Metafilter Wants You - The Fundraising Post! October 24, 2022 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Metafilter depends almost entirely on user contributions. The community needs your help to stay up and running and to improve in the future. Contributions, especially recurring contributions, are what pay for servers, moderators and technical support. Please contribute through the Metafilter funding page!

Usually, there is an annual fundraiser in August, but this year it was delayed because of all the changes to site ownership and operations.

As your new Steering Committee, we are working on things that will be fun for the community AND help to generate some income for Metafilter. We’re planning fun opportunities for community members to sponsor posts – expect to hear more about that in the next couple of days. We’re arranging interesting events and updating merch options, but in the meantime, there are bills to be paid. So we are starting with this post in which we are just going to ask you to give Metafilter money.

The plain fact is, the site can’t exist without your generosity.

Our ask

Most of the contributions to the site come through recurring contributions. In a fairly predictable pattern, the level of recurring payments drops throughout the year. Some Mefites have reasons for ending their contributions, but often, recurring payments lapse without them even realizing it. If you believe you are making a recurring contribution to Metafilter, please take a moment to check if it’s still active in your Paypal or Stripe account.

And, if you can, please consider increasing your contribution. If you read the financial information below, you’ll see that the site is definitely going to need more money.

The financial situation

The Steering Committee is working on moving Metafilter toward well-managed business operations and part of that is getting a clear picture of the current financial situation. We intend to release a more detailed financial update soon, but until then here is the big picture.

Metafilter has been operating within a financially unsustainable model. Year after year, the site has continued to struggle financially. In the past 18 months, Metafilter has spent $57k more than it has taken in. Each month saw expenses exceed revenue. The previous admin team made efforts to reduce expenses through staffing cuts, but these reductions, while helpful, have not been enough to stabilize the site financially. Month after month, the site's cash reserves were siphoned to make up the shortfall - using a solution that should have been short term, in an attempt to address a chronic long-term problem. There is no longer enough money in Metafilter’s savings to cover these ongoing shortfalls.

What now?

The Steering Committee is beginning work on ideas to diversify and build new revenue streams, implement proper budgeting and accounting, develop business strategy, and stabilize the site’s finances. We aim to establish a business model that doesn’t entail using the site’s cash reserves to stem recurring problems. But these are necessarily longer term plans. There's no immediate solution that gets us out of the precarious situation we are in right now except contributions from the community.

We want to emphasize that we do not intend to be in this same position next year, and we have good reason to believe this is possible. With a new owner and the new community-led Steering Committee, Metafilter has the potential to address fundamental, chronic issues once and for all. We are determined to make this happen over time, and the first step is to understand the problems and address them promptly. We commit to being transparent with you about the site's finances and direction as our work progresses. A more detailed financial summary is forthcoming. But for now, we are appealing to you to help stem this immediate financial crisis.

With that said, here are the figures for current monthly expenses and income:

Monthly operating expenses are currently about $20k per month, based on September 2022’s expenses.

This is with Metafilter running at its lowest level of moderation coverage yet, in all its 23 years of existence. It’s with staff having reduced access to basic tools for their work, such as accounting software (Freshbooks) and videoconferencing services (Zoom).

This also includes minimal site maintenance and development, taxes and tax preparation, and AWS hosting. This does not factor in some delayed payments owed to the staff and Global BIPOC Board members.

We want to be clear that this expense scenario is not ideal. Moderators should not be having to limit their working hours when threads need their attention, staff should be paid on time, and the admin should have access to basic tools.

Average monthly income from recurring donations, the main source of Metafilter’s income, is currently estimated at $14k/month. While Google Adsense and Amazon affiliate links generate revenue from time to time, these revenue sources are unreliable, fluctuating, and in steady decline - so we have not considered them in our projections.

Three scenarios

The Steering Committee has developed various operational models based on the level of revenue and contributions we hope to achieve. We are calling these scenarios Survive, Revive and Thrive to reflect what each of these revenue levels can achieve for the site.

Survive outlines the bare minimum Metafilter needs to keep its lights on, but does not factor in any long-term plans towards sustainability or rainy day emergencies. Revive takes tentative steps towards laying some groundwork for financial stability and long-term viability. Thrive is a visualization of what a more successful Metafilter might look like, and how it might operate. The need is great, and right now we’re just hoping to reach Survive mode. But, over the coming months, this is the path we hope to chart.

Survive - $7,000 / month in new or increased recurring contributions and revenue

This scenario doesn’t give the site much breathing room in the budget or extra capacity to take on any new projects to improve the site, but we will be paying our bills month to month. This scenario has a total monthly budget of $20.7k, which is slightly higher than our September 2022 expenditure of $20k as it includes delayed payments and essential tools which are not included in the September accounts.

With $7k in new or increased contributions, we can cover all the site’s bills and continue to pay the moderators for 95 hours per week of moderation coverage. Frimble’s development budget is based on 86 hours a month. There are some additional admin hours that loup puts in outside mod shifts and which currently are not compensated, nor is Jessamyn fully compensated for the admin work she undertakes for the site. These would remain uncompensated in this scenario.

This scenario includes internal tools like Slack and GSuite to support the work done by staff, the Steering Committee and the Global BIPOC board, as well as honoraria to the Global BIPOC board members.

One-time donations would primarily be held to cover the inevitable drop in recurring donations as the year goes on to ensure budgets are maintained year-round and to pay one-time expenses that are not otherwise budgeted for.

Revive - $13,000 / month in new or increased recurring contributions or revenue

In this scenario, we are able to bring some life back into Metafilter’s budget.

Although moderation coverage would not be full time, we could reschedule weekend coverage. We could also make sure admin tasks are itemized and compensated, up to 10 hours per month.

The development budget is increased by about 50% in order to ensure frimble has adequate time to maintain the site and support new pony requests – even if we’re able to bring in volunteer coders to herd the ponies, more support time from frimble will be needed to make that faster and easier.

It adds a budget to support certain one-time expenses such as legal advice, outside consultants, etc, that seem to crop up in most years. If that money isn’t spent in a given year, it would become part of the cash reserves.

This scenario includes some expenses on additional tools to make it easier for staff, the Steering Committee and the Global BIPOC board to do their work. It also allocates additional funds for BIPOC board honoraria so more members can join the board, or so BIPOC board members can be compensated for additional work they do outside the regular meetings. It also includes a budget for the BIPOC board to use to run some regular community building events.

Thrive - $29,000 / month in new or increased contributions or revenue

This is our long-term dream scenario, where Metafilter truly has enough resources to thrive.

It would include a return to full-time moderation, increased itemization of admin hours to ensure all staff are properly compensated for all hours they work, and a doubling of the development budget so we can recruit another coder to work with frimble. There’s also an increase for the BIPOC board, allowing for more members, more hours of work and more community building events.

In this scenario, we have also budgeted for compensation for Steering Committee members when they do work above and beyond preparing for and attending monthly meetings. We anticipate there will be lots of community and Steering Committee discussion before any compensation for Steering Committee members is implemented, but given the volume of work we have faced so far, we do think it should be part of the budget if the community governance model is to be successful long term.

So. If you can make a new contribution or increase your existing contribution, please visit the Help Fund Metafilter. If you already contribute to Metafilter, please take a moment to check that your donation is still active.

What about one-time contributions?

Given Metafilter’s lack of savings right now, one-time contributions would be a real help. At present, the site relies on savings to maintain cash flow and smooth over lower-revenue months without having to cut back on staffing for those months.

In order to give us that flexibility in the future, our cash reserve goals for each scenario are:

Survive - no set goal, one-time contributions will likely be used to cover cash shortfalls as recurring contributions dwindle from month to month.
Revive - $30k - enough to fund the site for approximately 1.5 months.
Thrive - $60k - enough to fund the site for approximately 3 months.

One-time donations large and small can be made through the Metafilter funding page. If you have a particularly large one-time donation, reach out through the Contact form to discuss whether there’s a way to get the donation to Metafilter that will minimize payment processing fees.

If you have general questions or comments, you can comment below. If you have issues with a current or new donation, use the Contact form to reach staff.

And, in the meantime, keep an eye out for the activities we are planning for this fundraising period.

Here are some of the things we have planned

Online events
We're working on putting together some online events as part of our Fundraising Drive.
Firstly, we have an online Variety Show in the works! If you have a talent/skill, or just an idea for entertaining us, sign up here! Admission will be free, with donations encouraged throughout.

Secondly, we're looking for people to speak, present or share interesting topics and/or skills. We're open to all kinds of topics and themes, and we welcome anyone with particular knowledge of a certain domain or niche, a skill to share, professional expertise, or experience and perspective not often heard as someone from an underrepresented background/identity.

You can read more about it here - we hope you'll consider volunteering to present or teach an event! Please get in touch - we welcome your ideas, no matter how vague or unformed.

Sponsored posts
We loved jessamyn’s sponsored posts a couple of years ago, and they’re coming back! And that’s not all… Keep an eye on Metatalk for your chance to have lovingly handcrafted front page posts on the subject of your choice by some of your favorite Mefites.

Auctions
We’re collecting a little stash of goodies that have been kindly donated by the community for you to bid on! If you’d like to donate something for the auction, sign up here and we’ll be in touch. And if you’d like to bid, just watch this space.
posted by tavegyl to MetaFilter-Related at 1:25 PM (309 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

Thanks, tavegyl!

Want to help, but can’t swing a donation right now? How about this: many of us are connected to current and former MeFites through outside networks. Spread the word. Let your Twitter, Mastodon, Instagram, Facebook, or any other evil-billionaire-owned social media circles know that we’d love their support.

Need a script? Try one of these:

**script 1**
Hey {friends/fam/comrades}! MetaFilter, an online community that I {really dig/adore/care about/visit daily}, is holding its annual fundraising drive and could use our help. Visit https://login.metafilter.com/funding.mefi today to set up a monthly or one-time donation. Thanks!

**script 2**
MetaFilter is an online community that’s been around since 1999. You can help keep it online by setting up a monthly or one-time donation at https://login.metafilter.com/funding.mefi and by sharing this message. Thank you!

**script 3**
Since 1999, MetaFilter has been focused on fulfilling the web's potential to bring people together and create genuine, vibrant, good-hearted community spaces. MetaFilter’s annual fundraising drive is currently underway. Help keep this community online by setting up a monthly or one-time donation at https://login.metafilter.com/funding.mefi and by sharing this message. Thanks!

Need some images? We've got you covered.

Would you prefer Classic or Modern? Venture over to this imgur page! We have four images in each style, sized for different social media platforms. Feel free to download the size that matches where you're posting and make sure you link to https://login.metafilter.com/funding.mefi.

While Facebook, Twitter, and Mastodon will let you add a link directly to your post, Instagram is not as friendly. If you're posting to your Instagram story, you'll have to add a sticker to your post. If you're posting to an Instagram Grid, there's no way to add an link.

And if you see a post from a fellow MeFite, reshare it.

Thank you very much for helping MetaFilter survive, revive, and thrive!
posted by kimberussell at 1:46 PM on October 24 [15 favorites]


What is the time frame for the auction, for those of us who may be interested in donating something but may need time to make, draw, sculpt, conjure, paint, cook or summon it from the spirit world?
posted by bondcliff at 2:38 PM on October 24 [7 favorites]


Whoot, thanks for getting this process started and establishing some clear benchmarks and goals!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:39 PM on October 24 [3 favorites]


I'm jessamyn and I approve this message.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:34 PM on October 24 [67 favorites]


I really appreciate this post. Thank you.
posted by mochapickle at 3:40 PM on October 24 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this post. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into this and that inspires confidence. I look forward to hearing how this goes (I hope it is a success) and what some of the longer term plans end up being. Thanks to everyone working on this!
posted by snofoam at 3:46 PM on October 24 [5 favorites]


Thank you all so much for doing this work. This is a tough situation. What are the site’s current cash reserves?
posted by buntastic at 3:57 PM on October 24 [1 favorite]


Great job!
posted by warriorqueen at 4:12 PM on October 24


buntastic: As tavegyl said so well above, there is no longer enough money in Metafilter’s savings to cover ongoing shortfalls. We want to emphasize that we do not intend to be in this same position next year, and we have good reason to believe this is possible.

This is the first step to moving ourselves forward. Increase revenue coming in through recurring payments and also working on cutting expenses so that even if we don't increase revenue, we are working to keep the site afloat. And do it all in partnership and with full transparency.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:11 PM on October 24 [4 favorites]


buntastic: As tavegyl said so well above, there is no longer enough money in Metafilter’s savings to cover ongoing shortfalls. We want to emphasize that we do not intend to be in this same position next year, and we have good reason to believe this is possible.

This is the first step to moving ourselves forward. Increase revenue coming in through recurring payments and also working on cutting expenses so that even if we don't increase revenue, we are working to keep the site afloat. And do it all in partnership and with full transparency.


Sorry, I truly don't mean to be doom and gloom about this, but do you mean that there's less than a month of operating cash on hand?

This update paints a really grim picture for the future of the site. It says that we need a minimum of $7k per month in new contributions to survive. Last year, we tried to raise an additional $6k per month, but only managed to reach $1100. Based on last year's experience, the $7k goal just doesn't seem realistic to me. Is there a plan in place for what to do if we don't reach it? I fully understand that you don't want to be in this position next year, but this update makes it sound like the site is going to run out of money in a matter of weeks.
posted by buntastic at 5:36 PM on October 24 [16 favorites]


I totally understand your reaction. Part of being transparent is recognizing that we will sometimes be sharing unwelcome news. We have absolutely been working on multiple cost-reducing measures. The models shared above represent goals we are working toward but are not the sum total of our efforts to bring MetaFilter back in line, financially.

But in all honesty, although the situation has not improved since last year's attempt to raise contributions, I can honestly say that I am optimistic for a real turnaround, for several reasons (and this is me sharing my optimism personally, not speaking for anyone else on the SC).

First among the reasons is that the Steering Committee was created in part to address this very issue. There are 12 new people hard at work on this, plus some amazing additional volunteers that we have begun to engage with. A number of these people have expertise in these exact areas. I've had the honor of watching this team at work. They are hard-working, dedicated, and phenomenal. It's been frankly humbling to witness. We have never had these kinds of resources directly focused on fundraising, business expenses, community outreach, and growing the community.

And this is part of it, too. Pulling up our sleeves and doing the hard work of shifting the narrative. Being honest about where we are, working out what got us here, addressing the issues, and moving forward. Together.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:10 PM on October 24 [23 favorites]


Thanks for the update. Sounds grim, sounds challenging, but I'm glad to know that people are investing time and energy into making it better.

Just went an doubled my monthly chip-in. I'm in for the long haul.
posted by introp at 6:39 PM on October 24 [12 favorites]


Sorry, I truly don't mean to be doom and gloom about this, but do you mean that there's less than a month of operating cash on hand?

It's a good question, it's a hard question, and it should be asked and answered. I don't have exact numbers because we're still untangling things and working on a more detailed financial update. But it looks like for the last few years we'd raise a whack of money around August, pop it in savings, and during the months that the site's revenue wasn't enough to pay the bills, we'd use that savings to fill in the gap. The site loses money more months than it makes money. And we're 2 months past when we'd refill the savings tank so yep, the savings is quite low.

It's doomy and gloomy and scary but I'll second It's Raining Florence Henderson's response - I am also optimistic.

This fundraiser is going to give us some breathing room so we (together, all of us, not just the SC) can figure out how to augment the current revenue streams so that savings can be used for savings and investing back into the site and not dipped into to pay bills.

bondcliff: We'll get you an answer about auction timing.
introp: Thank you!
posted by kimberussell at 6:51 PM on October 24 [9 favorites]


Is there a new mailing address handy for those of us who mail checks like the dinosaurs we are? Or the Oregon PO Box is forwarding and everything is fine?
posted by janell at 7:02 PM on October 24 [4 favorites]


There is a new address, it is on the fundraising page linked in the post, towards the bottom.

(Not trying to be coy or unhelpful by not posting it here, sometimes that is the kind of info better kept somewhere where it can be updated when necessary rather than having outdated info live on forever in a thread.)
posted by jacquilynne at 7:17 PM on October 24 [15 favorites]


Nicely proposed! I agree this is a unique opportunity to fix the site financially. Glad the committee is running.
posted by michaelh at 7:57 PM on October 24 [2 favorites]


Just donated a very fun and special vintage bauble from my precious hoard to the auction. It is playful and colorful and I hope it finds an excellent home with a generous human. I am excited to hear about all the fundraising.

Thanks a million times over to everyone keeping this place alive.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 8:02 PM on October 24 [5 favorites]


I can't help right now, feistycakes and I are throwing a slightly expensive party next month, but once the dust settles from that we can probably increase our support.
posted by vrakatar at 8:04 PM on October 24 [2 favorites]


I'd like to ask two questions, one factual, one strategy.

First, factual: can I extrapolate from your numbers that the goals are $248.4k/yr. for surviving, $320.4k for reviving, and $512.4k for thriving? For those of us unfamiliar with running a website, what are your top three expenses? I have absolutely no experience in running a popular website, but these numbers seem huge to me. I'm willing to be educated in exactly where I'm misperceiving the situation.

Second, strategy: during the last four to six years (or whenever fundraising calls to the userbase started), has anyone at any point in a leadership position at Metafilter investigated or made any effort to pursue recurring income sources other than asking the members and website-content-creators of this website for one-time or recurring donations, as has been done since this problem was brought about? Or has the sole strategy been fundraising from the userbase?

From over 13 months ago:

"When that bell was first rung, they responded with great enthusiasm, and were given -- IMO -- a deafening silence in return. Two of the most popular suggestions about directing traffic to the site yielded nothing: years after the 'financially in trouble' bell was first rung, Metafilter still has no social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, in an environment where these things can be easily mirrored, even by commercial software if necessary (Buffer, Zapier, as well as other RSS-to-social-media software).

"Ask Metafilter - it not being mirrored is perhaps understandable given some of the privacy needs. But Metafilter? Fanfare? These could find whole new audiences on Tumblr, etc. Even TikTok might be a place to gather in the youngest presence if someone was willing to do some daily or biweekly video work for a 15- or 30-second clip. And if you think that's not doable with purely textual content, they're doing it with Reddit already ...

"And people have often said they'd love to have an official Metafilter app on their phone - not just for the purpose of a Metafilter app but many mentioned it explicitly as a way of fundraising. That could at least initially be done by volunteer coders making up a web wrapper. Yes, you can achieve the same effect by saving it to a home screen using Chrome, Firefox. That doesn't bring any needed money to Metafilter, though. App stores take their pound of flesh, but wouldn't it also bring in some small fraction of new traffic, especially with those who see PWAs as second-class citizens and live on their smarpthones and tablets?

[...]

"I think people's willingness to donate time, effort, and love -- in addition to money -- is part of an emotional transaction with this site, but I do think that the site is not really returning its part of that emotional transaction any longer. It feels, to me, as if it's a friend that won't do anything to change the behavior that put them in the hole they're in. If your friend isn't listening to you, won't let you help, you begin to distance yourself from that friend. I think that's why some of the older users have left.

"And I think that's why you've seen a decrease in the robustness of the response to your newer fundraising campaigns (as opposed to, say, the fundraising requested in the State of the Site 2018 post, or prior fundraisers)."

That sentiment was written over a year ago. As far as I can tell, the only thing that has substantially changed since then has been in the administrative arena.

You can put a thousand different cliches here to conclude this.

I don't want to see this site pass away, but I also feel as if there's nothing that can prevent that. As far as I can tell, if you could get one-third of the 5,000-strong active userbase (based on the cohort graph a few months ago) to agree to a $15/mo. subscription, you might hit your thrive goal.

I just don't think the userbase is the reasonable solution anymore when you look at any normal response rate to a fundraising campaign, and unless I'm misreading your statements about the current finances of the site, the site may now be too close to bankruptcy (if I'm to understand the statements above) for any other moneymaking goal (user app, increased users to the site through social media, etc.) to gain traction.

I'm going to contribute, actually. Because I don't want to see the site go away. But I am really upset at the circumstances it currently finds itself in.
posted by MollyRealized at 8:10 PM on October 24 [32 favorites]


Hi buntastic -

do you mean that there's less than a month of operating cash on hand?
Yes, there is less than a month of operating cash on hand. And you are correct about the urgency and immediacy of our appeal.

Last year, we tried to raise an additional $6k per month, but only managed to reach $1100. Based on last year's experience, the $7k goal just doesn't seem realistic to me.

I'm glad you checked on last year's fundraising outcome. I encourage more Mefites to keep track of these details and hold the site to account accordingly. More information builds more context and more awareness, and guides future planning. A detailed site history of fundraising is forthcoming with the financial summary - so the community should hopefully have a more coherent view of the site's fundraising drives, and benchmarks for future fundraising.

I fully agree with you that $7k seems an overly-optimistic goal if only taking last year's outcome into account. At the same time, here are some things that are different:

- We have more people working on the Fundraising Drive specifically this year (IRFH has mentioned the huge difference in resources at hand now, in terms of skills and labor - and the ability to actually fully utilize these resources and make significant and necessary changes to the site going forward)

- We have a new owner, a new community-led model, and renewed interest in the site's direction and future. Community goodwill, trust and momentum from Mefites have been key to pulling Metafilter out of financial emergencies, historically - for example, $9.5k/month raised in new recurring donations in 2018 (when the previous owner had recently inherited the site), $10k/month raised in new recurring donations in 2014 (the very first time Metafilter issued a big appeal for member donations). On the flipside, we've seen the outcome when community goodwill, trust and faith in the admin has been low. When many community members took issue with the way the site was being run, and the way the site culture - in its capacity for kindness, for diversity, and its treatment of marginalized groups - was being eroded. You've mentioned 2021's fundraising outcome ($1100/month in new recurring donations) - 2019 and 2020's fundraising outcomes were similar ($2k/month and $480/month in new recurring donations respectively). All this to say that Metafilter's fundraising over the years has broadly tracked with community sentiment and goodwill.

We are hoping that people will recognize there is much reason for optimism, and at least some faith that Metafilter's new owner, new community-led approach and all the new hands on deck will be different from previous management.
We recognize that real trust cannot be demanded or assumed - it has to be earned over the long run. And we fully intend to do that.

We've been dredging up decades of financial and site history data, painstakingly collating, tallying and reconciling all sorts of details, putting together a more complete (and in time, community-accessible) financial and administrative picture of Metafilter as a whole. We're putting processes into place for accounting, for obtaining data, for team access to key information - that have not been done before. We're building institutional memory for Metafilter, laying an actual foundation for the site, while refining concrete plans for the mid to long term that will address Metafilter's chronic financial issues at the root. This is just the beginning, but it's a good beginning. It's a lot of work, but Metafilter is worth it.

We're not going to take that $7k goal for granted as a given, though. If we don't reach that goal, we do have contingency plans: even more expense cuts will have to be put in place, and there may be more delayed staff payments to keep the site running for the next few months while we put other revenue-stream plans into action. We do not intend to rely on fundraising as a sole income source in the long term, going forward. But for now, the reality and urgency of the situation has necessitated this appeal to our community. We're hoping that Mefites come through.

Now more than ever, at this juncture, we all have the potential to really change Metafilter for the better. Not in the sense of short-term quick fixes (as this was in previous years), but real, genuine, fundamental change towards a sustainable, thriving future. Metafilter is at a crucial juncture, at a key point of opportunity. There is so much that we can, are and will do differently going forward, but we have to make sure current staff and volunteers have enough breathing room to make this happen.
posted by aielen at 8:22 PM on October 24 [28 favorites]


Paypal vs. Stripe, which skims less off the top for the recurring charge case?
posted by genpfault at 8:41 PM on October 24


I have met these people. They are amazing. I believe in their ability to do this, to actually dig the site out of a hole this deep.

There are risks, of course. Timing-wise we're coming down to the wire, here, and success is not a given. It is, however, a very realistic possibility if we don't rest on what few laurels are left.
posted by majick at 9:00 PM on October 24 [5 favorites]


Just donated a stack of blank journals for the auction, various vintages and styles! Any journaling folks out there?
posted by mochapickle at 9:00 PM on October 24 [6 favorites]


I ended my donation because I didn't like the decisions that management was making & I wanted to see change. Now that change has happened it feels only fair to put it back. It pays for services which I benefit from.
posted by bleep at 9:22 PM on October 24 [20 favorites]


I'm going to contribute, actually. Because I don't want to see the site go away. But I am really upset at the circumstances it currently finds itself in.

I don't want to drag any prior management here. Whether 12 people turns out t be too much or not, it has become evident that running the site now should be more than a one person operation. cortex was severely pushed for time and energy, and I hope his retirement from ownership is allowing him to relax a lot more.

Metafilter's operations are largely a relic of the early days, when the site had many fewer users and much less traffic. What worked in 1999 isn't working so well now. (I say all this as one of the people who has probably put in the least work among SC members. We have some very energetic and capable people working on it though! k8lin, aielen, and Jacquilynne in particular have been dynamos.)
posted by JHarris at 9:47 PM on October 24 [9 favorites]


MollyRealized:

First, factual: can I extrapolate from your numbers that the goals are $248.4k/yr. for surviving, $320.4k for reviving, and $512.4k for thriving? For those of us unfamiliar with running a website, what are your top three expenses?

Thanks for looking at the numbers. I appreciate your effort and care in trying to parse this. (The totals and breakdown will be shared in the upcoming financial summary, so hopefully that will help with clarity as well.)
Excluding the rebuilding of cash reserves, the goals are (rounded upwards to 1 decimal place)
$248.3k/year for surviving,
$326.9k/year for reviving, and
$509.8k/year for thriving.

The top expenses are site hosting and staffing.
Under the "Survive" scenario, site hosting totals $48k annually and staffing totals $190.7k annually (rounded). (All other expenses add up to $9.6k (rounded)).
This puts site hosting and staffing, combined, at 96.15% of the total budget, with the remaining 3.85% towards other expenses.

Similarly for the "Revive" scenario, site hosting totals $48k annually and staffing totals $257.8k annually (rounded). (All other expenses add up to $21.2k (rounded)).
This puts site hosting and staffing, combined, at 93.53% of the total budget, with the remaining 6.47% towards other expenses.
Here we can see a little more allocation to resource investment that can make a more long term impact on the site, whether that's through admin tools, external consultation fees (previous years' consultation expenditure have ranged from legal consults, to policy, to DEI consults) or resources that help the Global BIPOC board accommodate new members and put content initiatives in place.

For the "Thrive" scenario, site hosting totals $48k annually and staffing totals $373.3k annually (rounded). (All other expenses add up to to $88.5k (rounded)).
This puts site hosting and staffing, combined, at 82.63% of the total budget, with the remaining 17.37% towards other investments that can help the site grow and give it momentum (proper business analytics, ad campaign, more robust content initiatives, more possibilities for revenue streams, compensation for more work done beyond moderation, etc). When the site is healthy enough to invest in more beyond hosting and basic mod/technical staffing, this is the scenario we want. It is, to be absolutely honest, very far off from where we are right now - but I do think it's useful in painting a picture to show us what could be, if Metafilter is truly thriving.

This distribution of expenses, with a high proportion going to site hosting and staffing, is consistent with the site's expense distribution historically. Site hosting and staffing have occupied most of Metafilter's expenses throughout the years.

Second, strategy: during the last four to six years (or whenever fundraising calls to the userbase started), has anyone at any point in a leadership position at Metafilter investigated or made any effort to pursue recurring income sources other than asking the members and website-content-creators of this website for one-time or recurring donations, as has been done since this problem was brought about? Or has the sole strategy been fundraising from the userbase?

Thank you for this comment. You've hit the nail on the head. This is precisely what was identified by the Steering Committee as a key point to focus on and prioritize when we came in. And no, I personally do not believe previous leadership made much concrete effort to pursue recurring income sources other than asking the member base for donations. This is not to say there were no attempts to investigate this at all, but (1) these attempts were not conducted with urgency and focus, nor were they handled by a dedicated team committed to diversifying the business model (i.e. find alternative recurring income sources); (2) there seemed to be a general long-term, entrenched attitude of assuming donation appeals would always bail the site out even if the site did not have a long-term plan or take any action. (That's my personal opinion.)

I don't think there is much use in dwelling on castigating previous management right now (although it is absolutely valid to have emotions and feelings about this). It is important to recognize and be upfront about what should have been done better, and the reasons for specific points of failure - so that we know what to do better going forward, but I think it's also good to balance that with some recognition that the admin and team that reviewed that MeTa from over 13 months ago is largely not the same bunch that is here now.

You cited some previous suggestions from Mefites re alternative solutions for revenue, and pointed out how the admin at that time had not been responsive to these suggestions or offers for help. And I agree with you that the previous management's inability/reluctance to accept or implement alternative suggestions, to act and follow through on making necessary changes - frustrated many people, and prompted people to leave.

At the same time, Jessamyn as the new owner, Loup taking on more administrative tasks, the SC coming on board and the Global BIPOC Board finally gaining pace and more ability to get initiatives in place - are changes that have happened since then. And it is good that the previous management finally recognized that a significant change was due, and finally took the steps towards making that happen, by passing the torch to Jessamyn and enabling all these teams. It has been a few months for Jessamyn, and barely 2 months for the SC - and this transition to the new ownership is still in progress, administratively and logistically. But a lot has been happening recently, and I hope this will gradually become evident to our community, as work bears fruit and more processes are put in place.

I just don't think the userbase is the reasonable solution anymore when you look at any normal response rate to a fundraising campaign, and unless I'm misreading your statements about the current finances of the site, the site may now be too close to bankruptcy (if I'm to understand the statements above) for any other moneymaking goal (user app, increased users to the site through social media, etc.) to gain traction.

The Steering Committee strongly believes in committing to pursuing alternate revenue streams alongside member contributions. We do not want Metafilter to be overly reliant on member contributions. We are treating this as top priority, and we've shortlisted some solutions and approaches that we will be testing and implementing. (You may see a very rough MVP-esque form of some of these ideas during the Fundraising Drive.)

The site is currently poor in finances, but rich in human resources: in the skills, labor, time and energy of its members and volunteers that are finally able to contribute towards this place. I've already outlined some contingency plans in another comment - but this richness in human resources (despite being starved, financially) is a big reason why I believe we can turn things around and rebuild traction.

I don't want to take it for granted (because human resources won't stick around forever if there's very little follow-through, direction or results), but at this moment in time, that's what we're fortunate to have. People. People finally being allowed, and able to help. That makes a world of difference, and if we can stem this short-term inherited financial bleeding, we can set up current and future teams to not just heal but grow and sustain the site, culturally and financially.
posted by aielen at 11:05 PM on October 24 [70 favorites]


aielen: Thank you for such a complete response. I'm relieved to hear that the SC agrees with the current problems with the site. I added myself to a recurring contribution because I'm finally in a place where I can (now past some job loss) and I am hoping, hope against hope, that it works out. Mefi's too good a place to lose.
posted by MollyRealized at 11:25 PM on October 24 [13 favorites]


bondcliff: What is the time frame for the auction, for those of us who may be interested in donating something but may need time to make, draw, sculpt, conjure, paint, cook or summon it from the spirit world?

We're planning to set it up over the next week, announce the auction on Monday 31 Oct and close it on Sunday 6 Oct. This may need to be slightly tweaked as we're setting up the mechanics of the auction, but that is the current plan.

Right now we've got quite a range of types of items for the auction. We've got physical objects (e.g. amazing snacks) and electronic items (e.g. art), we've got services (like writing something). We've got things that are commissioned (winner gives the parameters) and things that have existed for a while. If you're wondering whether what you can offer is suitable, or how it should be packaged, get in touch via the Auction Donation form and we'll try to help you think through it.

Thanks to all those who have offered items already, including those who offered in previous threads! We will be in touch with you about them.
posted by tavegyl at 12:14 AM on October 25 [4 favorites]


Thank you for this! I updated my monthly donation, I could only do that by cancelling and restarting my donation, I don’t know if this is because I have a non US paypal account.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:45 AM on October 25 [5 favorites]


Metafilter still has no social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr

Don't know about the others but Metafilter has an active account on Twitter. It's @metafilter. Everyone should go and follow it.
posted by biffa at 2:01 AM on October 25 [4 favorites]


While I share (probably) everyone's dismay at those financial numbers, the reality is that the thing that makes Metafilter a unique place on the internet is the same thing that costs it the most money: people. There is always a chorus of people wanting to donate time and skills (and I respect the offer!), but the transparency of the SC here shows that to not be all that useful. Moderation is what makes Metafilter unique, it is work, and it should be compensated. While I am not on the SC, nor do I have access to the financial documents, it is seemingly impossible to "cut" our way to success when >90% of the money goes to 1) people, and a distant second 2) hosting. Without the hosting, there is no website, but without the people, I would argue there is no Metafilter. I think we've all watched the world try to "austerity measure" its way to prosperity, and it does not work. As a community, we have to decide whether we get enough out of this to make it worth saving. And if we do, we have to pay for it. It may well be that a place like Metafilter can no longer exist in the world of FB, TikTok, and MLM/Instagram. But I want to try and I know many of you do as well. So, I've increased my monthly donation $20->$50 per month and given a one-time $100. I hope you'll join us.
posted by Osrinith at 4:36 AM on October 25 [33 favorites]


I set up a recurring $25 donation. Feels like a pet - only $5 to bring home a puppy, but it turns out you gotta keep paying ;)

I am a volunteer with a big heart. I sit on a nonprofit board, and do a lot of this and that on the side. I wish mefi had a slack or discord where volunteer activities could be organized.
posted by rebent at 4:41 AM on October 25 [12 favorites]


Also - I got to this thread via the best of mefi rss. WHY IS THIS NOT POSTED ON THE FRONT PAGE???
posted by rebent at 4:42 AM on October 25 [6 favorites]


I am very glad to see this! Fundraising (and pursuing alternate income streams) were something that we were increasingly strapped for bandwidth to do properly. And, to be honest, it's a completely different skillset than any of us had been hired for. I am very hopeful that the Steering Committee can throw more brain cells at it than the old team ever could.

Also, I *think* everything I did should have been properly documented in places the current team could reach, but I did a lot of the accounts receivable stuff in the last few years of my tenure, and if the SC has any questions that I might be able to answer about that period, you are more than welcome to reach out.
posted by restless_nomad (retired) at 4:44 AM on October 25 [9 favorites]


rebent: I am a volunteer with a big heart. I sit on a nonprofit board, and do a lot of this and that on the side. I wish mefi had a slack or discord where volunteer activities could be organized.

The Steering Committee is working on something like this! We've been developing onboarding processes for volunteers, and hope to really push on this in the coming weeks. If you'd like to sign up here, we will be in touch!
posted by tavegyl at 5:03 AM on October 25 [6 favorites]


This is with Metafilter running at its lowest level of moderation coverage yet, in all its 23 years of existence.

How is this possible when there was only one part-time moderator - Matt Haughey - for the first six year's of the site's existence? Are you saying there's less moderation right now than when it was his part-time job?
posted by OneGearIsEnough at 5:21 AM on October 25 [7 favorites]


How is this possible when there was only one part-time moderator - Matt Haughey - for the first six year's of the site's existence? Are you saying there's less moderation right now than when it was his part-time job?

Hello! I suppose we should have said since 24hr moderation was implemented. Thanks for catching that!
posted by kimberussell at 5:26 AM on October 25 [6 favorites]


Thanks, all - I'm dismayed at the numbers too, but heartened that we finally have some structure and transparency in place to get and share those numbers to try to do something about them. I've tossed a one-time donation in the pot and re-upped my lapsed recurring donation.

If this isn't already in the plan, can we get some form of updates on how the fundraising is going as we go, perhaps as part of the regular site updates?
posted by Stacey at 5:28 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


A financial question. The long threads about the health of the site have tended to focus on increasing and broadening participation in the site and figuring out how to make money, sometimes treating these as two aspects of the same problem. But if Adsense is no longer a reliable source of income, does that mean that even if many new users started flowing into MetaFilter, and posting and commenting went back to 2014 levels, the site still wouldn't be making any money and would be still in danger of shutting down absent substantial donations?
posted by escabeche at 6:30 AM on October 25


Just on a conversion basis...people reading become people joining ($5) and people joining become donors, if you can manage the funnel correctly.

ETA (sorry) rather patrons/contributors/subscribers. Which is a very normal thing in today's content landscape!
posted by warriorqueen at 6:42 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


I feel weird suggesting this, because I love and respect both of the previous owners, but I know a lot of people left because they weren't happy with how things were run. So any fundraising pages or social media posts should probably stress that the site is under new management and being run more by the community.

A lot of people who loved this place and left for REASONS might see that as a reason to check it out again.
posted by bondcliff at 6:55 AM on October 25 [28 favorites]


Upping my modest monthly donation by $3!

AUCTION - are we mailing physical items to a central hub, like someone's garage? I would like to donate a few small paintings and would be willing to cover the shipping to send them out directly to the winners if they get bid on. Maybe we'll have a Meta about the auction later? Or I would be happy to contribute ideas based on a few online auctions I have been involved with, if there will be an auction committee? (Or if that's all covered, happy to just donate.)

Everything sounds great - despite the financials - thank you SC! It's cool to see people I voted for sharing their opinions and ideas!
posted by Glinn at 7:23 AM on October 25 [4 favorites]


I don't look at the gray much, but I just saw this on the orange site and now I am contributing.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:30 AM on October 25 [5 favorites]


Saw it on the orange as well. Doubled my monthly contribution.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:35 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


It has been a few months for Jessamyn, and barely 2 months for the SC

I registered the site in Vermont on September 19. For various water-under-bridge reasons this ownership transfer started early and ended late, but because of that and the transition from Transition Team to Steering Committee (so grateful to all of you) we're in this incredibly awkward place that no one wants to be in. I, too, am optimistic but for those feeling concerned, upset or scared, I see you. We really want this to be a community-run site. Making those adjustments is a process.

WHY IS THIS NOT POSTED ON THE FRONT PAGE???

It will be. Everyone's working on it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:50 AM on October 25 [12 favorites]


Sorry, I mean "It is posted to the front page" ;)
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:56 AM on October 25 [9 favorites]


Not to second-guess people who have much more information and knowledge than I do, but does it make sense that the hosting cost projection is the same across all three scenarios? I'd imagine that part of a "thrive" scenario would be more usage of the site, which would also lead to higher hosting costs (unless the current hosting is significantly over-provisioned, in which case right-sizing it might be a reasonable measure).
posted by primethyme at 9:00 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


What sort of interest rate does the “ savings account” offer? And is there a monthly expense report for us to peruse?
posted by Ideefixe at 9:20 AM on October 25 [1 favorite]


Thank you for providing the information, and sharing. I made a one off donation and will increase the monthly donation.

Also, i want to say that for me the level of financial detail you gave above is sufficient. This is not intended as a criticism of those who ask for more financial details. I feel however it maybe helpful to also have feedback from someone who finds it is sufficient (and possible others do as well?).
posted by 15L06 at 9:47 AM on October 25 [20 favorites]


This is out of left field, but a commenter at the orange site asked why metafilter doesn't charge an annual fee for continued commenting privileges.

Has this been considered? My first reaction is that it's a bad idea, but I don't know why. (And if it were instituted only on new accounts it wouldn't bring in any new revenue for a year.)
posted by madcaptenor at 10:24 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


Suggestions: in addition to front page posting about this, probably also post to Ask, Fanfare, etc., due to emergency footing. Also, there's a "Help Fund Metafilter" sidebar widget; the verbiage in there could be updated to reflect again the emergency situation; a link to this thread to get eyes the tiny top-of-page announce strip misses, etc. Basically, work to maximize eyeballs on the site.
posted by Drastic at 10:25 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


So what happens in a month? Are we talking insolvency, can't make payroll type stuff? If so, are you prepared for the legal consequences of this? In California if you miss payroll you are basically immediately looking at the potential for real legal trouble, that kind of thing is taken very seriously. I don't know how Oregon or whatever jurisdiction handles that. You need a plan for this if it is even just potentially possible.

Also, can you break down the expenses a little in terms of the AWS bill? Is it a big percentage of the monthly run rate? If so, you should explicitly seek a non-cash donation of co-located hosting or something along those lines. AWS is way more expensive than owning hardware but most of their customers are in a position to overlook that for the massive technical convenience as well as the fact that you can account for the expense more conveniently than you can by owning hardware due to depreciation, but it's an expensive convenience.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:35 AM on October 25 [5 favorites]


Just made a new one-time donation! I already have a monthly donation via Stripe but it's only possible to change that at fairly chunky quantities (e.g. $20 > $35 > $50)... one thing to potentially tweak.

On the question of a mobile app: take it from someone who runs a company that makes its money from them, if you can at all avoid having to maintain one and deal with Apple and Google, I suggest doing so. It's a heck of a lot more work than you'd think, and probably not for a huge return.
posted by adrianhon at 10:42 AM on October 25 [15 favorites]


Has this been considered? My first reaction is that it's a bad idea, but I don't know why.

My reaction: bad idea because it would tend to chase off low-income people, people who are less-active commenters but always have something interesting to say when they do comment, and people for whom payment is a logistical problem (especially people in other countries). Bad idea because commenters aren't a liability, they're MetaFilter's greatest asset. Bad idea because MeFi's competition - whether you consider that to be Twitter or Reddit or Discord or whatever - is free.

I have some ideas rattling around my head about the "everyone gets this basic content for free, but sponsoring members have Special Perks" model that a lot of creatives on Patreon use, and I'm not sure if that's worth considering for Metafilter - I'm not sure if it's possible to implement something like that without invoking cliques and cabals - but it feels to me like it might be able to achieve some of the benefits of an annual-fee model without the worst negatives.
posted by Jeanne at 10:45 AM on October 25 [10 favorites]


My first reaction is that it's a bad idea, but I don't know why.

There's no way to implement this (or the one-time $5 barrier, especially as currently implemented, where you have to ask to get it waived) that isn't going to exclude people. Metafilter is already pretty homogenous in a lot of ways, it doesn't need to try harder at that.
posted by aniola at 10:54 AM on October 25 [9 favorites]


Sorry if this is a dumb question or if there's an obvious reason why you would/could not do this, but have you considered emailing active users at their registration email address to notify them of what's going on and that there's a fundraiser?

For me at least, it's really easy to overlook or underestimate the importance of the little announcements at the top of the site. They sort of blend in with the rest of the site. Plus, people have to come here in order to see it. Maybe some people who value the site's existence but don't come here very often would want to contribute.
posted by wondermouse at 10:59 AM on October 25 [18 favorites]


TL/DR, but do we contact people via email when their recurring contribution stops? If you believe this is often accidental, it would be worth a checkin. Maybe add an opt-in checkbox for receiving that email when people sign up to contribute.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 10:59 AM on October 25 [8 favorites]


So what happens in a month? Are we talking insolvency, can't make payroll type stuff? If so, are you prepared for the legal consequences of this? In California if you miss payroll you are basically immediately looking at the potential for real legal trouble, that kind of thing is taken very seriously. I don't know how Oregon or whatever jurisdiction handles that. You need a plan for this if it is even just potentially possible.

This is a really important point. The references to "delayed payments owed to the staff" in the original post and "delayed staff payments" in aielen's post make it sound like the site is already unable to make payroll. If this is the case, it's a really serious labor law violation, and opens the site up to huge fines in most jurisdictions in the U.S.
posted by buntastic at 11:11 AM on October 25 [7 favorites]


Presumably it's only a problem if employees complain about delayed payments to the authorities and also presumably the employees of MeFi understand the scenario and aren't going to be dicks about it.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 11:30 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


Would it be possible to add a “steering committee member” badge (like the staff badges) to relevant comments in Metatalk? I can’t remember who’s on it, and it can be helpful to know if a comment is from a SC member or not.
posted by maleficent at 11:34 AM on October 25 [28 favorites]


BTW, on how difficult it is to fund and maintain a site like MeFi, I would offer the old example of Plastic.com. ("The Metafilter it's okay to hate," that's a Wayback link from 2010 BTW.)

Plastic was a sister site to early web breakout hit Suck.com [Wayback link, Suck is currently down, perhaps forever]. It was a full discussion board, a prominent early example of a forum-style place on the Web, and was run by Carl Steadman, who was one of the co-founders of Suck.

I was a member of Plastic back in those days and participated a bit, the site slowly declined in popularity as Carl was increasingly distracted by other things. This is all going by memory, Plastic has been gone in a browsable way for many years now, but it didn't have the same kind of community as MeFi has, and I don't think it had much in the way of moderation. I remember its userbase getting more and more irate as it was obvious Carl was caught up with other things. Perhaps it should be taken as an example of where Metafilter could end up. It's possible that old websites like MeFi and Plastic are lost causes, but I really hope not. With Twitter about to be bought by Elon Musk, I can't help but think, one, that independent sites like MeFi serve an important alternative to social media, and, two, that it's only a matter of time before Twitter is in the same boat.

Carl Steadman is still around I wonder if he'll ever come forward with the behind-the-scenes history of Plastic, someday, and, I wonder what he thinks of all of this? Without all that early venture capital funding to animate and sustain it, so much of the early web is gone now. I've been tracing the history of old websites for awhile now, and I have to say the Wayback Machine is a real treasure.
posted by JHarris at 11:52 AM on October 25 [3 favorites]


(I'm old enough to remember when all this web stuff was the new hotness. The internet was so much more hopeful back then!)
posted by JHarris at 11:57 AM on October 25 [4 favorites]


It's still hopeful! Just gotta look in the right places!
posted by aniola at 11:58 AM on October 25 [5 favorites]


I just re-upped my monthly subscription and added a one-time contribution on top. I value Mefi always being here, my internet home like it is for many other Mefites, and we can't take it for granted.

Thank you to the Steering Committee and jessamyn and loup and other contributors to this posting, and thank you to everyone who supports the site!
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:05 PM on October 25 [9 favorites]


Presumably it's only a problem if employees complain about delayed payments to the authorities and also presumably the employees of MeFi understand the scenario and aren't going to be dicks about it.

It depends on the jurisdiction. In some states like California, Oregon, and Vermont, I believe the state assesses a penalty regardless of whether an employee files a complaint.
posted by buntastic at 12:06 PM on October 25


I don't think it's safe to rely on an understanding among employees in a situation where payroll is being missed. I'm not a professional giving advice on this subject, but as someone who has been responsible for a payroll, you have to realize that sort of thing works fine until it doesn't and at that point the stakes may be extraordinary.

For some additional context, the nature of these legal stakes is why you see companies just shut down overnight. People will close an old and successful business rather than miss a payroll in California.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:06 PM on October 25 [9 favorites]


Thanks for the post! This has inspired me to add to the hill of beans.
posted by Shunra at 12:08 PM on October 25 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is my internet home. I will be upping my existing donation as soon as i get to my laptop, right now I've made a single donation that's 4x what I give each month.
Please hang in there Metafilter.
posted by M. at 12:20 PM on October 25 [4 favorites]


Metafilter's fundraising over the years has broadly tracked with community sentiment and goodwill.

And size one assumes?


Year Active Users
2018 6567
2019 6051
2020 5624
2021 4914
2022 4391

posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:50 PM on October 25 [11 favorites]


Heads up @staff: I just checked my PayPal recurring donation (to see if there was a way to alter it on that end) and the contact email is still listed as cortex@metafilter.com -> not a major issue, but one more minor thing to address at some point.
posted by isauteikisa at 12:52 PM on October 25 [5 favorites]


Also, I just increased my monthly donation 10x (it's only from $2 to $20, but it's funnier to say it the other way).
posted by isauteikisa at 12:56 PM on October 25 [10 favorites]


Re payroll and labor law... there are a lot of nuances to that sort of thing. It also depends on how employees are compensated, what's been promised in terms of base pay vs. bonuses and profit-sharing (or whatever you'd call "profit-sharing" in the context of a non-profit). That seems like the sort of thing for the Steering Committee to work out with the moderators and other employees/contractors.

There are certainly lots of businesses that have irregular, "lumpy" revenue, and many ways to work around it in terms of cashflow management. I've worked at companies where we generally only got paid by clients once or twice a year, and we survived by a combination of secured lines of credit (basically a low-interest revolving loan against future revenue, used to make payroll), and keeping base pay relatively low for the industry but also having an aggressive profit-sharing scheme that gave employees first dibs at incoming money, such that everyone did okay during a lean year, but in a good year everyone did very well. Not everyone wants to work a job that has a compensation structure like that, which is perfectly okay, but lots of people are also okay with it.

So that seems like a tractable problem to me.

I'm a bit surprised that hosting costs are as high as they are, though, and I suspect there may be opportunities in the future for the SC to engage members of the community with the requisite skills and background to optimize its infrastructure in a way that avoids massive AWS bills.

It seems like at least once a week, there's a post on Hacker News about companies achieving rather large cost savings by moving off AWS and onto more traditional infrastructure. It appears more and more that AWS is a great way to spin up an online business/site/whatever as part of a "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" model, but once you have a good idea of your compute/bandwidth/storage needs, there are cheaper ways to run things on an ongoing basis. AWS basically charges you through the nose for scalability, which is important if you might go from 10 customers to 10,000 customers (or are telling your investors you might) in a month, but once you're in a steady state, it ceases to be a great proposition. At least that's how it's beginning to look to me. (And for the record I host stuff on both AWS and Google Cloud, and have no particular hate for either, but I wouldn't want to get locked into a cloud provider for my day-to-day business functions.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:57 PM on October 25 [14 favorites]


To that, Corey Quinn is rather specialized in AWS cost optimization & from everything I've seen seems to be a stand-up guy.
"Hey, spend money to find out how to save money" isn't great (especially when we're in a pinch as it is), but they're very confident in their refund guarantee & *may* be amenable to some sort of "pay part out of the savings" deal for a not-nonprofit-but-community-minded site like us.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:13 PM on October 25 [9 favorites]


genpfault - Paypal and Stripe have the same fees attached.

Stacey:
If this isn't already in the plan, can we get some form of updates on how the fundraising is going as we go, perhaps as part of the regular site updates?
The SC has planned to give weekly updates throughout the Fundraising Drive. (This doesn't include the upcoming financial summary post, which should be up by the end of this week, if not the next few days.)

escabeche:
if Adsense is no longer a reliable source of income, does that mean that even if many new users started flowing into MetaFilter, and posting and commenting went back to 2014 levels, the site still wouldn't be making any money and would be still in danger of shutting down absent substantial donations?

I think warriorqueen addressed one part of this quite well (there should be some amount of conversion happening if there is a big influx of new users like you mentioned). The other part I would say is that we intend to establish other revenue streams - other sources of income - for Metafilter, beyond user contributions, Adsense and affiliate links.

primethyme:
does it make sense that the hosting cost projection is the same across all three scenarios? I'd imagine that part of a "thrive" scenario would be more usage of the site, which would also lead to higher hosting costs (unless the current hosting is significantly over-provisioned, in which case right-sizing it might be a reasonable measure).

That's a reasonable question to ask. In settling on a projection for the hosting expenses, we used an observed upper bound of $4k/month* in recent monthly hosting expenses. We have also been told that hosting expenses will not increase even with more site usage.

*This figure may now be an overestimation due to an endeavor to reduce hosting expenses that has just been confirmed as successful - see the last part of this comment.

Ideefixe:
What sort of interest rate does the “ savings account” offer? And is there a monthly expense report for us to peruse?
I'm not sure I understand your first question - are you asking about the bank account that held the cash reserves?
Re monthly expenses - there will be more information on monthly expenses in the forthcoming financial summary.

feloniousmonk:

can you break down the expenses a little in terms of the AWS bill? Is it a big percentage of the monthly run rate? If so, you should explicitly seek a non-cash donation of co-located hosting or something along those lines


To clarify, the site hosting expenses are the AWS bill - meaning that projected expenses for the AWS bill, in the scenarios above, are $4k/month. This is about 28.57% of recent monthly recurring member contributions ($14k/month). In terms of AWS expense reduction, the admin has recently investigated the possibility of reducing AWS expenses, and they have just indicated that AWS hosting expenses may be reduced to about $2.5k/month for November onwards, by deleting backups that are already mirrored. (This reduction to ~$2.5k/month is new and recent information that just came in, and has not been factored into this post's report/scenarios.)
posted by aielen at 1:17 PM on October 25 [16 favorites]


I just re-upped my monthly subscription and added a one-time contribution on top posted by LobsterMitten (staff)

A long time ago, I used to volunteer at a food co-op in California. When I started working there, they told me I was no longer allowed to volunteer because it would be illegal.
posted by aniola at 1:19 PM on October 25


In some states like California, Oregon, and Vermont, I believe the state assesses a penalty regardless of whether an employee files a complaint.

can != automatically does, but it's not something to mess around with. Legally, or on principle.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:20 PM on October 25


Ok, I just increased my monthly and made a one-time contribution to a couple of "hour[s] of full moderation coverage (and some beans)"

So I'm no expert on fundraising, but my wife used to work at the ballet and opera. They have a full-time person (or more) doing "development" (I think they call it) of high-value individuals for big donations, not just a "few bucks from everyone" strategy. There are people who will drop a million dollars in a one-time donation. What's in it for them? I don't know, I don't have a million dollars. It sounds like there are some people familiar with this, er, skill? in the mefite community, if we haven't thought of that. (It would be kind of funny for metafilter to be literally funded by George Soros)
posted by ctmf at 1:33 PM on October 25 [5 favorites]


Forgot to say, use the beans wisely, and no fair using the moderation against me.
posted by ctmf at 1:34 PM on October 25 [4 favorites]


Is MetaFilter a non-profit, or is it seeking that status? That is the sort of thing that can lead to creating a "development person" and then seeking out those bigger donations, either one-time or ongoing. A lot of community theaters and other such organizations exist through these as well as ticket sales, so maybe we need to regard user donations as ticket sales and be looking for the whole "supporter/underwriter" sort of model. That would require non-profit status to create the tax incentive for big donations.
posted by hippybear at 1:42 PM on October 25 [8 favorites]


I don't come by as much anymore but this site holds a special place in my heart. Just wanted to reiterate the suggestions regarding AWS. Although I haven't had the occasion to use it personally, it's certainly considered one of the more expensive options. I know that the site long ago ran on ColdFusion; I'll have to look around for the current stack (unless someone has a link handy).

I'll end with an acknowledgement that hosting costs are undoubtedly just one piece of the solution, so we shouldn't get too focused on this particular part and ignore the bigger plan.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:43 PM on October 25 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is not a non-profit and is not seeking non-profit status.
posted by tiny frying pan at 1:45 PM on October 25 [6 favorites]


(aniola, I retired from active modding earlier this year and that hasn't changed. I left the "staff" badge in place because I thought I might work occasional (paid) fill-in shifts -- we thought that might be needed, but it hasn't so far. But I'll ask frimble to update my byline badge to "retired" when they have time, and then we can just deal with minor confusion if I do work the occasional fill-in shift in the future.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:47 PM on October 25 [5 favorites]


BTW I love the sponsored posts idea, which works well with existing tools/workflow. I wonder if self-hosted ads are an option, similar to the ones The Deck ran in the day, or to the podcast ads that are present in the Overcast iOS app? This would seem to require some development work, and a bit of moderation overhead (but presumably not much more moderation than sponsored posts).
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:50 PM on October 25 [3 favorites]


I miss The Deck. There were ads that I clicked through and I think I actually put money toward one of those companies at some point. The follow-up service was useless to me, all tech oriented ads. I guess that was Carbon? I don't even see Carbon ads anymore, so why is that "hide these ads" button even still there?
posted by hippybear at 1:56 PM on October 25 [2 favorites]


I raised the question of doing our own ads, and even got a member who volunteered to make a toy version as a feasibility experiment, but I haven't heard back from them yet.
posted by JHarris at 1:58 PM on October 25 [5 favorites]


Increased my monthly payment and sent you all the money I had forgotten about in my PayPal account! It's like landing on 🚘 Free Parking 🚘 🥳

I think giving money is probably the most helpful thing I can do, but if there's a useful way to do small bits of IT-related help, I have done a lot of web server work 🙋🏻‍♂️. My suspicion is that the real need there is money to pay for people dedicated to do that work, though, whether that's Amazon or someone who can make it work without Amazon.
posted by pulposus at 2:04 PM on October 25 [5 favorites]


I registered the site in Vermont on September 19. For various water-under-bridge reasons this ownership transfer started early and ended late,

Does this mean the transfer is complete and that Mefi is now subject to Vermont laws instead of California laws?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:22 PM on October 25


I believe it was Oregon before.
posted by terrapin at 2:34 PM on October 25


It looks like MetaFilter Network, Inc (Oregon #283199-94) filed articles of dissolution on September 12th and MetaFilter LLC (Vermont #0416044) was established on September 19th.

Presumably the name in the MetaFilter website footer needs to updated from "MetaFilter Network, Inc" to "MetaFilter LLC", as it still refers to the old name.
posted by RichardP at 2:44 PM on October 25 [3 favorites]


Presumably the name in the MetaFilter website footer needs to updated

Yep. On the to do list.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:47 PM on October 25 [4 favorites]


Yep. On the to do list.

While you are at it, I encourage you to also update MetaFilter's designated agent in the Copyright.gov DMCA Designated Agent Directory, it still refers to MetaFilter Network Inc as the service provider. MetaFilter doesn't want to accidentally lose the DMCA safe harbor due to a minor lapse.
posted by RichardP at 3:31 PM on October 25 [9 favorites]


This will be my very first post! $5 isn't much, but it's the least I can do; I've been enjoying Metafilter since 2020 and appreciate how thoughtful this website is compared to the prevailing social media right now. This site is even older than me. It's like a living piece of history (apologies to anyone who feels old reading that...) I don't want to see it go offline.
posted by wandering zinnia at 3:35 PM on October 25 [56 favorites]


Welcome, wandering zinnia! This is an amazing place, and even with all it's squabbling is a wonderful online family that is full of joy and discovery. If you have any IRL meets in your area, I encourage you to go because any MeFite is just an old friend you haven't met yet.
posted by hippybear at 3:44 PM on October 25 [7 favorites]


I believe that for the community to move to the above-mentioned thrive level it will require a subscription based membership. BUT I also realize that it will need to be voluntary for existing members to switch to recurring payments, so as not to put the burden on future new members.

That doesn't mean that people who may have financial limitations couldn't also be members. It is obvious that this community is very generous and thoughtful. Perhaps, there is a minimum monthly membership cost ($1-3) and there are options for those with means to pay more. And a check box on the signup for if one simply can't afford it (honor system) they can ask for a waiver.

I think it sucks that so many things are going to subscription models -- don't even get me started on car manufactures who charge fees for allowing your heated seats to work -- but that is what current internet is. When ad money dried up nearly every independent content creator has moved to services like Patreon to continue to make their livings.

I finally set up a recurring payment today; and encourage every regular community member who calls this quirky, lovable, site home -- and can afford to do so -- to set one up as well. Please and thank you.
posted by terrapin at 3:51 PM on October 25 [7 favorites]


I just upped my monthly contribution by 66%. Don't spend it all in one place!

My recurring donation has been through Paypal, and I wasn't able to do an increase through them. I had to make a new recurring donation on the MetaFilter donation page, and cancel the old one in Paypal. I mention this because I poked around in Paypal for quite a while trying to figure out how to increase the amount there, without success. Maybe my experience will save the next person a few minutes of aggravation.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:53 PM on October 25 [4 favorites]


It could be argued that a subscription model or patreon sort of model is actually a more honest expression of support of creators and websites than a free-with-ads model. People who value it pay, people who don't get a different interaction. That's how most of media worked before radio and television became broadcast media with advertising support so it was free to consumers. The internet was something entirely other for a while but then brought in the advertisers to become the new television and radio and more. Maybe we've matured beyond that model. The slowly revealed horror that is ad-supported "free" (data collection driven) internet has taken a while for its full face to show, but maybe we can move to something else.

But that's a discussion well outside of the fact that MetaFilter needs financial support.
posted by hippybear at 3:57 PM on October 25 [4 favorites]


Re PayPal: So I believe I read that PayPal says, that you can’t change a subscription on their side, you have to do it with the people you are sending the money. So, in order to increase my donation, I went to the Metafilter funding page, told it what I wanted my donation to be, and that worked. I went back to PayPal and the previous donation seems to be gone and replaced with the new one. I could be wrong - but I am pretty sure that is the case.

One note, I think my regular monthly donation before was earlier in the month, and when I updated my donation today it made my first payment of that amount today - so just an FYI so people aren’t surprised if they make a second donation for the month when they change their donation amount. I imagine it’s the same if you cancel the old one first, since you would be starting it today.
posted by Glinn at 4:18 PM on October 25 [4 favorites]


Upon rereading Serene Empress Dork’s comment with slightly better comprehension, it seemed they had to cancel their old one after all. Still. All that works.
posted by Glinn at 4:20 PM on October 25


Raffle off "indulgences", like use of the img tag for a month? One user only. Ok maybe not that, but something essentially cost-free. A behind-the-scenes tour shadowing a mod for a shift, seeing what it's like. A Stan Chin gold star for a month. I don't know, something fun, but temporary, that doesn't break the site for all time.
posted by ctmf at 4:54 PM on October 25 [10 favorites]


While you are at it, I encourage you to also update MetaFilter's designated agent in the Copyright.gov

Thank you! I am in touch with cortex as of now about what needs to happen to make that change but you're right, very important stuff.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:21 PM on October 25 [5 favorites]


The fact that Metafilter is not a non-profit may actually make recovery easier in some ways. For nonprofits supported by a mix of grants, sponsorships, donations and whatever, it can be unclear what the best direction is. For Metafilter, there are the community goals, but if you get to a max donation/user, then there’s not really another option besides adding users or cutting costs. There really aren’t infinite options.
posted by snofoam at 5:33 PM on October 25 [2 favorites]


I am in touch with cortex as of now

Hi jessamyn, have I mentioned recently how much I appreciate you? I appreciate you, and I appreciate loup and the team and the SC folks. MeFi's always rowing uphill financially and I don't envy y'all the work but I love the hell out of you for doing it anyway and am glad it's not on me anymore. I'll do my best to make what noise I can pointing people to the fundraising effort with my own limited reach, and I'll join the steering committee in encouraging everyone else reading this to do likewise. This place runs on people.

This site is even older than me. It's like a living piece of history (apologies to anyone who feels old reading that...)

I am an absolute skeleton. But a deeply appreciative one. Welcome to MeFi, wandering zinnia. Tell your friends.
posted by cortex (retired) at 5:48 PM on October 25 [49 favorites]


For those who aren't aware, the non-profit thing was done to death in a series of previous threads (which you can go read) and should be understood to be a dead letter at this point.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:49 PM on October 25 [19 favorites]


While you are at it, I encourage you to also update MetaFilter's designated agent in the Copyright.gov

This is now handled.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:38 PM on October 25 [25 favorites]


For those who aren't aware, the non-profit thing was done to death in a series of previous threads (which you can go read) and should be understood to be a dead letter at this point.

I knew it had been discussed, I didn't remember the outcome of the discussion, and someone mentioned doing a patron drive. I'm not sure you can do big patron donations to a not-non-profit without it being somehow venture capital funding.
posted by hippybear at 6:42 PM on October 25 [2 favorites]


My dude. The non-profit discussion is over. Paid legal advice was had. It led to serious strife and (maybe) longtime users resigning (or departing as mods) and roped in the BIPOC board stuff and just....all kinds of shit.

Go read the old threads if you want to know. Otherwise, let it lie.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:44 PM on October 25 [13 favorites]


LITERALLY NOT TRYING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN STOP INTERPRETING MY MENTIONING A THING AS ME FORCING IT INTO BEING.
posted by hippybear at 6:48 PM on October 25 [8 favorites]


Some of us are either superstitious or, maybe, have read a few MetaTalk threads and recall that it actually works that way (more's the pity).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:53 PM on October 25 [3 favorites]


Upped my contribution, made a cash donation and have some things I can donate and maybe even a performance for the variety show I’ll figure out tomorrow. I’m beyond grateful for this website, which feels like one of the very few kind communities on the internet today. I have faith in jessamyn and the SC, and really appreciate all the thought that has gone into this effort to right the ship.

Check your Venmo balances if you hold onto them and consider using those as a donation.

We can get this done. We have the right people and community. Let’s make it happen.
posted by glaucon at 7:27 PM on October 25 [5 favorites]


I stopped donating some time back for...reasons; but now that things are moving forward I have started again. Many thanks for all the hard work dedication, enthusiasm and transparency in reporting to all on the SC and those on the transition team that led up to it.
Suggestion: annual mail on your metaversary blah blah blah its been a year / x years hope you had fun how about another $5 or whatever you can afford, Love from Oolong.
We have to get proactive and not just wait for the fruit to fall.
posted by adamvasco at 7:30 PM on October 25 [21 favorites]


Awww now I miss Oolong. <3
posted by introp at 7:44 PM on October 25 [5 favorites]


My donation receipt is from MetaFilter Network Ltd.
It should be from MetaFilter LLC
posted by adamvasco at 7:44 PM on October 25 [1 favorite]


Paid legal advice was had

I am also not trying to make it happen at this time, but I just want the record to show that I think I'm not alone in believing that just because metafilter paid for some legal advice doesn't mean something couldn't be figured out.

This is the same metafilter that is filled to the brim with people telling other people in ask-me to try a different expert if they're not getting the answer they need from the paid professional they consulted with.

I have worked with government bureaucracy to successfully make impossible things happen. They said "no, you just can't" a lot. Where there's a will, there's a way.
posted by aniola at 7:55 PM on October 25 [7 favorites]


I have no objection to a non-profit if it would actually be advantageous. I don't understand this recurring attachment to it as a some source of financial salvation, when it isn't — based on the paid (as in qualified, insured and etc) advice obtained on the point and the further representations by EMG and the resulting guff which was frankly really sad to see as a fellow legal professional (regardless of baggage from any other interactions having no direct bearing on that).

Shit on me as you will, I don't care. There is no upside to reorganizing MeFi as a non-profit and even less to continuously revisiting the question.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:02 PM on October 25 [9 favorites]


I've just made a one-off donation, which has reminded me again why I cancelled my recurring donation through PayPal. For those of us who live outside the US, minority that we are, currency conversions and international transaction fees are a thing. If I were in the US, setting up a smallish monthly donation would be no big. Doing it from Australia, I pay nearly as much over again in currency conversion and transaction fees.

It just so happens that I donated some money to Wikipedia today too. I donated in Australian dollars and there were no international transaction fees. They even gave me the option to add an extra dollar to my contribution to cover their processing fees - which I ticked, because it was an option and I appreciated having the choice.

I know we have bigger and more important things to worry about first, which is totally fine. This isn't a priority. But if, at some stage, someone could investigate (or someone already knows!) what goes into being able to accept donations in a variety of currencies, that might be a thing to encourage us furriners to also make regular contributions.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:19 PM on October 25 [17 favorites]


I'd like to second adamvasco's idea about a MetaVersary memail. I know there are some people out there who dislike notifications and mails and such, but this place is a bit different to me, and I'd be happy to receive a note on my join date. Maybe something along the lines of usage stats, and a link to a five dollar one time contribution button?

"Hey there (USERNAME), it's your MetaVersary! You joined up on this date in (YEAR), and your first engagement on the site was (embarrassing Ask post link). This past year, you've made (#) posts on the Blue, (#) on the Green, ... you've commented (###) times. We're glad you're here, and we hope you are too. As MeFi is largely dependent on users like you, we'd really appreciate it if you could chip in $5, for old time's sake"

Like that, except written by someone who has a better handle on things like that. Even if it's a form letter populated by data from a script, it would still be a nice reminder that we are all a part of something pretty great, and, for me at least, would probably be something that would push me to add another $5 to the till.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:27 PM on October 25 [17 favorites]


I started wishing for a metaversary (mefiversary?) giving reminder MeMail a few years back.
(... which thought has just reminded me that today's my 20th Mefiversary!)
posted by obloquy at 9:47 PM on October 25 [14 favorites]


I got a new job earlier this year and my financial situation is much improved (once my cats stop consuming it all with vet bills, anyway). I hadn't updated my donation since last year when I was much more precarious. I've upped my monthly rate several-fold and am giving the largest one-time donation I feel comfortable with. Thanks for the clear financial report and call to action. I have my own feelings about the state of site finances and the community's past responses to it, that may differ from many others here, but this isn't the place for that discussion, if it's even worth having at all. Suffice to say, I hope those of us who are able to will pitch in to keep the lights on for today and push us towards thriving again tomorrow.
posted by biogeo at 10:02 PM on October 25 [7 favorites]


To hippybear, about ads, I don't think ads will save the site by themselves, that time of the internet may well have passed. But, ads could still help to reach Revive or Thrive levels, and further the idea I pitched was for something aimed at members who wanted to tell the world of their things without self-linking, that would also be open to others, and maybe syndicated to other sites who wanted in as well. But, from-members, to-members, for the most part. That way the site might get some more money, and we could also help spread the word about more awesome things in the process.

I got a message back from the user who was talking about doing the model version! Maybe we could see this moving forward soon?
posted by JHarris at 11:13 PM on October 25 [2 favorites]


Athanassiel: I know we have bigger and more important things to worry about first, which is totally fine. This isn't a priority. But if, at some stage, someone could investigate (or someone already knows!) what goes into being able to accept donations in a variety of currencies, that might be a thing to encourage us furriners to also make regular contributions.

This is one of my priorities as an international member of the Steering Committee. We had to organise this fundraising drive fairly quickly to get funds rolling in, but once we have some leeway, and do some technical groundwork, we plan to think how we can improve the way we accept contributions, including (as you mentioned) the ability to cover processing fees and accepting payments from overseas without penalising overseas members. If there are members who have expertise in this we'd welcome their advice.
posted by tavegyl at 11:26 PM on October 25 [23 favorites]


tavegyl, thank you for that. I’m planning to make a donation, but the yen is collecting historical lows against the dollar like something that might someday have value (unlike the yen…) so I hesitate to set up a recurring payment in dollars that might end up costing me a lot more than I thought a month or two from now.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:24 AM on October 26 [2 favorites]


tavegyl, your comment gave me confidence that MeFi is on the right track again. A barrier to donation was identified, prioritized according to urgency (it can wait, but it’s on the list), and a call-out for expertise in that specific domain was made.

I understand why this wasn’t possible before, but with this short comment you’ve demonstrated to me what things can be like under a Steering Committee. Thank you.
posted by third word on a random page at 12:47 AM on October 26 [10 favorites]


Is there a monthly expense report for us to see?
posted by Ideefixe at 1:16 AM on October 26


Hi Ideefixe! I answered this here - there will be more information on monthly expenses in the forthcoming financial summary (should be up by the end of this week).
posted by aielen at 1:22 AM on October 26 [2 favorites]


Ghidorah, Athanassiel:
as a temporary solution while we get better plans in place - would Transferwise work for you? I have found it useful for international payments (I'm a non-US member as well), and I've been able to link it to my Paypal account, making USD Paypal payments with minimal fees.
I think Transferwise features/accounts vary depending on regions/countries, so I'm not sure if it will work for you, but it might be worth a try.

(If you need help trying to figure out how to connect different accounts through Transferwise you can Memail me and I can try to help.)
posted by aielen at 1:36 AM on October 26 [1 favorite]


My dude. The non-profit discussion is over. Paid legal advice was had.

It's totally valid to have strong feelings or an opinion on this topic, but I need to push back against this declaration a bit.

Speaking as a member of the SC: while I understand that there is a fraught history / context regarding the question of non-profit status for MeFi, the SC will be considering every option when it comes to the long-term sustainability of the site.

Right now we are working to keep the lights on and stabilize the system financially in parallel with a significant number of other short and medium term efforts. That means getting into the weeds in this fundraising thread regarding long term strategy is probably best use of our limited capacity, but it is important to me to say that nothing is off the table. For questions and potential strategies this important, we will be getting second and third and fourth and fifth opinions.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:00 AM on October 26 [22 favorites]


probably not* the best use, of course.

good morning from Netherlands, I am still not awake 😁
posted by lazaruslong at 2:34 AM on October 26 [4 favorites]


Ghidorah, Athanassiel:
To make foreign currency payments, I've found that Revolut works really well. Revolut allows you to exchange money at the current spot rate, with no processing fees, and then the payment you make becomes a non-fx payment. They are available in several different countries.

I also find that having a separate pot of money set aside for foreign transactions makes me feel a lot more comfortable about fluctating FX rates or card fraud. You can keep topping it up regularly, but it's impossible to overspend what you've allocated to that pot. If you want to go crazy, you can use a one-time card for the transaction.

I'm sure other fx card providers are available.

(Note that, in the UK at least, Revolut is technically an e-money institution, not a bank and so does not offer the same financial protections. That shouldn't be a problem for this use case.)
posted by matsho at 4:45 AM on October 26 [1 favorite]


Has there been an official decision up or down, with creating a fundraiser thermometer on the front page?
posted by rebent at 4:50 AM on October 26 [1 favorite]


If there is a fundraising thermometer, can it please be in ASCII?
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 4:55 AM on October 26 [21 favorites]


I set up a recurring donation again.

When you have bandwidth, I would suggest adding a small checkbox to the donation sign-ups to agree to an occasional note from Metafilter about site news. Then I would send regular-ish updates that remind people that they are A Particularly Awesome Type of Person who donates regularly and that their donation made all this [List of Cool Recent Threads] happen, btw here is our donation link and we def. still need money. Interested regular donors are the most likely to want to know about the site and to give MORE money.

I also absolutely would set up a site editorial calendar with regular events themed to weird and wacky or recurring things - Metafilter's birthday, International Library Day, Month of Women's posts, month of New People's posts etc, and have that both on the site and in various social media channels for people to share - with CUTE graphics to encourage the sharing. We may be text only, but social media out there needs images.

And for the love of all that is mighty, please let me pay $5 to send a pixelated birthday hat icon to another site member. Or other random stupid icons. I would pay about $20-$30 for a year's right to be able to add a tiny potato next to my username. I paid for LJ/Dreamwidth because they had icons and I needed to be able to have many stupid icons.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:46 AM on October 26 [27 favorites]


Hi! Steering Committee Kim here!

1) Thank you (envision that blinking) to everyone who's donated, joined, rejoined, retweeted, etc. You're very appreciated.

2) A front-page thermometer/indicator is something we'd love to have, but it depends on development time. It's on the radar and hopefully we can get something on the front pages of MetaFilter and AskMetafilter before the month is out.

3) Newsletter/Anniversary/Emails/MeMails are something else we're talking about. The hurdle is how we can implement this technically and without ruffling too many feathers. We hear you!

<3
posted by kimberussell at 5:55 AM on October 26 [6 favorites]


Someone upthread suggested Venmo - turns out I do have a Venmo balance but can't figure out if there's a way to donate via Venmo. Anyone know of a way?
posted by kinsey at 6:14 AM on October 26


Hey there - I mentioned Venmo. I don’t know of a way (maybe there is a direct way) but I’m transferring my Venmo balance to my bank account and then making a direct payment to Metafilter from that bank account in that amount.
posted by glaucon at 6:23 AM on October 26 [3 favorites]


I rejoined earlier this year after a while away and I've now added a recurring contribution. Glad to see the upfront information about finances even if it's scary/not what I would have wanted to hear.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 7:54 AM on October 26 [5 favorites]


To hippybear, about ads, I don't think ads will save the site by themselves, that time of the internet may well have passed. But, ads could still help to reach Revive or Thrive levels,

I think FPP paid-advertising posts (with heavy moderation to remove negative comments) that stay sticky (near the top, even as the date changes) depending on paid rate, is something that should be considered. I don't think continually funding on the backs of existing members is particularly sustainable long-term.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:09 AM on October 26 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that spitballing solutions is putting the cart before the horse without the full financial report and expense breakdown.

I'm also unsure why at least a basic pie chart breakdown of the monthly operations costs couldn't be provided now, presumably that information is on hand. What percentage of the monthly spend is for the nuts and bolts of hosting, for starters? For employment? For Committee and Board operations? Debt service? Compliance (including taxes)?
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:21 AM on October 26


It seems to me that spitballing solutions is putting the cart before the horse without the full financial report and expense breakdown.

Eh. Expenses are expenses. What is the solution going to be there? Get rid of all the boards and switch to volunteer moderation? The site simply needs to make more money. Austerity doesn't work.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:25 AM on October 26 [1 favorite]


The purpose is knowing where the money is going, so as to be able to make informed suggestions, and decisions. Rather than speculating. The various funding goals levels announced would seem to intentionally obscure that information, and I can't think of a good reason why.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:29 AM on October 26


I didn't see it as them intentionally obscuring anything (or seeming to do so). They're a volunteer board that has given us an enormous amount of transparency, so I suggest that we try to be fairly chill in their direction.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:32 AM on October 26 [24 favorites]


Having the information and not providing it before asking for money is a choice. There is no lack of "chill" in saying that; the people on the Committee knowingly put themselves forward to deal with contentious issues (and based on the above they are also compensated, or are supposed to be at least that's a goal).

I would suggest we not return to the usual tone policing in a thread about finances.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:36 AM on October 26 [3 favorites]


Is this, from aielen's post, more or less what you're demanding? I imagine we are somewhere around this level of staffing now, if not less. This seems like a pie chart to me, and seems like it's easy enough to see that the highest costs are the things that people value the most - the existence of moderation. Given that there's a financial post coming, what else do you need?

"The top expenses are site hosting and staffing.
Under the "Survive" scenario, site hosting totals $48k annually and staffing totals $190.7k annually (rounded). (All other expenses add up to $9.6k (rounded)).
This puts site hosting and staffing, combined, at 96.15% of the total budget, with the remaining 3.85% towards other expenses."
posted by sagc at 8:41 AM on October 26 [7 favorites]


Seconding everything MollyRealized said. I'm going to donate, because I have the money and we're over a barrel, because MeFi leadership didn't realize what the money was doing until they ran out. I'm not happy about it. Getting to the point of having less than a month's operating cash on hand is a massive, obvious failure. People can talk about new initiatives all they like, but so far the new boss looks a lot like the old boss.

This is an all-hands-on-deck emergency, and half the original post is meandering on about long-term initiatives. Those are necessary, but talking about those in the same breath as literally running out of money does not at all give the impression of focused, capable, leadership. I don't give a crap about your long term plans right now! I want to know the site's not going down in 3 weeks.

Also, yes, get off AWS. Unless you're tied into AWS-specific services some way, which I seriously doubt, having an actual box is probably a lot cheaper in the long run.
posted by Ahniya at 8:46 AM on October 26 [9 favorites]


Aielen mentioned that a financial summary would be out in a week or so.

Having worked on the Transition Team, I have no problem believing that they're still pulling data together, getting it in a presentable format (which may include a pie chart), double checking the data, all while living their lives and doing their best in this volunteer position.

They've set a deadline of week for the financial summary, and I see no problem waiting about 7 days before asking for an update on the status of that information.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:48 AM on October 26 [17 favorites]


> I'm also unsure why at least a basic pie chart breakdown of the monthly operations costs couldn't be provided now, presumably that information is on hand.

Bold assumption! I personally would not assume that people who forgot to do the regular yearly fundraising, then didn't realize they were flat out of money and had to make an emergency fundraising post knew typical operating expenses.
posted by Ahniya at 8:48 AM on October 26 [1 favorite]


Basically some visibility into that 96.15% bloc, especially the infrastructure costs (I'm not suggesting we should be told exactly what people are paid.) When you're putting almost everything into one category it turns into a black box, and especially when combining hosting and staffing costs.

I'm personally comfortable increasing my support a bit based on what we've been told, but given the gap between the first goal and third goal it would be good to get some idea where most of the financial pressure is coming from; and also where more resources will go with what priority if they can be raised.

I think the Committee operations have gone pretty well so far, it's just odd to see these big lump sum numbers without any insight into them in a big fundraising thread. Maybe it's a me thing.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:48 AM on October 26 [1 favorite]


Hi guys,

Just wanted to share that one thing I found a bit harder than I expected when I was on the Transition Team was finding the balance between trying to communicate things and share ideas/gather input, and the tendency lots of us have (certainly I do!) in trying to communicate expertise in either one area, or kind of broad-spectrum hit "now that I know about this here are my eleventy concerns and ideas at once."

I really appreciate the speed at which the Steering Committee is going. From a Transition Team point of view, knowing when we were able to ask for/get details and in what formats, they and Loup are doing a fantastic job at increasing the information and visibility.

I would like to just say (not demand or control or anything) that I think how we as community members interact with the Committee will determine some of whether it can really leverage the strength of its members, or whether it becomes a really hard slog because every single everything is questioned all the way.

Does that mean no input? Of course not. But this post really focuses on an immediate need and I hope we can get behind meeting that need rather than questioning every bit of information as it comes out.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:52 AM on October 26 [44 favorites]


With so few staff, breaking down the staffing costs any further would absolutely tell you how much specific people are paid. We already have enough information in this post to make very good guesses at how much people are paid, and personally speaking I am NOT happy that our moderators and tech staff are being underpaid to this degree. I knew there were cuts in the past but these are much deeper cuts than I expected and that is alarming.

I threw in a one-time donation rather than a monthly donation due to the international fees already mentioned by Athanassiel. I hope that a better solution can be found soon.

I would recommend strengthening the language on the header bar that links to this post. This is far more urgent than the cheerful language suggests! e.g. "Metafilter Needs Urgent Support - Learn More and Donate Today".
posted by sadmadglad at 8:59 AM on October 26 [15 favorites]


I would be far more more willing to have faith in the current leadership if this entire post wasn't about how they'd been so busy with paperwork they didn't manage to do the regular yearly fundraiser. Or if it contained any actual transparency, not a thick layer of buzzwords smeared all over a small amount of actual data.

I am absolutely going to question the people responsible for this until I see some evidence they have actual competence, not just enthusiasm for a shiny new group project. Especially since they're asking me for money, in a meandering, lackadaisical and easily ignored way. All signs so far point to nothing actually changing, no matter how many shiny new plans are produced.
posted by Ahniya at 9:00 AM on October 26


I disagree running its own box is likely to be cheaper than AWS for MF unless it has access to free/cheap sys admin resources (maybe it does?) and/or does not care about occasional downtime/recovery hurdles (maybe it doesn't?)
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 9:02 AM on October 26 [2 favorites]


MeFi is a low-user, text website. Low bandwidth, tolerant of occasional downtime. It's definitely worth a look, after the immediate funding emergency is sorted.
posted by Ahniya at 9:11 AM on October 26


The donation page text says this, btw:

$5000 covers site hosting fees and tools that keep the electrons moving for a month

If that's still roughly accurate, then the barebones $20.7K implies ~$16K for everything else, or ~3x the hosting and IT costs. Just as a way of getting a handle on the month to month situation everyone involved is dealing with.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:14 AM on October 26


I personally would not assume that people who forgot to do the regular yearly fundraising

With respect, no one forgot to do the fundraiser. We just don't feel that people need or care about the nitty gritty details about site ownership transfer, and Transition Team to Steering Committee transfer. Sort of similar to how sometimes faculty positions are left open when there's a new dean coming in, there was a conscious decision to save fundraising until the Steering Committee was in place and up to speed, which took a short while longer than our projections for normal human reasons. What was a surprise was how close to the bone site finances were, for which we are 1. sorry and 2. working on it.

And yes as the SC has mentioned above, the site is open to different ways of doing a lot of things, up to and including hosting.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:29 AM on October 26 [53 favorites]


I would be far more more willing to have faith in the current leadership if this entire post wasn't about how they'd been so busy with paperwork they didn't manage to do the regular yearly fundraiser. Or if it contained any actual transparency, not a thick layer of buzzwords smeared all over a small amount of actual data.

Allow me to remind everyone that in August, the Transition Team was wrapping up the results of our user survey, recruiting people stepping forward for the Steering Committee, and hosting the election that announced the members of said Committee on August 29, which is also about the point that the current SC members found themselves elected.

I'm not sure how or why you think the current SC should have been ready to hit the ground running with a fully fledged funding drive in the middle of elections rather than delaying it until the SC had its feet under it--or do you think they should have made a funding drive appear from nowhere in two days? I have a lot of confidence in the current members of our leadership team, but I think I might have quailed if they'd set their standards quite that high.

Now, if you want to sling mud at the previous Transition Team membership for not running the funding drive simultaneously with the SC elections, figuring out a governance style that seemed appropriate for the site, and identifying likely candidates, that is more fair. You may start with me, and we can have a discussion about optics, effort level, trust impacts, and potential difficulties of running a fundraising drive concurrently with a member-driven election.

god I love not being in positions of power and responsibility, it is the actual best
posted by sciatrix at 9:45 AM on October 26 [70 favorites]


All signs so far point to nothing actually changing, no matter how many shiny new plans are produced.

Counterpoint: Imagine how this thread might have gone just six months ago before we'd established new site ownership and engaged direct member representation through the Transition Team and Steering Committee. I don't think it would have been nearly so civil.

Metafilter's been a lifeline for me, and supporting the site and its community gives me a chance to return the favor. It's an old site, we're all trying new things. They might work or they might not. Progress isn't always a quick or steady thing. Things might be changing slowly, but they're changing.

The Steering Committee is all volunteer, by the way, and they're community members just like the rest of us. It's a ton of work and it's unpaid. It's totally a right and good thing to ask honest questions, but it's not constructive to perniciously insult them when they're doing their best to untangle a longstanding and complex situation they have donated their time and skills and, yes, emotional labor, to address.
posted by mochapickle at 9:51 AM on October 26 [46 favorites]


Just adding to sciatrix's point though, that we didn't get a look at the finances until I think? the summer; I'm not on the Slack any more to check my memory and that's when things were going nuts at my actual job. It was after the launching the survey though, I'm pretty sure.

By that point we had determined that was not appropriate for the Transition Team to take any kind of operational role.

That said, I'm happy to take some of the blame for the slowness. I share the SC's concerns, and support this fundraising drive whether it's perfect or not. (I have to contribute after my husband comes back from his silent retreat. :))

Also, if you've ever walked into a small business (I have! Into the back office full of stuff!) and think 60 days is an excessively long time for 12 people who have never worked before to get the revenue and expense picture together, formulate a plan, and communicate it, I hope you are making bank in consulting with actual small businesses where the people with the information are also putting out all the fires inside the business - totally different from walking in where there is a separate accounting, HR, etc. department.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:55 AM on October 26 [26 favorites]


I didn't see it as them intentionally obscuring anything (or seeming to do so). They're a volunteer board that has given us an enormous amount of transparency, so I suggest that we try to be fairly chill in their direction.

Yeah. As someone who sits on a board of directors of a not-for-profit where we've spent a great deal of time fixing some very troubled finances and other management problems (one of the primary problems being someone who was in charge of of the organization at the staff level sitting on tons of stuff and refusing to even try to delegate those things to people who could legitimately help, and which didn't come to light until things hit a crisis point), the people stepping up and volunteering their time to Metafilter to unfuck this very fucked situation are definitely owed some chill.

Over the last several years, people have been raising their hands to volunteer to help the site. Those helping hands were slapped away repeatedly, often quite publicly. This drove some people away from the site entirely, thereby accelerating the decline.

Now that offers of help from the community have been accepted by the site's new owner, and they've had a chance to look under the hood, the urgency of the situation is now very clear, and they've disclosed that.

Angry reactions to this news are completely understandable - it's worrisome as hell. People are right to be upset because they value this place. I'm that person right now.

Respecting how daunting the task in front of them is while continuing to ask questions (question away - good-faith questions about the site, its operations, and its finances were met with derisive, condescending non-responses for far too long) or continuing to offer suggestions, all without being too aggro is something that people should be striving to do (this is advice I'm offering to myself, btw).
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:04 AM on October 26 [21 favorites]


Criticizing either volunteer board is like criticizing EMT first responders for the car crash. Confused and unhelpful.

I'm the first person to criticize site leadership when I think it's well-deserved, but this is not that scenario, particularly given how open to feedback and transparent they've been.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:08 AM on October 26 [23 favorites]


Yeah, warriorqueen, honestly from the perspective of having been on the TT with you, running the August fundraiser as usual while doing the SC elections and handling the ongoing worst-case scenario concerns over that frankly seems almost irresponsibly stupid. Can you imagine the shouting about how much we were asking people to chip in money and support the site during a period of power grabs and shaky transitions? I think I would rather gnaw off my own thumbs. Delaying the fundraising drive until the SC had its feet under it, everyone had a chance to adjust to the new normal, and we could all see that regular updates would be continuing was the most responsible thing to do. End of.

This kind of stuff is what the SC is supposed to be doing, by the way; it is literally their job to handle fundraising and unfucking some of the longer-term issues the site has so that mods aren't run completely off their feet. Let's not add to their workload by being needlessly shitty to them or assuming the worst, most malicious and/or incompetent possible motivation for their every decision. I totally get being stressed about the money situation; me too! But there is absolutely zero reason to let that stress drive you to be shitty with the brand new people who are stepping in and trying to sort things out before they've had even the slightest chance to do so. C'mon.
posted by sciatrix at 10:09 AM on October 26 [22 favorites]


Just a small note - that should be "never worked TOGETHER before." :)
posted by warriorqueen at 10:10 AM on October 26 [3 favorites]


Just a quick note to those asking for more financial details in this thread: I hear you. I would want more financial details too, if I were in your position. I understand.

The financial summary is forthcoming - latest by the end of this week. In the meantime, if you don't feel comfortable donating - you have every right to wait for more information before making your decision. The Fundraising Drive will last at least a month.

Thank you for your patience, and thank you for caring about the site in wanting to know more. (We all have different ways of caring about this place - I understand some of us express this through wanting more information so we can help figure out what to do and make suggestions.) I care about the details as much as you do. We are doing our best.

I am sorry that we were not able to release the financial summary together with this first post. That would have been ideal, but given the urgency of making sure staff could hopefully get paid in time, we made the first post without the financial summary.
posted by aielen at 10:16 AM on October 26 [25 favorites]


As a steering committee member who did some of the drafting of the post for the SC, I can comment a bit on the tone. We were trying to do a lot of things in this post. Maybe too many things.

We didn't want to be pure 'doom and gloom' even though the situation is pretty doomy and gloomy.
We wanted to show that we are thinking about more than just today's emergency and trying to build plans for the future.
We know that the annual fundraiser typically raises both money and community spirit, so we do want to do some fun events though we didn't have time to line them all up properly in advance.
We wanted to show that we see and appreciate offers of help from members and that we want to accept those offers whenever we can.

So, if all of that got too mashed together and took away from the message that Metafilter needs more money right now, I'm sorry. It's one of those things where we didn't have time to write a short post so we wrote a long one instead.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:37 AM on October 26 [23 favorites]


Thank you!! I've been in the position of sorting through an org's finances, and then trying to share information (including bad news) with stakeholders in a useful way. It was interesting work, but not easy. And my org was much simpler in every way than a Metafilter.

The feedback and follow-up is important too and obviously I am still reading the thread. But the initial post was enough for me to decide to maintain my donation at a time when I'm revisiting all my subscriptions. Many thanks!
posted by mersen at 10:38 AM on October 26 [8 favorites]


Community goodwill, trust and momentum from Mefites have been key to pulling Metafilter out of financial emergencies, historically - for example [...] 2018

2018 also featured the lowest number of last user comments in recent history, but that was still 1200 people who have not been seen since.

Many of those people were users who had not been active in years but popped up to make a few last comments. People doing that are keeping the number of active users buoyed for the moment but they are obviously a limited resource.

For a sustainable user base the number of people making their first comment each year has to exceed the number of people making their last comment. The orange line has to get back on top of the grey line, and given that the gap has just widened for the last 10 years it seems like something far more dramatic than getting more money out of the existing users is called for.

Of course that assumes that the size of the active user base and the ability to raise funds are directly connected. That may not be the case.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:10 AM on October 26 [1 favorite]


I am all for people speaking up and asking questions, but I also think it is appropriate to make an extra effort to be polite to the volunteers who are helping out by being part of the SC and who were on the TT.

Also, maybe I am misunderstanding something, but it sounds like we’ve already been told roughly 5k for hosting/tech, 15k for staff and a little bit for everything else per month, plus occasional one time stuff. To me that already seems like a good overview of the finances (and we’ve been told more detail is coming). Even without more detail, it seems clear that there are really only three major expenses: hosting, tech staff and mod staff. Any expense reduction would have to address one of these three things, and the bulk of funds being raised will go to these three things.
posted by snofoam at 11:35 AM on October 26 [14 favorites]


I'm really happy Jessamyn took over the site, and I'm really happy with the work done by the Transition Team, as well as with the elected members of the Steering Committee, and their commitment. Honestly, I want to express my heartfelt thanks all around. I've been reading Mefi since at least 2001, and there's been hardly a day that I didn't visit the front page at least once. It's a great site that's well worth fighting for.

That having been said, it's a fight that's long overdue, with money & members dwindling for a decade or more. And while there are many plausible explanations for what caused the current predicament, I would say the factor of overriding importance — if only because it's something we can control, whereas we can't really control ad revenue or social changes — is the absentee style of management that's been established over the years.

From that perspective, I have my strong reservations, when the new owner claims: "What was a surprise was how close to the bone site finances were, for which we are 1. sorry and 2. working on it", when less than 2 months ago, they said: "I mean, we’re now at the point, which we weren’t six months ago or a year ago where the money coming in is slightly more than the money going out. When I took over, what I was told is it loses money slowly. [...] And we’ve fixed that.", as well as the frankly flippant: "I haven’t honestly looked at the stats recently". As the owner of a business, don't you need to run the numbers? Or at least, look at them?

I hope the Steering Committee gets the resources & support they need to succeed in the hard & important work of righting the ship, and to that end I will donate a little money. But without a radical change in attitude at the top I fear it won't go very far.
posted by dmh at 11:43 AM on October 26 [8 favorites]


I get that it feels bad when someone points out that you screwed up, but there were major screwups here, from both the outgoing and the incoming teams, and that deserves to be said. I have, in fact, been the driving force for small business change initiatives, I have planned events both large and small as a volunteer, I have been on and run volunteer committees during major turnover. When I say 'the budget is absolutely the first thing to get straightened out, and the fact that we are in this situation is a sign of major, and possibly ongoing, bad leadership', I am speaking from a place of experience.

That people are reacting to MeFi users' extremely valid and long-unaddressed concerns with 'But my feelings! Don't be shitty!' is not actually helping anything.

Co-signing everything dmh said.
posted by Ahniya at 12:08 PM on October 26 [3 favorites]


There are no illusions, Ahniya, that this isn't a big deal. We're all keenly aware. It's genuinely upsetting.

Pointing fingers and shouting down the very people who are brand new to this, had absolutely zero to do with creating the issue, and are now genuinely trying very hard to help, however, isn't one bit helpful or necessary.
posted by mochapickle at 12:17 PM on October 26 [30 favorites]


Thank you for this thorough post and extremely detailed and kind follow up answers! I’m sorry to hear that the need is so urgent, and thankful that y’all have prioritized getting people paid over doing things perfectly. First because everyone’s definition of perfect is different and it’s not possible but more importantly because I think it’s the deeply human approach of valuing the people who make things work. I’m really glad to hear that there are longer term solutions being sought and discussed, and I hope that some of those involve bringing more new users here. All the best! Thank you again.
posted by Bottlecap at 12:24 PM on October 26 [10 favorites]


If someone does want to contribute their knowledge as a volunteer to improve things, there are opportunities for that. I think sharing concerns about transparency with the financials and transition are fair to a point, even if I personally disagree with most of the criticisms of new ownership and the SC, but otherwise without more info to add, please take a moment or two to think about other ways you can help row the boat in the right direction.
posted by glaucon at 12:54 PM on October 26 [1 favorite]


I think at this point the best and perhaps only option is to be bought and funded by a rich benefactor who is doing this as a hobby. I have worked with companies going through bankruptcies and similar solvency issues and it is expensive. Changing hosting providers is expensive. Rearranging staff is expensive.

I do not know if hosting costs are high because CF/coding is incredibly inefficient in queries as it was created before cloud hosting or something similar but I think the value of Metafilter isn't in the platform but the users. Maybe moving to an open source solution that won't have the same functionality but still allow what makes Metafilter great: the users and content is the best solution. A lot of modern forum software has a lot of self moderation features and because it is OOTB the technical burden is less.

It is not ideal but if this is as bad as it sounds there's not really a choice here, and I'd rather see Metafilter live on in a different format then cease to exist.
posted by geoff. at 1:31 PM on October 26 [1 favorite]


It is not ideal but if this is as bad as it sounds there's not really a choice here, and I'd rather see Metafilter live on in a different format then cease to exist.

I love Metafilter and hope it lasts a long time. And you're right, it's the users that make Metafilter Metafilter. But it's also the users posting on this ugly-ass, quirky, blue, idiosyncratic site that that makes it Metafilter. Personally, I'd rather Metafilter put up a big ugly blue "Closed" sign than live in a different format.
posted by bondcliff at 2:28 PM on October 26 [5 favorites]


I would love Metafilter to be on a blue site whose tech wasn’t so impossible to maintain and improve, where posting on mobile was much easier. I’ve been banging the drum of migrating to something like Discourse for a long time and I think people are bored of hearing it, but there are a lot of great online communities out there that run on different forum software. Metafilter has a lot of teach but it also has a lot to learn.
posted by adrianhon at 2:40 PM on October 26 [6 favorites]


A different format could be as alienating to the current users as could be. I would find it difficult to migrate to a different platform I don't use after using this awesome site for 20+ years. But I trust the process as it's been laid out. Thanks for all this transparency, seriously.
posted by tiny frying pan at 2:56 PM on October 26


Donating, and I appreciate the reminder. It's clear the Steering Committee (like the Transition Team) walked into a *%&! ton more work than was initially anticipated. Keeping the staff paid and the site up are the immediate concerns, I know; there was talk of an honorarium for committee members once finances stabilize, and I hope that's still the plan. Thanks again to everyone on the SC for stepping up.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:08 PM on October 26 [4 favorites]


clone www.ilxor.com 🙃

we'd be advancing 1 year into the future of forums!
posted by sagc at 3:10 PM on October 26 [2 favorites]


hmmm i am not getting https://login.metafilter.com/funding.mefi to look right as i try to share it, like the styling is broken
posted by bingbong at 3:29 PM on October 26


And for the love of all that is mighty, please let me pay $5 to send a pixelated birthday hat icon to another site member. Or other random stupid icons. I would pay about $20-$30 for a year's right to be able to add a tiny potato next to my username. I paid for LJ/Dreamwidth because they had icons and I needed to be able to have many stupid icons.

Steering Committee JHarris here. I've been doing pixel art for awhile now, and would love to make icons like this.
posted by JHarris at 3:37 PM on October 26 [13 favorites]


hmmm i am not getting https://login.metafilter.com/funding.mefi to look right as i try to share it, like the styling is broken

There's something currently very broken about mefi on desktop for me, seems related to "d217i264rvtnq0.cloudfront.net" being not found (hope the aws optimization didn't go too far). Mobile is still ok as far as I can tell.
posted by advil at 3:45 PM on October 26


Yep, we see the tech issues. It's late frimble-time but we've reached out and hopefully they can get it sorted.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:53 PM on October 26 [2 favorites]


I’m like embarrassingly easy to lure in with pixel art that can be displayed on user pages or the like.
posted by Bottlecap at 4:25 PM on October 26 [11 favorites]


Out of curiosity for those wanting to get rid of AWS what are the options? I never, ever heard of moving from cloud back to colo/on-prem. I deal with large enterprise customers but I literally don't even know providers besides the big cloud services unless you're hosting your own data center.
posted by geoff. at 4:31 PM on October 26 [2 favorites]


We (well, those of us with the knowledge and experience to do more than gesture at the idea, which is not me anymore) would presumably need to have some idea of the present architecture, hosting requirements and resource consumption as it stands to make specific suggestions?

Part of the discussion here may also involve whether the long term goal is to maintain MeFi as a site that ranks in search results, tries to pull in views and carries ads to show to non-members to drive revenue; or one that doesn't care if anyone without an account can load the front page.

I do have old server hardware I'd consider donating, and I'd imagine others have newer and better.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:42 PM on October 26 [1 favorite]


(But since even in the barebones scenario the other 'softer' costs appear to be around 3x the current hosting costs, it's not obvious there's that much money to be saved there, especially if it would come at the cost of whatever ad revenue the site does drive.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:18 PM on October 26


Survive - $7,000 / month in new or increased recurring contributions and revenue


Godpseed.
It's been a good run.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:04 PM on October 26 [1 favorite]


SC'er here. I'm bendy, the mistress of merch and I've added a couple new designs to our stores as well as some new products.

On NeatoShop we have:
- A ladies slim-fit t-shirt with the word metafilter in lower case. This design is also available on masks, long-sleeved tees, dog t-shirts, small canvas messenger bags, baseball tees and onesies.

On TeeRepublic we have:
- A MeFi square logo magnet, stickers, two types of notebooks and buttons/badges.

I've been reading through the member survey results for ideas and some of them show up here.
posted by bendy at 8:11 PM on October 26 [27 favorites]


I had no idea of the state of the finances, so I just started my monthly contrib. I don't usually scan much except for the front page, so thanks for the FPP!
posted by storybored at 9:46 PM on October 26 [4 favorites]


> SC'er here. I'm bendy, the mistress of merch and I've added a couple new designs to our stores as well as some new products.

Since it wasn't mentioned and not everyone might know about it, looks like TopatoCo still has MeFi logo shirts, Everyone Needs a Mug mugs, Flag It and Move On shirts, and [More Inside] tote bags.
posted by ASF Tod und Schwerkraft at 10:21 PM on October 26 [7 favorites]


Out of curiosity for those wanting to get rid of AWS what are the options?

Like snuffalupagus said, we'd need more information about the current architecture and resource consumption to make recommendations, but off the top of my head, $960/month will get you a 50-CPU dedicated virtual machine at Linode with 128GB RAM, 2.5TB of storage, and 10TB of transfer per month. Wasabi will do backups for $6/TB/month. However, ColdFusion looks like it's licensed per-core (or in blocks of 2 or 8 cores), so depending on the license you wouldn't necessarily be able to take advantage of a lot of that VM's power. I imagine the licensing for CF on AWS is part of what makes the price seem high there, and unless the site is completely rebuilt in some other technology, the savings to be had by moving off AWS are probably negligible.
posted by hades at 11:06 PM on October 26 [3 favorites]


I have wondered what the difficulty level would be to reimplement Metafilter's software in Python with some suitable framework. I'm sure that would make poor frimble's hair catch on fire though.
posted by JHarris at 12:22 AM on October 27 [2 favorites]


That also relies on having someone on staff or volunteering who can do the management stuff, although presumably if there's someone capable of setting up and managing the AWS environment, they could also manage a monolithic server.

As for reimplementing... I mean, there are definitely ways you could do it. Presumably the database is something that is accessible from more than just CF, so you could develop new tools around it and do clever things to swap them in piece by piece so users wouldn't even necessaraily notice. But that's not a one-person project, and certainly not within the time frame available.

More realistic would be moving wholesale to some new open platform, writing converters for as much as possible and just abandoning the things which don't fit in the new framework. But if that's something even under consideration, then I would propose instead freezing the existing site in amber and making it available in a lightweight static form, starting over from scratch with a new platform, and only migrating the user accounts. A brand new day, if you will.
posted by hades at 12:43 AM on October 27 [7 favorites]


There are so many great posts from the Before Times though that can still be favorited and tagged. Converting it to static, additionally, would require that search take into account both old and new posts, or else do a completely different search for both, with exciting opportunities for things to break in one and not the other. There are also some nice current features that either wouldn't make the cut or would have to be special cased, like the This Day In Metafilter History sidebar widget. Hmm.
posted by JHarris at 2:57 AM on October 27 [2 favorites]


> Survive - $7,000 / month in new or increased recurring contributions and revenue

Godpseed.
It's been a good run.


It’s always a sad feeling when you realize a company isn’t going to make it. But reinventions do happen — it gets easier to think outside the box when you can no longer afford the box. Don’t count Metafilter out just yet.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:05 AM on October 27 [11 favorites]


I personally think that this is doable. It might be time to send every user a MeMail linking to the fundraising MetaTalk post and asking for two things:
-A donation, one-time or recurring
-An ask to share the site with 2-3 friends to try and uptick users for future growth

Maybe these aren’t the two exact items, but this definitely feels like the time to send a note via MeMail on the fundraising post at minimum. It’s not spammy - this is an exceptional time.
posted by glaucon at 6:38 AM on October 27 [6 favorites]


I have wondered what the difficulty level would be to reimplement Metafilter's software in Python

I can't imagine investing in a project like that now with the finances and userbase in such decline. If it were me I'd try to see if the community could somehow be moved to Discourse. Or maybe a subreddit. The latter would definitely compromise the clubby semi-privacy we have now.
posted by Nelson at 7:48 AM on October 27 [1 favorite]


It’s always a sad feeling when you realize a company isn’t going to make it.

I'm still crossing my fingers we'll be able to keep limping along for a while longer or indefinitely. But I think this is a "takes money to make money" situation and we'll never break the poverty cycle without some drastic intervention like a huge gift of money all at once.

I hate making decisions as "what can I afford". I'd rather decide what the right thing to do is, then get that money, giving myself enough runway to make it self-sustaining. (of course I would, that's what everyone would do.) Unfortunately, that requires a source of money to start with.

As a thought question though: if we had unlimited money, but only for one year, what would we do with the site? Leave it as-is and be in this situation again in a year?
posted by ctmf at 8:02 AM on October 27 [1 favorite]


Endow it with enough capital to operate on dividends, but that's wishing for wishes...

Probably all of the stuff suggested above that would make it more sustainable and cheaper to run, but would require a lot of resources, like rewriting the codebase. After making sure everyone who's working is getting paid, and paying them more.

(Somehow I never realized ColdFusion came with an ongoing licensing cost, and on a CPU model too.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:52 AM on October 27 [2 favorites]


Endow it with enough capital to operate on dividends.

Gandhi argued against endowments. He didn't want one for his organization. He felt that endowments could led to stagnation, and parasitism. Organizations remain vital by continuing to prove their worth to their membership.

That said, don't let me talk you out of your million dollar contribution!
posted by Winnie the Proust at 10:11 AM on October 27 [2 favorites]


Survive - $7,000 / month in new or increased recurring contributions and revenue

how many active members do we have?

Are there seven thousand? What if we all just kicked in one dollar per month? Twelve bucks a year. If you're already contributing twenty bucks a month, make it twenty-one. Chalk it up to inflation.

Like so many deep human problems, I can't help but feel the core concern here is communication. How do we get what amounts to pocket change from folks (most folks anyway, less than a cup of coffee a month) without badgering them about it?
posted by philip-random at 10:21 AM on October 27 [4 favorites]


Hola all. Would it be beneficial to have some kind of little bar graph or thermometer doodad showing the fundraising progress? I dunno, I like seeing that kind of stuff. :)
posted by bitterkitten at 10:26 AM on October 27 [7 favorites]


It's more like 4400, philip-random, so $2. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 10:41 AM on October 27 [3 favorites]


It was mentioned above the thermometer thing is on the radar — I'd suggest making it a permanent thing over in the sidebar showing the monthly funding level (maybe styled like a fuel gauge instead of a thermometer?)

If you're a contributor you can hide it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:43 AM on October 27 [4 favorites]


add the merchandise to the mefi mall
posted by aniola at 10:44 AM on October 27 [6 favorites]


Recurring donations are reassuring because then you know there's recurring income, but small donations lose a larger percentage to fees. Someone donated $1 to a little org I help run and we saw 60 cents of it after fees. That's 60%. We see $18 after fees for $20 donations. That's 90%.
posted by aniola at 10:48 AM on October 27 [4 favorites]


how many active members do we have?

I posted that above.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:08 AM on October 27 [3 favorites]


My monthly contribution stopped in July ... 2021. So I have restarted it with no ending date this time.

I often think of Michelle from California, a former member who was unhoused and offered a lot of wisdom, in my opinion, to the site. I am sorry that she left the site. I hope that she (and the many other folks who used to be contacts and cancelled their accounts) will return at some point. Maybe that is not realistic. It is important to me that the site be accessible to anyone, including people who are poor. But maybe that is not realistic either.

Thanks to the unhappy people posting; thank you for your comments, you need to be heard.
Thanks to the calm, open, hardworking, amazing Steering Committee and Transition Team folks who are attempting to listen to everyone and to respond kindly, accurately, and to the best of your abilities.
Thanks to HippyBear for being HippyBear (this is not sarcasm; I mean this with all my heart).
Welcome and thank you to the new folks and the newly donating folks.
Thank you to everyone who is able to donate or increase donations.

Attempting to right the good ship MetaFilter is hard and messy–but far from pointless for those of us who have found a home here. (I have witnessed a fair amount of hard, messy, and pointless. This feels different to me. Could be wrong; guess we will find out soon enough.)

I'm in my 60s and I am not ready to see the blue buried just yet. Early next month a check will arrive in Vermont for 20 bucks, and checks will keep arriving until either MetaFilter expires or I do.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:09 AM on October 27 [28 favorites]


He felt that endowments could led to stagnation

I've reached an age (and I suspect that a lot of the rest of the user base has) where stagnation isn't all that bad, particular when the alternative is a slow slide into oblivion. Not everything everything has be kept fresh and new -- sometimes the status quo is just fine.

Also, get right the hell off my lawn.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:20 AM on October 27 [8 favorites]


fwiw, I sent a one-time donation through PayPal; my (US) bank will mail a monthly [or bi-weekly, or weekly, or...] check via its "free bill pay" feature.* From the funding page, "I want to donate by personal check":

You can send a paper check (or cheque) to:

MetaFilter
PO Box 345
Randolph VT 05060

If you're a member, please add your username to the check.


*NOTE: Update the previous Oregon mailing address saved in the auto-pay settings, if you're restarting this type of contribution.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:35 AM on October 27 [6 favorites]


I just made a post about online billpay because I swear everybody I tell thinks it's too good to be true, or their bank couldn't possibly do that, or something. And then they go looking for it, and there it is! Even after they try it, they have trouble believing it could really work until it does and then they're like OH WOW.
posted by aniola at 12:14 PM on October 27 [12 favorites]


Thanks, aniola! I basically hate credit-card companies and payment companies, all the middle-vendors whose jobs are taking a cut. So I use old-fashioned checks whenever possible because I want as much money as possible to get to the (tiny number of) worthy projects/individuals I support.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:08 PM on October 27 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter also now has a venmo: @MetaFilter

As the owner of a business, don't you need to run the numbers? Or at least, look at them?

At the risk of sounding defensive: Yes. And I did. And the numbers we had weren't as accurate as I'd both been told and as the ones I'd seen, mostly for recurring-cost issues and also poor record keeping reasons. The stats I didn't look at were active user stats; that information is in the InfoDump, I just hadn't looked at it before the interview.

I stepped up because someone had to. MeFi is my internet home and there were problems that everyone could see, and something needed to change. Everyone was asked to pitch in and, frankly, I'm good at paperwork and admin tasks so that's what I opted to do. I absolutely understand the skepticism from the people who don't have confidence in this path or have other concerns. This is 100% not about my feelings, I'm available to talk more if people want to.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:35 PM on October 27 [82 favorites]


Endow it with enough capital to operate on dividends, but that's wishing for wishes...

It would take about $8-10 million in endowment to throw off a draw sufficient to fully fund the budget at Thrive levels.
posted by Miko at 3:37 PM on October 27 [4 favorites]


At the risk of being dumb for defending someone who doesn’t need defending, I think it’s frankly ridiculous to imagine that jessamyn had somehow been intentionally deceitful about anything regarding this site. I’m pretty sure she’s mainly responsible for the parts some of us like the best, like Ask. And when has she ever been anything but helpful and kind and clearly well-intentioned? Geez.
posted by Glinn at 4:23 PM on October 27 [36 favorites]


Hell, I was 20 USD a month for quite a while there. I stopped for reasons I have already made clear. In the user survey I set two outcomes I wanted to see before resuming continuing financial support. Neither of those have happened yet, but .... I gotta say that I am extremely impressed by what the SC has done and how they are communicating with everybody. So, one-off 100 USD (for now) to help give them enough time and breathing space to get the other stuff done. They deserve a chance and so far they are doing awesome. If funds could be earmarked for legal work for corporate reorganization as a not-for-profit, coop, or similar, I would be there for that for sure.
posted by Gotanda at 4:25 PM on October 27 [12 favorites]


Great to see transparency in both post and follow up comments. Quite the mountain to climb, but fingers crossed. I double checked my recurring donation is still in place.
posted by knapah at 4:32 PM on October 27 [4 favorites]


Thanks for the updates and the hard (free) labor you're all doing. I quit in a snit a few months ago (or reasons unrelated to site ownership/management). I didn't stay gone long, but I didn't reinstate my monthly contribution until just now.

I can't believe I've been on this website for 16 years--I want it to survive and thrive.
posted by Mavri at 5:29 PM on October 27 [6 favorites]


I can double my recurring monthly payment from 5 to 10… that’s a drop in the bucket but it’s what I’ve got. Still on the wrong side of the capital/labor divide, or I’d do more.

I used the form above to offer some things up for the auction.

I’m kinda counting on you guys to still be here when Twitter bites the dust.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:37 PM on October 27 [7 favorites]


I think it’s frankly ridiculous to imagine that jessamyn had somehow been intentionally deceitful about anything regarding this site

Just for the record, this is not something I considered for even a second. I do think that the decidedly arms-length ownership model that jessamyn has espoused may have contributed to the financial "surprises", and may not be the best model for the site going forward, at least not in a time of crisis. The way I see it, jessamyn taking ownership is one of the most promising developments in years, and even simply as such, one of Mefi's most valuable assets right now.
posted by dmh at 6:05 PM on October 27 [6 favorites]


Steering Committee Kim here: To all of you who are rejoining/new joining/re-starting/upping contributions: THANK YOU for your faith in ... all of this emergent chaos. Seeing so many Askers/Guessers, so many toilet paper overs/toilet paper unders, so many MeeeeFyes/Meffies come together is heartwarming.

The water is rough, but we're all rowing in the same direction.
posted by kimberussell at 6:37 PM on October 27 [20 favorites]


The water is rough, but we're all rowing in the same direction.
Let's be paddlers! Rowers look back at where they've been, but paddlers look forward.

Getting ready to chip in!
posted by invokeuse at 7:23 PM on October 27 [9 favorites]


I could use the bank app to update the mailing address but had to log in on a PC to increase the amount? WTF. In any case, done!
posted by janell at 9:27 PM on October 27 [1 favorite]


But the money is about to run out, right? And fundraising did not work before?

Need to sack the staff, they are most of the costs. And MUST make payroll. Or you are no longer a going concern, which in my country is illegal.

Sorry.
posted by Comfy Shoes at 6:29 AM on October 28


Check heading to Vermont. Thanks to the Steering Committee for all your work on this! I love you all.
posted by mochapickle at 7:40 AM on October 28 [6 favorites]


.
posted by banshee at 8:57 AM on October 28


An ask to share the site with 2-3 friends to try and uptick users for future growth

One thing (perhaps hopeful) that finally sunk in for me while making graphs this time was that Metafilter’s sudden removal from the first page of Google results did not directly tank the number of new users coming in. The steady decline in signups started around then, but it did not plummet the way you would expect if Google shoveling people to the site was the primary source of new blood.

The reason this is hopeful to me is that it means that there is something to address other than trying to get back on Google’s radar. The possibility exists that the dwindling number of new users is something that the site can address directly.

The how of that is definitely outside my bailiwick, but it does offer some hope that the site won’t find a way to pay the bills just to find there’s no community left to serve.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:15 AM on October 28 [6 favorites]


banshee wrote: .

There may come a day to shutter the site, and I can’t imagine a more appropriate or competent person to do that than Jessamyn. However, CPR is still being performed. The site hasn’t dot-lined yet.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:23 AM on October 28 [7 favorites]


If people need hope that we can grow - absolutely there is a ton of hope! Both in terms of audience and in terms of revenue. That's my professional opinion.

Some of that will depend on a) money and b) time. If there's no money, it has to be volunteer time which is more scattershot. But here is a scattershot of ideas I can type between meetings.

I want to note this is not here as a to-do list or a 'why haven't we...' list, it's here as a HOPE list during this FUNDRAISING drive. :) Also all would depend on some consultation, please don't threaten to quit over any of them - I'm just saying that in 10 minutes I can come up with ideas that I have seen work and I'm sure our SC can do 1000% better:

Audience:

- audience share partnerships/promotional swaps - for example, Substacks and properties like the Tor newsletter. I could see trading Tor release Fanfare posts for a mention in their newsletter etc.

- Tweeting/etc. AT authors whose articles appear on the site. If they participate, great. If not, their fans/those following them may well pick up on it and check it out.

- spot promoting/paid advertising on very specific online communities with connections. when there's a question about woodworking, go to a woodworking forum and link to it and re-ask the question. This requires a lot of time because obviously you don't want it to be like, spammy. Best if those of us who are there already toss MF a bone.

- paid advertising to boost things of a viral nature -i.e. "what is emotional labour? find out here" targetted to US women between the ages of 35 and 40. This is one of those things you have to be ready and willing to jump on.

Revenue:

- host discussion of creative works/apps/platforms (again totally spitballing but like, Veely is doing a lot of ads I keep getting, so approach Veely and say we'll do weekly Veely roundups for 3 months for $xx dollars with a link to Veely)

- grow the MetaFilter newsletter and allow ads/ad swaps in that, as people will have opted into it

- MeFites love to learn, so I think rev share partnerships (or just referral bounties) with online course creators/conferences/etc. would be something to investigate

The main thing is to keep at it and not look for One Big Win but a constant kind of level of work.

One final weird success story: The Internet is a very different place these days but early in my career on a seniors' website we tossed one of the online dating sites referrals (really small links) and we got a female bounty (I know, I know)...$25/head if I remember right for every woman that signed up, plus a cut of any sales (you had to pay extra to message people or something).

Well...if you know older senior demographics you can figure out how we started getting an extra $2k/mo. The widows were looking for dates and wanting to chat!

Again, just saying - so much is possible.

Finally, I get that "don't throw good money at something" thing but...consider a monthly donation in that case. Because if you just set it at the value you feel you get in a month, then if Something Bad happens, stop the donation.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:42 AM on October 28 [20 favorites]


An ask to share the site with 2-3 friends to try and uptick users for future growth

Don't forget you can gift memberships.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:34 AM on October 28 [6 favorites]


Is it possible to have some kind of donations progress bar? Doesn't have to be live, but updated whenever you want to. Seeing the progress and how many others have chipped in could be motivating to folks.

EDIT: sorry I see this is answered above.
posted by lookoutbelow at 1:18 PM on October 28


I've been turbolurking here, with only occasional active participation, for many many years. I have now gotten off my metaphorical backside and started a recurring monthly contribution.
posted by BuxtonTheRed at 4:00 PM on October 28 [15 favorites]


I had just canceled my monthly contribution for "unable to figure out how to update my credit card, so canceled and set a reminder to restart next month" reasons. So now I've restarted, and knock wood, won't have to update again for a few years.
posted by the primroses were over at 4:03 PM on October 28 [4 favorites]


I, for one, welcome our new Metafilter overlords.

Seriously, I had meant for some time to donate, but this has gotten me off my butt. (The "posts for sale" helped too, but the dire situation and the transparency mean more.)
posted by NotLost at 8:29 AM on October 29 [5 favorites]


I sent a note via the auction page and haven't heard anything back. Was it received?
posted by dobbs at 7:12 PM on October 29 [1 favorite]


You gain much and lose more in life, and I'd be devastated for MeFi to be the latter. One-time donation made, recurring to begin as new job does.

I love you each, I thank you each.
posted by riverlife at 9:02 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]


dobbs: I sent a note via the auction page and haven't heard anything back. Was it received?

Hi dobbs, I just double-checked, and it was received! We're just working our way down the list. Thanks very much indeed!
posted by tavegyl at 12:34 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]


Following up the posts about metafilter having a social media presence, I note that while the Twitter acct has 3500 followers, it follows no-one. Is it worth auctioning a single follow from the acct?
posted by biffa at 4:20 AM on October 30 [2 favorites]


How about a single Favorite from the Anonymous account as well?
posted by Diskeater at 5:44 AM on October 30 [3 favorites]


First, I would like to say thanks to jessamyn, the steering committee and the transition team before them, for the great governance so far.

Second, one of the highest priorities needs to be put on paying any staff members for their time.

Now, on to some suggestions.

A. More needs to be done to GET PEOPLE’S ATTENTION. As I mentioned up a little bit, I had bean meaning to donate for some time, but I didn’t realize how dire the situation was until I read this post. And you didn’t really MAKE me read this post. This thread is really easy to pass by. (Sorry for the all caps, but I hope they helped illustrate the point.)

Here are some examples of more glaring ways to get people’s attention: You’ve probably seen Wikipedia fund-raising appeals. They take up at least a quarter of the page, and they’re set off with a box and different colors. The Guardian (aside from anything else you might think about it) has a big box in a different color that pops up from the bottom (but still lets you read articles). Darebee.com is not quite as much in your face, but at the bottom of the home page, it does have a rough funding thermometer with flashing words for the status (depending how bad the status is).

B. This post (and thread) is by far the most information we’ve had about the site finances. That helps me figure out my share. A community magazine that my family subscribes to uses that information. On the front of each copy, it says something like, “Suggested donation $X per year, more if you can afford it, less if you can’t.”

C. I understand there is a trade-off between smaller monthly donations and larger one-off donations (stability vs. the cut from servicer fees). Maybe the best of both worlds would be to for more people to be on yearly recurring donations, which would ideally be staggered through the year.

D. Maybe send people via e-mail a solicitation on the anniversary of their joining date.

E. If you’d like help pitching the MeFi story to news outlets, I might be able to help with that after Nov. 8. I have written some newspaper stories. But we might also have people more experienced than me.

Thanks again.
posted by NotLost at 6:12 AM on October 30 [12 favorites]


Thank you! I started my monthly Stripe payments again. I haven't been as active over the past few years, but Metafilter still holds a big part of my heart.
posted by Mouse Army at 10:43 AM on October 30 [2 favorites]


Has the promised detailed financial post gone up? I haven’t seen it but maybe I missed it
posted by glaucon at 10:59 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]


This post needs to be reposted on the blue and green and the other subsites as Fundraising post Pt II with a referance back to this post for the comments.
It then needs to be reposted every day for a week so that the maximum number of people see it.
This is not normal but these are not normal times.
posted by adamvasco at 11:35 AM on October 30 [6 favorites]


How hard could it be to have sticky posts on the main sites?
posted by Rumple at 1:24 PM on October 30


Thanks for sharing the links to the merch, Bendy! A couple of suggestions: a) I would LOVE the button design as an enamel pin! b) most of the designs are simple and text based, just like Metafilter. Which is great, but I’d love to see other options as well. Of the podcasts that I give money to, merch is a big revenue stream on top of patreon subscription models (I’ve bought SO MUCH merch from Buffering the Vampire Slayer). I’m sure the collection of people offering their volunteer services to the site includes some folks who could come up with some more interesting designs. Rotating the offerings in and out also adds some urgency to the process (gotta buy the new design while it’s still available!)
posted by bluloo at 1:54 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


Rotating the offerings in and out also adds some urgency to the process (gotta buy the new design while it’s still available!)

noooo don't turn mefi thneeds into pumpkin spice flavored thneeds
posted by aniola at 2:43 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


Has the promised detailed financial post gone up?

iirc, most if not all of the data has been collected but there was an opportunity for a second set of eyes on it just before the weekend and I think the SC decided to take that opportunity.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:49 PM on October 30 [3 favorites]


noooo don't turn mefi thneeds into pumpkin spice flavored thneeds

Yeah, I was thinking less pumpkin spice; more cool, limited-edition designs by mefi’s own.
posted by bluloo at 4:02 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


Not-a-web-guy curiosity question: does serving up the entire large hundreds-or-thousands-of-comments thread every time regulars visit vs. some kind of local browser storage with a 'download new' function make a measurable difference in hosting bills?

I just notice I reload the megathread-type pages a lot, but only to read the bottom 10% or less of the page. I'm not a "leave the tab open all day" kind of person, I guess.

Also I like WaniKani's model of basic default UI, WITH a public API so people can go nuts with making and sharing custom userscripts. WITHOUT having to load and scrape scattered html pages. I'm not sure how that could translate to making more money though. Just babbling out loud, not necessarily helpfully.
posted by ctmf at 5:08 PM on October 30


Can the tiny little banner at the top of the blue be larger, and show the real urgency of this? "Metafilter Wants You - The Fundraising Post! (hide)" is a bit less urgent than say, "Emergency: Metafilter May Not Make Payroll, but the New SC is Making Amazing Progress! Donate, please.(hide)
posted by Gotanda at 5:11 PM on October 30 [11 favorites]


I wrote…
The steady decline in signups started around then, but it did not plummet the way you would expect if Google shoveling people to the site was the primary source of new blood.

Is there easy access to the site traffic numbers over the years? It would be interesting to see if the number of unique visitors tracked signups.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:21 PM on October 30


Very long time lurker, finally kicked in my $5 for membership and an ongoing $5 monthly donation. A bargain for the value I got from making my partner read the entire emotional labor thread as a learning exercise, if nothing else.

I would be sad to see Metafilter go.
posted by kserra at 5:53 PM on October 30 [35 favorites]


Hey, welcome kserra!
posted by mochapickle at 6:36 PM on October 30 [5 favorites]


Echoing a couple of comments above - if the purpose of this, or any other, post is to increase donations/subscriptions because otherwise the site will run out of money in a month, it should be posted MUCH more prominently. It should be impossible to ignore.

There have been so many of those little banners at the top of the site this year that I barely notice when they appear or change now.

I hate big banners, and the Guardian's overlay, but this is not a time to be polite or worry about offending people.
posted by fabius at 6:28 AM on October 31 [14 favorites]


Any updates on how much we've raised so far?
posted by buntastic at 10:27 AM on October 31 [9 favorites]


I've been watching this discussion with interest, and two things keep bugging me.

1) At what point in potential site growth would we need more than one moderator on call at a time? Moderator workload seems like the limiting factor for how well "we need more users" scales as a way to improve site finances, and I suspect that given the site's history, somebody may have a decent guess at this.

2) As NotLost mentioned, it feels like we're finally starting to get enough information to figure out each user's "share", which I previously would have struggled to guess within an order of magnitude. Will the financials report surface this number more officially? From what I know right now, if we assume ~4k active users, and $20k/month expenses, that's $5/month from every person. Or, in a possibly more equitable way to think of it: we have 3 FTE + hosting, so each user's "share" is about 1/1000th of their income.
posted by Metasyntactic at 12:06 PM on October 31 [6 favorites]


Hey Metasyntactic, thanks for calculating that! I already made a one-time donation, but after reading your comment, I feel like $5/mo is my fair share. Brb, gonna set up my monthly subscription to MeFi.
posted by gakiko at 1:33 PM on October 31 [4 favorites]


The new owner of Twitter is facing similar issues funding their site. Let us wish them luck that Twitter members will be keen to contribute financially, to help them maintain the high standards of moderation and continue their responsible stewardship of such a global... I'm sorry, I can't keep a straight face.

Humour aside, the bottom does seem to be falling out of the advertising bubble, everywhere. I think that's probably a good thing in the long run. Maybe the world is coming around to the idea of paying fair prices for quality content and moderated discussions in a way that's sustainable.

But the problem facing MeFi is that it's shrunk to the point where staffing questions are now about whether there is one moderator on duty at a time, or zero. It's not possible to scale smoothly downward from that point. You effectively just can't run a site with paid moderation below a certain size, because humans come in discrete units.

If the current ~4,000 active users all contributed $5/month, that could pay for the current ~$20k/month costs, but that would still not be a solution, because the elephant in the room is that the active user count is falling by about 500 users a year, and the speed of that decline seems to have been accelerating for several years.

If there isn't a credible plan for reversing that trend and increasing active users, then the site is coming to an end, no matter how much money can be raised from the existing user base. I would like to hear from the SC about what that plan looks like.

Attracting new users will not happen quickly enough to make a difference. But going by IDs of recent users, MeFi has something like 350,000 existing user accounts. The single most effective thing that can be done right now is to contact that vast body of previous users to encourage them to return, and to support the site if they would like it to continue.

Leave out those who have disabled their accounts, of course. But there is no good reason not to email those who have just drifted away. From past experience with various much-loved organisations and venues that wound down, I am pretty sure that if the site came to an end, the most common comment from past members would be "oh that's a shame, I didn't know it was in trouble, I would have done something if I'd known".

Get in touch directly and give people that chance.
posted by automatronic at 4:17 AM on November 1 [20 favorites]


The single most effective thing that can be done right now is to contact that vast body of previous users to encourage them to return, and to support the site if they would like it to continue.

As a data nerd I would love it if a small survey was attached asking people why they drifted away. There is a tendency to focus on people who made a big fuss when leaving, but an absolutely overwhelming majority of people just ghosted the site.

If this was an askme question the standard response would be “They just weren’t that into you”, but under the circumstances I think more detail could be really useful.

In addition, attaching something to a fundraising plea that lets people know they are valued for more than their open wallets would probably help with engagement? Perhaps someone with more experience could weigh in on that.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:44 AM on November 1 [4 favorites]


Again, I trust the SC to be thinking on this and working on it.

I'm not sure MetaFilter has any technology for this like a send/no send flag or a mass email facility (I'm not sure how the data is stored and whether it could be exported). For the survey we were not able to do that.

One thing that would be important in Canada would be that CASL rules were followed - that anyone that gets an email can unsubscribe, and so that might also be something that is hard to manage if MetaFilter only has:

active member / non-active member

and not email / no email. There's no permission box on the sign up form (I just tried it) to opt in or out of emails, so that's a good indication there isn't that information in the database.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:45 AM on November 1


Upthread, it was mentioned that the auction would be announced on Monday, Oct 31. If it's on the front page, I'm not seeing it. Where do we go to view and bid on items?
posted by xedrik at 7:58 AM on November 1 [2 favorites]


It would be nice to hear today from the steering committee on some of the outstanding items - the financial details and auction update, ideally with some news on the fundraising so far from this campaign.
posted by glaucon at 9:47 AM on November 1 [2 favorites]


As a person who has offered to help with the auction, we did not hit that optimistic deadline. There have been quite an excellent and interesting variety of items offered, and we've started to discuss the format and things, but it will likely be at least a few days yet for an announcement.
posted by Glinn at 10:54 AM on November 1 [6 favorites]


Again, I trust the SC to be thinking on this and working on it.

Just to be clear I also trust the SC to be thinking and working on this, but all organizations have weird blind spots. A mass mailing could be the most obvious thing in the world to the SC, or it may just have never occurred to them. This thread seems like an appropriate place to suggest ideas that people on the SC can say to themselves either "Huh" or "Duh" about.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:41 AM on November 1 [1 favorite]


But going by IDs of recent users, MeFi has something like 350,000 existing user accounts.

A little more data:

45645 people have ever commented on the site. Of those, 30002 made more than 5 comments total.

Still, all 350,000 people paid $5 so they may be good for more.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:59 AM on November 1 [1 favorite]


(Depending...on when $5 startups happened. I don't remember when. My original account in 2001 was free to open.)
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:10 PM on November 1


Still, all 350,000 people paid $5 so they may be good for more.

I'm not sure this is true. If someone begins the process to make an account, they get an account number assigned to them, but if they never pay the $5, that number just becomes vapor and is never used. Or that's how I remember it being explained years and years ago.
posted by hippybear at 12:21 PM on November 1 [3 favorites]


Still, all 350,000 people paid $5 so they may be good for more.


Not true, I did not pay it wasn't implemented until maybe like 2005? And the purpose if I recall was to keep spammers out and not to generate revenue.

Keep in mind a lot of Metafilter's functionality was solving issues that are solved different now. Sites tend to want high memberships so they use algorithms to try to keep bots out and try to get people to sign-up as easily and quickly as possible to the point where they even suggest usernames. Metafilter has high moderation for a number of reasons but again sites use a variety of "self moderation" tools like up/down voting and again sophisticated algorithms to determine spam or offensive content. Additionally moderation usually is not proactive if that makes sense. Either the site's algorithm flags something to be looked at by a moderator or someone flags content to keep costs down.

Metafilter does not do that, I would go so far as to call them editors as much as moderators as they do drive the nature of the conversation. I know that's a hot button issue but it is good and bad depending on your viewpoint. Some subreddits have moderators who are pretty active in that regard too so it isn't completely just a Metafilter thing. Twitter definitely has of had a liberal bent which is one of the complex reasons Elon Musk kept bringing up freedom of speech.

i guess what i'm trying to say is that there's a lot of people here who don't remember the origin of a lot of what Metafilter does and seem to believe it is a part of the culture and it really is simply Matt trying to solve things the best way he knew how because well no one really knew how at the time. Scalability was practically unheard of in 1999 or at least meant something different. You don't just click to resize a box and magically able to deal with huge spikes in traffic. You rarely build your own identity provider, etc.

Last but not least while I'm not going to speak for Frimble I'm guessing Matt did not build the site to have 20 years worth of data, I would never build a site to account for that and I have a feeling a large amount of costs are simply dealing giant databases even if they're only text. Large sites literally invent databases to deal with their specific needs and CF isn't exactly meant to be a scalable forum platform.
posted by geoff. at 12:28 PM on November 1 [5 favorites]



xedrik: Upthread, it was mentioned that the auction would be announced on Monday, Oct 31. If it's on the front page, I'm not seeing it. Where do we go to view and bid on items?

glaucon: It would be nice to hear today from the steering committee on some of the outstanding items - the financial details and auction update, ideally with some news on the fundraising so far from this campaign.


(Steering Committee member here) As Glinn writes upthread, it's taken a bit longer than we expected to pull together the auction, contact donors, get the information, find a suitable platform, write listings, etc etc. We've now got a fairly firm plan to kick it off next weekend. I do apologise, and promise it's on its way.

Similarly, I've been drafting the fundraising update and other SC members have been working on the detailed financial update we promised earlier. Both of these will appear very soon.
posted by tavegyl at 12:32 PM on November 1 [7 favorites]


As a member of the SC, I can confirm that we are thinking about and working on the possibility of a mass mailing to all members, but that doing a mass mailing that is legally compliant with anti - spam regulations in a variety of jurisdictions and takes into account what members expectations are or were around how their email addresses would be used is not a straightforward task.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:33 PM on November 1 [12 favorites]


We've now got a fairly firm plan to kick it off next weekend.

Because what is meant by "next weekend" can be a little bit vague at times, I want to point out that Desert Bus 2022 kicks off on Nov 12, and as it has its own live and silent auctions and such, could pull attention away from MeFi's auctions, were they to overlap. Gotta do whatcha gotta do, but thought I'd mention it as something that will be competing for attention during that time.
posted by xedrik at 2:40 PM on November 1


(SC member here) Yeah, I've been trying to get all the data for the auction put together, but I'm really slow at it, and I have been distracted with paid work. It's coming together slowly though. If another SC member would like to help with that I'd appreciate it.
posted by JHarris at 3:14 PM on November 1 [4 favorites]


Wish we could just all peer-to-peer webhost mefi with an app.
posted by yoHighness at 5:14 AM on November 2 [1 favorite]


In for a penny in for a pound. Upped my monthly.
posted by mrgroweler at 1:46 PM on November 2 [2 favorites]




I haven’t read the whole thread yet but I’m a sucker for a notebook thanks bendy just ordered!
posted by one4themoment at 5:12 PM on November 2 [2 favorites]


It's awesome to see so much activity lately!

Some people have brought up Twitter and other social media sites, and kimberrussel in particular said

Let your Twitter, Mastodon, Instagram, Facebook, or any other evil-billionaire-owned social media circles know that we’d love their support.

I think that's a really good point - and also really good timing. Metafilter's not a Twitter substitute, but it serves at least some of the same needs, and it's one of the few general-purpose communities online where you're not the product and you're also not posting side-by-side with racists and trolls and worse.

So what do people think about expanding the call for people on other networks to talk about metafilter? Right now the images and text provided here are aimed at current or former members, and specifically they're a plea for donations.

But expanding the site's membership is a really important long-term goal, right? So what about

(a) giving members who contribute (any amount?) free invites to hand out, which they can either send to people they know or post about on their other social networks?

(b) encouraging members to post a "find me on metafilter" link in their online bios on other sites

(c) posting some kind of "want to check out an online community not owned by billionaires?" tweet on metafilter's twitter account and encouraging members on Twitter to retweet it, maybe with their own commentary about why they recommend the site?

(d) if the mechanics or timing for (a) are too complicated, maybe doing a one-month free sign-up special could be a start, with messaging on Twitter et al. that this is for people interested in checking out online communities besides Twitter? Stuff like like "we're not a Twitter clone, but if you like deep discussions on all topics, movie analysis and tv snark, the highest-quality Q&As on the web, and more, maybe you'd like metafilter". And again encouraging members to tweet it and otherwise spread the word

(e) there are articles already coming out about the Twitter exodus, and there will probably be a lot more in the coming weeks. Is there room for doing some marketing-type outreach to media channels that are running this kind of content to let them know that metafilter exists and is more than happy to provide quotes and perspective?

If no one on the staff or SC has the time or resources for that, maybe that's a task that community volunteers could take on? There are a lot of people here with media and marketing experience.


Metafilter probably can't afford to actually buy ads to actually advertise itself, so more organic publicity is going to have to be a thing. Moments where masses of people are thinking about their online activity are something to take vocal advantage of. Especially since few people have any idea this site even exists.
posted by trig at 6:38 PM on November 2 [5 favorites]


I wonder if an official MeFi Mastodon instance would go over well? Of course, that's additional money outlay at a time when we're trying to reduce costs.
posted by JHarris at 9:27 PM on November 2 [4 favorites]


I wonder if an official MeFi Mastodon instance would go over well?

This was referenced in the other thread.
posted by terrapin at 5:45 AM on November 3 [1 favorite]


I had some how set up two contributions (which, fine, I obviously did not miss it) so I consolidated to one sub and doubled it.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:00 AM on November 3 [2 favorites]


Put up a Patreon to fund the Mastodon side project separately. Whether there are enough people willing to throw a few bucks each at it to pay for the $90/month hosting will double as a rough gauge of interest.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:04 AM on November 3 [5 favorites]


Increased my regular monthly donation because I really enjoy all the random content that shows up here and discussion that follows. I'm a longtime lurker / infrequent poster, but I like the community here and don't want to see it go away anytime soon. And I'm getting a mug too..
posted by UhOhChongo! at 4:56 PM on November 3 [6 favorites]


Yay UhOhChongo!

On Mastodon, the more I think about it the more I like the idea. 90/mo isn't so bad, and with Musk buying Twitter it might be just the right time. Patreon might be a good way to pay for it too. I think it was suggested in the other thread at $2/mo, 45 users would cover it, extra funds could go to the site.

Pronoiac is making a Talk post about the possibility now.
posted by JHarris at 5:48 PM on November 3 [4 favorites]


The opt-in funding model is good for diversity/equity/inclusion/belonging. Metafilter already has a tendency overall to not understand what it means to have a low income. $2 a month will keep people out.
posted by aniola at 6:08 PM on November 3 [11 favorites]


I'm very late to this thread, but I want to share some information related to the question of the balance between charging fees and being inclusive.

Among liberal Quakers, in recent years it has become increasingly common for event fees (for conferences and the like) to be "pay as led," which is to say that each participant can choose how much to pay, down to $0 in many cases.

Accompanying this is increasing transparency about costs. So, say there's an annual weekend event that people would traditionally pay $200 to attend. The registration info will include something like this:

Suggested Contributions:
Low income: $100
Traditional fee: $200
Actual cost: $325*
Sustaining cost: $500

* Quaker things are supported by fundraising and, in some cases, endowments, so it was common for the registration fee to be lower than the actual per-person cost, under the old fixed-fee model.

There's been a lot of effort put in to encouraging people to take advantage of the sliding scale that goes down to zero or nearly zero. It's hard for people to believe it's really OK to pay nothing or next-to-nothing, so there has to be a cultural shift there as well as at the institutional level. But people at the high end of things, who have plenty of money, find the information being provided routinely to be helpful as well. They perhaps didn't realize that paying the full fee didn't actually cover the cost for them to be there, and some are happy to pay the "true" or "sustaining" cost.

I'm not suggesting this specific language, but offering this as an idea to mull over when thinking about how to encourage users to donate while also encouraging people who aren't able to donate to be part of the community as well.
posted by Well I never at 6:32 PM on November 3 [16 favorites]


I think it would also have to be modified to address major regional differences in income.
posted by aniola at 6:48 PM on November 3 [3 favorites]


First of all, mad appreciation to the committee. From all appearances you are doing an outstanding job and may it never be a thankless one. In regard to fundraising, I think trig has some great ideas, particularly (b) and (c). I also think one simple and easy way to get the site up again is for there to be more front page content. The more and more interesting posts there are the more people will engage and be willing to pay something. I will be honest, when there are back to back days with only 3-4 posts as happened not that long ago that leaves me questioning why I pay anything, never mind increasing the amount.The good thing is posting is free, so please post away and remember to favorite for encouragement.
posted by blue shadows at 1:34 AM on November 4 [5 favorites]


I already had a recurring payment to metafilter, so when I saw the casual banner note about fundraising, I initially ignored it. As others have suggested, making the situation more obvious/dire might attract more attention. I've since sent a one-time payment and upped my monthly payment. I'm not saying this to brag, but to stress that it nearly didn't happen due to me initially not realizing the severity of the problem.
posted by loop at 6:02 PM on November 5 [5 favorites]


i figure that's probably a technical challenge so i made a summary post
posted by aniola at 7:50 PM on November 5 [5 favorites]


Maybe point out that even small amounts help. I’m low income but after reading some religious teachings I started donating $5 to many sites, when before I felt I couldn’t make an impact.
posted by jake.mkh at 1:02 AM on November 6 [4 favorites]


My technique for donating is putting a percentage of any income into a separate "donate fund" checking account. The percentage varies based on income level. Then I don't have to worry about whether I'm underdonating to the things I care about or overdonating. It's already been pre-decided.
posted by aniola at 1:06 AM on November 6


That would be ideal, but I already give monthly to 5 different charities and it’s the standard 10-15% of my income. There’s just so many things relying on donations and asking for money. Rather than say I’m giving all I can, I give above my allotted amount in small increments. I don’t think it’s the answer for everyone but when you ask for money, at least for me, it’s a competition. I wish I could help more. Thank you everyone that does give.
posted by jake.mkh at 1:29 AM on November 6


Did not realize how dire things are, just upped my monthly contribution. Totally worth it, always.
posted by LooseFilter at 6:22 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Re PayPal: So I believe I read that PayPal says, that you can’t change a subscription on their side, you have to do it with the people you are sending the money. So, in order to increase my donation, I went to the Metafilter funding page, told it what I wanted my donation to be, and that worked. I went back to PayPal and the previous donation seems to be gone and replaced with the new one. I could be wrong - but I am pretty sure that is the case.

can confirm, worked for me (non-US) to up my monthly; we cannot lose this immense resource. (but i'd love to see yall become the one thing that makes mastodon the legit place to be, just as twitter's being run into the ground...)
posted by progosk at 8:53 AM on November 6 [3 favorites]


Here's oolong. Please keep Metafilter shining on, everyone. I ♥ you all.
posted by Lynsey at 9:23 AM on November 6 [6 favorites]


jake.mkh it sounds like we basically use the same system.
posted by aniola at 9:43 AM on November 6


For clarity (because this checking account system is really useful and made my life easier!) -

1. Earn money
2. Move a percentage of income to "donate fund" checking account. (I have a low income because I really don't want to pay into the US military. If I ever move abroad, I can earn more income and then this percentage would change.)
3. Spend money from "donate fund" checking account. If the money is there, I can donate it. If not, no worries, it already got donated to something else.
posted by aniola at 9:52 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Presumably the name in the MetaFilter website footer needs to updated

Yep. On the to do list.


This is now handled.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:35 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


Re: Paypal contributions. I just followed Glinn's suggestion above to increase my contribution, by using the Paypal link on the Funding MeFi page. Great! Checked my Paypal account and the new amount has been charged (payable to MetaFilter Network Inc.) and monthly payments are set to go. HOWEVER, the OLD amount (payable to MetaFilter)
was still listed as an ongoing subscription, so I had to manually cancel that. I can see fully see the good reasons for this due to the ownership changeover, but I wanted to mention to Paypal users that they'll want to log into their accounts to do a (very simple and easy) manual cancellation to avoid a double charge.

Can I also second/third/fifty-eleventh the suggestion to make the "Attention: Fundraiser!" banner at the top of each page larger and even a bold contrasting colour (red, orange, bright yellow)? And maybe the fundraiser posts that appear on the MeFi front page and the various subsites (Ask, Talk, etc.) should have a highlighted background. Jeez, Wikipedia also has those more-intrusive banners all the time and they're apparently positively rolling in cash (their endowment is now over US$100 million to save you clicking through). Now is not the time to be shy here.
posted by hangashore at 12:41 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


This is now handled.

Jessamyn, if you're still interested in locations with the old name that need to be updated, a quick search turned up the following locations still using the old organization name / old contact address: posted by RichardP at 12:43 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


My subscription lapsed a long time ago. I just kicked in a one-time donation in the amount of an annual subscription rate I’d be willing to pay. I will try to add to that in the coming months.
posted by syzygy at 1:27 PM on November 6 [3 favorites]


Jessamyn, if you're still interested

Yep, sure am, thank you. I can't do the domain name stuff easily (a loup/frimble task) but I edited the FAQ which is now live and have edited the privacy page on the staging server which needs to be pushed to production next time frimble is at work.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:05 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


I didn’t realize it was so dire. I’ve given a one time contribution on top of my regular $5/ month. It would be helpful to have a thermometer or other progress bar indicating how close the site is to the funding goal.
posted by interogative mood at 3:58 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


There is a fundraising crouton-meter in this thread
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 4:47 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Oh my, I totally did not realise my sub had lapsed. I get so much from this place, and for so long now.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:47 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


Well hell, Mefi. I have absolutely no big ideas to offer or things to auction (anyone want crappy embroidery? Nah..) or platitudes to keep you going, just this: the Blue has always been a place to come back to. It's a comfort to know home is where you left it, even if you and it are different now.

Good luck. We're all counting on you.
posted by cmyk at 11:24 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


Sending a check to Vermont now. (I don't love online finserv, sorry. And also want a reason to link Sandra Oh's Cheque writing tutorial)
posted by travertina at 11:46 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


have edited the privacy page on the staging server which needs to be pushed to production

Jessamyn, it looks like your changes to https://www.metafilter.com/privacy/ are live. I noticed that the toll-free phone number was removed from the "Contact Information" section, but it still appears in the sentence "Please address written requests and questions about your rights to admin@mefi.us or call us toll-free at 866-826-7839" in the "Your Choices" section. If the toll-free number has been deprecated you may wish to also remove it from that sentence.
posted by RichardP at 8:05 AM on November 8


Please forgive me if this has been addressed, but is there anywhere we can see current fundraising progress?
posted by tzikeh at 7:36 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


tzikeh: This is the best we have currently. I hope there'll be another update soon, as it's been a week since that one.
posted by gakiko at 10:01 PM on November 8




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