[MeFi Site Update] April 13th April 13, 2022 10:11 PM   Subscribe

Hi there, Metafilter! Please find more details on the state of the site below. Reminder: I will be the only mod actively monitoring this thread so please be patient as I reply to your feedback and questions.

I'll do my best to provide more details to the items mentioned below as they progress.

- Changes to the site Leadership and Structure
I’ve been spending the last weeks going over an inventory of tools and accounts we use to transfer their ownership and map which ones are still needed as well as learning the in and outs of them. After that, assessing our current revenue, budget and spend is the next main priority. I’ll report back any major changes or learnings.

I’m also meeting with each of the team members to go over their availability, schedules, and expectations moving forward. The idea is to address burnout, coverage and staff changes. More details on that to come.

- Steering Committee
Cortex has been going over the list of nominations and we’ll have the first meeting on Friday. I’ll report back after that.

- Signup flow, Marketing efforts, Flagging (UX) Changes.
On hold for now. We’ll resume after the changes above are completed.

- BIPOC Advisory Board
I’ll send out invites for the April meeting on Sunday and will work with Thyme to get the meeting minute for the March meeting in the Board's page ASAP.

- Technical Changes
Frimble has upgraded and released some extra back-end tools for moderation. These will highly help us be more efficient.

If you have any questions or feedback not related to this particular update, please Contact Us instead. If you want to discuss a particular subject not covered here with the community, you’re welcome to open a separate MetaTalk thread for it.
posted by loup (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 10:11 PM (131 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Thanks, loup. Is there any word on who the new owner is going to be?
posted by buntastic at 7:49 AM on April 14


Elon Musk, I assume.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:58 AM on April 14 [44 favorites]


Yay for the back-end tools! I do a lot of that sort of thing for my own clients (making back-end tools that help them do their work more easily), and it's one of my favorite things - making life easier for the people doing the work.

Thank you for doing that, frimble! Even though we non-mods will never see that work, it'll make our time here better, and will make the mods' lives better, which is a great thing for all of us.

And thank you, loup, for the excellent update!
posted by kristi at 8:10 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


Can we get some kind of statement of what the steering committee gestures vaguely is and will do?

Are we nominating people to the Politburo or the PTA?
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:17 AM on April 14 [7 favorites]


Who was doing the nominating for membership of the steering committee, for that matter? It's not something I saw announced here, I don't think?
posted by sagc at 8:20 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


All of us were invited to, in Cortex's announcement.

I haven't as I have no idea who to suggest without knowing what the role is.

For convenience:
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.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:22 AM on April 14 [2 favorites]


Makes sense. If they're going to be steering the site, perhaps the nominations should have taken place in a significantly more public way, rather than being buried in a many-paragraph meta post? Like, it feels like an important enough thing that it should be on a (larger-than-normal) banner on the front page, among other things. Metatalk isn't exactly a representative slice of the site, I don't think.
posted by sagc at 8:29 AM on April 14 [18 favorites]


Indeed. (The planning display department is in the basement, beware the leopard)
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:34 AM on April 14 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I know I've only been back for like an hour and a half, but the Steering Committee is being selected by the person who's relinquishing the site in an opaque process that was barely advertised and is expressly not allowed to be discussed?

That is bad.
posted by Etrigan at 8:47 AM on April 14 [12 favorites]


The process can be discussed. The ask was not to nominate and discuss specific candidates in the open thread. A decision I agree with. I can't see any way such a thread would end well or move us forward. The dynamic of MetaTalk threads where we talk about even one other user tends to go badly. It seems to me that such an open thread would be more likely to drive the best candidates out of here than it would be to move them to represent us.

Not ideal, I agree. Not the most democratic way to start a revolution.

Maybe there's a potential middle ground, though. Maybe after nominated candidates are contacted and given the opportunity to accept and/or decline the nomination and all the remaining prospective candidates are given the chance to write up a blurb, we could then open a thread with some opportunity to respectfully endorse or discuss candidate qualifications. That still might end up as a shitshow, but at least we might be able to limit the damage to only those who explicitly signed up for that kind of intense focus.

I would hate to see a thread where any member could be nominated and then publicly slagged if they never wanted that kind of attention and they never wanted the job.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:48 AM on April 14 [7 favorites]


After which, we might even be able to vote for the members from the survivors of the thread.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:52 AM on April 14 [5 favorites]


The process can be discussed.

Can it, though? Without information or the people involved being willing to discuss it? And others maintaining that it's unfair to expect them to?

So far the feedback has been nothing more than 'more information later' and Loup favoriting this sentiment:

I'd like to hold space for any future steering committee to change how it's going to function as time goes on and they gain experience, rather than ask a group that doesn't yet even exist to state how they will function.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:03 AM on April 14


I'm not claiming it will be a useful discussion. Just noting that the part that was expressly not allowed to be discussed in that thread was specific to candidates, not the process itself. So far as I have been able to determine, discussing the process itself is not forbidden, per se. But to your point, that doesn't mean it would be a fruitful discussion.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:12 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Conversations can be prevented without being prohibited. All there is for us to discuss is the text I quoted above, and the fact that nominations are underway. I'm going to leave it there for now, I don't want to just keep posting on and on.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:41 AM on April 14


Gonna break from the just-loup-responding norm to answer a couple things directly for simplicity's sake and so they don't have to ferry quotes over.

Is there any word on who the new owner is going to be?

Another trusted party in the MetaFilter community. Ownership transfer is a legal process that needs some work and coordination to complete, and that's still in progress; I don't want to put anyone in a weird cart-before-horse situation by talking about things that haven't been accomplished yet. I know that's frustrating to wait on; I will share more details as soon as it feels acceptable to do so. But my absolute priority in this has been to avoid having MetaFilter end up in untrustworthy hands. Please have patience as I work on that.

Who was doing the nominating for membership of the steering committee, for that matter? It's not something I saw announced here, I don't think?

It's a mix of folks I've talked with before about site matters (generally folks who have also been present and at times both critical and constructive in past MetaTalk discussions of site health and planning issues), folks suggested to me in email or other discussion, and folks who put themselves forward over email. While I think a long-term site governance process that includes community members should involve a more general, slow, broad call for participation, this is a process happening on a short time frame and needs bootstrapping more directly and so I'm aiming for a good mix of trustworthy and immediately available folks to start with and trusting those folks and the community to develop the process from there.

Can we get some kind of statement of what the steering committee gestures vaguely is and will do?

Part of the goal of this initial discussion Friday is to stake out the initial bounds of that question. My aim going in is to have the folks involved coordinate with the mod team to work out a healthy future distribution of site responsibilities, priority- and decision-making processes, and communication processes between the mod team and the community, within the practical bounds of our limited budget and staffing capacity. Exploring the details there with a collection of MeFites passionate about the community's future to establish how things can be redistributed is the starting goal of this process.

We're having the first meeting tomorrow morning, and I expect to have a summary of that up on MetaTalk within a couple days, summarizing what we discussed, what the short-term goals are for the process, who all is involved to begin with, etc. This is a new process we're working out from scratch, and it's going to take a little time to get everything together and in motion. Again, I appreciate folks' patience, this is stuff that takes time. Keep in mind that there is probably no one more wanting to get this stuff into motion and into public consideration than me.

I am not gonna be able to monitor this thread actively, so please keep that in mind; I can try and follow up periodically but as far as detailed discussion about both ownership and steering council stuff the best time and place for that is going to be dedicated threads when there's more concrete news to share.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:45 PM on April 14 [15 favorites]


I'd be happy to share my thoughts on this (and I hope I'm not talking out of turn or inadvertantly speaking for anyone else), but honestly there's not much to say at this point. As shared above, the committee hasn't met yet. Nor have any potential members officially agreed to be part of it afaik (I haven't). Even the name 'Steering Committee' could change as the scope, roles and responsibilities are defined further.

My understanding is that this is a starting point; a way to get this off the ground. It's likely that committee membership will change, things will evolve over time and with feedback and learnings. From what I can see so far, there's real thoughtful consideration being put into diverse representation, defining scope and authority, documentation, etc. That's a great sign. I am hopeful that this could be an amazing opportunity and novel way forward for the whole MetaFilter community.

What are the questions or concerns?
posted by iamkimiam at 1:46 PM on April 14 [11 favorites]


And yeah, per iamkimiam's comment there: I'm not going to talk about who is involved until we've met tomorrow and had a chance for folks to talk ideas out and then individually to commit or not to being part of the process, is my main thing. But I have no expectation that folks preliminarily involved need to be quiet about it or anything, just not my place to volunteer them for public discussion right now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:57 PM on April 14


I appreciate folks being willing to respond.

What are the questions or concerns?

For my part, I've just been scratching my head trying to figure out who I might want to suggest, if anyone; because there was enough information to see that it's not the same call as for suggesting mods but not really anything more particular.

And should we be asking people before nominating them, or is this supposed to be an exciting thing where people get a MEFI WANTS YOU surprise in their mail? Or is it ONLY self-nomination?

Is the actual steering committee being selected and having its first meeting tomorrow, in which case nominations are effectively over anyway, or is that the ad hoc working group managing its selection?
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:05 PM on April 14


I'm aiming for a good mix of trustworthy and immediately available folks

(Jokingly) So… you’re saying there is a cabal?

Less jokingly, I guess I’m glad that it’s up and running. Showing a sense of urgency is good. I can’t help but feel, though, that the lack of transparency on who, how, and why of selection and role is… less good, and kind of a part of the ongoing back and forth between mods/owner and members.

I know there are a lot of irons in the fire, but I guess I’d like to know, are members of the committee supposed to be anonymous? Are we dealing with a 36 tzadikim kind of thing, or will members of the committee be made public?

I get the argument for not making the members public, they’ll be shit on, no matter who they are, someone will have a grudge or an axe to grind, or whatever. On the other hand, anonymity and a group along these lines, there’s all sorts of history of that going bad in terrible ways, too.

If at all possible, I’d like to know which it’s going to be, and the line of thought behind that choice.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:53 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


*Please* call it the Steering Cabal. Imagine how much more fun it will be to read the inevitable future complaints if people have to complain about The Cabal!
posted by Vatnesine at 4:19 PM on April 14 [23 favorites]


Like iamkimiam, I'm speaking only for myself here, but I did reach out to cortex via email and offered to assist with whatever he needed, and I was invited to be on the Steering Cabal (I can't resist).

Can we get some kind of statement of what the steering committee gestures vaguely is and will do?

For me (and again, we have not had any discussions yet) I envision this process as being more like a constitutional convention than a long-term decision-making body. I would like to help create frameworks for the future administration and moderation of the site, rather than make any permanent decisions. Obviously, the way we create these frameworks is very important and will potentially have far-reaching effects, but I hope that it will be another, more deliberately chosen group that will be making the decisions that have direct impact on the average user.

Personally, I plan to be completely transparent about this process and I am and will remain happy to answer any questions, publicly or privately, and if that's not possible, I simply will cease to participate. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if there are members of the committee that choose to remain anonymous, and I would support that and would certainly not violate their anonymity.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:40 PM on April 14 [9 favorites]


The Metafilter Committee Advisory Board (that meets at) At Lunchtime.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:43 PM on April 14 [8 favorites]


There is no Committee Advisory Board At Lunchtime.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:58 PM on April 14 [8 favorites]


Yep, I'll be at the meeting as well. I received an email that I'd been nominated, so I'm joining the call tomorrow to see if I can help with organization, or documentation, or fielding questions over the next few months as we transition into the new ownership, and then... I guess then we'll see. I think there will be lots of opportunities for members to participate.

I see the role primarily as one of member advocacy, where we focus on transparency and meeting the needs of our members. If we can't offer that, I'm out.

Metafilter's been there for me during some rough times. I want it to be around for others for years to come, so I hope I can be helpful to everyone.
posted by mochapickle at 5:09 PM on April 14 [20 favorites]


I envision this process as being more like a constitutional convention than a long-term decision-making body.

I agree with this very much & will also be on the call. I also agree that representation is going to be important and building that in will be important. Like mochapickle I suspect the opportunities will be there for people to contribute in lots of ways.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:28 PM on April 14 [5 favorites]


Conversations can be prevented without being prohibited.

Sure. The MetaTalk queue is the perfect example of this. We used to have free-form discussion about all parts of site management and policy, and now only the conversations that the mods decide are somehow worthy of attention are allowed through. I have no idea what people might want to discuss that hasn't been put through for discussion because this process is entirely opaque and puts power entirely out of the hands of the site members when it comes to discussing site management and policies.
posted by hippybear at 5:34 PM on April 14 [6 favorites]


I envision this process as being more like a constitutional convention than a long-term decision-making body.

A constitutional convention has a lot more long term impact than any one session of a parliament it creates. That's why we call its members Framers in the US context.

It might be worth considering whether the equivalent of a new charter should be directly promulgated by people now selected by this kinda foreshortened process -- especially if some are to remain anonymous; versus standing up the process by which the people who will do that will be chosen and write that charter. And encourage wider participation in that stage.

As it seems we're discussing Metafilter II.

And if it's that momentous, yeah, a site banner probably would have been good.

Unless the intended model was the College of Cardinals.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:02 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


Well, if we're going to have a Constitutional Convention, we're going to need a fuckton of Federalist Papers and other correspondence put out there so all the viewpoints are well known and well expressed.
posted by hippybear at 7:04 PM on April 14 [4 favorites]


Well. TBH I’m kicking myself that I failed to nominate either myself or others who bring pertinent skills and important perspectives to the table out of reticence driven by the lack of a clear process, criteria or agenda. I’m annoyed that patiently waiting for same turns out to have been the wrong path. Bummer.
posted by carmicha at 7:11 PM on April 14 [22 favorites]


I swear to god, if 2022 also brings about the dissolution of this online home for me, I will... I will... I don't know, but it will be reflective of the level of life destruction that I will feel.
posted by hippybear at 7:19 PM on April 14 [10 favorites]


I have no idea what people might want to discuss that hasn't been put through for discussion because this process is entirely opaque and puts power entirely out of the hands of the site members when it comes to discussing site management and policies.

Cortex is on record, though I can't find it, as was mathowie before that the queue isn't used to censor metatalk in that sort of way. It means trusting cortex to be transparent in the Trusting Trust sort of way but that's always been the case and would exist even without the queue via deletions and ban hammering.
posted by Mitheral at 7:37 PM on April 14 [3 favorites]


I won't put them here, but I've had one, or maybe two, responses to MetaTalks submitted to the queue where I was told this was not the forum in which to handle this. But I'm not new here, and it was. But what's the point of arguing? They never were posted, and I don't know what others were never posted.
posted by hippybear at 7:44 PM on April 14 [3 favorites]


Well. TBH I’m kicking myself that I failed to nominate either myself or others who bring pertinent skills and important perspectives to the table out of reticence driven by the lack of a clear process, criteria or agenda. I’m annoyed that patiently waiting for same turns out to have been the wrong path. Bummer.

have to say I very much agree with this. i pay pretty close attention around here but am also surprised at how far things have proceeded without much in the way of communication / transparency.

i paused my subscription which i've had going for years now. sucks.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:21 AM on April 15 [6 favorites]


Hopefully once cortex has done his handoff there will be the chance for a fresh start - more transparency, more inclusiveness, more opportunities to bring in stakeholders and take actions. The only catch is that again we will have a single owner who from a legal POV has all the power and final say. So please make a good choice cortex, it will probably be the most important decision for Metafilter you will ever make!
posted by Meatbomb at 1:48 AM on April 15 [7 favorites]


that I failed to nominate either myself or others who bring pertinent skills and important perspectives to the table

You absolutely should nominate yourself and others, carmicha and lazaruslong. And it sounds like that's always been the intention, to open up the process more formally after we get past this immediate, short-term hurdle of owner transition:
cortex: While I think a long-term site governance process that includes community members should involve a more general, slow, broad call for participation, this is a process happening on a short time frame and needs bootstrapping more directly and so I'm aiming for a good mix of trustworthy and immediately available folks to start with and trusting those folks and the community to develop the process from there.
This initial meeting hasn't happened yet, but I can confirm from the meeting agenda I received that member representation and broad perspectives are key to our future here. If you're interested, please be thinking of who you'd like to see doing this.
posted by mochapickle at 2:39 AM on April 15 [8 favorites]


I just wanted to share publicly that the main reason I have gotten involved (for however long - I think the initial work may well be to work out how to get out of that work, if that makes sense :)) is that I've been a part of both online communities and small businesses where the owner/founder/wizards/etc. burned out and shut down the community/business. They weren't able to reach out for support at the right times, because that is a really hard thing to do.

I'm grateful that is not the situation here, even if this stage might feel a bit muddled. That's due to cortex and the mod team.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:02 AM on April 15 [10 favorites]


I sent a few names to mochapickle who I would like to see involved. Everyone should, everything seems to be in flux. I do hope this is more widely advertised though.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:18 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


A constitutional convention has a lot more long term impact than any one session of a parliament it creates. That's why we call its members Framers in the US context.

The "constitutional convention" thing is my own personal perspective. Whatever this committee ends up doing may have zero resemblance to such a thing. I am committing to being as transparent as possible about the process, but that is going to be challenging if whatever I say is interpreted as a consensus statement.

Well, if we're going to have a Constitutional Convention, we're going to need a fuckton of Federalist Papers and other correspondence put out there so all the viewpoints are well known and well expressed.

I absolutely agree with you. Please share your viewpoints with me. Please ask me questions. My email and various socials are in my profile (though Twitter is really the only one I spend time on anymore). I'm happy to arrange a phone call or teleconference with anyone.

In an ideal world, this is probably not the way we would be making these sorts of changes, but it's clear that cortex needs to step down now-ish, for his health and the health of the site, so I will do my best to make sure that transition is done cleanly and in a way that sets up a good path for going forward. Maybe a "transition team" is a better metaphor than a constitutional convention.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:19 AM on April 15 [6 favorites]


Let me get this straight in my befuddled head. There is a suggestion that this steering cabal, open and transparent could have anonymous members.
Well fuck that for a game of soldiers.
OK so this is Cortex's site and he can choose whoever he wishes but if that is fact I suspect there will be a further exodus.
We don't neccessarily need to know the minutae of conversations and decisions of individuals but we sure as hell need to know who these individuals are as related to the site, which already gives a partial anonymity through the use of username alias.
posted by adamvasco at 6:27 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I didn't get any sense that there were going to be anonymous members. They can't exactly publish a list of who is participating when people haven't agreed to yet.
posted by brilliantine at 6:41 AM on April 15 [6 favorites]


There is a suggestion that this steering cabal, open and transparent could have anonymous members.

...if that is fact I suspect there will be a further exodus.


definitely. let's hope anonymous members doesn't end up actually being a thing, i guess.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:42 AM on April 15


It's explicitly stated in the meeting invite for this small initial group that anonymity isn't possible after today for anyone that chooses to stay involved going forward.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:55 AM on April 15 [14 favorites]


I hope this group views all strategies provided and choices made through the metric of site profitability. There is no higher priority goal, lest the site fail due to financial non-viability.
posted by saeculorum at 7:07 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


For the sake of disclosure, I was also invited by cortex to be at the meeting today. I'm not completely sure if I'm going to join the Steering Committee, but I'm interested to see what happens and to have a thoughtful discussion with folks.

(My past thoughts on Mefi & moderation are outlined here in this comment and here and here.)

Personally, I plan to be completely transparent about this process and I am and will remain happy to answer any questions, publicly or privately, and if that's not possible, I simply will cease to participate.

If I do join, I plan to do the same.
posted by suedehead at 7:29 AM on April 15 [12 favorites]


Thanks for the clarification/correction warriorqueen. There was a comment last night which led me to believe otherwise.
posted by adamvasco at 8:13 AM on April 15


I am committing to being as transparent as possible about the process, but that is going to be challenging if whatever I say is interpreted as a consensus statement.

I don't really see how this follows. Your willingness to be transparent is conditioned on people not reacting? All we have is what people involved are willing to say here, in aggregate. Whether or not the statements are interpreted as a "consensus," which I don't think this was. The reaction was to the basic idea that a hastily assembled group will now write a new charter for the entire community.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:17 AM on April 15


And transparency is also not aligned with asking everyone to submit their feedback and ideas through private channels to one's preferred Cabal member. To belabor the constitutional metaphor, that builds "factions."
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:26 AM on April 15


I am committing to being as transparent as possible about the process, but that is going to be challenging if whatever I say is interpreted as a consensus statement.

I don't really see how this follows. Your willingness to be transparent is conditioned on people not reacting?


I mean, I don't think it's any surprise. Look how quick we're already getting people getting concerned about the implications of interpretations they spun out of non-authoritative comment phrasing. To borrow from a recurring observation in one of the other active MeTas, writing comments (or FPPs) becomes a lot heavier mentally if you have to preemptively parse each one defensively to make sure there's nothing which could be used against you/the site.

The transition's still being worked out, we don't need to get a jump on putting the new owners & operators through the burnout gauntlet before any of it's happened.
posted by CrystalDave at 8:26 AM on April 15 [55 favorites]


Yes, surely the best time to address critical issues is afterwards.

This process is severely flawed. People are being asked to submit names to a panel of illuminati, who will be presumably selected on the basis of whether the people now in charge consider them to be "solid mefites." Or, rather, they already have. And we're being invited to argue about a fait accompli.

If it was done as an emergent measure to let Cortex step back, just call it that and lets get away from the idea that these are the people who are going to make permanent decisions about MeFi's future.

I don't feel like my feedback is actually welcome; and it's left a sour taste in my mouth to have to push this hard for transparency while everyone yuks it up and then be regarded as the uncharitable asshole by others pulling up to leave comments.

I'm pausing my subscription, with regret. I hope this works out one way or another and that MeFi is still somewhere I want to be on the other side.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:30 AM on April 15 [4 favorites]


I don't really see how this follows. Your willingness to be transparent is conditioned on people not reacting? All we have is what people involved are willing to say here, in aggregate.

No, I'm going to be transparent about my thoughts and feelings and actions, but if they are taken as official statements and debated as such, it is going to be harder for me to share.

For example, the whole anonymous member thing. I missed the part in the email from cortex where he said that folks would not be able to stay anonymous if they chose to participate. I still think it would be fine if some members of the committee wanted to remain anonymous during participation - members of marginalized communities who already take enough flak on MetaFilter, or members who have dealt with online harassment before, or had some other good reason.

You are welcome to react to me and my thoughts/opinions, but I think it will make the process more difficult if folks react to things that I (or any individual member) might say as if each one is an official statement.

And transparency is also not aligned with asking everyone to submit their feedback and ideas through private channels to one's preferred Cabal member. To belabor the constitutional metaphor, that builds "factions."

I mean, I don't know how else to do it? You can post them to me in this thread (or subsequent threads) but I may not see them that way. If you know other, more public ways to submit feedback to me, please do so.

If it was done as an emergent measure to let Cortex step back, just call it that and lets get away from the idea that these are the people who are going to make permanent decisions about MeFi's future.

I think that is exactly what it is, in my mind. I'm genuinely sorry if I've given the impression that I feel otherwise. Personally, I am really appreciating your feedback. This is going to be a tough process for a lot of reasons, and we need folks to be willing to push back and question everything. Sorry that it has left a bad taste in your mouth.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:36 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Wait, how do we nominate people again? I have some good ideas for (other) people who would be good at this kind of thing
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:37 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Wait, how do we nominate people again? I have some good ideas for (other) people who would be good at this kind of thing

I volunteered by emailing cortex.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:39 AM on April 15


It's hard to imagine a more thankless task than serving on this steering committee is going to be - what a way to subject yourself to anger and criticism and endless second-guessing.

So I'll say thank you to those brave enough to do it.
posted by FencingGal at 9:08 AM on April 15 [62 favorites]


Wait, we're considering anonymous for the Steering Cabal? That member is a nightmare! 23K+ questions but only five answers, and all their questions are super weird, even if they do pull a lot of favorites.
posted by Mayor West at 9:17 AM on April 15 [48 favorites]


It's hard to imagine a more thankless task than serving on this steering committee is going to be - what a way to subject yourself to anger and criticism and endless second-guessing.

So I'll say thank you to those brave enough to do it.


Right? People are already publicly pausing their subscriptions because a process which is both ad hoc and barely started wasn't clearly communicated.

We're not at a constitutional convention stage, we're at the Franklin and Jefferson having drinks at the bar stage. We're at the pre-meeting to discuss the agenda of the meeting stage.

As someone with more than a little social anxiety, I hate the idea of people being mad at me and being on this committee (or being a mod) seems like a great way to have people be mad at you all the time with little to no provocation. So good on anyone who is able and willing to put up with it.
posted by JDHarper at 9:34 AM on April 15 [23 favorites]


Cortex has publicly stated that he is burnt out and needs to leave. Rather than just doing it all behind the scenes, as he would have the legal right to do since he is the business owner after all, he is putting together a team to get things going. I can see the point that Steering Committee makes it all sound kind of permanent, so might not be the right term. Maybe Transition Team, or—in the language of Canadian bureaucracy—Ginger Group might be better. But, the bottom line is that any process, even an iterative one, needs to start somewhere, and this one has to get moving.

Personally, I think it’s worth taking a few steps back and letting Cortex and the team get their minds around what needs to happen. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if they weren’t committed to keeping members in the loop, even if there have been a few gaps from time to time. I am sure we will all have our chance to comment.
posted by rpfields at 9:50 AM on April 15 [39 favorites]


We're not at a constitutional convention stage, we're at the Franklin and Jefferson having drinks at the bar stage.

If Franklin and Jefferson had been chosen by George III.
posted by Etrigan at 10:08 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


selected on the basis of whether the people now in charge consider them to be "solid mefites"

I think the term used was "trusted", and we know how that has spun out recently. But whatever, there is really no best way to get this done and this is at least not the worst way (e.g. selling it to Zuckerberg).
posted by Meatbomb at 10:09 AM on April 15 [5 favorites]


It's hard to imagine a more thankless task than serving on this steering committee is going to be

I mean, how about: site owner and/or moderator?

You're not wrong that it's going to be a thankless task. The only likely reward to this task will be a bunch of people angry at you for completely contradictory reasons, some of whom will then spend years following you around sniping at you in inappropriate contexts, grinding the same axe while pretending they're just concerned community members.

But: this is what this community does, to every single person who is given any kind of responsibility to help manage it. And it's pretty unfortunate that we're only even remotely grappling with that now that we've had 2 different owner/operators completely burn out from that cycle of community "engagement".
posted by a faithful sock at 10:09 AM on April 15 [35 favorites]


I mean, I personally would absolutely hate to be a mod of any kind (or a small business owner), but I think you may be being a wee bit dramatic about it. "This is what this community does" as though everyone is like that and "the community" is just terrible is a lot. Like, look, there are a hundred plus comments thanking cortex and wishing him well in the other thread. Not to mention the actual financial support the community has provided over the years. Maybe just dial down the intensity a notch.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:24 AM on April 15 [4 favorites]


But: this is what this community does, to every single person who is given any kind of responsibility to help manage it. And it's pretty unfortunate that we're only even remotely grappling with that now that we've had 2 different owner/operators completely burn out from that cycle of community "engagement".

Bingo. I really think it takes a certain kind of person or people to run a community like this. You need to be able to listen deeply without absorbing too much of the angst, respond to angry buttoners without taking it personally, and choose what's best for the many (which sometimes is what's best for the few) without getting ground to dust by everyone who insists you didn't just make the wrong decision but you made the worst decision ever made. And you have to stand by your decision, unless it was wrong, and be able to apologize even if you were right.

Sometimes MeTa feels like the Principal Skinner "no, it's the children who are wrong" meme. No one wants to take responsibility for their small part in us getting to this place.

I hope the Steering Committee can talk about that as this place transitions. But I also hope people around here ask themselves why this place burns through owners and moderators. No new system of site governance or ownership structure or even business profit orientation will fix this. And believing any of it will prima facie fix it is denial, not just of the history of this place, but of the history of our society and the internet itself. Things change. And maybe we are out of touch.
posted by dw at 11:03 AM on April 15 [13 favorites]


But I also hope people around here ask themselves why this place burns through owners and moderators.

It's like 20 years old (right? older?) and there have been all of two owners. The moderators mostly don't leave. Unless you've been like working at IBM for the last 45 years that is not "burning through" anything.

I'm not going to argue about this much more, but sometimes the sturm und drang about how horrible everyone here is gets to be a lot.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:17 AM on April 15 [12 favorites]


This is a perfectly fine and good thing to be happening and I do not see what people are mad about. SOMETHING has to work, and if it's not "one guy absorbs everything everyone is mad about" and it's definitely not "everyone hashes everything out in big angry threads" then it has to be something in between - a number greater than 1 and less than the population who looks at MetaTalk. That means it might not include you. This is literally an internet message board. A lot of people need to grow up.
posted by bleep at 11:20 AM on April 15 [26 favorites]


This is is the place for people to voice concerns, but I am personally in the camp of let’s see how this develops. I think it might not be too productive to read too much into comments from members involved. It seems like they are use trying to be helpful and open, and are not giving a technical description of what is happening because no one really knows what it is yet.

I would suggest that the most straightforward course of action for anyone with concerns would be to self-nominate. This would at least give some visibility into the process.
posted by snofoam at 11:44 AM on April 15 [5 favorites]


> People are being asked to submit names to a panel of illuminati

Friend can we please not do this
posted by churl at 11:46 AM on April 15 [26 favorites]


Yeah, I think it is usually an Order or a Council, but there is no such thing as a Panel of Illuminati.
posted by snofoam at 11:50 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


But: this is what this community does

I read this as "this is what community does" initially, which in many cases feels true to me.

Pretty much any organized group of people, from a community garden, to a HOA, to local councils to higher levels of government seems to leave the majority of people dissatisfied, have entrenched interests and competing factions, complaints about transparency and hidden agendas, and leave those heavily involved in the running of it burned out after enough time dealing with the cyclical and stressful nature of the process.

Maybe that's just what the work is, in a "worst possible system - except for all the others" kind of way.

Anyway, thanks & good luck to the people who've stepped up to take it on.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:03 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


> People are being asked to submit names to a panel of illuminati

Friend can we please not do this


Counterpoint: it's hilarious
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:20 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


It would be hilarious if people wouldn't then get mad thinking we're forming a literal Illuminati (that's where I'm a Viking)
posted by bleep at 12:48 PM on April 15


I hereby propose that our new motto become: "MetaFilter: Putting the 'naughty' in Illuminati since 2022."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:08 PM on April 15 [17 favorites]


it was the generic use of 'illuminati;' if you think all this is clumsy, try GURPS.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:14 PM on April 15


try GURPS

Steve Jackson’s Steering Committee Conflicts was a wildly unsuccessful follow up to Car Wars.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:59 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


After a small amount of thought, I’ve decided to found a MeFite non-steering committee. Unlike the steering committee, the non-steering committee will be slightly less prestigious, but blissfully serene a la Richard Niebuhr about its degree of control. Meetings have a quorum of one member and will be mentally held whenever you remember you read this comment. To join, please type an application letter in your text editor of choice and then close the document.
posted by michaelh at 2:07 PM on April 15 [30 favorites]


A swerving committee, perhaps?
posted by Ahmad Khani at 2:08 PM on April 15


I'm not sure I really have any standing to share my opinion anymore, but as somebody who used to care about this place a great deal, I think it's a serious mistake to stand up a new governance body before the change in ownership is complete.

Whoever the new owner is, they're going to have to rethink the overall strategy, goals, operating model, and expectations around participation for this site for it to be possible to break it out of the current death spiral and put it on a path to long-term viability. Chartering a new Steering Committee, and determining the selection process for members, is exactly the kind of decision that the new owner needs to make, not have made for them prior to the sale.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 2:45 PM on April 15 [11 favorites]


I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the new owner is, if not one of the people in the meeting, certainly part of the current decision making process. I don't know this for a fact, but have a really hard time conceiving that this wouldn't be a key part of the hand-off.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:08 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


This thread is really running away with itself. The group that is currently meeting and forming right now is not an official Steering Committee (actual name of committee TBC). This is a transition team to help design and form a committee.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:39 PM on April 15 [19 favorites]


> I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the new owner is, if not one of the people in the meeting, certainly part of the current decision making process.

Look under your chair for a gift box, It's Raining Florence Henderson!
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:43 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


Iamkimiam, I think that's down to the announcement leaping from "let's maybe start the nomination process" to "nominations are closed" with nothing more than a brief mention in a metatalk post.
posted by sagc at 4:01 PM on April 15


Nominations for this initial shaping group, but yeah I can see how it’s all got to this place of miscommunication. It feels unfortunate and sad, ooof.

Where do we go from here?
posted by iamkimiam at 4:06 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Hey, so let me reiterate: there is an optimal long-term approach to involving the broader community (including nominations, self- or otherwise, for participation) in governance process that is broad, slow, and wide-ranging. That is something I feel pretty strongly about, and have communicated several times to the current participants in this process! There will be more information about all of this soon! We literally just met today.

But also this process has to *start*, and it needs to start sooner rather than later because I have been running at E for a dangerous amount of time and I want this process to be in more well-resourced hands. So I've bootstrapped things by identifying, with a lot of advice, a group of folks who I trust to be stable and not fuck the initial stages up.

That by definition isn't a broadly inclusive process. It's just a kickstart. I trust these folks to do a good job of exploring over the next few months the possibilities for more broadly including and working directly with the community in a way I *do not have time or energy* to do so now. I believe they will do a very good job of that, but they need to be given time to accomplish it. MetaFilter is a prospect with a long history and a lot of community energy. I trust the folks involved in this stage to work with that in a good and constructive way to build things beyond my personal capacity (especially at this late and depleted date) to accomplish.

Folks interested in being involved in that: great! There is a world of opportunities opening up and for all my personal burnout I believe with all my heart in the capacity for the folks in this community to accomplish good, new, productive things beyond what I have been able to manage during the last few years. I am stepping aside in part to make that new stuff possible.

But this requires work, and it requires stepping up one stage at a time, and magical thinking will not make it happen. If you want to be involved and are not already, please wait for the folks involved to work through the processes and open things up. If you are arguing for the sake of arguing, or speculating out of a fundamentally negative posture on the whole thing, please just draw back and let things happen without that for a while. Constructive criticism is fine. Reflexive criticism is a heavy anchor dragging indiscriminately on what might otherwise be forward progress.

If I can put down my emotional involvement and ego and and livelihood and walk away from the most important part of the last fifteen years of my life for the sake of this community, folks habitually grousing in MetaTalk out of habit can certainly throttle back temporarily to let shit actually get done. If you want things to change for the better, step back and let that actually happen.

Regards,
a very salty cortex who is trying to put this whole process in less salty hands without making them immediately regret accepting that responsibility.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:22 PM on April 15 [91 favorites]


This place overthinking things and eating itself? I'm shocked.
posted by knapah at 4:33 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


You admit that your tank is on E. Let the car coast to a stop and let the new owner take care of it.

If he did this, I don't think there would be any less outcry that doing that so was utterly wrong and irresponsible.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 4:56 PM on April 15 [24 favorites]


If he did this, I don't think there would be any less outcry that doing that so was utterly wrong and irresponsible.

We can all think what we want, but there was literally no one in this thread asking cortex to comment, so I don’t personally see what evidence might lead to that conclusion.
posted by snofoam at 5:04 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I, for one, welcome our new Steering Cabal Overlords. And I hope they have tough skins and a robust sense of humor.
posted by Vatnesine at 5:22 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


We can all think what we want, but there was literally no one in this thread asking cortex to comment, so I don’t personally see what evidence might lead to that conclusion.

Past experience?

At the same time, with all the hoo-ha it is maybe worth keeping in mind that cortex is literally giving up his livelihood & business. Whatever the reasons and however it came about, I think it's worth keeping in mind that right now there is a person who sounds like they are dealing with a pretty awful mental health crisis whilst trying his best, for better or worth, to make this place people would feel OK in and about.

Personally, I have quite some confidence that we might see some really good things happening in the future, even if some of how this is being handled is not ideal. I'm sort of ... excited to see what will happen?

I'd really love for this to become a place of some fun, some interest, a lot of mutual respect and if that is not possible mutual tolerance. An oasis in a world that doesn't look like it's in a hurry to improve. I feel we all need it.
posted by doggod at 5:41 PM on April 15 [28 favorites]


Interesting thread on Twitter from a former CEO of Reddit on running a large social platform.

I disagree with large chunks of it, but I liked this bit on Jack Dorsey/Twitter:

There is a reason why Jack has a crazy meditation routine and eats one meal a deal and goes on spiritual retreats. Because it takes an INHUMAN level of mentality to be able to run something like this.
posted by Hartster at 5:47 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I'd like to say, very gently and nervously, that when I nominated myself (which felt pushy, but whatever) cortex mentioned that there were probably a lot of people who were interested and so, even thus warned, I find my feelings are a little bit hurt at discovering yesterday, only via this thread, that I wasn't chosen. I don't know if I'm representative of other people, but ... suddenly I feel like I've been unknowingly on that "troublesome mefite" list?

It's a weird thing, and likely an oversensitive "me" thing and I'm not being as dispassionate as I should be, but because of this I've been thinking about ways that this process could have been more transparent and less, um, cabal-like that would have felt better.

I TOTALLY understand cortex's desire to get this done ASAP so he could step away coupled with the conflicting community needs for transparency and inclusion — so it's not a surprise that it's been kind of clumsy.

I guess my point is that while reading this thread I've been thinking about how I'm a little perturbed in combination with some of the disatisfaction expressed in the thread, and that even given that the meeting happened this morning, everything is still extremely opaque . . . I think that there needs to be some re-centering done? Like, a bunch of disclosure and spelling out explicitly the plans and timetables moving forward? And, um, what exactly is the structure now? The more I think about it, the more it seems like things are really muddled.

I do think we, the community, need to work during this delicate period to be more positive and cooperative — so I don't at all intend my comment be critical or divisive or, god forbid, me self-indulgently whinging! It's that after like almost twenty years here and a bunch of personal growth influenced by MetaFilter, I have a lot of emotional investment and I'm sure I'm very much not alone in this. People's emotional investment in MeFi, if we're going to be actively involved in the process, kinda need to be handled sensitively and thoughtfully, or else the attempt for community involvement will end up backfiring because we'll have delicate little snowflakes like me getting pissy. And no one wants that.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:02 PM on April 15 [21 favorites]


Those are basically the things that occupy me (and have for the last couple threads) but I also think Cortex's update was fine? I appreciated the forthrightness (as salted to taste), and I can understand if he felt like he needed to get it off his chest. I have no idea how I'd be doing in his shoes. I'd imagine anything I'd have said would have been less graceful. He also provided more insight into why this happened the way it did. That helps.

(And from a practical perspective, it's not realistic to expect him to become 100% uninvolved all at once, even if he's hands off. That's not how it goes with closely held companies. The steering committee has no legal status when it comes to LLC governance. LLCs are managed by their members [owners] or an appointed manager.)

I did not nominate myself (no illusions there), and by the time clarifications were provided it was more or less done -- but I'm guessing/hoping others may have suggested the same folks I would have. Or are nominations still rolling? (It was also melancholy to go looking for formerly prolific members I thought would be good and find they buttoned; although I know there are many potential reasons for that.)

Despite the remaining confusion, there has at least been some kind of drift from the people in the group that they see themselves as in a caretaking role for the time being. That we aren't, this instant, re-framing the community. That there will be an effort to have further and wider involvement (including of people who don't frequent MeTa) and maybe another nomination process before anything like that happens. It would be nice to hear that more definitively, but I found it reassuring to hear even vaguely.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:45 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


Sometimes I think that obviously MetaTalk folk are who should be involved in shaping the site, and other times I think we're the very worst people imaginable for that purpose.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:10 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


Is the person that donated a bunch of money to Metafilter recently-ish so it could stay afloat part of the transition team?
posted by lazaruslong at 11:24 PM on April 15


Hi, I'm not here, but the answer to this is no.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:32 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the info taz
posted by lazaruslong at 11:37 PM on April 15


Only way this place survives is if MeTa quits turning into flaming shitstorms.
posted by blue shadows at 11:49 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


Only way this place survives is if MeTa quits turning into flaming shitstorms.
Meta is where the community tries to sort itself and its grievances out. Sometimes this gets heated and more often than not the community helps douse the flames, but yes people do button, though I frequently wonder if this was possibly the finale of something inevitable.
In a perfect world maybe MeTa should have a dedicated Mod such as Ask used to have in the highly competant Jessamyn who bought this to such a resounding success to the great benefit of the site as a whole.
Re: the Steering Cabal; I was wondering if those in the inner circle have considered reaching out to some of the more prominent and respected site members who have drifted away or buttoned. I think insight from some of these people would be invaluable. There are also some members prominent in the online world who probably will not have the time to commit to a committee but again whose input could be invaluable. If you don't ask you don't get. Maybe this is happening but as the whole process at the moment is totally opaque all I (we) can do is make suggestions to the wall. I can only hope that the resultant advise group is fully representative of the multi coloured palette that is Metafilter and that the outside N. American, English first language participants get a look in. A couple of people with hands on business acumen would not go amiss either.
posted by adamvasco at 5:05 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


"I think that obviously MetaTalk folk are who should be involved in shaping the site"
Data helps with objectivity? Picking up on a, now lost to me, comment ~21Feb22~ I tallied numbers for some of the usual suspects:
(# comments on all subMetas) ÷ (Favorited by others) = reading the room quotient (RRQ)
Range = (1.8 . . . 12.9)
(#MeFi posts) ÷ (Years on site) = take one for the team trophy (T14TT) or Grist for Mill Medal (GMM)
Beware when obviously = echo chamber ?
posted by BobTheScientist at 5:08 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I was at yesterday's meeting, and I'm still kind of conflicted as to whether I want to join. (I did not put myself forward, but was asked if I was interested.) There are a whole lot of open questions and very little clear answers, and while I care a lot about this place, I also care a lot about not... y'know, burning out on it.

It takes a lot of effort to be empathetic and to try to listen to all kinds of people, even in conflict. Insofar as that is possible to do while also being thick skinned, it's a matter of controlling response to pain: making an effort to listen and make space for other people requires vulnerability, openness, and honesty.

It is fucking terrifying to be vulnerable on this site right now. Like, I have paid dearly for vulnerability especially on the grey in past years, but it's been getting worse and worse for some time. Some of that really is about transparency and fear, I think some is about stress and worry and uncertainty, and some is about sheer frustration. I get that. I do.

But I don't know if the site as a whole has enough trust in anyone to figure out a parth forward. There's a lot of conflicting ideas about what this community is and should be out there, and (it feels like) no way to find consensus to try. If I join, and it's still an if, I know I don't want to stay in leadership here in the long term.

I have other places I'm directing my energy, places that frankly build up enough trust that I can think and have a nuanced conversation without constantly looking for hidden threats. Places where I can be vulnerable, and messy, and sometimes wrong, without so much pressure.

I think insofar as this working group needs people--and it does!--what it needs is people who can trust one another to be trying to strive towards connection and consensus even when they don't always agree. It needs people who can represent a wide swathe of opinions on the site while still maintaining respect for one another, so everyone feels there is at least someone at the table that they can trust. I don't yet know if I meet that bill; I'm thinking about a lot of things at once.

In the interests of transparency, the meeting yesterday was kind of messy and had a lot more questions than answers. That's appropriate for the speed at which it was convened! I'm expecting a more detailed post in a couple of days, by which I hope to figure out what I'm doing.
posted by sciatrix at 5:30 AM on April 16 [45 favorites]


Sounds like you'd be better off not participating. Since there's lots of interest, I am sure it will be fine.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:38 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Rock 'em Sock 'em, that seems oddly invalidating, given how much you've pushed back on sciatrix's experiences of the site as, basically, a problem on their end. I'm not sure if this I'm misreading your tone, but maybe just trust sciatrix to make their own decisions?
posted by sagc at 5:51 AM on April 16 [25 favorites]


I don't wish her any harm, but I am not her therapist and it is not my job to validate her. At the point where someone is saying they're literally terrified of commenting what else is there to say? "Please stick around this place that literally terrifies you?" It's absurd. If people aren't having at least some measure of fun here, they should probably do something else with their precious time.

I don't even know what you're on about with me "pushing back on sciatrix's experiences of the site." It's yet again making shit way way too personal in a way that's totally unnecessary. It's metatalk. We get to have opinions about the site and the community. It's silly and bad for the community to frame that as an attack on some individual person when it's nowhere near the truth.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:16 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Hmm.

Let me just say that I think you often come off much more aggressively and personally than it seems you think you do.
posted by sagc at 6:20 AM on April 16 [36 favorites]


I am grateful that there are people willing to help pull the wagon out of the mud to dry ground, where a longer term solution can be worked out.

I am grateful to cortex for the self-awareness to step back in an orderly way: this site lets users button, and when the boss needs the same relief, we shouldn't make him keep working until he drops.

I am impressed by the passion shown here, but also wish that sometimes there was less criticism of imperfect ideas/words, and more of the "Yes, and" ethic.

Let's give this a chance to work.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:23 AM on April 16 [33 favorites]


Hmm.

Let me just say that I think you often come off much more aggressively and personally than it seems you think you do.


Mate, you're the one piping up to accuse me of some shit from some other thread that wasn't even accurate or relevant. Couching it in therapy speak doesn't make it not aggressive, it just makes it slightly more annoying to read. You don't like me, I get it. Get off my jock already.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:34 AM on April 16


"It's metatalk. We get to have opinions about the site and the community."

And whether people should be told "Sounds like you'd be better off not participating."? Or not?
posted by sagc at 6:40 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Yes, clearly you can talk as much as you want about whether people should do blah blah I can't even keep writing, this is so tedious. You don't like me, you think I'm an asshole, we all get that. Let's stfu and let people move onto some shit that actually has something to do with the site.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:51 AM on April 16


You don't like me, I get it. Get off my jock already.

This, from someone who apparently wants to troll across websites, mate?

What you said to Sciatrix was Shitty™ and exactly the sort of thing I'd expect to see you mocking people for doubling down on.

Let's stfu


Be the change you want to see.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:55 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


enough already if you want to snipe at each other please do it in memail, please
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:56 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


Yes, clearly you can talk as much as you want about whether people should do blah blah I can't even keep writing, this is so tedious. You don't like me, you think I'm an asshole, we all get that. Let's stfu and let people move onto some shit that actually has something to do with the site.

Do you, in all actuality, believe you're making this discussion (or this process) better?
posted by advil at 6:56 AM on April 16 [23 favorites]


Okay, let me revise: I get it, you all don't like me. Let's all stfu and move on to stuff that actually has to do with the site.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:59 AM on April 16


the Steering Cabal; I was wondering if those in the inner circle have considered reaching out to some of the more prominent and respected site members who have drifted away or buttoned. I think insight from some of these people would be invaluable.

For me, the answer is absolutely yes. I'd thought of a few people yesterday, and before the meeting tiny frying pan (thank you tfp!) sent me a list of POC nominees to potentially engage, including one who's no longer active and whose absence hits me hard, and I'll be sending those names to the team. We're being encouraged to consult with others, bring others in for specific tasks and expertise as things advance. It's good.

Like sciatrix, I haven't yet committed. I'm not clear on where I might be most helpful or add value to this process in a way that fits best. But I love Metafilter. There's a lot we need to do. It's going to take the help of everyone here, and getting to a place where we all trust each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt, and in a place where members are consistently participating/interacting in a way that fosters that trust. (As I say this there's a comment storm brewing above me that I'm waiting to click and unfurl...)

Metafilter is a discussion site, so our whole framework and mindset here is based on the pattern of reading something and reacting to it, reading something else and reacting to that. So when members are presented with information about transition and steering, of course they're going to read it and react, because that's how the river runs here.

But when you're someone trying to build something, either through a committee or just as a commenter, continuous reaction has a way of flooding out progress. It's hard to build things underwater. Regardless of whether I'm formally part of organizing the transition, I'm hoping that members will allow the transition team the benefit of a caisson to get the work done.

There's a lot of terms in this thread like inner circle, cabal, intelligentsia. And I realize those are mostly jokes, but they're barbed. It hurts. I feel it's important to make a few things clear.

1. This entire process is fully about getting members -- everyone here, not just committee members -- more involved in the way this place is run in the future. cortex could have said forget it, Jake, and handed over the keys to the new owner (I do not know the identity of the new owner), but he decided to try this instead. If it works, it could be a really great thing for everyone, and a more welcoming place, too.

2. The people who were picked for this initial group were absolutely not the only people who could and should have been involved. This was no coronation -- we're just the people who came up in the initial toss of the net and had a good chance of pushing this forward. There are LOTS of people who would be terrific with this as this process continues.

3. There's no inner circle or intelligentsia, and I'm alternately confused and horrified by the idea. Seriously, I'm the lady who tracks packages for the holiday exchange every year, which means I'm reliable and I enjoy checking in with members and I'm a good bet for being able to put the time in. I've had very few interactions with site management in my steady 15+ years here, and I had no idea cortex even knew who I was until now. I'm queer-ace with a somewhat controlled end-stage illness and a good 90% of anything I write here is on bedrest. I do have some professional experience that's pretty relevant, but it's more of the type of thing that informs my interactions here and less of a thing that has me marching around showing off my resume.

So those are my thoughts for this morning. I promised transparency, so I just wanted to share where I am on this. Thanks, everyone.
posted by mochapickle at 7:57 AM on April 16 [57 favorites]


Heya everyone, just a few comments from my end.

I was at the meeting, too. I'm not 100% committed yet, but I'd like to help in the ways that I can. My own (personal) summary of the meeting is that it was:

Describing what the overall hopes for a healthy transition is, and answering a bunch of questions that people had about the transition process, so that the people at the meeting can decide whether or not they want to join the transition team.

What was made clear was that the transition team is intended to be a temporary thing (for ex. 3 months), isn't the group of people who will "run" things, whatever that means, is essentially a way to think about some much-needed changes without cortex doing it alone.

--

If things feel unclear to people who weren't at the meeting, I think it's because they are actually unclear. Like what sciatrix noted, the entire session was mostly about questions than answers.

I do know that if I weren't at yesterday's meeting, I'd want more transparency, so I do personally think that things could be more transparent, too. I got the sense that everyone present generally would agree. I personally wonder if that's maybe the first goal of the transition team; to find & share clarity around how the team has formed.

Perhaps my question is: It's clear that there are a lot of questions. What questions about this process needs answering?

--

(As a note, I've been in cooperative/community groups in this everything-is-confusing-and-it's-unclear stage, and while it's not always preferable, I think it's totally normal. Usually it's a lot of chaotic neutral-to-good energy,. In my experience, heated discussion & jokes is much better done over a lot of drinks and snacks, so in lieu of IRL food, maybe we should all munch on something while reading Metatalk)
posted by suedehead at 8:48 AM on April 16 [36 favorites]


when is the new owner going to tell us who they are, and what is their vision for the site?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:16 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


On preview, suedehead just said this much more succinctly and better but I'm going to post because maybe the different perspectives are helpful.

I'm just speaking for myself here, I want to be clear.

That said, let me share a recent experience offline. We made masks a policy at my work even after the mandate ended last month (everyone has been wearing them since summer 2020). So I had over half hour, in-person and on-the-phone sessions with people who were, in one memorable case, comparing me to Vladimir Putin. People I've trained with for years. My front desk team was under stress. None of us went into our business to defend or deny health regulations or disease vectors.

We didn't find a way forward with some members at the end of the day I mostly just asked questions about what would help. It was pretty exhausting.

Last week we decided to extend our mask policy another 4 weeks (after polling our remaining members - over 2/3 were pro-mask) and so we were gearing up for that and I asked the team how many people they thought had quit over it. Bear in mind, this team takes attendance every day.

They thought 25%.

It was 2%. A loud and memorable 2%.

That's not discounting numbers. Often the 2% actually is the information you need. That can be the critical information for inclusivity or anything else. But if we'd made our decision about next steps on our feelings about how much business we were going to lose, we'd've been wrong.

This anecdote is to share that how you listen, which tools you have for engaging in feedback, how regularly you solicit it, is it during a crisis or at another point, and so on, are pretty important for how you end up understanding it.

That's really hard to do when you are in a job like mine where you frequently are fighting fires (bus broke down, someone's sick, toilet broke, etc.) Clearing space to do what feels like starting a fire is hard. But of course, if you do it regularly it becomes a part of things. This is no shade to the mods.

I value listening to the people who have concerns about this process. I hope we can keep those comments not too personal, because I don't think that helps, but expressing concern should be fine... it just should be but also seems like everyone agrees that right now, things are messy and the goal is to make them less messy. So saying 'this is a mess' is actually agreeing.

I can't really comment or provide reassurance for The Process or The Team because I don't know what that is or what my role will be going forward (I think I'm in for the first 3 months, but I also am really happy to step aside to make room for other people or really any reason including 'we don't like you') and because for me, I'd much rather have a structure for feedback. Like, my MeMails are always open but I have no idea right now what I would do with any information gathered that way - pass it on, but dunno what would happen after - so I don't want to solicit it yet.

I personally hope, and at yesterday's meeting if there was consensus on anything I think it was on that, that any working group will develop actually enhanced tools for gathering feedback from all areas of the site. But it takes time.

That said - suedehead said it best and now it's repetitive but echoing that, I would be interested in what questions and concerns people have for next steps.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:18 AM on April 16 [32 favorites]


when is the new owner going to tell us who they are, and what is their vision for the site?

This is the key thing and it informs everything else... is this committee the part of something profound and fundamental or is it something that will be shrugged off and wasted effort? Obviously I really hope the former, but it is kind of analgous to a mall up for sale and the current tenants are planning for a renovation project.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:43 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I would be interested in what questions and concerns people have for next steps.

What are the goals of the transition team? What are its duties or projects? Are mods included in the team? How are they interacting with it? How will we (“we” meaning everyone from mods to the transition team to Cortex to interested users) know when the transition is over and we’re now in the New Metafilter Era? What might that handoff look like? How is the new ownership meant to interact with the transition team?

I don’t expect anyone to have answers to all these questions now! Just throwing them out there as questions that I personally have.

I don’t really understand what we’re transitioning to, either? I mean, a new owner, of course. But is the transition meant to be a transition of Cortex out of ownership, more than the transition of a new person/entity/group into ownership? So the focus is on dispersing his responsibilities? Or is the focus on supporting the new ownership’s transition into leading the site, in which case the new ownership needs to be leading the transition? And in which case it’s really important to know what the new owner’s vision is for the site and what it wants Metafilter to transition into.

When it comes to those kinds of questions, I guess I’m wondering about the perspective of the transition team and everyone involved when it comes to the transition’s mission, more than anything concrete.

Also, thank you to everyone who is getting involved in this and who has offered to get involved. It sounds like a lot of work and pretty thankless. I appreciate your generosity.
posted by rue72 at 9:53 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]


suedehead: What was made clear was that the transition team is intended to be a temporary thing (for ex. 3 months)

warriorqueen: I think I'm in for the first 3 months, but I also am really happy to step aside to make room for other people or really any reason

A question to both of you, if I may: what kinds of things do you see this transition team realistically achieving in three months?
posted by Soi-hah at 9:56 AM on April 16


This is the key thing and it informs everything else... is this committee the part of something profound and fundamental or is it something that will be shrugged off and wasted effort? Obviously I really hope the former, but it is kind of analgous to a mall up for sale and the current tenants are planning for a renovation project.

That's a really important question. We're told that the new owner is aware of and supportive of the whole transition process and moving in a more member-centric direction.

And really, this whole (transition plus ongoing) committee process is an attempt to move the site in that direction. The reality is that the transition's going to happen with or without a transition committee -- like, if cortex hadn't opted to bring a group/idea together at this particular moment, cortex would have simply stepped away, the mods and the new owner would have filled in the gap, and things would more or less stay like they are now. And that's an okay option, something that's very near status quo. But maybe things could be better. That's what we're trying to figure out.

A member-focused approach gives us the opportunity to consider/address so many of the changes that people have been suggesting for YEARS here on MeTa. We've all been clamoring for change, so this is a good time to make that happen and consider all options. It could be pretty exciting.
posted by mochapickle at 10:28 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


when is the new owner going to tell us who they are, and what is their vision for the site?

Come with me,
And you'll see
A world of
Tricky moderation

Which is to say I like to imagine ownership transfer is being conducted by the time honored Chocolate Factory method, which may still be at the Taunting Failure Song stage.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:34 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


In that case, I’m glad Violet Pepsi isn’t the new owner.
posted by Monochrome at 10:44 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Pepsi Violet
posted by hippybear at 10:53 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


All great questions and I'm not doing that in the horrible "great question! moving on!" sense, just that it's helpful to gather them up.

When it comes to those kinds of questions, I guess I’m wondering about the perspective of the transition team and everyone involved when it comes to the transition’s mission, more than anything concrete.

A question to both of you, if I may: what kinds of things do you see this transition team realistically achieving in three months?

Again, anything I can say is a personal perspective and I am really, really good at being wrong, just so you know. :)

I fully expect that I will hear something in the next two weeks that will change my mind, and I know from experience that when you're talking in an area like MetaTalk sometimes whatever you say at a point in time is taken as scripture about your views.

So - this honestly is not a flip answer: At the very least we'll be three months further into learning about this run at a new way to include members in the building of the MetaFilter community. We may only learn things not to do. I don't think that will be the case, but it's totally possible.

For the mission I think the best outcome from my perspective today (which might change) there would be four areas I'd like to see progress on. Speed is going to depend so much on who stays involved and how quickly those people learn to communicate, so I can't really predict that so this is an ideal:

1. Have done some information-gathering "under the hood." With the new owner, cortex for as long as he is willing to be a resource, and the mod team.

Let's say this was a llama farm. We might think coming in that the llama farm needs great marketing, and then find out that the llama farm has enough customers but all the llamas are infertile. So then probably we'd want to suggest the next group have some veterinarians or breeders or something.

2. Have looked at a few models of other communities for best-practice-type ideas to put on the table, because although there's not going to be an out-of-the-box solution to things, we can't be the first community to go through this kind of process. Already people have brought some expertise to the table in that way. I see AskMe as a resource for this too.

3. Have created some tools/processes for community engagement, including hopefully a strong suggestion for how to go about the next committee formation whether that's a "next transition team" or whatever.

I'm a fan of iterative processes so I can see a recommendation for a second, more sort of member-driven in selection transition team and/or a way to nominate people to specific working groups that then come up with ways to select people from those groups to be a central organizing thing or whatever. I AM JUST SPITBALLING. Sorry to all-caps that.

Ideally that would include a time frame and some tools for evaluation.

4. I think there's just going to have to be some identification of sort of 6 month to 2 year priorities/goals for the site, but I'm not sure if that will be the role of this committee. Maybe it will just be making a list. Maybe it will be saying we need a revenue/member growth team yesterday and starting that while everything else gets addressed. Again those are off-the-cuff spitball remarks.

Again from my perspective ONLY, one great thing this new model opens up is that you could have volunteers put in charge of say, generating ways to encourage FPPs or ideas to drive new members to the site that would also be empowered do the work.

But this is probably the point that is most shaky at this stage. I just tend to sit in the space between strategy and implementation; it's where I've always worked.

I'm putting this out there because I was asked and I am the kind of person who tries to answer things (duh, see also: AskMe). But one thing I think is really important in this is that I keep open to new information and thoughts and opinions. Normally for me that would involve more being quiet, certainly in person where people could see that I am listening and thinking. But in a text-based medium I get that sometimes it's about text.

Saying "I'm reading and thinking" should hold way more weight but I'm not convinced it actually does.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:59 AM on April 16 [20 favorites]


I just wanted to say, of every single one of you who's reported back that you were at this preliminary meeting to assess involvement in the transition team / steering committee: I feel really good knowing that each of you may be involved in this. That's not to say there aren't a bunch of folks who haven't reported involvement that I also think would do a great job, but those of you who are involved are all exactly the sort of people I had hoped would be.

For what it's worth as one random member of the Metafilter community, I'm personally grateful to each of you just for agreeing to sit down for this first meeting, regardless of whether you end up deciding to stay on. And I hope each of you do.
posted by biogeo at 11:47 AM on April 16 [48 favorites]


> We're not at a constitutional convention stage, we're at the Franklin and Jefferson having drinks at the bar stage.

If Franklin and Jefferson had been chosen by George III.


Oh, come on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:53 PM on April 16 [33 favorites]


To everyone who steps up and joins the steering cabal, my thanks in advance for what will undoubtedly be something you will feel is thankless at some point. I really hope you come up with a communication plan that manages to lay out what you say as a group while giving people the right autonomy to speak their minds, all while keeping the drama to a minimum.

I have zero desire to join this committee — I neither have the fortitude to deal with the conflict to come nor the potential intrusion into my life. As echoed above, though, I hope the cabal is able to listen deeply to voices not just here but beyond the gray wall.
posted by dw at 2:04 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


I think folks above have summed up excellently where things stand with what we are now calling the "transition team". Personally, I believe our most important task - in a very Deep-Thought-from-HHGG kind-of way - is to design our replacement. I hope we can create some sort of structure that will enable a much wider group of MeFites (and non-MeFites?) to participate in site governance, in whatever way works best for them. I love warriorqueen's idea that this is only the first step in an iterative process of helping MetaFilter to move forward.

when is the new owner going to tell us who they are, and what is their vision for the site?

Just to be crystal-clear, at this point the transition team does not know anything about the new owner or the timeframe for that announcement.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:28 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Yeah, and to underscore: the owner, at the moment, is still me. Transferring ownership is still a work in progress and I'll let folks know more when there is more to tell. I'm not trying to be secretive about this for secrecy's sake, I'm just respecting the boundaries of not making something someone else's responsibility before the process has actually been seen through. I can't imagine putting the site in someone's hands who folks wouldn't feel broadly reassured by, and I'll just ask again for patience about the reality of things taking time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:48 PM on April 16 [19 favorites]


cortex in Summer of 2019 we had a site update thread and the finances were not going well and you said something to the effect of “even if we get to the point where it’s just me and a self-hosted server, this place isn’t going down” or something like that. at the time this was very reassuring to me. is there any kind of minimal-operating clause or agreement being worked out with the next owner?
posted by lazaruslong at 12:06 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]


That would be difficult to do in a binding way without some kind of private trust structure; it would certainly complicate the transaction. It would be nice to hear, but I'm not sure deal points are something we can expect to feedback on while negotiation (however friendly) is underway.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:57 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I must have skimmed the relevant announcements, but I didn’t catch on that the new owner(s) had already been chosen. So am I correct that there is already a person or group of persons who has agreed in principal to take over ownership? Just curious, I personally am glad that piece of the puzzle is more or less settled, even if we don’t know who the new owner(s) will be—we never really had any option other than hope for the best, whether that was Matt’s leadership, or Cortex’s.
posted by skewed at 8:43 AM on April 17


is there any kind of minimal-operating clause or agreement being worked out with the next owner?

We're starting from a point of deep sympatico on that, and I've similarly been talking with folks involved in the nascent steering/transition process about that being one of my core priorities in whatever else folks decide to do. Ultimately one of the hard costs of me being able to actually properly step away is letting go of my ability to 100% guarantee anything about anything, but that's part of why I've been really selective about transition steps and about keeping this all well-rooted within the existing MeFi community and folks who I know value the ethos of this place.

So am I correct that there is already a person or group of persons who has agreed in principal to take over ownership?

Right; we're at totally there in principle, still need to actually make things properly legal and finalized in practice. If somehow that latter step were to fall through, I'd regroup and let folks know about that; as is I am wholly expecting to just be able to say "here's what's happening, all went well, commence conversatin' as you see fit" in the near future.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on April 17 [10 favorites]


Heads-up to folks in this thread that a new "Transition Team initial discussion summary and kickoff" MetaTalk post just went up.
posted by brainwane at 2:23 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


« Older 183: Severance, not Succession   |   Metatalktail Hour: Something to Read Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments