First steps in some MetaFilter changes March 29, 2022 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I've come to the conclusion that I need to step away from running MetaFilter. I'm still figuring what the totality of that will look like, but the initial steps include handing over day to day business administration processes to loup, mod duties to the existing mod staff, and working to set up a steering structure that incorporates community members. My goal is this transition shouldn’t disrupt day-to-day member experiences on the site. Come on in and I'll go into some preliminary detail.

This is something I've been thinking about for a long while, but since the start of the year in particular I've been especially aware of both the toll the job has been taking on me and the degree to which my burnout and mental health challenges have been preventing me from being as effective a manager, moderator, and business administrator as I want MetaFilter to have. That's been a hard reality for me to accept, and I’ll share thoughts and feelings about it some other time. In here I'd like to just focus on practical issues of the change.

My job as it has existed to date is a clump of different kinds of responsibilities, which I can break down roughly like so:

1. ownership of the business: holding legal responsibility for the business entity (MetaFilter is currently a single-shareholder S-Corp), executing yearly tax responsibilities, maintaining business registration fees, etc

2. administration of the business: managing payroll, bank accounts, incoming revenue, billpay, budget, ad partnerships, etc

3. managing technical maintenance and development: working with our tech person frimble on setting/tracking/adjusting development priorities and progress

4. managing moderation: holding weekly meetings with team, managing shift scheduling, providing general support for other mods on day to day site issues, making buck-stop-here moderation calls, driving policy strategies, etc

5. daily moderation work: scheduled shifts focused on monitoring of email and flags, leaving mod notes in threads, making deletions, answering user questions, etc

It's become clear that having all those responsibilities sit on one person isn't sustainable. This transition process is an opportunity to rework things for the future to lessen any individual burden and remove bottlenecks and single points of failure in running the site. Transferring things like business admin work to others while explicitly not requiring them to also take on every other aspect is a step along that path.

The remaining moderation management, site policy, and vision component is more complex; it's a job that needs doing under financially difficult circumstances for a stretched-thin moderation team in cooperation with a large and heterogeneous community.

Anyone who has followed MetaTalk over the years will have a sense of the complexity of that task. It's a task I've had a hard time finding consistent energy and focus for as time has gone on, and I'd like to see it being done instead by someone or some group with more capacity, optimism, and drive than I can manage right now.

With that in mind, I've been talking for the last month and a half with the mod team and with several long-time members of the MeFi community about potential approaches to the problem.

I'm confident that there are opportunities for healthy growth and change in how MeFi handles these things in the future; my aim now is to make sure that as I step away there is some group of folks, in the community and on the mod team, that feel ready and empowered to steward the site and the community through the process of figuring out what that future looks like.

Right now, the plan is to assemble a public-facing Steering Council, made up of 5-7 non-mod MeFites, to work with the mod team and the community over the next months to work through a plan for a longer-term approach. loup and I had a meeting this morning to pull together initial ideas for this, with brainwane, warriorqueen, and iamkimiam. Thanks to all three of you, and to the other folks I have talked with and am looking forward to talking with still, in helping think through ways to make this transition work well for the MetaFilter community as a whole.

This meeting wasn’t a commitment by any them to the Steering Council process itself, just a planning step; I’m going to work with the team and with various folks to reach out to folks who may want to be involved and continue to develop this framework over the next week or two. We’ll share more news and details when we have it. If you personally are interested in doing so, please reach out via the contact form. Please do not publicly nominate or discuss candidates in here.

I’ll stop there for now. I know this is big news and may resonate for different folks in a lot of ways. You can help this thread be useful by keeping discussion focused specifically on practical issues related directly to this thread, and avoiding speculation. I will answer what questions I can as I’m able (even if the answer is just “we’ll know more soon”).

Thanks for reading, folks. We'll follow up with more news as it comes.
posted by cortex (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 12:00 PM (197 comments total) 106 users marked this as a favorite

Oh, wow.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:10 PM on March 29 [5 favorites]


My first reaction is just sad that you’re stepping away, cortex. Sad sad sad. Damn!
posted by lazaruslong at 12:14 PM on March 29 [36 favorites]


Damn. Mixed feelings but take care, cortex. Look forward to what’s up next
posted by bxvr at 12:15 PM on March 29 [7 favorites]


dang, cortex. sounds perfectly understandable as it's a whole lot to take on. and I'm glad you're doing what's best for you.

sincerely hope we'll still get to enjoy your fpps and banter, at your own pace. much love!
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:16 PM on March 29 [29 favorites]


Seeing your responsibilities spelled out like that for the first time makes me wonder how the hell you managed for so long. I expect this is the best for both you and Metafilter.

Love you, man. I look forward to reading shitty puns with a "retired' badge next to them.
posted by bondcliff at 12:18 PM on March 29 [76 favorites]


o7
posted by Eideteker at 12:21 PM on March 29 [3 favorites]


Big, big love to you
posted by churl at 12:24 PM on March 29 [3 favorites]


As a friend, I am happy you're finally stepping away. It's been painful to watch you try to be all things to all MeFites while saddling every bit of criticism on yourself. No one person should be trying to keep a community's chaos under control. And it's hard to tell someone in the middle of it to ask for help given when I've been in it it's the last thing I want to hear.

Thanks for doing the hard stuff all these years, and here's to the community plotting a new course. Love to you, friend.
posted by dw at 12:30 PM on March 29 [61 favorites]


One of the worst things about mathowie's departure was his after-the-fact disclosure of how stressful and difficult running the site was and the emotional and even physical toll it took, and it was painful seeing the same thing seemingly happening again. Having known you as a user since your pre-mod days, corresponded about tough issues, listened to you enthuse on the podcast, and shook your hand at a meetup, I know how much you love this community, how much you tried to shoulder these burdens, and how hard this decision must have been for you. I'm so glad you're doing what's best for your own health and well-being in a way that still leaves a way forward for the site instead of just letting it fall. Thank you so much for the work you've done, through good times and bad, and here's hoping this reorganization can help heal things.

(I'd say so much more but I'm literally in a grand jury session rn)
posted by Rhaomi at 12:30 PM on March 29 [124 favorites]


That's a very thoughtful post and congratulations on making changes that are good for you. I love Metafilter and am immediately anxious but I think we'll be fine. The biggest question seems to be financial stability, I assume that question is part of your transition planning.
posted by Nelson at 12:32 PM on March 29 [4 favorites]


Jeepers, I guess this shouldn't be a surprise but it is; very very best wishes on all of your future endeavors and I'm sorry that this has been so difficult.

I feel like this comment sounds kind of flip? Which isn't intentional, I have more and stronger feelings about this than I would have expected. Very best wishes to all of us.
posted by an octopus IRL at 12:40 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Good luck with these big changes <3
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:44 PM on March 29 [3 favorites]


This seems like a first good step. I'm excited to see how this works going forward.
posted by octothorpe at 12:48 PM on March 29 [3 favorites]


Good luck, godspeed, and thanks for all the fish, cortex!
posted by adrianhon at 12:51 PM on March 29 [5 favorites]


Thanks for all you’ve done through the years, cortex, as a MeFite, mod and owner.

We’ll muddle through as a community, we always have.
posted by Kattullus at 12:54 PM on March 29 [6 favorites]


Honestly, I had a feeling this was coming. I didn't want to say anything because it's not helpful to speculate.

I am sincerely hopefully that it is for the best, for the community and for you. It's been a rocky few years, and you e put in a huge amount of work.
posted by Braeburn at 12:55 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Glad you are taking care of yourself; really hoping this means better outcomes for all. Taking care of Metafilter burnt out Matt and now you; its obviously a huge task and a different structure is needed. Hoping the hive mind here can help navigate it, and I hope you feel better just for taking the first steps to start the shift.
posted by nubs at 12:59 PM on March 29 [6 favorites]


I hope your next venture is fulfilling! You had big shoes to fill with mathowie leaving and the stress of dropping revenues. It is not a job I would wish on anyone.
posted by geoff. at 1:07 PM on March 29 [3 favorites]


You have done a great job cortex, and sacrificed much. You have held this place together through some really difficult times for the site (and for life in general). Burnout will fuck you up, and I wish you the very best.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:09 PM on March 29 [7 favorites]


Thanks for taking care of this place for so long, and thanks for taking care of yourself.
posted by the primroses were over at 1:12 PM on March 29 [12 favorites]


Glad you're taking steps towards your own health cortex, and also towards a more sustainable leadership structure for MeFi. I'm sorry it's been such a difficult journey for you.

That said, I'd also like to acknowledge all the buttoned and silenced users whose journey was also difficult as they interacted within the same dysfunctional system albeit in a different capacity. MetaFilter itself has suffered from the past few years of difficult MeTa discussions, with newly blanked spaces where users and their contributions used to be and plenty of hurt feelings and discouraged psyches beyond the mod team. I really hope a new organizational structure can foster a healthier leadership culture but I also hope it can be capable of working to repair relationships broken along the way.
posted by carsonb at 1:14 PM on March 29 [23 favorites]


I too am in this thread
posted by Jofus at 1:26 PM on March 29 [12 favorites]


I spent a number of years as a mod/manager for what was at the time a large, thriving and relevant food-focused internet discussion forum. It's a difficult, stressful and largely thankless job that is usually taken for granted until someone starts complaining. So much more goes on behind the scenes than any user can possibly know. I can only imagine how challenging it must be to do all those other things as well. Glad to see you're taking steps for yourself and the site.
posted by slkinsey at 1:42 PM on March 29 [11 favorites]


Cortex, I am both sorry to see this and glad that you are taking this step for your own happiness and mental health. You've put in a huge amount of work, under difficult conditions, in tumultuous social and political times, while trying to manage the conflicting needs and wants of a very diverse group of people who don't always appreciate the challenges you face. That would be enough to burn anyone out, even without a pandemic on top of it all.

Under circumstances like these, the decision to step back and let the community find its own level is not only understandable, it is a good thing for all concerned. I hope we will still see you and your insights around here, and that the next stage of Metafilter is something that makes you as proud as you should be.
posted by rpfields at 1:44 PM on March 29 [6 favorites]


It is completely understandable that this is too much of a burden to put on one person. I'm sorry you had to suffer through this for so long, and I'm glad you're not going to have to do it all anymore.

Sincerely hope we get to see more fun posts, comments, and random projects from you in the future.
posted by grouse at 1:47 PM on March 29 [6 favorites]


Thanks, cortex.

I'm unclear on whether this indicates a redefining of your role in the site day-to-day, or if it means you'll have no role at all.

(This may well be an as-yet unanswered question; I just know I've been prone to misreading these types of communications here recently, so I thought I'd ask: will you still be around in some capacity? I hope so.)

I earnestly hope that having completed the big and scary step of getting this post up has already relieved some pressure for you. Thanks again.
posted by obloquy at 1:50 PM on March 29 [6 favorites]


Cortex: I'm glad you're taking this step, for yourself and for the site.

Thanks for giving it your best and thanks for finding a way to step back and let the community find its own way.

As others have said, I hope to see you back in a mode where you can find the joy in participation again.

MetaFilter: I'm looking forward to seeing what this community comes up with for next steps. Community or no, we do not all share a common vision even for what MetaFilter should be in an ideal state, let alone how to get there in the real world. I expect the road ahead will continue to be a rocky one, with missteps and hurt feelings and old friends moving on. It's the nature of large scale human interaction. But it's work worth doing and betting on good intentions really isn't a sucker bet. I believe in you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:51 PM on March 29 [17 favorites]


Metafilter: Anyone who has followed MetaTalk over the years will have a sense of the complexity of that task
posted by Rumple at 1:54 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Mod note: I'm unclear on whether this indicates a redefining of your role in the site day-to-day, or if it means you'll have no role at all.

My intent is to step away from all professional roles in the site and company; it'll be cleaner for me, and simpler for everyone else, if I can step aside entirely rather than keep half a foot in the door. So all my current responsibilities will transfer to others, and I'll just be a guy hanging out on MetaFilter. Which I very much plan to continue to do, since I like it here a lot and I'd miss everybody.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:02 PM on March 29 [139 favorites]


wow. I hope this transition goes smoothly and you are able to take care of yourself, cortex.
posted by supermedusa at 2:06 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


I love you, Josh. Thank you for everything. I appreciate your dedication to the community in and around MeFi and wish you and the rest of the team at Metafilter the best as you all work through this process.
posted by iamabot at 2:06 PM on March 29 [11 favorites]


I support you for doing what you need to do for yourself! I'm also confident that Metafilter will be able to thrive independently of you. Take care!
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 2:07 PM on March 29


"Everyone needs a hug."
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:15 PM on March 29 [7 favorites]


I hope that you'll be able to move on to better things. Honestly, I don't know how you've put up with all of this for so long. Enjoy what comes next and may God have mercy on whoever takes your place.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:28 PM on March 29 [13 favorites]


Thanks for your efforts over the years, cortex. This is a huge positive for everybody. Feel better soon.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:43 PM on March 29 [9 favorites]


Cortex, thank you for all of the tremendously hard work you have done as steward of this site. You have made hard decisions, borne the weight of financial issues, and shepherded this community amidst difficult global events. Furthermore, you have done all of these things while under close scrutiny and while dealing with your own life and the increased stressors that recent years have brought upon us. I admire your strength as you shouldered these many responsibilities and hope you feel proud of the incalculable benefits people have gotten from this site while it’s been under your care.
posted by delight at 3:02 PM on March 29 [11 favorites]


Glad to hear your taking care of yourself cortex.

the initial steps include handing over day to day business administration processes to loup, mod duties to the existing mod staff, and working to set up a steering structure that incorporates community members.

Does this mean 1&2 in your list are going to loup, with 4&5 being split amongst the other mods and 3 waiting for a longer-term plan?
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 3:20 PM on March 29


cortex, I'm so glad you're taking care of yourself. I hope you will put as much attention and effort as possible into that - caring for yourself, letting yourself feel what it's like to be out from under all that weight.

And I'm SO glad you'll continue to be a guy hanging out on MetaFilter. I would miss you immeasurably if you weren't here. (That said, I hope you'll feel free to take long breaks if you'd like that. Have you even had a vacation in the past million years?)

I'm glad you've involved the folks you have in discussions so far; brainwane, in particular, has had some great insights about sustainable involvement in huge community projects, and I hope that will help protect future administrators and mods from excessive demands.

I am a fan, cortex, and I deeply admire both the extraordinary things you've done here and the things you've tried to do.

I hope that, among the many things you're likely to be feeling now, and in the future - I hope a lot of what you feel is relief and freedom.

You are valued, and you are loved, and you are seen.

Thank you for holding this community for so long.

Here's a great big hug if you'd like one.
posted by kristi at 3:25 PM on March 29 [14 favorites]


Give yourself time.
posted by roger ackroyd at 3:39 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


quoting my mom.

"Change is inevitable. The question is, will you make the change (preferable) or sit around until it makes you?"

This feels like making the change.
posted by philip-random at 3:42 PM on March 29 [14 favorites]


Big hugs, cortex. Metafilter has literally been a lifeline to me these past ten years and so much of that is due to your hard work here. Thank you.

Much respect to you. Wishing you breath and ease and time.
posted by mochapickle at 3:43 PM on March 29 [14 favorites]


Thank you for all you have done and will do.

Unless you turn over ownership or find some other way, you are left with a lot of liability with little to no say over how it is mitigated. Keep that in mind. Consult an attorney as we say on ask.

I think with this change this an opportunity for all of us to take a moment to reflect on our own roles here on the site and what we expect that role to be and what we expect the site to be going forward. To have driven cortex to the point where his mental health is being challenged says a lot about what has been happening on this site lately. I would love for loup or whomever is now the MFWIC to express their vision for the site going forward.

Good luck to you cortex.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:59 PM on March 29 [6 favorites]


We appreciate all the amazing wish you've put in!

Question: Would the business overhead be simplified by converting to a 501(c)(3)? I'm assuming Metafilter doesn't make a ton of money.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:02 PM on March 29


This sounds like a really positive change, both for you as a person and for the site. Good luck, and I hope it goes really well.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:04 PM on March 29


Mod note: "Question: Would the business overhead be simplified by converting to a 501(c)(3)?"

Briefly, no. But e-mail us if you want to discuss; this is not the thread to rehash it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:07 PM on March 29 [29 favorites]


cortex, I love you and love what you've done for MeFi, and am excited to see what creative projects come bubbling up now that you'll have so much less weight on your shoulders. I think. Some of your creative projects are sort of terrifying.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:13 PM on March 29 [4 favorites]


Soooo... more time for linocuts, yeah?
This can only be a good thing.
posted by D.Billy at 4:14 PM on March 29 [7 favorites]


Thanks so much for taking the site this far cortex. I'm really pleased you'll be getting some proper time to relax and enjoy yourself without this stress piling up over you, and I hope this is the start of a great rejuvenation here at MeFi.
posted by ambrosen at 4:17 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Mod note: Does this mean 1&2 in your list are going to loup, with 4&5 being split amongst the other mods and 3 waiting for a longer-term plan?

Something in that general shape; I'm still firming up some details and part of the goal of the Steering Council is to help the mod team work with some other folks to figure out processes and how to distribute things long term. In the immediate term loup will take care of the stuff in 2, frimble will be largely self-directing on 3 with input from the team, and the mod team will be self-directing on 4&5. I'm going to transfer ownership as well, and that's still a work in progress, but my absolute priority there has been to make sure it stays in responsible hands within the MeFi community vs. any kind of disinterested third-party ownership. I'll provide more news when I have it.

Would the business overhead be simplified by converting to a 501(c)(3)?

Nope, it'd add complexity. There may be other compelling reasons to look at some sort of non-profit structure in the future, but simplicity isn't one of them. It's hard to beat a single-shareholder S-Corp in that sense.

In any case, that's outside the scope of what I am going to be able to accomplish with this transition and it'll be a discussion for other people some other time. My focus is at getting things into other folks' hands in the first place and getting out of the way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:22 PM on March 29 [23 favorites]


Congratulations, cortex.

¡Viva MetaFilter!
posted by kingless at 4:29 PM on March 29 [3 favorites]


I hope this decision brings great things for both you and the site, cortex. Be well.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:35 PM on March 29 [7 favorites]


🫂
posted by mindsound at 4:38 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


There’s a lot one could say here, but the most important is “thank you” to cortex.

You clearly love this place and want the best for it. A lot of work and sacrifice was done by you to keep this place going. Thank you for that and all the million other things you did, both large and small, seen and unseen.

I’m glad you’re sticking around and look forward to meeting in the nerdy back alleys of this wild and off beat site you helped build and that you can always rightfully claim that you are the heart of.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:41 PM on March 29 [46 favorites]


Thanks for everything, cortex. I think Metafilter has benefited greatly from your leadership. I also think that leadership is a role with a natural time course, and stepping away needn't be a giving up, so much as an acceptance of change. I'm happy to hear you're sticking around, and looking forward to future comments by cortex, the [retired].
posted by Alex404 at 4:44 PM on March 29 [4 favorites]


Congratulations, cortex.

¡Viva MetaFilter!
posted by kingless at 1:29 on March 30 [+] [!]


Eponysterical.
posted by Alex404 at 4:46 PM on March 29 [21 favorites]


I thought I had heard you use the phrase "end of life" or somesuch recently regarding MF, so I may the only one relieved by this news. Thank you for your service. See you 'round.
posted by whuppy at 4:48 PM on March 29


Thank you, cortex. I don't think I would have made it through the last few years without MetaFilter, and I know what keeping it going has cost you - and all the other mods - at times. I don't have all the right words at the moment for what I want to say, but didn't want to wait until I did to say, again, thank you.
posted by curious nu at 4:49 PM on March 29 [11 favorites]


Thanks, cortex. We've been so lucky to have you helping to keep this place together. You've carried this burden a long time and it's good to see you pass the baton.
posted by biogeo at 4:49 PM on March 29 [7 favorites]


Thank you for stepping up to take responsibility for Metafilter Network Inc for so many years, including the management and leadership work before full ownership and the work to help mathowie unentangle himself. I hope you enjoy your next gig, whatever that is and look forward to your continued contributions to this messy, imperfect but beautiful place.
posted by plonkee at 5:10 PM on March 29 [3 favorites]


Big big hugs friendo. Will still see you on the podcast.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:27 PM on March 29 [67 favorites]


Question: Would the business overhead be simplified by converting to a 501(c)(3)?

I thought about making this joke, but it is definitely too soon.
posted by snofoam at 5:43 PM on March 29 [58 favorites]


Thank you very much for everything, cortex. And thanks for the in-thread update -- I'm really glad you'll still be hanging out here.

These are the first steps in such a big change; could this post be highlighted and linked on the blue, either in a banner or in the "site news and noteworthy posts" sideblog?
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:44 PM on March 29 [5 favorites]


Well, damn. I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself, cortex, and I'm really happy you plan to stick around as a dude hanging around Metafilter.
posted by holborne at 5:56 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


someone once told me there were two great days with owning a boat - the day you buy it and the day you sell it

i guess a web site is something like that - congratulations
posted by pyramid termite at 5:57 PM on March 29 [40 favorites]


I’m very relieved to read this. Increasingly I’ve only seen you interact with the site in heightened, stressful, taxing ways. It’s good that you feel able to relinquish these responsibilities. I look forward to seeing what strange art you make after a much-needed rest.

Metafilter is a very complex place and I think any leadership that can handle it will have to be complex as well. This is definitely not feasible for one person so I hope any ongoing structures will take that seriously.
posted by Mizu at 6:14 PM on March 29 [9 favorites]


I’m sorry this has been so stressful for you and glad you’re taking care of yourself now. I wish you the best as you figure things out.

And I’m very glad you plan to still hang out here.
posted by FencingGal at 6:19 PM on March 29 [16 favorites]


Thanks, Cortex. I appreciate you keeping the lights running here. These would have been hard years to get through without metafilter.

I spent about a decade checking a site called plastic.com multiple times a day for a bit more than a decade. metafilter became my second home page, and I'm glad it's still here.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:07 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


This is just to say]

You have my love and respect cortex.
posted by clavdivs at 7:39 PM on March 29 [19 favorites]


Cortex, I hope this gives you the space to heal and get back to where you need to be.
posted by theora55 at 7:59 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


cortex: "It's hard to beat a single-shareholder S-Corp in that sense."

What's an S-Corp?

[nudge,nudge,eyebrows,eyebrows]
posted by team lowkey at 8:03 PM on March 29


Sorry to hear this, cortex, but happy you're doing what you need to do for your own health and that you'll still be hanging around.
posted by dg at 8:08 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


What's an S-Corp?

Twenty fucks, same as in out of
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:12 PM on March 29 [68 favorites]


Good luck to you cortex, in whatever you have going on down the track.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:02 PM on March 29


Bon courage.
posted by amtho at 9:18 PM on March 29


We love you cortex. I'm glad you're able to find space to be healthier. Best of luck to you, and to us all.
posted by JHarris at 9:35 PM on March 29 [5 favorites]


We do love you cortex! Looking forward to you being all funny again!
posted by valkane at 9:43 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Understandable move. Rest up and build some cool new just-because stuff for the Internet when you have a chance.
posted by michaelh at 11:01 PM on March 29


..highly recommend the diner comment, if you can find it. You did the best with what you had.
posted by firstdaffodils at 11:03 PM on March 29


Wow, this is some announcement! I remember when you were just another user here and I'm glad you still plan to be around in that capacity. It's a bit sad to hear your role had become such a burden but it's also totally understandable and I hope this transition brings you some much needed relief from the stress and that it can bring good things for Metafilter too. I love this website and hope it can stay around many many more years! Best of luck to you, and to loup and brainwane and warriorqueen and iamkimiam and everybody who will be involved.
posted by bitteschoen at 11:23 PM on March 29 [5 favorites]


It's a tough job and I wouldn't do it for the world! Best of luck to you and I hope you get your head straight once that stress is gone.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:59 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


It can be incredibly hard to move on from responsibilities and experiences you have had as the custodian of MetFilter, cortex. So, I appreciate the steps you are taking now to preserve the site and yourself. Wishing you the best as a regular old user around here and I am excited about what the future may bring. Thank you, cortex. Also, thank you loup, brainwane, warriorqueen, and iamkimiam.
posted by Gotanda at 12:29 AM on March 30 [5 favorites]


Metafilter has been lucky to have you.
posted by vacapinta at 1:08 AM on March 30 [35 favorites]


Oh wow, thanks for everything you’ve done here Cortex, and well done for taking care of your health. Glad you’ll be sticking around as a user and on the podcast.
posted by ellieBOA at 3:38 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


We live in a world that celebrates those that take as powerful.

But parents give birth, and their pain and time are an alchemy that produces new life. People cook and share their food, and find connection and family and intimacy. People rehabilitate animalw only to set them free to live their lives. Giving is powerful and creative and generative.

To have something, and to give it away, to allow it to grow beyond you and to share it with others, that is a worthy and powerful thing.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 4:13 AM on March 30 [15 favorites]


Congratulations, man. I'm glad you're finding a way forward. Community management is a job that makes self-care really hard sometimes, and there isn't always a way to find balance within it. Looking forward to seeing what you do next!
posted by restless_nomad (retired) at 4:32 AM on March 30 [19 favorites]


So happy for you and for Metafilter. A community board will be complicated in new ways, but ultimately healthier for everybody. As someone who has (in a much smaller sense) ownership of a business that also fosters a community around itself, I have an inkling of how personally messy the attendant issues can be. But MeFi is so to the nth degree of that: the entire business is fostering a community, and an pseudonymous one at that. I know for the last couple of years at least that it's often seemed like people who suggested community leadership were hassling you or saying you were failing at your job. That's never a good feeling. But it's never been a job that one person (no matter how skilled or well-intentioned) could reasonably do. A community can be managed, can even be led, but can never truly be owned. So even when there are bumps in the road along the way (and there surely will be!), this feels like a huge step forward.

Thanks for all the work you've done and the efforts you've put in. And thanks for doing the work on yourself to understand when it's time to step away. You've always been a good egg, but the stress has been eating you up.
posted by rikschell at 5:26 AM on March 30 [6 favorites]


Taking a break from the site myself but want to wish you all the best. Taking care of yourself is much more important than all the yammering here.
posted by JanetLand at 5:29 AM on March 30 [9 favorites]


> Metafilter has been lucky to have you.

Delurking to second vacapinta and thank you for all the time, love, and effort you've put into keeping this site going for so many years. You're the best, and you deserve the break you're giving yourself. I hope you are happy and flourishing as you focus on your art and your actual life.

Paphnuty sends his regards and hopes you'll add him to the pardon list on your way out.
posted by languagehat at 6:24 AM on March 30 [77 favorites]


Thanks Cortex for all your hard work over the years.
posted by marxchivist at 6:24 AM on March 30 [5 favorites]


+1 to all of the thanks and hugs. It has sucked to watch this play out over the past few years, but I am sure that living through it sucked much much more.

Just for fun - here is a thread where we were arguing about whether cortex should be made a permanent mod.
posted by Mid at 6:33 AM on March 30 [10 favorites]


Thank you so much cortex, for all your hard work and many efforts! I appreciate everything you do.
posted by theatro at 6:51 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]


thank you, love you, appreciate you
posted by youarenothere at 6:58 AM on March 30 [5 favorites]


Thank you for all you've contributed to the site as user, mod, and owner. You've done so much.

Take care. I look forward to whatever you share here in the future.
posted by jaruwaan at 7:12 AM on March 30 [3 favorites]


Thank you for all your hard work and care. You have made this a better site. You are and will continue to be an important part of Metafilter.
posted by agatha_magatha at 7:19 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the time cortex.

Maybe it's formative years spent on assorted BBSes but I've never had a problem with soul ownership/ultimate decision making from the user side. I didn't always agree (uh favourites anyone?) and when ownership transfered to you it gave me pause that maybe things would change for the worse and I'd have to move on but I'm still here and active years later on inarguably a better site than when Matt was running things. Hopefully the site doesn't collapse under a less unified control structure but I'll give it the same chance because really there isn't anywhere better.

...

Does this mean there will be an actual Cabal?
posted by Mitheral at 7:20 AM on March 30 [28 favorites]


Thanks, Cortex. Thortex.
posted by emelenjr at 7:47 AM on March 30 [22 favorites]


Third vacapinta, second languagehat, thank you.
posted by y2karl at 7:54 AM on March 30 [6 favorites]


Safe travels, cortex.

I've only been here 13 years and I've been paying attention for less time. But, I think the site has really improved a lot under your stewardship in every way, except perhaps ad revenue. In part that's because the non-asshole English speaking world has also improved, especially the white guy component of that world. (Sadly, the assholes seem to have also gotten worse at the same time.) But, I think a lot of it is due to the staff and leadership here.

I know you constantly hear criticism. Some of it is not wrong. But, some users really need to find a hobby, or at least a more deserving institution to spend their time hating. Don't forget that for everyone who told you that you're stupid and doing it wrong, there are hundreds of us who are just happy to be here and keeping silent in order to avoid making it worse. Best wishes.
posted by eotvos at 7:59 AM on March 30 [51 favorites]


Thank you so much, cortex, for all you've given to this site, and for generously stepping away when it became time. You've poured SO much into this place, and most of it has been really fantastic. Yes, some of it has also been really flawed, but it's obvious that it's incredibly hard, and you're only human. It's always stayed clear that you really care, and I fully trust that you've always had the best of intentions for this place. Despite your little quip about being out of fucks, even now, the care you're taking with structuring and communicating this transition is really selfless and admirable, so thank you -- we need that! I hope it gets us through to a good place. And I hope you get to somewhere great for yourself, too.
posted by daisyace at 8:07 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]


As a friend, I’m glad to hear you’re doing what you need to do to take care of yourself, come what may.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:20 AM on March 30 [3 favorites]


Metafilter has been lucky to have you.
posted by vacapinta at 9:08 AM on March 30


Delurking to second vacapinta and thank you for all the time, love, and effort you've put into keeping this site going for so many years. You're the best, and you deserve the break you're giving yourself. I hope you are happy and flourishing as you focus on your art and your actual life ...
posted by languagehat at 2:24 PM on March 30


Third vacapinta, second languagehat, thank you.
posted by y2karl at 3:54 PM on March 30


14th vacapinta / languagehat
Sittin' way up high
On all the beautiful language
That's about a lovely guy.
Though you're steppin' away
From the core of the vortex
I'll never cease to say:
VOTE #1 CORTEX!!!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:45 AM on March 30 [116 favorites]


voting for the quidnunc kid's sentiment, maybe even twice if my disguise fools them at the polling station.

thanks cortex, you truly went above and beyond. enjoy the next thing, and looking forward to where mefi goes next.
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 9:33 AM on March 30 [4 favorites]


Thanks for all your hard work and thoughtful leadership over the years, I'm happy for you moving on to whatever is next and wish you the best. I don't spend as much time here as I used to, but It'll always be my home on the internet and you've been a big part of making it that for many of us over the years.
posted by TwoWordReview at 9:46 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]


I am sure this is an incredibly difficult decision for you but your health and sanity are more important. All the best to you and I am glad that we will not lose your personal contributions and good sense of humor around here. All the best.
posted by caddis at 9:59 AM on March 30 [6 favorites]


Thank you for keeping this little corner of the Internet going, cortex! Please take care of yourself. I wish you many good adventures ahead.
posted by invokeuse at 10:06 AM on March 30 [3 favorites]


VOTE #1 CORTEX!!!

*gasp*

But yes, thank you cortex for keeping this place running and doing so much. It sounds like the decision to step down in absolutely the best thing for you.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:30 AM on March 30 [4 favorites]


Mod note: In practical terms, is an emergency fundraising drive likely to be required the day after?

No. The only money I'm leaving with is whatever my last paycheck is for hours worked. MetaFilter's budget is tight as is and revenue is going to be an ongoing challenge for the business but my leaving won't have any direct impact on that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:32 AM on March 30 [26 favorites]


Thanks for addressing that, cortex.
posted by ryanrs at 10:43 AM on March 30


Thanks for everything Cortex, and I'm glad you're taking care of yourself. Here's to the calming of the creek.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:44 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


All the best and be well!
posted by minsies at 10:48 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Thanks so much for all your hard work, cortex, and I hope this decision ends up being one of those that many of us have in life, where it seems like an impossibly hard choice while you are making it, but then once it is made, it brings deep relief and the sense that this was clearly the right decision all along.

As others have said in this thread, it's become clear that the current governance structure of MetaFilter is unsustainable, both at the administrator level and at the community level. I'm so very eager to see what the process for developing some new sort of structure is like, and I hope that whatever the outcome is, perhaps it can represent some kind of way forward for online communities as a whole, in the same way that the MetaFilter moderation team represented a way forward out of the unmoderated, exclusionary model of early internet forums.

I don't believe that the realization that the structure of MetaFilter needs to change invalidates any of the hard work that all of our previous owners and moderators did (and will continue to do), but rather demonstrates a continued understanding that a willingness to enact difficult change is essential in order to grow and improve.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:12 AM on March 30 [9 favorites]


Thanks for all your hard work here, cortex. I really appreciate all you've done to keep Metafilter a welcome space on the internet. I look forward to the day that you can find as much solace here as the rest of us mere users do. ♥ ♥ ♥
posted by Lynsey at 12:01 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


Mathowie's departure is mentioned above, but his actual words relating to that are not linked.

Here they are. If you have not read those words, please do.

Mathowie is also interviewed here - https://medium.com/strong-words/a-lifestyle-business-can-kill-you-2e45add4107f#.y9m3egtzf
"Here’s another thing: community doesn’t scale very well. There’s a high human cost of running community sites. That’s what I realized myself. I was depressed and feeling overwhelmed and terrible and in therapy and every day I was just combing through the muck. It took sixteen years for me to get there, but it happened eventually."
Cortex - thank you for taking over this site and bringing it into 2022.

Never EVER think anything negative about your decision to try.

Take care, stay safe.
posted by I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad at 12:34 PM on March 30 [20 favorites]


Thank you Cortex for all your hard work.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:48 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


thank you cortex.
posted by fishfucker at 1:06 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


I'll just be a guy hanging out on MetaFilter. Which I very much plan to continue to do, since I like it here a lot and I'd miss everybody.

It makes me so happy that you plan to stick around. Thanks for all your hard work, Josh, and for your future posts and puns.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:09 PM on March 30 [15 favorites]


This:
Don't forget that for everyone who told you that you're stupid and doing it wrong, there are hundreds of us who are just happy to be here and keeping silent in order to avoid making it worse. Best wishes.
posted by eotvos at 7:59 AM on March 30


I am glad that you are able to take this surely scary step and take care of yourself and nurse your wounds, and at the same time i will miss you very much even though we don't know each other.
What i will miss most are your long elaborate and patient replies here on the Grey.
Follow the favorite recommendation of Ask (therapy, not dmtfa).
Take good care of yourself, Luise
posted by 15L06 at 1:12 PM on March 30 [10 favorites]


Thanks so much cortex.
posted by rocketman at 1:33 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


Oh cortex, I've always been impressed by how much you accomplished on and off the site. I too appreciate how quickly you could whip up carefully considered 250 word replies to contentious situations. And I admire how you try new creative endeavors and share your various obsessions--cough Menger sponge cough-- and the trials and tribulations you experienced learning how to block print, make stained glass, etc. But I've also, from afar and as someone who doesn't know you, been worried about you lately. In addition to what I could glean from your posts here, and others' expressions of concern, I noticed that the names you gave your art pieces were growing progressively darker. I want joy for you!

I recently finished a two year stint managing a meat space 500-member community/clubhouse with about 15 employees and chronic financial woes. The recovery time was probably a year. Keep giving yourself grace to process the Metafilter experience. Please take to heart everyone's fervent hopes that you'll stay around these parts as a contributor. After my time in the barrel ended, I stayed away thinking I owed that to the new folks in charge... but I was wrong and most people wished I'd continued to participate.

Live long and prosper.
posted by carmicha at 1:56 PM on March 30 [10 favorites]


Thank You so much of all that you've done. My hope is that you remember the good, and can flush away the bad, from what has obviously been a tumultuous tenure. Let's face it, pretty much since the election in 2016 the world has been a shitshow in one form or another, but this place, under your leadership, has been a constant refuge for, dare I say, nearly all of us. You deserve the break, and happiness in whatever you transition to next. Chapeau.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:31 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


This is all kind of making me tear up, especially with so many people from long ago popping in to wish you well. So much has happened since you were a new mod on tour bunking in with my old dog in the spare room. Thank you so much. Also a big hug. I hear everyone needs one.
posted by tangerine at 2:42 PM on March 30 [16 favorites]


Oh shit, tangerine! I remember you were like "fair warning, my dog will probably try to get in the spare bed with you" and I was like "HOLY SHIT I GET A DOG BUD TONIGHT!". Hugs old friend.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:43 PM on March 30 [20 favorites]


Good Call Cortex.
Look after yourself.
I recently stepped down as Chairman of a small global organization.
I still participate and am all the better for it and I hope you will be too.
posted by adamvasco at 2:44 PM on March 30 [4 favorites]


Cortex, you're the best. This has been my internet home for almost twenty years and I owe some not at all insignificant measure of that to you. Thank you for every thing you've done.
posted by thivaia at 3:11 PM on March 30 [5 favorites]


Thank you for all of the good, hard work you've done, Cortex.
posted by doctornemo at 3:34 PM on March 30 [4 favorites]


This was such a surprise! But good for you for knowing the limit. I'm not a big fan of change, I hate it and flail my arms, but I am a big fan of people getting to live their best lives, and I really do hope that this will be the step that helps you get to that. Thanks for the hard work, man.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 5:02 PM on March 30 [7 favorites]


Stepping away from owning or managing something (or both!) is not easy, even it's the blazingly right decision for you personally.

You've the made the right decision here, both for yourself and the site. The site will find a way or it won't, but there's only one you, and you have to take care of you first.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:26 PM on March 30 [11 favorites]


Take care of yourself, cortex - Hope this all works out well for you and for MeFi.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:50 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I wish you well, cortex. I'm glad you're taking care of yourself.
posted by lapis at 7:41 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Thank you for all of the years of hard work you've put into keeping this site running. It's meant a lot, to a lot of people.
posted by Pryde at 7:56 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


Thank you so much, cortex, for keeping this site going through these dark and difficult times and for handing it on. I truly appreciate your passion and efforts for this site even as there are so many different ideas about what exactly it should be.
posted by blue shadows at 10:16 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


These are hard decisions to make, on top of all the many tiny daily hard decisions over the years. Just 💖, and thank you.
posted by limeonaire at 10:58 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


This reminds me of the old BBS days when the SysOp would sell their hardware setup to someone else so that the community that had evolved could continue while they went to college or something bigger or better or funner. The community would usually persevere the change and thrive—and it was always a treat to hear from the old SysOp Emeritus.

cortex: I hope your years as Sysop Emeritus are full of wondrous things. Good luck, live long and prosper. We know you will very often come around to crack wise. You were, and are, one of the voices in the peanut gallery that attracted me to this site in the first place.
posted by not_on_display at 12:43 AM on March 31 [18 favorites]


Thanks Cortex. _\\//
posted by Coaticass at 4:52 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


Well dang, cortex. Metafilter has been the best and only well-intentioned site I have found on the whole blasted internet. You and mathowie and Jessamyn and all the other mods have tried to be fair and open and kind and inclusive and all good things to all people. Take good care of yourself. Thanks for all you've done with metafilter over a long haul. Wonderful to hear from so many old-timers.
posted by Hobgoblin at 5:14 AM on March 31 [7 favorites]


This place has been my internet home for a looong time now. It’s tough to hear how hard keeping it alive is for the people who manage the place. As much as I don’t want anything to change, I even more want to know that the people running the site are in a good place themselves. You can’t keep a community if you, the person in charge, aren’t happy,

There’s a flip side, though. We as members of the community need to remember that this place doesn’t run itself. The tone here is enforced by the mods but it is set and maintained by the members. For all the topics that Metafilter “doesn’t do well” any brief comparison with other forums will show you that this place is amazingly kind, by internet standards. So let’s do our best to keep it that way, right?
posted by caution live frogs at 5:15 AM on March 31 [13 favorites]


Thank you for...not driving MetaFilter into the ground through senseless self-sacrifice. Taking care of yourself is taking care of the community, and I am grateful you see that for all our sakes.

Watching Twitter and seeing you dive into your art so deep lately makes it clear you can focus...but I am glad you have the good sense to take a time-out. You shouldn't set yourself on fire to keep us warm!

Would any specific changes in user behavior make this whole transition easier for the mods and the incoming Steering Committee?
posted by wenestvedt at 5:49 AM on March 31 [6 favorites]


As someone who has been reading this site every day for years, I cannot fathom the immense amount of work that must go into moderating it. I can absolutely believe that it is stressful and overwhelming. Glad you're getting out before it drives you completely over the edge. Here's to a lovely, diverse, informative community finding a way to continue to move forward. Cheers!
posted by SystematicAbuse at 6:26 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Cortex: As others have said better, MetaFilter has been lucky to have you. This mostly-lurker salutes you for all the invisible, unglamorous, fraught work that came with running this website for 5 (!!) years.

I have been burned out by jobs to the point where I thought I might never recover. I thought, "Has this job broken me?" Within a week of being divested — 100%, completely, walked-away divested — from my responsibilities, I felt like myself again. Within months, I could think about the job and the people without my heart rate going up. I wish you a complete recovery, and a joyful rediscovery of yourself.
posted by svolix at 10:24 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Cortex you are a sweet guy and it was hard to see the work here eating you alive. Thanks for all you've done over the years. Here's to a healthy, happy future for both you and for Mefi!
posted by madamjujujive at 10:33 AM on March 31 [6 favorites]


I think mathowie stepped away in 2015 - so, 7 years?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:35 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Dude. Wow.

Mehfee has indeed been lucky to have you for all these years. You are a totally amazing person; you've done a fantastic job here for years and I'm really looking forward to seeing what you do in the future.

I am glad you are doing what is right for you but I will miss seeing you around here. But I will still see you on Twitter I hope and hey, remember, you have a friend 2 hours away who lives 20 minutes from the beach. Come down to Astoria sometime!
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:49 AM on March 31 [9 favorites]


I've been thinking about something in this thread that bugs me a little bit. It's great that we're all expressing support for Josh, I feel supportive of him too. But also it's kind of terrible how necessary that support is. From Rhaomi's comment up above:
One of the worst things about mathowie's departure was his after-the-fact disclosure of how stressful and difficult running the site was and the emotional and even physical toll it took, and it was painful seeing the same thing seemingly happening again.
I worry that the culture of Metafilter is unsustainable for the folks who run it. I hope in this transition some thought is put into making the job better. Personally I think part of why it's so demanding is the community of users, including myself. We've come to rely on very meticulous moderation. And we feel like we can complain and criticize all we want. Being on the receiving end of all those demands is apparently emotionally exhausting.

I also worry that the financial picture of Metafilter is unsustainable. We know it is. And waning revenue only makes the question of moderation harder. I love this place very much, have spent an hour a day or more here for 15+ years. I want it to survive.
posted by Nelson at 11:05 AM on March 31 [55 favorites]


Thank you cortex for all you did, do, and will continue to do to make MetaFilter such a special place.
posted by rogerroger at 12:33 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


This is eminently sensible, a much better end than I had anticipated for you. You surprised me, but in a good way. Way to go! Take care of yourself. seriously.
posted by some loser at 2:20 PM on March 31


Good luck, brother!
posted by josher71 at 2:24 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


Cortex, thank you in a million ways for helping thousands of readers through some of the toughest times in our lives. You and all our friends here have contributed to the wellbeing of MeFites and we're happy that you will will have time to take care of yourself. I've been impressed by the grace with which you express yourself here and am looking forward to more fun and funny interactions. We may never meet but I will always see you as a friend of the heart. Love yah, man.

VOTE #1 CORTEX!!!
posted by the quidnunc kid


I second the motion!!1!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:00 PM on March 31 [8 favorites]


I don't interact here as much as I should, given what this place means to me. That's mostly because my job is exclusively online, and it can feel like work to engage with online stuff no matter the venue. I appreciate what you've done for us, cortex, and if I can contribute in any way to the continuance of Metafilter, I would be happy to do so.
posted by mollweide at 7:42 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


hands cortex a smock, because I like to say smock.
posted by pee tape at 7:53 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


cortex spoke about his love of metafilter back in 2017.
posted by bendy at 8:24 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I know the wrenching feeling of stepping away from responsibility for a community because the sense of ownership of other people's feelings and opinions led to burnout. Cortex, I know for damn sure this was a really hard decision and I hope that it works out for you the way it did for me - you will close the browser tab, heave a sigh, and immediately feel just a little lighter and brighter. Maybe take a few months away from even checking the site at all. Maybe even deactivate your account so you aren't tempted to comment. Just get OFF.

And one day you will hopefully sit down and dust off the ol' keyboard and sign in to write a comment and think, "Wow, this got FUN again! Imagine that! Metafilter as a place of delight...I forgot that was even a thing."

I really want that for you! You deserve it! All the best, dude.
posted by potrzebie at 9:38 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


Ok, haven't read yet, still sad. Cortex story time. I get the occasional mod deletion, sometimes I don't even notice, sometimes I fire off a Contact Form "Really? WTF", but sorta minor in the grand scheme of things. Ex university admin, ex admin of a site owned by a missionary, different rules, different strokes for different folks, not really that mad.

Once upon a time I fired off a Contact Form "WTF?" and got an email from cortex that was (paraphrasing) "STFU we don't need your shit now." I spent the next couple of days trying to figure out what I did to inspire such wrath. It was brutal, nastygram from owner.

Then a couple of days later I browsed over to Meta and found a hundreds of comments long thread about moderation and had a "Oh, now I get it" moment... there's an all hands on deck firestorm brewing and that nastygram probably just needed an extra sentence of context or situational awareness.

I still like my nastygram from cortex. His ass better still be on the next podcasts. Welcome to "flip table rage quit", hope you still stay around.

Now I guess I have to go and actually read the thread.....
posted by zengargoyle at 9:38 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Thanks for all you've done, cortex. Looking forward to seeing you around here in your new just-another-member capacity.
posted by klausness at 5:35 AM on April 1


Didn't realize this was only half the equation; looking forward to 20,000 more words with receipts and scathing takedowns.
posted by carsonb at 6:59 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]


Haha, April fools! I'm not looking forward to that at all.
posted by carsonb at 7:00 AM on April 1 [6 favorites]


I would like to say how very, very brave it is for you to take a good decision for your mental health, knowing how beloved this site is to so many.
posted by corb at 8:31 AM on April 1 [12 favorites]


Change is terrifying, and this is a brave move--and I hope one that will generate a lot of joy for you, once we all adjust. I am gratified and delighted to hear that you will continue to be involved with the community; I would certainly miss you. I've been really worried about the pressure I've seen you under, and I am so delighted to think about you getting to drop that pressure and get to engage with the site as a member again.

I am impressed, gratified, and hopeful. I do think the current position you are occupying is unsustainable, and I am equally gratified and pleased that you, the mod team, and the incoming user board are taking steps to dismantle the position and redistribute it in a more sustainable way insofar as that is possible.

I really hope this is a decision that leads to joy in all directions as restructuring changes the pressure dynamics for leadership. I think probably it will.
posted by sciatrix at 12:42 PM on April 1 [15 favorites]


I worry that the culture of Metafilter is unsustainable for the folks who run it. I hope in this transition some thought is put into making the job better. Personally I think part of why it's so demanding is the community of users, including myself.

I think literally any people management/customer service-y type job does that to you, though. People make you go through the wringer and I'm not sure how you'd make the nature of people-wrangling any less bad. Maybe just rotating people in and out is as good as it gets.

cortex, I'm glad you feel that you're able to step away and get some rest.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:48 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


Thanks for everything you've done, cortex.

You do what you gotta do for your own health. I'm very glad you plan to stick around.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:17 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


Open roads and kind skies
posted by Bottlecap at 10:08 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


Whoa! Thanks so much for your service and stewardship, Cortex, and all the best to you in your future projects. Glad you’ll be sticking around!
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:08 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Thank you for everything. My fondest wish for you is to show up in a sleepy Meta and start an alphabet thread. I'll be there with a "b".
posted by donnagirl at 6:11 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Well, donnagirl, if I start one with "a" and you bring "b" then we could let him swoop in with "C is for cortex, calmer and caring for himself" or something. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:49 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Hey cortex, I just wanted to say that I know you got beaten up pretty badly in the last two site update threads, and I'm sorry about that, it must have been hard to read given your burnout levels and mental health issues. But with regards to said burnout and mental health stuff, I'm happy that you're doing something to take care of yourself and your health, because as I said in a previous site update thread it was clear how much you are struggling personally right now, and though we haven't interacted much over the years (under my previous username and now), I do care about you and was genuinely worried about you. This is a big change for the site and it's sad that it came to this, but it's also good, y'know? I'm glad you will be sticking around, but I'm really glad you have taken this step and I hope the reduction in stress will help you find the healing you need.

Just a quick question out of curiosity: are you still going to own the site and just re-delegate your responsibilities to loup and the other mods? Like, you'll just be the dude who owns the site and hangs out without the extra responsibilities? Or are you exploring selling the site to another mod or user? I'm a little unclear about that part, and maybe in the end it doesn't matter if it results in positive changes for you and for the community, but... I'm nosy. :)

Seriously though, thank you for your work in keeping this place running during some very challenging times, and be good to yourself.
posted by nayantara at 8:18 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Mod note: Just a quick question out of curiosity: are you still going to own the site and just re-delegate your responsibilities to loup and the other mods?

Nope, I'm moving away from ownership as well, to other hands within the community. More news on that when I have it, see above for a little more.

Matt was the absentee owner of the site for a couple years from 2015 to 2017 after he left for Slack; that *functioned* but it wasn't great in the long run for him or the site or the mod team, and the resulting disconnect between the responsibilities of ownership and any ongoing daily investment in the site was pretty unhealthy. I have no interest in recreating that sort of situation, so handing ownership over is a built-in part of the plan here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:32 AM on April 2 [9 favorites]


Whoops, missed that bit where you talked about ownership transfer. Makes sense. Thanks for clarifying!
posted by nayantara at 8:50 AM on April 2


Thanks, cortex, for everything you've done for Metafilter. I'm looking forward to positive changes for both you and the best site on the internet.
posted by box at 10:22 AM on April 2


This is great news, cortex. For you, which is the #1 priority, but also the site you love. That's not an insult. People wear out but the site shouldn't.

I've had a similar experience with a smaller scale, but much-higher-consequence thing that I ran, that could. not. fail. no matter what.. As proud I was of it, and as many sucesses as I had over the years, the day it was Someone Else's Problem was the greatest sense of relief I've ever felt in my life. And I thought I would feel guilty about that but you know what? I didn't.

Your dedication, hard work, and good faith to the community go without question, but I'd also like to mention something you may "if only" yourself to death about later: No, nobody else could have done a better job and most would have done considerably worse. You haven't been fired, you've graduated. You've done your shift. Time to be relieved by the next victim leader. You've done a great service to us all at great expense to yourself and we owe you all the gratitude in the world.
posted by ctmf at 10:36 AM on April 2 [16 favorites]


I just want to say thank you. I participate here a lot, I guess, but not much generally on the "how the site is run" side of things. But I really love it here, and love being a member. Thank you for all your hard work to keep things going.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:44 AM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Who will be the next Dread Pirate Roberts?
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 12:15 PM on April 2 [7 favorites]


Thank you Cortex for doing a very difficult job to the best of your ability at all times.

Am glad you had the capability to see it was causing you pain and distress early enough to leave in a graceful way.

Heal well. Heal fully. Heal fast.
posted by Faintdreams at 1:01 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Really grateful for this site and for your thoughtful running of it. I see you are working on a transition with the same care.
posted by latkes at 5:46 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]


I honestly don't know if you've done the best job steering Metafilter for the past few years cortex, but there's no other universe that I can go to and compare your performance to cortex with a goatee. If nothing else you had the courage to step up to the task when Matt stepped away and for that I commend you. Loved or hated, whether you succeeded or failed, you did the work. So thanks for putting in the work of running the site and thanks for being being thoughtful and purposeful in your decision to hand the leadership over.
posted by GuyZero at 4:26 PM on April 3 [6 favorites]


Thanks for all your work here, cortex.

Now hear me out: move the entire site to the blockchain, sell memberships as NFTs, open a new subsite specifically for pumping crypto projects ("MetaHODLer"?) to keep the lights on, and run the place as a DAO, including all moderation decisions being revertible by auction, bids in ethereum only.

Then convert it to a 501(c)3. Or better yet, incorporate it as a church.

Why? 2022, that's why.
posted by spitbull at 9:39 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


Thank-you cortex, your stewardship of this site has been thoughtful and progressive.

Even though this community can be devisive and extremely vocal at times - it is still better than all the others - and actively working on continuing to improve, so you and the team have been doing something right.
posted by rozcakj at 10:49 AM on April 4


Just saw this, had to recheck the date to make sure it wasn't an April Fool's joke.

Best wishes to you.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:12 PM on April 4


Just saw this, had to recheck the date to make sure it wasn't an April Fool's joke.

Believe me, I had some real strong "this has gotta to land at least a couple days before or a couple days after" feelings about that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:34 AM on April 5 [4 favorites]


So sorry to hear that things have been this rough for you, even if it doesn't come as a total surprise. You're a fucking mensch for keeping all the wheels spinning on for as long as you did, at what sounds like great personal expense.

I do hope you stick around as a member - always enjoy your posts.
posted by Dysk at 8:18 AM on April 5 [6 favorites]


My only comment on this thread has been “Oh, Wow”, a surprised reaction that I stand by. But: Thank you for your time and hard work! Most (all?) of my MetaFilter years have been during the cortex administration, and they have been formative for me. And, despite the critical feedback that has come up about site administration at times, they were extremely good for me and have been a positive experience. Thanks for all that you’ve done for this place.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:38 AM on April 5 [6 favorites]


Thank you for your efforts shaping a home on the web for a lovely bunch of people. Even if imperfect, we benefited from your sacrificing your health to worry about [waves hands] all this. Hopefully your stress passes quickly and we all gain from your exuberant return!

Note to self: "Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others."
posted by k3ninho at 7:49 AM on April 7


Chapeau!
posted by peacay at 3:09 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Cortex, I don't know you but I'm still so proud of you: knowing when to step away is not something everyone can do. Thank you for taking on the site when it needed you, thank you for keeping it running through the incredibly stressful past 5 or so years, thank you for making a space for the next generation of mefites.

I haven't posted in a long time but I still stop by and read every few days. This is still the most interesting place on the internet, and I'm insanely grateful to you for the work you've done -- and to the incoming team for the work they will be doing.
posted by anastasiav at 11:41 AM on April 11 [7 favorites]


I just heard about this on the podcast. Then, I imagined a bad editorial cartoon in which cortex is shaking hands with mathowie in heaven. Jesus is looking at them proudly. The caption says "Welcome old friend. We only need one mod now — you know Who."

Anyway, congratulations!
posted by ignignokt at 7:30 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


Thank you, Cortex. May the next chapter of your life hold nothing but pleasant surprises, and may you be able to look back at your time here with fondness and pride about your many, impressive accomplishments.
posted by sohalt at 3:34 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Thanks for all your effort over the years, cortex.
posted by Kwine at 8:56 PM on April 12


Thank you for everything, cortex, and best of luck to you and Metafilter. Hope to see you around here in the future!
posted by Quietgal at 9:57 AM on April 13


You did good.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:23 AM on April 14 [5 favorites]


So grateful for you.
posted by stevil at 1:57 PM on April 18




Thanks cortex for your years of service.

Hope Metafilter will continue to be the place it is after your departure.

Looks like you are handling the transition well, and good luck!
posted by Windopaene at 10:00 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm ok with this, but only if there's some REALLY EPIC abuse of the img tag on your way out.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:13 PM on April 19 [9 favorites]


Too sparkly spikey to look at this news.
posted by fleacircus at 1:17 PM on April 20


Thanks for keeping the doors open these last few years.
“Cortex was here!!!”
posted by Ministry of Truth at 1:39 PM on April 21


I can't even imagine all the hard work you've put in over the years, the sacrifices made, but thank you a million times for everything.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:13 AM on April 23


So much appreciation for you Cortex, your role in this incredible community is foundational.
The labor and love you have filled this place with have made indelible differences in the lives of so very mannnny folks. As others have mentioned, you have given so hugely for so many years, the ways you have given in silent ways behind the scenes has echoes in the silent and un-recorded growth and progress and health of members/users. In many days users may not think of the team behind the screen, making things work so valuably for users, I hope we all continue to remember how much hard work it takes to maintain and persevere.
posted by infinite intimation at 8:50 AM on April 23


De-lurking to say: Thank you for everything cortex!
posted by montag2k at 2:09 PM on April 27 [1 favorite]


Another old fart delurking to say thanks for everything you've done for Metafilter over the years. It's hard when a thing you're passionate about transitions to a burden. I was amazed in my own life when I found it took a physical as well as mental toll. You're doing the right thing - get out of the pool entirely. Join us old lurkers drinking Pina Coladas in our lounge chairs, watching the kids play, and dipping our toes in every now and then when it feels good.

While pancakes are fine, I still prefer waffles.
posted by dchase at 7:15 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


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