How do you find your MeFi time? May 9, 2004 10:46 PM   Subscribe

I can usually manage enough spare time to read and comment on a few threads a few times per week.
It occurred to me (while reading this MetaTalk thread) that other members must spend a much larger portion of their time here. Just out of curiosity are these folks unemployed or retired or are they spending a big chunk of their work-day here?
I'd also like to add a broader question: how many threads do other people tend to follow during whatever period they spend on MetaFilter?
posted by snarfodox to MetaFilter-Related at 10:46 PM (52 comments total)

[Originally composed as an Ask MetaFilter question, but probably better located in MetaTalk.]
posted by snarfodox at 10:47 PM on May 9, 2004

everyone here is really just quonsar and his multiple personalities, snarfdox.

I think you will find the answer varies. The frequent participants stay the same for periods of time and then they change. Some people are here every day all day for a period of time, and then disappear into the maw only to resurface a few weeks, months, or even years later.

Myself, I am self-employed. When I have the time, or especially when I am procrastinating, I read every thread and comment liberally. When life interferes, I don't.

Participation is dynamic. Think of it as a body of water that ebbs and flows. There are always some people who are here every day all day. When they leave, others magically appear.

He stopped crying. You have replaced him as it were. The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh. Let us not then speak ill of our generation, it is not any unhappier than its predecessors. Let us not speak well of it either. Let us not speak of it at all. It is true the population has increased. –Waiting for Godot
posted by madamjujujive at 11:55 PM on May 9, 2004

Ebb and flow. Some threads are just "click -- oh, neat" while others are more "dammit! I have to say something". For the latter, I'll often check back to see what others have written in response. This is one of the nice things about clicking on your username. You get a list of the last threads you posted in, so you can quickly jump to your last comment and see if anything's been added.

Then there are times I'll go for a few days without checking up, and when I finally get around to it there are 56 new threads with 981 new comments, in which case I'll just read the top few and forget about the ones I missed.

I have a job, which means I only get to check it in the morning and at night. OK, sometimes if I have free time at work I'll check to see what's going on.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:01 AM on May 10, 2004

ProcrastinationFilter, for me. I'm a PhD student who probably spends more time than he should in various parts of the Metafilter empire, but I try to keep it to my lunch time as much as possible (although that damned #mefi window always seems to be open on my desktop...)
posted by Jimbob at 12:12 AM on May 10, 2004

What, you have a 6 hour lunch time, Jimbob?

I imagine that the majority of the southern hemisphere MeFites are avoiding work, due to the time zone. Not that I would do such a thing, of course.

*hears footsteps behind him, quickly clicks to a tab in Firefox displaying the company web site, another excellent feature of the browser and the real inspiration for tabbed browsing*
posted by dg at 12:18 AM on May 10, 2004

I sometimes (ok, frequently) fear that Metafilter takes too much of my (extremely copious) online time away from making things, writing things, or looking at some of the amazing things other people are making or writing.

But, except for a couple of brief hiatuses (hiatii?) over the years, I keep coming back. Averaged over a given week, I probably spend 2 hours a day here. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Both at work (between teaching classes) and at home.

I should probably get out more. Maybe I will, if I buy a car this year.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:07 AM on May 10, 2004

I rarely follow threads in the blue; I am more interested in the links. I read the comments once, leave my own sometimes, and then never return.

However, in the gray... ;-P
posted by mischief at 2:10 AM on May 10, 2004

I really, really, really think that the issue whether or not a user is employed is, really, not anybody's business here.
posted by matteo at 3:44 AM on May 10, 2004

From which we can infer that matteo is either unemployed or earns the bulk of his paycheck while on MeFi.
posted by mischief at 4:30 AM on May 10, 2004

Yeah, this smacks of the condescending "you have too much time on your hands." The implication here is that if one spends more time crafting responses than snarfodox, it's somehow too much time.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:31 AM on May 10, 2004

I'll answer your question in my week-long Flash opera "La vie bleue". It's a tragedy.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:48 AM on May 10, 2004

This thread seems like another cheap opportunity to pick on Ethereal Bligh; not only is that dead horse beaten to death but I'm not sure why he's such a target in the first place.

To answer the question - I spend the time here that others spend on Quake, solitaire, or reality TV. I think snarfodox is unfairly assuming that most of us carry on these same vices and read Metafilter; in reality my addictions are finely honed.

Metafilter has also made me a better writer. Everything that goes into the little typing rectangle is edited and re-edited before it goes public. I use Mefi to try to sound smarter than I really am. That's invaluable preparation for law school exams.
posted by PrinceValium at 5:33 AM on May 10, 2004

I think snarfodox is unfairly assuming that most of us carry on these same vices and read Metafilter; in reality my addictions are finely honed.

That's actually a very astute conclusion you draw. I probably spend a couple hours a day on MeFi, but I only watch about 2 hours of TV a week. I wonder what the MeFi :: TV ratio is for some of the more active posters.

You'll make a fine lawyer.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:45 AM on May 10, 2004

Yes, somehow the "you're wrong. no you're wrong!" slogan does seem appropriate in a legal context.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 6:45 AM on May 10, 2004

".....I wonder what the MeFi :: TV ratio is for some of the more active posters." - I'm trying to think of the last time I watched TV. I've banished my TV to a storeroom in my house. I guess I'd rather watch other things. Like birds, or trees, or bugs crawling around. [ I don't see this as some sort of moral issue - and there is a lot of excellent TV - but I can't force myself to endure TV advertising ] So, for me, I'd guess that ratio is around 1,000/1 . As for Metafilter, well - I think I've spent too much time here in the last year and a half. But, as a hard core poster, I'd say (of myself and anyone else with a contribution index of 3.0 and above) : we all have our own reasons, our unique motivations, our distinct profiles and life situations.

Like snowflakes, .....or colorfully marked scuttling crustaceans, screaming baboons, fish executing complicated courtship displays...
posted by troutfishing at 7:46 AM on May 10, 2004

*hoists a glass of port to Miguel, who's slipped all the way down to #5*
posted by languagehat at 8:35 AM on May 10, 2004

Well I don't have a telly but I still spend a fair portion of the working day here. I'm not going to waste my own time now am I? What kind of fool gets a job where they can't skive off on the interweb?
posted by biffa at 8:53 AM on May 10, 2004

For me, it really has to do with what I'm doing for work. I used to spend much more time here when I was an editor and was at a computer all day, and when I could complete a week's worth of work in a day and a half.

Now, I'm rarely in front of my own puter during the week.
posted by adampsyche at 9:04 AM on May 10, 2004

Self-employed, procrastinating, don't watch TV, don't practice guitar nearly enough, don't have any yardwork or house renovations = plenty of MeFi time.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:06 AM on May 10, 2004

This question reminds me of the ad hominem red herring often used in threads when someone accuses another (who has likely "scored a point" on him) of not having a life.

I don't infer snarfdox's post as in the same nasty spirit, but I do sense some condescension. Isn't it obvious that MeFi times ebbs and floes for most users?

(Lack of ) employment is a touchy business, and really doesn't bear on the matter of computer time in my experience. Also, I think this belongs in the green.
posted by squirrel at 10:33 AM on May 10, 2004

Ethereal Bligh writes lengthy posts. Has Miguel-like complex prose and drops such words as "prolixity". He is now at the point of no return. That is he stays, ignores criticism and within a month or so becomes an established Metafilter celebrity (see: quonsor) or falls out into oblivion because of the metafilter hazing (see: Carol Anne*). It'd be a lot easier if we could just paddle

*Apologizing in advance if there was more heinous things going on behind the threads I didn't know of. Only example I could come up with. It guilted me into stop giving members childish nicknames with the exception of "fathowie" hahahahaha gym class sucks :(
posted by geoff. at 10:41 AM on May 10, 2004

They just read faster than you.
posted by smackfu at 10:44 AM on May 10, 2004

Carol Anne was/is cool. I was bummed when she left.

I go in phases of intense mefi usage...there was a year of so there where I just didn't want to dedicate the time to it. I have trouble getting involved in a discussion without seeing it through to the end. But I suspect that in the not-so-distant future, I will enter another period of non-activity.
posted by bingo at 11:12 AM on May 10, 2004 [1 favorite]

I rarely watch TV but usually spend about an hour a day on Metafilter (though I rarely comment/post). Sometimes, I read it at work while transfering files to portable harddrives and the like, but I don't normally have internet access at work.
posted by drezdn at 11:36 AM on May 10, 2004

"Has Miguel-like complex prose and drops such words as 'prolixity'.—geoff.
Alanironically, it was Quinbus Flestrin who used the word prolixity, meaning "vain, boring verbosity", while referring to my econ comments.

It seems to me that Snarfodox felt that his veiled swipe was insufficient and that a full-blown MeTa post (link to swipe) would better serve his purposes. But I could be jumping to conclusions. The question may be completely in earnest and well-intentioned.

For those who might care, I haven't worked in several years and I spend most of my waking hours at my computer. Initially, I was able to stop working because of dotcom money (poof! half evaporated, half was spent); more recently, however, I'm disabled and don't work, and am mostly a shut-in due to a genetic bone disease that makes it difficult for me to walk much or be very active at all. Thanks for asking.1

I'm more than somewhat embarrassed by my MeFi Contribution Index.

1 Over Christmas when I was waiting in an airport security line, this adorable and (obviously) outgoing little-girl, maybe five or six, fidgeted in front me. She turned and looked at me and my cane, noticed that I don't look like an elderly person (thank god), and asked me, "What happened?" It was one part childish concern, and one part childish curiosity. I thought it was charming. I told her, "Well, I just have a lot of trouble walking around these days." I added, "Thanks for asking!" She replied, "You're welcome." She was so adorable. She single-handedly made that day a lot more tolerable. Have I mentioned that I don't have any children but I wish I did?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:53 AM on May 10, 2004

Ethereal Bligh: What does alanironically mean? I did a Google search to bring up a definition. There's no definition and only one search result, from an earlier MeFi post of yours.
posted by Gyan at 12:25 PM on May 10, 2004

Ironically in the popularized Alanis Morrisette "Ironic" sense?
posted by rafter at 1:03 PM on May 10, 2004

Sorry. It's a (too precious) neologism of mine. Remember how everyone (well, lots of people) ridiculed Alanis Morissette's song Ironic for her incorrect usage of the word? Well, that incorrect usage is pretty useful, I think. But ironic's traditional meaning is important and useful, too, and I don't want to contribute to its dilution So, I coined this light-hearted neologism.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:06 PM on May 10, 2004

Currently unemployed, but I spent more time here when I was working.
posted by scarabic at 2:23 PM on May 10, 2004

On the Alanironic note: I heard a definition of "funny" one time that I think fits every image in that song.

"Funny means: an appropriate inappropriateness."

Inappropriate, as in rain is poor weather for a wedding. Appropriate as in "it figures," since the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. Funny, not ironic. Perhaps darkly funny, or bitterly so. But there's no double-entendre or opposition between literal and figurative meanings (as legion have pointed out).

So basically: I always thought the name of that song should have been "Isn't it funny?"
posted by scarabic at 2:30 PM on May 10, 2004

Metafilter is 100% ProcrastinationFilter for me. The amount of time I spend here is in direct relation to how horrible the task I really should be doing is. For example, right now I should be giving my cat a flea bath, and I have been at Metafilter for an hour trying to avoid the fact that there really, REALLY should be a howling, screaming, clawing and irate cat in my kitchen sink as well as a bunch of dead fleas.

I figure I'll probably be clicking links here for another hour before the cat ends up in the sink. :D
posted by Orb at 2:45 PM on May 10, 2004

*... who's slipped all the way down to #5*

it's not that hard, frankly: since Matt re-opened the floodgates a few weeks ago, the contribution index thing has become almost useless unless one considers the damn user numbers. frankly, how hard can it be to have an index of 6 when you've been here only 50 days? try having a 4 or higher after you've been on MeFi 3 or 4 years. then I'll be impressed

ps EBligh, I like your stuff, but "alanironically" is unsufferable. really
posted by matteo at 2:49 PM on May 10, 2004

I'm with ya, Orb. My laundry is stacked up by the front door, ready to go. Has been for 2 hours now.
posted by scarabic at 2:50 PM on May 10, 2004

I'm more than somewhat embarrassed by my MeFi Contribution Index.

the index is heavily skewed toward short timers. large number of posts divided by small number of days = high score. if you're still up there in a year, you're allowed to feel shame, but you must never, ever show it. :-)
posted by quonsar at 3:19 PM on May 10, 2004

Obfuscating, though accurate, language in overly wordy length is eblightedly difficult to read.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:51 PM on May 10, 2004

Ethereal Bligh, my questions are always earnest. I honestly want to hear answers or replies to my comments. I don't really have an agenda here beyond having a stimulating asynchronous conversation. Any swipe would merely lead to potential interlocutors being less likely to respond to my comments and questions in the future.

I generally wouldn't want my questions to be perceived as attacking anyone, but I'm pathologically curious, so I try to frame those questions that I understand to be socially delicate quite carefully. In this case perhaps I failed to be careful enough. No condescension is intended and I'm sorry if you took the question to be a swipe. Sometimes the way I frame a post can be socially awkward. I apologise if this thread has offended you, but as discussed in previous threads, I have certain issues.

I am, in fact, honestly interested. I find the timestamps on your comments in particular to follow a fascinating pattern, which implies interesting questions about where you're coming from. If any of my question make anyone uncomfortable I won't take offence if they tell me to back off. Or back the hell off. Or whatever.

Thank you for your honesty, particularly because I think you assumed that I might have asked my question as a swipe. Please don't be embarrassed by the relative magnitude or frequency of your contributions. Lately you've been a draw to this community, especially for me.

More broadly thank you to everyone else who commented, including those who drew my attention to the social awkwardness of the subject matter. I'm not sure that I agree that one's employment, or lack thereof should somehow be a forbidden topic.
posted by snarfodox at 3:58 PM on May 10, 2004


posted by quonsar at 3:59 PM on May 10, 2004

I tend to visit the site much more frequently than I comment, and I get irritated when a) it is down, for any short length of time, and b) on weekends, when there are less posts. If I'm bored, and want something interesting to read, I turn to MeFi. More guilty pleasure than anything, I suppose.

Also, I wish to vote in favor of eblighting posts. As long as it doesn't get out of hand. "quonsaring a post" would be the equivalent of streaking through a live news broadcast. Farting included, of course.
posted by graventy at 5:47 PM on May 10, 2004

I was as delighted as q by "eblightedly." Seriously, though: Ethereal Bligh, although you could stand to practice a little self-editing, you're a credit to the community and an argument for (careful) opening of the gates. Don't get too embarrassed.
posted by languagehat at 6:47 PM on May 10, 2004

"I was as delighted as q by "eblightedly."

does it mean that you were "as eblighted as q"?
posted by matteo at 7:45 PM on May 10, 2004

My jobs for the past 5 years have all had broadband connections. I comment here to avoid work and create a facade of a life to impres my co-workers. The first half of my pplan has succeded in grand fashion. The second part,not so much.
posted by jonmc at 8:01 PM on May 10, 2004

squirrel> Isn't it obvious that MeFi times ebbs and floes for most users?

Why isn’t obvious. The comments left here that refer to a reduction in television viewing time (thanks to troutfishing) are interesting. That means that there is also media replacement going on, which is something that I hadn’t considered in phrasing my original question.
posted by snarfodox at 8:36 PM on May 10, 2004

I come here whenever I'm overcome by a strange desire to have my reading and writing bite back.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:03 PM on May 10, 2004

Snarfodox, I share your interest in the users' myriad approaches to MetaFilter. I didn't mean to imply that referring to (un)employment is forbidden, only that it's touchy, and that this might account for some of the scoffing that has appeared here.

On the edge of my mind is a three-dimensional graphic with an axis for time, and axis for energy and an axis for... um... pancakes? This diagram would help us all understand the convergence of forces through with users negotiate the role MetaFilter plays in their lives.
posted by squirrel at 9:42 PM on May 10, 2004

I don't have too much time, I just manage my time really, really badly. When I flunk out of college because I've wasted so much time on sites like MeFi, then I'll have too much time.
posted by Grod at 10:31 PM on May 10, 2004

Sorry: that should be props to PrinceValium & Civil_Disobedient for developing the media replacement thread trajectory.
Also, I should acknowledge that I've sat through theatre far worse than anything Pretty_Generic's "La vie bleue" could possibly serve up. Bring it on.
posted by snarfodox at 12:52 AM on May 11, 2004

snarfodox - For my part, I'm not actually indicative of a trend (or maybe I'm an advance forerunner) :

I dropped TV watching decades ago, and I have that to blame on a scholarship to prep school which brutally deprived me of my time for obsessive-compulsive hobbies - such as tromping through swamps in search of carnivorous plants, perusing pictures of human Iron-Age bodies preserved in Danish bogs, eating quarter-pound sticks of butter with mini-shredded wheat whilst reading "The Lord of the Rings" or science fiction, learning my own version of Shakuhachi-flute, or consuming whole one-pound bags of carrots every day after school while watching "Speed Racer" until I turned actually orange from all the Beta-Carotene.

I no longer had the time, and the first thing to go was my TV watching. I really never went back.

But - to answer your question (and I bet you know this already, but if not), recent research does suggest a tradeoff between Internet time and TV time.

Grod - Nobody has too much time - believe me. But flunking out for Metafilter might make less happy in the future.
posted by troutfishing at 9:29 AM on May 11, 2004


awesome !

i'm self employed and only have to work a few months of the year, spread out as single or multi weeks at a time, and when i'm at work i have a lot of waiting around to do, so all that affords me copious amounts of MefiTime. sometimes i'll disappear/not read or comment for a week at a time or even a year at a time, just because real life gets too busy. uhm, yes, basically what madamjujujive said.

*bounces with glee at seeing mjjj and waves excitedly*
posted by t r a c y at 11:14 AM on May 11, 2004

*mjjj waves back at tracy, does a little dance, begins mixing a pitcher of margartias*
posted by madamjujujive at 6:19 PM on May 11, 2004

I used to hang around a lot more. Now I only show up for margaritas.
posted by yhbc at 7:08 PM on May 11, 2004

Am I late for the party? Any margaritas left? Can I be eblighted too?
posted by wendell at 8:15 PM on May 11, 2004

wendell, we are taking applications for cabana boy since planetkyoto will be needing to take the summer off.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:19 PM on May 11, 2004

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