[MeFi Site Update] June 22nd June 22, 2022 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Hi there, Metafilter! Happy post-solstice Wednesday! You’ll find some updates regarding the site below. I’m looking forward to your feedback and questions.

- MeFi User Survey

The MetaFilter User Survey has been closed and the Transition Team is going over the results, more details to come. You can stay updated about the team's efforts here.

- Site expenses and Revenue
Jessamyn and I met with the Transition Team last Sunday to go over revenue and expenses. These are the Team’s observations:
- All non-payroll expenses have been reviewed and reduced to a minimum.
- With this and the mod shift changes, we are now receiving more revenue than we are spending it. This is a change from where we were a year ago.
- Given that the site is no longer losing money, we’ll now be focused on rebuilding financial reserves (which are currently comparatively low). This will help us with unforeseen circumstances as well as with annual expenses like taxes.
- In 2021, ad and affiliate revenue comprised ~20% of total revenue; in the first four months of 2022, it comprised ~13% of total revenue. In other words, ad/affiliate revenue has dropped by one third (this holds true on a pure year-on-year basis, too). Even if ad/affiliate revenue were to drop to zero, however, it would not pose an existential threat to the site.
- Member contributions have been mostly consistent year-over-year for 2022 and 2021 so, it is not an understatement to say that MetaFilter exists thanks to you, the community.
- If you are interested in funding MetaFilter or funding specific projects, you may do so here.

- Signup flow, Site changes.
Frimble is continuing the work with the flagging UI/UX and Automatic emails are now being rerouted to me instead of cortex. Frimble is also working on some tools I want to test and potentially share with the BIPOC Board.

- Marketing efforts.
Jessamyn and I met with one of the members with a deep background and understanding in startups and marketing and would like to propose them to the Transition Team as a potential member of the Steering Committee.

- BIPOC Advisory Board
Thyme is waiting for the Board’s approval of the meeting minute. Once approved, we’ll post it on the site. Also, if you're interested in joining the BIPOC Advisory Board please remember to fill out this form.


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 8:54 AM (53 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Thanks for the update -- sounds like great progress!

All non-payroll expenses have been reviewed and reduced to a minimum.

While this is good business news, is it sustainable to run bare-bones like this for long, or just a temporary measure?

(I work in higher ed, and of lot of belt-tightening that we thought would be short-term just...never ended. There are some things that I wish we could get back now, you know?)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:09 AM on June 22 [6 favorites]


Can you let us know why the site was down for a few hours yesterday? (I'm just curious; I don't know how websites work.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:59 AM on June 22 [14 favorites]


Was it the Cloudflare outage?
posted by zamboni at 10:11 AM on June 22 [4 favorites]


This is a great update - the positive cash flow is wonderful news.

You say that ad and affiliate revenue comprises 13% of total revenue, and you also talk about member contributions. Are those the only two categories of income, or are there others? (Just curious.)

Thanks so much for the informative update, loup - I appreciate it!
posted by kristi at 10:14 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


It would be great to update the FAQ about who the moderators are. There's obviously been a lot of transition lately, and I get the impression that some folks who've left fill in from time to time and still have the STAFF tag on their profile more for that reason than anything else. But because of all the upheaval, it would be helpful to know who actually are the butts in the seats these days.
posted by rikschell at 11:13 AM on June 22 [11 favorites]


With this and the mod shift changes, we are now receiving more revenue than we are spending it. This is a change from where we were a year ago.

Time for some celebratory merch!
posted by Going To Maine at 11:25 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]


Bring on the NFTs!



(That's a joke. Please don't bring on the NFTs.)
posted by box at 11:37 AM on June 22 [14 favorites]


Really appreciate the detailed update, loup. Thank you!
posted by mochapickle at 11:58 AM on June 22 [3 favorites]


We need Non-FuckedUp-Tokens, as a proof of *not* wasting work on nonsense and carbon emissions. Sadly the administrative costs would probably eat up all the profits.

Cheers, Loup. This is all good to hear.
posted by eotvos at 12:03 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Was it the Cloudflare outage?

Probably not. Metafilter's public IP address lives somewhere in Amazon EC2 land. Sites behind Cloudflare have public IP addresses that belong to Cloudflare. It doesn't particularly make sense to have Cloudflare IP addresses *behind* other hosts.

hanov3rs-2015-MBP:~ romer$ host www.metafilter.com
www.metafilter.com is an alias for metafilter.com.
metafilter.com has address 54.244.168.112

hanov3rs-2015-MBP:~ romer$ whois 54.244.168.112
[snip]
OrgTechHandle: ANO24-ARIN
OrgTechName: Amazon EC2 Network Operations
OrgTechPhone: +1-206-266-4064
OrgTechEmail: amzn-noc-contact@amazon.com
OrgTechRef: https://rdap.arin.net/registry/entity/ANO24-ARIN

hanov3rs-2015-MBP:~ romer$ host www.thesfmarathon.com
www.thesfmarathon.com has address 104.21.80.148
www.thesfmarathon.com has address 172.67.186.20

hanov3rs-2015-MBP:~ romer$ whois 172.67.186.20
NetRange: 172.64.0.0 - 172.71.255.255
CIDR: 172.64.0.0/13
NetName: CLOUDFLARENET

hanov3rs-2015-MBP:~ romer$ whois 104.21.80.148
NetRange: 104.16.0.0 - 104.31.255.255
CIDR: 104.16.0.0/12
NetName: CLOUDFLARENET

posted by hanov3r at 12:08 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


I guessed Cloudflare from recent looking at MetaFilter HTML and noticing all of the cloudflare references... but I don't know much about that particular web scale thing. It was co-incident with me getting timeouts, checking status.metafilter.com and it saying things were working and then shortly reading HN and seeing the clouflare outage. So I'm a bit maybe? without hearing otherwise.

Automatic emails are now being rerouted to me instead of cortex

You should create a 'MetaFilter Automatic Daemon" account for this, send automated messages from there, have replies if any go to a mailing list of sorts that the mods see. I'm the the person in an enterprise who sends 60% of those automated messages, you don't want it going to a real person's account. It was confusing getting memail from cortex about post success.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:28 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


looking at MetaFilter HTML and noticing all of the cloudflare references

Checking source, a lot of the assets are currently on CloudFront, Amazon's CDN, not Cloudflare.
posted by zamboni at 1:04 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]

It was confusing getting memail from cortex about post success.
Wait, those messages aren't hand written by cortex? I feel so deceived. (I'm kidding. But, that does seem like a good idea.)
posted by eotvos at 1:12 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


Can you let us know why the site was down for a few hours yesterday?

MeFi’s been intermittently down for me over the past few days. I’ll get a “server not responding” or “cannot connect to server” error one minute, then be able to hit the site just fine a minute later. It’ll do this randomly over the course of the day.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:52 PM on June 22 [26 favorites]


I just got another server error thingy. And obviously mixed up cloudfront with cloudflare, honestly I didn't pay that much attention beyond noticing "not metafilter.com" URLs and things. So back to just co-incidence on that.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:07 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


is it sustainable to run bare-bones like this for long, or just a temporary measure?

What we had before was unsustainable. What we have now is sustainable, if imperfect, and can help us weather additional ad revenue dips in the short term. One of the remits of the Steering Committee will be looking at these numbers and saying "Wellp, what needs to happen?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:35 PM on June 22 [25 favorites]


It would be great to update the FAQ about who the moderators are.

This is now done.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:40 PM on June 22 [15 favorites]


I’ve also been getting multiple server errors for the site for the past 24 hours or so.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:43 PM on June 22 [14 favorites]


Just had the server error thing now. None of the mefi sites would load for a couple of minutes.
posted by primethyme at 5:22 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the site has been really flakey for me the past couple of days. One second it's up, the next it's not.

In the past I might have tagged Cortex on Twitter. Is there a preferred path now or should we just assume someone, somewhere is being alerted?
posted by bondcliff at 5:23 PM on June 22 [6 favorites]


Is there a reason status.metafilter.com isn’t picking up on these outages? It’ll tell me everything’s working fine at the exact same time as I’m getting “cannot reach server” errors for the main site.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:45 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


Is there a preferred path now or should we just assume someone, somewhere is being alerted?

I'm not sure. This is the first time it's happened. loup is asking frimble and will update here when there is news.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:50 PM on June 22 [4 favorites]


FWIW, I sent a message about the server problem yesterday, using the contact form.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:08 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


I'd expect emailing the mods to work even if the site's down - admin@mefi.us , I think. I don't think this is documented, but I'm using Contact Form replies as a reference.

(Feel free to delete this comment if it's not meant for public consumption.)
posted by Pronoiac at 6:26 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


I have been having trouble for a couple of days but didn't report it because I don't want to be a bother and I figured people already knew.
posted by primethyme at 6:44 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


One of the remits of the Steering Committee will be looking at these numbers and saying "Wellp, what needs to happen?"

*Takes notes*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:49 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


In my unofficial capacity (agreed about the staff tag updates, I know it's on The List) as someone who can nonetheless glance in at the slack, yeah, it sounds like it's a weird cascading failure thing frimble's still trying to sort out the actual root cause of and has made a few attempts to try and resolve with no dice so far. Whatever's happening is intermittent enough that it sounds like testing is trickier than if things were just falling over abruptly.

I gather that the reason it's up and down intermittently is probably the same reason the status page isn't reporting the site down: it's not actually DOWN down, it's just grinding to a very slow (as in "browser gives up and says its not loading") crawl because of a resource logjam somewhere. Vexing. Seems like it's resolving itself at least some of the time, for a while: I know it's been down and back up in the last while, and with frimble on Austria time that probably wasn't them actively rebooting the server.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:59 PM on June 22 [12 favorites]




Not immediately. Definitely not immediately. But at some pont in the not too distant future, it would be very beneficial to get some idea what jessamyn and the Transition Team think about these two trends. And, I do mean think--not act yet. Nobody around here needs a reflexive reaction, but how do these two facts open up how to coneive of MetaFilter now, and what questions do they bring up? (Of course, I will now chime in with a few passing thoughts.)

In 2021, ad and affiliate revenue comprised ~20% of total revenue; in the first four months of 2022, it comprised ~13% of total revenue. In other words, ad/affiliate revenue has dropped by one third (this holds true on a pure year-on-year basis, too). Even if ad/affiliate revenue were to drop to zero, however, it would not pose an existential threat to the site.

Good to know. Not an exitential threat is a very good thing. Not being beholden to the advertisers means freedom. MetaFilter has options. Lots of them. We can do things how we prefer; not how the market prefers we do them.
What does that mean for where we go next?

- Member contributions have been mostly consistent year-over-year for 2022 and 2021 so, it is not an understatement to say that MetaFilter exists thanks to you, the community.

A consistent base is also good. It is all "thanks to .. the community." Seeing this spelled out so clearly and directly is great, too. If it's all community, how is that reflected in our day to day and our future? I think it can become seen in some really positive steps forward.

Thanks to loup, jessamyn, and the TT.
posted by Gotanda at 11:14 PM on June 22 [5 favorites]


Bring on the NFTs!

Merch:

MetaFilter launched an NFT and all I got was this lousy T-shirt
posted by chavenet at 4:41 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Related to site marketing: I noticed that Google is not indexing all of AskMe. Is this a known thing? Do we tell Google to only index the above-the-fold portion of questions?

One example is that searching for "paper airplanes" site:ask.metafilter.com does not return The Stupidest Miracle.

(When I checked this previously, it also didn't return that page when searching for "airplane". I haven't taken the time to reverify that, but I'm pretty sure the problem isn't the two-word search term.)
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:54 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


If you search for paper airplane miracle site:ask.metafilter.com it's right there, so it definitely is indexed. I think it doesn't come up in your search because the thread isn't particularly about paper airplanes.
posted by secretseasons at 6:26 AM on June 23


Amazing. It's 2022 and I'm still learning how Google works (and doesn't work).
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:41 AM on June 23


One second it's up, the next it's not.

Worst Project Runway remake ever
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:55 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


But where’s the meta-potato discussion.
posted by bixfrankonis at 10:12 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Um, I have a dumb question: is it Potato Week or Month or something?
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:28 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]


It's Debate Week: Po-TAY-to vs Po-TA-to
posted by Roger Pittman at 10:30 AM on June 23


MetaFilter: It's Debate Week
posted by zengargoyle at 10:46 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]





Um, I have a dumb question: is it Potato Week or Month or something?


it is now

and always

and never

i am become spud destroyer of waistlines

moshka says return to the sauce - fry sauce
posted by lalochezia at 11:15 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]




But where’s the meta-potato discussion.

I never meta-potato I didn't like awakawaka
posted by aws17576 at 11:29 AM on June 23 [6 favorites]


The "Find a Show, Movie, Book, or Podcast" search field seems to be broken at the moment. I assumed that was related to the outages, but maybe it's something else?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:31 AM on June 23


i blame potatoes
posted by lalochezia at 11:38 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


Sweet. About half right in the up/down cascade of imagined failure modes.

Potatoes are best french fried and covered in chili and cheese and onions. Home - Original Tommys. Hate yourself half-way through, regret it the next day, a week later.... Gosh! I could go for a Tommy's run and a chili cheeseburger (double) and chili cheese fries with onions. Om Nom Nom.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:40 AM on June 23


I should start filling in a map of the US and the world with every place I’ve had potato.
posted by michaelh at 11:44 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Someone should do an FPP on potato recipes from around the world.
posted by Roger Pittman at 11:54 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


Nothing against potatoes, but it's a noisy derail here, isn't it?
posted by Pronoiac at 12:08 PM on June 23 [6 favorites]


Nothing against potatoes, but it's a noisy derail here, isn't it?

Wow, someone is all hot and peppery, acting salty and what not. Hope you get some buttering up to get rid of that sourness.

Also: dill
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:38 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]




Thanks for the update.

Uhm - unrelated but under the content Moderation Policy text I think a word is currently missing?

Currently reads:

Stalking/harassment: Any unwanted and obsessive attention or otherwise creepy behavior making other members or staff. This includes contacting someone after they have said they do not want to be contacted by you.

I think perhaps the word uncomfortable (or similar) is missing so it should read :

Stalking/harassment: Any unwanted and obsessive attention or otherwise creepy behavior making other members or staff uncomfortable. This includes contacting someone after they have said they do not want to be contacted by you.

I didn't know if I should email a mod over something so (perhaps?) trivial?
posted by Faintdreams at 4:35 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]


Email or send a contact form request! I did for a typo yesterday and if was quickly and kindly fixed. A site rules typo is important enough I'm certain.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:47 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]


'J-Run Potatoes' would make a cool band name.
posted by clavdivs at 3:35 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]


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