🎉Fundraising Wrap-Up: You've put MetaFilter on the road to Revival! January 23, 2023 12:28 PM   Subscribe

A few months ago we came to you with information we had just learned about the dire financial state of MetaFilter. The site was losing money every month and the cash reserves keeping it afloat had run dry. The situation was grim. But MeFites, you stepped up in a big, big way: recurring contributions have gone up by $9,863.10 and we have received $78,857.91 in one-time contributions (both figures are net). This means that according to our targets MetaFilter has more than enough budget to Survive, and is within striking distance of Revive! There are more details inside about the specifics of the fundraiser and how the funds will be used, so please keep reading…

A pile of celebratory croutons

First: thank you, MetaFilter, you are the best.

We have been saying throughout this campaign that MetaFilter is a great community, and we really mean that. You guys stepped up in a huge way, so we want to start this update by saying “thank you” to everyone who pitched in. Thank you to every member who made a contribution, who encouraged other MeFites to contribute, or who shared our fundraising campaign on their social media.

Contribution summary as of 16 December 2022

New recurring contributions (net): $9,863.10
Total one-time contributions (net): $78,857.91

One-time contributions include payments for Event tickets and Auction items, Amazon and Chewy affiliate links, and site merchandise, from the start of the fundraiser on 24 October 2022 up to 16 December 2022.

We've appreciated your patience and understanding while waiting for this final fundraising update, and we'd like to provide some clarity and explanation on why this final update was delayed. (click to expand)

When we received the initial final figures for the fundraising drive from the admin, we realized more clarity and investigation was needed to confirm those numbers accurately reflected the fundraising results. Obtaining and reporting definite and consistent weekly figures was challenging for the admin given the lack of strong accounting structures in place from the time the fundraising commenced, as well as the learning curve for the admin's adoption of new tools and approaches to reporting. As such, the figures we received in these reports turned out to have some discrepancies that we then worked with the admin to resolve.

What we've jointly concluded as a result of this process is that while the previous figures reported in the Week 1-3 updates can still be seen as rough estimates of the fundraising drive's overall progress, it should be noted:
  • they are gross figures (not net), and do not consider fees (e.g. payment processing fees, transfer fees, etc)
  • they were mostly manually collated and tallied by staff members still learning to use unfamiliar new tools, approaches and reporting formats/requirements - resulting in some inconsistencies creeping into the data
  • they do not consider discontinued recurring contributions
We are glad to report that we have resolved these issues by working closely with the admin to reconcile, explain and confirm the fundraising numbers while also making progress on helping the admin adopt new tools and accounting approaches.

We knew that we wanted the figures in our final fundraising update to be as accurate and clear as possible. Weekly figures may serve as a rough guide/update on a fundraiser's progress, but it's important that the final reported figures are thoroughly checked, confirmed and agreed on by all involved, with a much more comprehensive, fine-toothed approach. We're happy to report that this is now the case. It may have taken additional time, but we feel this was time well-spent, in order to give you a final report that we can genuinely stand by with confidence.

Going forward, we are working on streamlining and automating the site accounts, bringing them into Quickbooks, and putting processes into place for SC members to have more access to financial data to improve the accuracy and efficiency of future reports. This is one of our top priorities with the funds raised. These changes won't happen overnight, but we are making steady progress towards these goals and anticipate that the next fundraising drive's accounting will be easier to manage, with more clarity on true weekly numbers and more visible and automated information available.


What will the site do with this pile of mad cash?
So we exceeded our Survive target for new recurring contributions ($7,000 per month) and made progress towards our Revive target ($13,000 per month). We also hit our Thrive target for one-time contributions!

We will continue to use the one-time contributions for the site’s cash reserves even though it has reached the Thrive target. This is because previous experience has shown that recurring donations tend to fall over the course of the year and it is likely that some part of the reserves will be needed to keep the site’s monthly income at the level we’re using for budgeting purposes. Plus, well, it’s an unpredictable world and we don’t want the site to live on the edge any more.

In the last couple of weeks we’ve been budgeting for the year ahead. We know we have enough to keep the site above Survive mode (although below Revive), paying for existing moderation coverage, hosting expenses, and current levels of development. Here are some of the main things in the 2023 site budget, thanks to your monthly contributions:
  • We will be able to pay for time spent on essential administrative work (including accounts, payroll and contributor acknowledgement).
  • We are increasing the moderation budget to allow for additional coverage at certain times.
  • We’re increasing our development budget so site improvements can be accelerated. This won’t happen immediately, but we now have space to do this in the coming months.
  • We have funds set aside for consultancy (legal, financial, business development, etc)
  • We can pay for some useful tools, such as GSuite for the Steering Committee, PowerBI for business analysis and a Zoom account for Events.
We’ll be presenting the budget in more detail in another update.

Once again, thank you to everyone, and especially the hero MeFites who stepped up to help out
We especially want to thank some amazing MeFites who contributed to the Fundraiser in huge ways:
  • The affiliate linking team who helped craft the MetaFilter Gift Guide, sought new affiliate income streams and set MetaFilter back on the path to earning affiliate income: rebent, cgg, Bella Donna, NotLost
  • The amazing speakers for our inaugural MetaFilter Events series: jeremias, Amina Omari, yankeefog, Medieval Maven, cupcakeninja, Mo Nickels, Stephanie Moon, Trish Salerno, headspace, Samantha Bagood, Kyla Zhao, Duy Huynh, jenettsilver, Chris Gray, Annette Koh, travelingthyme, Wali Khan, Amanda Bligh, Brooke Brod, Maurreen Skowran, adrianhon, Kaitlin Costello, Emily Weerts, CollectiveMind, jessamyn, loup, restless_nomad, valforov, brainwane and Reeya Banerjee
  • Everyone who contributed items to our MetaFilter auction: DaveP, Glinn, The Last Sockpuppet, evilmomlady, mochapickle, RobinofFrocksley, mersen, mph, NotLost, MollyRealized, probably not that Karen Blair, dobbs, glaucon, Devils Rancher, mygothlaundry, chiefthe, brilliantine, fruitslinger, cortex, brainwane, adrianhon, Countess Elena, Liesl, saladin, mcbaya - and special thanks to Glinn, who brought her experience and contributed long hours to running the auction
  • People who made brilliant sponsored posts, raising funds and adding great stuff across the site: Jessamyn, Eyebrows McGee, DirtyOldTown, EmpressCallipygos, and brainwane
  • Mefites who have helped us with fundraising, coding, and PR, either by sharing their expertise and helping with the work, including aniola, anastasiav, NotLost, majick, and others who prefer not to be named.
  • A special thanks to shakespeherian, who stepped up during the fundraising drive and volunteered to help overhaul MetaFilter’s general accounting, starting the difficult work of getting years of data and figures into Quickbooks.
  • All the Mefites who amplified the fundraiser across the site, through MeTas, by talking about the fundraiser in their own posts and who pushed the boundaries of some site rules for the greater good. It was a totally organic movement, with tons of people who stepped up and got involved.
So, that’s it then, is fundraising over?
You will keep hearing from us about fundraising! We'll ask you to regularly check your subscriptions, as they tend to fall off over the course of the year. We'll put out calls for help to reach large contributors. We'll issue periodic reminders again that the site relies on your ongoing support, to prevent the need from becoming more urgent.

You'll also hear about other site activities that are part of our broader effort to develop new revenue streams. MetaFilter Events will return, our lovely volunteers will keep working on setting up affiliate links, the MeFiGiftGuide will continue to be a great way to draw on Ask MetaFilter's collective wisdom to help make your gift-giving a bit easier.

What’s next for the Steering Committee?
In the first fundraising post, we set out three targets – Survive, Revive and Thrive.

Survive was what we needed to allow MetaFilter to keep the lights on to continue staffing at the reduced level it was at at the time and to stop bleeding money every month. If we didn’t reach this goal, we would have had to pare back costs even further than they already have been. Based on the success of past fundraising campaigns, this was our realistic goal. We were nervous, of course, but fairly hopeful that MeFites would step up with this level of funding once they understood the need. And you did!


Revive was a budget increase from what the site has been operating on increased mod coverage, more admin time, greater resources for development, plus the budget to pursue programs that would help MetaFilter grow. This was essentially our stretch goal for this fundraising campaign – we hoped that we could get to a place where there was room to do more than hang on. We didn’t quite get there, but it’s within sight and we have enough funds over Survive that we’ve been able to implement our most important priorities.


Thrive is our dream scenario with more budget for more staff time and development time and more programs and opportunities. We didn’t get there as part of this fundraising campaign, and frankly, we didn’t expect to. This is a long term goal that’s going to take more than just member contributions – we need to create a sustainable long term financial plan with diverse and reliable revenue sources to keep the site in operation. The funds raised in this campaign should give us the breathing room to help us get to Thrive later.


Bridging the gap between where we are now (nearly at Revive) and where we want to be long term (Thrive) is one of the Steering Committee’s biggest priorities. Some of the ideas we’re exploring are:
  • Optimizing existing revenue streams (affiliate links, improving SEO for Google AdSense)
  • Diversified revenue streams (other ad-related solutions, sponsored posts, etc)
  • Virtual events and education
  • Improving outreach to contributors
But the point isn’t just to bring in money, it’s to enable the site to flourish in a way that stays aligned with what MetaFilter means to its members, and to be able to make other improvements that support and further the community. We believe that for the site to flourish we need to work on:
  • Site culture: making this a more attractive place where people feel part of the site
  • Content diversity: encourage posting and discussion on a broad range of topics, of interest to a global audience
  • Site UI: making this an easier place for people to visit and contribute
  • Growing the member base: campaigns to increase membership (coming in the near future)
There’s also a lot of work that still needs to be done to ensure that the site’s governance model remains stable long term:
  • Determining the SC charter, elections and internal processes
  • Ensuring staffing is at correct levels, staff get the support they need, and there are solid procedures in place
  • Engaging with the community on ideas for improvements and getting their help in implementing them
What you can do to help
posted by Rhaomi to Steering Committee at 12:28 PM (306 comments total) 92 users marked this as a favorite

Just wanted to note that this was a collaborative post by the Steering Committee, written first by tavegyl with an addendum from aielen, additional notes from the rest of the team, crouton graphic by JHarris, and an editing and formatting pass from me. I also want to add a personal thanks to both the rest of the SC generally and tavegyl and aielen in particular for the incredibly diligent and focused job they've done to make this fundraiser a success -- this task was much more difficult than it seemed at the outset but they've really stepped up to the plate and delivered consistently professional work and it's been an honor working with them and everybody (on the SC and off) who contributed! We couldn't have done it without you. <3
posted by Rhaomi at 12:29 PM on January 23 [27 favorites]


I owe people posts from the post fundraiser, and those WILL still be happening! Like a lot of families, we went through every available respiratory illness between November 1 and now and I've basically not had a day where all kids went to school AND I went to work because we've been so sick. But I know I owe you and they will be forthcoming! (I have a good one lined up on the Pope.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 1:04 PM on January 23 [20 favorites]


This is a fantastic update (with fantastic news!), and I just wanted to say very enthusiastically and emphatically how much I appreciate MetaFilter's transparency and honesty.

Thank you so much, Rhaomi, for posting this; and thanks to EVERYONE who contributed to the post, who contributed to creating the fundraiser, who contributed in response to the fundraiser, and who contributes to making MetaFilter the best place on the internet.

Thank you!
posted by kristi at 1:47 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]


This is fantastic news and, in particular, the one-time contributions blow my mind! Thanks to everyone that made this happen and to everyone that contributed even the smallest amount :-)
posted by dg at 2:17 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Good news, presented in clear language. Thanks, thanks, thanks.
posted by Jesse the K at 2:28 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


I’m glad to have contributed, and glad the site isn’t in such a dire situation now. Hope this gives enough breathing room to get things sorted for the long term. I have a few ideas for things for the next fundraiser when that rolls around, too.
posted by DaveP at 2:33 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


So much gratitude to all involved.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 2:39 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


I cannot thank the Steering Committee enough for the professionalism with which they executed all of this and the results they, and this entire community, achieved. I appreciate you and look forward to continuing to work together.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:49 PM on January 23 [53 favorites]


Great news, and thanks so much to the SC who’ve done such an incredible job in undoubtedly challenging circumstances!
posted by adrianhon at 3:22 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


This is good new and thank you to everyone who put in time and effort to make all the above a success!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:27 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the update.

May be late to the game on this, but a question about donations stopping over time: Is there a way to be more proactive about donations falling away over time? For example, understanding that Metafilter logins may not be linked to the same email address of a donation, if I told you via some MeFi web form that the 'evadery' donation for $X dollars came from my Paypal account at name@foo.com, and gave you express permission to contact me if it fell away, could you then do a monthly reconciliation after which you could send emails to both my MeFi account and my linked email? I'm sure that many people would give permission for you to contact them if their donation fell away (and if it was purposeful, then they can just ignore the prompt).
posted by evadery at 6:38 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


Yay!

Now how can we celebrate? Plan a bunch of IRL meetups? Have a big Zoom event together? Any better creative ideas out there?

Thanks to the Steering Committee and everyone who contributed in any way.
posted by NotLost at 8:25 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


(SC member here) I'm so happy the fundraiser went well! Metafilter is nearly 25 years old. It's an artifact of the early days of the World Wide Web, but it not only survives, it's still a vibrant place to post on, to read, and to be a part of!

I've been researching old websites for a while, those that have vanished and those that continue to survive. So I feel like I have some slight standing to proclaim that Metafilter has survived the dot com bust, the rise and fall of blogs in general, Web 2.0, the whole "push" notification fad, the whole reign of Adobe Flash, and the rise, and possible impending fall, of social media. Metafilter has outlived Suck, Plastic, Television Without Pity, Jump the Shark, the classic phases of Gawker, Digg and the AV Club, Super Deluxe, Sodaplay, and many other websites. Please chime in with others you can think of; if I list too many more I will greatly upset my mood.

I can't say if Metafilter will be around 25 years from now, but I hope it will be pointing people to interesting posts, videos and websites for many years to come. With this outpouring of support, I think there is a chance that it might.
posted by JHarris at 9:48 PM on January 23 [31 favorites]


Metafilter: the best of the web.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:19 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


This is excellent news, thank you for this great update!
posted by ellieBOA at 11:50 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


The Steering Committee rocks the casbah! You’ve done fantastic work and accomplished more than anyone imagined was needed or possible.
posted by bendy at 1:02 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Yay! Thanks for the update =)

Are y'all willing to break down one-time revenue into categories including events/auction/gifts? I'm curious how effective the creative fundraising strategies were. (Though I don't mean to imply that their impact is only measured in $$ -- I'm particularly excited by the events + auction because they're more ways of helping MF to feel like a community)

> This is because previous experience has shown that recurring donations tend to fall over the course of the year and it is likely that some part of the reserves will be needed to keep the site’s monthly income at the level we’re using for budgeting purposes.

I'm confused by this statement. Are you budgeting with the expectation that you'll dip into reserves for operating expenses at the end of the year (without growing them at the start of the year), or are you treating the one-time contributions as a reserve just in case ongoing contributions dry up more than expected?
posted by Metasyntactic at 2:19 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Now how can we celebrate?

*Opens up a can of beans*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:06 AM on January 24 [26 favorites]


MetaFilter Blue is people!
posted by chavenet at 4:57 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


Wow, this is just so incredible, and for me (as a fundraiser IRL) it is truly amazing to witness what happens when people ACTUALLY feel like they co-own and are truly part of a project. It's incredibly inspiring. And I can say that this level of ownership of a shared resource isn't something that happens overnight. So nice work to Mefites past as well as present for creating something that we all have a stake in.
posted by unicorn chaser at 5:35 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Great work and great update. đź‘Ť
posted by lazaruslong at 6:44 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Thank you to all!
posted by bondcliff at 7:28 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


This is great news! MetaFilter's future is looking much more optimistic.
posted by wandering zinnia at 7:33 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


This makes me so happy and relieved. Thank you to the SC for the immense amount of work, and to everyone who's donated.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 8:28 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Thank you and all praise to the SC and volunteers and Mefites who've contributed large and small to make this happen! Hooray!
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:19 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I have a question about "New recurring contributions (net): $9,863.10."

Does that mean that there is $9k more pledged every month, year or what?
posted by NotLost at 9:41 AM on January 24


The recurring donations are monthly. There was a post linking to a detailed financial report posted during the early part of the fundraiser.
posted by snofoam at 10:07 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Thank you so much for the informative post and such great news! I'm so appreciative of everyone who worked to make this happen. It's only January but feels like my year has already been made.
posted by Twicketface at 10:18 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Now how can we celebrate?

*Opens up a can of beans*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:06 on January 24


Put those on a plate, son. You'll enjoy them more.
posted by flabdablet at 11:41 AM on January 24 [19 favorites]


I hear another SC member is going to comment to clarify figures some more.

The SC has a diverse set of members, with lots of different priorities. So I feel like I should mention aielen and tavegyl, particularly for their hard work with the fundraiser. Like, all I personally really did was make pixel art of toasted bread cubes, with some auction organization and Events fill-ins.
posted by JHarris at 11:57 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


This is great news! Thank you to all the contributors, and to the steering committee, particularly aielen and tavegyl.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:27 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Put those on a plate, son. You'll enjoy them more.

*Pours them into a glass with a banana, milk, oats, and yogurt and sticks a straw in it.*

Now wrap your whistle around that and get your celebratory breakfast on!

Also, surely there must be cocktail made from bean juice, right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:45 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


*Opens up a can of beans*

Wait... what kind of beans?

Seriously, thanks, y'all!
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:54 PM on January 24


Also, surely there must be cocktail made from bean juice, right?

Aquafaba Whiskey Sour. Or as it's now known, The Blatcher.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 1:04 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Fantastic news and great work all around. I love this place and I love you all.

Also, surely there must be cocktail made from bean juice, right?

Sparky Buttons' answer is better, but if you think about it, any cocktail with kahlua in it contains bean juice. Likewise anything made with the vanilla and coffee vodka my brother's distillery makes, which I am partially responsible for being called, and I cannot celebrate this fact enough, "BEAN".
posted by cortex (retired) at 1:14 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Or as it's now known, The Blatcher.

Absolutely not, Clearly any MeFi cocktail (made with BEAN) would need to be called MaCoJe.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:34 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Metasyntactic:

Are y'all willing to break down one-time revenue into categories including events/auction/gifts? I'm curious how effective the creative fundraising strategies were. (Though I don't mean to imply that their impact is only measured in $$ -- I'm particularly excited by the events + auction because they're more ways of helping MF to feel like a community)

The Auction raised approximately $5,740 (as mentioned in the final Auction MeTa).
*Events income from Oct 24 - Dec 16 grossed $4,980 and netted $4,372.88.
*Affiliate income from Oct 24 - Dec 16 came in at $655.40 net
*Merchandise income from Oct 24 - Dec 16 came in at $40.25 net
*All other one-time income (from direct contributions/gifts) was approximately $68,049 from Oct 24 - Dec 16

*These income streams are still ongoing - more income from these sources came in after Dec 16, but the Oct 24 - Dec 16 window has been used to keep this report's data gathering/comparison consistent.


>> This is because previous experience has shown that recurring donations tend to fall over the course of the year and it is likely that some part of the reserves will be needed to keep the site’s monthly income at the level we’re using for budgeting purposes.

I'm confused by this statement. Are you budgeting with the expectation that you'll dip into reserves for operating expenses at the end of the year (without growing them at the start of the year), or are you treating the one-time contributions as a reserve just in case ongoing contributions dry up more than expected?


To clarify: the one-time contributions came in at $78,857.91 net, exceeding the Thrive cash reserves target (our highest tier scenario target) of $60,000 by $18,857.91.
Of this $18,857.91, approximately $6,000 was set aside to cover all remaining owed staff payments.
This brought the final target reserve surplus to $12,851.91, which came to $1,071.49 when averaged across 12 months.
We projected a monthly contribution decline of about $1,066.80 (this figure is the projected cumulative year's decline divided across 12 months).

We developed the budget based on both this projected decline as well as the target surplus - when both are factored in, the projected decline is offset by the target surplus (with $4.69 surplus remaining afterwards).

The core cash reserves of $60,000 (based on our Thrive target) should remain untouched (meaning we do not intend to be dipping into this regularly, and trust the admin and next SC will also use these reserves as reserves should be used - for rainy day / one-time emergencies).

I hope this helps clarify things. We will also go into this in more detail in a forthcoming MeTa about 2023's budget.
posted by aielen at 1:38 PM on January 24 [20 favorites]


NotLost:
I have a question about "New recurring contributions (net): $9,863.10."

Does that mean that there is $9k more pledged every month, year or what?


I think snofoam summed it up well, but yes - to confirm, that means the fundraising drive raised $9,863.10 (net) in new monthly recurring contributions pledged.

As of Dec 16, MetaFilter's active recurring contribution plans/subscriptions pledged a total of $23,928.74 (net) in monthly recurring contributions. (For the active quarterly and yearly plans/subscriptions, we derived monthly figures which were also included in this final figure of $23,928.74. E.g. we divided quarterly subscriptions' contributions by 3 to get a per-month figure.)
Pre-fundraising, we had monthly recurring contributions at $14,065.64 (net) (based on September 2022's net recurring contributions).
This meant $9,863.10 (net) of new monthly recurring contributions pledged (as of Dec 16), that could be attributed to the fundraiser.

I hope this helps.
posted by aielen at 1:54 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


sorry, there was a typo in my first comment to Metasyntactic - "This brought the final target reserve surplus to $12,851.91" should be "This brought the final target reserve surplus to $12,857.91".
posted by aielen at 3:02 PM on January 24


Wow I’m pleasantly surprised! The new organisational structure makes a huge difference.
posted by creatrixtiara at 3:17 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Okay, my mood has recovered enough to list more places and things Metafilter has outlived:

the heights (depths) of Something Awful, Yahoo as a meaningful example of anything, Aint It Cool News as a force in entertainment, Excite, Lycos, Infoseek, Altavista, Babelfish, the Million Dollar Homepage, User Friendly, 8-Bit Theater, RPG World, Dr McNinja, Axe Cop, Goats, Explodingdog, (let's face it) Achewood, Doctor Fun, bianca's smut shack, The Conversatron, Chowhound, Nerve.com, Hotwired, Rotten.com, The Agony Booth, Movie Poop Shoot, Memepool, the Brunching Shuttlecocks, Geocities, Geocities Japan, GameSetWatch, the Internet Oracle, Netscape Navigator, BeOS, Palm, Blackberry, and MUCH MORE.

It seems like we've forgotten more in 25 years than the whole of past human history ever knew.
posted by JHarris at 3:22 PM on January 24 [27 favorites]


(correction, it turns out the Internet Oracle is still going!)
posted by JHarris at 3:26 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


MOST excellent news, thanks and applause to the SC and all MeFites who pitched in.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:36 PM on January 24


Still yet to outlast example.com but I think we can get there!
posted by biogeo at 5:03 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


/pours out some bean juice for the ones we left behind
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 5:38 PM on January 24 [10 favorites]


Thank you for this update, SC! This is great news!!
posted by cupcakeninja at 6:07 PM on January 24


*Merchandise income from Oct 24 - Dec 16 came in at $40.25 net

This figure is astonishing, but to be honest, not that surprising. I certainly didn't buy any merch, whereas a lot of the events were more tempting. I couldn't justify the time investment, but I definitely felt like I was missing out.
posted by Merus at 7:25 PM on January 24


Merus, you're right, the low merchandising figure is unsurprising, and it's partly because we just didn't have the time or capacity within the Steering Committee to develop and push it further over the course of the fundraiser. Moreover, as you say, some of the other activities, like events and auction (which had several fun MetaFilter-themed items) took up some of the same space for site users.

There's potential for merch to become an ongoing income stream, though with a special focus during fundraisers. I would love for there to be more systematic merchandise development and promotion, and have had a bunch of thoughts on what we could do better: competitions to create more design-forward merch, ensuring merch is available internationally, integrating it better into the Mall (which also needs attention, as Mefites have pointed out in recent threads) and IRL, high-quality goods that would be attractive to purchase even if they weren't merch, items that are consciously chosen to hit a range of price points, higher-priced crafty stuff, electronic merch for people who don't want to add more unnecessary stuff to the world, etc etc. But it will depend on time and capacity within the Steering Committee, or volunteers stepping up to lead on it.
posted by tavegyl at 8:22 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


But it will depend on time and capacity within the Steering Committee, or volunteers stepping up to lead on it.

It seems even if it were improved by orders of magnitude it would still end up as farts in the wind vis-a-vis financials. Its value might also be considered as brand building / community building, but clearly if we are talking about raising money that is not a place to spend time and effort on.

more places and things Metafilter has outlived

For the record you can still do anything at zombo.com.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:02 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Hey! Three cheers for the SC!
They have been working some pretty serious overtime and as far as I can see, and it would be rude of me to second guess them, I think they've put all of that effort to good use and have things heading in the right direction. Thank you, SC.
posted by Gotanda at 1:39 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


MollyRealized - that is addressed, albeit not with the specifics you seem to be looking for, in the last few paragraphs of the post.

Site UI: making this an easier place for people to visit and contribute
Growing the member base: campaigns to increase membership (coming in the near future)


I hear, understand and agree with what you're saying in regards to agility, but this post is an update on the fundraiser project, which (if I recall correctly) was in the works before the Twitter implosion. It took a lot of SC volunteer hours, and I think they did the right thing by staying focused and completing this project.

Being agile and able to shift priorities can pay off, but I think it has to be done off of a foundation where resources are available to fall back on if it doesn't. This includes money, time, and an underlying strategic plan - all things that are being worked on now. I agree, the timing and potentially lost opportunities are aggravating, but I don't feel like it's negligent.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 1:45 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Agree with both MollyRealized and Sparky Buttons. Yes, promotion and new members are our huge failing, many missed opportunities. But, we are now building a much more solid and professional foundation for getting shit done.

Please keep in mind the starting point - run as a hobby site, with apparently no financial analysis, very little proper data collection. Shit is getting put in place now, this is just the start.

The EXCELLENT NEWS thanks to the SC is that the place will not die this year. Give them time, they are putting in very expert and professional efforts in the right places and they are us - volunteers working for free.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:07 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


And hey if you are among us and are a marketing / SEO / fundraising / Internet business expert, step up. "We are the people we have been waiting for" - Mahatma Gandhi
posted by Meatbomb at 2:09 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Reading a long capitalized and bolded shouty comment that is upset with the volunteer steering committee who just worked their asses off to save this site from utter financial ruin has really driven home that I need a break from this community. Holy shit, Molly Realized. Just wow.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:12 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


Mod note: One deleted. MollyRealized, you need to take a break from Metatalk entirely until further notice.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:35 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


Having run an app/game that's sold millions of dollars in merch and subscriptions to users directly, the margins for subscriptions will always be far higher than merch and, at scale, much less work. If it's possible to convince people to pay for subscriptions, that's almost always been the best place to direct effort.

Every business and site is different but selling quality merchandise is never easy, and if you outsource it entirely, your margins will evaporate even further – and you'll still need to manage the process.
posted by adrianhon at 3:38 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


That's not to say Metafilter shouldn't sell merch – things like the auction seem very promising, and there may be some low-effort sites that can make it work. Plus people just like owning merch and it's not always about money! But when it is about money, direct donations and subscriptions will always be the way, IMO.
posted by adrianhon at 3:41 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


Huge thanks to everyone who has worked on this, what a success! The detailed wrap-up is also much appreciated. I'm sure this took a lot of work to put together, but it sounds like the site is now better-equipped for future fundraising and analysis.

I have one small suggestion. Since it did take some time, it might have been nice to have an update at some point just to say, "we are working on this, it is taking more time than expected, but we're making sure it is accurate and detailed." Or "we're really focused on the events portion of the fundraiser and we won't be doing any overall updates until after that is finished and assessed." Or whatever. Maybe part of the issue is that doing a metatalk post to give an update on that might invite commentary and questions that then take up additional time. If so, I think it could be good to have some way of giving a quick update without starting a discussion, like normalizing "FYI" metatalk posts with closed comments as a way to do an update.

And, of course, I could have messaged to ask, but I knew it would come. And I knew it would be a great update. But it kind of seemed like it took longer than it did since we didn't know when it would drop. Anyhow, thanks!
posted by snofoam at 3:54 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


snofoam:
Thank you for the feedback!
I posted a comment addressing this in the Week 3 fundraising update MeTa the previous month - very similar to what you mentioned:

--
(reproduced below; originally addressed directly to a Mefite that enquired about the update in thread:

The update has been delayed not because of an intention to add information about Events, but because we've needed more clarity/confirmation on some figures. Obtaining definite/consistent weekly figures has been challenging because there have not been strong/automated accounting structures in place from the time the fundraising commenced (which we are still working with the admin to implement), and also because of the complex streams from which funds come.

We want to be sure that the figures in the final fundraiser update are as accurate and truthful as possible. We are still in the process of double-checking, reconciling and confirming these numbers with the admin, and that is why we have not yet reported on the fundraising drive overall. We know this is not ideal and it's not how we hoped to do this. Hopefully next year's fundraising accounting will be easier to manage, with more visible and automated information available/accessible and thus more clarity.

I can say with certainty that monthly contributions have reached and exceeded Survive; we are still determining whether this is true for Revive.
)
--

The comment was made in the most recent fundraising update MeTa at that point, and I agree we could have done better in trying to make the comment (or its message) more visible somehow.
We were trying to balance keeping the community informed/updated with managing the amount of MeTas/sitewide communication being posted at that time. This is definitely something we can continue to improve on and I appreciate your suggestions.
posted by aielen at 5:37 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Congrats SC. I can't imagine how much free work you and others have been putting into making this a success. It's so pleasing to feel there's a plan being built on this foundation too.

(I do find it weird when comments are entirely deleted, especially when others are left agreeing with the disappeared comment (if not agreeing with its timing). It might have been a little off-topic for this post, and very frustrated, but didn't seem offensive. I keep coming across threads where something has obviously vanished, judging by other comments, but not even a sign of where the rewritten history once was. It's quite eerie, and makes me feel worried even writing this.)
posted by fabius at 5:41 AM on January 25 [14 favorites]


I personally would have liked to have read MollyRealized's comment. But not only is the comment gone but it was apparently so offensive that MollyRealized is now banned from MetaTalk? That shouldn't happen.

There is a discussion to be had about best use of existing funds and staff resource (at survive and revive levels) - that at least some of the existing funds should be directed at marketing and new user acquisition (critical to reverse site decline and ensure long term revenue)... marketing budget being noticeable absent from spending listed ("essential administrative work, increasing the moderation budget, increasing our development budget, funds set aside for consultancy, useful tools"). From the scraps remaining, I'm assuming that's what MollyRealized was arguing for. Not an unreasonable point to raise.
posted by iivix at 7:13 AM on January 25 [16 favorites]


Moderation guidelines in meta are looser than the other sites but that means the line has less margin. Users are asked to take a break not infrequently and it is the lightest of all possible sanctions mods can apply. Such time outs rarely last more than a day or two and prevent a lot of GRrAR!
posted by Mitheral at 7:53 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I think I agree that merchandise appears to be a lost cause in terms of fundraising (I'd prefer design budget to go to the site, frankly); the auctions might not be replicable as a funding source, but I think events appears to be a really promising angle.

But not only is the comment gone but it was apparently so offensive that MollyRealized is now banned from MetaTalk? That shouldn't happen.

MetaTalk's no good for me and once the fundraiser's over I'm going to leave it alone, but I've noticed MollyRealized at the centre of more than one contentious fight in the past. I would not be surprised if their contributions
had become wildly unconstructive, even by the standards of MetaTalk.
posted by Merus at 8:01 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Whenever I get a comment deleted I think of this particular wisdom from DirtyOldTown:
I find it helpful to think of being deleted less as being struck down by authority and more like having a friend say, "Dude... be cool."
My best to everyone. I'm delighted by this fundraising wrap-up and I'm absolutely staggering with gratitude for all the hard work from the SC, the adjacent event volunteers and contributors, jessamyn and the mods, and mefites everywhere. I'm gobsmacked by the progress the team has made. Many good things ahead.
posted by mochapickle at 8:07 AM on January 25 [13 favorites]


Many points can and should be raised in big discussions about site-wide finances, fundraising efforts, etc. I don't think they should appear in the context of bolded, italicized, hyper-critical comments that inherently diminish the efforts of the many people who make MetaFilter work, particularly after a huge push to improve the site's footing. I happened to be awake at an odd time for me and saw it, and whatever the intent... I am glad it was deleted.
posted by cupcakeninja at 8:10 AM on January 25 [9 favorites]


This kind of feedback takes time and effort, and is well worth it. Thanks so much. What good news to get now that Maine finally remembered it's winter, and I have a wood pile to shovel out before the next storm.

It's sometimes kind of interesting to read deleted posts, but I trust the mods to use it carefully in MeTa. Can I get confirmation that deletion is least used in MetaTalk, most used in AskMe?
posted by theora55 at 8:13 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


That's correct. I know deletions and other moderator decisions are awkward but mods really can't talk about individual moderator actions or private conversations they've had with users.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:20 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


I personally would have liked to have read MollyRealized's comment. But not only is the comment gone but it was apparently so offensive that MollyRealized is now banned from MetaTalk? That shouldn't happen.

I saw it, started to read it, then quickly realised it was a destructively negative essay (and not a comment) that could sap the willpower out of current and future volunteer efforts on the steering committee, and stopped reading. I too am glad it was deleted.

Points made about fundraising in it could/should indeed be (more constructively) made. And in a different future-looking MetaTalk, rather than turning this recent-past-looking one - which is explicitly titled "Fundraising Wrap-Up" - into a several hundred comment unfocused and all-over-the-place thread.

And on that actual topic, echoing mockapickle who puts it well:

I'm delighted by this fundraising wrap-up and I'm absolutely staggering with gratitude for all the hard work from the SC, the adjacent event volunteers and contributors, jessamyn and the mods, and mefites everywhere.
posted by Wordshore at 8:28 AM on January 25 [17 favorites]


OK, I will avoid writing an essay, and say congratulations on the fundraising efforts, obviously excellent work. But it does seem appropriate to feedback on budget here given this is a long awaited update on such. So I will say that I find it disappointing that there is almost $200k of new yearly revenue and apparently a marketing budget of $0 still.
posted by iivix at 9:37 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


In my opinion, progress is being made, although yeah, it's not at the speed that everyone (including the Steering Committee) would like. That's alright, these things take time and they've gotten things pointed in a good direction, so kudos for that.

Overall, I don't think the site is ready for a push to bring in new users. The bleeding needed to be stemmed first of all, full stop. Everyone is aware that more work needs to be done, but we definitely needed to quell the bleeding first of all.

I, personally, who haven't been paying close attention to what the Steering Committee has been doing, would give them (both present and future SCs) till about the end of year, and get the marketing and user drive matters decided upon and at least begun. Might take less time, might take longer, but it's going to take a bit of time and effort. By July or August would probably be best, before the holidays start gearing up, but things take time, sure.

Also, I would ask that everyone, myself included, give themselves pause when they feel the need to write long comments saying X or Y has to be done NOW RIGHT NOW. Throw out suggestions or ideas, by all means, but lets refrain from feeling that we have to charge into the breach or all is lost over most site matters. Good change takes time and effort and those begin with small steps.

However, if one does feel the need to do something right away, I'd encourage them to be the change they wish to see. Start doing and modeling what you'd like to see done, tell others what you're doing and encourage them to do similar.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:29 AM on January 25 [10 favorites]


Hi, having seen MollyRealized's comments before it was erased I feel that taz overreacted and went too far.

The issues they raised:
1) That the site needs to attract new members, "needs" in the sense that "MetaFilter cannot sustainably reach Revive or Thrive without an influx of new members"
2) Current circumstances like the meltdown of Twitter and the influx of people into the Fediverse, and the value of moderated social sites to discuss world events is back in the public thought
3) This site's lack of outreach anywhere

are not new, and it's not outrageous to raise them here. It was definitely an "essay" more than a comment, and it perhaps revealed more about the poster's emotional state than they realized (no joke intended), but now they're in other social media spaces saying that, as of a few hours ago, they can do nothing at all on the site. Has their account been locked off completely? And if so, for how long?

Since it did take some time, it might have been nice to have an update at some point just to say, "we are working on this, it is taking more time than expected, but we're making sure it is accurate and detailed." Or "we're really focused on the events portion of the fundraiser and we won't be doing any overall updates until after that is finished and assessed." Or whatever.

Relatedly, I'm not trying to focus on the negative here, but will we ever regain bi-weekly site updates from loup? That was something that was promised, the promise was broke, the promise was made again, and broken again in 2022.

(And not to sound paranoid, but I'm planning to screenshot this comment in case it too is deleted.)
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 10:30 AM on January 25 [12 favorites]


There's some discussion in thread about a comment that's been deleted. The steering committee (SC) didn't request the deletion or know the comment was going to be deleted in advance, but we have been sent a copy of it. I have a couple of immediate thoughts that are me speaking for myself, not on behalf of the SC as a whole, as the SC as a whole hasn't even read it yet:
There are so many things that could be a priority for the SC -- improving site culture, growing the userbase, promoting MetaFilter on social media, code improvements (so many code improvements! that could support so many other goals!) -- but the need to do some fundraising and get a workable budget in place eclipsed all of them. The SC did not, does not, and probably never will have the resources to work on everything simultaneously -- there will always be a need to prioritize work.
That said, growing the userbase and growing traffic is a thing we are already planning to focus more on in the near future, and there's a lot of work that can be done on that front. If anyone has expertise or interest in these areas -- audience development, coding social media widgets, effectively cross-sharing content on social media, PR and promotion, creating MeFi-based TikToks or YouTube videos or podcasts -- that you want to share with the SC, our volunteer sign-up form is here.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:36 AM on January 25 [26 favorites]


Jesus. Can't MetaTalk have one nice, upbeat post without people bitching and moaning?
posted by Melismata at 11:25 AM on January 25 [13 favorites]


Commenting from a personal capacity here, not speaking on behalf of the SC as a whole:

As jacquilynne mentioned - the decision to delete MollyRealized's comment was purely a mod/admin decision, and the SC was not consulted or informed prior.
I personally do not think that comment should have been deleted, and I personally would have very much preferred to reply to and address that comment directly - because I felt some points/concerns raised there were valid, very understandable, and I could have clarified, addressed them and further explained.

I personally appreciate when MeFites have concerns, ideas or suggestions - because I believe they ultimately come from a place of concern, attachment and care for the site. And I personally believe that it's good to try to discuss and engage with these concerns/ideas, even if there are varying opinions on them - because sometimes (often times, in the case of MetaFilter, I think) it comes down to information asymmetry - where people don't have enough information/details at hand for a clear picture/view of the situation, and are trying their best with the information they do have or understand.

I'm hoping we can come to a better resolution / way forward around this particular comment's deletion, and I believe the SC is trying to figure this out now, in dialogue with the admin/mods.
Transparency and equal access to content/information within discussion threads matter to me personally, and I believe they're important parts of building trust and accountability among us.

I'm personally sorry about the confusion and frustration expressed here around the deletion, and the inability to refer to the comment now and discuss it in its original form. I'm hoping we can find a better solution.
posted by aielen at 11:29 AM on January 25 [23 favorites]


I'm hoping we can come to a better resolution / way forward around this particular comment's deletion, and I believe the SC is trying to figure this out now, in dialogue with the admin/mods.
Transparency and equal access to content/information within discussion threads matter to me personally, and I believe they're important parts of building trust and accountability among us.

I'm personally sorry about the confusion and frustration expressed here around the deletion, and the inability to refer to the comment now and discuss it in its original form. I'm hoping we can find a better solution.


Thank you very much for this aielen. Now that we have an SC we need to be able to direct and guide the mods regarding community driven standards and expectations, especially when discussing site governance in Metatalk! If someone has a counterargument or dissenting opinion regarding the work of the SC that is NOT for the memory hole... Previous culture within the admin team needs to adjust to more chance for open communication, even if some people might get a bit fighty.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:40 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


I personally do not think that comment should have been deleted, and I personally would have very much preferred to reply to and address that comment directly - because I felt some points/concerns raised there were valid, very understandable, and I could have clarified, addressed them and further explained.

This is all really great to hear, but just to reiterate something I mentioned earlier, MollyRealized is over on Reddit -- a site with an exponentially bigger userbase than this one -- telling people that their account has been essentially locked as of a few hours ago, meaning that they can't participate in any meaningful dialogue. It's a bad look for the site, an "own goal", especially coming off some very good news.

Is what they're saying accurate? If so, how long does this lock last? Can/Should/Will the Steering Committee attempt to expedite unlocking the account, or restoring the deleted comment?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 11:55 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


Great work, everyone! This is a lovely update and everyone responsible is a lovely person.

Now that we have an SC we need to be able to direct and guide the mods regarding community driven standards and expectations

FWIW, I have the reverse opinion, at least as far as the dynamics on this thread are concerned. Everyone who has stepped up to be part of the SC is great, but it is really disappointing to see SC members reflexively distancing themselves from and criticizing the absolutely essential work that MeFi workers do to keep the site functional as a space for thoughtful discussion.

(In the spirit of equal consideration for all, please feel free to imagine that I typed up a much longer and much less civil version of this comment that was subsequently deleted, and to then spend several dozen comments arguing about what you think I might have said and if it should have been deleted or not.)
posted by Not A Thing at 11:56 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


I gave a brief thumbs-up last night when I saw this post, as it was late and I was tired. Most everything else I would say has been said, but I want specifically to say: thank you to the SC. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this report. The level of detail here is helpful but not overwhelming, and the care that went into the data, framing, and overall report is tangible. Knowing how things look and where the site's going is so appreciated.
posted by cupcakeninja at 12:06 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


and I personally would have very much preferred to reply to and address that comment directly - because I felt some points/concerns raised there were valid, very understandable, and I could have clarified, addressed them and further explained.

Can you share what, if any, actions the Steering Committee is considering or taking in terms of publicizing and marketing the site? Also, has a plan been formed to increase the user base? If not, is that something that's in the planning stages?

Any sort of timeline you can give on these things aspects (publicizing, market, growing user base) would be awesome. I'd be ok with communicating "we're not sure, working on, or it's in the planning stages".

Thanks for any information you can share!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:23 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I think the deletion was significantly misguided and should be reversed.

For those who didn't see it it was a lengthy, articulate argument that Mefi needs to focus on getting new people in as a matter of priority.

Maybe it would sit better in a separate thread, but it's absolutely the sort of thing that should be discussed in the 'omg we need to save the site!' context of this fundraising exercise (for which - congratulations! really impressive work by all involved!).
posted by Sebmojo at 12:43 PM on January 25 [12 favorites]


That's correct. I know deletions and other moderator decisions are awkward but mods really can't talk about individual moderator actions or private conversations they've had with users.

I will say that it is better to have mods not say anything than to have repeats of past behavior where mods shared very personal (and not always truthful IMO) information about past users, so generally agree with the vibe of this policy.

However, this statement is not so clear to me -- mods talk about individual moderator actions in threads all the time (like in this one). Do you mean that you've asked mods not to engage in back and forth with users about individual mod decisions/private convos? That makes a lot of sense to me if so but would be good to know.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:44 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Also, very good job by the steering committee. I am incredibly impressed by the (volunteer!) work you've put in and I think you should be extremely proud of how you're handling yourselves and interacting with the community.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:46 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


iivix:

There is a discussion to be had about best use of existing funds and staff resource (at survive and revive levels) - that at least some of the existing funds should be directed at marketing and new user acquisition (critical to reverse site decline and ensure long term revenue)... marketing budget being noticeable absent from spending listed ("essential administrative work, increasing the moderation budget, increasing our development budget, funds set aside for consultancy, useful tools").

OK, I will avoid writing an essay, and say congratulations on the fundraising efforts, obviously excellent work. But it does seem appropriate to feedback on budget here given this is a long awaited update on such. So I will say that I find it disappointing that there is almost $200k of new yearly revenue and apparently a marketing budget of $0 still.

To clarify: we put together this Fundraising Wrap-Up post with the main goal of relaying/reporting the funds raised from the fundraising drive, while acknowledging the community and volunteers that helped make the fundraising drive possible.

We felt that a more comprehensive report on the full budget and resource allocation plan for the year ahead would be better communicated in a separate post of its own.
At the same time, we did want to mention some uses for the funds raised here (inline with some of the expenses previously outlined in the different scenarios) - and that's what we've done in this post, while noting that a more comprehensive, separate MeTa on 2023's budget and resource allocation is forthcoming.
posted by aielen at 12:51 PM on January 25 [8 favorites]


Do you mean that you've asked mods not to engage in back and forth with users about individual mod decisions/private convos?

Sorry, that was not clear. I mean it's not appropriate for mods to talk publicly on the site about private conversations mods have had with users that concern moderation issues with those users.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:03 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


(SC member here) I saw the comment when it happened, and almost replied to it immediately, but figured I'd wait for a bit to reply since it was fairly lengthy and I wanted to mull it over for a bit. MollyRealized is a good member I think, and her heart was in the right place. I think I see what she was getting at, my response was going to be along the lines of:

I saw the Steering Committee's role as being more for determining site direction (as in almost literally steering), but some of us jumped into the fundraising when it was clear it had to be done. I'm unsure later iterations of the SC will want to, or even could, do all of that. Also, while I don't wish to intrude on anyone's privacy, I feel I should say several SC members got hit soon after the fundraiser with life changes.

Some of us in the SC do have some ideas for expanding the site's reach. My own is an ad network that members and people from other sites could pay for space in, and that might also syndicate out to other sites. (Think of it: an ad network that doesn't try to gather and sell user information! That only served flat images and no custom security-risking Javascript!) It'd be good to have a discussion about this. I've MeMailed MR before, I might reach out to them if they have any ideas.

I find it helpful to think of being deleted less as being struck down by authority and more like having a friend say, "Dude... be cool."

This is a very helpful way to think about it. I feel like this description should be made more of, considering that sometimes deletion feels traumatic to the person who made the comment. I think it'd be helpful if more discussion happened around when and why comments are deleted some time (not here), and if it could be make a little easier on people. It's an aspect of the site that isn't very visible to those outside the mods.
posted by JHarris at 1:05 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


Aah I tried to MeMail them, but it says the account is disabled, even though their userpage doesn't say it's disabled? Is that a consequence of having a timeout?
posted by JHarris at 1:08 PM on January 25


It looks like taz disabled MollyRealized’s account; MollyRealized is discussing it on the MetaFilter subreddit here: https://reddit.com/r/MetaFilterMeta/comments/10jqpsc/_/j5v0qup/?context=1
posted by buntastic at 1:17 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I really wish the employees would trust HR to do their job around here.
posted by Melismata at 1:19 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Looking at the comment in question, I don't think it's the sort of dialog with the SC that we want to normalize or even really accept. I also think there's some contextual stuff here with how MollyRealized's last few Metatalks have gone (getting frustrated when people don't agree with their assessments) that might be weighing on things here.
posted by sagc at 1:26 PM on January 25 [9 favorites]


Also, from my observation of Metafilter over the years, one of the things that sets people up for frustration is expecting changes, decisions, announcements, etc. to come quickly. They never really have, and when they do, it often causes a whole other set of problems. Adding a consultative body can't improve that, and I think that while regular *communication* is something that we can expect, agile decision-making and implementation might not be.
posted by sagc at 1:30 PM on January 25 [12 favorites]


And not to sound paranoid, but I'm planning to screenshot this comment in case it too is deleted.)

Note that mods will supply the text of any comment you've had deleted on request.
posted by Mitheral at 1:33 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I strongly believe that growing the site membership is important, but this post isn't really about that. And I think having reasonable ideas doesn't make it right to express them in an unreasonable and disparaging way. I think it is also unfair to judge the deletion solely on the comment in question. The poster has had a series of confrontational blowouts recently that even they acknowledge were unfortunate. I am not in charge of anything, but I think it was a reasonable decision to moderate before things really got out of hand.
posted by snofoam at 1:47 PM on January 25 [12 favorites]


Having read the comment, I agree it should have been deleted.

The concerns brought up in said comment are completely valid and should definitely be asked, as has been tried in this thread. But the doom and gloom tone had no place in a thread that was created to share good news.

Ask the questions. Ask them repeatedly if they're not being answered. But having sat on the Transition Team board and been part of MeTa posts that were delivering good news about X, Y, and Z, only to have people come in and demand to know why A wasn't done right now, while ignoring or belittling what changes had occurred, was a stunningly common act.

Ask the questions. Ask them repeatedly if they're not being answered. But folks, please stop equating not doing a specific action as the death of Metafilter when the news being delivered shows the site is far from dead and that improvements are slowly happening.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:56 PM on January 25 [36 favorites]


Speaking personally (not on behalf of the SC) -

in response to this other remark from Meatbomb...
>Now that we have an SC we need to be able to direct and guide the mods regarding community driven standards and expectations, especially when discussing site governance in Metatalk!

Just wanted to clarify: I hope my earlier comment did not undermine the valuable work the mods do in general, or give the impression that the SC should necessarily focus on directing or managing the mods in their core work (moderation).

Overall, I have tremendous respect for the incredibly difficult work the mods do - and the wealth of experience and insight they bring to the table when it comes to moderating an internet community.
(The MeFi Event session on MetaFilter's moderation, presented by loup and restless_nomad, is a great overview on what MetaFilter mods do and have done over the years - and being in that discussion with loup and restless_nomad really made clear (to me personally) that the work the mods do is very specialized, requires skill and experience, and cannot be easily replaced or outsourced.) The mods often have to make difficult moderation decisions with limited time and resources - and shoulder any fallout/criticism when some of those many decisions turn out to be less than optimal.

In this case, it felt to me that this could have been approached in a better way towards an outcome of more transparency and community trust, and I appreciate that the admin has committed to discussing this more with the SC.
posted by aielen at 2:15 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


Wait, so people needed *another* off-site subreddit to lament the state of the site when the first one wasn't enough?

I wouldn't get too much into "What do people on other sites think", there's always going to be hecklers and a spot where the most popular "this is when MeFi turned bad on me" story is 'the emotional labor thread was too gendered against men' isn't going to prompt good conversation. (and if you're congregating somewhere around how much that other site sucks, it's definitely heckling)

I've had my share of issues with how things have gone over the years, so I'm hardly an "Mefi can do no wrong" sort; but I'm still here hoping for better & interested in how to get there.
posted by CrystalDave at 2:17 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


Ask the questions. Ask them repeatedly if they're not being answered. But folks, please stop equating not doing a specific action as the death of Metafilter when the news being delivered shows the site is far from dead and that improvements are slowly happening.

I find criticizing the SC frustrating (although I didn't read Molly's tone that way, personally). But I think it will naturally fizzle out as people adjust to a healthier climate in terms of community governance and feedback.

We were in a bad feedback loop before where criticism was met with a lot of defensiveness, which tends to piss people off and frustrate them and lead to harsher criticism, which leads to defensiveness, and so on. Everyone was being understandably human in that circumstance but we needed some people to break that loop by being willing to let criticism happen with a response that breaks the cycle.

Jessamyn, the SC, and the mods have all been doing a good job of that and I think a lot of the old toxic pattern just needs to just fizzle out over time. I think this thread has actually done a good job of showing what it looks like to have things be addressed by community feedback (like yours!).

So overall I think this thread is a good sign for community health.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:37 PM on January 25 [7 favorites]


also, to be clear, I don't see feedback to the SC as frustrating, but I do feel like the ineffable line to criticism should generally not be crossed; I haven't seen them do anything but try their best and do a fantastic job for us, and I, for one, am extremely grateful
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:38 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


People need to be kind and patient with a group of volunteers who have waded in to fix a mess. This seems like the bare minimum we should expect from members of this site.
posted by Mavri at 2:48 PM on January 25 [14 favorites]


Mod note: One of the most important things for running a healthy internet community is that we don't react to off-site social media unless it results in brigading or harassment (in which case we will take what steps we can, although they're often frustratingly limited). It's there, people can have whatever feelings they have, it's fine. It's a fact of human nature that people who are upset -- for good reasons or for bad reasons or because they had a hard day at work and their frustration is coming out sideways at MetaFilter -- are always going to be the ones most likely to post on outside social media.

If people are unhappy with moderation decisions and want to talk to us about it, that's great, we have those conversations at length, and we've done so over many years. We'll talk about them specifically with the user, even if the user is banned (by e-mail); we'll also talk in more general terms with the community. If people are unhappy with moderation decisions and want to complain about them elsewhere, that is both totally fine and completely outside our control.

We try to moderate in line with our values as a site and as a community. Reactively moderating based on what people might say on other social media sites doesn't help us do that; it tends to drive moderation in really bad ways. On a much larger scale, we've all seen how much leeway Twitter gave right-wing accounts who were CLEARLY violating the rules, because otherwise the GOP was dragging them on Fox News and in Congress. It was bad for Twitter-the-company, and bad for Twitter's community. We try to keep our moderation focused on THIS community and its members, and on the specific person we're engaging with, and on our values. This all evolves! We try to change and improve! But what doesn't change is our commitment to focusing on this community and its health.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:17 PM on January 25 [12 favorites]


I wasn't suggesting that moderators should treat MollyRealized differently because of what they write on Reddit. I'm pointing out that blocking their account -- which it now seems undeniable that's what occurred even if no mod has owned up to doing that -- makes it impossible for them to participate in the dialogue that follows, so it shouldn't be surprising that they go to another option.

I'm also putting forward my opinion that basically, taz overreacted. (I'm also not crazy about the juxtaposition -- accidental I hope -- of bringing up Twitter fascists unprompted in this discussion.) Now that the text of the comment is viewable in that Reddit post, I think the worst anyone could say about it is that it's (1) overly emotional, perhaps moreso than the author intended, (2) somewhat off-topic, and (3) it demands immediate radical change in response to a problem that is more addressable through steady, long-term effort. It doesn't attack other users, or personalize disagreements, or violate any site guidelines that I can see. And yet not only was the comment deleted, the account is blocked.

And that's the face we're showing to the world right now. We should be celebrating what thousands of users did together to save the site, but instead today's been all about "You want the Steering Committee to do this now? Take a time out from the whole site, kid."

It's a self-inflicted wound and it did not have to happen.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 4:24 PM on January 25 [33 favorites]


(I'm also not crazy about the juxtaposition -- accidental I hope -- of bringing up Twitter fascists unprompted in this discussion.)

Honestly just trying to think of an example of externally-driven moderation that people would be familiar with, without using a mefi example. Twitter's just top-of-mind because it's in the news. Twitter's kind-of my go-to for all moderation examples right now because it's the first time a lot of not-extremely-online people have learned anything about social media moderation, and I can finally explain my job!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:03 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


Deleting that comment was a silly overreaction, and doubling down by banning them is just stupid.
posted by dorothy hawk at 8:33 PM on January 25 [32 favorites]


One pattern I have noticed a lot on MetaTalk, and why I find this place so fatiguing, is when one person inevitably makes a point that is expressed in a way that is trying to pick a fight, and then when a fight inevitably starts, any attempts to stop the fight is treated as an attempt to suppress discussion on that point. Fights are not productive! They prioritise the people with the strongest opinions and the least emotional intelligence, and they're not the kind of people that you want driving group governance. It happens a lot here - many of loup's site updates, for instance.
posted by Merus at 12:21 AM on January 26 [22 favorites]


As somebody who has been put in the naughty corner a couple of times for getting a bit full of myself on AskMe, and who recently reacted to the mere threat of a week-long timeout by taking a voluntary fortnight off for reflection, I can recommend the same approach to others.

Unwarranted ego puffing is absolutely an occupational hazard for participants in any pseudonymous online forum, and I certainly feel like a healthier person for occasionally having been brought down to earth with a bump. It's Not All About You is at least as valuable a part of this community's ethos as Flag It And Move On.

In my experience it takes about three days for the How Dare You that a timeout will inevitably bring on to dissipate enough for genuine reflection to have room to grow. So if you've been denied posting privileges for a day, it seems to me to be a wasted opportunity not to take at least a further week off by choice, just in order to learn what can be learned from that.

It further seems to me that being given an opportunity to publish one's own opinion to the entire world is and remains a considerable privilege, despite the devoted efforts of mass market social media to having us all forget that this is so.

All that said: learning that I have been put in the naughty corner by finding my account forcibly logged out and then reading a short piece of large text saying only that it has been disabled feels a little brutal, and probably brings on more How Dare You than is on balance helpful. I think it would be better, when somebody has been given a timeout, that that page shows the account as temporarily disabled. If it could include an estimated time to restoration, so much the better. The occasional kick up the arse is a good and valuable thing but the hobnailed boots do leave marks.
posted by flabdablet at 1:15 AM on January 26 [13 favorites]


I have a lot of sympathy with the mods here, though if I had a magic wand I would've moved the deleted comment into its own new post to avoid derailing this one; and not banned MollyRealized.

Metafilter is like a tanker, it has a lot of momentum and goodwill built up over decades. That's what fuelled the recent fundraising successes. It's also what makes the site slower to change. There is a huge amount of organisational and technical debt that the SC has to overcome and we just have to be realistic about changes. I'm really heartened by the news that more people have access to Mefi's code – that really demonstrates the SC is able to work on multiple very important things at once. I don't blame anyone for thinking "oh we've been told improvements are coming in the past, and they never came" but for so many reasons, this time really is different and we owe them a little patience, especially with the holidays recently over.
posted by adrianhon at 1:53 AM on January 26 [11 favorites]


I was wondering how long it would take before this became an issue.
posted by some loser at 4:08 AM on January 26


Having actually read MollyRealized's post now, I realised that I only got half of the message. They are not just arguing for marketing efforts, but suggesting that it is a uniquely valuable moment to concentrate on new user acquisition, to take advantage of the radically reconfiguring of the social media landscape that is currently underway. Valuable insight and correct in my opinion. Arguing passionately for the urgency of action seems tonally appropriate if you believe that urgency is justified. A good faith comment that doesn't require that user being chastised and infantilised (being put in "the naughty corner").
posted by iivix at 4:11 AM on January 26 [18 favorites]


ilvix, I do not consider that comment a good faith contribution; I think it was destructive. I can see the "it should be its own thread approach," or the deletion, but I do think it warranted some form of moderation. It was the reverse of the classic shit sandwich. Instead of offering criticism framed by a variety of encouragement, positivity, etc., it was a number of reasonable suggestions framed by (to me; YMMV) transparent aggravation and anger. Speaking as someone who only started reading and occasionally commenting on MeTa relatively recently, that kind of behavior is part of why I stayed away from MeTa for many years. I think MetaFilter contains worlds, and that is a good thing, but I don't think we should by screaming, etc. to make points.
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:28 AM on January 26 [8 favorites]


Telling MeFi that it needs to do "marketing" in a post that itself resembles a click-funnel used to sell click-funnels was probably not the way to go.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:24 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


Well, if we're going to do this here, I feel like there are two important pieces of context worth introducing into the discussion:

Firstly, by MollyRealized's own description, her account wasn't immediately disabled. It was only disabled after she responded to the deletion and being told by a mod to take some time away from MetaTalk by immediately commenting in this thread again.

Secondly, there is a specific recent history of MollyRealized coming to MetaTalk to make proposals for substantial overhauls of how Metafilter works and then getting very fighty and accusing anyone who doesn't agree with those proposals of being part of an echo chamber that cares more about making sure nothing ever changes than actually preserving Metafilter for the future.

Take those as you will.
posted by firechicago at 5:46 AM on January 26 [18 favorites]


They are not just arguing for marketing efforts, but suggesting that it is a uniquely valuable moment to concentrate on new user acquisition, to take advantage of the radically reconfiguring of the social media landscape that is currently underway.

I would agree, the gist of the comment was an interesting idea and I see no reason why it can't happen now, on an individual level. Make a tag, say "#JoinMetaFilter" or "#ComeSeeTheBeans" or something more catchy. Individual users could share a screenshot of their favorite posts or comments on various social media right now, we don't have to wait for some grand plan.

Hmm, a "#VisitMetafilter" tag might work better, as it's a call to action with less friction than 'join'.

I'll probably do something a TikTok or two along those lines later today, once I've slept some. It's those low effort, individual things that the community can try to do. That way we're bringing in a few new people, which the site can handle as opposed to a massive outreach which will suck up more of the site's resources when they're still pretty limited.

Oh sure, I'm thinking high concept, with vintage travel posters encouraging people to "Visit Metafilter", but that takes time and money. For now just a screenshot of a favorite thread or comment, with a link back to it would work well enough for now, until someone has a better idea!

I haven't slept much, so I'm sorta babbling, will sign off now, apologies for typos!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:17 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


We try to moderate in line with our values as a site and as a community.

This is a sincere question. What are those values?

Is there a defined statement of values anywhere?
posted by Miko at 6:25 AM on January 26 [12 favorites]


The Community Guidelines (to me) embody the values, though others may disagree, and the About page has some similar content. Perhaps an explicit MVV is in the works, or I missed it in searching. (And speaking of guidelines, I have talked a lot for me here, so will now bow out.)
posted by cupcakeninja at 6:44 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


The guidelines are behavioral agreements for participation, which I see as distinct from values. Particularly in an organizational context, values are abstract ideals (not behaviors) that help people prioritize possible actions and align intent with activity. I don't see explicit values laid out in MeFi's documentation. You can infer some values from the guidelines statement, but they aren't made clear. The closest language is: "foster positive conversations, build community, and share all the good things the internet makes possible."

It's also a good idea to talk about what those values look like in action - how they show up in work and inform policy. So if a value is "community," how does that show up in a thread like this? If "community" is important, what does that mean for handling comments that are critical, even if constructive? Does "positive" conversation mean that "negative" conversation is not supported? And what does "positive" conversation look like?

The community guidelines are also directed at users; they aren't positioned as principles that are relevant throughout the entire entity. I think if there are values that govern specifically staff/mod practice, it would be great if those were made transparent as well.

A lot of organizations that aren't clear on their values fall back on a combination of gut, personality factors, and culture. To paraphrase Peter Drucker on the power of internal culture, culture eats values for breakfast. Clearly articulating values we can all be accountable for - staff, vols, users - could be one way of making the basis for moderation decisions more clear and less confused with personality and culture factors.
posted by Miko at 6:58 AM on January 26 [23 favorites]


I agree with Miko on defining values, and I would ask that such a process be done with an active anti-oppressive lens. It's also easy, otherwise, to fall back on White Supremacy Culture values of conflict-avoidance, defensiveness, and fear of open conflict, in ways that maintain oppressive societal status quos.
posted by lapis at 7:57 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Comments relating to the Molly Realized deletion are a derail.
posted by NotLost at 8:47 AM on January 26 [7 favorites]


I didn't necessarily agree with MollyRealized's comment or at least not all of it but deleting and banning them was just bizarre and over-the-top and really destroyed any good-will that this thread started with. Good job at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory there mods.
posted by octothorpe at 9:08 AM on January 26 [23 favorites]


I've asked several times, much as Miko is here, what theories or goals are guiding the mods' deletions. Some of which, as Miko said, seem based on culture, but they also, in my view, sometimes seem based on politics, a refusal to allow debate, and other unpredictable factors, which are even harder to fathom because deletions are not always explained. To me, community is built on conversation, and I think mod values should reflect that: debate is okay, personal attacks aren't, with derail always being tricky. That kind of value system would both help guide the mods, making their jobs easier, and guide interpretations of their actions. As is, hard-to-understand or uneven deletions promote distrust, especially when those deletions aren't explained, but replies to them remain in a thread.

In a case like Molly's, where she was making several important points, but at length, and risked spoiling the appreciation for and understanding of the particulars of the Fundraising Wrap-Up, I think there should be a standardized mod response. That sort of adjacent, useful, but breakaway thought-as-comment happens fairly frequently on the Gray, and you can see why. You can also see why it's easier to keep each thread on one site management topic at a time. For this sort of situation, I think the mods would do well to standardize their replies with something like: Derail. Start a new post.
posted by Violet Blue at 9:49 AM on January 26 [8 favorites]


Comments relating to the Molly Realized deletion are a derail

I have sent in a MetaTalk post that is currently queued. It includes an updated Reddit post from MollyRealized and a summary of those points. If the new post is accepted, the discussion can certainly move there, but it did happen in this thread, so...
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 11:18 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


I have sent in a MetaTalk post that is currently queued.

I sent one into the queue yesterday and no communication so who knows?
posted by Meatbomb at 11:29 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


I think a bunch of people did a lot of work and one person wrote a really long and heated comment about how the work should be done. I personally wouldn't have deleted the comment, but the value of the comment as opposed to the value of the work is not a close question. It's a shame that all the focus is now on the comment. I would suggest that if you have comments about how other people should do the work, you should try to be respectful of the fact that you are writing a comment and not doing the work -- that respect was lacking in the comment, which is what I guess set the mods off (understandably in my view). Ranting and raving about how you're going to pull your hair out unless unidentified people start a huge marketing effort is roleplaying stuff; it isn't an actual plan or proposal to accomplish anything. That takes work.
posted by Mid at 11:57 AM on January 26 [30 favorites]


I didn't read the post in question and I'm very much outside the evolutions of the past months, beyond tracking them somewhat via various metas etc

I suppose my main issue with getting serious about marketing right now (with having a marketing budget etc) is that we're not ready yet to welcome a great influx of new users. We're only now getting our "house" back in order. We've successfully raised enough funds to see our way through the immediate future -- to make various changes-fixes-rethinks to the existing site infrastructure and culture.

It seems prudent to make sure things are actually functioning before we get serious about expansion. With the goal being that we will get to that, we must get to that.

I'm also concerned about having a marketing budget before we have an overall marketing strategy ... unless we already have this strategy.
posted by philip-random at 12:06 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


I'm finding it difficult to engage with this thread or MetaFilter in general right now. I'm trying to hold two spaces — one for appreciating the hard work that went into fundraising efforts and the other for the valid concerns raised in this thread.

At this point, they both deserve their own spaces for discussion and it feels disrespectful to me and seems a disservice to try to speak to one, the other, or both here.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:58 PM on January 26 [9 favorites]


When I say "marketing budget" I'm using that as shorthand in general for spend on marketing activities, e.g. paying an expert to develop a marketing strategy, not just budget for ad spend.

I do think there is a feeling here that any marketing activities will result in a huge influx of "newbie" type users, and that there will be a resultant challenge in scaling up. But we've got to be realistic - whatever is spent on marketing is a tiny fraction of what gets thrown around in actual start-ups trying to rapidly grow their user base.

Really rough maths, because who knows what cost-per-acquisition is (really need someone to work this out if it's not known) but say it's $20, and $20k was allocated to new user acquisition (10% of that additional $200k raised), that's 1000 new users registered, which is just enough to stabilise the ~1k year on year active users decline.

Any additional spend or effort (e.g. expansion / growth) will be similar scale I imagine - at very most ambitious, it would bring active users back to 2011 peak or slightly beyond.

I'm guessing here, any steering committee member with more insight, please share.
posted by iivix at 1:02 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


who knows what cost-per-acquisition is (really need someone to work this out if it's not known) but say it's $20

Same as in town?
posted by snofoam at 1:04 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]


we're not ready yet to welcome a great influx of new users

and arguably we never should be.

Great influxes are just inherently destabilizing. I'd rather see MeFi have a target band for user count growth rates, much as central banks have for inflation rates. For a community that exists primarily for reasons that are not inherently commercial, growth for its own sake is not an automatic good. Just as for inflation, low growth is a necessary evil that's really only justifiable because slow decline is even less sustainable.

MeFi is a solidly established community, not a VC-funded startup trying to to achieve scale, and a low growth rate, like a low inflation rate, is going to be way easier for everybody to deal with than either an ongoing decline or a high growth rate.

There's historical precedent for this kind of thinking as well. MeFi spent years with sign-ups closed off altogether as a deliberate means to stop itself being overwhelmed by excessively fast growth, then implemented the $5 speed bump likewise.

I'm not suggesting we need to do nothing to attract new users. Obviously, ongoing community renewal is a good thing. I'm suggesting we ought to do as little marketing as it takes to achieve a growth rate only just sufficient to keep decline at bay. I've been here for eighteen years now, I'd like to stay for at least another forty, and if there's no longer a here here because we've managed to Eternal September ourselves then I'll be sad.

Huge thanks are due to the SC for the ongoing work it's taken on: you folks rock.
posted by flabdablet at 1:42 PM on January 26 [19 favorites]


Metafilter is like a tanker, it has a lot of momentum and goodwill built up over decades.

Until it goes sideways and gets grounded in the Suez Canal and the whole world goes all Edna Lovejoy on our collective ass.
posted by y2karl at 1:45 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


I'm mostly with Violet Blue and iamkimiam on this, except that I cringe at the expression "hold space". More specifically:

1) So glad there's some money. Well done! Thank you!

2) Molly's essay-length comment was a mess. The one-sentence idea behind it (MeFi could carp the diem and attract new members by grabbing the coattails of current articles expressing dissatisfaction with algorithm-fed social media) merits discussion. It would have been sufficient to redirect that to a new post. The overreaction made an even bigger mess. And we might need another, different post to talk about that, too, because that was seriously not okay.

3) This being MetaTalk it's not really a derail to say so.
posted by tangerine at 3:47 PM on January 26 [9 favorites]


The fact that everyone can talk about MollyRealized but she can’t defend herself because she’s been banned is fucking gross.
posted by dorothy hawk at 4:10 PM on January 26 [26 favorites]


I regret that I have but one favorite to give fabdablet's comment. Let's move slowly and not break things. After the years of benign neglect/inertia/ inaction, followed by a near miss financial crisis, the temptation is to swing in the opposite direction and do SOMETHING, ANYTHING RIGHT NOW. Thanks to the runway provided by the success of the fundraiser [YAY!], there's not a desperate need to rush into things. I understand the idea that there's a window of opportunity to recruit folks who are unhappy with Twitter/Instagram/Facebook but MeFI is fundamentally so different from those sites that I'm not sure that the opportunity for conversion is as big as it might seem.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 4:16 PM on January 26 [18 favorites]


we ought to do as little marketing as it takes to achieve a growth rate only just sufficient to keep decline at bay

First let's show that we *can* achieve a growth rate, before we worry about suffering from success. We've stemmed the financial bleeding, with fantastic effort. And I'm not saying "we should do something, anything!" either. But until we can show that we can get to "keeping decline at bay", much less targeted growth, it's a bit early to start worrying about how newcomers from those other sites don't know our ways & will change the local culture.
posted by CrystalDave at 4:43 PM on January 26 [16 favorites]


How else would we show a growth rate without new and returning users?
posted by creatrixtiara at 6:12 PM on January 26 [8 favorites]


There's nothing stable about a community that has lost thousands of users in only a few years and that has repeatedly been on the cusp of going broke.
posted by Violet Blue at 6:32 PM on January 26 [20 favorites]


it's a bit early to start worrying about how newcomers from those other sites don't know our ways & will change the local culture.

This reminds me of the recent waves of signups to Mastodon, actually. There was a lot of "ugh the new Twitter people will change our culture" which ended up sounding really... elitist? xenophobic? SOMETHING. And this was especially exacerbated when Black and other PoC users were talking about the ways that Mastodon norms don't serve them well (joined by people like me who have been pointing that out for ages), and too much of the response wasn't willing to take it on. Hell I even got called a "Twitter person" for one such discussion, even though I'd probably been on Mastodon longer than that person.

We got enough money to stabilise! Great! But outreach and marketing are crucial to the fundraising process and we can't really put that aside as a "someday maybe", not when so much of the money comes from members. Hash it out in another thread? Sure. But I don't think putting some energy into that is "going in the diametrically opposite direction" - I think it's a vital stepping stone forward.

We don't have to go all VC "growth at all cost" about it - maybe we can look at how much we need to get to Thrive and base the marketing/outreach budget around that, for instance. It'll definitely require a shift in norms (I remember how controversial it was when someone wanted to make a book-esque version of the Emotional Labour thread because of user consent over comments).

At the same time though, we already have things working for us, even though the credit's kinda misplaced. Ask vs Guess Culture discussions are HUUUGGGEEE on neurodivergent Internet right now, though its original context as a cultural thing has been lost (it's now become an NT vs ND thing which frustrates me but that's a derail). Tone indicators are expected usage now - the first time I ever saw them was here with the /s, but it's been credited to Reddit (and again became a "neurodivergent thing"). "1. 2. 3. ????? 4. PROFIT" and "if you're not the customer you're the product"? Started here on Metafilter, now common internet parlance.

There are definitely things we can do to carpe the diem (as states up thread) that don't need to be huge outlays.
posted by creatrixtiara at 8:27 PM on January 26 [10 favorites]


Complaining about this website in a space others might not care to participate in is “fucking gross”.
posted by hototogisu at 9:40 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


hototogisu: ??? Where should people "complain about this website" then, if they're not allowed to post here because their account got blocked?
posted by creatrixtiara at 9:46 PM on January 26 [19 favorites]


Within the first 24 hours of being given a timeout? Nowhere. Take the time to calm down, think about whether or not you can see where the mods were coming from, see if you're still angry, then decide whether you still have substantive criticisms and where the best venue to discuss them is. People get angry and engage in ways that are bad for the health of conversations on the site; that's why we have moderators. Anyone serious about the long-term success of Metafilter should understand this and be willing to take a few deep breaths and disengage for a little while if subjected to deletion or a timeout rather than immediately seeking a receptive forum to complain about the site while they're still angry and possibly not thinking clearly. I'm not saying one shouldn't discuss or criticise Metafilter or its moderation off-site, though I and a lot of others would prefer people to keep those conversations in the room, but reacting immediately to being subjected to mod action by going off-site to complain is being a poor citizen.
posted by biogeo at 10:21 PM on January 26 [14 favorites]


"1. 2. 3. ????? 4. PROFIT" ... started here on Metafilter, now common internet parlance.

South Park. It's the underpants gnomes.
posted by Sebmojo at 10:41 PM on January 26 [10 favorites]


prefer people to keep those conversations in the room


biogeo, they kicked Molly out of the room and then compared her to right wing trolls on Twitter. I'm not sure this room is fit for purpose even if she could converse here.
posted by Gotanda at 11:26 PM on January 26 [16 favorites]


“How else would we show a growth rate without new and returning users?”

Satisfaction and engagement of existing users?

I think of this place as a leafy plant of sorts. Growth isn’t all about new shoots and pups (although that’s critically important!).

When a plant gets viciously over pruned, the health of the entire organism suffers.

So yeah, we’re surviving and we should look out for signs of recovery growth. But also the shears.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:52 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


they kicked Molly out of the room and then compared her to right wing trolls on Twitter

For what it's worth, I never read the comparison I gather you're referring to as being about MollyRealized. It was perfectly clear to me that the comparison being made was not between MollyRealized and right wing trolls, but between Metafilter and Twitter. It was made in support of a wider point about the negative effects of external influences on site moderation policy, and on that basis I think it was completely reasonable.

The particular breach of this site's norms that triggered an absolutely standard moderation response escalation in this particular case, near as I can glean from the smoking remains left over, was the explicit and deliberate refusal of a Metafilter member to comply with an instruction from a moderator to step back from a thread within which their contributions were perpetuating a strong derail. But the very same external influences point could have been made with equal force in any discussion on moderation policy.

Moderator enforcements of site norms do not amount to attacks on members who choose to breach those norms, and reading them that way does nobody any good. And given that the entire reason MetaTalk exists is to provide a forum for discussion of site norms and policy, I think it remains completely fit for purpose.
posted by flabdablet at 12:19 AM on January 27 [26 favorites]


"1. 2. 3. ????? 4. PROFIT"

I thought that started on Slashdot.

Which probably means that it started on Usenet.
posted by box at 4:59 AM on January 27


South Park (in 1998); immediately seen on a bunch of forums afterwards.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:06 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Flabdablet’s comment about slow growth sparked my interest. I had not actually thought about what the minimum new member rate would be, but clearly it would be replacement rate. Which, I think, also equates to the Survive goal for the fundraiser.

I would propose that the fundraiser was about as successful as possible, thanks to all involved! To me, this also carries the implication that we could now approximate the community size that would support the Revive and Thrive scenarios.

New users are probably less likely to support the site at the same rates, globally diverse new users may have different financial situations, etc., but in the long term, where the site wants to be financially can drive new membership targets. (Conversely, if the membership/activity level needed to reach Thrive is more than people want, then that financial goal could be adjusted accordingly.)
posted by snofoam at 5:30 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


"if you're not the customer you're the product"? Started here on Metafilter, now common internet parlance.

That specific phrase was probably from Usenet, in 1999 or 2001, with similar variations dating back a couple of decades further.

The variant that started "If you are not paying for it…" was from MetaFilter in 2010.
posted by fabius at 5:30 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]




I found some even older references since then, like this from 1973, "in television, the audience is the product being sold to advertisers," or this from 1982, "the principal product of television is the audience..."
posted by Miko at 9:56 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


they kicked Molly out of the room and then compared her to right wing trolls on Twitter
They did nothing of the sort and I can't think of anything other than willful misreading of the comment by Eyebrows McGee to come to that conclusion.

It's a shame that yet another MeTa thread has degenerated into yet another mods vs the world argument and lost sight of what it was supposed to be about, which ws something good and positive for the community. The sequence of events that brought the mod action on are clear to anyone paying attention and, whether you agree with the specifics or not, it's also a shame that naysayers have taken away the celebration of the hard work done by many.
posted by dg at 9:47 PM on January 27 [23 favorites]


I agree. It is a shame that this meta like so many before has become a mods vs the world (i. e. Users) argument. There seems to be a common element running through these.

But, once again, many thanks to the SC for all of their hard work and a lot more hours than any of them expected.
posted by Gotanda at 10:48 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


The element is common, indeed. Would that it were less so.
posted by biogeo at 11:31 PM on January 27


So, ah, where are those MeTas that were said to be in the queue?
posted by Etrigan at 7:03 AM on January 28 [9 favorites]


Probably not going to be released on the weekend with low mod coverage? If weekend low mod coverage is still a thing?
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:05 AM on January 28


Weekend low mod coverage is definitely still a thing!

Us users could all probably use a weekend break to go do other things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:54 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what good would come of another thread about this. This thread became that thread. Maybe it would have made sense a few days ago, but now it would just be asking for a rehash and more bad feelings.
posted by Mid at 8:37 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


when people in power act badly towards people in positions of lesser power, especially when it's an ongoing pattern?

i think it's worthwhile asking why this pattern on the site is happening again. and again. and again.

i would love to participate more in this site, especially since I've given up Twitter, but I am just easily triggered by this dynamic: people in authority acting badly, harms resulting, no meaningful efforts to address it (such as establishing how the steering committee relates to the mods in terms of moderation policy, e.g.).

What I see mostly is an abdication of responsibility on the part of the mods in terms of addressing problematic mod actions

And I see people actively resisting the question of why this dynamic exists and how to alleviate harms resulting from this.

So I remain convinced this is not a good place for me to participate.
posted by angrycat at 10:55 AM on January 28 [20 favorites]


I feel bad for Rhaomi and everyone who worked so hard at this effort to save Metafilter's finances, made this post to announce that impressive accomplishment only to have the mods almost immediately sabotage all that good will. How are we supposed to feel good about a community when a very long-time user is attacked and then banned for trying to help? What kind of message does that send to anyone thinking about trying to help this community in the future?
posted by octothorpe at 11:18 AM on January 28 [18 favorites]


(such as establishing how the steering committee relates to the mods in terms of moderation policy, e.g.)

This dynamic absolutely must change. Users are now funding the site, and are responsible for its direction. Unaccountable staff who in many cases are actively damaging user morale and retention can't remain as the way things are. They work for us, the users are the only reason they have a job.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:21 AM on January 28 [10 favorites]


Mods gonna mod, that’s their job. I think describing moderation as acting badly is not constructive. Some of us think it was appropriate to delete the comment, and to give someone a timeout for posting immediately after being requested to take a break from the thread. Other people thought these weren’t the right moderation decisions. People can have a difference of opinions and it can be a discussion of what people think the norms should be. I think we all disagree with individual moderation decisions sometimes and there will never be a consensus amongst all users.

I feel like people who think that the mods are generally bad actors abusing their power are going to have trouble being part of any kind of constructive work to clarify or change moderation practices.
posted by snofoam at 11:31 AM on January 28 [32 favorites]


Okay, my mood has recovered enough to list more places and things Metafilter has outlived:

the heights (depths) of Something Awful,


It feels weird to compare Metafilter at its most desperate with SA's past and say Metafilter has outlived it. They currently have new ownership, they consistently make a profit without having to depend on fundraisers, they have been improving and upgrading the forum software and are basically going through the same process as Metafilter in trying to figure out its place as a web 1.0 relic in 2023.
posted by simmering octagon at 11:34 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


the mods are generally bad actors abusing their power

i don't believe this of any group of people in power: mods, government reps, cops

accountability should be present in every governing organization. i don't see how that's a controversial position
posted by angrycat at 11:38 AM on January 28 [7 favorites]


the heights (depths) of Something Awful

MetawFulter: trying to figure out its place as a web 1.0 relic in 2023.
posted by Rumple at 11:46 AM on January 28


Angrycat, I guess maybe I am just getting confused by the language you are using. It sounds like you are saying a wrong has been committed because you are using words like act badly, harm and problematic. You also seem focused on the idea that the mods are powerful and constitute a “governing organization.”

I think people can disagree about the moderation decisions in this post, but I don’t think there was a clear wrong decision. I also don’t think the mods comprise a governing organization, and I don’t think they need to be held accountable for just doing their job.

I think it could be constructive to have an open discussion about moderation norms, but I definitely don’t think we need to bring accountability to powerful mods who have been causing harm. None of that language makes sense to me in this context.
posted by snofoam at 12:02 PM on January 28 [9 favorites]


I'm really happy with the report and I'm glad to see it here.

I think the useful part of the "derail" is that people are considering what Metafilter growth could and should look like. I'm a plant person on this: I want "natural" growth. What I personally do to grow Metafilter is send people I know interesting links in the hope that over time they'll decide Metafilter is an interesting place to be and come hang out here (and eventually join and donate). It's not a win-in-a-day process, but over time if I get a handful of quality thoughtful people to join, I'll feel like I've done a good thing.

WRT moderation processes and fairness and stuff: I've made no secret in my bio that I had a previous account and effectively BNDed when I came back last year, both because in the intervening time I'd changed my internet handle a lot of places and because I had some issues with previous site moderation. I buttoned in 2016 because of some things that were going on with both me and the site (and the world at large). The moderation-thing that made me not want to be in this community is no longer an issue and I'm really happy to be back and participating in the site and community again.

My takeaway from my previous experience and my participation in the site, including the grey, over many years is that Metafilter is not a monolith but a community with a lot of different views and different desires for what the community should be and how it should work, including moderation. With thousands of active members, the site/community is just too big for the mods to please everybody. Somebody or other is always going to be strongly advocating for site goals/community norms that don't get traction; some people are going to butt heads with one or more mods or moderation policy in general; some people (mods and owners included) are going to hurt feelings and get their feelings hurt. This is part of being a community.

I missed the whole MollyRealized comment/deletion and while I hang out on Reddit, the Metafilter-related subreddits there are not for me, so I don't have a judgement to render or offer there. But I wish Molly peace and I wish the mods good luck in handling difficult situations, with the acknowledgement that there is always going to be some unhappiness around moderation which is an unfortunate part of their jobs.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 12:31 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure what good would come of another thread about this... now it would just be asking for a rehash and more bad feelings.

I'm someone who dislikes metatalks a lot, so much that I sometimes button myself because I find it distressing to see people I often like button or get dog-piled on, so much emotion, and nothing really changes (and then something similar happens in the next metatalk, and the one after that, etc.).

I'm going to suggest, however, that it might be useful this time, though, with the assumption that now we have a steering committee who I am assuming has the power to at least make suggestions after a metatalk (maybe they do this, maybe they don't?) and takes notes of suggestions (not sure about this either).

Maybe the objective could also be not necessarily to stir up emotions, but address particular issues or the SC could consider the issues raised, discuss, and bring suggestions or recommendations at a future time. Not necessarily on our time line as the SC is probably already underwater, but in the future.

They could address things brought up in this thread (apologies for not referencing the person each time as I would have to go through the entire thread):

1) Could there be values (as suggested by Miko) or specific rules so that someone KNOWS what rule they are breaking that could get them put in a time-out or banning (as an observer and from the comment left in the thread and from what is suggested happened afterward - a longtime user is... in timeout? Limbo?)

2) Could there be some form of communication with the site and the user that the person's account is disabled (as mentioned by flabdablet) - as in the info is in their profile so that it is not a permanent limbo state.

I'm sure there are other issues, too, but... if not, what is the real purpose of these metatalks then?
posted by Wolfster at 12:36 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


I don't think it would be good for the site to have temporary timeouts be communicated to the site at large even as a note on the affected users page. It would lead to a lot of "Why is Foo on time out" metas and off topic derails exactly has happened here. It is normal to praise in public and correct in private for good reason. Certainly I'd rather not have a time out administered to me to be widely broadcast and discussed. If users affected have questions or complaints they can always contact the mods directly.

I don't think there has ever been a mod note, where I'd been following the back and forth, asking someone to take a break where it wasn't plain to me why the user was being asked to step back for a bit. Sometimes it meant having to have seen a pattern over several posts but mostly not. Which is not to say I always agree with the action but why is usually clear.
posted by Mitheral at 1:36 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


made this post to announce that impressive accomplishment only to have the mods almost immediately sabotage all that good will

I have nothing but good will for the SC and its efforts and I'm sure I'm not even close to being alone in that, so the claim that all that good will has been sabotaged doesn't hold water.

It further seems to me that mods doing their job have sabotaged precisely nothing. If any good will has been lost as a consequence of contention arising from this thread having been derailed, I don't think it's the slightest bit fair to sheet home the responsibility for that to the moderators this site employs to limit exactly that kind of derail.

This site has a long-established boundary: open refusal to comply with direct instructions from moderators will get you a timeout. It's worked that way for longer than I've been a member. That's all that's happened here. Nobody has been abused.
posted by flabdablet at 1:39 PM on January 28 [16 favorites]


Yeah, it's all well and good to say 'that's all that happened here' but you know, what's your authority for that?

Because that is not my understanding.

And given that there isn't transparency around mod actions, you are really just asking for folks to believe you based on---nothing.
posted by angrycat at 1:50 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


what's your authority for that?

The poster who got the timeout said it themself on another site. That's authoritative enough for me.
posted by snofoam at 1:59 PM on January 28


nope. That's not my reading of it. she said made the comment, it was deleted, she contacted Taz asking why, and then she was put in limbo

I just read the reddit post: i'd link it/quote it but uh a) i don't know if that's cool b) given same, i won't do that because c) then i might be in timeout

NB: if my paraphrasing the comment is also somehow uncool, i really, truly, did not know that and same seems unfair, given other users are paraphrasing her post on Reddit
posted by angrycat at 2:09 PM on January 28


Also, again, referring to the Reddit post, she was not notified that she was in a time-out period that would last for x amount of time. I have certainly seen people given time out, with mod communication to that effect. Again, as per the posters off-site posts, that did not happen here
posted by angrycat at 2:15 PM on January 28


I guess I misread it, but it still seems within the range of normal moderation decisions. Anyhow, I am not the arbiter of what moderation is acceptable or ideal, so I don't have the authority to say whether it was right or wrong. I think for any individual to make those kind of declarations is less productive than saying I agree with/disagree with/am uncertain about decision X.
posted by snofoam at 2:42 PM on January 28


You are mistaken, angrycat. Reddit is kind of a mess and there are two threads going about this, so perhaps there are different versions circulating, but here's MR's comment on reddit, copied and pasted verbatim: To reply to your edit and to be fair on the record to Taz, I posted a new comment between the "take a break" comment and the disabling. Props to Molly for owning up to this. You can argue the merits of the original deletion, but when you are asked to step away from a thread and do the exact opposite, being locked out isn't an unexpected or unfair outcome.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 2:50 PM on January 28 [12 favorites]


> I also don’t think the mods comprise a governing organization

Currently we have mods, steering committee, and "admin". I don't even know who or what constitutes the last one. Let alone which of these three who is responsible for setting moderation policy.
posted by iivix at 2:56 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


> I don't think it would be good for the site to have temporary timeouts be communicated to the site at large even as a note on the affected users page. It would lead to a lot of "Why is Foo on time out" metas and off topic derails exactly has happened here. It is normal to praise in public and correct in private for good reason.

On the contrary, making all moderation actions public and trackable would make it plain and transparent why every action was taken, which would reduce all the debate and speculation. Another lesson to take from Something Awful - all moderator actions are very public, including post deletion reasons, timeouts, and bans, with user's moderation history visible, and actions attributable to specific mods, all of which makes both users and mods more accountable for their behaviour.
posted by iivix at 3:08 PM on January 28 [9 favorites]


she contacted Taz asking why

If I'm reading her Reddit postings correctly, that "contact" was in the form of a somewhat abrasive comment made in this very thread. And when a moderator's comment deletion note tells you to take a break from MetaTalk entirely until further notice, and your immediate response is to make yet another comment in the very thread in which that note was posted, you have no reasonable grounds for complaint when the expected timeout ensues.

Look, I get it. Having contributions summarily deleted is disconcerting; getting locked out, even more so. My own recent experience with the process left me shaken and stirred: the immediate internal response was along the lines of How Dare You Do That *And* Threaten Me With A 7 Day Ban, Do You Have Any Idea How Long I've Been Here And How Many Best Answers I Have, and it took a good three days for my inner Trump to shut the fuck up and let me stop feeling sour about it.

But the thing about moderators is: of course they dare. That's what they're paid for. And the thing How Dare You is: it's horseshit. I'd posted an AskMe answer of dubious merit, it had attracted complaints, I'd doubled down with a snotty attempt to justify it, a moderator responded to that in a way that was completely consistent with this community's norms, and I ended up sustaining a mild narcissistic injury.

Which, good! Narcissism needs a boot up the date to stop it getting a serious hold. And the fact that this online community, unlike virtually every other that exists, funds skilled professionals empowered to apply that boot with vigor when it's called for is one of the things I value most about it. When my self-importance swells to the point where I'm acting the arsehole I want to be told so.

We are restless monkeys in tall hats, and our unfortunate tendency to take ourselves too seriously is the root of the world's most intractable problems. And you all know I love you all to bits but I have to admit that the two weeks I voluntarily took off from being online at all after being threatened with a week's exclusion from this community alone were really good for my mental health.
posted by flabdablet at 3:21 PM on January 28 [18 favorites]


Wtf?! Where are y’all getting tall hats from, I want one!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:26 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


On the contrary, making all moderation actions public and trackable would make it plain and transparent why every action was taken, which would reduce all the debate and speculation. Another lesson to take from Something Awful - all moderator actions are very public, including post deletion reasons, timeouts, and bans, with user's moderation history visible, and actions attributable to specific mods, all of which makes both users and mods more accountable for their behaviour.

Transparent mod actions might also help with Metafilter's customer retention strategy which, judging by the number of users lost over the last few years, has not been very effective.posted by Violet Blue at 3:57 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


It's telling that we can't even have a "good news" thread without a moderator lashing out in a way that causes multiple long-standing members of this community to leave for good.

Regardless of who's at fault, this is not sustainable, and it's not healthy for anybody participating here. Whatever your goals are, THIS cannot possibly be the outcome that anybody wants.
posted by schmod at 4:07 PM on January 28 [9 favorites]


a moderator lashing out

I feel like I'm living in a completely different world than half of you all sometimes. That is just so obviously not what happened from my perspective that I'm utterly perplexed that we are looking at the same set of facts and seeing such different things.
posted by biogeo at 4:19 PM on January 28 [39 favorites]


METAFILTER: I ended up sustaining a mild narcissistic injury
posted by philip-random at 4:19 PM on January 28 [11 favorites]


I think "lashing out" is inflammatory and unwarranted.

I fully agree that MetaFilter is the poorer for MollyRealized having buttoned. But to the extent that the responsibility for her having done so is anybody's but hers, I'm more inclined to put it on that Reddit grievance echo chamber than on any of our moderators.
posted by flabdablet at 4:22 PM on January 28 [12 favorites]


When they build MetaFilterland there will be a Tempest in a Teacup ride on the fairway. The rest will be armored bumper cars.
posted by y2karl at 4:27 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


On the contrary, making all moderation actions public and trackable would make it plain and transparent why every action was taken, which would reduce all the debate and speculation.

I’ve been banging a drum for a moderation log for a while now, although I picked Lobste.rs as a model because their aesthetic and user base is closer to MetaFilter.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 4:51 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Pay per view MetaBody Cameras and MetAudit the Audit with Community Grading comes to mind.
posted by y2karl at 5:20 PM on January 28


Joking about body cameras seems pretty fucking tasteless in the current context.
posted by schmod at 6:05 PM on January 28 [12 favorites]


Here is an example of an entirely static page that, nevertheless, can transmit comments back to the server via the visitor log. Static pages cost ~1% of the cost of fully interactive pages to host. I have a website that serves many gigabytes of text content per month, and yet costs ~$100/year total in hosting fees. A streamlined social media website could be developed using method. It would require a script for hourly downloading of the visitor log, processing, moderation, and reupload of each static webpage on the server, but it could be done.
posted by metatuesday at 6:11 PM on January 28


So first off, congrats to the steering committee and I'm very glad Metafilter can stay around a bit longer. I bought a tee shirt and a mug and I'll do it again if asked. This place is special and I'd rather it didn't go away.

Now to address the hot topic:

You know, I'm actually fine with moderation decisions on Metafilter being kind of opaque. In my early days here I got my posts whacked a couple of times, probably because I was posting like it was Disqus on Boing Boing and not being as thoughtful as I could have been and you know, I don't necessarily want that information to be searchable in a public log.

I think there are other good reasons to keep moderation decions between the mod team and the user but that's my main one. Privacy. Sometimes you have a bad day and you post a little too hot. I think it's good if that can be forgotten, especially when it could so easily persist forever.

There's also part of me that thinks sunlight is the best disinfectant so maybe there should be a public appeals process. I don't know a thing about community management so I'll be the first to admit I don't know what the accepted best practices are, but this conversation makes me think I should go and re-read My Tiny Life by Julian Dibbel and see how LambdaMoo did it's self-governance. Anyway, I know this is off topic so delete if necessary.
posted by signsofrain at 7:11 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


making all moderation actions public and trackable would make it plain and transparent why every action was taken, which would reduce all the debate and speculation.

or we'd just end up debating and speculating as to the why (or whatever) of those public and trackable actions. Wouldn't we?
posted by philip-random at 7:44 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Another lesson to take from Something Awful - all moderator actions are very public, including post deletion reasons, timeouts, and bans, with user's moderation history visible, and actions attributable to specific mods, all of which makes both users and mods more accountable for their behaviour.

Maybe I'm alone in this but that sort of accountability isn't something I'm interested in participating in. If I've done something so stupid/mean/distasteful that it required mod action I'd much rather learn from it privately than than have it laid bare forever to anyone clicking over to my profile page. If they've stepped over some line and deleted something that was borderline (or even IMO nowhere near the line); well, I'd rather not have that be a source of GRAR going forward either. At worst our tiny corner of the world is spared my brilliance. We're taking about the smallest of stakes possible and it just isn't worth expending any effort second guessing.

Mods aren't elected. They aren't civil servants. they don't have access to lethal force. They don't have the ability to tax. I can't even imagine anyway they could divert funds to personal accounts or otherwise personally profit from mod actions. I don't think there is any need to sunshine every mundane decision they make whether in real time or at request. And it's not just here; I find it pretty distasteful that, for example, arrest records in some US states are not only public but published to the web. People make mistakes. Those mistakes shouldn't follow them around forever like some sort of electronic scarlet letter.

There have been some really offensive axe grindy often sexist witch hunts aimed at mods over the years starting with jessamyn and continuing on to today and really I don't see any need to give those users ammunition. In the old days mods were accountable to mathowie or cortex. Currently, well I'm not really sure but some combination of jessamyn and the SC? Anyways that's pretty much good enough for me.

Also isn't SA the place where random users can pay to have other users banned and people are shadow banned? Persistence of user accounts and moderation accountability would have a different culture.

On preview signsofrain explained my view better than me.
posted by Mitheral at 7:49 PM on January 28 [10 favorites]


I actually agree that "lighthanded modding" is best kept under wraps. Sometimes people get hot-headed, and a strategic deletion can re-rail a conversation. Personally, I'm glad that we do not engage in public shaming.

However, we've also heard that some of the post-2016 megathreads had something like 5-10% of their comments removed. That's a staggering level of conversation-steering, which amounts to gaslighting the readership. As with this MeTa thread, we all read different versions of it, and there's absolutely nothing present to let us know that the comment thread has been heavily redacted. We're all fighting over different versions of what we personally witnessed.
(Even worse, in the era of limited resources, this cleanup is often happening long after the fact)

At the opposite end of the spectrum, this is equally horrible, because we're all left arguing about a set of events that we witnessed very differently.
posted by schmod at 7:59 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


In the old days mods were accountable to mathowie or cortex. Currently, well I'm not really sure

Well, that's the crux of the problem, right? Who is actually in charge? Who gets to make decisions about comment deletion, timeouts, bannings, etc? How are those decisions made? What are the values that underlie those decisions? These are the kind of questions that have been asked for years without any clear answers, and it's exhausting.

I do think the Steering Committee is doing good work. And I do not think that jessamyn (or cortex) or the mods have acted in bad faith. But you can't do a community like Metafilter wants to be without transparency of the sort that many, many longtime (or formerly longterm) members of this community have been asking for. And not just transparency, but -- ultimately, you have to have accountability. When it comes down to brass tacks, dollars and cents, choose your metaphor: who has the say?
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:02 PM on January 28 [12 favorites]


5% of comments removed in a mega thread doesn't seem utterly terrible; megathreads were/are not great, healthy places.

Framing it as gaslighting the userbase seems to be a very specific way of experiencing moderation.
posted by sagc at 8:09 PM on January 28 [8 favorites]


I am strongly in favor of a moderation log. Take this thread for example. Travelingthyme stepped in after a back-and-forth between users and indicated they weren’t deleting any comments. Except….comments were definitely deleted at some point. Did they change their mind? Did another mod take additional actions? Did one of the users request that their comments be removed? We don’t know since there wasn’t a followup mod note.

A log doesn’t have to contain a ton of personal information – something as simple as “MODNAME removed 1 comment from THREAD on DATE/TIME”.

I do like the SA-style of leaving up shitty comments that result in a timeout or ban with a note that shows what action a mod took but I also don’t think mods should remove any comments unless they are the worst-of-the-worst.
posted by Diskeater at 8:13 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


Well, that's the crux of the problem, right? Who is actually in charge?

I don't know because a) metafilter is in a transition period and b) I haven't really been paying attention. But it doesn't really matter because ultimately the SC serves at the discretion of jessamyn.
posted by Mitheral at 8:29 PM on January 28


Who is actually in charge?

ideally nobody, as long as somebody (or bodies, as many as possible) are responsible.
posted by philip-random at 8:57 PM on January 28


Also isn't SA the place where random users can pay to have other users banned and people are shadow banned? Persistence of user accounts and moderation accountability would have a different culture.

Nope
posted by Sebmojo at 9:43 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


I think this thread should have had one or more spin-offs a good while back. Can't we have one thread to celebrate?
posted by NotLost at 10:44 PM on January 28


People have been trying to start a spin-off thread for the last four days, but nothing has been allowed through the MeTa queue.
posted by JiBB at 10:54 PM on January 28 [16 favorites]


I can see pros and cons of making some, more personal, mod decisions public ("fabius has had his account suspended for posting x") as discussed above. And so I'm not sure if there's a benefit there.

But I do think there is some mod activity that should be more visible. For example, it's useful when some comments are removed from an Ask and a mod leaves a message like "Some answers removed for not answering the question". It makes it clear that something's happened, why that's happened, and nudges everyone subsequently to stay on track.

And so it seems jarring when, in other cases, comments are silently removed, often with later comments left referring to something that's no longer in place. What was removed? Why? How much was removed? It leaves people having to guess (or share memories of) what was posted, and why mods might have removed it.

It might be that these silent deletions happen so often that making them all prominent would be really jarring. Maybe every single thread would have lots of "A comment deleted because ..." in it. But this is kind of my point - I have no way of knowing whether there are many problem comments, or how much good work the mods are doing, or whether the community has a problem with comments of type x or y, in threads about a or b.
posted by fabius at 1:42 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it feels inconsistent that sometimes there's a generic "some comments removed", sometimes a personal note "X, you need to cool it" and sometimes things are just silently deleted.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:09 AM on January 29 [7 favorites]


you can't do a community like Metafilter wants to be without transparency of the sort that many, many longtime (or formerly longterm) members of this community have been asking for

That's a matter of opinion.

Personally I am inclined to give far more weight to the opinions of those with demonstrable expertise in any given domain than to those of the populace at large, and I cannot think of anybody with more demonstrated expertise in doing moderation well than the present owner of this site.

It also seems likely to me that such inconsistent moderation as does occur here has more to do with how many moderators are available to cover the workload at any given moment than with the nonexistence of moderator micromanagement facilities.

The only times I've ever seen this site's moderators accused of acting in bad faith, those accusations have been levelled by people with an axe to grind that I don't see any benefit in encouraging them to swing about.

Moderation is hard. I see no need for more moderator transparency than we already have, largely because so much carping about moderation is already allowed to stand. If our moderators were the power-hungry gaslighting abusers they're so often accused of being, they'd be moderating away those complaints as a matter of priority. They clearly don't.

I've seen the kinds of opinion I've expressed here described elsewhere as "bootlicking". I think that's hilarious; the last thing I'd want to do to a boot that's recently been so firmly up my own date is lick it.
posted by flabdablet at 3:38 AM on January 29 [11 favorites]


I see your point but do strongly disagree. When decisions are made without transparency and without a clear policy, that's when confusion, frustration and misunderstandings come up -- not just for the person whose comments have been deleted (or who has been temporarily or permanently banned) but for everyone else, who isn't quite sure what's going on or why. Ultimately, having a norm of transparent modding backed by clear deletion, timeout and banning policies is going to make the mods' job easier, as well.
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:01 AM on January 29 [19 favorites]


I suppose now would be an opportune time to push for more transparency around moderation decisions, sure. I would welcome such a thing for the record.
posted by some loser at 7:52 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


I see where the desire for these things is coming from and I sympathise with it, but it seems to me that if deletion, timeout and banning were actions with specific policy triggers rather than all being available for moderators to apply case by case according to their professional judgement as is currently done, all that would be achieved is a displacement of disgruntlement, not a reduction. Instead of having pixels spilt on complaints about lack of transparency they'd be spilt by much the same people in much the same quantities on endless beanplating about what should or should not count as a breach of which specific policy. I'm not at all convinced that the result would be an improvement in either the quality of discourse or the amount of justice we manage to create.

I think there are strong parallels between calls here to constrain the freedom that moderators have to act as they see fit, and calls in the wider community for the discretion of judges and magistrates to be similarly curbed after controversial decisions have had upsetting outcomes. And I don't think mandatory sentencing rules ever actually make things better, not even when the stakes are as low as those we're talking about here.

I also think that this site's moderators have all been and remain exceptionally good at what they do. If the general quality of cops and judges and magistrates in the wider community were anywhere near as high as that of the designated enforcers of this community's norms, the justice system would suck much less than it does.

Over the years I've been here I've noticed that the prevailing rate of complaints about Metafilter moderation is far more strongly influenced by how shit life is outside Metafilter than by anything going on inside it. This place is a bastion of thoughtful, inclusive discussion and mutual respect, which is exceedingly rare in online spaces and the main reason why it's survived as long as it has and been as influential. The way our moderators are empowered to act like skilled and trusted human beings rather than helpless cogs in a policy machine is a big part of why that has remained the case, and I think we fuck with that at our peril.
posted by flabdablet at 7:53 AM on January 29 [14 favorites]


I am not asking for an identification of values governing discussion here (which are different from a list of rules) because I think it will automatically make people less upset. I'm asking because right now it feels like we have lots and lots of unwritten rules accumulated like barnacles over time based on circumstances that sometimes no longer apply, and it not only creates an extraordinarily high barrier to entry for new members but also makes me wonder how much I really want to participate because I don't know if Metafilter's values and governance actually line up in any way with the type of community I want to put time in.
posted by lapis at 8:09 AM on January 29 [16 favorites]


I am totally stealing the phrase “helpless cogs in a policy machine” for my own personal use. Excellent phrase, flabdablet!
posted by Vatnesine at 8:27 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: fuck The Algorithm :-)
posted by flabdablet at 8:30 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Also reserving Barnacles Overtime for if I ever need a BND handle.
posted by flabdablet at 8:33 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


I am brought to mind of the comment on the Talk post form that reads, "NOTE: everybody needs a hug." I really like that, as a sentiment. The feeling behind that statement could stand to be was expressed in more places.

I think part of the disconnect people are feeling might have to do with how the site's culture has changed over time. Does anyone remember the old "Stay Safe on Metafilter" comic from long ago? It's worth looking for (maybe it's preserved on the wiki?) for an example of how almost joyfully contentious the site used to be, even with a spectator's culture around flameouts. Some may be displeased that Metafilter is no longer that abrasive, for it definitely was a fun atmosphere for those not directly involved, but I'm definitely not. It was hard both on those moderated and on the moderators themselves.
posted by JHarris at 8:43 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


JHarris: Does anyone remember the old "Stay Safe on Metafilter" comic from long ago?

No, but I found this. Seems to be what you're thinking of. (TW: slurs, ablism and so on.)

Further pages: 2 3 4 5 6 7
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:56 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]


Note that mods will supply the text of any comment you've had deleted on request.

That's nice but an automatic MeMail would be much better.
posted by hypnogogue at 9:12 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


Automatic email better still if there's an address in the profile, because (a) it could preserve all the HTML and (b) it would still arrive even during a timeout or after a ban.
posted by flabdablet at 9:15 AM on January 29


but it seems to me that if deletion, timeout and banning were actions with specific policy triggers rather than all being available for moderators to apply case by case according to their professional judgement as is currently done, all that would be achieved is a displacement of disgruntlement, not a reduction. Instead of having pixels spilt on complaints about lack of transparency they'd be spilt by much the same people in much the same quantities on endless beanplating about what should or should not count as a breach of which specific policy.

yeah, this is my basic concern. Much as I do see (and feel) where the desire for

making all moderation actions public and trackable

is coming from -- I don't anticipate the imagined conclusion:

would make it plain and transparent why every action was taken

Or as I noted above, wouldn't we just end up debating and speculating as to the why (or whatever) of those public and trackable actions? Which I suppose could be seen as progress (and maybe it would be), but I suspect it would be more of a sideways movement at best. Trading this for that. We'd still be grinding against one another. Maybe not the same individuals but ...

I do fear that we're entering into perfect-being-enemy-of-the-good territory in this discussion. Which is a blurry way of putting it, I guess. Easy for me to say that things are good enough as is. I don't currently have a grievance about the state of site moderation and how it presents itself publicly. But I still think the point stands that we need to be very wary of the notion that there's anything approaching an easy means to what amounts to an enormously complex challenge (ie: successful conversation between strangers via text in more or less real time interactions with no visual cues available); particularly given that the current state of moderation is not something that just happened, but rather it's evolved (sometimes kicking and screaming) through all manner of past conflict and tension ...
posted by philip-random at 9:27 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


they don't have access to lethal force

In this context of our little microcosm, I consider lethal force to be a very good analogy for banning.
posted by hypnogogue at 9:35 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


I suspect that rather than creating a public record of all mod actions, which would probably lead to more contentious arguments and flameouts rather than fewer, a better solution might be to have one or two ombudspersons who can act as intermediaries when needed. This may also be better for the mods' mental health, being able to engage more directly with a single person and have a conversation about contentious modding decisions rather than a free-for-all fight in MeTa.
posted by biogeo at 9:39 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]


I consider lethal force to be a very good analogy for banning

Wow. I do not.
posted by biogeo at 9:39 AM on January 29 [17 favorites]


lethal force is a good analogy for a permanent ban, but how often does that happen around here, and not for a damned good reason?
posted by philip-random at 9:40 AM on January 29


In this context of our little microcosm, I consider lethal force to be a very good analogy for banning

Except, presumably, for the whole business where actual lethal force completely precludes a BND respawn option.

It's pretty easy to forget to scale the stakes back down after drawing conclusions based on reasoning from scaled-up analogies.
posted by flabdablet at 9:42 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


It's pretty easy to forget to scale the stakes back down after drawing conclusions based on reasoning from scaled-up analogies.

That's a very good point, thank you.
posted by hypnogogue at 9:46 AM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Cheers, hypnogogue.
posted by biogeo at 9:58 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


> In this context of our little microcosm, I consider lethal force to be a very good analogy for banning.

Are you fucking kidding me.
posted by desuetude at 9:12 PM on January 29 [9 favorites]


but it seems to me that if deletion, timeout and banning were actions with specific policy triggers rather than all being available for moderators to apply case by case according to their professional judgement as is currently done, all that would be achieved is a displacement of disgruntlement, not a reduction. Instead of having pixels spilt on complaints about lack of transparency they'd be spilt by much the same people in much the same quantities on endless beanplating about what should or should not count as a breach of which specific policy.

This exactly. We've had this same conversation over and over and over, with the outcome each time an acknowledgement of the dangers of having precise rules or even formal guidelines, because we'd just end up arguing about whether someone actually broke the rules or just bent them a little. The other challenge this presents is the need for an ever-growing list of policies to address bad behaviour that wasn't already explicitly listed.

Providing a public record of moderation sounds like a good idea on first read but we've had that same conversation many times as well. The biggest risk is of (first described by mathowie many years ago) certain types of people seeking to become 'king of the shit pile' and there are definitely people who would see having the most comments deleted as a badge of honour.

I'm mystified (although shouldn't be) at the angst over this particular moderation action. A user with a history of posting very long, demanding comments did so, the comment was deleted, the user was told to back away from MeTa and did not do so. As far as I know, the user was not banned at the time or since and their account is still active. I personally don't have an issue with the action that was taken or the way in which it was taken, noting that it's perfectly OK for others to have a different view. What I don't think is OK is for a celebratory conversation to be derailed by, initially, one user making tangential demands about specific changes they felt are needed and, thereafter, others jumping on the band-wagon to completely derail that celebration and ruin what should have been a well-deserved recognition of the work many people have done (and here I am perpetuating it :-()
posted by dg at 9:15 PM on January 29 [20 favorites]


As far as I know, the user was not banned at the time or since and their account is still active.

This is not true. They were/are banned, the profile does not say so.

completely derail that celebration

Multiple people submitted MeTa posts. None have been allowed (yet?) so here we are.
posted by Diskeater at 9:45 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


So people don't understand what a time-out is, these days?

I can't speak for anyone else, but as someone who's looking at their upcoming 20th anniversary next year, this thread (the latter part) is hugely dispiriting.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:30 PM on January 29 [7 favorites]


You all ever watch Kitchen Nightmares? The owners of the family-run pizzeria is going bankrupt, Gordon Ramsey's pleading with them to make some changes, and yes the father starts off so stubborn ("This is the way things have always been done!"), but he does agree to throw away the microwave and clean out the fridges. Meanwhile there are a handful of regular patrons insisting that everything is just fine the way it is, and they love the food bland, overcooked, they love the arbitrary and unpredictable service, and they love the restaurant deserted. They are the most frustrating part of the show, those folks who think everything is great because it works for them while a hundred other customers walk through the door once only, have a terrible experience and never return, if indeed they even made it that far.
posted by iivix at 12:32 AM on January 30 [25 favorites]


Ramsey: You're gonna have to ditch these weird colors and switch to a professional white background.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:37 AM on January 30 [5 favorites]


Not sure Kitchen Nightmares and Gordon Ramsey are styles of interaction we really want to emulate, though it does somewhat parallel what I imagine is the experience of the SC, which seems to to be "someone yelling at them all the time".
posted by sagc at 4:32 AM on January 30 [11 favorites]


The Kitchen Nightmares analogy really doesn't match with my experience of Metafilter. The idea that the vast majority of members have unrefined palates and gobble up boring discussion seems unflattering to everyone here. The few members who do see how awful it is just stick around to punish themselves? (Or they are unpaid Gordons Ramsey who are here to share their wisdom by yelling at people? This is the one aspect of the analogy that kind of makes sense, but is also not flattering to anyone.)

Probably more importantly, Metafilter does want to change, and does make changes, both historically and now more than ever. It can't please all of the thousands of users in how and how fast it changes, but that would be impossible. I will say that in the past I felt there was significant stagnation, but maybe more because of an inability to figure out and execute change rather than an obstinance.

Where I feel the analogy is most off is that the actual meat and potatoes here is the discussion, which may be happening at less volume now, but in a lot of ways with higher quality, with less gristle. One of the main problems here is that someone was paying tens of thousands of dollars for the restaurant to have a little stand with brochures for local attractions, and then they stopped paying so much. Another big problem was a shift to fast food places that ended up shutting down most of the other sit-down dining options in our area. It leaves us with challenges that need to be addressed. It doesn't lead me to the view that there are countless potential new users who don't join because our discussion is not spicy enough.

I think Metafilter, while both organically and deliberately changing over time, is what it is. I think most people here generally like it. The number of people complaining about moderation is minuscule compared to the number of people donating. I think there should be a growth strategy, but I think it should be focused on finding people who want this thing and making it easier for them to join.
posted by snofoam at 5:05 AM on January 30 [12 favorites]


I think most people here generally like it

$79k in one time donations would tend to suggest you're right.

Dunno if you'd get Ramsay for that, but I think Slowik makes better hamburgers anyway.
posted by flabdablet at 5:18 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


There's a lot of focus on people who button or are banned because there's usually a lot of drama when that happens and that draws our attention- so we tend to think "oh, the problem with user attrition is due to modding or people being too fighty." Without having access to any data, I would bet a large sum that the vast majority of people who leave mefi are just quietly fading away- lured away by the "fast food places" to use snofoam's analogy- Twitter, instagram, Facebook, etc. People go where the action is, and our sleepy little Elks Lodge (or whatever greying social club you wish) is by design, a bit of niche. It's a text site in a visual age.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 5:22 AM on January 30 [6 favorites]


So back in August there was a post in Meta about the state of user participation on the site and at least to me, the stats seemed pretty dire. If I'm reading that chart correctly, the site is losing around a net of 1,000 active participants a year, meaning that there's only a few years left before the place is a ghost town. For the people in this thread who don't want to use social media or advertising to attract new users, what is your plan for saving the place?
posted by octothorpe at 6:11 AM on January 30 [7 favorites]


Hey, I was just wondering whether the weekend is over yet. I mean, we had two MeTas posted on Saturday, and now there's a new open thread over on the blue part, so maybe we could get one of the at-least-two MeTas about this that were submitted to the queue so as to relocate this discussion?
posted by Etrigan at 6:26 AM on January 30 [5 favorites]


Who has outright said "we don't want to advertise"?

Why on earth is this the thread for it?
posted by sagc at 6:27 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


For the people in this thread who don't want to use social media or advertising to attract new users, what is your plan for saving the place?

Has anyone come out against either of these two options? I have seen a lot of people agreeing that we need to bring in new members, and the post that we're commenting on affirms that growing the user base is a next step for the SC and the site.
posted by snofoam at 6:32 AM on January 30 [3 favorites]


A user was given a timeout for suggesting that Metafilter advertise on social media to attract new users to the site.
posted by octothorpe at 6:40 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


That was not the reason. And I posted that without thinking. Enough already.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:41 AM on January 30 [9 favorites]


octothorpe, I say this as someone who is genuinely a fan of you. Do you honestly believe that was the actual reason for the timeout?

Here, let's test it: I, mochapickle, hereby suggest that Metafilter should advertise on social media to attract new members to the site.
posted by mochapickle at 7:03 AM on January 30 [22 favorites]


Regarding the merch line item for fundraising: I don't know if the ROI is such as to make it worth even volunteer labor, but FWIW I would definitely dig deep to get an official T-shirt with VeryMetaFilter-type stuff -- popular taglines or the like.
posted by Not A Thing at 7:44 AM on January 30


but FWIW I would definitely dig deep to get an official T-shirt with VeryMetaFilter-type stuff -- popular taglines or the like.

Print on Demand for Tshirts, sweatshirts and other items is definitely a possible thing. Split the profits with the original writer of the comment and yeah, that could be revenue stream.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:53 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Though it's not immediately how much of a revenue stream it would be, but I love the idea and the possibilities there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:54 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


The margin on merch is extremely small and it's a bit of an admin burden. It is not likely to generate enough to make a meaningful contribution to operating revenue. It might be somewhat helpful in promotion/profile.
posted by Miko at 8:50 AM on January 30


It would be nice to have some Metafilter stickers available, even just simple logos. It would also be nice if they didn't cost $50 in fees, postage and duty to get in Canada.
posted by Mitheral at 9:03 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Metafilter stickers. Though I do not know the shipping cost to Canada, mine came in a regular #10 envelope.
posted by Glinn at 9:09 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter is, in fact, already advertising on social media. There has been a MetaFilter Twitter account for years; I do not know if this is still active after all the Elon Musk nonsense there. There is a MetaFilter Mastodon account, @metafilter@mefi.social, which is very active in posting links to recent FPPs. There is definitely room to discuss improvements to MetaFilter's official social media strategy, but suggesting that the site is unwilling to advertise on social media to the point of giving timeouts for even suggesting it is incoherent.
posted by biogeo at 9:17 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Also, you all do know that reality TV is fake, right? Those stories about Gordon Ramsay and stubborn failing restauranteurs are just for titillation to see someone get away with behaving cruelly, with a thinly-constructed narrative that lets the viewer feel okay about enjoying it from the justification that the cruelty in the end is helpful for the people he's cruel to. There are no valid lessons in this fakery for the real world.
posted by biogeo at 9:23 AM on January 30 [7 favorites]


I understand there are different perspectives as to what went on in this thread.

But even if it be a minority, there are users who are concerned about what went on in this thread. Longtime users.

Speaking only for myself, even if I don't have the proper perspective as to what happened, it's really quite frustrating that there is mod silence on this front.

The question of the relationship of the steering committee to the moderators, the question of accountability, are really super important questions as to whether or not I participate in this forum.

When these questions are not addressed I feel like a) my raising the question is an irritation to many users and mods b) my participation here is not valued by many users and mods and c) the community will continue to lose users and ultimately not survive, so my expending time here is not a good use of my resources.

Why is it that a flurry of actions are taken towards one user, resulting in man I'd imagine a lot of frustration on the mod end, and yet despite that labor there has been no apparent effort to address the frustration of several long-time users in this thread?

If there's a bunch of stuff going on behind the scenes to address these issues--that's great, and thanks so much--but the lack of communication to the user base as to what's going on is, I believe, a problem
posted by angrycat at 10:11 AM on January 30 [19 favorites]


Hey, I was just wondering whether the weekend is over yet. I mean, we had two MeTas posted on Saturday, and now there's a new open thread over on the blue part, so maybe we could get one of the at-least-two MeTas about this that were submitted to the queue so as to relocate this discussion?

As a follow-up:

1) Since attempting to make a new post to the MetaTalk queue on this topic on Thursday, I haven't received any follow-up either by MeMail or to my email address. I haven't been asked to revise or reframe the proposed post, just silence. My understanding is that Meatbomb submitted one earlier than I did. I have no idea whether they contacted Meatbomb or not, however there is no MeTa post.

2) This was the Reddit post from MollyRealized I was trying to put in the new post. In it, they explicitly give mods permission to discuss the matter:
Some mod replies in the thread have said they "really can’t speak" about this issue. I think it is worth clarifying which basis that is on. If it is an issue of my privacy, I release them to speak about their opinions as they see fit. (emphasis mine)

If they wish to continue not speaking about it, it is not to protect my privacy but to protect the privacy of their decision-making process. That is a valid reason, perhaps, but I’d like it to be perfectly clear what grounds a "we’re not going to speak about it" is going to stand on. Honestly, I think if they'd like to preserve that sort of process, that's fine, let's just make it clear which pillar of privacy it's standing on - "work-product doctrine" or "moderator-member privilege".
But perhaps none of that matters anymore, because...

3) They've made a second post reproducing their request to the mods in an email that their account be closed permanently and all of their posts (under this name and previous names) be deleted.
"These aren't the kind of people I want to hang out with, either online or in real life. The kind of words I'm reading about myself - I would actively avoid the kind of people who would speak this vitriol even about a common stranger."
So get your banhammer ready, because I'm going to get emotional. The mods wielded power too quickly and absolutely, with no check-in from the Steering Committee, and turned what should have been a celebration into a shitshow that's playing out on a website with a much bigger membership. THIS IS THE SOCIAL MEDIA FACE THE SITE IS SHOWING. All of this was avoidable. Someone should be accountable.

So I have no idea whether a new MeTa post will go up or not. My January contribution has already gone through, however my monthly contributions are now turned OFF until this site brings out a moderation log similar in function to what Lobste.rs uses. If you want to build trust, you need to show that you can take ownership of your failures as proudly as your triumphs.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 10:17 AM on January 30 [21 favorites]


I don't think we need secret judges carrying out secret sentences.

Do the mods make the site or do the users?

It seems like the role of mods here needs to be reconsidered if this site really hopes to move from an autocratic model to becoming a true community. Are secret police really what any of you are looking for in a community?
posted by yonega at 10:26 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Giving an ultimatum that you are refusing to continue to financially support this community while still participating in it unless some specific action that you have unilaterally decided is the proper course is taken is very poor citizenship. Your money is yours to spend as you choose, of course, but loudly and publicly tying it to some course of action that is not reflective of any democratic decision-making process is coercive and plutocratic. Either we are a community that values the voices of all its members, or we are a community that bows to those of us who hold the purse: it cannot be both
posted by biogeo at 10:37 AM on January 30 [18 favorites]


The mods wielded power too quickly and absolutely, with no check-in from the Steering Committee, and turned what should have been a celebration into a shitshow that's playing out on a website with a much bigger membership.

Respectfully, this is not how many of us see it at all. The mods were not the cause of what happened. Again, there will never be 100% consensus here. Some people are not going to get what they want. I don't believe anything terrible happened here.

It seems like the role of mods here needs to be reconsidered
Again, no. Many people do not agree.

Also, secret police? Really? If this is how you would characterize our mods, then I don't think we've been reading the same site (for over a decade now).
posted by Glinn at 10:42 AM on January 30 [22 favorites]


Getting into some real "The mods can never fail, they can only be failed" territory here.
posted by Etrigan at 10:45 AM on January 30 [8 favorites]


I have no idea whether they contacted Meatbomb or not

Nothing, nope.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:54 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Honestly. A user was given a timeout after refusing to take a break from posting contentious comments in MeTa, something that has been done hundreds of times before. The fact that the user then decided to make 2 different posts on Reddit about all of the injustices they've suffered from a timeout basically proves the point (I assume) of the original moderation -- i.e., me, me, me. I don't agree with the deletion of the one comment, but, whatever, it was one comment and an annoying one given the context. Attempting to transform this into some great pronouncement about the direction of the site just doesn't hold up. You can disagree with the moderation action, Etrigan, and still disagree with those who think that there is some great controversy here beyond a user acting in an annoying way and a mod perhaps overacting to that by applying a temporary sanction that is often applied to annoying behavior.
posted by Mid at 10:55 AM on January 30 [32 favorites]


Things the mods have been compared to: secret police, people executing death sentences, some kind of repressive regime (unclear which).

Seems like a pleasant job.
posted by sagc at 10:58 AM on January 30 [7 favorites]


You know those posts about graphic designers who eventually have to fire a client because they know they will never be satisfied? I honestly think that this site probably already spends too much effort trying to accommodate unhappy users, versus using limited resources to do things that have a bigger, better impact. I think it is done because this is a community and not just a business. There is so much “I need to speak to your manager” energy in here! If people care about the site, I think it would be awesome to take a step back. Have opinions about how to improve the site, but let’s try to work together and accept that there won’t always be consensus around the specific things that each of us want.
posted by snofoam at 10:59 AM on January 30 [13 favorites]


never be satisfied

But people aren't asking for impossible things. They are asking for an ombudsman, e.g.

I don't see people asking for a universal consensus. That would in fact be hard to achieve. But there have been many actionable suggestions that would improve accountability.

How is accountability--for anybody who participates on this site--a negative value?
posted by angrycat at 11:12 AM on January 30 [10 favorites]


secret police
people executing death sentences
fabled ones
stray dogs
some kind of repressive regime (unclear which)
those that tremble as if they were mad
those belonging to the Emperor
those that from afar look like flies
posted by flabdablet at 11:17 AM on January 30 [5 favorites]


You can disagree with the moderation action, Etrigan, and still disagree with those who think that there is some great controversy here beyond a user acting in an annoying way and a mod perhaps overacting to that by applying a temporary sanction that is often applied to annoying behavior.

Where does "The mods were not the cause of what happened." fall in that spectrum?

Jeez, even while I was typing this, two people jumped in to defend the poor, poor mods from having to engage with users despite there being no evidence that any mod has looked at this thread in the last five days. There are at least two MeTas in the queue (if you choose to believe The Pluto Gangsta and/or Meatbomb) that have not been posted, and yet at least two MeTas and an open thread have been posted since those were submitted, with no follow-up by the mods to either of those users or people asking what the deal is in this thread. You admit that the mods have perhaps not handled this situation perfectly twice in this thread so far, but only to demand that people who are "ranting and raving" calm down. Respectfulness and comity are the band-aids that MetaFilter has put over any number of open wounds for decades now. So now there's this base state here where a horde of people will push back on every criticism by claiming it's too much or too soon or too something. That isn't a sign of a healthy community that understands that no community is perfect and that perhaps some things need to change and we should discuss them in a free and open manner.
posted by Etrigan at 11:18 AM on January 30 [7 favorites]


It's reasonable to expect a clear, consistent moderation policy, even if some disagree with the specifics of it.

It's reasonable to expect a community-led and -supported site to provide transparency around leadership & decision-making processes, even if the outcome is not necessarily agreed upon by all, particularly when transparency is one of the community's recently reaffirmed goals.

It's reasonable to expect that longtime users will be frustrated when their community leadership espouses values that they don't uphold, and it shouldn't be a surprise that when polite, measured feedback is ignored (often for years), any users who remain increasingly show their frustration more quickly and offer leadership less benefit of the doubt as default.

It's reasonable that if users are expected to be accountable for their own behavior, mods should be too.

Why are these things so controversial?
posted by knucklebones at 11:27 AM on January 30 [13 favorites]




Jeez, even while I was typing this, two people jumped in to defend the poor, poor mods from having to engage with users

Or maybe that was two members stating their own opinions, same as you are doing?
posted by Glinn at 11:42 AM on January 30 [7 favorites]


Jeez, even while I was typing this, two people jumped in to defend the poor, poor mods from having to engage with users

Or maybe that was two members stating their own opinions, same as you are doing?


...yes, that is, in fact, what was happening. Was I saying they can't do that? Was I alleging that they were sockpuppet accounts? Was I doing anything other than pointing out a reflexive "It's not the mods' fault! It can't be the mods' fault!" response?
posted by Etrigan at 11:59 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Well, calling it "reflexive" isn't exactly neutral, y'know?
posted by sagc at 12:00 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


I think it's pretty obvious that I'm not neutral here. If anyone is under the impression that I'm holding myself up as the calm, measured, perfectly unbiased observer, please unburden yourself of that impression immediately. I have opinions, and I express them both obviously and subtly, as does everyone else on this site.
posted by Etrigan at 12:05 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Right, but maybe the reflexive opinions are, in fact, equally considered opinions?
posted by sagc at 12:07 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


i haven't read any considered opinions describing why:
1) accountability is not a good value for the site
2) transparency around moderations actions is not a good value for the site.
3) why an ombudsman is not a good idea for this site
4) why a clear statement describing the relationship between the steering committee and moderation policies would not be good for this site


What I have read is a number arguments along the following:

1) the moderation in this thread was not wrong/the user in question deserves it/other odd and sundry remarks related to the user's posting history

2) We shouldn't regulate moderation because that would cause arguments

3) People who are asking questions about modding policy are being mean to the mods


I mean, clearly I have a point of view here, but I am really trying to understand where other people are coming from. And I guess I really don't understand why people aren't addressing the first set of questions. It seems like people would want to address these questions so as to make as healthy a community as possible.
posted by angrycat at 12:22 PM on January 30 [14 favorites]


On the one hand talking up the virtues of community while simultaneously arguing against transparency in moderation actions seems like failing to walk one's talk.

Here's another one for the list: "enforcers leftover from a failed regime".
posted by yonega at 12:23 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Right, but maybe the reflexive opinions are, in fact, equally considered opinions?

No, I don't agree that those two comments were particularly considered. I read one of them as saying that the mods are not responsible for their actions, as though it was an immutable law of physics that MollyRealized violated, and the other as essentially being a gif of Randal saying "This job would be great if it weren't for the fucking customers" on the mods' behalf. Hence my previous comment that this thread is giving off some real "The mods cannot fail, they can only be failed" energy.

And this multi-pronged attack of "Ah, so you mean THIS!" and "Oh, but what about THIS lofty principle?" and "I'm just asking whether you believe that all opinions matter." is exactly what I was talking about.

Now, I know a fourth and fifth person are going to pop right in to be offended that I would say such nasty things about other users and clearly I have some blood vendetta against taz or something similar. I don't think it's because y'all are intentionally brigading the conversation, though. It's just the way this place has come to operate over the last few years. Hell, I used to do that too. I would come into these MeTas and take up the banner of this place and tell people that if they didn't like it, they could find some other community on the Internet or wherever struck their fancy. But this place doesn't really feel -- to me -- like the welcoming community that was trying to get better, and probably failed a lot, anymore. It feels like a place where the staff only begrudgingly responds, and that only after someone feels they have no way to be heard other than yelling, and then a bunch of other people rush in to assuage the feelings of the ones with power who got yelled at.
posted by Etrigan at 12:28 PM on January 30 [8 favorites]


Oh man I just had a revelation: how about a customer feedback thing like they have for Uber? rate your moderation today (1-5 stars) ... then you can easily post the aggregate results for each moderator in their profile page. After a couple months of tuning, moderator pay could scale based on their ratings to ensure high levels of customer service.
posted by some loser at 12:37 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


I find that I am utterly underwhelmed by the anger expressed in this thread and idly wonder if some of you have lost your damned minds.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:54 PM on January 30 [21 favorites]


So now there's this base state here where a horde of people will push back on every criticism by claiming it's too much or too soon or too something. That isn't a sign of a healthy community that understands that no community is perfect and that perhaps some things need to change and we should discuss them in a free and open manner.

I don't really think that fairly describes the dynamic here. I think plenty of people are happy to discuss changes to the site in a free and open way - see the entire SC process and ongoing effort and posts around it, for example. I think what happened in this thread is much more about annoying conduct by one user. I understand that some users have ideas about transparency and site reforms that they want to push - which is totally fine! - but I think this incident is a poor vehicle for that. I think a lot of the pushback you are feeling relates to efforts to use this incident as evidence for why certain site reforms are needed, when others (me) feel that this is mainly about annoying user behavior that would be annoying and arguably timeout-able under any reasonable set of rules/principles.

I am really trying to understand where other people are coming from. And I guess I really don't understand why people aren't addressing the first set of questions. It seems like people would want to address these questions so as to make as healthy a community as possible.

Because nobody really disagrees with platitudes about how "transparency" and "accountability" are good things. That's not what this is about - see my first point.
posted by Mid at 12:55 PM on January 30 [11 favorites]


I understand that some users have ideas about transparency and site reforms that they want to push - which is totally fine! - but I think this incident is a poor vehicle for that.

And yet, at least two users have been disallowed from starting MeTas to discuss these ideas. They have not been approached in any way to explain why those MeTas have not yet been posted. So conversations are forced to happen here or happen nowhere. But every attempt to do so, even if it does not explicitly refer to What Happened To That Particular User, is said to really be about What Happened To That Particular User, and therefore is fruit of the poisoned tree and cannot be discussed here. At this point, it is difficult to read this pattern as being an unwitting result of good-faith effort on the part of the people who control the MeTa queue.
posted by Etrigan at 1:08 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


but I think this incident is a poor vehicle for that.

Why? Because you find the user, as you say, annoying?

This is about appropriate process, right? Should appropriate process be discarded if a large group of users find another user, as you say, annoying?
posted by angrycat at 1:09 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


I haven't read the thread but I can only assume everyone is happy about the fundraising news.

Great job, everybody!
posted by bondcliff at 1:23 PM on January 30 [37 favorites]


I find that I am utterly underwhelmed by the anger expressed in this thread and idly wonder if some of you have lost your damned minds.

So the only explanation for frustration or anger here that you can imagine is mental health. Cool cool cool.
posted by dorothy hawk at 1:28 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


And yet, at least two users have been disallowed from starting MeTas to discuss these ideas.

Do you really think a MeTa post that said - Here are some ideas for site improvements and changes, details within! - would be suppressed? I don't. I can understand why a MeTa post focused on a single user -- after an exhaustive thread that became focused on the user, multiple Reddit posts by/about the user, and the user's own posting of a legalistic demand to have all of their comments removed from the site -- is not high on the mods' list for approval. It seems to me you are conflating "discuss[ing] these ideas" with the particulars of this one episode, when, I think, the ideas exist with or without the episode. I mean, connect them if you want, I'm just saying that you lose a lot of people (or me) by doing so, because we disagree about this particular incident, and the connection doesn't even seem particularly important to the ideas?
posted by Mid at 1:30 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


> Do you really think a MeTa post that said - Here are some ideas for site improvements and changes, details within! - would be suppressed?

I do. Ask me how I know.
posted by iivix at 1:33 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


Also it would be nice to not have to guess. Maybe, say, by some clear mod communication?
posted by JenMarie at 1:35 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb's post is up.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 1:37 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


As mentioned, perhaps things on MF don't always happen immediately. I'd say that "the day after the weekend" is fine turnaround for a post.
posted by sagc at 1:38 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not going to get into it, because I agreed with the decision to spike my MetaTalk post at that time but the fact is that the MetaTalk queue is absolutely a tool for deciding what should be discussed and what shouldn't.
posted by iivix at 1:40 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Mod note: As mentioned above, the Meta from Meatbomb is up here. We approved it until now to ensure better coverage.
posted by loup (staff) at 1:45 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


One thing that’s been bothering me about this discussion is the suggestion that any respectable Metafilter member, if given a time-out or banned, should not complain about it on Reddit or other social media platforms – and that if they were to do so, they clearly are not the kind of person who should belong to Metafilter.

Let me tell you: if I get a time-out or banned from Metafilter, even if it’s for a reason I later agree with, I am almost certainly going to complain about it on social media at the time! I’d be angry! But that’s what happens when people are angry and we should be able to forgive it. I am beyond words at the kind of perfect behaviour some expect of members here.
posted by adrianhon at 2:15 PM on January 30 [17 favorites]


Well, I mean, there's certainly a history of users taking arguments with other users & complaints about moderation and administration off site, to Twitter or Tumblr or MySpace or Facebook or wherever, and those tend to not only escalate off site but also to bounce back and forth between MetaFilter and the other site(s), which has often put the mods (and other MeFites) between a rock and a hard place - the parts of the argument that show up on MetaFilter are incomprehensible if you haven't been following on whatever other sites, and often it's demanded of the mods that they "DO something" when they quite literally can't control or even influence what happens on other sites and don't really have MetaFilter context to figure out what's going on.

If people want to complain & argue about MetaFilter stuff elsewhere, fine, knock yourself out, it doesn't make you a bad person or a bad MeFite, but it's not just venting into the void, it can have complicated repercussions here.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:06 PM on January 30 [6 favorites]


The fact that a bad behavior is common and forgivable doesn't mean it's not bad behavior and something to be worked on. Posting publicly on social media isn't a healthy way to deal with anger, I think we all know that. Maybe many of us do it, and we can forgive each other for it, but we should still try to do better. The fact that many people see it as more acceptable than, say, going into public spaces in your community and loudly complaining about how you've been mistreated, is largely an artifact of how a lot of us haven't fully internalized that our actions online are real actions that have consequences. There are healthier ways to deal with anger: complain privately to your friends, or play an aggressive video game and imagine all the enemies are that biogeo guy from MetaFilter, or do some mindfulness exercises, or read Stoic philosophy, or whatever works for you. If you take your anger public, maybe people can understand and forgive you, but you still need to be prepared to accept that your choice will have consequences in how people see you -- and in how others will see those that have made you angry, perhaps disproportionately to what they actually deserve and how you would want them to feel once you've calmed down.
posted by biogeo at 4:03 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Someone who is complaining about Metafilter elsewhere is well beyond worrying about complicated repercussions here. It happens to every online community, I’ve both praised and complained about Metafilter on every social media platform imaginable, and it’s just not a big deal. I can say that because I’ve run forums and communities where people get upset with me and complain on Reddit, and I accept it as something that normal human beings do.

I hate seeing it used as a cudgel against anyone.
posted by adrianhon at 4:10 PM on January 30 [17 favorites]


Posting publicly on social media isn't a healthy way to deal with anger, I think we all know that.

I don't think we do all know that, actually. Or that it would be bad to go to a public space and complain about how I have been mistreated. Obviously the context would be extremely important. "Being angry in public is wrong" is a very weird ethical take IMO and I'm pretty sure you don't mean it
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:54 PM on January 30 [13 favorites]


Yes, you're right, Rock 'em Sock 'em, that's not what I meant, though it's more or less what I said. There are many contexts in which it expressing anger publicly, on social media or otherwise, is appropriate, healthy, and the more ethical action. I won't try to articulate a general theory of ethical public anger here; suffice to say, I think there's a clear difference between the kind of anger that comes from being given a timeout from an online community after breaking a well-known and objective rule for engagement, versus, say, the kind of anger that comes from dealing with systemic disempowerment; what I meant to refer to was specifically first of those two. Maybe it would be better to call it "pique," or "acute frustration," or something else. Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify.
posted by biogeo at 5:06 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Gosh, I remember when people held up the moderation as what made this place better than other places.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:04 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


It still is.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:33 PM on January 30 [11 favorites]


As a long-time user who isn't really active here as much as I used to, let me just say, without any unpleasant comparisons, that it seems moderation has become weird lately. Deleting comments is much more on a hair trigger, people get time outs really easily, etc.

I think on MeTa, at the very least, there should be a space for people to discuss the site and its policies and future direction openly without facing mod action, and there are at least indicators that that's not entirely the case anymore, which I think is a bad thing.

But then again, I don't use this site at all as much as I used to, and I'm ok with it if this is just the way it is now, though that'll probably mean I'll use it even less.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:31 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


I'm loving "You shouldn't complain about MeFi anywhere else" and also "You shouldn't complain about MeFi in this thread, but should wait some days until an appropriate MeTa post might come along for you."

The idea that everyone ever annoyed about this place should simply take their anger within rather than find like-minded people online to talk about it with suggests an unfamiliarity with both humans and the internet.

I mean, the blue is all about discussing things (publicly! sometimes angrily!) that have happened elsewhere!
posted by fabius at 11:31 PM on January 30 [15 favorites]


Thanks, mods!

Thanks, Steering Committee!

Thanks, donors!

Sorry that the community falls short of our own high ideals, everyone else!

We're all human here.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:31 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


We're all human here.

*adjusts tail under skinsuit*

That’s right everyone , we’re all human here, so be kind to one another and share any insects you might have!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:35 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]


AND NO NEED FOR ANY HELMETS!
posted by Meatbomb at 6:38 AM on January 31


The mood on metafilter seems to have metamorphed from ' the good thing about MeFi is the moderation!', 'thanks SC and all of those involved for doing an awesome job getting this moderated site back on its feet!' to 'deleted comments, I'm mad!'.

For myself, one of the major reasons I've stayed with MeFi so long is the community and the moderated comments. So thanks Mods!

And, after reading what it took for an ARMY of people to get MeFi on its feet, I am humbled and amazed that Matt and then Josh were able to keep things going as long as they did. Wow, and once again thanks to them and for everyone who donated.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:12 AM on January 31 [14 favorites]


Posting publicly on social media isn't a healthy way to deal with anger, I think we all know that.

That's what Substacks are for.
posted by thivaia at 12:37 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Going forward, I hope users and mods come to an agreement about Steering Committee delivering news in MeTa.. Namely that those posts are moderated a bit tighter and with a strong emphasis on sticking to the topic in the post and not piling on the SC.

Having worked on the Transition Team oh so long ago, I can tell you it's beyond frustrating when other community members can't or won't stick to the topic, especially if you're delivering good news for the community. It's the feeling of not being appreciated after you've done some hard and difficult volunteer work.

That doesn't mean people can't question or criticize the news, what was done, or how it was done or anything like that. But in my perfect world people would be responding like this:
Hey, thanks for doing all this hard work, it was a lot, no question, so kudos to you for doing this for the benefit of the community. There are some questions/concerns I have, but honestly those can wait until tomorrow, for today, just know that you did great work and we're grateful for you volunteering to do it."
Then come back the next day and ask polite and respectful questions that continue to acknowledge and be thankful for them doing the work, but absolutely asking questions that need to be asked.

Basically, don't abuse the volunteers and go out of your way to be gentle when asking questions, while being thankful for the work they did.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:48 PM on January 31 [23 favorites]


What about if, whenever there is a site update that is meant to contain good news and exclusively positive responses, a different thread is also posted simultaneously where people can talk about their criticisms or other site related ideas. Maybe anticipate some of these recurring patterns. Also a more regular site update will further give people a place to channel these thoughts.
posted by JenMarie at 4:44 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


While I do think the discussion of exactly how much deference we’re expected to show is worth having (submit a new post now and it might go up by Valentine’s Day!), the question of whether mods should be able to ban someone without explanation seems to me to be more urgent. Although I guess if the implied explanation is because the banned account was insufficiently deferential to authority, maybe that is more urgent than I originally thought.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:57 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


In retrospect, do you think it would have been better if this need for appropriate deference had been explicitly communicated?
posted by Sebmojo at 7:06 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


What about if, whenever there is a site update that is meant to contain good news and exclusively positive responses...

To be clear, a MeTa post that contains exclusively positive responses is not what I'm suggesting at all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:41 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I don't think that molly was abusing the SC. I think they should be the ones speaking for themselves in terms of what modding they would want/appreciate in these kinds of threads.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:00 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


As a user who primarily drops into MeTa for the discussions about the steering committee + funding, I would really have appreciated modding that kept the thread on topic. I read MollyRealized's original comment, and though it was both really interesting AND off-topic for "fundraising results". I would've loved to see it become its own MetaTalk about how to publicize MeFi.

I'm totally uninterested in the axe-grinding about moderation policy that this thread devolved into, and I'm not going to wade through it all to see if anybody else actually tried to say something interesting and on topic. Might there be a way to have updates like this be their own type of post, rather than being subject to MeTa's typically-loose idea of what "on topic" means? I don't think general-site-whingeing should be considered on topic for each and every SC post ...

Also, huge thanks to the SC for your response to my question! I really appreciated the heads up that somebody would be coming back with more numbers soon, and then the prompt follow-up with what I was curious about. This really felt like transparency done right!
posted by Metasyntactic at 9:53 PM on January 31 [14 favorites]


“The mood on metafilter seems to have metamorphed from ' the good thing about MeFi is the moderation!', 'thanks SC and all of those involved for doing an awesome job getting this moderated site back on its feet!' to 'deleted comments, I'm mad!'.”

Really? That seems so unlike us.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:17 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


Is the Chewy affiliate link an ongoing thing? If so, could the Chewy link be posted somewhere easily found for a perhaps forgetful Mefite who shops at Chewy?
posted by honey badger at 9:13 PM on February 18


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