What if Matt froze users at 10,000? May 13, 2001 2:08 PM   Subscribe

What if Matt freezed users at 10k? Would it help calm things down a bit?
posted by briank to MetaFilter-Related at 2:08 PM (30 comments total)

I notice that the user tally is just shy of 8000 users right now, and at the rate people have been registering, 10,000 is not all that far off.

Meanwhile, there's been an outbreak of bad manners, blatant trolling, thread hijiacking, and every other kind of behavior that usually spells the beginning of the end for meaningful dialog on web community sites.

What if Matt just stopped at 10,000 users for a little while? Wouldn't have to be forever, maybe just for a couple of weeks. Tell people they can sign up but that no new registrations will be accepted for a short time.

I think it could have a couple of effects -- interested people would keep coming back and hopefully might take more time to read the ongoing conversation so that they would have a better sense of the "rules of the road". This also implies that the people who show up just to throw bombs might get bored and go away.

I posted this here because I don't think it's strictly a question of etiquette. I think that the future of MeFi as any kind of worthwhile community has really been pushed to the brink in the last couple of months. Obviously sites can go on forever even after they become flamepits, but is that what anyone really wants?
posted by briank at 2:18 PM on May 13, 2001

Why would they stick around just to maybe join a community that they just might possibly at some point in the future actually get to join?

I'm not sure you can blame it all on new people coming in. (the following is just a guess) I bet you get the same percentage of good people/bad people/etc. etc. whether you have 1000 users or 10,000. It's just the higher you go, the more of the trolls there are numerically.

I'm sure Matt has been thinking about all of this, but communities tend to police themselves. The toolset that enables you to do this is given to you by the owner of the site. Right now you're able to look at user's profiles to drop them a note when things get out of hand, or respond to them publicly. Other systems (Slashdot, Plastic) allow you to moderate up and down to filter what you even see in the first place, allowing you to see what the moderators of the community felt was valuable.

I'm not sure there IS an answer to people's current complaints. I think there will always be trolls, goofy threads, out of hand people, wackos, etc. I don't think you can stop that. Just because WE want an idealized community with elegant discussions on string theory and blah blah blah doesn't make it happen.

I've really been hestitating on commenting on all of this, because despite being a member for a year or so, I never post and rarely comment. Most of my commenting is just to take the piss or deflate a mean spirited conversation (see: playing tic tac toe with Jon Twernt during a way overheated discussion where people, through some sort of loopy logic, began advocating murdering people for stealing things).

Anyway, I decided to comment because the hand wringing was just getting insane. "How do we fix our little virtual ant farm?" While metafilter is a neat and cool place, it can't divorce itself from the people that create it's content (see: Autopoiesis). Closing the gates = no fun. No new voices in, etc.

It also doesn't seem to be new users that cause the problem (wholly). While not a conservative, I have seen anyone who types in anything vaguely right wing getting trashed to shit in these forums. Not that I'm crying to sleep over it. Anyway, I don't think this community has decided what good conversation is and isn't. Sometimes good conversation IS heated. Notice (and this is no knock on Matt in any way at all) that we have Link guidelines but no Commenting guidelines?

I admire the fact that Matt has kept Metafilter relatively "tool" free. I like how open ended the site is. I'm glad I don't have to shift through moderated responses and threads within threads.

Anyway.. to sum up: I'm not sure I see the problem. In the 15 months or so I've been coming here on a near daily basis I haven't really seen this massive shift everyone is talking about. More links per day, more comments, but not a really bad turn. Hell, half of you have been bugnuts since the day I started reading and post inane comments that make me want to throw my monitor through a window. But if every post was just agreeing with each other, the site would suck. More users = more dorks + more good people. You're not going to change that, IMO.
posted by jbeaumont at 3:47 PM on May 13, 2001

Matt could set it up so that ppl can be voted off. Sort of like survivor etc.
posted by greyscale at 5:44 PM on May 13, 2001

Most of the users just browse so I don't see the problem. if someone really makes trouble, they will get banned. Its happened before.
posted by john at 6:02 PM on May 13, 2001

Greyscale, I can think of nothing that could destroy MetaFilter faster or more efficiently.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:36 PM on May 13, 2001

Briank, wouldn't it have sucked if matt did that at #1950?
posted by Doug at 8:40 PM on May 13, 2001

I can think of something that could destroy mefi more efficiently! How about saying the following in a thread:

Does anyone remember the happier days here at MeFi, before the blood-thirsty ignorants found it?

And then maybe moving the discussion to metalk where I can say:

Is intelligent debate suffering from an influx of "mainstream" users?

Because, apparently, calling everyone "blood-thirsty ignorants" is "intelligent debate."

I know this is coming dangerously close to a troll, or it is one already, but I still think 99% of the problem is the attitude people have here. Your precious community has names you don't recognize, or ideas you don't like, or (heaven forbid!) someone posted a bad link, or even worse stole someone's design and you guys flip out on them.

Lighten up, the world isn't ending because someone is putting their finger in your little virtual honeypot.
posted by jbeaumont at 8:46 PM on May 13, 2001

I think things are fine. Someone just seems to have beaten you folks with the cranky stick.

This same topic, with the same comments has come up every month for the last year.

It's fine.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:58 PM on May 13, 2001

There's always room for one more really great community member. Capping membership would sort of suck. That would mean that we were stuck with those who we already have... ;-)

Killfiles would be nifty...
posted by fooljay at 1:48 AM on May 14, 2001

<heartfelt cry to mathowie>

Prune inactive users. (anyone who hasn't logged in for 6 months) Recycle their ID#s. End this numerical pissing contest now.

</heartfelt cry>
posted by darukaru at 3:21 AM on May 14, 2001

*laughs* you know, i just love mefi! even here you guys are having a polite intelligent discussion about having polite intelligent discussions (or the percieved lack thereof)
just remember that you guys were newbies once, too, and the one voice you might exclude by capping might just be the very voice you want to hear...... ;-)

posted by cakefork at 4:27 AM on May 14, 2001

"End this numerical pissing contest now."

How about getting rid of the member numbers all together? Send people to the user profile page using a random string instead of their row number in the database. Get rid of the "Member since...."

Isn't the quality of discourse what's important? Doesn't the "old timers picking on newbies" debate come up way too often?

Why do we need to know who was here longer?
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:14 AM on May 14, 2001

Briank, wouldn't it have sucked if matt did that at #1950?

No, not really. If I was interested, I would have waited it out, and if not I would have gone on my merry way. No big deal.

It's just a website. I've joined and left several different online communities over the years, and while I have enjoyed this one, it wouldn't be the end of my world if I couldn't have joined in the first place. And if the discourse here gets to a point that I find unacceptable, I'll just leave this one, too.

I think the low vs. high user number thing is just a red herring. Clearly there are people with high numbers who have turned out to be great posters just as there are people with low numbers who suck. The issue is that as the number of people joining increases, the less likely it is that they are taking the time to get a good grasp of the discourse before jumping in.

What I was getting at was more a way to pour some oil on the waters by enforcing a cool-off.
posted by briank at 1:08 PM on May 14, 2001

How about we just have Month Without Metafilter in July or August? mathowie can take the site down, work on fixing bugs/adding features without having to worry about being the Den Mother, and we can all go to the beach and get tan, or something. And then see how many people remember to come back the next month.
posted by darukaru at 2:33 PM on May 14, 2001

Oh, and when we come back, we should all post about what we did on our summer vacations.
posted by darukaru at 2:36 PM on May 14, 2001

Your precious community has names you don't recognize, or ideas you don't like, or (heaven forbid!) someone posted a bad link, or even worse stole someone's design and you guys flip out on them.

Lighten up, the world isn't ending because someone is putting their finger in your little virtual honeypot

That is soooooooo true, thanks for saying it JBeaumont.
posted by PatMcGroin at 3:51 PM on May 14, 2001

It's not such a big deal. This kind of dicussion just illustrates how much of a microcosm MeFi really is - the older members of the community muttering about "Dang whippersnappers with no respect for their elders. Always running around shouting and being rude" whereas the new kids on the block are jumping up and down excitedly, eager to play with their big, shiny, new toy as much as possible (no matter if it pisses someone off).

There's a reason older members deserve some respect: accumulated wisdom (hopefully). After all, surely newbies are first attracted here by the quality of discussion?

As for new blood? Well, I believe the need for that's already been covered in this thread.
posted by MUD at 4:29 PM on May 14, 2001

Not all older members are doing that though. In fact, most older members shrug and move on, because they've heard this discussion so many times before. In fact, check out the numbers on this discussion--most of the sub-1000 people are saying "no big deal." And lots of the "newbies" are in fact veterans of years of similar forums (fora?) and are newbies in name, or rather number, only.

One or two days of heated discussion is a blip. Last week, this place was great. Next week it will be great too, or the week after that.
posted by rodii at 4:35 PM on May 14, 2001

That is soooooooo true

You really are only 15 years old, aren't you, Pat? All the warning signs are there. Complaining about 'censorship' when someone disagrees with you, bitching about how mean and unfair the community is because it doesn't instantly recognize your brilliance, trying to hide behind the mantle of 'humor' when you say something inflammatory (and complaining about how no one gets your "jokes"), posting a 'me too' when someone says the thing you didn't have the guts to say yourself...
posted by darukaru at 5:39 PM on May 14, 2001

Darukaru, I thought we all sort of made a silent agreement to ignore Pat?
posted by Doug at 8:41 PM on May 14, 2001

greyscale you're too funny. :)
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 9:07 PM on May 14, 2001

I hope everyone noticed that I said "in fact" 3 sentences in a row back there. Consider me made fun of. :|
posted by rodii at 9:08 PM on May 14, 2001

How about we just have Month Without Metafilter in July or August?

I was just going to say that. No, really.

Let MeFi go away for a while (I would say two months), do maintenance, let people cool down and forget about it for a while, and quitely put it up later at an unspecifed date and see who comes back. Might get rid of those who are only half-interested. Or it might not. At least we could go for a month or so without this thread popping up again.
posted by Hackworth at 11:29 PM on May 14, 2001

How about we just have Month Without Metafilter in July or August?

LA Times - July 1, 2001

Area man owillis was heard muttering "Mefi, mefi, where's my mefi?" as he opened fire and mowed down several people, ironically at the local meeting of the NRA. He also shouted - "Matthowie shut it all down! It's all gone, why metafilter go bye-bye? Why?"

Needless to say, I would like Mefi to stay on the air. Wait out the newbies, they'll learn.
posted by owillis at 11:53 PM on May 14, 2001

Matt should really just yank down the member total on the home page. Save him a lot of headaches as people glance at that number and wander into MetaTalk to bitch about what is basically a non-issue.

Yogi Berra would love this place.
posted by werty at 7:02 AM on May 15, 2001

Cutting down on new memberships, voting out condemned trolls, heads rolling... None a real solution.

Still a problem does exist. Do you think that a limit of say, two posts per thread, would force us to think harder before we press that button? We could state our position, have it taken apart piece by piece by everyone else, and get one last chance at redemption. Blow that one, too bad. Maybe a measure like this could elevate the quality of thinking a little bit. No?
posted by tremendo at 11:13 AM on May 15, 2001

Is it just me, or does PatMcGroin remind you a lot of ImAlwaysRight? However, I may be wrong... maybe "Mike Allen" is just a really common name.
posted by TractorInc at 11:19 AM on May 15, 2001

I think if Matt were to freeze new users at 10 Kelvins, they'd probably die.
posted by kindall at 5:34 PM on May 15, 2001

If we freeze at 10K users, I see the looming business model. Someone will register AfterMeFi.com in order to auction off the precious low numbered logons to eager debaters and Pat McGroin types alike.
posted by machaus at 1:44 PM on May 16, 2001

What happened when similar situations hit the Well? What can be learned from their pain and pleasure?
posted by Brilliantcrank at 9:09 PM on May 16, 2001

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