asking the more abstract questions, or maybe the user base of Metafilter is more informed or knows how to research a question about history stuff and that prevents that type of question from being posed on AskMe.
    posted by dazed_one at 5:42 PM on June 16 [6 favorites]


    It keeps getting mentioned that Metafilter is a very US oriented site, which I agree with, but, dang, I'd really like to see it become less so. Some of my favorite posts are those that don't have a US based perspective.

    Political posts, history, cultural stuff, I dig all of it, but of course don't comment since the posts are about things I am less or unfamiliar with. With so much of the user base being from the US and those kinds of posts getting so many comments from that perspective, I can see why they haven't caught on, but it'd be a boon to the site if there could be more of them (and they were handled well by members).
    posted by gusottertrout at 6:45 PM on June 16 [5 favorites]


    I'm just chiming in to say that, although I am a very occasional poster here, I am a frequent reader, and I have come to realize that Metafilter is the only place, digital or otherwise, where I regularly encounter a large number of intelligent people talking to each other. In recognition of the value and rarity of such a space, I've set up a monthly contribution. Thank you, Metafilter, for making the world a little bit less stupid.
    posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 6:51 PM on June 16 [11 favorites]


    Oh, and regarding the moderation, what seemed the case to me is that, in the visible moderation, it's more the variability of it than the amount of strictness per se. It feels like the mods are sometimes operating out of different playbooks at times which is natural perhaps, but not ideal for maintaining a consistent sense of expectation and behavior. But I can only see things from the outside when comments are left or callouts made, so I could be way off on that impression.
    posted by gusottertrout at 6:51 PM on June 16 [5 favorites]


    Special Pony request: Any chance of adding Amazon Japan to the funding page? I know there aren't that many of us in Japan, but I suspect there are a few people outside Japan using Amazon JP for particular anime-stationary-crafty items. Also, people elsewhere in Asia using it?

    OTOH, knowing bureaucracy there is probably some weird local bank account requirement etc. that makes it difficult.
    posted by Gotanda at 6:57 PM on June 16


    I'm sorry for misunderstanding you, then; it was the "making conversations about these issues easy" and the bit about having them without walking on eggshells that got me. (I'm also being very specific: I have no problem with vegans.)

    I don't expect to have conversations about fraught topics like that without walking on eggshells. I do think that they can be held civilly and respectfully, but I read you as wanting a space where those conversations could happen in a relaxed way. I'm not sure that strong ideological disagreements on those levels can happen in a way that is relaxed for everyone.
    posted by sciatrix at 7:07 PM on June 16


    Any chance of adding Amazon Japan to the funding page?

    I will give it another go at some point; my first attempt to get approved for the JP affiliate program was met with a vague rejection, which apparently is relatively common for them compared with the rest of the Amazon affiliate regions. So it may take a bit of doing.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:17 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


    One thing we have not historically done that's a little more in reach is pursuing e.g. no-strings corporate financial support in our existing context.

    What about yes-strings corporate financial support. I'm thinking one non-obnoxious type of string might be sponsorship of the 20th anniversary shindigs. Duff: The official Beer of MeFiXX. Also, Heinz (beans)
    posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:28 PM on June 16


    I've been thinking a lot about merch lately. It's fun and I'd like there to be more available.

    There are a lot of artists of various kinds on Metafilter. Maybe they could do something for the exposure (that's a joke. Seriously it was a joke). What I was non-jokey thinking is that we could have some sort of contest for Mefi-Art of various sorts with actual prizes (to be donated by members, possibly cash). I assume mostly amateur artists would enter since professionals work for actual pay not potential prizes. Anyway, the art could then be used to appear on merchandise via cafepress or whatever.

    Also, how about a silent auction with donated stuff. So many crafty mefites! Set up a sub-site (or a site somewhere else). Post your pics. Silent auction. The donor can ship the thing directly after the auction winner is confirmed to have paid. Maybe a cut of the auction price can go to the donor for shipping.
    posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:35 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


    I just installed an "* I help fund MetaFilter" by hand onto my profile. I'd opted against displaying it since the previous money crunch, but in the interests of directing large-hearted creeper eyeballs towards the funding efforts I put one in. It oughta look sort of like the site-provided one, I thought at first, so I tossed a link in to the actual funding page. But when I checked my sources and compared my ad hoc version to the MeFi Gold Star Standard the latter linked to the relevant outdated FAQ, What does "I help fund MetaFilter" on profile pages mean? instead of directly to the funding page. The link to the funding page is something like the eightieth link down from the top, tucked into the very bottom corner like it's almost embarrassed to be there.

    All of this just to suggest linking ALL THOSE (literal) HIGH PROFILE ★ I help fund MetaFilter!s directly to the funding page, and from there, maybe down the very bottom and in the corner link the soon-to-be-updated FAQ if anybody's still curious about what's going on with the strange funding of MetaFilter issue.
    posted by carsonb at 8:01 PM on June 16 [7 favorites]


    At the risk of once again jumping down to the bottom to post something someone else has already said:

    People could volunteer to do the sidebar for a month at a time - might be fun to be really into all the threads for a limited period of time.


    I'm reminded of the thing Sweden does with it's twitter account where a random Swede gets @sweden every month(?) or whatever. I'm not sure where I'm going with this exactly but some random mefite, perhaps limited to the pool of subscribers, should get some cool privilege every month.
    posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:28 PM on June 16 [6 favorites]


    Ooooooh!! What about actually letting people pay a subscription fee to run their own mefi blog?? Like, bring back what was so great about the internet blog culture and add some tie-ins to the mefi system like Projects does already with voting and posting an FPP? Like, literally run blogs.metafilter.com/~username/ and offer the kind of basics of a blog host from the late 90s.

    I like the idea, except for the URL/name. The sub-site name/url clearly needs to be GYOFB.metafilter.com .

    Also, are these supposed to be moderated, because if so that would be a crapload of work for mods and if not it could be a giant disaster.
    posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:51 PM on June 16 [5 favorites]

    Cortex makes $37,500/mo and everyone else does it for the exposure.


    And extra Favorites.

    Delighted in the reserves bump.

    Agree with updating the “closed to new comments” text.

    And I like a link under the “I help fund” text.

    As for calling out “knock off, froods” comments,, a toggle that puts a side bar or change bar specially on moderation comments, like the OP responding on an Askme.

    I know someone mentioned blogs; I know I miss LJ. Isn’t tat codeopen source? A version anyway? Snag it, skin it in MF colors, and tie it to our subscription accounts for those who choose. Add a “share to my journal” option BUT if you share an MF post to your own journal to talk about it the privacy is auto- friends only and can’t be changed(yes I know people could code it by hand but the only answer I can see to that is flagging for mods to temp suspend account or something. )

    Instead of a sub domain, a freshsimilar name.
    posted by tilde at 9:35 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


    Political posts, history, cultural stuff, I dig all of it, but of course don't comment since the posts are about things I am less or unfamiliar with.

    In such cases, it's fine to simply post a comment that says 'I dig this, thanks for posting'. It's very encouraging when people do that.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 12:22 AM on June 17 [6 favorites]


    The first and least thing I can do is add an amazon affiliate link to my browser's shortcut bar, perhaps the funding page could contain this as a suggestion.
    posted by epo at 1:41 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


    Along the lines of the art auction, but more open-entry, and a bit like the popular gift/card exchanges, I was thinking about an art postcard lucky dip... eg Mefites contribute a handmade piece of postcard-sized art, they get put into a a big bag, other MeFites pay X for a card and get one at random. Maybe too much admin though? It could be an ongoing thing too.
    posted by KateViolet at 2:08 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


    a fairly narrow subset even of left-of-U.S.-center views is heard.

    Yeah. I don't comment a heap and this is a reasonable part of why. It's not something I'd like moderation to tackle in an explicit/incident driven way (but maybe a strategic awareness of it would help), I'm not greatly interested in a site that requires an adult to chime in with "let them have their say" in otherwise civil conversation. It'd be nice if a wider diversity of expression was welcome though.

    I'm not sure if that's a jab of some kind at the MetaTalktale Hour

    I didn't make the jab and am not going to repeat the snarkyness but I'll admit I kinda struggle with these threads and the way they make the place feel to me. To my very non-US cultural sensibilities there's a forced and bright wholesomeness to them that reminds me of getting-to-know-you games in a youth group circa age 13, which was not present here years ago. I'm in two minds about posting this characterisation, as I know others like them a lot (see above) and I don't greatly enjoy offending people, but for me they are a very poor substitute for genuine warmth, chattiness and the ability to have a yarn elsewhere. In that sense I'm not sure they are great for community building as coupled with other policies they tend to corralle it in one place.
    posted by deadwax at 4:48 AM on June 17 [19 favorites]


    > I don't greatly enjoy offending people, but for me they are a very poor substitute for genuine warmth, chattiness and the ability to have a yarn elsewhere. In that sense I'm not sure they are great for community building as coupled with other policies they tend to corralle it in one place.

    If a lot of people like them, then they're good for community building, regardless of how you feel about them. Can't you simply ignore them? Why do they degrade your experience simply by existing? (The same goes for a lot of the stuff people complain about; it's as if people can't stand the fact that the site isn't built exactly and entirely to their personal specifications.)
    posted by languagehat at 6:55 AM on June 17 [25 favorites]