[MeFi Site Update] January 17th January 17, 2024 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Hi, MetaFilter!

Here comes the first site Site Update of the year. You can find the last one here.

Reminder: I will be the only mod actively monitoring this thread and will reply to your feedback and questions as I'm able to. You can expect a reply at least twice a week.

I’m looking forward to your feedback and questions!

Finances
– You can find last month's P&L report here. I will be uploading these to the same folder every month you you can always go back to them.

Admin/Moderation
– We are still interviewing people for the Web developer role and we are hoping to make an offer by the end of the month. I will let you know as soon as it happens.

Tech
– A scraper bot was generating a high load on our servers. Frimble has now blocked it. Thank you everyone who reported it!
– Fixed the Classic menu overflowing over the entire page in iOS
– Removed link to metafilter.net from the footer
Migrated RSS from FeedBurner to self-hosted feeds cached on AWS.

BIPOC Advisory Board
– The first BIPOC Board meeting of 2024 will take place next week. I’m hoping to have the outstanding meeting minutes posted afterwards. Also, I’m asking them to review and provide feedback on some minor changes to both the Content Policy and Community Guidelines.

Let's use this thread for questions/requests/feedback about anything mentioned above. If you have any questions or feedback not related to this particular update, please Contact Us instead. If you want to discuss a particular subject not covered here with the community, you’re welcome to open a separate MetaTalk thread for it.
posted by loup (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 1:48 PM (101 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Not sure if this is related to any of the tech fixes:
Did the font get very slightly almost imperceptibly smaller on mobile across the site on purpose? (I checked with someone else, I don't think it's just local to me.)
posted by phunniemee at 2:29 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Something about the font seems different to me, yes. I see it most in the post titles on individual thread pages.
posted by donnagirl at 3:34 PM on January 17


How long will it take to spell 17th correctly?
posted by y2karl at 4:09 PM on January 17


How long will it take to spell 17th correctly?

Let’s see…
You can expect a reply at least twice a week.
Somewhere between 1-6 days I’m guessing.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:38 PM on January 17


MeFi Site Update January 17th.
posted by clavdivs at 6:45 PM on January 17


[the sound that plays when all contestants have bid above the actual retail price]
posted by nobody at 6:45 PM on January 17 [4 favorites]


Not sure if this is a new-iOS thing or an in-house tweak, but Fanfare, mobile-style, disappears halfway down the date at the top. The rest of the page below that is blank, until after a muchness of scrolling, you get to the usual stuff at the bottom of the page.

This is on an iPhone running whatever the latest iOS update is.

Just checked and this also goes for Music.
posted by hototogisu at 9:34 PM on January 17 [2 favorites]


Fanfare, mobile-style

Working fine for me on iOS with the modern theme, are you using classic?
posted by ellieBOA at 9:37 PM on January 17


…yes? Forgot about that update actually, and that I switched back.
Updated: yes, definitely classic.
posted by hototogisu at 11:15 PM on January 17


Not urgent but on rss.metafilter.com, why not list the feeds for all the subsites (as helpfully collected by TheophileEscargot here)? If anything, rarely updated subsites like Jobs or IRL are a great fit for RSS, and I thought much of the point of BestOf was as an outreach/marketing/awareness channel.

(That page might also be a good place to post simple instructions on how to generate an rss link for any tag, as nobody described.)

Even if not a ton of people use RSS anymore, it's a way of getting people to interact with the site (and, sometimes, remember it exists), so why not do a bit of handholding.
posted by trig at 4:15 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]


I am confused about the change for RSS and the thread was closed without allowing comments. So I sent an email a number of days ago and to date no reply. I follow the tag for Vermont on AskMe and MeFi. When I tried re-adding the feeds my reader (NetNewsWire is the best!) tells me I am already subscribed. What do I need to change (if anything) to make sure those two feeds continue to show for me?
posted by terrapin at 9:11 AM on January 18


Thanks for all that you do, mods.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:18 AM on January 18 [18 favorites]


When I tried re-adding the feeds my reader (NetNewsWire is the best!) tells me I am already subscribed.

In case no one more authoritative comes around soon: I'm pretty sure the per-tag feeds were already hosted on metafilter.com itself, so no action was/is needed on those.
posted by nobody at 10:37 AM on January 18


And I don't think this is the appropriate place to post this, but. Is there a "bugs" place to post.

Have noticed in the past few days that loading a MeFi page, never stops resolving in the tab it is in? Content loads, but never stops going back and forth. OK, does eventually stop, but. Seems like a potential harbinger or something related?
posted by Windopaene at 11:43 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Did the font get very slightly almost imperceptibly smaller on mobile across the site on purpose? (I checked with someone else, I don't think it's just local to me.)

Yes, this did change and it was not an intentional. frimble is looking into why it happened.

Not sure if this is a new-iOS thing or an in-house tweak, but Fanfare, mobile-style, disappears halfway down the date at the top. The rest of the page below that is blank, until after a muchness of scrolling, you get to the usual stuff at the bottom of the page.

It’s a result of recent iOS changes and should now be fixed.

Not urgent but on rss.metafilter.com, why not list the feeds for all the subsites (as helpfully collected by TheophileEscargot here)? If anything, rarely updated subsites like Jobs or IRL are a great fit for RSS, and I thought much of the point of BestOf was as an outreach/marketing/awareness channel.

(That page might also be a good place to post simple instructions on how to generate an rss link for any tag, as nobody described.)

Even if not a ton of people use RSS anymore, it's a way of getting people to interact with the site (and, sometimes, remember it exists), so why not do a bit of handholding.


Yes, we can do that, but ultimately nothing currently links to the root https://rss.metafilter.com/ and the page is primarily there as a placeholder. Let us know if you prefer having it linked in the site and updated.


I am confused about the change for RSS and the thread was closed without allowing comments. So I sent an email a number of days ago and to date no reply. I follow the tag for Vermont on AskMe and MeFi. When I tried re-adding the feeds my reader (NetNewsWire is the best!) tells me I am already subscribed. What do I need to change (if anything) to make sure those two feeds continue to show for me?

In case no one more authoritative comes around soon: I'm pretty sure the per-tag feeds were already hosted on metafilter.com itself, so no action was/is needed on those.

@terrapin I checked in our support inbox and didn’t find any recent messages from you. Please DM me to find out what happened.

Tag feeds were not affected by the change since they have always been hosted on metafilter.com.

Also, that thread was closed without comments because the change happened while the previous site update was active and right before this one was posted. Moving forward, I’ll be posting any significant changes to the site on a separate thread as soon as it happens but will leave those threads closed, that way we can use the site updates for feedback on those changes.

And I don't think this is the appropriate place to post this, but. Is there a "bugs" place to post.

Please contact us so that we can troubleshoot it with you to determine the root cause of the issue.
posted by loup (staff) at 11:51 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Thanks for all that you do, mods.
Thank you! I'll pass the message along to the team! But, thank YOU for all you do! It's the members who give life to the community. 🫶
posted by loup (staff) at 12:03 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Yes, we can do that, but ultimately nothing currently links to the root https://rss.metafilter.com/ and the page is primarily there as a placeholder. Let us know if you prefer having it linked in the site and updated.

Well, there's been a big banner since the 10th to the RSS thread, which links to that page and doesn't say much else, so if nothing else a list of all the URLs affected would be probably the most useful information to provide to people, right? That way people don't have to try to figure it out themselves.

Moving forward, I’ll be posting any significant changes to the site on a separate thread as soon as it happens but will leave those threads closed, that way we can use the site updates for feedback on those changes.

I dunno, that seems kind of convoluted to me (e.g. if the RSS post had been open to comments, all this information could just have been there in one place; discussion can wind up split across multiple update threads; discussion can get buried among other topics in the SU threads, especially given limited response times). But if that's how you want to go, it would be helpful to at least make that clear in the posts themselves (it isn't in the RSS one, for instance), with a link to the current SU thread so people arriving at the closed thread from the future can get there easily instead of having to hunt through the archives.
posted by trig at 1:08 PM on January 19 [9 favorites]


Yes. I had a couple of issues with the RSS change and ended up doing a Contact Us email as (a) the post announcing the change was closed (b) I don't read all the site update posts and had no idea that that was considered the correct place to provide feedback.

It would seem much more intuitive to me that posts announcing new/changed features remain open so that feedback/questions/comments on them can go there.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:27 PM on January 19 [7 favorites]


It would seem much more intuitive to me that posts announcing new/changed features remain open so that feedback/questions/comments on them can go there.

This does seem intuitive. Users could post questions and feedback in the one obvious space to do that. Whoever is managing feedback could check there once a day or perhaps find some way to subscribe to comments on that thread? The caveats given make it sound like it is a pretty big imposition to check in on one open thread, but this is honestly something that is hard to empathize with. I feel like it would be better for the site admin to make at least a small effort to get feedback from users. If it is a technical issue, I am sure someone could coach on how to set up RSS, use Metafilter’s built in ability to follow a thread, or whatever way is easiest. Maybe the person responsible for running the site should be subscribed to all MetaTalk threads that involve site operations (i.e., not necessarily greeting card exchanges and whatnot). On the face of it, this level of involvement doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect.
posted by snofoam at 4:32 PM on January 19 [15 favorites]


It would seem much more intuitive to me that posts announcing new/changed features remain open so that feedback/questions/comments on them can go there.

That would be much more intuitive to me if there were not a long history of MeTa's not remotely staying on topic and the offtopic stuff often becoming the most contentious. Unless this suggestion includes a request that MeTas start being moderated, I think the proposed way forward makes more sense. At least keep all the heat in one place at a time.
posted by solotoro at 5:02 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


So, just in case comments on a feature post become a grab-bag of unrelated discussion, we'll direct them into the previous site update post which is definitely already a grab-bag of unrelated days-or-weeks-old discussion?

The RSS feed post was Jan 10; the previous site update post was December 20; how on earth does it make sense for comments on the one to go into the other?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:53 PM on January 19 [10 favorites]


Count me in as one who thinks it makes sense to have the comments open for when a site improvement happens. Actually, count me in as someone who thinks any MeTa should not be closed to comments.

loup, I think you are definitely doing better in this thread about replying to people. That's awesome.

As you say: "thank YOU for all you do! It's the members who give life to the community."

We can't give life to the community when we are shut out from commenting.

Please, please, please don't consider this an attack on you or a condemnation of how you are running MeFi. It is not.

From this user's standpoint, it just makes sense to talk about RSS in the RSS post. If all I care about is RSS, then that is the place to go. The site updates can be a chore to read, ya know?
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 9:32 AM on January 20 [9 favorites]


Thanks to everyone for everything they're doing to keep the lights on, servers running, and the wheels on the bus, so to speak.

Just wanted to chime in to also support the idea of collecting comments on specific site updates/new features like the RSS on the announcement page itself. I was also looking for more info about how to use the updated RSS feeds given the prominent banner. I know there are only so many hours in the day, but open comments would mean that community members could help crowdsource suggestions and resources so that site staff don't have to field all the questions alone.

If I were a new member or lurker, I wouldn't think to check or go to site update pages for more info or to leave feedback. It also means that three years from now, if for some reason MeFi staff need to revisit community feedback on the RSS feeds, they won't have to look up which month/year's rollout it was included in—they could just search RSS in MeTa. (But then I may be a little overly sensitive to lost/buried institutional knowledge ^_^)
posted by smirkette at 12:22 PM on January 20 [8 favorites]


Everyone is being so polite. I'd like to say the quiet part out loud: it's absurd to pay staff when they check in on metatalk threads less often than users seeking help. If two open metatalks are too much work for multiple mods when the site is generating a bare fraction of the activity it used to, then resources are being allocated to projects unrelated the literal purpose of the site. I feel like we are all "giving life" not to the site, but to some massive parody of obfuscating bureaucracy. My midwestern self desperately wants to tack on an "I'm sure everyone is doing their best but..." however I just don't think that anymore. It's just so sad.
posted by donnagirl at 5:05 PM on January 20 [35 favorites]


I am really glad people are being more polite in this thread than they have been in other threads. It's long dismayed me that the site guideline of being respectful of others so often goes out the window when those others are the mods.

I am inclined to believe that everyone involved in running the site IS, in fast, doing their best. In my experience, no one ever knows all the ins and outs of someone else's job, and there's usually a massive amount of unseen work that goes on outside of public view. (So, donnagirl, I might agree that it's absurd to pay staff when they check in on threads less often than users, IF that were their only task, but we know it's not.)

I know the incredible amount of time and energy it takes to run a small business, and I personally wouldn't volunteer to take on the job of anyone involved in running the site, even if there were loads of money to pay well.

I'm sorry that many MeFites are unhappy with response times and transparency and other aspects of the site. For my part, I'm grateful to loup and jessamyn and all the mods for all the hard work they're doing.
posted by kristi at 12:10 PM on January 21 [33 favorites]


I know this isn't the first time I've said this in Metatalk, but aside from breaking up fights before they get too out of control, very little on MeFi is time sensitive. I think people's expectations of responsiveness from staff are way, way out of whack, especially when there's an explicit attempt to manage expectations by specifying response times in the post. These are part time people, making less than prevailing wages. Metafilter is a BBS, not an organ donor registry. RELAX.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 2:59 PM on January 21 [46 favorites]


I've been on Metafilter a very long time, through all sorts of ups and downs over 24 (!) years. I'm rooting for the folks working hard right now to keep the site going, figure out the nonprofit stuff, and all the rest.

Very little (in all those ups and downs) has been as disheartening as the recent and persistent use of these threads to pile onto mods over minor issues. Questions, good! Criticism, helpful! Constant moaning about SLAs for responses from folks who are, bluntly, paid extremely little ... I'd like to never hear that again.
posted by feckless at 4:38 PM on January 21 [41 favorites]


How many times will we go around in circles about this? It feels like everything that can be said and explained on this has been said and explained by both sides, in detail and passionately, so many times. There are many valid reasons for both reactions. Seriously. It's good to try to see and acknowledge each other's reasons.

We're all of us rooting for the site to keep going.
posted by trig at 5:37 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


I tend to assume that asking questions of the mods/staff most of the time is like applying for a job: anything that looks super important and easy to answer to me (outside the structure) is a lot more complicated and in competition with a lot of other things that mods and staff are doing that aren't obvious to me. Everyone needs a hug, including people who are anxious for answers and the mods and the staff.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 7:46 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I asked in the last thread what those non-obvious tasks might be. I'm sure that some do exist, but there's also the reality that this is a message board that gets on the order of 1000-2000 total comments per day, and has a budget of over $200k. I'm on another message board that gets about 500 posts per day, and the guy in charge of it caps yearly donations at $200, because he doesn't want to take too much money for it. That's not a typo, to be clear: It costs $200 per year to run a message board that gets 1/3 of the traffic of Metafilter. And it doesn't need any full time employees.

So, specifically what tasks are making it difficult for mods to manage 2 separate threads of comments about site features, one of which has received a total of 30 posts in 5 days, and the other of which provides updates on ways to find out instantly when a new post is made to a thread?
posted by bowbeacon at 6:37 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


I've been assuming the main "task" is avoiding the inevitable burnout from dealing too regularly with people being outright jerks.

That said, I do think this was an overcorrection, (tacitly?) directing discussion of a site change (especially a value-neutral technical change) to these general-purpose update threads, instead of welcoming it in the dedicated on-topic thread.

But also the community would probably need to self-regulate in those other threads and avoid making them all yet another referendum on how much you think your donation money is being wasted, how the most recent fundraiser was an affront to the fundraisers held before it, how it sure looks to you like everyone's not working hard enough at their jobs and then lying to you about it, etc.

(But I'd welcome an explanation of the fundraiser thing. Is the complaint just that it wasn't as well-organized as the one where a team of 12+ people went all-out when it briefly seemed like the site was in imminent danger? I gather that the people still complaining about it were expecting (wrongly, it seems) to see that donations plummeted as a result, but it feels like I must be missing a larger complaint on that one.)
posted by nobody at 7:58 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


how it sure looks to you like everyone's not working hard enough at their jobs and then lying to you about it, etc.

Trust, but verify.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:35 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Tag feeds were not affected by the change since they have always been hosted on metafilter.com.

This is the answer to my question. Perhaps it can be added to the closed meta post for others who may also be confused?
posted by terrapin at 11:00 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


I dunno, that seems kind of convoluted to me (e.g. if the RSS post had been open to comments, all this information could just have been there in one place; discussion can wind up split across multiple update threads

Yes, you (and everyone else who commented above) are right. Thank you for pushing back! I'll keep threads announcing significant changes open from now on (including the RSS one).

it's absurd to pay staff when they check in on metatalk threads less often than users seeking help. If two open metatalks are too much work for multiple mods when the site is generating a bare fraction of the activity it used to, then resources are being allocated to projects unrelated the literal purpose of the site.

Let me try to break this down:

– If you, or any member needs help, please contact us. I can't stress this enough. This is, by design, the fastest and more direct way to get help from us. We generally answer within an hour, more or less.

– It is virtually impossible to know how much work a Metatalk thread will generate. Some days, it will just require a few minutes, others, it will require my entire shift just to catch up and highlight important things to address. Most times it will be somewhere in the middle.

– Mods do not participate actively in Metatalk other than myself. This has been the case for a few years for many reasons, avoiding staff burnout being one of them.

– The main projects we are working on (aside from moderation itself, which is the main role of all the mods) are the BIPOC Advisory Board, hiring a new tech resource, making several updates to the community guidelines and content policy, and getting things set up for the change in governance. I respectfully disagree when you say these are not related to the purpose of the site.

Perhaps it can be added to the closed meta post for others who may also be confused?

Sure I have added this comment now.
posted by loup (staff) at 1:43 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


loup: "Some days, it will just require a few minutes, others, it will require my entire shift"

Out of curiosity, how long is your shift?
posted by Bugbread at 3:41 PM on January 22


loup is obviously being extremely diplomatic here; "avoiding staff burnout" in frank language would be "Metatalk is so toxic, staff has to be protected from it so they don't quit."

A very quick calculation from the P&L given above: payroll for one month is $15,179, there are 5.5 employees (frimble is part time, possibly some of the others). That works out to about $17 an hour.

We all help pay for the site. Big deal. That doesn't mean every site member gets to micromanage people paid just above minimum wage.

I run a forum of my own; it's been fine lately, but I'll tell you, mod work is draining: somebody will be unhappy whatever you do, or if you do nothing. There are a load of social media sites without professional mods, or which have fired them all; I don't think they are a good advertisement for that idea.
posted by zompist at 4:33 PM on January 22 [26 favorites]


We all help pay for the site. Big deal. That doesn't mean every site member gets to micromanage people paid just above minimum wage.

For sure -- some of the persistent entitlement shown in these threads is, frankly, shocking.

Mods & other folks -- please keep up the good work. I appreciate the updates.
posted by feckless at 5:07 PM on January 22 [21 favorites]


For sure -- some of the persistent entitlement shown in these threads is, frankly, shocking.

The Persecutor—Victim—Rescuer dance is more of a whirlwind in these parts. Interesting to watch, but I wouldn’t want to be part of it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:49 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I agree that staff who are not getting paid a bunch shouldn't be trying to moderate threads about the future of the site, or how things are being run in terms of site priorities. But it doesn't seem out of bounds to expect that someone with the title of "administrator" or "owner" do that sort of thing. Maybe the "administrator" title is more grandiose than it needs to be. And I get the impression that the owner wants nothing to do with day-to-day stuff. But it seems like it's constantly mixed messages about where money is going, whether site improvements are happening, and whether any actual governance/management is occurring. Part of it feels like no one with any authority is willing to say "no" to anything, except they are approving MetaTalk pony requests and such, so why is that happening if there are no resources to fulfill the requests? So we just spiral around with no answers but no clear sense that we should stop asking questions, which leads to everyone being frustrated.
posted by lapis at 7:25 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


At present I have no canid in this altercation.
posted by y2karl at 8:43 PM on January 22


That works out to about $17 an hour.

From the last thread, per loup: Site Development pays $35/hour. Mods are paid $30/hour
posted by trig at 9:48 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


OK. But $30 x 40 hours/week x 4 weeks = $4800. $15,179 payroll / $4800 = just 3 full time employees. I guess that's a lot of part time work.
posted by zompist at 10:22 PM on January 22


Yeah, I didn't write that to make a point, just to correct the numbers. In their comment loup says there's "6 mods covering roughly 119 hours per week and one part time person in charge of web development." (The job description for the new additional dev is for "up to 15" hours/wk with no listed minimum.)
posted by trig at 11:33 PM on January 22


But it doesn't seem out of bounds to expect that someone with the title of "administrator" or "owner" do that sort of thing

My understanding is that Jessamyn agreed to legally own the site and do the critical paperwork while the rest of us (meaning the steering commitee; the transition team kind of was thrown in at the very start and I was on it) figured out direction. That process stopped due to the issues around volunteering in a for-profit business.

So now the new group is setting up a non-profit, but it doesn’t exist yet. So for me, anyway, it’s more just trying to be sure the site makes it to where a board can figure some of this out. We have a timeline (~6 months) and the last thread confirmed money-wise hopefully that group doesn’t inherit the kind of mess the SC did where the site’s just about out of money.

I don’t think it’s productive to try to manage a part-time team’s time by MetaTalk thread. Having managed a small business with a lot of part-timers, it’s already hard to keep morale and communication going even with a consistent leader.

I do think it’s entirely fair for someone to say they emailed and didn’t get an answer.

However, I do believe there are two things regular members can do to help.

The first is to flag things and not expect (as I sometimes see in threads) that the mods should just know/have shut down something or deleted something.

The “this guy’s views on this other piece are bad and he should never get a link here” kind of nuance is pretty time consuming to try to do because you have to check out everyone, go down rabbit holes, etc. Just cognitively, there’s a load there, especially in a shorter shift. This is where niche volunteer mods are always going to be way more effective time-wise because they have the requisite background knowledge, both in subject matter and if they personally modded the last 20 issues. For rotating part-time generalists it’s harder.

The other thing is to give each other grace. I personally believe that the site is teetering on the engagement cliff - there’s a point at which the lack of posts/comments/answers becomes its own destiny. In the survey the TT did, although it’s not the whole story, there clearly were a significant number of people who post or comment less because they felt that they would have to craft posts or comments so carefully to avoid offence/arguments/bad feelings/assumptions about themselves that it wasn’t worth it. It’s okay to let some things go, and it’s also okay to like things that aren’t directly saving the world at all moments.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:18 AM on January 23 [33 favorites]


Thank you for the update.

MetaFilter contains multitudes, I know, but it remains strange to me that many members of a group of people who, on average, profess solidarity with all classes, appear perpetually ready to jump to "I need to speak to the manager RIGHT now" mode when it comes to MetaFilter. I know there's a long history for some users, involving negative past interactions with site leadership, mods, etc., but even watching it is draining for me.

To me personally, behavior of some users here is execrable. Were I an unpaid mod, I would back away from the keyboard after a week of part time modding, disappear into the trees, and never be seen again by human eyes. I am not sure who is being paid how much to spend their time parsing venom on MetaFilter, and I do not care. They should be reasonably compensated to do this work. It is work. We have in past extended great sympathy to the unpaid thousands who do toxic modding work for Facebook and kin, and we should extend that sympathy to our own.
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:50 AM on January 23 [18 favorites]


People in this thread suggested that comments be left open on a thread announcing a change in how RSS feeds are hosted, so that users can compare notes and get updates. A closed thread is hardly the end of the world but it's also not an unreasonable thing to ask – not demand, ask – that it be opened. It's all pretty polite! And yet some users act as if asking a pretty simple technical support question and noting – not even complaining – they hadn't received a reply is unreasonable and entitled and micromanaging.

When I was vocally critical of the staff and admin in previous Metatalk threads, people often posted drive-by comments to imply that I or other posters were being abusive, entitled, micromanaging, etc. I occasionally asked them precisely who and what they were referring to in the thread, and they never replied. In a site that is meant to host thoughtful discussions, that lack of serious engagement was incredibly frustrating. It is draining to be accused of awful behaviour by people who instantly disappear when challenged to provide actual quotes.

If you think someone is being entitled or abusive, I encourage you to be direct and quote the relevant part of their comment. It might seem confrontational but it genuinely leads to better conversations and debates. I would much prefer people to disagree with my words rather than something they imagined I said, and I suspect the same is true for others.

Anyway! In the interests of harmony, I am happy that the monthly financial report was published and I look forward to seeing future months. I'm also glad the interim board has been communicating directly.
posted by adrianhon at 7:28 AM on January 23 [34 favorites]


I just donated $20 and while I know this is not practical, in my head, I'm seeing this as beer money for the mods so they can have a drink while they read some of this thread.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:32 AM on January 23 [13 favorites]


I was polite. I stated an opinion about how much time tasks should take, politely. I said it was sad. This is not abusing the mods, this is not aggressive behavior. I'm not demanding to speak to a manager; I believe I am already speaking to the manager. The mods make more per hour than I do, so I'm not shouting from a place of unimaginable privilege at the poor working stiffs. If I wasn't interested in the continued existence of Metafilter, I'd just walk away, because trying to appeal to this brick wall of procedure and detail definitely isn't the best part of my day.

Loup suggests users seeking help send email. I can do that. I did that yesterday when a whole category of pages stopped loading text for me. I got a swift reply. But some questions are for the community and mods to discuss together, and that does not happen any more. We get lists and pages of minutes. We get threads open for weeks with questions that have no input from staff. It wasn't always like this. I, and others, are asking for conversation, back and forth, instead of returning to threads a week later to try to parse out if our questions/concerns/need for info was addressed in a multi-paragraph multi-topic response that has been carefully word-smithed.

I would like the "community" to be put back in this community website. The community used to include the mods. I could tel you their hobbies and special interests and whether they had pets and/or kids. Maybe that was a shitty situation for them for reasons I don't have access to, I don't know. But I do know I can't really even name the mods anymore, and that doesn't seem like community.

If this comment inspires you to leap to the mods' defense or want to rail against a lack of gratitude, I invite you to memail me instead and tell me I suck to get it out of your system, because I know I haven't said anything here that attacked anyone or anything. I know what attacks look like, I've been reading MetaTalk since its conception.
posted by donnagirl at 9:34 AM on January 23 [31 favorites]


You've also said in this thread that it is "absurd" that the mods get paid to do their jobs and that you don't think they're really trying. We can go back and forth on whether that's an "attack" or not or whatever descriptor people choose to use, but it's certainly not something I would say directly to the face of anyone that I hoped to work collaboratively with.
posted by firechicago at 9:58 AM on January 23 [5 favorites]


donnagirl did not say it is absurd they get paid at all, she was much more specific than that:

It's absurd to pay staff when they check in on metatalk threads less often than users seeking help.

One can disagree with that and say it is not absurd for staff to check in on Metatalk only twice a week, but there isn’t much point fighting against an imaginary person who thinks it’s absurd the staff get paid at all.
posted by adrianhon at 10:48 AM on January 23 [22 favorites]


You've also said in this thread that it is "absurd" that the mods get paid to do their jobs

Nope. I said it's absurd that paid staff look at the threads less often than users. But thank you for proving my point that even the mildest disagreement gets turned in to something it's not. I'm not attacking anyone, I'm disagreeing about priorities, and that's ok. Also, it's been literal years of people wanting to work collaboratively and getting nowhere, so maybe it's ok that comments aren't dripping with false praise. Go back and read the metas that spawned the BIPoC board. Most of those users tried desperately to collaborate, and most of them are gone. I want to work collaboratively, whatever that means for someone who isn't paid to work and disagrees with the people who are, but history tells me tiptoeing isn't going to get me there.
posted by donnagirl at 12:16 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


It's absurd to pay staff when they check in on metatalk threads less often than users seeking help.

This very clearly entails "it's absurd to pay staff".
posted by advil at 12:21 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


This very clearly entails "it's absurd to pay staff".

Umm, not in English it doesn't.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:27 PM on January 23 [17 favorites]


Umm, not in English it doesn't.

I guess we're down to arguing about who's a native speaker of English? FWIW I'm not just that but professionally a linguist who studies meaning.

Anyways, pretty clear example of why no one actually wants to engage with these discussions.
posted by advil at 12:38 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


I think this thread has been much more polite than a bunch of others in the recent past, so I'm not sure it's much worth quibbling over, but for what it's worth there's a difference between saying "this policy/method is absurd" and "it's absurd that you're getting paid when these are the policies/methods you're working under," and that difference is what gives off a talk-to-your-manager vibe.

But then someone will call that discernment tone policing (which I'm not sure is really an appropriate concept to mobilize outside of social justice scenarios, anyway), and it'll go round and round.

That said, I don't disagree that the checking-in-only-twice-a-week policy is unfortunate (recognizing, however, that it was the compromise loup apparently put forward when the policy had shrunk down to closing all update threads to comments at all), but really that's all likely to solve itself once the nonprofit board is up and running, which should also help "put the 'community' back in this community website" in a ton of other ways as well.

Which is all to say: there might not be that much difference between everyone's desires here?
posted by nobody at 12:38 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


I'm not going to nitpick you about who speaks English more betterly. I'm not going to whip out random unverifiable credentials to prove superiority. I'm going to tell you straight out that I believe the mods should be paid, and paid well. I also believe the tasks for that pay should include active, ongoing participation in the site more organically than is currently the case. That is what I meant. You misread/misunderstood/mistakenly attributed meaning to my earlier statement that wasn't there. Also, if someone believes the mods shouldn't be paid for anything, that is also a valid opinion and a business model that works elsewhere, and an idea that should be able to be expressed here.
posted by donnagirl at 12:47 PM on January 23 [30 favorites]


The “checking-in-only-twice-a-week” is just the SLA/Expectation I can confidently set without dropping the ball while dealing with competing priorities. I’ll keep replying and addressing things as often as I can, not just twice a week.

"avoiding staff burnout" in frank language would be "Metatalk is so toxic, staff has to be protected from it so they don't quit."

– I mean, yes, but partly. I’ve seen it as something that generates stress for the staff, but mostly because some of them only work 3 hour shifts others only work 3 days a week. So asking them to stay on top of MetaTalk is unrealistic and stressful.

That being said, let’s please stop calling Metatalk or any of the members here toxic. Everyone participating here has different backgrounds, communication styles and perspectives but shares similar concerns, hopes and goals. Rather than accusing other people of being “the problem”, let’s acknowledge that we all need to make an effort to bridge that gap in perspectives and try to always assume good intent.

Specifically, in this thread, as donnagirl pointed out, she was being polite, and I personally find it reasonable if people communicate their concerns, criticisms and feedback with a hint of, totally reasonable, frustration.

Out of curiosity, how long is your shift?
I would like the "community" to be put back in this community website. The community used to include the mods. I could tel you their hobbies and special interests and whether they had pets and/or kids. Maybe that was a shitty situation for them for reasons I don't have access to, I don't know. But I do know I can't really even name the mods anymore, and that doesn't seem like community.

Again, donnagirl, brings excellent points here. We had an open Ask Mods Anything thread last year and it was fun! Maybe we should do more of that so that the mods can be more visible?

Also, I’m happy to talk about scheduling, staff workload and task distribution. Just not in this thread.

Several of the frustrations people had with cortex remained after he left and I’m worried that several of the frustrations people are having with me may remain even after when/if I'm no longer the person taking care of the communications.

So, overall, I’d prefer these threads to be focused more around the site changes at hand than what “loup said” or how this member said that. This is not to take myself out of the equation, it would be ridiculous to ignore my responsibility and role here.

This is mostly so that we can focus on underlying issues rather than the people involved.

From the last thread, per loup: Site Development pays $35/hour. Mods are paid $30/hour
Yes, this is correct.

I do think it’s entirely fair for someone to say they emailed and didn’t get an answer.
Yes, please keep doing this when/if this happens.

I am happy that the monthly financial report was published and I look forward to seeing future months. I'm also glad the interim board has been communicating directly.
Thank you, adrian.
posted by loup (staff) at 2:03 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]


people often posted drive-by comments to imply that I or other posters were being abusive, entitled, micromanaging, etc. I occasionally asked them precisely who and what they were referring to in the thread, and they never replied

If you really cannot see the abusiveness, I don't think it's anyone else's job to try to fix that for you. However, I have a list of samples from the last thread, and I'll be happy to send them to you.
posted by zompist at 2:34 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Feel free to DM! I wrote them, I know what they say, some of them were heated but I'm happy to stand behind them all. I don't think any of them rise anywhere close to abuse, and I say that having answered several thousand customer support emails from far less polite players of my games.

Drive-by comments like, "So many [unnamed] people here are entitled/toxic/abusive/micromanaging/behaving execrably" are clearly doing a bang up job of changing hearts and minds – they're definitely not making the problem worse by making people feel tone-policed and unable to express any frustration or criticism. It's belittling to be told "you should know what you did wrong" when you don't think you did anything wrong. It's like someone saying "everyone here is bad at maths" and when you ask them where you did your sums wrong, they don't reply.

I get why people write these comments. It's a way to vent frustration and show solidarity with the staff, who you feel are unjustly criticised. But it's not a great way to bring people around to your point of view.
posted by adrianhon at 3:19 PM on January 23 [21 favorites]


loup: "Also, I’m happy to talk about scheduling, staff workload and task distribution. Just not in this thread."

Should I start up a separate thread about that, or do you mean you have some other plan to create a thread on that topic?

I really only have the one question (how long are your shifts), and I don't think I have any follow-up questions unless the answer is something like "the length of one quarter of a rotation of the planet Quarbulus Vrox," so it would be going super overboard for me to post a MeTa about it, but I'm not sure if that's even what you meant or if you meant that there was some thread that was already planned, so just wait and ask there.
posted by Bugbread at 3:41 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


I guess we're down to arguing about who's a native speaker of English? FWIW I'm not just that but professionally a linguist who studies meaning.

Ah, your usage was just too sophisticated for the rest of us.

And yes, people saying categorically silly things and defending them to the death is why these discussions suck. Nothing has changed in that regard.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:12 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


If one believes "X is absurd if Y is the case" and one also believes Y, then one necessarily believes that X is absurd. Seems pretty straightforward.

Sometimes it's OK to admit that one has misspoken, rather than angrily tripling down on claims that one's words don't entail what they quite obviously entail.
posted by Not A Thing at 4:27 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


As a non-linguist who doesn't study meaning, I think in everyday usage the sentence can be taken both ways, so while "it means A" and "it means B" are both perfectly reasonable positions, "it means A, not B" and "it means B, not A" are silly.

"It's absurd to pay staff when they check in on metatalk threads less often than users seeking help (therefore, since they are checking infrequently, they should not be paid)"
"It's absurd to pay staff when they check in on metatalk threads less often than users seeking help (therefore, to rectify this absurdity, staff should check in more frequently)"

Linguistically, I couldn't tell you which is the One and True Meaning, but since this isn't a linguistics forum, I don't think that's all that important. When it comes to actual usage, I think they're both reasonable interpretations. Seems like it could all be resolved amicably with some kind of "Sorry, I meant A, not B" "No, my bad, I interpreted what you wrote as B, not A" "No, really, the fault is all mine" "No, it wasn't you, it was me" (devolves into new fight).
posted by Bugbread at 4:39 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


At loup's request to shift away from the way this discussion has gone, I'll say only: adrianhon, if what I wrote hurt you or got under your skin, I apologize. I get frustrated by drive-by comments myself, and in my opinion, drive-bys on MeTa are sometimes the most drive-by-ish on the site as a whole. If you want to chat a little more about this, I'd be happy to memail another day. Cheers.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:22 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Should I start up a separate thread about that, or do you mean you have some other plan to create a thread on that topic?

Honest question - would this not be an example of an opportunity to use the contact form?
posted by kbanas at 5:57 PM on January 23


Oh, yeah. Good point.
posted by Bugbread at 6:01 PM on January 23


As a non-linguist who doesn't study meaning, I think in everyday usage the sentence can be taken both ways, so while "it means A" and "it means B" are both perfectly reasonable positions, "it means A, not B" and "it means B, not A" are silly.

"It's absurd to pay staff when they check in on metatalk threads less often than users seeking help (therefore, since they are checking infrequently, they should not be paid)"
"It's absurd to pay staff when they check in on metatalk threads less often than users seeking help (therefore, to rectify this absurdity, staff should check in more frequently)"

So, version "A" is that staff is doing such an inadequate job (by checking in too infrequently) that they should not be paid, and version "B" is that staff is not working hard enough to earn what they are being paid and need to step up their game. It's almost a distinction without a difference- there's no reason to include anything about staff being paid if your message is simply "it's absurd that staff don't check in on metatalk more frequently."
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 6:37 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]



That being said, let’s please stop calling Metatalk or any of the members here toxic. Everyone participating here has different backgrounds, communication styles and perspectives but shares similar concerns, hopes and goals. Rather than accusing other people of being “the problem”, let’s acknowledge that we all need to make an effort to bridge that gap in perspectives and try to always assume good intent.

Specifically, in this thread, as donnagirl pointed out, she was being polite, and I personally find it reasonable if people communicate their concerns, criticisms and feedback with a hint of, totally reasonable, frustration
.
posted by PugAchev at 6:40 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


One, don't try to shout down everyone else. I guess it works, in the sense that I'm disgusted with Metatalk and will leave it to the shouters.

Two, do you folks even read your own words? You're the only people allowed to be "frustrated"? You can say any damn thing you want, but God forbid anyone else does?

Bye, enjoy the validation from the dwindling crowd.
posted by zompist at 8:21 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


PugAchev was quoting loup’s last comment.

To me, it is a common construction to say things like “it’s absurd to pay a housekeeper when they don’t sweep the floor.” It never means the housekeeper should not be paid, but does mean something needs to change, like housekeeper starts sweeping, different housekeeper, or not bother to have housekeeper.
posted by snofoam at 1:39 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


What's hilariously Metafilter about this is that people are still debating what possibly could have been meant when I came back and said with my whole chest that mods should be paid. Once again, I meant that if we have paid mods - and we should - more interaction is desired. And everyone is allowed to be frustrated, but that doesn't give you license to make false accusations about other people's intent.

Finally, if you're so heavily invested in supporting the mods that you wanna cryptically interpret the words of anyone who you think doesn't, despite their clarifications, you could show that support by dropping this topic like we were asked to.
posted by donnagirl at 3:52 AM on January 24 [17 favorites]


I wonder if these would go better if Metafilter users took their own frustration as a cue that they should ask a question?

Instead of, "it's absurd to pay staff when they check in on metatalk threads less often than users seeking help," picture "We have X hours of paid staff time. Can you help me understand why more of this is not devoted to checking in on metatalk threads?"

Instead of responding with, "You've also said in this thread that it is 'absurd' that the mods get paid to do their jobs," picture "donnagirl, I'm not sure what you mean. Are you suggesting we replace some of the paid staff with unpaid volunteers?"

This is what my most successful coworker does a lot of. Help me understand x. I'm confused about y. It's not that she never feels frustration, she just puts it to better use than we have here on MetaTalk.
posted by eirias at 7:00 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]


In general, eiras, I agree. Part of what's made that difficult in the past years in MetaTalk is that staff doesn't respond to questions, and then the users start speculating, and then due to continued lack of staff answers, they start griping at each others' speculations.

I appreciate that loup has been slightly more responsive lately. What annoys me about the lack of, or slow pace of, responses is not that I think we deserve 24/7 instant managerial access, but that if there's a part of the site that allows for public questions about site policy, procedure, and features, and there's no managerial interaction or answers there, it devolves into useless griping. And when the administration then says that the useless griping is what's keeping them from participating, it moves into, for me, infuriating behavior.

I get that cortex's particular reactivity often made things worse. That doesn't mean that "mod responses" make things worse. It does mean that there's a legacy here of people feeling ignored, lied to, and gaslit, and the way out of that is more communication, more clarity, and more connection, not less. And if that's not possible now, then THAT needs to be made way more clear, and pony request threads should stop being approved as if everything is the same as it was, and staff should be clearer on saying, "No, we can't do that right now."
posted by lapis at 7:23 AM on January 24 [20 favorites]


Fingers crossed on the web developer hire! I have a feeling the eventual person chosen will be critical.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:31 AM on January 24


staff should be clearer on saying, "No, we can't do that right now."

Yes, as so commonly comes up on Ask, "No is a complete sentence." Failing to respond in any way is not, but there's nothing at all wrong with just saying "No, there is absolutely no way that we are going to implement x feature, so there's no reason to continue debating it."

And, if it turns out that in 8 months such a feature CAN be implemented, then the fact that it was ruled out earlier doesn't mean it can't be brought up again.
posted by bowbeacon at 8:24 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


This is one thread where several of the drive-by comments comments would have been deleted as a derail, BUT we decided that having lighter moderation in MetaTalk is necessary and I still agree. Every comment here is important. MetaTalk is not a subsite to talk to me alone but for the entire community to participate. Together.

"I wonder if these would go better if Metafilter users took their own frustration as a cue that they should ask a question?"
I think this also applies to me. So thank you for that!

> "Oh, yeah. Good point. "
Thank you for emailing us! I’ve replied to your email with more details and context and we can take it from there.

"I meant that if we have paid mods - and we should - more interaction is desired. "

" I appreciate that loup has been slightly more responsive lately"

"I get that cortex's particular reactivity often made things worse. That doesn't mean that "mod responses" make things worse. It does mean that there's a legacy here of people feeling ignored, lied to, and gaslit, and the way out of that is more communication, more clarity, and more connection, not less.

And if that's not possible now, then THAT needs to be made way more clear, and pony request threads should stop being approved as if everything is the same as it was, and staff should be clearer on saying, "No, we can't do that right now.""

Thank you! Thank you! This ties back what I was saying yesterday. Cortex and I have different backgrounds, communication styles and perspectives but share similar concerns, hopes and goals.

It is my responsibility to acknowledge the points you bring, to hear them and to adapt accordingly. I have been doing and will keep doing my best to bridge that gap in perspective and communications style.

So: Point taken. I have nothing to add to this other than thanking you for setting clear expectations.

Fingers crossed on the web developer hire! I have a feeling the eventual person chosen will be critical.

I’m hoping to have good news before the end of the week. Stay tuned!
posted by loup (staff) at 1:44 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


so where did we land on not having closed threads? Seems like having closed threads in metatalk is a little weird and unproductive but I'm not sure if that was addressed? are some metatalk threads going to be closed to comments, going forward? or is the opposite going to occur.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:13 PM on January 24


> "Yes, you (and everyone else who commented above) are right. Thank you for pushing back! I'll keep threads announcing significant changes open from now on (including the RSS one)."
posted by loup (staff) at 3:47 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


cool, cheers - missed that sorry.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:50 PM on January 24


No problem!
posted by loup (staff) at 8:19 PM on January 24


Last summer, when the site was catching up from an even deeper backlog of posting minutes from the Global BIPOC Board meetings, I suggested adding a placeholder line on the board page right after meetings (e.g. “Meeting #21 (October 2023) (minutes to come)”) while waiting (for months) for the minutes to be compiled and approved. This would help let people know that meetings are still occurring, or when meetings have been skipped, without having to speculate, assume, or comb through comments deep down on previous threads to maybe find out. Loup agreed that this would be a good strategy, but it doesn't seem to have been implemented. Is there a technical problem with doing this, did it get decided against later, or has this just fallen through the cracks? Any chance chance that this could be done now, for the meetings that have currently happened and not been posted, and could continue to happen in the future?
posted by JiBB at 9:16 PM on January 29 [7 favorites]


Thank you for bringing this up, JiBB! This is part of the overhaul of the BIPOC Board landing page (still pending review/approval from the board) I mentioned in the last update. I'll confirm as soon as these changes are approved/implemented.
posted by loup (staff) at 2:01 PM on January 30


To be clear, there are two types of revamps/changes regarding the BIPOC board landing page that have been in discussion by the BIPOC board:

(The following information can be found in the public minutes approved by the BIPOC board.)

1) Making some quick textual changes to the current page (language, wording, adding a little bit more information in the form of static text). This involves adding some changes in text and wording to the current page, and does not require any new coding.

These textual changes were first suggested by the BIPOC board in August 2023 (Meeting 19), and the action item was for Loup to check about these changes with Frimble and then update the board accordingly.
The BIPOC board received an email from Loup on Oct 20 communicating that Frimble would be able to make those changes and could do so after the board finalized and confirmed the desired changes.
The board was to confirm these changes during November's meeting; however November and December's meetings were both cancelled. The board did not get to this action item in January's meeting, and the next meeting the board can potentially get to this is February's meeting.

2) Separate from 1) and as a longer-term project, having a new subsite for the BIPOC board which would replace the current page, and include more functionalities.

The subsite spec was presented by the BIPOC board to Loup (who in turn was to share this with Frimble) in June 2023 (Meeting 17). The spec can be seen in Meeting 17's minutes here. The action item was for Loup to share this subsite spec with frimble, then update the board on frimble's response.
The action item was pending and deferred for some months across subsequent meetings, until Oct 20 when the board received an email from Loup that was meant to address this item. While the email did not confirm Frimble received the subsite spec, the email from Loup relayed it would be ideal to invite Frimble to a board meeting so the board could speak directly with Frimble. The email noted that this meeting could only happen after the new tech assistant role had been filled, when the new tech assistant would be fully up and running.

Hope this adds more context/clarification. While there are definitely some things that can be improved, the BIPOC board has been doing its best to keep its work progressing while being mindful of its own mandate, priorities, scope and limitations. I appreciate the interest in getting more timely updates about the board's work and meetings - am grateful people care about this.


(not speaking on behalf of the collective board here but just as an individual BIPOC board member, with reference to the board-approved public minutes.)
posted by aielen at 3:07 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]


Thank you aielen!

My questions that follow are for loup/frimble, not the BIPOC board. I think this is an excellent example of why people wonder what's going on behind the scenes and whether there are simply too many layers of checks and balances and approvals for small tasks. It would take me (not a coder, very rudimentary html skills that I've not used in years) approximately two minutes to add a bunch of unlinked placeholders for meetings without minutes to that page. Why was this subject to a process of requests/re-requests/approval that required confirmation of the request? It's a quick fix, doesn't need discussion by the entire community, could be accomplished by probably anyone with edit access to the landing page, doesn't throw a wrench in future desired changes to the page. It doesn't seem like a topic that should be on multiple agendas other than 1. Request 2. Confirm done. I've worked in academia, I know how much simple things can get drawn out, but I cannot wrap my head around what's going on here and how everyone is so busy that requests like this take so long and still have not been accomplished. Literally no shade to the board, this absolutely is a weird time wasting fail by the staff, and not an atypical one.
posted by donnagirl at 6:00 AM on February 1 [6 favorites]


Why was this subject to a process of requests/re-requests/approval that required confirmation of the request?

As aielen mentioned above, these changes were first suggested in August 2023 (Meeting 19), frimble confirmed they could be make the changes after the board confirmed the desired changes. The board did not get to this action item in the last meeting we had. As son as the desired changes are confirmed we can proceed.
posted by loup (staff) at 12:15 PM on February 2


Right, but why didn’t Frimble have the authority to just YOLO it? Why is the process for a text change 3 levels of meetings and sign offs?
posted by bowbeacon at 12:57 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


This has nothing to do with frimble. Maybe the wording of the meeting minutes is confusing here? The board hasn't specified and confirmed the desired changes. Once they do, we'll proceed.
posted by loup (staff) at 1:03 PM on February 2


Making some quick textual changes to the current page ... These textual changes were first suggested by the BIPOC board in August 2023 (Meeting 19), and the action item was for Loup to check about these changes with Frimble and then update the board accordingly.
The BIPOC board received an email from Loup on Oct 20 communicating that Frimble would be able to make those changes and could do so after the board finalized and confirmed the desired changes.
The board was to confirm these changes during November's meeting, but


I think the part that stands out is the [check with frimble/update board/wait until next meeting] cycle: changes as simple as described should be so easily and quickly doable, by either frimble or another staff member, that it shouldn't even need confirmation. It should be something admin can take for granted is doable, because it's a task that should be a matter of minutes for any dev (and not much more for anyone else tbh). If that confirmation cycle hadn't happened, the board could have just finalized and confirmed the new text for (1) right then and there in the August meeting, instead of, hopefully, February, which is half a year later.

I don't know if the need to confirm was driven by not being aware of how quick such a change ought to be, or by a need to confirm that frimble could schedule and prioritize a few extra minutes for this task. Or something else?
posted by trig at 1:57 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


The board asked in August for a very simple change. It took until October for communication to return to them about the feasibility of the change. I understand both loup and frimble are part time, but surely they had a chance discuss this within a matter of days. And since the board requested the (again, Very Simple) change, it could have just been done, right then. It didn't need to return to the board, they are volunteers and this is a paid work matter. This is a bafflingly long process for "types a couple lines on a static web page" and could be done by someone other than frimble. I do not believe there's not a staff member with the skills to do this in five minutes given access to the page.

The minutes are not unclear, nor is the statement by the member of the BIPOC board. This is a pattern of shouting "look over there!" and pointing off into the distance that happens every time we ask a question that ultimately comes down to "why didn't loup do this"? The board minutes say over and over that they are waiting on loup, for action, for information, for being paid their honoraria. No one is this busy, for months on end, to justify being behind on so many basic tasks that should just be routine at this point. We created the BIPOC board for a reason, and it wasn't to let loup slow play their concerns until they all quit out of frustration.
posted by donnagirl at 7:14 AM on February 3 [11 favorites]


I missed the September meeting and in October I caught up with all the Action items from past meetings and added notes to all them for the Board to review and approve. I currently have no pending action items other than waiting for the board to confirm which are the desired changes
posted by loup (staff) at 9:32 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Yes, loup, I understand this is all in the past. But as is often the case, you offered info but didn't answer the direct question. It was also asked by bowbeacon:

Right, but why didn’t Frimble have the authority to just YOLO it? Why is the process for a text change 3 levels of meetings and sign offs?

Why are small things made so unpleasantly bureaucratic? I am open to the possibility that it has to be this way, but I'd like to know why. We hear a lot that you want our input and our questions, but it's becoming increasingly hard to believe that when month after month the update threads go this way.
posted by donnagirl at 5:48 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


Eh, I don't actually need to know why - the unnecessary bureaucratic dances need to just stop. If frimble's the block because loup can't take for granted that they'll agree to do a 5 minute task, that needs to change. If loup's the block because their orientation is to defer things, that needs to change.

Especially when it comes to something like the BIPOC board that meets once a month at best, the mentality should be to do as much as possible right then and there in the meetings. And take care of what can't be done in the meetings quickly afterwards, not weeks later.

Anyway, the original request was just to put up some placeholder text for the to-be-updated minutes on the BIPOC board page so it doesn't look like the board died after September. That can be done today*, it doesn't need to be put on hold for some fuller overhaul. If that seems like an inefficient use of the 5-10 absolute total minutes it should take, imagine all the MetaTalk headache it'll save. If a mentality of just going ahead and fixing something on the spot feels unthinkable - that's a serious problem for Metafilter.

* If it literally can't be today because nobody but frimble has access and frimble isn't working today - then (that's a problematic setup but) the new text can be composed today and sent to them so it can be done in frimble's first few minutes on their next shift.

Actually, you know what, I'll do the composition part now:

<li>Meeting #21 (October 2023): Minutes to come</li>
<li>Meeting #22 (January 2024): Minutes to come</li>

Not hard, not controversial, should not need any approval rigmarole, should take a few seconds to copy-paste to frimble and I dunno, 3 minutes for frimble to read, add, and check.


Btw, next time a meeting is postponed/cancelled, the line to add until a new meeting is held would be

<li>([month year] meeting postponed)</li>


I know this pushback must be frustrating to mefites who find all the other pushback frustrating. If this were an outlier it would be one thing, but this literal half year to add a TBD statement on a static page that some people actually care about isn't an outlier and that's frustrating and worrying to me.
posted by trig at 8:36 AM on February 6 [12 favorites]


Thank you for clarifying the question, donnagirl. This wasn't me going in circles to avoid answering questions. I honestly though that the more direct answer is that the board just raised the question about the changes but hasn't specified the desired changes. My apologies if I didn't understand the question.

Now addrressing the question:

frimble has full authority over the code and any changes to the site. That being said, the board doesn't have, or hasn't have, direct contact with frimble. In the past, any Technical requests had to go through Cortext first. When he stepped down I asked Jessamyn if we should change this and or keep it as it is, going through me instead. She insisted that we keep it this way for the time being.

Again, this is one of those things that I think is bound to change, moreover now that we have a new developer (yes, finally! Official announcement coming on friday).
posted by loup (staff) at 8:42 AM on February 6


But why didn't Frimble have the authority to just YOLO it, once asked, via you?
posted by bowbeacon at 8:47 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


When he stepped down I asked Jessamyn if we should change this and or keep it as it is, going through me instead. She insisted that we keep it this way for the time being.

Then you or whoever the middleman is has a responsibility to not be a block, right?


I honestly though that the more direct answer is that the board just raised the question about the changes but hasn't specified the desired changes

The minor, commonsense change that people here were asking for was specified both in this thread and in the June (good God) thread. Not everything needs a capital-P Process. Dragging things out needlessly is not okay. Wrapping minor fixes into large, plodding projects is not okay. Not getting simple things done even on a scale of months is not okay.

That is the point we've been trying to make.

(Also, the most direct answer is never an excuse or deferral of responsibility. That's the least direct answer to the underlying question.)


Any chance of this getting fixed at frimble's next shift?
posted by trig at 9:01 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


That can be done today*, it doesn't need to be put on hold for some fuller overhaul.

loup: "we'll, yes but I'd rather..." loup realizes this is dumb and asks frimble to make the change.
frimble: "Sure! This is now visible here: https://www.metafilter.com/board-rc.mefi"

Then you or whoever the middleman is has a responsibility to not be a block, right?
Yes, point taken and change made.
posted by loup (staff) at 9:15 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Thank you. Please let this be the start of a metafilter that gets things done!
posted by trig at 9:18 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Thank YOU. I'm looking forward to seeing things that keep getting done with your input, feedback, and support!
posted by loup (staff) at 9:22 AM on February 6


Okay, but - many things can and should get done even without extra rounds of input and feedback. That's where support will come from.

Is there anything you can do to today to make sure the suggestions of the next BIPOC board meeting don't get "pending approval"ed again? Then my input would be to do that now. Treat removing roadblocks as one of the most important things a manager can do.
posted by trig at 9:33 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


A while back I was on a team at work whose charter was "culture change" and at the beginning our meetings and in-between work got tangled up because we were trying to do logistics, strategy, and processing, without always being clear about what went in which category and how to make decisions based on the level of the issue we were discussing. So for a while we tried identifying each agenda item as logistics, strategy, or processing, and setting aside portions of the meeting for each category. I can't say that it really worked for us, because there was not a consensus within the group on how much processing we needed and whether strategy could go forward or logistics could be taken care of when we were unclear about that, so pretty much everything ended up as processing. But maybe it would work for the handoff of things between the BIPOC board and the admin/staff of Metafilter?

For example, anything that's a logistics task for Metafilter admin/staff are should not need to wait a month between meetings to be accomplished, nor be put off because loup has to miss a BIPOC Board meeting. The BIPOC Board might say "Do this thing if it's technically feasible" at one meeting, and then loup can send it to frimble and not need to check back at the next meeting to say that the thing you asked for is technically feasible and do you want to go ahead and do it.

Part of improving trust with the community is completing the cycle of communication about tasks. Say you're going to do the thing, do the thing, say you've done the thing. All three steps are important. The question of what things should be done is much bigger! But this small part is one step along the way. It almost doesn't matter if the site updates are full of accomplishments, if those accomplishments don't include the tasks we were expecting based on communications from admin/staff in previous updates.
posted by expialidocious at 11:11 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Thank you trig and expialidocious. Yes, I emailed the Board this morning with a list of documents that just need review/approval and can be prioritized and reviewed prior to this month's meeting.
posted by loup (staff) at 12:13 PM on February 6


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