[MeFi Site Update] June 21st June 21, 2021 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Hello Metafilter! Happy summer/winter solstice! Please find another update on the state of the site. Reminder: I will be the only mod monitoring this thread so please be patient as I reply to your feedback and questions. If you have any questions or feedback not related to this particular update, please Contact Us instead. If you want to discuss a particular subject not covered here with the community, you’re welcome to open a separate MetaTalk thread for it.

Technical Changes

- Re-added maps to IRL pages and made some general map fixes.

Fundraising & BIPOC Advisory board Spending

- As of now, all our funding is set in 2 separate buckets: 1. General funding to keep the site afloat (this includes operational costs, payroll, lawyers, etc) and 2. The BIPOC Advisory board.

- I’ll work with the team to provide more details regarding where we are at with #1. Fins details for #2 below:

- We've sent 6 honoraria payments (each one set at $50) to board members who have attended meetings and have shared their payment information. There are still 9 payments waiting to be sent out. In most of these cases we're waiting for details from the participants to make the payments.

- We’ve budgeted $750 out of the total approximate ~ $2145 raised for the BIPOC Advisory board so far.

- We've been moving forward at a steady pace, we'll continue to share the work that's being done with you all via the meeting minutes

General Projects we are working on

- We are working on a pilot project to improve how our Contact Us process works, if everything goes well we’ll start using a new tool soon. More details on this later.

- The last draft of the Privacy Policy is being reviewed. We will let you know as soon as it is ready to go live.

Feel free to start adding questions to this thread and I will do my best to address them as promptly as possible.
posted by loup (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 1:44 PM (40 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Can you share any details as to what has meaningfully changed as a result of decisions/advice made by the advisory board?
posted by Karaage at 4:00 AM on June 22, 2021 [10 favorites]

We are still at an early stage to answer that question fully. There have been 3 Meetings with the BIPOC Advisory board so far and these meetings are only 90 minutes via Slack so things move a bit slower.

So far, these meetings have served to define and lay out a strong and healthy foundation for the board moving forward. This includes, expectations, honoraria, funding, Moderator participation in the meetings, and determining the function of the board and its priorities.

You can find the minutes for all 3 meetings here.
posted by loup (staff) at 9:28 AM on June 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Are IRL alerts working again?
posted by ShooBoo at 12:14 PM on June 22, 2021

Can I record the view that paying your leading critics ‘honoraria’ in return for coming on board really doesn’t look good?
posted by Phanx at 3:00 AM on June 23, 2021

I’m in support of paying people for their time and expertise. This seems very reasonable.
posted by Concordia at 4:37 AM on June 23, 2021 [52 favorites]

In the previous site update you mentioned you are tracking the most common requests on an internal wishlist. Is there any possibility of making this list public, to help ensure the site's users are aware of what work is ongoing and what is in the backlog? I think this would help with transparency and prioritising new requests.
posted by Stark at 5:38 AM on June 23, 2021 [6 favorites]

Quick responses below:

- Are IRL alerts working again?

Let me check with frimble

- Paying your leading critics ‘honoraria’ in return for coming on board really doesn’t look good?

The BIPOC Advisory board members are not paid to come on board, they are paid for their time and contribution. Also, criticism is not only welcome but very much needed.

- Is there any possibility of making this list public, to help ensure the site's users are aware of what work is ongoing and what is in the backlog?

Yes, this is a must. I haven't done that yet because finishing the privacy policy and subsequently the terms of use are pretty much the main priorities right now in terms of infrastructure. In terms of Improvements, we're still looking into what needs to be done to redesign the flag button since that is a pretty major feature.
posted by loup (staff) at 10:35 AM on June 23, 2021 [7 favorites]

having a mefite label and stereotype people of color as the 'leading critics [of metafilter]' when they were actually invited to advise metafilter on how to make it a less racist place because of comments like this is a little too on the nose.
posted by Karaage at 10:46 AM on June 23, 2021 [44 favorites]

Mod note: Can I record the view that paying your leading critics ‘honoraria’ in return for coming on board really doesn’t look good?

loup asked me to be a second set of eyes on this, because it's been flagged but also responded to, and I agree with them that this comment is a lousy framing on multiple fronts: paying people for their work whenever possible is a good thing, and these are members of our community foremost and not "critics" or people fundamentally at odds with MetaFilter. The implication that folks would be bribed by a nominal honorarium is pretty insulting to the board participants as well.

Honoraria for voluntary participation in activities like this is a common thing, and is something folks in the community strongly supported in previous BIPOC-centric MetaTalk discussions in the run-up to the board's formation. I'd ask that anyone with contrary feelings about the idea leave the question of what's appropriate there to the active participants and stakeholders in the process.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:20 PM on June 23, 2021 [36 favorites]

Something like Member1, Member2, then?
posted by janell at 9:52 PM on June 24, 2021

On meeting minutes and board member identities:

At meeting 1, the adopted policy was to default to using member’s names in the minutes unless members requested anonymity.

Looking back at our Slack conversations, at the beginning of Meeting 2, a member suggested it’d be safer to leave out everyone’s names from the minutes unless a member explicitly requested to be named. The group seemed to prefer this method, so we switched to making everyone anonymous unless stated otherwise. That change wasn’t recorded in the Meeting 2 minutes, and I can absolutely acknowledge that oversight.

Conveniently, we recently discussed the need for the minutes to be recorded in more detail to better capture what was said, and when, which is why the Meeting 3 minutes are much longer and have way more context. We’ve been sorting out meeting logistics that work for everyone, so naturally, we’re going to have some inconsistencies. I'll chat with the board about exploring the idea of using "member 1" "member 2" signifiers instead of just "member" to make things easier to follow. Hope that clears things up.

As for inactive or active members, please see the top of each meeting's minutes, where I've listed the names of active members in attendance. The roster is ever-changing as members have lives and other priorities that come up, so I won't be sharing the names of temporarily or permanently inactive members. That's something the board, myself and those individual members handle privately. If they'd like me to share that information, I would do so with the consent of everyone involved.

If BIPOC Mefites have questions about participating users and/or how to hop on board with us, I'd be happy to chat over email!
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 9:32 AM on June 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

How do I attend a board meeting as just an observer?
posted by certified human at 12:04 PM on June 26, 2021

Mod note: floam, nitpicking at length the processes of a board you aren't a stakeholder in or contributor to was a problem in its own right. I warned you previously about needing to stop digging in on abstract or academic tangents on discussions about stuff involving groups you don't identify with, which the BIPOC board certainly seems to qualify as. Following up with a sockpuppet as a notional curious third party is extremely fucking sketchy on top of that and I'm not comfortable with you continuing to participate on MetaFilter.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:11 PM on June 26, 2021 [20 favorites]

Overall, how's the site doing financially? What are the average monthly revenue and expenses, if those can be shared?
posted by leslietron at 6:54 PM on June 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Overall, how's the site doing financially? What are the average monthly revenue and expenses, if those can be shared?

Yeah — maybe it's too late in this thread to raise this — but I do find it surprising these site updates don't seem to touch on the big picture of site participation and the implications for Mefi finances and (tbh) the site's continued existence. There are 70% fewer posts and questions than there used to be, and 75% fewer comments and answers. So Mefi has lost something like three quarters of its active users. The graphs have been heading downward pretty consistently for about ten years now.

Maybe there isn't anything new to say about that each month — but shouldn't there be a plan, a project, some ideas to arrest the decline? It's weird that it's hardly really discussed. Sorry if I've missed anything recent... all I could find was a brief reference saying that revising the privacy policy and terms of use were a higher priority than "starting to think about" long-term growth.
posted by Klipspringer at 2:16 AM on June 29, 2021 [8 favorites]

It's been a really strange reaction since the big meaningful Meta thread where cortex bowed out / begged off and we never got any owner thoughts, reactions, plans regarding the existential issues. "Discuss among yourselves" the same stuff we've been beanplating for years, while the next icebergs approach and the captain barricades the bridge...

Since then we have had a bunch of locked update threads, one way site -> users communication, in which it seems a couple of items have taken the vast bulk of attention and focus. Privacy and racism, these are important things, but the speed is just not indicative of any sense of urgency. Things take time, and I do not think it is intentional, but if these are the first steps in a multi-part plan to save the site, and next in line is the flag button, we are not going to get anywhere significant until 2028.

Finally we are allowed to react in these last few threads, within the tight bounds of the thread topics, and there is a lot of bottled up wondering from committed and concerned folk waiting on, what, almost a year now, for any kind of big picture plan and vision. Or even a plan to develop a plan.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:40 PM on June 29, 2021 [16 favorites]

Yeah. It's odd. Sometimes I feel Mefi is like a garden. I am the crouton.
posted by dmh at 11:54 AM on June 30, 2021

I'm just coming here to say that if the Isabel Fall thread I just posted gets deleted, I am officially 100% Done with metafilter and will delete my account. This is the kind of thing I might previously have made a metatalk thread about but you can't do that any more so I'm putting it here. Since I know there are people compiling stats on these things, I am trans.
posted by Acheman at 7:10 AM on July 2, 2021 [5 favorites]

Well, that didn't last long. Honestly, maybe it would be better as a followup Meta post, since that's where updates go?

But honestly, is there any room on Metafilter where you can discuss that the community has fucked up? Because we did, big time, when discussing the story.

And deleting a post by a trans person, to an article written by a trans person about a trans person, due to worries about (potential? Inferred?) harm to other trans people? Not a great look from a mod team that still hasn't really reached a point where I'd expect them to do well moderating an intra-community debate like that.
posted by sagc at 7:34 AM on July 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

"This post was deleted for the following reason: Heya, see the previous go at this in this deleted post; no knock to Van Der Werff's writing about the situation, but the original thread about Fall's story was a really deep wound for a ton of folks on MetaFilter and that's not a wound we want to reopen just for the sake of some discussion. "

I think I made it abundantly clear in both my post and the comment I put in the thread that it wasn't 'just for the sake of some discussion'.

I'm sticking around, somewhat, for any discussion that happens in this thread but I am, as stated above, Done and my account will be deleted at the end of today.
posted by Acheman at 7:41 AM on July 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

As for why it wasn't a MeTa post, the last time I tried to make a MeTa on an unrelated subject I got fucked around for about a week and a half by like six different mods going back and forth about whether it could be posted or not, and in the end I got tired and gave up trying. I'll note that when the new MeTa system was introduced we were told that this would not lead to MeTas not being allowed to be posted, just that it might affect the timing.
posted by Acheman at 7:46 AM on July 2, 2021 [9 favorites]

There's always been a strong policy through-line that there are things that Metafilter Doesn't Do Well, and those things are dissuaded or outright silenced. The moment I saw the Vox piece elsewhere, I knew it was a safe bet that would be its immediate filing when it attempted to be here--not least because it's been made pretty clear that "any metatalk thread that gets/is likely to be contentious" is likewise filed in that category.

So, odds low that any new MeTa on it would be allowed through, yep. And if by low chance discussion doesn't wither on the vine here (old thread, etc) a "hey folks, this thread is intended only for feedback on the policy post so we have to close this up. While there are important aspects of this latest detour now really is not the time and place. The contact form is always available!" is pretty legible in the crystal ball.
posted by Drastic at 8:30 AM on July 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

The custodians like the garden quaint & quiet. Don't step on the grass!
posted by dmh at 8:38 AM on July 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

But honestly, is there any room on Metafilter where you can discuss that the community has fucked up? Because we did, big time, when discussing the story.

I think if there's going to be a discussion about how things went specifically on MetaFilter, it needs to be a MetaTalk thread about that and not a general discussion thread on the blue, yeah. I'm sorry about the frustrating experience with your MeTa submission about masks a while back; that wasn't typical but it still happened and I know it sucked and that's our fault.

And deleting a post by a trans person, to an article written by a trans person about a trans person, due to worries about (potential? Inferred?) harm to other trans people?

It was also flagged quickly by trans and non-binary numbers with notes asking that we not do this. I think the whole situation is complicated and there's no great outcome here, because it was in fact an ugly mess of a situation both in general and on the site. Is there a good way to address that in retrospect that doesn't involve picking one cohort of our trans members and ignoring the other? I don't know. I know that having a general-audience front-page discussion on a site that is by sheer demographics primarily cis members is not the best likely path to having a good conversation about this.

I know it's frustrating. I think there are legitimate things to talk about in the followup piece. But I also need to be responsive to trans voices in our community saying "please do not do this". I don't feel I have the context or authority to tell trans folks on the site which discussions they're required to sit through; to the extent that this is a point of contention within our trans community, those are the voices that are gonna be able to navigate it best, and a MetaTalk post aiming specifically for that would at least be a better and less-fraught fit than an open discussion on the blue.

If we end up in a place where we don't have a retrospective post about the situation, I understand that feeling frustrating or stifling. I really do. But the decision to throw open the doors on that discussion doesn't exist outside of the context of some trans members of the site specifically, clearly saying "don't".
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:38 AM on July 2, 2021

(just a heads up that you're responding to my comment, but might have me confused for Acheman in some places)
posted by sagc at 8:39 AM on July 2, 2021

You're right, sagc; I should be clear that the first quote there is from Acheman's comment, the second from sagc's, and I mistakenly thought both were from Acheman's when I was composing. Content isn't affected but I'm sorry about the confusing implied attribution.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:41 AM on July 2, 2021

They're both from my comment, which is why I mentioned it.
posted by sagc at 8:42 AM on July 2, 2021

Ah, christ, you're right. Nailing it with the bylines this morning. Sorry again.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:46 AM on July 2, 2021

It was also flagged quickly by trans and non-binary numbers with notes asking that we not do this.

Would those be the same trans and non-binary users who (among others, many of whom were cis) said horrible things about Fell in the first thread, because I think that is germane.
posted by Acheman at 8:54 AM on July 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Also: are you saying that if I attempt to post a MeTa today, before I delete my account, with a link to the article, it will be posted? Today?
posted by Acheman at 8:57 AM on July 2, 2021

...and this is why I am planning to delete my account, because I feel like I'm on a company messageboard and everything has to go through HR. There's basically no communication. It's exhausting to have to wait around for unknown amounts of time for any kind of moderator response to straightforward questions like 'am I, in fact, going to be Allowed to make the post that you say I should have made?'
posted by Acheman at 9:18 AM on July 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm not on the clock right now and am trying to get other stuff done with my morning. One of the things that has not worked well on the site in the past is the expectation that moderators will be glued to the screen at arbitrary times for arbitrary intervals and that all responses and decisions need to be both well-considered and made under duress; twenty minutes going by for something that is not literally urgent should not and cannot be the threshold for failure. That's part of why loup proposed that we re-open these site update threads with the expectation that they'd be the sole moderator doing followup in them, on a "daily-ish checkins, weekends off" basis vs. the old practice.

I respect your right to decide to leave MetaFilter if that's where you are, and it sounds like it is. I don't think planning to post a MetaTalk on a hard topic while explicitly immediately on your way out the door is a good way to go. If you want to frame and participate in a MetaTalk discussion that you think is going to accomplish some good for the community, I'm for that, but this sort of line-in-the-sand approach doesn't feel like a great setup for that. In this kind of context I'd like to see a draft first before making a call. I'm fine about talking out that draft in public in here if you want, to avoid the concern of it getting bound up in email, with the understanding that this needs not to turn into a proxy thread about the Fall or Van Der Werff pieces as a result.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:24 AM on July 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Dude I get that you're not on the clock but consider the fact that I am not paid by metafilter *at all*, but you're expecting me to be the one who's glued to the screen. Presumably there are other mods who are in fact on shift and could have handled this.
posted by Acheman at 9:33 AM on July 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Would those be the same trans and non-binary users who (among others, many of whom were cis) said horrible things about Fell in the first thread, because I think that is germane.

No. I flagged the post yesterday. I did not post in the original thread. I was still hurt by it and spectre of revisiting the damn thing.

Also, I think this comment/accusation is in extremely poor taste.
posted by hoyland at 9:35 AM on July 2, 2021 [6 favorites]

Yeah, if it's germane, I'm one of the non-binary users who flagged it. I read along with, but did not post in, the original thread, and don't think it's helpful to suggest that those of us who flagged it are people who said horrible things about Fell. I assure you my feelings about Fell are not why I flagged it.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:46 AM on July 2, 2021

I flagged today's post and did not participate in the original thread. I flagged it because, although I did not think it was a bad post, I thought that it was very likely that the discussion resulting from it would go badly and probably lead to more trans people disappearing from the site. There's probably some version of MeFi where that post could have gone OK, but it's not the one we have with the history around that topic in particular and with moderation that's currently not sophisticated enough around trans issues to make it go well. (I do see the mods trying to get better at it and it's appreciated, but it's not at the point where discussions that are going to be this fraught could happen without a lot of pain).
posted by death valley compound at 9:56 AM on July 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry that my question about who flagged it ended up sounding accusatory - there were some specific reasons why I asked that but I don't think that much good will come of my detailing them further.

I've submitted a MetaTalk thread. I hear people saying that they don't want to have this conversation, but I really think it needs to happen.
posted by Acheman at 10:24 AM on July 2, 2021

I am still planning to leave, and I would greatly appreciate it if you could approve the post before I do so. I am deeply tired of all this, and it will be freeing to know I don't have to consider it my responsibility any more. But I'd like to do this one last exhausting thing before I go. I just don't have another fraught week to spend in back-and-forths with mods over whether it gets posted.
posted by Acheman at 10:34 AM on July 2, 2021

Well, it's a quarter past ten where I live. I haven't heard anything from any mods since my MeTa went in the queue. My neck has seized up from stress. I spent hours today fretting about this and checking back to see if anything had happened. I've spent over nine years trying to fight transphobia on this website. (yes I know I said I wasn't trans in that post, turns out I was wrong lol) But at the end of the day, there's nothing I can do with this amount of stonewalling. It will never get better and this will never be discussed because there isn't a space to do that any more. I am deeply frustrated that I was told that I should have made a Metatalk post and am, in fact, also blocked from making a Metatalk post. I also find it impossible to resist noting the real irony in the fact that people flagged the post because they didn't want 'more trans people disappearing from the site' and the direct consequence of that is me, a trans person, disappearing from the site. Good job, I guess.

At the end of the day, like I said, I don't get paid to do this and I am just unwilling to take the mental and physical health hit that would be required to carry on trying to participate here. Earlier this year, while working in a voluntary basis on a covid ward, I went through an unbelievable amount of futile stress and upset in an attempt to get mods or users or anyone to address the fact that dangerous medical misinformation was being repeatedly posted by certain users in AskMe and not deleted, despite my flagging it wherever I could. It was pointless and I am just not willing to go through that again.

Mostly, I really hope everyone who participated in what was done to Isabel Fall reads the article and thinks quietly about what they did and how to make better choices in future, especially the cis 'allies' who don't know the difference between listening to trans people and turning your entire brain off. It can't be undone, but you can email apologies to neil@clarkesworldmagazine.com; he's said that he will make sure that she gets them.
posted by Acheman at 2:54 PM on July 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Acheman I’m confused, I see your Metatalk post and it’s been up for four and a half hours now? Am I misunderstanding your comment? Appreciate this is all v upsetting.
posted by Klipspringer at 3:14 PM on July 2, 2021

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