spawn-of-metafilter advice site August 4, 2003 6:30 AM   Subscribe

How about a spawn-of-metafilter advice site? A site where mefites can go to give and get advice and suggestions regarding life's conundrums - technical, personal, financial, etc.? Most of us know a thing or two about something or the other, and most of us need a hand (or a shoulder, or other assorted body parts) on occasion. Who you gonna call?

Do any of you "philter" people have the inclination and bandwidth for an idea like this (Wendell? Metalifter?)? Would any of the rest of you participate? And... did I just commit metacide?
posted by taz (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 6:30 AM (34 comments total)

Thanks, stavros (and, boy, are you fast!); it looks like there was a lot of interest in this in 2001. I was thinking that the recent advent of the whole "philter" thing might make it easier to actually realize such an idea at this point.
posted by taz at 7:02 AM on August 4, 2003

The most recent (June, 2003) talk on this did not go far.
posted by sailormouth at 7:14 AM on August 4, 2003

Actually, wouldn't BlogRoots cover a lot of the technical side of this sort of site?

Matt, any chance you'll be adding an AskMeta feature to the MeFi empire?
posted by bshort at 8:09 AM on August 4, 2003 ain't a bad place for these sorts of things, though it's a "savings" site. There's a finance section as well as other boards. FatWallet has a really diverse community, so the breadth of knowldege can sometimes be surprising.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:37 AM on August 4, 2003

One problem (if Matt doesn't do it) is getting a dump of the MeFi user/password list. Without that everyone would have to register again at the new site. And you'd have to trust that everyone wouldn't steal someone else's username. And it would be impossible to keep out non-MeFi users.

Pretty cool idea apart from that big gaping hole.

One of the nice things about MetaFilter is the closed nature. That makes it more community and less Usenet. Which in turn makes the potential advice more valuable.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:55 AM on August 4, 2003

There are a number of extra-curricular mefi groups out there. One of which is the Metafilter tribe over at and we're discussing it here.

y6y6y6: I can't imagine that any solution would not require an additional sign in... as for policing, it's easy enough to do, especially in a moderated group.
posted by silusGROK at 1:10 PM on August 4, 2003

Would anyone be interested in having a new MetaTalk topic where we could ask advice and opinions of each other?

Hey, one of mine from before I became evil!
posted by thirteen at 1:50 PM on August 4, 2003

most of us need a hand (or a shoulder, or other assorted body parts)
So, could we sign up for specific body parts of our favourite MeFite, or is it all just random?

This would be an interesting feature, but would require a great deal of trust from all concerned. People are already worried that a future (or potential, or current) employer could track down their deep, dark secrets as it is, without asking for advice on anything important to them in a public forum. Maybe it would work for providing advice on tech issues or other impersonal matters, but that is available in umpteen dozen places already. Personally, I would probably use it for this, being too lazy to search the nooks and crannies of the web for help, due mainly to having done that and finding that the quality of advice available is spotty at best.

Really though, this is kind of like the "how many real users are there here?" thing. It holds a little bit of interest to some, a lot to a few and most just go "meh, whatever". At the end of the day, would it add to the community that is MeFi, or would it just be another place to whine?
posted by dg at 3:24 PM on August 4, 2003

I don't want any of you giving me advice.
posted by Hildago at 3:40 PM on August 4, 2003

But Hildalgo... you just cry out for it!
posted by silusGROK at 3:56 PM on August 4, 2003

You sound just like my state-mandated psychologist.
posted by Hildago at 4:32 PM on August 4, 2003

meh, whatever

Boy, dg, wait until you think something would be cool.
posted by timeistight at 5:07 PM on August 4, 2003

wait until you think something would be cool.
I do think it would be cool, actually. I doubt that many others would, though.
posted by dg at 5:20 PM on August 4, 2003

I just kidding around, dg. I'm bored with the idea already.
posted by timeistight at 5:39 PM on August 4, 2003

I've been thinking on this since the last MeTa thread & was gearing up to do a follow up so thanks to taz & stav.

As has been already mentioned, the key to Meta- over Everyotherfilter, is the community/user base.The 'problem' I see with the other 'filters/Wiki's/TRIBEs &c. is that they are independent spinoffs from MeFi. For a KnoFi or AsFi (I like the sound of that. Ass-Fi. *hurh* hurh*) to work as well as MeFi & MeTa do, it has to be a part of the blue/grey.

Coding-wise (and I'm about to expose my total lack of knowledge regarding the way MeFi is coded!) I'm guessing that it's a case of adding an MetaKnowledge section based on a similar structure to MeTa. Not sure on bandwidth/server requirements - important points tho'. Host elsewhere? Funding drive for kit? &c.

The bottom line is down to Matt wanting it to be so. Or what it takes to persuade him (dosh, time, dancing boys/girls, Pacific island &c.).

Personally, I think AsFi would be a good addition to the community and would be willing to pony up cash &/or some time to organise. Is this something that could be developed on the MeFi Wiki?

Just my 2.5 cents.
posted by i_cola at 6:07 AM on August 5, 2003

Matt's previous objection to this idea was that it would soon be overrun by crack-whores or somesuch, because he would ignore it. I don't think anything has magically happened to change his mind, so am guessing it's a non-starter. If a bolt of lightning should now strike me down on the spot, then you will know I have blasphemed.
posted by walrus at 6:42 AM on August 5, 2003


Oh, shit.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:46 AM on August 5, 2003

Nah, still OUCH...........
posted by walrus at 7:17 AM on August 5, 2003

walrus: In them days [Jan '01] signups were free 'n' easy so I can see his point.

walrus ?

posted by i_cola at 7:25 AM on August 5, 2003

Isn't this different from the earlier suggestions in that it would be a separate site, presumably maintained by someone else, like SportsFilter or KittenFilter?
posted by moss at 1:27 PM on August 5, 2003

FilterFilter: Nothing Gets Through This Shit
posted by quonsar at 1:41 PM on August 5, 2003

The big stumbling block with this idea, which I think would be a great resource, is that it needs to be tied to the MeFi user database to avoid being overrun by crack whores and teenage girls. Exclusionist? Yes. Is that bad? I don't think so.

Is it possible to use something like MetaPhilter and still use the MeFi database to validate users?
posted by dg at 3:52 PM on August 5, 2003

What might be fun is if Matt picked a particularly interesting question, say one a week, and posted it for the group to blather on about. It would not be that much extra moderation work for him, the questions would presumably be high quality (mm, that Mathowie filter action), and they could be anonymized if necessary since they're going through Matt anyway.

Or Matt could designate somebody, or a rotating crew of somebodies, to select the question and moderate the answers. All this could be done within the existing MeTa codebase, seems to me.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:09 PM on August 5, 2003

"The big stumbling block with this idea is that it needs to be tied to the MeFi user database"

Again, I agree. And if we could get around that (and I don't think having Matt pass out the user database would be a good idea) I'd be happy to write and host it myself. Especially since there seems to be a clamor lately for a "MeFi Overflow" website.

However.......... We've been ignoring another stumbling block - This sort of thing already exists and either it doesn't get used, or it gets ignored by the people who keep clamoring for it.

WarFilter was suppose to be an overflow for the Iraq posts. But of course it hasn't put a dent in the Iraq posts here. In fact WarFi members will bring the good stuff from WarFilter over and post it here.

#mefi would be a good overflow. But it doesn't seem to fill the need.

The forums over at MFDistilled are open for whatever people want to babble about. But they don't get used much. Same for Yahoo Groups, etc etc.

My point is that if Matt doesn't build it, they won't come. People ask for an overflow, but they don't use the ones that already exist.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:38 PM on August 5, 2003

Probably true, y63.
posted by dg at 5:15 PM on August 5, 2003

"Is it possible to use something like MetaPhilter and still use the MeFi database to validate users?"

Probably. I've never done it in SQL Server, but in MySQL it's fairly easy to create a user account to the database that can be granted read-only access to specific tables from a remote server. So, in theory, Matt could let other sites athenticate people using his database.

But of course this is a big ol' can o' worms, and if someone asked me to let them do it I would laugh and beat them out the door with flounder.

So yes, it should be straight forward. Don't hold your breath.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:52 PM on August 5, 2003

Yep, this is The Network Effect in action.

No one wants to go to an overflow site because no one posts at an overflow site.
No one posts because no one hangs out at an overflow site.

Rinse, etc.

It seems like a nice addition to The Metafilter Network would be a MeFi validation feature that would enable affiliate sites to have the ability to authenticate a MeFi user through some sort of mechanism (form submission, cookie hash, XML-RPC, etc.).

That way, a MeFi login could be a login for a variety of other 'Filters. Users would have one login, reputations and usernames (for better or for worse) would span sites, etc.

Of course Skippy would most likely need to be cloned, and there would have to be ponies for everyone...
posted by bshort at 9:28 PM on August 5, 2003

y6, I think Sportsfilter is doing well, though... The thing with something like Warfilter is that people can just as well post the war stuff here. But we definitely can't make posts asking for any kind of help or advice, so maybe it has more of a chance of working out.

Regarding the Mefi database, assuming that we need to rule out any kind of direct access, that would leave straightforward signups or signups with approval. Let's say that signup approval consisted of simply checking the applicant email against the Mefi user page email. I will assume that this is not something that could be automated, so that would require a volunteer/some volunteers. Is there a way that more than one volunteer could work with this? Anyway, if it turns out that you wanted to do this, I would volunteer for signup approval duty...

More importantly, though, remains the basis of your concern: is there enough interest to make efforts worthwhile? I don't know. All I know is that there have been very many occasions when I would have loved to ask for help or advice from this group, and it seems that a lot of others feel the same way. But, is there enough motivation to go offsite to do it?
posted by taz at 10:49 PM on August 5, 2003

"a MeFi validation feature that would enable affiliate sites to have the ability to authenticate a MeFi user"

This would be very nice. It would let others build and maintain tools which could be used by the community. And with no added work for Matt.

Not sure how such a validation tool would be built in reality though. I suggest someone build a working demo. Someone else I mean.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:31 PM on August 5, 2003

I second the motion that someone else do it. I will certainly make use of it if someone does. I have a server with some space and some bandwidth if someone would care to donate a domain. Would the budding community from serve the purpose, though? It does not use the MeFi user database, although manual validation is done of MeFi usernames. apart from the fact that we have ended up with way too many miguels and toms that are certainly going to make things complicated.
posted by dg at 4:49 AM on August 6, 2003

I really think this would be interesting to try (and I might be interested in participating myself...)... good ideas all....
posted by plep at 9:44 AM on August 6, 2003

(also to answer your question taz - speaking personally, I'd be interested in going offsite to do this).
posted by plep at 9:47 AM on August 6, 2003

If anybody wants to use for this (or anything), feel free to contact me at my userpage e-mail, if I'm not in a hospital room with heart monitors and no computers allowed... sigh..)
posted by wendell at 2:19 AM on August 7, 2003

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