Transition Team Post #1 April 26, 2022 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Hello everyone, Hey! This is the transition team - this is our first official communication with you, and we're sharing an update to let you know how we’re getting started.

On April 24, we had our first meeting as an independent group without the mods. We’re moving together on a consensus-based model, have gathered on a Slack, and we plan to continue having some synchronous meetings, but also to move the work forward asynchronously. The transition team currently includes: adrianhon, Brandon Blatcher, curious nu, iamkimiam, Rock Steady, sciatrix, suedehead, and warriorqueen.

Our first task is to more clearly define how the transition team, and, in time, the upcoming steering committee, can most effectively help address Metafilter’s most critical needs. So, our next step is to focus on information-gathering and listening to our community members.

We will be doing three things in the very near future:

- Gathering operational information from cortex. We will be asking him for some specifics about how the site currently operates, about the site’s financial picture, and about any items that need to be addressed in the short term.

- Talking with the moderators individually. We are going to ask the mods individually about their roles, the needs of the organization, and the kinds of support they need.

- Surveying the users of MetaFilter. We are building a survey so that all of the members can provide feedback about how we use the site, how we’d like the site to grow and develop, and what our visions are for the site.

We’re taking some time to put together the surveys, and we hope to be sharing the member survey with everyone sometime in the next two weeks or so. Please be patient with us if that turns out to be a little longer!

As we’ve mentioned in previous MetaTalk posts about the transition, the Transition Team is committed to hearing what you have to say. While you should always feel free to reach out to us in whatever manner makes sense for you, we’d like to ask that this post not turn into a kitchen sink of feedback, so would ask that everyone save their best suggestions for the survey and future posts, to help us keep organized.

For the moment, we’re focused on getting started and defining the next team, rather than soliciting new transition team members, for the sake of efficiency and consistency. There will be many opportunities for user participation in the future, in lots of different ways. If you have strong feelings about this, or tools & expertise to share & collaborate with, please let us know! You can email metafiltertransitionteam@gmail.com, or contact any of the individual members of the team.

In the end, we want Metafilter to keep growing as a vibrant place for sharing and posting interesting links from around the internet. Thanks for listening, we’ll be back in 3-4 weeks with further updates.
posted by warriorqueen to MetaFilter-Related at 8:09 AM (67 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite

Also! This post was collectively written/edited by adrianhon, Brandon Blatcher, curious nu, Rock Steady, sciatrix, suedehead, and warriorqueen. We will try to keep an eye on this thread to answer any questions that come up, but please be patient. Thanks!
posted by warriorqueen at 8:09 AM on April 26 [11 favorites]


[Leslie Nielsen "We're all counting on you" gif]
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:49 AM on April 26 [26 favorites]


I am hopeful for the future of MetaFilter. Thank you for working on this!
posted by Jpfed at 8:55 AM on April 26 [9 favorites]


This sounds like a great start - thank you for doing the work, and keeping us updated.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 9:14 AM on April 26 [5 favorites]


Thank you for this!
posted by kimberussell at 9:17 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


We're rooting for you!

aka thank you to each of you for taking on this (hard) work.
posted by vers at 9:25 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


I’ve got a good feeling about this and am eagerly awaiting the survey!
posted by Namlit at 9:26 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Thanks, Transition Team! I appreciate you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:34 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Thanks for doing this work. How will the team share the member survey with everyone?
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:42 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Thanks for doing this work. How will the team share the member survey with everyone?

It hasn't been specifically discussed. Speaking only for myself at this point, I would imagine the results would be completely shared.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:54 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Great question Iris Gambol!

This is a personal answer and I am not committing the team to it, but we have discussed:

- some questions will be structured so that information can be shared in aggregate (like multiple choice/ranking/etc. questions). These might be about site use or pain points, or preferred ways of selecting future steering council members or whatever. (Again, this is not a final say. We're very early in this.)

- some questions may be text questions for transition team and possibly future team eyes only. (An off the cuff example might be 'is there anything that keeps you from recommending MetaFilter')

- CLEARLY delineated questions with text box answers might be shared like "put in your favourite tag line for the site" or "what do you love most that you are willing to share with the world"

Privacy is very important to this team, and we are committed to that, so if anything would be shared globally other than in aggregate numbers (like 15% of people do x) we would make that crystal clear.

Our main goal is to try to engage people across all the parts of MetaFilter to help us know what help we need to ask for for the next team and hopefully make some informed recommendations. We won't get it right in one go, and I expect there will be a lot of iterative consultation - like some broad questions and then a round of more specific ones. We're trying to understand the site as is right now.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:56 AM on April 26 [4 favorites]


Well there you go, something for discussion. :) But I guarantee it will be clear before anyone answers anything!
posted by warriorqueen at 9:57 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


Thank you - each of you - so much for this post, and for doing this work!
posted by kristi at 10:08 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, let me re-phrase -- how will you survey the members, before sharing those results? Posting a link to a survey in this area of the site will be seen by a core group who check MetaTalk; not every member has MeMail turned on; banners aren't always noticed on the Blue; some members just aren't as active as they used to be and may miss alerts; and so on.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:16 AM on April 26 [6 favorites]


Thank you T-Team! I’m looking forward to the survey and its text boxes.
posted by bendy at 11:19 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


I love that you're going to do a survey. It makes me wonder if, in addition to placement of an announcement at the top of the site, a post on MetaTalk, and/or a note on the homepage sidebar, there might be a way to use MeFi Mail to contact folks to garner participation. I have nooo idea whether that has ever been discussed before, but I feel like most sites I'm on that have membership and messaging capability use some form of mass communication to users via messaging or email for major site updates or calls for feedback. So that's something to consider—there may very well be past decisions about this kind of messaging to folks or the moderation burden that poses, though, that make the cost of doing so prohibitive, so no worries if that's the case! I suppose you could also send it to folks who are already invested in the site enough to subscribe to the This Is Just to Say email newsletter. You want a good sample size, and one that's intersectional, so how you solicit feedback, now and in the future, is no doubt a thing you all are exploring! I just know from professional experience that if you're trying to get folks to respond to a survey about a website, email/messaging is often one of the best ways to increase the response rate.
posted by limeonaire at 11:30 AM on April 26 [7 favorites]


Personal response: We'll do our best to reach as many people as possible, and it's a great thing to hear from you all too.

Something that would be up for discussion would be contacting members via MeMail (anyone who has opted in) but I would want to check with both what the contact policy is and historically has been because as I said, following our privacy etc. policies has already been identified by the team unanimously as something important to preserve.

Agreed though that we want to be creative and get feedback from as wide a range of people as possible in the time we have. If it can't be perfect, and it can't, we'll identify areas we want to work on or recommend that the next team work on. This is not to my mind an all-or-nothing situation, although it is a very important point in the site's history.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:35 AM on April 26 [7 favorites]


Thank you, Team, for taking this on.
posted by jaruwaan at 11:45 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the update, team! I'd like to endorse limeonaire's suggestion to reach out by MeMail if that's feasible.

I also want to offer my service to the transition team if any additional assistance is required for survey design and/or statistical analysis of survey or other data sources. I know there is expertise within the team on these topics, but if any additional distribution of labor is needed, I'm willing to help out with non-decision-making input.
posted by biogeo at 12:35 PM on April 26 [7 favorites]


*DJ Khaled "I appreciate you" GIF*
posted by praemunire at 1:12 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


This is all most excellent. Seeing these initial baby steps towards the users / the community being brought into site governance and work makes me very optimistic, it has been a long time coming!
posted by Meatbomb at 1:43 PM on April 26 [3 favorites]


For personal reasons I've been and am hoping to continue to be spending less time online and definitely on the gray, but I wanted to say that all these developments feel good, and I really have high hopes for what this team can accomplish.

One thing I've been wondering about is whether there's any chance of people keeping some kind of record (maybe on the wiki?) of the major changes that have been/are happening, so that people who aren't closely following the gray can check in however much time later and know more or less what's changed. For someone who hasn't spent a lot of time following these discussions over the past few years, I'd imagine these changes could feel mystifying and confusing -- or unwarranted -- and one of the reasons I'd been reluctant to step away from MetaTalk for a long time is not wanting to be totally out of the loop. (That said, I know that maintaining even a loose Annals of Metafilter would take spare time and energy that might not exist.)

Anyway, good luck! We're all counting on you! :-)
posted by trig at 1:51 PM on April 26 [10 favorites]


Thank you all for your commitment.
You might want to consider canvassing those who have buttoned as to why they haven't returned. Also
I doubt that inactive accounts will read memail so you should consider those as well.
Everyone who signs up had to give a working email.
posted by adamvasco at 7:53 PM on April 26 [11 favorites]


In the end, we want Metafilter to keep growing as a vibrant place

So let me get this straight... the website ... it vibrants?
posted by aubilenon at 7:56 PM on April 26 [17 favorites]


> One thing I've been wondering about is whether there's any chance of people keeping some kind of record (maybe on the wiki?) of the major changes that have been/are happening, so that people who aren't closely following the gray can check in however much time later and know more or less what's changed.

The wiki has a Timeline page, is that close to what you had in mind?
posted by Pronoiac at 8:51 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


I think a simple page that was kept updated with the latest news (as opposed to ongoing discussion threads) would be extremely helpful for folks not following things closely. Like literally just

METAFILTER BUSINESS STRUCTURE IN TRANSITION

[graf about cortex moving on and what that means]

CURRENT PLAN

[graf about the current status, graf about where we're headed]

LATEST NEWS

[bulleted list of steps taken and upcoming steps]
posted by gwint at 9:07 PM on April 26 [8 favorites]


METAFILTER: it vibrants
posted by philip-random at 9:59 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


A good start, good luck!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:05 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Looks like folks with constructive attitudes are rolling up their sleeves. That's so awesome! Your good faith is very reassuring.

And of course: good luck! We're all counting on you!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:22 AM on April 27 [3 favorites]


The survey is an excellent idea, and I encourage you to think hard about what the goal is, as this will impact its design and outreach. Here are a few examples:

(1) The survey might be purely idea-generating - a way to solicit and consolidate ideas and opinions on the future of the site. In this case, you can ask open-ended questions and you don't need it to be representative of the user base as a whole or any particular demographic (though representativeness would be a plus).

(2) The survey might take a stab at answering specific questions - for example, why have users buttoned? what has attracted new users to the site? what might get users to contribute money to support the site? In this case, you need to try to target specific groups with specific questions, and will have make sure you are getting enough responses from the respondents you want to get responses from.

(3) The survey might be trying to take the temperature of the userbase as a whole. While MeTa has a long history of robust engagement on the future of the site, it is by nature dominated by the most engaged and most vocal MeFites, and may or may not accurately represent what the userbase as a whole thinks. In particular, MeTa probably undersamples low-frequency users, and users who stick exclusively to one of the subsites. A broader survey could help leadership gauge what is and is not working for the large group of users who don't participate in MeTa. In this case, you probably want some specific questions (e.g. "what is the thing you like most/least about Metafilter?") and some open-ended ones, and you need to ensure that your survey is as broadly representative as possible - which is no easy task.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully can serve as food for thought when you design and publicize the survey. Thinking these things through on the front end can help ensure that the survey generates useful data that fit your goals.
posted by googly at 6:28 AM on April 27 [18 favorites]


Just commenting that I am reading along and appreciating all the thoughts, and I'm sure everyone else is too.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:59 AM on April 27 [7 favorites]


Yep, I'm reading along too and just listening. No doubt others are too!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 AM on April 27 [5 favorites]


I very much agree with Googly that understanding the purpose for your survey is essential. If you know what you are going to do with the data from your survey, you can design it to produce the kind of data you need. If you don't know what you're going to do, the questions and responses may not map to anything usable or actionable, and you're left with a mishmosh of data that doesn't inform progress.

My opinion is that the best use of a survey at this stage would be to gather and sort information for a SWOT or SOAR analysis that can generate data for the transition team to analyze, and then hand off as a report or set of findings to New Owner and/or Steering/Advisory/What-have-you Committee. That would save the new team the time required to assemble and organize data, and surface patterns they can get right to work on.
posted by Miko at 9:06 AM on April 27 [15 favorites]


one more who is reading along and listening. Great start, y'all!
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 10:14 AM on April 27 [2 favorites]


Thanks for everything you're doing, transition team. A survey is a great place to start.
Just want to throw out there bc it hasn't been mentioned that another venue that is available for reaching the larger mefi population is the new concept of open threads on the blue.
posted by bleep at 10:20 AM on April 27 [6 favorites]


so would ask that everyone save their best suggestions for the survey and future posts, to help us keep organized.
Oops! Sorry!
posted by bleep at 10:37 AM on April 27 [2 favorites]


bleep your suggestion is for the survey itself, a meta-suggestion prior to the collection of suggestions, so I am going to rule that as no harm no foul.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:57 AM on April 27 [4 favorites]


bleep, I will link to this suggestion in the future posts, thereby incorporating your suggestion into the proper timeline by reference. This will also lock us all into an infinite time loop, which may or may not turn out to be a good thing.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:23 AM on April 27 [6 favorites]


Thanks transition team!
posted by ellieBOA at 11:24 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]


This will also lock us all into an infinite time loop, which may or may not turn out to be a good thing.
Oops! Sorry!
posted by bleep at 12:46 PM on April 27 [8 favorites]


Thanks everyone, this thread has been great.

googly: Thinking these things through on the front end can help ensure that the survey generates useful data that fit your goals.

Absolutely. The bulk of our discussion so far has been about what types of things we want to learn. Very good points.

Miko: My opinion is that the best use of a survey at this stage would be to gather and sort information for a SWOT or SOAR analysis that can generate data for the transition team to analyze, and then hand off as a report or set of findings to New Owner and/or Steering/Advisory/What-have-you Committee.

I completely agree. I think having some sort of "picture" to hand off to the next phase is one of the big things we need to accomplish.

gwint: I think a simple page that was kept updated with the latest news (as opposed to ongoing discussion threads) would be extremely helpful for folks not following things closely.

That is a really interesting idea (and it is a "meta-idea" so no risk of time loops) that we haven't considered, but I'll suggest we consider it.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:52 PM on April 27 [5 favorites]


Best of luck to the team and everyone!
posted by JHarris at 2:10 PM on April 27 [1 favorite]


Yay Transition Team! This is all very exciting and the energy of the team and everyone commenting is so positive! I look forward to the survey in whatever form it takes!

Such great work! Best of luck!
posted by danabanana at 4:35 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


This just to say
I have read the update and
Y’all are awesome.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:27 PM on April 28


Plums are cool;
Transition team also.
posted by Marticus at 3:05 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Right off a pony request: I think we should all take up a collection and buy an actual living pony as a going away present for cortex.
posted by sammyo at 4:02 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


Thanks for everything you're doing, transition team.

I had no idea about these changes as my brain had ignored the banner on the top of the site and i just happened to do my annual "lets see whats on metatalk" perusal. Glad i did!
posted by escher at 8:59 AM on April 29


Another data point: some users only log in if they have something to say, and otherwise read/lurk as guest. Currently, non-logged-in users only see the "hey come talk with us" new-user sign-up link banner - the one about the Transition Team only appears once you are logged in. I only saw this post by skimming the gray, which I don't do often - especially after a recent pile-on incident that took place here; I'm only even looking at the site *at all* again after being informed by others that some of the users who were attacked and buttoned as a result (and had people gloating over their success in running dissenters off) have now returned.
posted by CyberSlug Labs at 12:08 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


That's really good information escher and CyberSlug Labs, thank you. We are definitely exploring ways to engage people through as broad as means as possible, both in this initial phase and going forward.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:15 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


I’ll be interested in seeing the survey. It sounds like you’re thinking of multiple ways of contacting folks to let them know about it, which is great. I don’t read my MefiMail (although maybe it pings my real email, which I do read) so using that plus a banner notification would be better than just MefiMail.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:22 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Lemme know if I can help
posted by klangklangston at 5:58 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]


Hello everyone, here is an update on what the Transition Team has been up to since this MeTa was created about two weeks ago.

The Transition Team has created its own Slack. In addition the current team members were all invited to be a special channel on the official Metafilter Slack. That way the Transition Team can work on its own and have a way of communicating quickly with the mod team.

******
Several members of the Transition team met over Zoom on Sunday, May 8th; in attendance were curious nu, iamkimiam, adrianhon, sciatrix, and Brandon Blatcher. Here are updates from the meeting, based on the previously stated tasks:

- Gathering operational information from cortex
We formulated a few questions and posted them to the official Metafilter Slack and hope to hear back from cortex sometime during the week of May 9th.

- Talking with the moderators individually
We posed a few questions to the moderators about the site and how they work; we are continuing to gather answers. We are currently keeping those answers private so the mods feel free to speak their mind.

- Surveying the users of MetaFilter
This was the main focus of the meeting and it was very interesting! We aimed to define our goals for this first user survey and discussed ideas for its form and scope, including various research methods to help us shape the questions further. There was a lot of good discussion, resulting in us agreeing to a short, focused, and easy to fill-out set of questions.

We defined the primary purpose of this first survey as such: gathering information from the community to help us understand how you all are currently using the site and how you hope to use it in the future, with a new owner and structure that involves more input from the user base.

With that goal in mind, here’s our timeline for what happens next:

May 15th: Finalize the questions for the survey
May 15th-18th: Build the survey
May 18th-22nd: Invite five MeFites to user test the survey
Tentative: Sometime between May 23rd-28th, release the survey to the MetaFilter community

We’ll aim to let it run for a week. We’ll analyze the data and then release our findings sometime around mid-June.

The dates above should all be considered tentative. No doubt snafus or issues may come up, which could shift timings around.

Please keep in mind we’re a Transition Team, with a Steering Committee (official name TBD) to follow. The latter will be a permanent presence that works with the new owner and mod team.

In closing, we just want to say we realize things may not be moving as fast as some may like or that we’re working on areas others may not agree with. We recognize this is different from how the site has previously operated. As such, things may be a bit bumpy as we continue transitioning to a new, not currently defined structure, and we ask that folks be patient and understanding as we navigate the bumps. Please be constructive in any criticism!

We also want to reiterate that we are not moderators and have no direct access to the backend of the site, nor are we responsible for any sort of moderation. We’re volunteers who do love the site and want to help it continue. We’re striving for transparency, openness, and honesty while doing this and we hope this will inspire everyone to do the same.

Thanks for reading!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:34 AM on May 12 [34 favorites]


Thanks Brandon! If you could make these updates their own posts I doubt anyone would object and it would help raise visibility.

Thanks for sharing dates of when things happen and when things are expected to take place. It helps level set expectations. Through Metafilter I've seen how difficult it is to communicate a decision making process to a larger group that has different priorities and expectations. It oddly, has made me better at my job I think. I often deal with people that have different and oftentimes conflicting agendas.
posted by geoff. at 3:55 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


Just reiterating and above comment and am interested how that survey is going to work and whether its distribution will be designed to include all the people who no longer come here, you know. Because if it's just something that pops up when you visit metafilter.com and captures continuing active users, I reckon your results may be less than useful.
posted by Jimbob at 5:29 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Honestly we haven't talked a lot about the distribution of the survey, but if folks have suggestions about where to post a link to the survey when its up, we can make a list.

Thinking off the top of my head right now and not consulting with anyone, I think it would be good to make said list and hopefully members of the community can make sure people in those places are aware of the survey and encourage them to participate.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:09 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


It would be great to have that survey go out to people who are not on site every single week. A single week doesn’t allow very long. In marketing, you usually have a month time frame because it’s hard to get people to respond to surveys. So wherever it is you need to push the message of “do this right now it is very urgent and will not be around.” And for it to be helpful in terms of assessing the actual site membership instead of the people who are very hooked in, that message needs to go out on Twitter and reddit and Facebook and wherever else metafilter has official or unofficial presence. Ideally, it would go out to memail so everyone who gets an email notification when they receive a memail is notified.

But - at least it should have a dedicated post on the blue since there’s now a weekly chatfilter post. It should have a post on the green, too. There are a lot of people who ONLY interact over there. (And I don’t believe the sidebar shows there, so it would have to be a post.)

Seriously with a week timeframe it needs to be in an excessive number of places once a day for all of the days it is open. Even if that’s not the way metafilter does things. Because otherwise you’ll miss a huge number of mefites.
posted by Bottlecap at 6:34 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


This is probably patently obvious, but breaking the survey out into groups such as "currently active members" "inactive members" "people who have buttoned" would be important. I'm sure opinions on this will vary, but I would be inclined to weight the survey responses of currently active members more heavily.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 6:39 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Thank you for your work on this; it means a lot.
posted by honest knave at 7:41 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Speaking for myself as well, we definitely can look at other ways to distribute the survey. However, I also want to say that that’s something that can also explored by future committees and future surveys (or other ways of investigating, be that through a market research lens or a user experience lens, or other modalities.) I think it would be a big mistake to treat this as a “one-and-done.”
posted by warriorqueen at 12:30 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


If you specifically want to hear from disaffected ex-mefites, I would suggest posting it on r/Metafilter.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:45 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Thank you for everything you are doing, it is a huge service to the community.
posted by rpfields at 8:34 AM on May 13


If you specifically want to hear from disaffected ex-mefites, I would suggest posting it on r/Metafilter.

They already said they were sending it to current users
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:13 AM on May 13


Agree with others who have suggested the survey timeframe should be a month rather than a week. Even frequent users might skip a week (esp. in the Summer) or not have time within the span of a week to thoughtfully respond to a survey.
posted by gwint at 8:16 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


If you specifically want to hear from disaffected ex-mefites, I would suggest posting it on r/Metafilter.

They already said they were sending it to current users


pretty sure there are plenty of those at r/Metafilter anyway, so they'll know all about it.

And as for timreframe -- though I'm sure some important voices might get missed working a one week timeframe, I question whether it would really end up making that much difference. Is there really one single voice (or cluster of voices) that matters that much around here? Not counting a few that I'm sure are already well within the loop.

Nothing wrong with making it a month ... unless that messes with other concerns.
posted by philip-random at 9:33 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


pretty sure there are plenty of those at r/Metafilter anyway, so they'll know all about it.

ha, yeah, that was my probably-too-subtle joke.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:08 AM on May 14


Thanks for the suggestions about lengthening how long this first survey will be open, will be discussing that in the next meeting! Which will most likely be Sunday the 15th.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:28 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


A month is probably needlessly long, but 2-3 weeks would make sense. It would suck if the whole thing came and went on a vacation week, for instance. Or during a medical crisis. It's just a moment to think about being inclusive.
posted by Miko at 5:51 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


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