Hey, it's a MetaFilter newsletter! August 3, 2021 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Something new we're trying out: a MetaFilter email newsletter. I want to share the first issue with y'all, to discuss and brainstorm about. For the moment, we're calling it...Untitled MetaFilter Newsletter. You can subscribe here.

First, major credit here to taz who took the initiative to make this thing we've been chattering about off and on for the last year into a thing that's actually happening. Sometimes the most important thing is just Doing The Thing, and that's what she did, and she's responsible for a lot of the text here and for it being *in a dang newsletter at all* besides. The rest of the writing this time out is mostly mine, though taz pulled together most of the actual link content this time out in the first place. She does a lot of the sidebar updates, so no shock that this was doable territory for her.

Also, thanks (again) to adrianhon in particular for advocating for this idea in the past; I think he was right see this as both a good fit for and a natural extension of what MetaFilter does, and I'm excited to finally start to make good on that proposal.

We're still figuring out the details, and this is very much a test issue while we figuring out how it can all work, but this is meant to be a digest of some nice/fun/interesting stuff on MetaFilter, and will probably be a monthly venture at least for now as we sort it all out.

It's a similar notion to the monthly podcast—a roundup of interesting MeFi stuff put together by members of the moderation team—but in a more accessible, more skimmable, much much shorter format. That should be a lot easier for folks who are not already MeFi diehards to digest, and easier for folks who don't have a serious podcast habit to get some value out of as well.

So, give it a read! Toss your email into the subscribe form if you want to ride along for a while. Toss it to some friends who might not have the time to dig in on MeFi in general but would enjoy seeing some of the good stuff that shows up here. And let us know what you think, what you'd like to see incorporated, what you're excited about, etc., so we can take that on as we plan out the next issue.
posted by cortex (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 9:07 AM (88 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Some clever places might even hold a newsletter naming contest...
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:20 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Contests per se feel like a real Boaty McBoatface situation waiting to happen, but I'm all ears for riffing, so have at it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:24 AM on August 3


Well heck, I'll start. Newsy McNewsface, you're welcome.
posted by phunniemee at 9:49 AM on August 3 [40 favorites]


dammit
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:51 AM on August 3 [16 favorites]


MetaFilterFilter
LetterFilter
MetaLetter
Front Page Post

Eh. Untitled Metafilter Newsletter ain't bad.
posted by zamboni at 10:17 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


Email address tossed!

I read so damn much of this site that it’s hard to imagine missing something. But what if I did!?! (MetaFomo)
posted by veggieboy at 10:21 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Some reference to our history, like "The Plate of Beans" or "Same as in town" or "The Portobello Mushroom" or "The Monthly CatScan" or "The Secret Quonsar" or something like that would be neat.
posted by Melismata at 10:23 AM on August 3


MetaFilter: Doing the Thing
posted by iamkimiam at 10:28 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I'm as big a fan of inside jokes as anyone, but given that the newsletter is more… outward facing, I'd go with something that's not inside baseball. Definitely not "Same as in town".
posted by zamboni at 10:28 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]


Yes, if there's one way to increase Metafilter's popularity, it's by naming the newsletter after an ancient in-joke that several dozen people will definitely get. That said, literally everything around here is about one step away from being an in-joke and there mere inclusion of a colon in the title is practically an in-joke.

And let me beat you to it:

Metafilter: literally everything around here is about one step away from being an in-joke
posted by GuyZero at 10:32 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


GuyZero: literally everything around here is about one step away from being an in-joke

The Newsletter could explain a different in-joke in every issue.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:44 AM on August 3 [17 favorites]


Nobody has suggested LetaFilter yet?
posted by fedward at 10:48 AM on August 3 [8 favorites]


Who’s Leta?
posted by zamboni at 10:51 AM on August 3


OMG PEOPLE, THIS IS SO OBVIOUS!!! THE TITLE OF THE NEWSLETTER IS:

THIS IS JUST TO SAY
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:52 AM on August 3 [45 favorites]


If it really must be injokes, I suggest Wedged Into Their Scanners.
posted by Drastic at 10:57 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Also, why aren't robots allowed to subscribe to your newsletter? WHY DO YOU WANT TO MAKE MY ROOMBA CRY?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:57 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


or More Inside
posted by QuakerMel at 11:07 AM on August 3 [31 favorites]


Oh, man, I'm seeing some art that's supposed to be fairly teeny blown up really big here in my Chrome browser, at least. :(

I don't know if other people are getting that view on the linked page. Tinyletter is nice for being a simple, free, lightweight sort of thing, that (I've heard) also doesn't try to exploit its users to nth degree, but my experience with it so far is that it's kind of hellish to format, and every single version looks different! The working page looks different than the preview that you can send yourself, which looks different than the actual letter that gets sent to you, which looks different than the archive page version. Next time, I'll throw in some explicit height and width tags on the images ... though it might just sneer at that and do its own thing. :P

(It's a sometimes rather too "helpful" wysiwyg interface that allows you *some* html latitude, if you choose, but it's been rough to deal with. I sorta wanted not to think about actual html/css coding much at all to make this go faster in the moment, but eh. Hopefully I'll learn more as we go on that will make it go a bit more smoothly!)
posted by taz (staff) at 11:17 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I thought the pigeon was just really, really drunk. Or possibly somewhat translucent.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:20 AM on August 3


the pigeon is supposed to be sexy! I guess drunk is a "kind" of sexy. :D
posted by taz (staff) at 11:22 AM on August 3


Untouchably sexy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:25 AM on August 3


taz: I don't know if other people are getting that view on the linked page.

I didn't want to say anything, but *nods*
Please don't cry. I like the newsletter already.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:30 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


fwiw, I can only seduce pigeons when they look that blurry to me.

But also, great job on the inaugural newsletter! Yay!
posted by mochapickle at 11:33 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


the image sizes actually look fine in the e-mailed version ... and then in the archived version that I'm seeing as user, they are size-fine, but not centered. And THEY ARE VERY VERY VERY VERY BIG IN THIS LINKED VERSION AND I CAN FIND NO EDIT BUTTON FOR THAT WAAAAAH! I guess we're going big or going home.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:44 AM on August 3


Huh, I thought tinyletter allowed for markdown composing, but I might have been thinking of buttondown. There might be third-party ways to do that, or produce RSS feeds, too.

"Best of the Web Newsletter"
"Mefi Digest"
posted by Pronoiac at 11:50 AM on August 3


Tiny letter, giant images.
posted by zamboni at 11:51 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


The Newsletter could explain a different in-joke in every issue.

I really like this idea! And/or a piece of MF history tied to recent posts! It could just pull from and link to existing text on the wiki in order to keep the required work minimal.
posted by youarenothere at 12:04 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Huh, I thought tinyletter allowed for markdown composing

It does, kinda. I can access an html version of the page, but it throws in a ton of cruft, and even when I change something in the actual html it will tend to just go "nah," and overwrite what it thinks I want to do? Like I'll change one thing (why is this subhead looking totally different than the other subheads? okay I see that for some reason this is getting unrequested bold tag but the h3 tag isn't taking. gonna just delete that bold and put in the <h3> </h3>. Okay, better. But why is this extra space here? /me deletes extra space. Okay, now it's gone back to not being a subhead. grrr.) The thing is, if I spent the time to *actually* competently edit the html, and hope it took, I think I would have given up on the project, because it would have been days, just for that. And even then, since every single version of how this thing can be accessed looks different, it seems like different automatic formatting happens in different call ups of the page anyway. ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯

Oh, also? The html doesn't wrap. hahahahahaha oh god. Yeah, I do hope to find some sort of third party thingy if possible!
posted by taz (staff) at 12:10 PM on August 3


Nice work, and thank you!

Given that the notion behind this newsletter is a site roundup "in a more accessible, more skimmable, much much shorter format. That should be a lot easier for folks who are not already MeFi diehards to digest," center MetaFilter in a simple title: "The MetaFilter Newsletter". Traditional MeFi in-jokes and allusions as a regular "site history" feature toward the close of monthly issues (picture it: June, 2025) would be neat.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:12 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Glancing around, it looks like using a markdown editor elsewhere, and copy-pasting the rendered result, might get you most of the way there, except for images.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:17 PM on August 3


I knew someone with a tinyletter, and I was going to ask for composing recommendations, but it looks like he switched to buttondown. Their marketing comparison between the two might make you think about switching, considering that markup and images were pain points.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:40 PM on August 3


Oh, man, I'm seeing some art that's supposed to be fairly teeny blown up really big here in my Chrome browser, at least. :(

If it makes you feel better, it looked wonderful to me in FireFox.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 12:42 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter Newsletter works for me. Or maybe just, The MetaFilter News?
posted by Rash at 1:27 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Tiny letter, giant images.

One tiny letter for a mod, one giant image for MeFite-kind.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:45 PM on August 3


Salesforce Marketing Cloud lets you avoid these issues with what I guess they're calling "Email Studio" but I have no idea the costs. What I've seen lately for "cross-channel activation" is to have the marketing email go out very simplified with a blurb linking out to the full copy, because each email client mangles the email in a different way, across the different devices.
posted by geoff. at 1:49 PM on August 3


The thing is, we don't ever, ever, ever sell or monetize our member email addresses (or anything at all that has to do with the personal data companies want to aggregate). Nothing. Ever. Now, I know one cannot get that kind of guarantee from any app, generator, or service, but we can go with the smallest footprint we can find, and we expect that people will judiciously choose whatever email they want to associate with an item like a newsletter. (I only subscribe to three or four, and I just use my regular personal email because I don't think those particular newsletters are trying to track and correlate my (non-existent) Facebook account, with my (non-existent) linkedin, with my existing, but mostly read-only Twitter account, etc. (Though maybe they are! Probably they are! Bah!) And I've come up with a usable-for-me way of separating work / personal / strictly limited addresses. But if someone is offering a free service, it's because they get enough sellable info from that to make it worthwhile, or they get enough ads to make it worthwhile, or they get enough money from contributions or paid subscriptions to make it worthwhile. We can't afford to pay a private service (who might STILL harvest info, whatever they promise), or develop it all on-staff, so we are angling for the lightest touch we can get. We will go through some stuff to try to assure that as best we can.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:35 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


This is a text-only site. Why do we need a newsletter with images?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:46 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]


Pls add pictures to regular Metafilter, but only giant pictures of pigeons.
posted by zompist at 2:48 PM on August 3 [7 favorites]


Just like the white winged dove
Sings a song, sounds like she's singing:
Blue (Pepsi), Blue (Pepsi), Blue
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:53 PM on August 3 [7 favorites]


Why do we need a newsletter with images?

How would you ever know how appealing the pigeon was otherwise?

But no, seriously, it's like we already have been penalized enough, ad-income-wise, for not having images. We want to use our newsletter for evil by drawing people in with pictures of appealing pigeons only for them to find out that we don't actually have appealing pigeon pictures on the regular site, but oh, hey! there's still some pretty good stuff to old-style read (and comment on), when in a weird old-style-reading/commenting mood.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:54 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]


Now that's what I call seducing the pigeons!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:02 PM on August 3


Call it Pidgy McPigeonface?
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:03 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


(I'm actually hoping to utilize super simple clip-arty but kind of vintage and/or fun and/or ironic little art things — bear with me, I have a vision! a very small vision! in my mind! my very small mind! — that don't promise a posh, trendy, we-actually-have-an-art-director destination. As much as I love art directors, and I do.)
posted by taz (staff) at 3:07 PM on August 3 [7 favorites]


I like it. MetaFilter: The Graphic Novel
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:10 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


The subsites are extended filters and the filters are full of links and text and when the Internet finally scabs over, all the ASCII-art pigeons will fly away. The accumulated filth of all their feathers and guano will wash over the search engines and all the twitters and facebooks will look up and shout 'SAVE US!'... and I'll look down and whisper, 'Twenty dollars, same as in town.'
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:49 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Huh, I thought tinyletter allowed for markdown composing, but I might have been thinking of buttondown. There might be third-party ways to do that, or produce RSS feeds, too.

Yeah, just want to note that I've zero desire to add anything to my inbox, but would subscribe to RSS.
posted by juv3nal at 4:10 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


It's going to end up titled "Pigeon Seduction, The Metafilter Newsletter" isn't it.
posted by fedward at 4:13 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Squab willing.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:21 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


That’d sure ruffle some feathers, if you know what I mean.
posted by mochapickle at 4:24 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


That’d sure ruffle some feathers, if you know what I mean. No worries, Tom Lehrer is on it...

"We've gained notoriety
And caused much anxiety
In the Audubon Society
With our games
They call it impiety
And lack of propriety
And quite a variety
Of unpleasant names"
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:34 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


MetaNews
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 6:10 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


This is a text-only site. Why do we need a newsletter with images?

We have cameras.
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:35 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Meta News
Filter Letter
posted by glonous keming at 7:28 PM on August 3


Newsfilter?
posted by expialidocious at 7:58 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


The Tally Ho.
Grain
Mefiletter
mefigram
Grauniader
Buffed Chaps
The Cap
Blue Note
MCarousel
Chargecord
posted by clavdivs at 8:37 PM on August 3


the pigeon is supposed to be sexy!

I know furry artists! If you want a sexy pigeon, I can acquire one for you, that you will own all the rights to!

As far as a newsletter name goes, call it Untitled Metafilter Newsletter, but then every issue has it's own title that is three words that start with U, M, and N.

There's a zine that's been going for decades, physical publication, that is known as RFD. That might mean Rural Free Delivery (it's for rural queers), it might be Radical Faerie Digest (it's reader written and run by radical faeries), but every issue has its own name of three words with R F D.

Just a thought.
posted by hippybear at 9:22 PM on August 3


Anyway, I read the newsletter... and enjoyed it! Really liked some of the "behind the scenes" information like what searches lead people to MF and things like that -- analytics that give more depth and texture to how the site is interacted with, from within and without. That was super fun for me!
posted by hippybear at 9:42 PM on August 3


I am enjoying the newsletter! A more all-in-one curated taste than Best Of is.

Suggested title:

What's New on MetaFilter
posted by brainwane at 9:54 PM on August 3


Really enjoyed the first newsletter!
posted by ellieBOA at 1:13 AM on August 4


I enjoyed this, thanks. Will go back and read some more of the links when I'm not internally warring between procrastination and getting stuff done. I liked the "Among search engine queries that led people to Metafilter this month ... ".

I would tend to downplay in-jokes or references as much as possible in this, given you want to pull in new readers (I have unsubscribed from a couple of literary societies in the past because of this) - even mentions as anodyne as "Wordshore, of course". I might also up the welcome quotient in "We're always happy to have new voices in the community" - "we love having new voices ... "?
posted by paduasoy at 4:53 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Cortex Explains It All
JimmieRustler
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 5:57 AM on August 4


I might also up the welcome quotient in "We're always happy to have new voices in the community" - "we love having new voices ... "?

Absolutely. Spotlight when possible good posts and comments from newer voices whenever possible. Be mindful of spotlighting things from the decade-plus population.
posted by Drastic at 7:58 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


… or produce RSS feeds

TinyLetter = Blog - RSS Feed + All images turned into MailChimp trackers
posted by scruss at 9:42 AM on August 4


Yonks ago, I used to read "The Cat Who...." series by Lilian Jackson Braun. At one point they start a newspaper, but can't think of what to call it. Clarion? Crier? Caucus? They finally dub it "The Moose County Something" and put a poll on page one....and the overwhelming write-in vote was for the Something.

Thus endeth my thoughts on a naming contest.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:01 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


The Unnameable
posted by chavenet at 2:00 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


MetaFiltered
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:05 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]


you magnificent nerds, slouching towards MetaFilterin' 2: Electronic Ballyhoo (42 devoted subscribers and, briefly, six confused, bereft ex-Parlermentarians)
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:19 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing
posted by DanSachs at 3:46 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


The 404 News - because linking to old content means parts of it will be missing.
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 4:06 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Post Filtered.
Meta meta.
posted by firstdaffodils at 6:36 PM on August 4


I have to love it—it's so Web 1.0
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:19 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


MetaLetta
posted by mightshould at 4:36 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: The Newsletter

Now I will go read it. Thanks for all your work, taz (and cortex)!
posted by Bella Donna at 8:22 AM on August 5


I really enjoyed the first newsletter, so much so that I plan to share it with two non-MeFites who I would like to lure over to the blue side. That's okay, right? I have understood the concept correctly?

Later on the size of the art in the first issue will become another in-joke and it will be the first one I was there for. Yay!

The art was great in several meanings of that word. Please keep those images coming! (In the newsletter.)
posted by Bella Donna at 8:39 AM on August 5


Added a big one-time contribution because my monthly Stripe one falls between a weird spot on the tiers! Very happy to see the newsletter happening.
posted by adrianhon at 8:45 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Are we having a naming contest? I'm ready to campaign for Meta McFilterface.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:01 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


How about 'The Infiltrator' ?
posted by jamjam at 2:27 PM on August 5


Or "The Metafiltrator"?
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:45 PM on August 5


[posted in wrong thread]
posted by schroedinger at 7:36 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Fun! Thank you! I'll be sharing this.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:44 PM on August 5


[posted in wrong thread]

That's an odd name to suggest for the newsletter...
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:10 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I have no name to suggest, but since I got an fpp of mine linked in the first newsletter you clearly have impeccable taste.
posted by Literaryhero at 10:56 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Voting for MetaLetter.

As for content - you know how content is king? You don't actually need to faff about explaining what MeFi is. Old heads know, and newbies don't care. Newbies, like everyone, will be drawn (if they are) by the promise of good-quality content they wouldn't efficiently find elsewhere -they don't need backstory, it's enough to know this is a curated list of recent best links. I'd dial back on the rambly creative writing and get to the good stuff, just set up and present the links/discussions. Do that clearly, not too cleverly. Make it easy to understand what the links are about, don't hide them behind commercial-style writing. Go simple. This might be something to hand off to a staffer as lead writer/editor.

Colors as a theme is fine for a demo, but probably want to go with something less abstract/conceptual generally. Either set up recurring segments, or make the whole issue related to a coherent single idea each time. Especially for new readers, it needs to be clear what each issue is *about.* An additional layer of thematic interpretation like that can get in the way of the content.

It's a good idea, a real good one. MetaFilter becoming a newsletter at its core may be its most viable path to near-future sustainability. But has to be done well - newsletters are a hotly competitive space, and attention the most limited resource.
posted by Miko at 7:33 PM on August 6 [6 favorites]


Just another idea - there are a lot of excellent writers and media people in the MeFi biosphere, some of whom do work like this a living. You could contract out the editorial role at a much lower cost than having staff devote hours to it, allowing staff to work on the infrastructure and community stuff. That way, you'd also know it wouldn't get delayed and pushed off and released on an uncertain schedule because of site crises. That would be all that person did, and they'd keep it to a schedule.
posted by Miko at 7:07 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


MetaNewsLettah
posted by Oyéah at 6:16 PM on August 7


Will Paphnutty have a column/be receiving a copy?
posted by riverlife at 10:47 PM on August 7


I 100% support and agree with everything Miko said.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:27 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Are we having a naming contest? I'm ready to campaign for Meta McFilterface.

A nice cup of tea and a newsletter.
posted by Wordshore at 12:35 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


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