Is Metafilter in danger of becoming irrelevant? April 28, 2003 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Is Metafilter in danger of becoming irrelevant?

We're in desperate need of some new opinions around here.

Can it happen? Is it a technical limitation? What do you think?
posted by mark13 to MetaFilter-Related at 10:34 AM (61 comments total)

And here I thought that we already had too many opinions.
posted by timeistight at 10:39 AM on April 28, 2003


Irrelevant to whom? Opinions on what? We're not talking about politics are we?

I'm for an influx of new blood if it brings an influx of interesting new links, but those don't seem to be in short supply at the moment.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:44 AM on April 28, 2003


Mr.Howie-hope-us-pocus-sesame.
posted by JohnR at 10:49 AM on April 28, 2003




OT: Now that I'm in meta: why is the link thingie still broken? I really don't want to start a thread about it, so perhaps someone has a quick and simple answer.
posted by ginz at 11:07 AM on April 28, 2003


>How about the Greek solution to handle traffic? :-)

Hmm, an olive oil cooled computer?
posted by skallas at 11:44 AM on April 28, 2003



Can it happen? Is it a technical limitation? What do you think?
posted by mark13 to MetaFilter-related at 10:34 AM PST


I think if the gates are opened again, Miguel is going to have more identities than Sybil. The front page is already choked with his "Let me ask you all a question" posts.
posted by thirteen at 12:21 PM on April 28, 2003


Whoa--are Carlos and Miguel the same person?

/out of the loop, as always
posted by dhoyt at 12:37 PM on April 28, 2003


1. No
2. No
3. No

I'll believe MetaFilter is irrelevant when I see my co-workers browsing it for "the latest news".
posted by rocketman at 12:57 PM on April 28, 2003


i find this highly amusing, as i do when some croaking mumbler from a rock band mewls about how his work is still relevant. what is relevant? perhaps mefi is still the same and it's simply the world that's become irrelevant?
posted by quonsar at 1:38 PM on April 28, 2003


MeFi is what you make it. I don't see how this thread servers to make MeFi a better place. Stop the navel gazing, find something cool and post it to the front page. That'll keep the people coming back for more.
posted by tomharpel at 1:40 PM on April 28, 2003


servers = serves. Whatever. Get to it!
posted by tomharpel at 1:41 PM on April 28, 2003


Googling for posts is pretty sad. If that were an infographic in Wired, it would be listed under "Tired". Are we so bored that we need to invent posts to see our name in lights? This site used to be populated by people who created neat stuff, and now it is all end users who can only complain and google. Google is not bad, it is sliced bread, but it is not the proper tool to craft an entire post. If I am wrong, go nuts. Here are a thirty three front page threads for you guys.
1. Worms
2. history of oven glass
3. Cargo Cults
4. Croatan + Lost colony
5. Somebody died, lets be sad
6. I like this band, do you?
7. Fresh water supply
8. Presidential curse
9. What happens when a body is donated to science
10. Buckminster Fuller
11. Haunted Houses in America.
12. Errol Flynn, Nazi Spy?
13. Abandoned missile silos
14. Pandas!
15. Low Carb, is it bad?
16. Dentistry through the ages.
17. Global Warming.
18. Volcanos
19. Lightning.
20. Clouds
21. Hell Fire Club
22. Secret Societies
23. Secret Service
24. Ocean floor
25. Bacteria
26. Pandemic
27. Asteroids
28. apocalypse
29. Wood Carving
30. Sugar
31. Ambergris
32. Winchester House
33. The number 33
posted by thirteen at 2:22 PM on April 28, 2003


dentistry through the ages - now thats what i call a fpp !
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:59 PM on April 28, 2003


History of oven glass! Tell me more!
posted by jokeefe at 3:20 PM on April 28, 2003


timeistight is on the money here, I feel. The last thing we need is more wrong opinions cluttering up the place. The second-to-last thing we need is more people entering their dog's name in Google and inventing a thread from the result.

Perhaps if someone is looking for a real challenge, they could take thirteen's list and create a thread using all 33 topics (with a link for each one), string them together in such a way as to make them all relate to one another in a coherent manner. Extra credit for doing it in two paragraphs or less and without title tags more than 10 words long.
posted by dg at 3:21 PM on April 28, 2003


and now it is all end users who can only complain and google

You've got the complaining part down. Tres magnifique!
posted by The God Complex at 3:22 PM on April 28, 2003


As a rebuttal, here are synopses of the first thirty-three front page posts to MeFi, circa July of 1999:

1. Literal cat scans
2. Boy isn't JenniCam a show off?
3. Apple's hype (some things never change)
4. University of Massachusets' web server size.
5. Extreme sports media coverage
6. the Death Clock
7. a font database
8. a "cute" Tarot deck
9. a link to Yahoo (perhaps the first one?)
10. The first link to Amazon
11. a link to riaa.com AND Amazon
12. Steve Jobs live from new york its MacWorld 99!
13. a link about weblogs
14. MS and the Bristol case
15. a fan site about the Futurama tv show
16. Rambo the real estate agent
17. web design theft
18. impulse buying for geeks
19. Apple clones
20. apple ibooks and airports
21. doggie doo doo and spam cops
22. AOL vs MSN
23. Cat Olympics
24. use of color in web design
25. nitpicking an edu site
26. AOL vs MSN (yet another outdated Yahoo link)
27. MAC vs MS in Singapore with dueling Diamond Rios
28. unfounded prediction about new MS features
29. The wondrous mind of Daniel Quayle
30. Bill Gates the rich bastard
31. portable Toshiba the next best thing since sliced bread, or battery operated love toys, take your pick.
32. Yahoo's briefcase. Ooh. Ahh.
33. Cows on Parade in downtown Chicago.

I never again want to hear ANYONE complain that MetaFilter is not what it used to be, or that its links aren't what they used to be. This place is exactly what it used to be and has NEVER changed. It's the people using it that have changed and they should stop complaining about it. You think MeFi is irrelevant? FINE. Go to one of the clones or make your own MeFi clone, and start your own reality. I like MeFi just the way it is and the way it's been and if you disagree with me y'all c'n kiss mah bohiney!
posted by ZachsMind at 3:44 PM on April 28, 2003


Yeah, I hate using search engines to find interesting websites to share with people here, too. So ... pedestrian.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:54 PM on April 28, 2003


This place is exactly what it used to be and has NEVER changed.

MetaFilter needs a creation myth that enables us to look away from such harsh realities. Something about a golden age, and a fall from grace would do.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:54 PM on April 28, 2003


If anyone sees me kissing Zach's ass, I beg you to hit me with some bullets.

I would not be one to point at 99 as the golden age of MeFi, but even if that is going to be the game, I think your list is pretty good, and much closer to what the place was best at. Mostly Webtoy and computer related threads. The fucking cat scan thing was brilliant at the time. We do not see too much of that anymore. We get a lot of politics, and ego posts.

So for Zach, Metafilter is not what it used to be. It's links are not what they used to be. You however are still the same, tho you may be a bit crazier than I thought if you think I am getting anywhere near your "bohiney". As for the exodus to the clones, that would be better advice for the people who did not like MeFi as it was, and felt the need to chat loud and long enough to strangle the unique place that this was out of existence.

Mr. Ghod is right, I am complaining like a pro
posted by thirteen at 4:10 PM on April 28, 2003


No, you're being sneering and condescending.

As one would expect from someone who still uses the phrase "end users" as discriminatory.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:22 PM on April 28, 2003


I had the same reaction as thirteen: those links look pretty darn good! When I have some time, I'm going to check out how many still work.

And dg: I didn't say we had too many wrong opinions; I just think we have far too many opinions period. I'm tired of OpinionFilter.
posted by timeistight at 4:25 PM on April 28, 2003


Everyone should find FPP links like I do; by typing random words into the URL bar and seeing what comes up.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:26 PM on April 28, 2003


I'm tired of OpinionFilter™.

Of course, that's just my opinion.
posted by timeistight at 4:27 PM on April 28, 2003


Thirteen did you like, just see my name and the list and then start typing without using any grey matter?

ME: "This place is exactly what it used to be and has NEVER changed."

Thirteen: "So for Zach, Metafilter is not what it used to be. It's links are not what they used to be."

You're not complaining like a pro, dude. You're just reversing everything I said, and claiming it's arguing when you're just making up words and putting them in my mouth. Would you like another bucket of mud to help make the argument even murkier?

MeFi was relevant when it started, before the world started paying attention to it. It's relevant today. People bitch and moan about the quality of linkage. The CatScan link was cute but ultimately stupid and not very valid or useful to people. It was just fun. MeFi's supposed to be fun. Maybe bitching about MeFi is fun for some people so for them it's still fun. But the quality of the links and the community opinions and interaction is no different than it ever has been.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:37 PM on April 28, 2003


You're just reversing everything I said, and claiming it's arguing when you're just making up words and putting them in my mouth.

Maybe a change in punctuation would help:

So for Zach: Metafilter is not what it used to be. It's links are not what they used to be.

*grabs bucket of mud, runs off*
posted by eddydamascene at 5:54 PM on April 28, 2003


Please don't open the floodgates yet, Mr Owie. Not yet.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:58 PM on April 28, 2003


Something about SUVs causes me to go completely berserk.
posted by hama7 at 6:51 PM on April 28, 2003


we need fresh blood in here, because you folks aren't entertaining anymore : P
posted by amberglow at 7:32 PM on April 28, 2003


You're not complaining like a pro, dude. You're just reversing everything I said, and claiming it's arguing when you're just making up words and putting them in my mouth.

Deja vu...

M: An argument isn't just contradiction.
A: It can be.
M: No it can't. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
A: No it isn't.
M: Yes it is! It's not just contradiction.
A: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.
M: Yes, but that's not just saying 'No it isn't.'
A: Yes it is!
M: No it isn't!
M: Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.
(short pause)
A: No it isn't.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:29 PM on April 28, 2003


I just labored proof (the list above) that the first links ever posted to MeFi were just as silly and poignant and random and absurd and glorious and stupid and fun and sporadic and erratic as the previous list of more recent links. MeFi has not changed. Just cuz one day someone comes in and sees a few more links about one topic or another that they personally happen to not enjoy, that doesn't mean MeFi's suddenly getting worse.

This VERY argument has been in MeFi for at least as long as I've been in here. Someone's always claiming MeFi's going to hell or is facing certain doom, or that it's in some other kind of danger. Recently I myself have questioned whether or not the recent Mefi cloning on other servers is going to affect MeFi at all. The result of the thread was pretty much a negative.

MeFi doesn't change. It can be argued Matt's alterations of its coding over the years have altered it some, but such modifications have not altered MeFi enough for it to be dramatically different from its origins. It's not MeFi that changes, but its community. It's simultaneously fluid and static, with new links and commentary added every day. Yet since its inception, the purpose of MeFi has been about people posting their thoughts about what they find on the Web. That hasn't changed. It's still the same.

When a museum adds an exhibit or puts an exhibit away in storage, one can say its changed, yet the museum itself remains unchanged. When a zoo adds a new animal or has an old animal shipped away or put to sleep due to illness, the complement inside the zoo has changed, but the zoo itself remains the same.

You can disagree with me all you want but the logic is clear. MeFi's survived all that criticism and all these Ides of March and it's still around. Does it need new blood? The new blood is in those Mefi clones. It's in thousands of weblogs worldwide. It's in everything from new websites discovered by MeFites to the questionable journalism in yahoo links discovered by MeFites. People in MeFi go out and link to those other places. Just cuz we're not getting new minds, that doesn't mean we're becoming irrelevant, or becoming something different. Worse.

We're fine! Quit yer whinin' an' bellyachin'. Oh. And kiss mah bohiney!
posted by ZachsMind at 10:07 PM on April 28, 2003


MetaFilter needs a creation myth that enables us to look away from such harsh realities. Something about a golden age, and a fall from grace would do.

I would love to see an official MeFi creation myth. Can we have a contest or something?
posted by Galvatron at 10:28 PM on April 28, 2003


MetaFilter is what it is. If you don't like it, you have some constructive options:

1.) as tomharpel says, find something cool, post it to the front page;
2.) Make interesting comments about the posts on the front page, civilly discussing them and providing links for amplification;
3.) Leave -- hang out at another site, start your own blog, rediscover Usenet, play outside. Whatever.

Bitching about the place isn't a constructive option.
posted by Vidiot at 10:33 PM on April 28, 2003


I would love to see an official MeFi creation myth. Can we have a contest or something?

"...Then he proceeded to separate light and darkness, and introduce order and structure in chaos so that the world with all its content could come into being. This is in essence the principle of Ma´at." (Egyptian creation myth - scroll down to 'Creating the World')
posted by eddydamascene at 11:00 PM on April 28, 2003


As one would expect from someone who still uses the phrase "end users" as discriminatory.

Perhaps you would think it less sharp if you knew I consider myself an end user as well. It is not pejorative, but descriptive. My point was that the ration of webtoy creators to webtoy users has capsized around here. They are not only outnumbered, they have just left.

Thirteen did you like, just see my name and the list and then start typing without using any grey matter?

Zach, I apologize for my poor punctuation. I was responding to you, and refuting each of your points. We may be at loggerheads over the quality of the old posts that you reference. I think even those are very different from what we see today. True, there is less of that kind of link left undiscovered these days. We disagree.

There was a time (and I really hope it does not continue) that people who showed up here immediately started congratulating themselves for being so very smart for being here at all. The place is the people, and most of the people who gave this place the reputation that it still enjoys are now long gone. It is not like these people got tired of the web. A freakishly large percentage of them have written books on web community, so why don't we see them on Metafilter anymore? You may like what it has turned into, but is is dense to think it remains the same.
posted by thirteen at 11:44 PM on April 28, 2003


They are not only outnumbered, they have just left.

Are you sure? What do I do for a living? Point being, I believe you're confusing a number of names you've noticed as being absent with your being on intimate terms with a majority of contributors today. Does a post about pancakes by an author(ity?) on web communities somehow outrank a post about the history of oven glass by someone using Google? I should hope not, on that basis alone, because then we don't have a close-knit community, we have a stratified society.

To further an alternate point of view, I knew nothing about MetaFilter's 'reputation' upon first visiting here in 2000. It was just a cool website a friend of mine happened to be surfing one day while I was looking over his shoulder. I don't know what its reputation is now, other than it seems apparent that its appeal is quite broad. Should I know? Will it increase my already deep appreciation? By what means does one judge this sort of thing? I ask sincerely, perhaps there's something I'm missing.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:27 AM on April 29, 2003


Metafilter is still a million times better than most of the rest of the internet. The fact that this discussion is even happening is testament to that. Metafilter still attracts a lot of people from all over the place who have lots to contribute. A lot of members have moved on; this is natural.

As for reputation, well. I admit it's a cool thing to be part of, especially when signups are closed. We're an exclusive club, and we have a good reputation.

But you think the people who made that reputation cared about making it, or were even really aware they were making it? Hell no. They posted things they thought were interesting, and talked about them, and maintained a level of discourse that was higher than almost anywhere else. We have a reputation to live up to only insofar as we're supposed to post interesting things.

So do that. Post things you find interesting. If what you post is interesting and thought-provoking, the discussion will be as well.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 12:45 AM on April 29, 2003


Yet since its inception, the purpose of MeFi has been about people posting their thoughts about what they find on the Web.

See, I have to disagree again (rawr! attack of the MeFi dinosaurs! Rawr!).

MeFi was about finding interesting stuff on the web. Our thoughts were secondary to the interesting stuff. I do feel that's changed, and the community plays a significantly more important role now than it did before the meteor killed us off, but you and I Zach, we were anomalies before we ruled the earth, focussing on the discussion more than the web.

Bitching about the place isn't a constructive option.

Yes it is. In fact, that's one of the primary purposes of MetaTalk: To talk about the Filter. To find out if it's changing, to find out if something new someone just did aligns with the site's goals and purposes, to find out if my thoughts about the site are remotely similar to anyone else's.

Hard and fast rules rarely evolve from a MetaTalk conversation, and that's a good thing because if there's one thing MeFi isn't about it's hard and fast rules.

This is a space dedicated to questions about the damn site. Bitching about the place is why we're all in the grey, dammit. We're supposed to talk about this shit, questioning the community is a fundamental piece of this community.

Limiting things to those three options is such a narrow view. I'm not going to have it your way or the highway, I'm neither with you nor against you, I'm just different than you. I have different opinions, different thoughts about what the site is was and could be.

MetaTalk is about sharing those thoughts. The one thing that destroys the site more than any other is people telling other people to shut up or that their opinion is worthless or that if they don't like it they should just leave.

Because people do just leave, and ultimately that's a loss for MeFi. It's not like things are going to go to shit just because Powazek or Zeldman or any other of the thousands of users who have left don't post much any more, but wouldn't it be better if they did?

If MeFi really is about "thoughts about what they find on the Web", then isn't the strength of Mefi in it's variety of thoughts, it's variety of thinkers?
posted by cCranium at 4:49 AM on April 29, 2003


(and just to counter the obvious argument, I've never wanted Miguel to leave, just to stop being such a dominant voice.)
posted by cCranium at 4:54 AM on April 29, 2003


my cat's breath smells like cat food. it did in 2000 and it does today.
posted by quonsar at 5:19 AM on April 29, 2003


I'm not sure what you guys are arguing about, but someone should get down to the important work of figuring out which of the topics in thirteen's list would be double posts.
posted by chrisege at 6:35 AM on April 29, 2003


You're right, cCranium -- level-headed constructive discussion in the grey about the site, its goals, et cetera should have been added to my list. When I posted that I was getting mighty tired of people just whining to say that "MetaFilter isn't the same anymore" or "MetaFilter isn't exactly what I want it to be", without necessarily bringing anything new of their own to the table. Discussion is always good. Flame-fests and whinging are usually alternately offensive and dull. If one wants to improve the signal-noise ratio, adding noise isn't the way to go.
posted by Vidiot at 8:15 AM on April 29, 2003


I would love to see an official MeFi creation myth.

in the beginning, mathowie created the mefi. and zeldman and powazcek and denbeste and that jack planet guy with the orange site saw that it was good and made joyous noises unto the a-list firmament. then mathowie said, what is good for the a-list shall be good for all, and allowed commoners access to the garden, causing injury amongst the elite, and the mefi has been picking at that scab ever since.
posted by quonsar at 10:15 AM on April 29, 2003


Yea, verily...
posted by y2karl at 11:57 AM on April 29, 2003


3:1
Now the quonsar was more subtil than any beast of the blogosphere which the Matt had made a member. And he said unto the Miguel, Yea, hath Matt said, Ye shall not post whatsoever occurreth to thee?
3:2
And the Miguel said unto the quonsar, We may post whatsoever occurreth to us:
3:3
But of that which is not of general interest, or is but a disguised opinion poll, Matt hath said, Ye shall not post it, lest ye receive a smackdown.
3:4
And the quonsar said unto the Miguel, Ye shall not surely receive a smackdown...
posted by languagehat at 12:58 PM on April 29, 2003


languagehat, i'm ROFL!
posted by quonsar at 1:18 PM on April 29, 2003


Very funny stuff here quonsar & languagehat! I think we need this creation myth furthered.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:27 PM on April 29, 2003


Heh. mark13 should be in there somewhere ;-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:42 PM on April 29, 2003


I do think, however, that languagehat has fallen prey to one of the more common translation errors: a more accurate rendering of the original would be, "Matt hath said, `Ye shall not post of it, lest ye be smotten.'"

Happens to the best of us, lh.
posted by gleuschk at 2:14 PM on April 29, 2003


I was smotten with a girl once, till she smote me.
posted by Shane at 2:24 PM on April 29, 2003


I was digging around a.wholelottanothing and found this:

"If you set up an appointment to discuss the writing of a letter of recommendation, I will ask you: 'How do you think Metafilter originated?' If you cannot truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer to this question, then you should not seek my recommendation for admittance to further education in the blogging sciences."

Amazing.
posted by eddydamascene at 2:42 PM on April 29, 2003


The shimmering veil has got to be part of the mythos, I think...

Also, well said, cCranium.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:38 PM on April 29, 2003


"Let the people pay "
posted by clavdivs at 5:14 PM on April 29, 2003


gleuschk, you're absolutely right, and I apologize for being too lazy to find the proper version. "Smotten" is definitely the Word. I throw myself upon the mercy of the Matt.
posted by languagehat at 5:16 PM on April 29, 2003


18:22
Then the Matt said, I will destroy this Site that I have built, for it
scaleth poorly and daily the users doth cry out against me.
18:23
Then y6y6y6 drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous
threads with the wicked?
18:24
Suppose there be five hundred righteous threads within the last year:
wilt thou also destroy and not spare the Site for the five hundred
righteous that are therein?
18:25
And the Matt said, If I find in MetaFilter five hundred righteous
threads, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
18:26
Then y6y6y6 came before the Matt again and said, Suppose there shall
lack fifty of the five hundred righteous threads: wilt thou destroy the
Site for lack of fifty? And He said, If I find there four hundred and
fifty, I will not destroy it.
posted by Galvatron at 8:06 PM on April 29, 2003


And the MATT said "Take it to MetaTalk."

And they were sore afraid.
posted by Vidiot at 8:35 PM on April 29, 2003


and for us jews:

"Why is this site different from all other sites?"
posted by amberglow at 9:55 PM on April 29, 2003


The wise newbie asks, "What is the meaning of the post and comment guidelines commanded by the Matt?" To him we explain every aspect of the site, down to the last detail, and direct him to the FAQ and the Wiki.

The wicked newbie distances himself from the site and asks, "Why should I follow some stupid rules?" We exclude him in the reply, saying "Go to plastic.com."

To the simple newbie, who just wonders, "What is this?" we say "It's a really cool place. Hang around and absorb."

And to the newbie who does not know how to ask a question, we snark him, saying, "Pancakes."
posted by languagehat at 10:18 AM on April 30, 2003


I admit that I'm primarily posting this because I like pancakes, but seriously how many times will this thread repeat itself? This is MeFi Deja Vu; it must happen every six months or a year or the universe goes out of balance. And Miguel still posts a thread a day, or it seems like it.
posted by norm at 8:25 AM on May 2, 2003


The fucking cat scan thing was brilliant at the time.

You are so fired.
posted by majcher at 11:24 PM on May 7, 2003


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