Metafilter Wants You - Fundraiser Week 1 update! November 2, 2022 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Seven days into our fundraiser, here’s an update on where we stand. (Click here to help fund Metafilter).

Fundraising update
crouton meter showing $2439 in donations

Since the start of the Fundraising Drive:

Recurring contributions have gone up by $2,439.
For the Survival scenario, we’re hoping to increase monthly recurring contributions by $7,000.

We’ve received one-time contributions of $12,137.
Until we get beyond Survival mode, realistically, one-time contributions will be used to tide over periods when we fall short. This amount is enough to cover all site expenses for just over two weeks.

Thank you for providing the site with this much-needed breathing space! We’re getting there, slowly but surely, for which we have to thank the community and its faith in the site.

In the meantime, we’ve been investigating where we can reduce expenses further. Our AWS payments, as community members rightly pointed out, turned out to be a place where we could tighten further. By streamlining our accounts and removing unneeded backups, we’ve brought this down from over $4,000 to under $2,500 per month. An extremely detailed analysis of site finances suggests there’s probably not much slack left now, so it all comes down to raising contributions and revenue streams.

Spread the word!
We’re not currently able to leverage email/MeMail to contact all active members (more complicated than you’d think) so for now the only way to let people know about the Fundraiser is to tell them ourselves. Download a graphic and let your past and present MeFite friends know that we could use their help. Need a script? We have you covered.

Sponsored posts are live!
Remember, you can contribute to Metafilter and get your pick of sponsored posts (depending on amount and type of contribution):
- A sponsored post on a topic of your choice by jessamyn (contribute $50, get a post)
- A Rhaomi post (set up a recurring contribution and get one of 30 posts for a penny a character: roughly $3-5 for a one-liner, $10 for a multi-link paragraph, $50 for a multi-paragraph deep dive, or $100+ for a bona-fide megapost)
- A post on one of her hobby horses by Eyebrows McGee (contribute $25, get a post on religion, theology, weird Illinois stuff, Anne of Green Gables, traditionally feminine craft fiber arts...)

Help fund Metafilter, then hop over to the thread and comment to get your prize!

Buy swag!
The Metafilter shop is coming back to life. Here’s a quick list of new items you can buy on NeatoShop and TeeRepublic.

Be a winner at the Metafilter auction!
Our auction is happening soon! Keep your eyes peeled and if you have something you’d like to donate, let us know. We’re in the process of setting it up for it to go live over the weekend. (And if you haven't been contacted by us yet about your donation, please MeMail me.)

Go shopping through Metafilter!
We’ll be crowdsourcing recommendations from AskMe users, just watch this space. Shape your holiday shopping around Metafilter’s exquisite taste, and kick back a few $$$ for free through the site’s affiliate links.

Online events
We’ll soon unveil a fabulous lineup of performers and speakers talking about accessibility and ableism, publishing and intersectionality, and business management and a whole lot more. There’s still time to sign up to present or perform, or suggest a friend. We’re hoping to kick off the events in mid-November.

Site finances
We promised a detailed financial update. We’re just putting the finishing touches on it, and it will go live very soon.
posted by tavegyl to MetaFilter-Related at 8:38 AM (54 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

That amount of new contributions and lump sum contributions honestly sounds surprisingly good to me. Great job!

However, I’m concerned about the statement that it all comes down to raising contributions and revenue streams. Is the current plan to continue with the current level of mod hours until reserves are exhausted? It seems that one way or another, MF is not going to have full-time professional moderation sometime in the next few months. Are we just going to use the $12k in cushioning we received to put that date off by a month or so? Raising revenue sounds like a great project deserving of continuing efforts—but reducing spending seems like an emergency requiring immediate action. I’m a continuing contributor, and just made a small increase in my monthly contribution. I’d consider making an additional lump sum contribution, but not if its just to postpone the inevitable.
posted by skewed at 9:16 AM on November 2, 2022 [10 favorites]


Is the current plan to continue with the current level of mod hours until reserves are exhausted?

Are we just going to use the $12k in cushioning we received to put that date off by a month or so?

very fair questions (and thank you for being a contributor and considering making an additional lump sum contribution!) -- detailed plan / budget will be in the site finances update coming very very soon.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:29 AM on November 2, 2022


Thank you for the update.

If that header is supposed to be some sort of Infographic it's almost impossible to read. If the background is supposed to be transparent it's showing up (Safari and chrome) as a checkerboard type thing.
posted by bondcliff at 10:33 AM on November 2, 2022 [12 favorites]


it's showing up (Safari and chrome) as a checkerboard type thing.

Ditto for Firefox 106.0.3
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 10:34 AM on November 2, 2022 [5 favorites]


If I've understood past updates correctly, we haven't been on full-time moderation for a while; so I think that particular lever's already been pulled.
(and from other updates, it sounds like further cuts would be counterproductive, by increasing the workload for a mod to catch up on when they roll on)
posted by CrystalDave at 10:40 AM on November 2, 2022 [1 favorite]


Is it true that we only have 4,000-5,000 active users at this point? What constitutes an active user?
posted by wondermouse at 10:51 AM on November 2, 2022 [1 favorite]


The fundraising drive guilted me into tripling my monthly give. I also pitched in a small one time amount. When can I expect the tote bag? /s I challenge all of you who use and enjoy the tremendous resource that this site is to do all you can to save it. There is nowhere else on the internet quite like MetaFilter. (Also, to be clear, I am well aware that there are plenty of folks out there who legitimately can't contribute anything financially and there's no shame in that, at least not from me.)
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 11:34 AM on November 2, 2022 [3 favorites]


(and from other updates, it sounds like further cuts would be counterproductive, by increasing the workload for a mod to catch up on when they roll on)

If mod hours are cut, it would be unfair and unrealistic to expect them to continue on with the same workload. But that doesn’t mean cuts would be counter-productive. If I understand correctly, moderation is more than half of monthly expenses, and we are not close to meeting total monthly expenses through monthly contributions. One solution is to rely on one-time contributions to meet the deficit; that seems like a bad idea, considering how quickly we would go through that windfall, and at that point, the site would be forced to cut paid moderation anyway, and the whole site would have to operate without reserves, meaning any bump in the road would mean disaster.

My understanding is that we currently have about 85 hours of paid moderation per month. If there’s no plausible scenario where we can pay for that in the long or even medium term, we have to ask them to do less, either now or in a few weeks/months from now when the site is bankrupt. I may be missing something, but this seems like something that needs to change in a matter of days or maybe weeks at most.
posted by skewed at 11:43 AM on November 2, 2022 [2 favorites]


This chart posted in a previous thread shows a little more than 3000 users commenting per month.
posted by snofoam at 11:45 AM on November 2, 2022 [3 favorites]


The recent fundraising thread specified 95 hours of paid moderation per week, not per month. Frimble’s dev time was 86 hours per month.
posted by snofoam at 11:49 AM on November 2, 2022 [1 favorite]


Thanks, I had numbers mixed up in my head.
posted by skewed at 11:58 AM on November 2, 2022


Thank you for the update. It took forever for me to find where I could modify my Stripe payments, as Stripe doesn't have an account portal like PayPal has. Finally was able to bump from $10/month to $35. Which is a drop in the bucket, I know, but every little bit helps, right?
posted by tinydancer at 12:13 PM on November 2, 2022 [5 favorites]


Is it time yet to talk about volunteer mods as a cost-saving measure? (Perhaps an inevitable cost saving measure, considering that one of the purposes of the Steering Committee was to prepare the site to receive more new members.)

Or should there be a separate MeTa thread for that?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 12:49 PM on November 2, 2022 [5 favorites]


Lurkers, you can contribute too! I lurked for years before joining, and by some metrics still mostly lurk. If this is your first stop on your daily internet, or your anything-th stop, you can help too.
posted by janell at 1:01 PM on November 2, 2022 [8 favorites]


Personal opinion: I would prefer we all put our money where our mouths are on respecting that people’s pay and livelihoods are being discussed. There might be a better way/place to give the SC that kind of feedback. I do know that in labour laws where I am, you can’t have volunteers doing jobs paid staff do. There was actually a class action lawsuit recently.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:12 PM on November 2, 2022 [11 favorites]


I'm already making a monthly contribution, which I didn't expect to be challenged on so early in the thread. Also, you linked to a matter of Canadian law for a website that has been owned by USians since it's founding.

What I'm getting at is that none of the scenarios presented in the earlier Fundraising thread -- not Survive, Revive nor Thrive -- mention the on-boarding of new mods. So that means even under the rosiest outlook that is currently presented, even if funding and membership rises to the heights of [checks notes] 2014 levels, the Steering Committee is telling us that the current stable of mods -- which is fewer in number now than 2014 -- will be handling the entirety. And I think that's disingenuous and/or deluded.

Clinging to "that's the way we've always done it" is going to strangle this site to oblivion. Every successful social website that still thrives in the shadows of Face/Twit/Tok/etc. finds ways to utilize membership as something other than cash cows. And again, I say this as one of those cash cows.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 1:47 PM on November 2, 2022 [2 favorites]


No, sorry The Pluto Gangsta - I meant we talk a lot about good and decent employment on this site and the way Facebook treats its moderators, and then (in past Metas) talk about the inevitable end of people’s jobs as a thought exercise. I didn’t mean to link it to your contribution. My apologies.

Vermont labour law seems similar on a quick Google.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:58 PM on November 2, 2022 [2 favorites]


Guys I urge you to wait for the detailed finance thread. Everything will still be on fire then, no worries!

And let's assume good faith on all sides please! Deluded / disingenuous are not the only options and we will have time and place to talk everything out.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:04 PM on November 2, 2022 [6 favorites]




You’re right, it was a mistake for me to use those adjectives, as they imply an intent to deceive. Feel free to replace them with “mistaken” or “deeply mistaken”.

I’ve put this out there before in previous MeTas, I believe that the only way the site does anything other than limp along is by investing users in its day-to-day operations. That means volunteer mods, volunteer webdevs, volunteer coders, etc. And since the financial situation is starting to make those needs more pressing to the point of inevitability, I want to push right past the resistance and just get to it already.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 2:45 PM on November 2, 2022 [4 favorites]


Thank you so much to everyone on the Steering Committee and all others who contributed to the various initiatives in this post!

I know it’s not so simple to track dollar amounts in real time of one-off donations, new recurring donations and adjusted preexisting donations—and then to present them in a goofy crouton-based progress bar—but I really appreciate the effort! Being able to visualize some active positive movement encourages hope and enthusiasm, at least for me.

… Not to mention social images to share; new merch; and plans for the auction, more affiliate links, new activities, and everything else! Your efforts are inspiring, and I’ll be increasing my current monthly contribution, but I’m also really happy to have so many more fun and easy ways to pitch in beyond that now (&/or soon) available.

The amount of work you have done in just a few months is so impressive, and I’m so grateful to all of you. THANK YOU!
posted by obloquy at 4:15 PM on November 2, 2022 [7 favorites]


I’ve put this out there before in previous MeTas, I believe that the only way the site does anything other than limp along is by investing users in its day-to-day operations.

Have you heard about the new Steering Committee? They're a dozen volunteers who are starting to shift the leadership, the code, the financials and moderation in a very positive direction.

They're committed to engaging the community in the direction of the site and they'd appreciate your support.
posted by bendy at 7:55 PM on November 2, 2022 [6 favorites]


This website is part of internet history and a properly done wide-ranging PR campaign with an outward facing fundraising push has great potential to get a healthy cushion here. There are many, many architects of the modern Internet who have participated here. The site is revered, a treasure. Heck, has anyone, say, contacted Cory Doctorow or folks like that? He might know some folks and maybe he’d do one of his long tweet threads.
posted by The Last Sockpuppet at 7:59 PM on November 2, 2022 [14 favorites]


1. If I could, I would give at least a thousand favorites to The Last Sockpuppet's idea about a PR campaign.

2. I appreciate the effort put into the merchandise. But part of the point of the merchandise should be not just to get a little cash, but to advertise the site. Putting "metafilter" in such small letters does little to publicize the site.

(I realize everything is easier said than done, and it's easier to criticize than to create. I do thank the SC for everything you've done so far.)
posted by NotLost at 9:00 PM on November 2, 2022 [4 favorites]


Will the auction include services?

Some possible examples: Librarians could offer to research the answer(s) to a question. Writers and editor could offer articles, PR pitches, resumes, etc. Visual artists could offer portraits. Programmers could offer something. Etc.
posted by NotLost at 10:23 PM on November 2, 2022 [2 favorites]


Has anyone reached out to Scott Adams to see if he would donate a large amount? /s
posted by glaucon at 3:20 AM on November 3, 2022 [4 favorites]


Hi! Steering Committee (SC) Kim here! A PR campaign is a fantastic idea and one that should definitely be a part of future fundraisers.

In a best case scenario (which we can all agree was not this year) we’d be planning the next fundraiser months in advance, with calendars and punch lists and all of the things that make a planner’s heart sing.

One of the things I want us (current SC) to do is an evaluation of this fundraiser after the fact: what worked, what didn’t, etc, and write up recommendations for future SCs. A PR campaign that’s more than asking MeFites to tweet out graphics I whipped up in Canva one weekend is necessary. It’d be great to be in a financial place where we could pay an PR expert for some consulting time. Maybe next year!

In the meantime, If you’re a social media mutual with one of the more famous MeFites or anyone with a chunky follower count, ask them to share the info. Or drop their name here/send me MeMail and I’ll do it.

(On preview, I am ROARING at the Scott Adams idea.)

Thanks again to all for your support and feedback. ❤️
posted by kimberussell at 3:33 AM on November 3, 2022 [7 favorites]


Maybe I am misreading the situation. But are we sure Mefi will be around in a year? Mefi probably has some people who could volunteer for a PR campaign (including me, but there are probably more-experienced Mefis.)
posted by NotLost at 6:43 AM on November 3, 2022 [1 favorite]


It was only when bondcliff queried whether that image is an infographic that I zoomed in enough to realise there are numbers on it. I assumed it was just some kind of jolly header image with some smiley yellow cubes for some reason.

I don't want to sound ungrateful or lacking cheer, but maybe... a... normal chart of some kind?
posted by fabius at 6:47 AM on November 3, 2022 [5 favorites]


I tried to ask a question in the other thread that didn't get an answer, but I think what I really wanted to know is better rephrased and asked in this thread. From the financial report I couldn't figure out what mefi has in the bank right now (except maybe the answer is/was $0, or in danger of hitting zero some time this month). But really my question is this: is it possible to estimate how long has current fund drive progress staved off hitting $0 (/failure to make some necessary payment), which I have the impression was recently in the weeks-months range? Sorry if this was addressed somehow in the financial report, but everything I could find in hard numbers was relative income/expenses.

To be clear, as someone who only does one-time donations and not subscriptions, I'm wondering if I should make a second one-time donation for this drive in order to contribute to buying more time to realize the long-term ideas, and I think an answer to this question might inform others who have already made one-time donations as well.
posted by advil at 7:23 AM on November 3, 2022 [2 favorites]


I've increased my monthly recurring contribution so that it is more in line with things like my streaming media subscriptions, and made a larger one-time contribution on top of that in recognition of what seems like the immediate cash crunch. I hope we'll see another fundraising update post next week.

I think the fundraising banner is pretty easy to miss for casual users, so I second the suggestions to make it more obvious/eye-catching, and include an Ask in the banner itself, rather than just the link to the fundraising post.
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:32 AM on November 3, 2022 [1 favorite]


is it possible to estimate how long has current fund drive progress staved off hitting $0

Is this, from the post above, what you're after?

We’ve received one-time contributions of $12,137. ... This amount is enough to cover all site expenses for just over two weeks.
posted by fabius at 9:44 AM on November 3, 2022


I know similar things have been asked before, but could the funding graphic (or a readable version of it) go high up on the front page? Hell, even the front pages of every section of the site.

Visiting the site at the moment you would not know MeFi is a few weeks away from going bankrupt. There's just the same small, polite banner at the top of the page that's been there for ten days.

Shouldn't this appear more urgent?
posted by fabius at 9:50 AM on November 3, 2022 [10 favorites]


Is this, from the post above, what you're after?

We’ve received one-time contributions of $12,137. ... This amount is enough to cover all site expenses for just over two weeks.


It isn't, unless I misunderstood -- but it's possible I did. Does the quoted sentence mean that, in combination with current income levels, the 12k in one-time donations gets 2 weeks of site life?? I had read it as, we could run for 2 weeks on just this amount if we had to, which seems consistent with numbers in the financial packet (avg monthly expenses of around $24k). My question is really, what time does this number together with income levels get us.
posted by advil at 11:17 AM on November 3, 2022 [2 favorites]


I think the two-week figure for the one-time contributions of $12k was given just to give the numbers some context—it represents about half of a months’ expenses. My understanding is that accounting for new monthly contributions and savings from improved AWS billing efficiency, that the monthly budget deficit is currently in the neighborhood of $3k to $4k, meaning that the $12k could keep MF going for a few months (assuming no other increased income or decreased expenses, hopefully an unwarranted assumption). Someone please correct me if I’ve made any errors.
posted by skewed at 12:36 PM on November 3, 2022 [1 favorite]


skewed, that's how I calculate it as well (however I'm not the accounting expert on the Steering Committee). We currently have an additional 2.4k in recurring contributions against a target of an additional $7k. This leaves a monthly shortfall of about $4.6k which will be filled by one-time donations. So $12k in one-time donations would be enough to keep going at the Survive scenario for a bit over 2.5 months, assuming nothing else comes in.
posted by tavegyl at 12:42 PM on November 3, 2022 [3 favorites]


(that's not accounting for AWS savings, of course which are not tiny.)
posted by tavegyl at 12:43 PM on November 3, 2022


It was only when bondcliff queried whether that image is an infographic that I zoomed in enough to realise there are numbers on it. I assumed it was just some kind of jolly header image with some smiley yellow cubes for some reason.

I don't want to sound ungrateful or lacking cheer, but maybe... a... normal chart of some kind?


Hah, I'm the one responsible/guilty, they're supposed to be croutons, since they have a connection with MeFi culture. And yeah, the numbers could be easier to see. I figured I'd improve their visibility in the Week Two version.
posted by JHarris at 9:48 PM on November 3, 2022 [5 favorites]


I really hope this doesn't come off as rude or critical to drop into what should (in my eyes) be an at least slightly cheery, rallying thread, but when Week Two comes around, I'd love to see both metrics visually highlighted. I know that MRR is the number from a survival of the site story, from a SC strategy standpoint, all that, I get it. But, uh, you know... non-MRR people are cutting fat checks? Can those people show up on the CuteMeter? To rally them, too?

Anyway, thank you, MetaFilter community. Thank you, bits of the community that are trying to wrangle bits of the community. Thank you bits of the community that are being wrangled, that are trying not to be wrangled, and that are just lurking around watching the whole thing.
posted by majick at 5:46 AM on November 4, 2022


they're supposed to be croutons, since they have a connection with MeFi culture

Ah, I would never have guessed :)

And I would not have understood why they were croutons if I had.
posted by fabius at 7:24 AM on November 4, 2022


In my defense, how do you suggest a crouton in pixel art without just outright saying, "Look! Crouton!" The face is intended to resemble those from the Crouton Garden subsite, although it's broken at the moment. I had to go by a screenshot.
posted by JHarris at 8:43 AM on November 4, 2022


Honestly I've been here over 20 years and the croutons thing is such an in-joke that I don't get it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 9:41 AM on November 4, 2022 [6 favorites]


Some people like their belongings. At some point, someone called special attachment to one's belongings "crouton petting" for some reason. Then, probably for April Fool's one year, metafilter made a crouton garden. Here is your crouton garden.

Ah yes, I just did an internet search. There's probably more details here.
posted by aniola at 9:55 AM on November 4, 2022 [2 favorites]


ok so if you click on the link I gave, and then you click on another link, and then you click on another link, it gets you here.
posted by aniola at 9:56 AM on November 4, 2022


New rumor: metafilter is secretly actually into croutons because it's a metaphor for clicking on links.
posted by aniola at 9:58 AM on November 4, 2022


I mean, I've seen the page about it. But was never in on the joke or knew about it at the time or whatever, despite being here and using the site every day for so long. Feels a little weird to have in-jokes during this time of all eyes on fundraising, was my only point. Not trying to hate.
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:12 AM on November 4, 2022 [5 favorites]


I only sorta get the crouton-petting reference, but I recognize it as A Metafilter Thing. It seems normal to be reaching for things that are recognizably Metafilter during all this. Or maybe that's just beanplating...
posted by mersen at 12:37 PM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]


Feels a little weird to have in-jokes during this time of all eyes on fundraising

That's a good point.
posted by aniola at 12:43 PM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]


It was not that recognizable to me, is what I mean. And if not to me, a 20 year user of the site, I wonder at the usefulness of in-jokes, particularly when we want newer users to start to love the site. Alright enough, my point is made. Love y'all.
posted by tiny frying pan at 1:17 PM on November 4, 2022 [3 favorites]


My take as someone who has been a member for a very long time but also didn't get the in-joke is that the croutons are possibly cute enough to work on their own terms (I particularly like the smile vs frown thing), but the diagonal checkered background could stand a revisit. Maybe just a solid background with one of the two blues would be fine?
posted by advil at 1:51 PM on November 4, 2022


I appreciate the effort put into the merchandise. But part of the point of the merchandise should be not just to get a little cash, but to advertise the site. Putting "metafilter" in such small letters does little to publicize the site.

NotLost: Is the logo on this shirt big enough?
posted by bendy at 2:21 PM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]


Bendy, yes, thanks, I missed those shirts!
posted by NotLost at 9:19 PM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]


I actually created it in about an hour in a response to your request. I hope you buy one. :)
posted by bendy at 11:01 PM on November 4, 2022 [2 favorites]




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