August is MetaFilter fundraising month August 2, 2021 11:18 AM   Subscribe

It's fundraising time! MetaFilter depends primarily on user and reader support to continue to operate: that funding pays for moderation, site development, and basic administrative costs like server hosting. It is increasingly difficult to operate a site like ours in the modern web economy, and your financial contributions through one-time contributions and recurring subscriptions have made, and will make, all the difference in keeping MeFi going.

You can start or increase your subscription here. I'll answer some questions about what we need, where the money goes, and what's coming up below, so come on inside if you want more detail.

Why do we need to do fundraising?

MeFi has historically relied on passive advertising for most of its income. In the years since 2010, however, the web ad market has contracted hugely, and that revenue is no longer nearly enough to support the site, and continues to decline. So we need to depend even more on financial support from the MetaFilter community to keep the site up and running.

MetaFilter is a small company; we currently have seven moderators working part time, including the site owner, and one part-time developer. We're a for-profit company in tax terms, but none of our income goes anywhere but into necessary maintenance costs, moderator and developer payroll, and when there's extra into savings against future payroll and costs. Every dollar we raise through user contributions goes directly into the continued operation of this community website.

What does this all pay for?

MetaFilter spends money on three major items.
1. Paid moderation: this is where most of our budget goes, paying our team of professional moderators to monitor the site, be responsive to user questions and needs, and improve site policy and documentation.
2. Development costs: paying our tech person to do ongoing maintenance on the site, fix bugs, and improve existing features and build new ones.
3. Administrative costs: primarily site hosting fees, along with a gumut of small recurring and one-off costs for things like domain renewal, service subscriptions, legal and accounting fees, etc.

We also dedicate funds to community initiatives, like honoraria for the BIPOC advisory board, which dedicated user fundraising has so far fully covered.

How much do we need to raise?

Currently we're bringing in about $24,000/mo, between direct funding and ad revenue. We want to make that $30,000/mo. That's $6,000 a month in new or increased subscriptions.

MetaFilter's moderation can operate best when we have someone on the clock 24/7. Currently we're operating at about 75% of that capacity to make the budget work; the difference to get us back up to full-time staffing is about $5,000/mo. A little more on top of that would give us some breathing room as well, for unexpected costs and new development projects.

Isn't that a lot?

That is a lot! Hitting $6K in new and increased subscriptions is a lot to bite off. But we'd rather aim high and go for sustainable full-time moderation than not. And if everyone currently supporting MeFi with a recurring subscription added another $2/mo, we'd be most of the way there immediately. Or a fifth as many at $10/mo. Or fewer at more, for those in a position to do it. Or, ideally, all of the above!

How can folks help?

MONEY: by starting, or increasing, a monthly (or quarterly or yearly) subscription payment to the site. We know not everyone can do that. But for those that can, it makes such a difference to how MeFi can operate. If you can help—if you can think about what MeFi means to you, what it brings you and has brought you over time—then we're asking you to help pay for the worth you see in that so we can help this unique place continue into the future. If an ongoing subscription doesn't work right now, one-time contributions are also welcome and helpful.

WORD OF MOUTH: bring folks in who might like it here. Do that weird, effortful thing of introducing person A to place B, something that isn't necessary in the mega-scale social media platforms but matters a lot to a small place like this. MetaFilter is fundamentally a community site, and though we will inevitably see people leave and others join over time, the community can only benefit from bringing in more, new, interesting voices and community members.

PARTICIPATION: every person who posts and comments on Metafilter, who asks and answers questions on Ask MetaFilter, who digs in on media discussions on FanFare, is part of why this place exists. Even just taking the time to do a bit more of that, to engage a little extra here and contribute to what here is, is good for the site and helps everybody see why this place is special and worth supporting.

Anything fun happening?

As a matter of fact, yes! For one thing, we'll be tracking progress toward our goal on a Crouton-o-Meter; if you haven't spent time before in your own personal MetaFilter Crouton Petting Zoo (or if it's just been a while), here's a reminder to go check it out!

We're also test-launching something new: a monthly MetaFilter newsletter, written by the site staff and mentioning a bunch of things we liked or thought were interesting recently. A little bit like the podcast, but a lot shorter and written down. We'll share the first issue on MetaTalk shortly.

And we're gonna do some theme posting events throughout the month of August, to give folks some space to play in and see what kinds of fascinating and goofy stuff comes out of it. If you have suggestions for themes you'd like to see, chat about 'em here! We'll be making dedicated MetaTalk posts for each theme event.

Annnnnd...maybe a couple other little surprises. We'll continue to update over the course of the month, so keep an eye out.

Well, let's get to it then!

Let's! Once again, you can start or manage your subscriptions and contributions here. If you have any questions about payment details, schedules, etc, please reach out at the contact form and we'll help you out.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for supporting MetaFilter. We couldn't do this without all of you.
posted by cortex (staff) to Uptime at 11:18 AM (74 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Behold, the Crouton-o-meter. Crout-o-nmeter? Crouton-o-meter, I think.

a stack of five cartoony croutons and a graduated series of lines from $0 to $6,000

We'll update this over time; progress will add some toasty color and some less pensive expressions to these little bread buds.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:18 AM on August 2 [14 favorites]

Increased monthly donation by $5. Best of luck!
posted by skewed at 12:02 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]

I just added a monthly donation.

Gotta see some smiles on those croutons!
posted by Monochrome at 12:32 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]

I've upped my contribution, now up yours.
posted by briank at 1:31 PM on August 2 [29 favorites]

Count me back in on the regular! I believe we can do this.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:55 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]

Cool -- I've upped my monthly payment a little.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:28 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]

I upped my monthly contribution.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:59 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]

Upped the monthly. Keep on keeping on!
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:26 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]

Just upped my monthly contribution! Because PayPal is dumb, I had to cancel my subscription at the old amount and start a new one at the new amount, but it was easy enough to do. Glad to be able to contribute a bit more!
posted by merriment at 3:26 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]

Merriment is right - they don't make it easy. Had a bad moment there...
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:28 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]

upped :-D
yes I also had to cancel and start a new Paypal thinger.
posted by Glinn at 3:30 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]

Mod note: Yeah, for reasons it is sometimes simpler to zap and restart than to change that with PayPal. If you have a Stripe subscription set up, you can generally change your amount from the Manage Stripe Payments link on the funding page. Though as always, if you run into any weirdness with it please let us know at the contact form and we'll get it sorted out for you!
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:43 PM on August 2

Upped by five bones. Poor af but I need to believe community-funded moderated spaces can exist! Thanks y'all--mods, members past & present & future, lurkers, posters, everybody--for keeping this wonderful thing alive. Happy every day that it is here.
posted by youarenothere at 4:07 PM on August 2 [7 favorites]

I upped my monthly donation. This has been a wonderful, supportive place for me.
posted by kathrynm at 4:51 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]

Added a couple of bones to my monthly donation.
posted by COD at 5:02 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]

I know the answer is normally "it doesn't matter use which one is easier for you", but is there any difference in the total amount of money you get, between PayPal and Stripe, for say, a $10/monthly donation?
posted by skynxnex at 5:38 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Nope, either is equivalent; the market rates for this kind of transaction are basically identical from one processor to the next.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:40 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]

If I'm not logged in the funding page shows PayPal as the only option, not Stripe. If I am logged in the funding page shows both Stripe and PayPal but the neither the Hamburger Icon (aka Menu) nor the Profile Icon are responsive. Mobile site. Android. Chrome.
posted by DanSachs at 6:06 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

Just a reminder, most credit unions in the US (probably banks, too?) offer free "bill pay" which means you tell the credit union to automatically "bill pay" and the credit union cuts a check and puts it in a stamped envelope and mails it to whoever you want (even yourself if you want to test it). For free! Like, you don't even pay for the stamp!
posted by aniola at 6:20 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]

Mod note: Yep, DanSachs, we don't show Stripe except to logged in users; we were having some frustrating fraud/chargeback issues a while back and locking that down just to users helped. I'll review where Stripe is at with fraud detection handling, since that may well no longer be as much of an issue. Not sure what's up with the menu stuff on mobile there; I'll have frimble take a look. If there's any other useful debugging details, toss 'em at the contact form.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:38 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

can you elaborate on the fraud issues and -- if the basic honesty and good character of metafilter members as a rule is incomplete explanation -- how restricting stripe to logged-in users remedied them? the solution was something you, rather than the processor, implemented?
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:10 PM on August 2

I upped my contribution from 5 to 10/month. I wish I could do more since MeFi is my Internet Refuge.
posted by BustedCatalyzer at 7:18 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]

Mod note: Sure, 20 year lurk. The problem wasn't MeFites; the problem was specifically that randos on the internet were capable of generating fraudulent charges at a publicly accessible Stripe form, which then turned into chargeback fees for us. This is something that Stripe's toolset has probably gotten better and more configurable about in the interim (that issue dates back a few years) so I can take a look into opening Stripe back up to all comers vs. just for logged-in members (from whom no problem charges arise). The difference is that PayPal is/was a lot more aggressive about up-front fraud management on their end, so we didn't end up with chargeback issues on their end.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:25 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]

Bones is what we’re donating now? Upped mine. Keep up the thing.
posted by janell at 7:31 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]

Just a reminder, most credit unions in the US (probably banks, too?) offer free "bill pay" which means you tell the credit union to automatically "bill pay" and the credit union cuts a check and puts it in a stamped envelope and mails it to whoever you want (even yourself if you want to test it). For free! Like, you don't even pay for the stamp!
posted by aniola at 6:20 PM on August 2
What is the name/address that this would be sent to, if using bank to facilitate bill pay?
posted by dancestoblue at 9:13 PM on August 2

Mod note: What is the name/address that this would be sent to, if using bank to facilitate bill pay?

If you prefer to have a paper check sent, you can do it to the site's PO Box; I pick up a few of those from the post office over the course of each month. It's listed on the funding page, but for convenience:

MetaFilter Network Inc.
PO Box 83386
Portland, OR 97283
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:41 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

Upped my monthly too. I love this place.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:47 PM on August 2 [7 favorites]

Too frazzled at the moment to fiddle with existing subscription, made a one-time extra donation but will try again tonight.
Just figured how much Metafilter adds to my quality of life and ... thank you.
posted by M. at 12:31 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]

Re-started my monthly contribution and upped it to US$20. I learn so much from this place, it deserves a bigger cut of my entertainment budget than Netflix does!
posted by third word on a random page at 1:01 AM on August 3 [8 favorites]

Long time lurker, first time subscriber. Smiling croutons for the win!
posted by rip at 2:40 AM on August 3 [8 favorites]

Upped my monthly - thank you all for being so helpful and kind
posted by glaucon at 5:19 AM on August 3 [6 favorites]

Upped my contribution. Thank you for existing.
posted by 15L06 at 6:04 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]

For, uh, REASONS! I can't do a monthly but made a one time of approximately what a monthly would be over the year. Email on the payment doesn't match my account but I assume, considering I paid via stripe, my user account is attached to the donation?
posted by Mitheral at 6:27 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]

Just realized that somehow my monthly subscription had stopped. I think that happens when you change your credit card on file with PayPal, but I hadn't noticed, so just created a new one. Just in case anyone else is in the same boat. Thank you team MeFi!
posted by widdershins at 6:36 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]

Increased monthly subscription payment by 33%.
posted by Osrinith at 7:25 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]

I think it should be crouton-ahm-eter. Like kilometer in the US. Or manometer or sphygmomanometer. Barometer! That’s a reference! Omg thermometer. Why I am I making this hard?
posted by janell at 8:05 AM on August 3 [6 favorites]

It's ok, croutons are hard.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:18 AM on August 3 [14 favorites]

Poutine another way, it's not like soup or easy.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:22 AM on August 3 [8 favorites]

Mod note: I mentioned the new newsletter notion in the post; that's live now, explained in this new post, if you want to give it a read, brainstorm, etc over there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:08 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]

Upped. I have a new job with much better hours and pay thanks in part to good advice found on the Green. Thank you all. You helped save my sanity.


(Happy Crouton)
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 11:42 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]

Upped... and just ugh with the paypal cancel/re-add weirdness...
posted by one4themoment at 12:42 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]

I dunno how much money that pay for a post brought in a while back... but I'd do that again too...
posted by one4themoment at 12:45 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]

I can't afford to increase my subscription, but I did check it to see that it's still going.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:11 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]

(I just noticed this is posted in Uptime, which I like.) I did restart my monthly payments.
posted by skynxnex at 7:29 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]

I resurrected my contribution after it had lapsed. I am barely engaged anymore, but I still want this place to be around.
posted by knapah at 10:47 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]

threw $120 directly. Still have an autopay somewhere.
posted by isauteikisa at 1:26 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]

Upped mine successfully. There are several things I am already subscribing to that have WAY less value to me than Metafilter, so.
posted by M. at 12:21 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]

Just added a subscription. I've gained far more of value here than I can afford to pay! The crouton meter looks like we're doing pretty good?
posted by saveyoursanity at 1:07 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]

Is the crouton meter being updated, somewhere? I'm not seeing it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:50 PM on August 5 [8 favorites]

I'll be updating it today! It's a manual process on a couple fronts, so it doesn't have the instant gratification quality that an ideal thermo would have.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:23 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]

Can we have a separate fundraising drive to get an automated crouton-meter?
posted by skewed at 10:55 AM on August 6

I'd lay down some bread for that.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:23 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]

Ha, perfect fundraiser month timing. Just had to get a credit card number canceled and replaced due to a entering my name on an online donation name field as "first name lastname full credit card number" and not realizing I'd done so before hitting submit! So, when my new card arrives in 7-10 days and I update all my online payments, I can cancel one of my streaming services (I do not watch enough content to justify them all, been meaning to start rotating for awhile) and add those dollars to my Metafilter donation instead. The universe demands it!
posted by the primroses were over at 12:40 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]

Jeez, everbuddy’s so crusty about the croutonometer. It’s getting stale.
posted by mochapickle at 1:08 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]

It’s just word salad from a bunch of tossers
posted by Rumple at 2:16 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]

That’s the easy explanation, Rumple, but not everything is so cut and dried.
posted by mochapickle at 3:05 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]

Render unto Caesar, etc
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:09 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]

Points, for that one! Toast points, specifically.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:36 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]

Vinaigrette nothing.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:04 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]

Lettuce not forget for whom the dinner rolls. It rolls for cheese.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:26 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]

Just upped my monthly, I honestly appreciate the reminder. I'd give up on the internet if it weren't for this place. I remember back in the 1990s when I was appropriately cynical about the potential for the internet to be coopted by powerful interests, and my friends were all, "no, it's a free exchange of information". Who's laughing now? Oh, right, not me.
posted by mollweide at 6:38 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]

Boy howdy sometimes its six different things at once (and at least one of those things is a nasty spike of executive dysfunction), but: Crouton-o-meter is now updated! As of today, we have at least $814/mo in new subscription contributions between Stripe and PayPal. That's most of a crouton! We have some toasty bread and a smile officially on the board! Thank you everyone who has thrown in so far.

This is a conservative estimate, for a few reasons:
- no way to track paper checks in the mail ahead of time
- some folks have done larger one-time payments in lieu of a subscription, which is totally fine but doesn't show up in these particular numbers
- there are *still* a couple of annoying issues with parsing PayPal data for things like subscriptions that were increased in place; I'll keep hacking away at those to make sure we can get to a true total.

This also doesn't include new one-time payments in general, which I'm still finding a good way to parse cleanly as well but is on the order of at least two thousand dollars, which is fantastic and will help in the short term.

Thanks for you patience on the initial update; I've got more of a system in place so we should be able to nudge these crouton bois more frequently from now on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:43 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]

Came here feeling very stupid because I couldn't work out how to increase the amount of my PayPal subscription without having to cancel and restart it... left again somewhat reassured to learn that nobody else has been able to find a way of doing that either. Anyway. Subscription duly stopped and restarted, and now to go and pet some croutons.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:44 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]

Please do not pet the croutons. If they become habituated to humans, they will have to be tossed.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:56 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]

I have cancelled my Paypal subscription.

(and reinstated it at a higher amount)
posted by MattWPBS at 10:56 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]

i nao pay moar


i muzt to see ur less faves crouton



i am monster
posted by lalochezia at 5:44 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]

I just restarted a monthly donation. I had stopped at some point because the lack of transparency (especially when Matt left), but I really appreciate the increased transparency about the financials and I read Metafilter a lot and I pay for other content I enjoy. Plus the croutons are adorable.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 8:08 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Okay doke, monthly stripe payment increased! Not by a ton, but many crumbs make a crouton.
posted by the primroses were over at 12:29 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]

if everyone currently supporting MeFi with a recurring subscription added another $2/mo, we'd be most of the way there immediately

I had to wait until now to make sure my recurring subscriptions hit different paychecks. I did another $10/mo, so 4 others don't need to. Money can be tight for anyone. I hope this absolves guilt of 4 people that need this site but can't pay.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:11 AM on August 15 [3 favorites]

Crouton-o-meter updated; we're at $1,003/mo in new subscription revenue now. Four digits! There'll be a general site update post later today as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:10 PM on August 16 [6 favorites]

I like fundraising month and the newsletter and the general flurry of activity.
posted by dmh at 5:54 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

A bit late to the game here but am now donating monthly.
posted by slimepuppy at 10:07 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]

A crouton story: A dear friend in college had spent his teens waiting tables at a fancy restaurant several states over, a restaurant that was noted for the gourmet, house-made croutons they served with several of their dishes. The croutons, he said, were just the leftover artisanal bread from the breadbaskets they set out at every meal. When they bussed the table, they'd bring the bread back to the kitchen and then they'd slice, bake, and season the leftover bread so it could begin its second life as delicious croutons.

I'd rarely eaten at fancy restaurants while growing up, much less ones with artisanal bread baskets, and at my house we were all a bit germophobic due to my dad's medical situation, so this entire concept was astonishing to me. At the time, I was genuinely horrified by the idea of eating someone else's secondhand bread. There's breathing and vapor and potential dropping on the floor. I mean, I'm sure it's fine because they bake it and everything. But still? 25 years now and part of me remains partially horrified.

I just passed my sixteenth year here, and I'm not sure how I would have managed without it, particularly these difficult past five years that we have been weathering together. I'm grateful to the team managing this place, and I'm grateful for all the people here. You've all made my life so much better through your candor, thoughtfulness, and good humor. It's my favorite place on the web.

I'm continuing my usual monthly subscription but I'm sending a bit more by mail, which should arrive this week.

I love you all.
posted by mochapickle at 12:28 PM on August 23 [9 favorites]

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