Ads on MetaFilter. June 1, 2004 5:53 PM   Subscribe

A thousand dollars? Are you serious?
posted by reklaw to MetaFilter-Related at 5:53 PM (255 comments total)

You buy it out this month, reklaw. I got next.
posted by scarabic at 5:59 PM on June 1, 2004


Does Matt need the money? I thought Metafilter was already fairly self-sustaining, with the textads and the google ads, and whatnot..?
posted by Hildago at 6:02 PM on June 1, 2004


$33.33 per day, with thousands of unique pairs of eyeballs (or in eyeballkid's case, multi-pairs of eyeballs) viewing it for 30 days. Sounds like a good deal to me.
posted by riffola at 6:02 PM on June 1, 2004


only 1000?!!

hell. i'll take 2.
posted by Stynxno at 6:04 PM on June 1, 2004


It's less than 1/4 the price of ads on gawker sites. I'm just fishing around to see if any companies will take me up on it. If not, the register to vote thing will stay or I'll think of something more interesting to put there.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:08 PM on June 1, 2004


I thought the link to the Metafilter survey was icky.
posted by eddydamascene at 6:11 PM on June 1, 2004


Does Matt need the money?

Whether or not MetaFilter is already self-sustaining, I think the more relevant question is "can Matt get this money?" If he can, he should, and he should spend it all on beer if he likes.

With half the monthly visits going only to the homepage, putting an ad there is more about capitalizing on the casual mainstream visitors than the active members. I have no problem with this.
posted by scarabic at 6:11 PM on June 1, 2004


Matt's only "mistake" is that he flat out says how much the ad costs unlike the Gawker sites that take about CPM and page views. I think Matt's approach is straightforward and a better deal.
posted by riffola at 6:15 PM on June 1, 2004


er talk not take
posted by riffola at 6:17 PM on June 1, 2004


While the numbers would show that the Metafilter market would be able to bear a $1k a month textad easily, the demographics of said market are quite different.

The most success, in my opinion, will be finding a niche product (ie, Timbuktu messanger bags) or something that caters to Metafilters pseudo-intellectualism. Look at the backpage of Harper's for an example.

So Geoff's Power Marketing 101 is simply saying that passive sales advertising Matt is doing will most likely not work beyond a few initial months and that he can very well find the niche advertisers he would like, but will have to sell himself for it. Though, I'd like you to prove me wrong.

Oh and he'll need customer surveys and such to sell old-school advertisers, err anyone who wants to plunk down $1000 a month and isn't entirely familiar with MeFi. If he can prove that 10% of the metafilter community purchases 5-10 books a month, I'm sure he could get some good deals and such.
posted by geoff. at 6:27 PM on June 1, 2004


I'm not so sure fvw's survey is a reliable selling tool. And he should get a cut of whatever you make.
posted by amberglow at 6:30 PM on June 1, 2004


i'm with eddy--it is icky.
posted by amberglow at 6:33 PM on June 1, 2004


another vote for icky.
posted by crunchland at 6:38 PM on June 1, 2004


another vote for icky.

fine, I'll take the link off.

he can very well find the niche advertisers he would like, but will have to sell himself for it.

What are you talking about? I've made a link and a short page explaining it, that's about all I'm doing to "sell myself" for it. Am I supposed to be taking my pants off to make that kind of money?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:50 PM on June 1, 2004


I'm with the icky-voters too, not so much because it's high unreliable (after all it says that at the top, any potential customer has been warned), but because the people who submitted their data for it did so under the impression that it was for a "Let Metafilterers know who Metafilterers are" sort of thing, not an advertising demographic. Ofcourse there weren't any guarantees (or privacy policies as someone mentioned in the related thread) but I'd like to think that even without that a sort of implied gentleman's agreement is possible even in this modern age. Still, as long as nobody objects to their survey data being used in this way I'll keep the page up.
posted by fvw at 6:52 PM on June 1, 2004


I'll chip in $5 for Matt taking his pants off at the next meetup, provided photographic evidence is provided.
posted by fvw at 6:53 PM on June 1, 2004


I've already taken my pants off at an informal MeFi meetup.

Gimme my money.
posted by jonmc at 7:02 PM on June 1, 2004


Personally, I think it's quite a good idea (that is, the having-a-small-graphical-ad bit) -- I just think most people or businesses will be reluctant to drop $1000 to have a 125x125 ad for a month. Still, if there turns out to be demand for it, then that'd be neat.

I'd be more likely to offer them more cheaply and have them rotate, like the textads.
posted by reklaw at 7:04 PM on June 1, 2004


I guess when it was a matter of Matt covering his costs with those text ads, I was ok with it. (Knowing that mefi is run on completely donated bandwidth, and on a flaky server in some guy's closet makes me figure that the costs that need to be covered is relatively low, not counting Matt's attentiveness). But making serious money with ads, well.... For all we know, the text and google ads may have been generating upwards of $12k a year..

I just don't like the idea that the trifling little crap we post here is helping make someone else's mortgage payments. It makes me wonder if this is how the cows feel after the farmer takes their milk and sells it.

On the other hand, if all of the proceeds go to that Mefi scholarship fund or something equally altruistic, I'm sure there'd be less room for anyone to complain.
posted by crunchland at 7:17 PM on June 1, 2004


could this go towards the server fund. I mean we love mefi in some guy's closet, but could ads support it?

(maybe a stupid question as I have no concept of how much that would cost)

also, if a grand is cheap compared to gawker, could you place restrictions on the ad (ie. matt gets to veto if he thinks it is ugly or inappropriate). It works to keep quonsar in check (er...kinda) so it might work to keep mefi from becoming ugly.

Oh (and seeing crunchland on preview) maybe the proceeds could go into a fund to help pay allof our employers for the lost productivity that matt has caused.
posted by jmgorman at 7:18 PM on June 1, 2004


I just don't like the idea that the trifling little crap we post here is helping make someone else's mortgage payments. It makes me wonder if this is how the cows feel after the farmer takes their milk and sells it.

Oh, come on. Matt gives us a nice little playground here, he's entitled to make a buck or two off it. He's not asking us to give up bodily fluids.
posted by jonmc at 7:20 PM on June 1, 2004


*puts away the specimen cup*
posted by eddydamascene at 7:25 PM on June 1, 2004


I'd advise - if no bites emerge in the first two months for the $1,000 asking price, either drop the price incrementally or simply act cagey - mention no price at all.

Then, use the proceeds to buy your journalist of choice from the NYT - who will mention Metafilter in numerous stories and op-eds.

I hear they're going cheap.

____________________________________

"It makes me wonder if this is how the cows feel after the farmer takes their milk and sells it." - Yeah, my brain feels like a big, fat overwrung udder tonight.

Tit happens.
posted by troutfishing at 7:32 PM on June 1, 2004


Guys, Instapundit gets $375 PER WEEK for one ad, and he runs FIVE. You get significant discounts for multi-week placements, but in any case, Glenn Reynolds is getting $5000 a month or more just from advertising. Daily Kos gets oven more ($700 a week for the top spot, less for lower placement, and he has a lot more ads).

I'd wager MetaFilter's attention is worth $1000 a month to someone out there.
posted by kindall at 7:43 PM on June 1, 2004


All of those examples are of websites where the persons benefiting from those fees are the persons generating the content, right?
posted by crunchland at 7:45 PM on June 1, 2004


I don't see any problem with this. After all we have put Matt thru, he deserves it.

Long live capitalism!
posted by konolia at 7:48 PM on June 1, 2004


All of those examples are of websites where the persons benefiting from those fees are the persons generating the content, right?

Sure, but advertisers don't care.
posted by kindall at 7:52 PM on June 1, 2004


Using crunch's line of thought, I guess google.com shouldn't be worth a few billion because after all it's other people's content that they are indexing, it's not their own. How about weather.com? Mother Nature ain't getting a cut, but she does all the hard work!

Matt puts in a lot of time and effort into this site, and if the site can generate some income for him to cover the costs of operation and maybe more, then more power to him.
posted by riffola at 7:58 PM on June 1, 2004


I think he should charge more, but not use fvw's survey to do it with. TalkingPointsMemo ran a survey recently--maybe we could get that and take it?
posted by amberglow at 8:07 PM on June 1, 2004


Hear, hear, riffola. I can't believe anyone would complain about Matt trying to generate some advertising dollars.
posted by orange swan at 8:11 PM on June 1, 2004


I think this is fine. Put me down in the "not icky" column.
posted by bshort at 8:14 PM on June 1, 2004


Considering that Krogers tracks how often I buy Trojans, Matt's survey seems rather benign.
posted by mischief at 8:23 PM on June 1, 2004


NPR is running ads for goodness sake; it's not a big deal.

I think the first "sponsor" (anyone want to start a pool?) should get to have each FPP start with, "This post brought to you by the good folks at ________."

Good idea and not that expensive, either. Though my experience tells me that the advertising company will want pretty good data on general demographics to the extent possible, unique visitor/visitor session stats, click-though stats, etc. Then again, depends on the client.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 8:24 PM on June 1, 2004


Go for it Matt. If I had the right project and the cash I'd go for it.
posted by will at 8:25 PM on June 1, 2004


All of those examples are of websites where the persons benefiting from those fees are the persons generating the content, right?

I thought Kos was just a big k5 scoop-powered site for generated content from users?

I'm trying to see if the site can sustain itself, if it can pay for its own real hosting somewhere else, and getting a grand a month would help that out. I see all the Nick Dentons and instapundits of the world making a mint and wanted to see if any advertisers were interested in trying it out on mefi.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:32 PM on June 1, 2004


I don't know about mathowie, but I would gladly take my pants off for $1,000.

Crunchland does have a point and I can see where he is coming from in that there is potential for one person to make money from the sweat off the brow of others. BUT (and it is a big but) those who contribute here gain the varied and various benefits of being part of a community in return for their contributions. If the one person who administers the resources that community uses to interact wants to make some cash from it, good on them as far as I am concerned. If we were chained to our keyboards and forced to contribute, that would be different, but nobody is forced to be here apart from the addiction side of things.

There is potentially a slippery slope argument here, but there are no (that I know of) community-oriented web sites that do not look to advertising in one way or another to generate revenue. Where is the line between acceptable fund-raising and exploitation? I am not sure, but this is nowhere near that line. Imagine an agreement between MetaFilter and one of these sites?
posted by dg at 8:33 PM on June 1, 2004


geoff., I like you so I hope you don't think I'm being a dick by disagreeing with you in the following:

While the numbers would show that the Metafilter market would be able to bear a $1k a month textad easily, the demographics of said market are quite different.

I don't understand this paragraph at all, actually. My only comment is please explain. Numbers vs. Demographics? What do you mean?

The most success, in my opinion, will be finding a niche product (ie, Timbuktu messanger bags) or something that caters to Metafilters pseudo-intellectualism. Look at the backpage of Harper's for an example.

Obviously there are some products that will do better here than others, but this is not the only consideration when you want to make money on advertising. There are many other considerations, such as whether Timbukutu (or whoever) has an online ad budget at all, who handles that budget (agency, network, or in-house) whether that budget is already committed for the next 6 months, whether anyone there knows how valuable space on MeFi is, or if they have their heads up their asses and will ask for 1,000 pie charts before an initial conversation. Most important to making dough on ads now is: who has the budget now and is willing to work with you. Most important to making money on ads long term is: who is the best fit for your audience and who understands the data you have about them well enough to "get it" that there is value here.

So Geoff's Power Marketing 101 is simply saying that passive sales advertising Matt is doing will most likely not work beyond a few initial months and that he can very well find the niche advertisers he would like, but will have to sell himself for it. Though, I'd like you to prove me wrong.

Why do you assume that the ads would be restricted to passive sales, or brand-building or whatever? What if it's a direct link to "buy a Timbuktu bag" that garners a per-impression fee plus a shared revenue bonus? The possibilities are wide open, and your quick analysis is really shallow. You're right that no one will spend $1000 a month forever without knowing what they're getting for it. But there is definitely a lot of potential, and many options.

Oh and he'll need customer surveys and such to sell old-school advertisers, err anyone who wants to plunk down $1000 a month and isn't entirely familiar with MeFi. If he can prove that 10% of the metafilter community purchases 5-10 books a month, I'm sure he could get some good deals and such.

I'm guessing at this point that you have no real experience in this area, because the book margins are so tight online that advertising is practically nil, and really Old School advertisers aren't even doing anything online yet, period. All they know currently is that the bubble burst 3 years ago, and a lot of people blew a lot of budget online. They're slowly getting smart enough to run targeted, tracked, mined campaigns, but the Old Schoolers aren't going to jump at some Blogger's user survey.

This looks like a quick-and-dirty play for a successful module to me, some steady money for something we all know is pretty much priceless. It may not be the savviest approach I've ever seen (in a market which is very data-driven), but I hope to God that Matt never becomes the savviest marketer in the world.

My one piece of advice, Matt, would be that web advertising succeeds more, especially over time, with pay-per-performance deals. People want to know what all the numbers are and how exactly an ad deal is going to turn a profit for them. They won't toss money at a website the way they might at a billboard or magazine spread. The reputation is simply too bad, and they are learning that the web offers so much data mining capability that there's no reason to take risks on blind campaigns online.

Look for CPCs that you think have real potential (aka - Timbuktu bags - they'll be hard to score) or high-rate shared-revenue-on-sale deals. I'd also suggest you talk to very profitable community sites (aka dating sites) that you think might have some crossover in this audience. Look where the money is and try to sell them on a CPC.

Because few ad folk are going to be able to make a solid case to their managers that "1 month = $1000." The math is just arbitrary. The decision makers will want to know what they can *get* for $1000, not how long they can be on that... what's that site's name again?

In geoff.'s defense, yes, your best hope is to find a "perfect fit" client, for whom the relationship is just as profitable as it is for you. That's what you want over time, unless you're married to the idea of chasing down new clients every other month.

Plus: what are you planning to do if it succeeds like a motherfucker and they ask you: "We're willing to pay a lot more for more exposure. What more can you give us?" Now is the time to think about this.
posted by scarabic at 8:35 PM on June 1, 2004


I have no problems with Matt getting rich.

I've never contributed to this site for anything more than I've gotten out of it already. If more money helps with a new server and some payment for the guy who looks after it 24/7, I say go for it.

I only have one vote if it can be said I have a vote at all but not all of us feel the way crunchland feels about this. I trust Matt not to "be evil" :)
posted by vacapinta at 8:45 PM on June 1, 2004


I'm trying to see if the site can sustain itself, if it can pay for its own real hosting somewhere else, and getting a grand a month would help that out.

Count me in the 'hell yes Matt should do it' category. Half the time people complain about downtime and by doing this it moves MeFi to a dedicated server with guaranteed uptime? What's the downside, one non-animated 125x125 picture? Ridiculous to even think twice about it.

Plus, $1,000 for 3 million page views? Dirt cheap. Matt deserves whatever he can get.
posted by karmaville at 8:45 PM on June 1, 2004


I see mathowie in a top hat with a monocle while we're all sweating in the filthy pits. I say we all strike! After all, how's he ever going to replace us?

Oh. That's how.
posted by timeistight at 8:47 PM on June 1, 2004


While we are discussing it, why not Springstreet Personals?

Seriously.
posted by karmaville at 8:49 PM on June 1, 2004


Not only should he do it, he should put TWO ads that size, if only to piss off crunchland [who I of course love dearly, I just think he's wrong on this one].
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:51 PM on June 1, 2004


I'd wager MetaFilter's attention is worth $1000 a month to someone out there.

I'd, in fact, say that is a bargain. However the restrictions are:

1) GIF format
2) 125 px x 125 px
3) Non-animated

For reference, the register to vote image is 100 px x 100 px.

The not necessarily obvious restrictions are:

1) Questionable Uptime
2) Unknown ercentage of non-unique visitors

I'm not knocking the idea that Matt could or should pull down some revenue from Metafilter, but I'm uncertain this is the most successful means of securing additional advertising revenue. On the other hand, at that cost (0.067 cents a page view), it's darn cheap. Text ads are 0.1 cents per page view.

I'd venture a guess that a textad style program with images (with the given restrictions) at a slightly higher price would be better for the advertiser and make more than $1000 a month. Matt could host the images, still manually approve them and otherwise have very little change in the existing textad code and still run text ads.
posted by sequential at 8:55 PM on June 1, 2004


Anyone complaining that marketing is "icky" had better not complain about the site being down ever again.
posted by falconred at 9:15 PM on June 1, 2004


Ick, ick, and ick. I'm with crunch. How come mefi doesn't have better uptime with the money that's already being generated from ads? The site doesn't support itself already?

I'd be more comfortable with matt asking for a user fee rather than selling our output to advertisers. Just rubs me the wrong way.

And the people falling over themselves to urge Matt to cash in, well, that makes me kind of ill. But this will happen anyway. Sigh.
posted by beth at 9:15 PM on June 1, 2004


if only to piss off crunchland

It's about time one of you knuckleheads realized that this is all about me.
posted by crunchland at 9:16 PM on June 1, 2004


all this makes me is jealous.
posted by Hackworth at 9:16 PM on June 1, 2004


matt should be a millionaire. I say, he can do any ads at any price he wants.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:17 PM on June 1, 2004


though, one would hope things like uptime or server response time might improve, if the ads are a sucess.
posted by Hackworth at 9:19 PM on June 1, 2004


I vote that Matt makes money.

MoooOOOoooOOOOOooOOOOOoooOOOooo!
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:26 PM on June 1, 2004


Wait a minute, are we really bitching about the fact that Matt would like to make a measly $12k a year on this site? The site he custom coded and has spent countless hours trying to upkeep without any compensation? You people suck.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:30 PM on June 1, 2004 [1 favorite]


And the people falling over themselves to urge Matt to cash in, well, that makes me kind of ill.

Well, count me in that bunch. If you want to know my thoughts on advertising in general, please see this. But I think this is the right amount, long-overdue, in a place that doesn't hurt, and for a great cause. Hardly exploitative. I become ill when I read Matt's press clippings, realize how special this place is, and watch it go down once or twice or more per week like it's hosted out of somebody's closet. I mean -- DOH!

I'd be more comfortable with matt asking for a user fee

Have you donated already? Many have, including myself. If you haven't, then there's your problem. Calls for donations have been made. You really think pulling down a $1 coin-operated portcullis on this thing is the way to go?
posted by scarabic at 9:35 PM on June 1, 2004


I'm with eyeballkid on this one.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:39 PM on June 1, 2004


I'd be more comfortable with matt asking for a user fee rather than selling our output to advertisers. Just rubs me the wrong way.

Ha! So I should be charging you for the privilege of posting to this website so I can make money? Somehow I think one ad is way less of a hassle than asking everyone to pay for it out of their own pockets.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:51 PM on June 1, 2004


what vacapinta said.

question: Only one ad for the whole month? After one week nobody will click on it.
If we have more than one ad, it will still cost the same? (It is not very clear form the ads page.)
posted by MzB at 9:52 PM on June 1, 2004


I'm with eyeballkid too.

Except that nobody should be considered to have less right to complain just because they haven't donated to "the fund". Not everyone can afford to and there are lots of other reasons why people are unable to donate. I like to think we are good enough people not to look down on someone because they can't afford or don't want to donate to a voluntary fund. Conversely, donating does not give you any more right to complain than someone who hasn't.
posted by dg at 10:02 PM on June 1, 2004


I block ads as a matter of course, so I don't give a rat's behind.

I understand that there are those who would argue, and vociferously indeed, that my refusal to view ads is EVIL, but I simply don't give a shit, even if I am willing to listen to what they have to say out of politeness if nothing else.

(Heck, just for a laugh I applied for Google ad thingies on my own site, knowing precisely what they'd say (and what they did) : 'you got yourself a filthy mouth, son, and we don't like that 'round here', so that's how inconsistent I am.)

Matt should do what he sees fit. It's his party.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:06 PM on June 1, 2004


You know what? If Matt can con someone into paying him $1000 a month for something he currently gives away for free, hooray for him. It's no skin off my back, either way.

For those of you who are under the mistaken impression that Matt toils away, 24/7 at keeping the site in shape though, wake up. The very fact that this same guy who felt uncomfortable enough, a few years back, with the generousity of the people who donated to buy computer equipment for the site that when they were too generous, he created a metafilter scholarship, and gave the money to some less fortunate student -- this same guy is now trying to cash in on the site. That should tell you something.

The fact that Quonsar has probably spent more time on Metafilter in the last 12 months than Matt has... The fact that the server has been down about as often as it's been up in the last month... the fact that there are about a million requests for "ponies" here on Metatalk that Matt has been too busy to deal with ... but, whatever. I'm in the minority here. I didn't buy him a ticket to wherever, and I didn't purchase every single item on his Amazon wishlist. I don't worship the guy like a saint, is all.

Yeah. I know, I know. I suck.
posted by crunchland at 10:40 PM on June 1, 2004


I'd be more comfortable with matt asking for a user fee rather than selling our output to advertisers. Just rubs me the wrong way.

Here's a thought: why don't you or crunchland set up a fund? We could all send you money, and once you hit $1000 you could by the ad and put up an invisible GIF (or whatever). That way, everybody would be happy. As long as you can collect $1000 a month, you'll never have to see an ad.
posted by timeistight at 10:51 PM on June 1, 2004


this same guy is now trying to cash in on the site

He already stated that he just wanted to see if he could make it self-sufficient. That does not mean "cashing out".

The fact that Quonsar has probably spent more time on Metafilter in the last 12 months than Matt has

Which q does voluntarily, as a hobby. That's a moot point. Nothing more.

The fact that the server has been down about as often as it's been up in the last month

Which Matt has stated repeatedly that he's working on.

the fact that there are about a million requests for "ponies" here on Metatalk that Matt has been too busy to deal with

The vast majority of which are repeats of past whines. Most of which are due for some kind of action sometime soon.

Yeah. I know, I know. I suck.

No, you don't, crunchy, I just disagree with your ideals.

As controversial as Rusty's ordeal with K5 was, I can't imagine the backlash if Matt somehow tried to raise some $70k per year off of MeFi. If these ads are the size of the register to vote ad, then really, who the hell cares? I haven't even noticed that button after the first three times I saw it.

Count me in as a non-icky.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:02 PM on June 1, 2004


Jebuz onna stick, people...have you lost your collective, whiny minds? I'm amazingly outraged by this thread.

Matt's game, Matt's server, if Matt can find a way to make money from this monster in a box that he's created, well more power to him. Y'all remember the U.S. ? Capitalism, yes? Horatio Alger, yes?

W.T.F. is with the complaining? For god's sake we've had years and years and years of Mefi without ads, Matt wants to put a tiny, unobtrusive little ad on a page and you people are up in arms about it? Are you fucking mad?

Find me one other site, with as much traffic and as much notoriety as this site, that doesn't have any advertising, and doesn't have published ad rates.

You know, I'm offended that this thread was written, I'm offended that there are 40 some odd comments that are "dog-pile on the rabbit" about the ad/ad rates. I'm astounded that some of you have the fucking audacity to declare "well...the site should be self sufficient from the text ads...Matt's just a sellout".

When exactly did you get the financial report? Hmmm? So, Matt is just supposed to donate scripting time, bandwidth costs and other resources? You should get paid for your job, but Matt should be a socialist and donate everything, all the time, so you get to enjoy the benefits thereof?

Matt gives you a playground and you piss and moan when he needs to find a way to maintain it? How dare you! You spoiled little brats. I really am angry. This thread is a perfect example of altruism being it's own demise...you give someone something and because they don't have to "pay" for it, they just expect more and more and more and more.

I believe that every one of you that dares to complain, or pretends to understand the costs and ROI of this site, and then demands that Matt give you more (more uptime, more moderation, more changes, more tweaks, more ponies) without considering his needs or desires are greedy, selfish, self-righteous, little bastards, the lot of you.

Grrrr....sometimes people make me *so* angry!

And no, Crunchland is has nothing to do with me venerating Matt in any way, shape, or form...in fact, Matt and I have disagreed on a few occasions, Matt has deleted threads of mine that I thought was unjustified, and there are ponies that I've asked for and not received, just like anyone else that's been here for years. What it has to do with is a group of people demanding that they have the right to determine someone else's site standards, and by so doing, have the right to impugn someone else's moral standing, or ethical quality. It's bullshit. If you don't like seeing one teeny little ad, fine. Go find somewhere else that is ad free. Good luck with that.
posted by dejah420 at 11:02 PM on June 1, 2004


Put me with the “I’m eternally thankful I don’t have to pay to hang out here” crowd. (But I would, if that became a reality; I love this neighborhood.) Still, I would prefer that any possible ads pay for my fair share.

Wait a minute, are we really bitching about the fact that Matt would like to make a measly $12k a year on this site?

Especially when you consider that in the 940** ZIP codes, an extra $12k a year probably would pay for maybe an extra half a closet in an apartment.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:08 PM on June 1, 2004


CRUNCHLAND IS A REBEL.

F.
posted by The God Complex at 11:09 PM on June 1, 2004


So mathowie will get money that helps with the site without me spending any? Sounds good to me!
posted by sebas at 11:46 PM on June 1, 2004


he created a metafilter scholarship, and gave the money to some less fortunate student -- this same guy is now trying to cash in on the site. That should tell you something.

I can laugh off almost anything, but seriously, that's a really fucked up assessment of my intentions.

I've done the legwork to setup another scholarship fund each spring, using all my own money, but the last three years I've been hit with thousands of dollars in taxes owed for various unexpected events in my life, and that has taken precedence.

If you think I'm never going to do a scholarship again and I'm just trying to squeeze as much money as possible out of the site, you've totally misread everything I've written here and I don't know if there's anything I can say to convince you otherwise.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:50 PM on June 1, 2004 [1 favorite]


I simply can not believe that anyone would have the sheer brass balls to say Matt shouldn't be making money off this venture.

The very fact that crunchland is present in this thread is proof positive that he enjoys significant personal benefit from this site. He is an active participant in threads, which means he gets something out of it.

Indeed, I'll wager that all of us get more out of Metafilter than we put into it. If it cost us more -- more time, more energy, more money, more frustration, whatever -- and benefited us less -- less idolization, less arguing, less amusement, less whatever-it-is-that-keeps-you-here -- then we'd curtail our MeFi use.

In short, we wouldn't be here if it weren't worth our while to be here.

The same applies to Matt's side of the equation. There was obviously a time when he found working on the code, acting as god, and having some fame brought more benefits than the costs of time, money, and energy.

Apparently this is no longer the case.

Faced with the choice of continuing to get less out of MeFi than he puts into it, there are only three options:
1. Continue losing. This choice is patently self-abusive, and I don't think any reasonable person would expect Matt to harm himself to our benefit.
2. Shut it down. Of course he loses the benefits along with the costs, and hopefully we haven't reached such a level of disparity between cost:benefit that this option is attractive!
3. Turn it back into a win. And this is what he's doing: Matt has determined that $1000 a month makes it worth his while to continue the site.

Of those three options, only one is a win-win situation, in which we users continue to benefit and Matt, too, continues to benefit.

Quit being so damn greedy, you nay-sayers. It's no skin off your ass, and it makes the equation work for our host. Don't be a friggin' parasite.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:57 PM on June 1, 2004


but, whatever. I'm in the minority here.

No, you're just out of line. You have a point to make, but you're way to high on your cross to make it. You have things to say, but you listen too poorly for anyone to give a shit. Your opinion matters, but there's too much attitude to trudge through to get to it.

Chill. Grow up. Come on back, now y'hear?
posted by scarabic at 11:57 PM on June 1, 2004


Some of you are amazing, you really need to put your copy of Adbusters down. If you want to pour your heart and soul into creating your own utopian online community, fine, just take your sense of entitlement with you. If not, realize just how much work and stress Matt has to deal with before bitching about him wanting to get a little fruit from his labors.

I'm with you Matt, go ahead and spend it all on beer!
posted by TungstenChef at 12:00 AM on June 2, 2004



Matt's game, Matt's server, if Matt can find a way to make money from this monster in a box that he's created, well more power to him. Y'all remember the U.S. ? Capitalism, yes? Horatio Alger, yes?


As much as I support Matt in this, I think you're supporting him for the wrong reasons with the Horatio Alger comparison.

In fact, everyone who's ever supported Matt on the grounds that "it's his shit, he can do what he wants" have done him a very well-intentioned disservice.

The fact is that creating MetaFilter took more than Matt's programming skills. It took judgement, personal credibility, patience, interpersonal skills, and above all: giving a shit about making something great come to life.

"He can do whatever he wants" is all well and good and obedient, but if you haven't figured out yet that he wants to make this everything it can be, and deeply cares about doing the right thing, you're missing the point.
posted by scarabic at 12:05 AM on June 2, 2004


I'm all for Matt getting 1 k a month if he can.

As long as it is an image (not flash or animated giff), I even promise I won't adblock it. Please don't make it too lame though >< .br>
I read some of the "icky" stuff, and I generally tend to have that feeling about ads these days. Ads are just everywhere (spam, web sites, movie shorts that are ads, tv shows, print, billboards, busses,etc).

In this case, two feelings mitigate the "icky". It'll give Matt a good pool of cash to potentially do interesting things with site infrastructure, assuming he wants to. This is a great site and community, and free cash to support it and its maintainer is acceptable to me.
posted by rudyfink at 12:08 AM on June 2, 2004


"For God's sake, Finster! Shoot the damn parasite!"

BLAM!

"Not THAT parasite, you bloody idiot!"
posted by Opus Dark at 12:08 AM on June 2, 2004


Ick, ick, and ick. I'm with crunch. How come mefi doesn't have better uptime with the money that's already being generated from ads? The site doesn't support itself already?

How come I don't have a pony because daddy works 60 hours a week? Now THAT is a sense of entitlement.

I just don't like the idea that the trifling little crap we post here is helping make someone else's mortgage payments.

So what you're really saying is you don't like the fact that someone is making money off of the fruits of your "labor." I hate to break it to you buddy, but posting to Metafilter isn't labor, spending all your time writing code and trying to maintain order amongst a horde of egotistical snarks is. Having stimulating intellectual discussions with intelligent people is what you do when you're on a break from real labor.
posted by TungstenChef at 12:17 AM on June 2, 2004


To be honest, I'm shocked that so many freeloaders actually presume to tell Matt what he should do with his creation and his web site and, if they give their high-minded, violently unwilling consent, how he should go about making some money with it and how much he should make and how he should spend it if he somehow manages to go beyond making it pay for itself by - what a great idea! - giving it to the poor.

Haven't they heard that nowadays it's actually possible to give to the poor directly, without forcing Matt's elbow with the honestly made money which they themselves contributed nothing to, apart from the favour of holding their nose and looking the other way?

All this "Ew! Advertising!" and "Ew! Money!" shtick leads me to believe that there are a lot of pure, uncorrupted souls among us who have never sullied their dainty little hands with such horrid capitalist trappings.

Next thing you know someone will accuse Matt of exploiting us poor workers.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:07 AM on June 2, 2004


For my 2 cents, Matt puts an awful lot of work into this site and I don't see why it should be so unreasonable for him to line his pocket or at least break even. I am no lover of ads, but I do believe that time devoted should be rewarded and I am hard pressed to think of another site for which the admin works as hard and with as much care.

Looking over posts to metatalk, I see tons of pony requests, and I see Matt responding to them. I respect him (knowing only what I have read in his posts) a lot for listening to the voice of the community, and he has never seemed unfair or prejudicial in the use of his iron fist. The first Suicide Girl MeTa thread comes to mind, in which he explains why he approved the ad and responds to some of the more conservative comments in the thread.

Give the guy a break.
posted by shotsy at 1:32 AM on June 2, 2004


If you don't like how mathowie makes money here, you can quit posting. Pretty simple, really. His sandbox, his ball. Personally, I don't give a shit as long as the ads don't blast my face, and he doesn't start deleting/editing things stupidly. Then I'll probably just run an ad filter (sorry mathowie). If it bugs me too much, I'll just move back to slashdot. No biggie.

Would you guys say the same to a newspaper if they printed the editorial you gave them for free? "They make money from me! WAAAAAH!"

Not cool.
posted by shepd at 1:39 AM on June 2, 2004


Next thing you know someone will accuse Matt of exploiting us poor workers.

I already did!
posted by timeistight at 1:42 AM on June 2, 2004


Jesus, some of the whiners you get on here! Does anyone even notice the text ads, much less click on them? I can't see this being much different. Perhaps some MeFite's should remember they have no rights here, only privileges that they have been handed for free.
posted by biffa at 2:08 AM on June 2, 2004


Does anyone even notice the text ads, much less click on them?

Not exactly a shining endorsement of the ad ROI to lure potential advertisers. Whoops.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:51 AM on June 2, 2004


To paraphrase: "I (voluntarily) come to this site numerous times a day, I (voluntarily) post links and comments here, I (voluntarily) get enormous amounts of pleasure from the content of the thousands of links and the interaction with the thousands of other like-minded and unlike-minded people who (voluntarily) come here and do the same. But if you, the person who made this site possible and helps to facilitate all the enjoyment I receive from this site, if you dare, dare, DARE to (i) make enough money to help this site stay up and keep going or (ii) make a little cash on the side to help you pay a few bills or buy your own choice of personal pony... well, then you are just unreasonable and sick. Do it all for free, you mercenary."

I'm with dejah420. Fucking angry.
posted by humuhumu at 3:12 AM on June 2, 2004


crunchland:

if you add up the space taken by the amazon referral ads on your community site (which is no longer mentioned on your userpage), does it amount to more or less than 125 x 125 pix?

When you add up the income from those, do they come to more or less than $1,000/month?

In principle, do you think your members are entitled to direct that income where they want to, not where you want to?

Just wondering.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:35 AM on June 2, 2004


I've got yer oppressed worker right here:

member since: day one
mathowie has posted 922 links and 3251 comments to MetaFilter
and 180 threads and 3398 comments to MetaTalk


Most MeFi Threads

1. 921 mathowie
2. 451 MiguelCardoso
3. 380 Steven Den Beste
4. 362 Postroad
5. 340 owillis
6. 279 skallas
7. 277 homunculus
8. 226 crunchland
9. 225 plep
10. 215 baylink


Damn, I'm posting to MeTa after a six-month fast, and now I'm going to get sucked back into it.
posted by rory at 3:46 AM on June 2, 2004


count me in with the folks who have no problem whatsoever with the creator and owner of this site making as much money as possible from it. how he spends this potential income is up to him.

good luck matt !
posted by t r a c y at 4:07 AM on June 2, 2004


Not icky. Beyond that, what eyeballkid, dejah and Miguel said. Christ on a crutch.
posted by yerfatma at 4:08 AM on June 2, 2004


And crunchland, you forgot to make a Pepsi Blue reference.
posted by yerfatma at 4:09 AM on June 2, 2004


"Yeah. I know, I know. I suck."

No. You just hate MetaFilter.

Matt - Run the ads. Spend the money on beer and lenses. No matter what you do someone here will start foaming at the mouth and blather on about how it makes you an asshole. We're 17,000 drunk, snarky, bored elitists with a keyboard. It comes with the territory.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:54 AM on June 2, 2004


Actually, we're 17,000 drunk, snarky, bored elitists with keyboards.

And you left out pedantic.
posted by yhbc at 5:00 AM on June 2, 2004


Damn, I'm posting to MeTa after a six-month fast, and now I'm going to get sucked back into it.
posted by rory at 3:46 AM PST on June 2


I sure as hell hope so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:15 AM on June 2, 2004


There seems to be some suggesting that Matt putting an ad up would detriment from everyone's enjoyment of the site. Wha? I personally find the 'register to vote' link more jarring than if there were an ad for Web hosting or something in the spot.

Advertising is not the devil, and Matt would be an economic fool not to take as much (ethical) advantage as he can from this site. After all, he could have spent the time that he used building, promoting, and maintaining this site doing something else that may have brought him significant wealth. That's economics.

Charging people to use MeFi would turn this into an even more snooty exclusive club than it already is, but showing ads is a healthy way for Matt to realize some of his goals.
posted by wackybrit at 5:18 AM on June 2, 2004


Aw, shucks, stav. Ta. If not MeTa.
posted by rory at 5:24 AM on June 2, 2004


So your moving out of the closet, Matt? Glad to hear. I remember us talking about that at Mcmenamins. If I was rich I would buy some, but as it stands I personally am cool with your idea, although the very act will change Metafilter forever, although you obviously know that this website will not run forever based upon how you have it currently set up. Good luck with it.
posted by Keyser Soze at 5:30 AM on June 2, 2004


Why do some of you hate Matt? Why do some of you hate MeFi? Perhaps you should go back from where you came! ;-P
posted by mischief at 5:34 AM on June 2, 2004


100 per cent behind Miguel, the attitude of those who seem to think Matt is in some way sullying himself in an attempt to make the site self-sustaining is highly offensive.
posted by johnny novak at 5:41 AM on June 2, 2004


I thought you said camel instead on came! mshief which made me think you were a conservative rascist. Goddamn, why did I think that? Too much metafilter... too many times hanging out with scared shitbrained friends... this world is too small in Aloha, Oregon.... why am i even talking about this? Why don't I have my own convoluted blog? sigh.
posted by Keyser Soze at 5:42 AM on June 2, 2004


riffola's right, it's $ 33.33 a day to put an ad on a very popular site. it is dirt cheap.

also:

Anyone complaining that marketing is "icky" had better not complain about the site being down ever again.

Hallejuah, brother. I'm actually shocked that people here seriously think that Matt should be working/hosting/etc for free. it's only fair that he covers all expenses. and if he makes a few extra dollars, good for him. this is his house, and we're all guests, and most of us (myself included, of course) often behave badly. in his house.
it's true that without our input this site would go back to the long-long-time-ago era of "hey, anybody here?" 0-comment lame-ass threads. so MeFi exists and is still interesting thanks to donated work, matt's and ours.
but without matt's work there would be no site at all.
posted by matteo at 8:30 AM on June 2, 2004


CRUNCHLAND IS A REBEL.

...and a loner, Dottie.

He knows things you couldn't know, things you wouldn't know, things you shouldn't know.

All this "Ew! Advertising!" and "Ew! Money!" shtick leads me to believe that there are a lot of pure, uncorrupted souls among us who have never sullied their dainty little hands with such horrid capitalist trappings.

Yes, miguel, their computers were all scavenged from corporate dumpsters, they're all on free internet services and they grow all their own food in the backyard.

Actually, I'm willing to bet that a large percentage of the younger mefite's leave the sullying with capitalism to their parents.

Please. Matt created something cool and he's trying to make a buck off it. This is not Donald trump stealing your grandma's kidney.

People who cry "sell-out," are usually people who've never had to worry about money, in my experience.
posted by jonmc at 8:43 AM on June 2, 2004


Will this put us one step closer to the day MeFi pays members for front page posts?
;-)
posted by Shane at 8:45 AM on June 2, 2004


just to clarify, the "icky" comments were about the now removed link to the mefi survey, and not about the ads themselves, no?

other than that - bring on the ads!
posted by mr.marx at 8:46 AM on June 2, 2004


Okay, enough with the crunchland and beth pummeling. They're pretty much the only two people that expressed the viewpoint that's being viciously attacked—all the other "icky" objections were to the link to the survery, I think.

I'm not saying that I agree with c&b; and, in fact, my initial response wasn't unlike dejah420's. But this thread's got an overload of angry backlash against them. I mean, it's not that there were twenty comments like theirs. And crunch posted not that many, and beth, only one. So, everyone calm down. Okay?

Places like this become communities in a sense that's psychologically completely independent of the practical realities (like who owns it, who is responsible for it, etc.). And with that strong sense of community and participation comes a sentimental possessiveness and, often, a sense of entitlement. So, anyway, the practical and rational aspects of the situation may be radically disjointed from the emotional aspects. What I'm saying is to disagree with the emotional folks if you think they're wrong, but give them a break for being emotional about it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:47 AM on June 2, 2004


To clear something up: the "icky" thing is using fvw's highly unscientific and fun survey to show how attractive we are to advertisers--Not advertising in general.

Many people lied and had fun with that survey, and Matt shouldn't use it as a lure, or as an honest reflection of us. Very few people in this thread are unhappy with putting advertising on this site, especially if it'll help Matt--I count 3 or 4 out of the 90+ responses.

I do think he should put together a real survey, as TPM and other sites have done (that i linked to above, atho the survey itself is down), and use that to tell advertisers who we are (and what we make, and all that stuff they care about, etc)--privately and (semi)securely. It should not be linked to or made public, but available as a PDF or email upon request, like a presskit is for traditional media. There were concerns about just this thing happening when fvw's survey was first put up, i believe, and many many members did not complete that survey, due to tech probs or not knowing about it.
posted by amberglow at 8:48 AM on June 2, 2004


oops--on preview, what mr.marx and EB said. : >
posted by amberglow at 8:49 AM on June 2, 2004


On the "icky" thing, we're losing a crucial distinction.

Most of the people who used the word "icky" upthread were referring to Matt's ill-advised linkage to the survey we had taken as a social experiment, which Matt pretty much agreed was over the line and removed? I thought that was "icky" too. I don't, however, think there's anything "icky" about trying to sell ads on MeFi, and I don't think that's what most of the other people were saying, either. So please be careful to whom you ascribe "icky."
posted by soyjoy at 8:49 AM on June 2, 2004


hey EB and amber, don't you guys ever preview? ;)

on preview: good boy

on 2nd preview: soyjoy!
posted by mr.marx at 8:51 AM on June 2, 2004


Uh, what everybody else said. Teach me to answer the phone while on the Preview page. Must get my priorities straight!
posted by soyjoy at 8:55 AM on June 2, 2004




There's a good idea. PBS-style sponsorships.

Promotional consideration for Metafilter from: Alcoa... the Sperry Rand Corporation... Monsanto... and Viewers Like You.

My instinctive hatred of advertising truly doesn't include Matt's participation in it. I'd like to come out of the closet as much as the rest of you, and if all that takes (or even just making said closet a little more comfortable) is $12k a year from people who have it, then right on.

And you know, if Matt wants to buy beer or blow or hookers with that money, well, with the effort he's put into the site and the joy I've gotten out of it, brother, you treat yourself.

Just give us dibs on stock options, okay?
posted by chicobangs at 9:29 AM on June 2, 2004


It's fine, as long as this doesn't put us closer to the day we have to pay to see a pop-up free MetaFilter.
;-)
posted by Shane at 9:57 AM on June 2, 2004


Ahem. Ok um I was sort of um, inebriated from an afternoon full of picnicing and Yellow Tail Chardonnay. Sauced + metafilter does not mix. I apologize.
posted by geoff. at 10:23 AM on June 2, 2004


"I feel as if I were disgraced forever. What do you think a mother would feel like if she found her child tattooed over with a baking powder advertisement? I feel just the same. I loved my poor little story MeFi, and I wrote contributed to it out of the best that was in me. And it is SACRILEGE to have it degraded to the level of a baking powder advertisement. "

Matt, go ahead and add in as many ads as you want. You're under no freakin' obligation here to anyone but yourself. But (and remember that I'm in advertising when I say this) just don't go the way of NASCAR. There is a limit to the amount of advertising a community will accept, and obviously from the comments above the threshold here isn't that high.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:19 PM on June 2, 2004


"and obviously from the comments above the threshold here isn't that high."

Not really. Matt got the exact same flack when he started taking donations. And when he added the original textad. And when he added the Google ads.

It's a numbers game. Someone is going to get bunched panties no matter what. And some of the people who have the biggest emotional buy-in here are also old-school types who think the web should be a noble struggle to provide free, untainted content.

Personally I think free content should drive the WWW, but I also think I should get rich providing that free content. Crunchland thinks only direct providers should make money, but Matt goes with the broker model. I see his point, but it seems more emotional than rational.

But maybe that's just me. MeFi and AskMe are the only sites I'd consider paying a monthly fee for. Maybe Matt isn't slaving away 24/7 to keep MetaFilter running, but it's still better than other sites which do just that.

And even if the site is down several times a day, we still keep coming back. How bad can it be? Frankly I find it adds a bit of charm.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:01 PM on June 2, 2004


Frankly I find it adds a bit of charm.


so...it's actually a feature? ; >
posted by amberglow at 1:30 PM on June 2, 2004


There is a limit to the amount of advertising a community will accept...

And that limit is where the benefit:cost ratio is turned upside down.

When the advertising on MeFi becomes so intrusive that it costs more in user aggravation, than MeFi provides in user pleasure, users will stop visiting.

It is all about balance: balancing our host's desire to continue hosting, against our own desire to continue participating, against payee's desire to advertise on MeFi.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:42 PM on June 2, 2004


People who cry "sell-out," are usually people who've never had to worry about money, in my experience.

I resent that accusation. My manservant puts my pants on one leg at a time, just like yours does.

Ok, ok. I am most obviously in the minority here. That most of you completely missed my point is par for the course, I guess... but I won't belabor it. Deaf ears. I apologize for my blasphemy.
posted by crunchland at 2:09 PM on June 2, 2004


Wow, is that how it works? If the majority doesn't agree with you, it's because they don't get it? I'd come over and discuss this amazing philosophy with you, but the damn Edsel is in the shop again and "Tucker, a Man and His Dream" finally came out on Betamax!
posted by yerfatma at 2:18 PM on June 2, 2004


I may be late to the party, but I'm amazed at the attitudes here. Maybe it's just because I'm used to SomethingAwful, which has 33000 members at 10$ a pop. Lowtax lives well on other people's content, and as a community, they support him. When they need new servers, people donate. When there's something that needs to be done, people pitch in. No-one complains that Lowtax is making money, because while he has a responsibility to his users to keep everything up and running, people are happy that he's able to live off of providing a community space for thousands of people.

I'm not sure why the community here feels differently. MetaFilter's awesome, and Matt's done a great job at creating a place for people.
posted by Jairus at 2:28 PM on June 2, 2004


What Jairus just said. If Matt's happy I'm happy. As for the rest of you ...
posted by feelinglistless at 2:45 PM on June 2, 2004


Matt, as you will, the sooner the better, full speed ahead and good luck. Let the uptimes roll!
posted by Lynsey at 3:24 PM on June 2, 2004


Also, I forgot to mention, I'd much rather have to see ads than have to pay to see MeFi.
posted by Lynsey at 3:28 PM on June 2, 2004


That most of you completely missed my point ...

What was your point, then? I read your comments as being negative towards mathowie gaining income from a site which consists almost entirely of content generated from people who will not share directly in that income and against the perception that running MeFi is a massive job that has him chained to his keyboard, riding herd over the site. If I have missed it, I would be happy to have it explained more thoroughly. You know, explain it to me like I'm a two year-old ;-)

Also, you should never apologise for holding a minority opinion. Just because you don't agree with anyone else doesn't mean you have less right to your opinion. As someone who runs a successful community site yourself, you would have a much clearer view of what is going on behind the scenes than almost all of us.
posted by dg at 3:39 PM on June 2, 2004


We do love the pile-on around here, don't we (he said, smarting from his last spanking)?

I just hope that Matt shares the blow and hookers.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:25 PM on June 2, 2004


I look at it this way: MeFi is Matt's pony.

Sure, we all love the pretty pony, cheer it along, and contribute to its well-being, but it belongs to Matt.

He raises and trains the pony, and has the right to do whatever he wishes with it, even if that means making money from his efforts (*gasp* imagine that!).

We give thanks to the people who currently own the pony's stables, but I hope that it is moved into even nicer stables soon.
posted by mrbill at 4:33 PM on June 2, 2004


No, you pretty much got it, dg. Thanks for the regurgitation. And while I don't apologize for holding the minority view, I did apologize via email to Matt for the histrionics and accusations which were uncalled for. That Matt has so many blind devotees is something that should probably be admired.
posted by crunchland at 4:52 PM on June 2, 2004


Matt, speaking as someone who sat out the Dot-Com Boom on moral principles, I say: GO FOR IT. Cash in, and ride to glory. I kick myself daily for not being a part of the Great Internet Swindle.

one small request: no flash ads. ever. okay?
posted by keswick at 4:53 PM on June 2, 2004


Yo Matt, my offer of 2 ads still stands.

You take monopoly money right?
posted by Stynxno at 5:06 PM on June 2, 2004


And some of the people who have the biggest emotional buy-in here are also old-school types who think the web should be a noble struggle to provide free, untainted content.

Just out of curiosity, was this directed at me, by any chance? If it was, well, I never said that, and I don't believe that.

That Matt has so many blind devotees is something that should probably be admired.

Kinda creeps me out, actually.

Anyway, to clarify, I have no problem with the ads on the site paying for the upkeep - a good solid server, a nice fat pipe, and whatever combination of software keeps the site up reliably. I asked whether the ads did this already and didn't see an answer to that. (Please point it out if there was one - I am not infallible and when I read quickly I sometimes miss things).

I do not deny that Matt has worked hard to make the site what it is. But if it's really so rough he would have no trouble finding someone else to hand it off to. If he is really so beleaguered in taking care of the site, I'm sure there are plenty who would jump at the chance to help him, if he would give them the opportunity.

I gather from the hatred in the comments that many here feel that every bit and pixel here is attributable to the glory of Matt first and foremost. I disagree. I think he was in the right place at the right time, with the right friends and connections to result in the circumstances that led to the magnificence of modern-day metafilter.

Lots of people have busted their asses to make community sites, but they didn't take off like this place has. Their stewards are no less deserving of fame and reknown. (And before you accuse me of sour grapes, I am not one of these people).

I attribute most of the glory of what is here to the community as a whole, not just to the guy who happens to be holding the reins. I see people put him up on such a pedestal and it's really rather like a cult of personality. I don't think Matt is necessarily smarter, wiser, kinder, more virtuous, or more deserving of success than everyone else here. He's human. And lucky.

I stand by my opinion. I don't feel comfortable with Matt making money off the site far above what it costs to maintain (with an appropriate amount for the actual time he puts into it - what's his hourly rate?). Clearly the overwhelming majority if you think it's just dandy, and it frankly doesn't matter what any one of us or even all of us think, Matt's going to do whatever the hell he wants.

Call me ungrateful, call me evil, whatever allows you to feel that luscious blast of righteous indignation and anger. But I am entitled to my opinion, and I do believe I stated it reasonably. I am not attacking anyone.

And for the record: Thank you, Matt.
posted by beth at 6:02 PM on June 2, 2004


I attribute most of the glory of what is here to the community as a whole, not just to the guy who happens to be holding the reins

I agree, though me holding the reins does count for something. The concept that is "MetaFilter" isn't 100% owned by me and isn't 100% owned by everyone collectively that has ever posted something, it's some gray area in the middle.

I don't feel comfortable with Matt making money off the site far above what it costs to maintain (with an appropriate amount for the actual time he puts into it - what's his hourly rate?)

If I got $1,000 in a month from an ad, based on what I normally put in here I'd be making about $10/hour. I believe the figure I quoted for an ad is fair, and I believe my time is worth that much compensation to offset how much time it takes.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:13 PM on June 2, 2004


i took my kilt off at the meet
up . where is my cash ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:14 PM on June 2, 2004


Thin end of the wedge, people. One day, in the not too distant future, you're going to log into Mefi, and it's going to look like the frikkin' Yahoo frontpage I tell ya!

Maaaaaaatttttttt !!!! .... Whaaaat aaaaarrre yoooooouuu doooingggggg!!!!!??????????

No, but seriously. Who gives a stuff what any of you people think about it? A couple of ads here and there, and Matt gets a new dinner service, (or a lifetime sub to Suicide Girls). Who could complain and not look like some precious, whiny little child? (on preview - oh, sorry beth)
posted by Blue Stone at 6:15 PM on June 2, 2004


I simply do not understand why Matt shouldn't make money on this. What is the rationale behind that thought?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:16 PM on June 2, 2004


We do love the pile-on around here, don't we?

These things always turn into grope-fests. Everyone's trying to get a good seat. As it were.
posted by yerfatma at 6:17 PM on June 2, 2004


"Just out of curiosity, was this directed at me, by any chance?"

Nope. Just a general notion. More than being directed at anyone it was just me babbling. And probably full of shit.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:28 PM on June 2, 2004


He's human. And lucky.

I think that's a little disingenuous. Matt's talent, ability and the decisions he's made in the growth and development of the site has significantly contributed to the tone.

While I agree that community members hugely influenced the growth of the site, the tone and persona of a community site is largely a function of the administrator's personality.

I think MeFi's growth model, with fits and bursts of new members every few months which is the result of Matt's decisions has changed the nature of the site. I think the fairly liberal posting policy and self-policing nature which are both Matt's policies dramatically affect the nature of the site.

I think Matt's willingness to ban users when necessary, to encourage dissenting voices and to ensure that each and every one of us is comfortable asking him WHAT. THE. FUCK. MATT?, dramatically affects the tone of the site.

Matt's political bent affects the nature of the site. Matt's generosity and effort, talents, blood and sweat has more influence on the nature of the site than 1000 posts from anyone.

Matt's devotees, or at least this one, aren't blind. We're aware of who Matt is and what he stands for and admire that, even those of us who have strongly disagreed with the way the site has changed. We're aware of the difficulty and effort in seeing something change in ways you hadn't imagined and in some situations I'm certain, haven't liked, but letting it happen because your policy is to see what happens.

The server was (is? it's seemed better lately, but maybe I've just got good timing) pretty rough for a long time in May, and throughout that Matt was getting up early to reboot it, he was having nightmares about the site's downtime.

Matt's probably reaped unquantifiable forms of profit from the site (recognition, respect, experience, knowledge, direct and indirect contract work, all sorts of types) but at the same time he's dedicated a signifanct portion of what, 5 years now?

Luck and timing were certainly elements but it isn't as though Matt tripped over a server with a site configured and an internet connection.

I don't know about the ad, I don't like graphical ads, and I'm definitely one of those free-loving hippied old-timer noble internet types, but as far as ads go I'm pretty comfortable that Matt's not going to comprimise the site to make a profit and I doubt he'd accept money from just anyone and I can block images like anyone else if they become bothersome.
posted by cCranium at 6:34 PM on June 2, 2004


And probably full of shit.

there's the perfect thread for this kind of problem, actually
posted by matteo at 6:38 PM on June 2, 2004


More than being directed at anyone it was just me babbling. And probably full of shit.

Nooo, distance yourself from a seemingly accusatory opinion all you like, but you were pretty much right on the money. I don't think you need to accuse anyone to point out the obvious. Noble struggle for free content or not, this interchange costs money, and the sitemeister has a right and obligation to cover those as he wishes. The rest is just babbling.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:42 PM on June 2, 2004


it frankly doesn't matter what any one of us or even all of us think, Matt's going to do whatever the hell he wants.
Matts second intervention in this thread disproves that one - and there's plenty of evidence to show that's not uncommon, beth.

To be honest, in the uk a professional would charge anywhere upwards of £25/hour (=c. $45) for time alone, and overheads on top. Thats 22 hours, or maybe 1/8 of a months worktime. Put another way, it's maybe an hour a day, if he doesnt work weekends... and assuming that all other Mefi costs are covered by textads or google ads or the tipjar (kinda looks out of date, Matt)

And that's if he fills the ad end to end 12 months a year. On the front page only. (I say offer the fp of AskMe too. That will prolly get more eyeballs than Mefi, eventually.)

BTW, the original Mefi idea, it's straightforward visual and navigation design, it's hand coded codebase and the light managerial touch which distinguishes it from similar concepts - they are all entirely due to Matt.

I caution against attacking the dissenters, as much as I offer due appreciation for what we have here (in a duly non-hagiographic manner, fer sure).
posted by dash_slot- at 7:13 PM on June 2, 2004


$10 an hour? I wouldn't even get out of bed for that (although I guess I could be persuaded into bed for that, maybe even less).
posted by dg at 7:31 PM on June 2, 2004


I gather from the hatred in the comments that many here feel that every bit and pixel here is attributable to the glory of Matt first and foremost.

Okay, stop at the word hatred. I think you're wrong, and I told you pretty much why. But, this isn't hatred, it's debate, so rebut, or come down off that cross.

Call me ungrateful, call me evil

Or just plain disagree with your opinion. Imagine that. Is it possible to disagree with you without being filled with wanton bloodlust? Is it possible to respect and appreciate Matt without being a "blind follower?" Pull your head out of your ass. This isn't the damn Old Testament, and you're not fighting back the hordes of Persia.

I've rarely seen such proud posturing masquerading as reconciliation. If you stand by your opinion, stand by it.
posted by scarabic at 7:45 PM on June 2, 2004


Put me on the list of those approving of the 1K-per-month ad (which I will herewith refer to as the "MetaK"). I've already easily tolerated letting the advertising camel stick his nose into this tent, and won't have trouble getting the camel's whole head (does that sound right?). The community could probably stand about halfway up the neck without adverse effects, but when the first hump crosses the line, trust me, there will be nothing left but camelburgers.

Matt has gone above and beyond the call of cyberduty for the sake of this site, and I begrudge him nothing, and thank him for everything. I rarely mislead myself that my contributions here are worth anything more than a minimal ego boost in a forum with a larger audience than my always-underperforming blog, in spite of the usually universal indifference that ensues from my postings.

I do not begrudge crunchland or beth their opinions, but I think they're just a little oversensitive and over-entitled, as opposed to the angry mob attacking them who are a lot oversensitive and over-entitled. Miguel expressed most of my feelings better than I could (as usual), and Matt knows how much I appreciate him and his Filter. (I'm finally going to buy a MeFi jersey if it's still available)
posted by wendell at 7:52 PM on June 2, 2004


Sadly, they aren't (according to a response I got for a request some time ago). Now I'd willingly pay up front for one of them...
posted by dash_slot- at 8:05 PM on June 2, 2004


But if it's really so rough he would have no trouble finding someone else to hand it off to.

True, but then it would also have a different character. Matt's touch, as light as it is, plays a significant role in shaping the charcter of the discourse around here.
posted by NortonDC at 8:27 PM on June 2, 2004


We do love the pile-on around here, don't we?

I prefer to think of it as a groundswell of grassroots support. Having done some public service work (albeit minor, as in president of a housing co-op), I know how much it sucks to bust your ass trying to do something for the good of the community and then having ungrateful people promptly shit all over your efforts. I wanted to show that yes, I very much appreciate his hard work, and he's got people on his side. Appearently lots of them.
posted by TungstenChef at 8:39 PM on June 2, 2004


Not icky. Just don't accept ads from Halliburton.
posted by Optamystic at 8:53 PM on June 2, 2004


What cCranium said; Matt through luck or design has sepherded a great community & site for ~5 yrs now, which is practically forever 'round these parts.
posted by costas at 9:23 PM on June 2, 2004


MetaFilter: nothing left but camelburgers.
posted by kindall at 9:34 PM on June 2, 2004


Just don't accept ads from Halliburton.

Totally take ads from Halliburton. But charge the bastards 100K!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:12 PM on June 2, 2004


I simply do not understand why Matt shouldn't make money on this. What is the rationale behind that thought?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:45 PM on June 2, 2004


1) It's a change in the status quo
2) It's seen as a detriment to the quality of the site experience, without a clear gain
3) It's the tip of the iceberg: soon we will all be waking up with golden arches tattooed on our asses

These are my guesses, FFF. I'm no clearer than you are on this. The bit that baffles me the most is how people seem to think the site is doing great, already supporting itself, just fine without any other revenue, thank you very much. What's up with that thinking?
posted by scarabic at 11:01 PM on June 2, 2004


Well, a) the bandwidth fees are provided for by someone generous, so those otherwise substantial costs are zero, and b) Matt can generate enough user donations to pay for new equipment at the drop of a hat -- all he has to do is ask, and the community will make it happen... at least it has in the past.

Admittedly, none of this accounts for Matt's time.

The other downside to accepting real ads (as opposed to google ads or text ads) is whether or not Matt can be choosey about who buys the space. There were complaints when the textads first started, and some people were offended by the content of some ads. It's one thing to nix a $10 ad. I would think it'd be quite another to nix $1k or more.
posted by crunchland at 4:12 AM on June 3, 2004


As for the rationale, five fresh fish ... it boils down to this : Who owns the content of Metafilter, and who should benefit financially from it? If you believe that the community owns the content, then the community should get the rewards. If you believe Matt owns the content, then Matt should get the money.

What I didn't occur to me when I posted my message the other night is that while the community can own the content, it benefits by giving Matt the rewards.
posted by crunchland at 4:19 AM on June 3, 2004


Matt owns the content. Try telling him to delete all your posts and comments from the database.

"All posts are © their original authors." Sounds nice and all, but Matt owns the database. He's free to sell it, distroy it, or chop it up and hand it out. If someone reverse engineered the database by screen scraping Matt would an easy time suing them. I doubt he would, but thse are the facts.

Matt owns the content.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:27 AM on June 3, 2004


The whole debate about who owns the content reminds of how ownership of a medical records (in the US at least) works. The patient owns all the information inside the medical record. The hospital owns the physical copy of the record and can thus charge the patient for a copy of the information they own.
posted by Apoch at 6:28 AM on June 3, 2004


soon we will all be waking up with golden arches tattooed on our asses

THAT'S why my left buttock has been itching like hell all day!

damn, damn you all!
posted by matteo at 7:45 AM on June 3, 2004


No matter how many times you emphatically say it, y6, it doesn't necessarily make it so. I think the subject is debatable.
posted by crunchland at 7:48 AM on June 3, 2004


I don't have a problem with Matt trying to make some money here. If he can get $1,000 for a small banner ad, I don't think the community loses anything.

This isn't a charity -- running a high-traffic, high-server load Web site for a high-maintenance crowd of fussy mopes like Crunchland is a lot of work. I've made a few attempts over the years to build online communities. It's harder than simply being in the right place at the right time.

In my opinion, the things that contributed most to this site's popularity are the simple, well-designed user interface; Matt's laid-back, even-tempered editorial guidance; his odd decision to trust all users with the front page; and the sense of user ownership that the decision cultivated.
posted by rcade at 7:58 AM on June 3, 2004


I think the subject is debatable.

Then let's debate it. Someone owns the copyright on the MetaFilter database as a collective work. Have you ever seen a case where the operator of an online discussion forum did not own the collective copyright to user-submitted contributions?

There isn't an opportunity under copyright law, as far as I know, for thousands of people to share in a collective copyright simply by contributing to the same forum. At most, each of us has an individual copyright limited solely to our own contributions.
posted by rcade at 8:10 AM on June 3, 2004


"No matter how many times you emphatically say it, y6, it doesn't necessarily make it so."

Well, yes, of course. In fact with the frequency that I'm full of crap it might actually tend to cast doubt.

But with this issue I have case law on my side. Unless he decides to mark the database public domain, Matt owns the content. Me saying it doesn't make it so; the definition of what "owns" means in this context makes it so.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:13 AM on June 3, 2004


I can't believe there are people so niggardly as to not want Matt to make money on this site.
posted by rocketman at 8:32 AM on June 3, 2004


crunchland - are you just being contrary, or do you actually have a problem with Matt selling ads?
posted by bshort at 8:47 AM on June 3, 2004


I've already easily tolerated letting the advertising camel stick his nose into this tent, and won't have trouble getting the camel's whole head (does that sound right?). The community could probably stand about halfway up the neck without adverse effects, but when the first hump crosses the line, trust me, there will be nothing left but camelburgers.

This analogy needs to be shot and buried in a desert far, far away.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 9:27 AM on June 3, 2004


a) the bandwidth fees are provided for by someone generous, so those otherwise substantial costs are zero, b) Matt can generate enough user donations to pay for new equipment at the drop of a hat

Er, so? Those both seem like non sequitors to me. I do not understand why cash costs should play a factor in the "morality" of selling advertising.

Who owns the content of Metafilter, and who should benefit financially from it?

I like to think I own the content of the posts I have made. If I could figure a way to make money from them, I would.

Matt, however, owns this implementation of their presentation. And Matt wishes to make some money from his presentation mechanism.

Again, I see this as a non sequitor: the presentation medium is a wholly separate thing from the message in the medium.

When I write a letter to the editor, I do not get to claim part of the newspaper's advertising income. There are magazines, sold for profit, which rely on donated articles; the authors do not claim part of the magazine's income.

When I post to MeFi, I do not get to lay claim of ownership to Matt's time, hardware, bandwidth, or income.

In short, I don't see your talking points as a rational rationale. Please restate them in a way that is rational, because I'm really quite curious as to how you can believe you have a right to the income, or a right to deny income.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 AM on June 3, 2004


As for the rationale, five fresh fish ... it boils down to this : Who owns the content of Metafilter, and who should benefit financially from it? If you believe that the community owns the content, then the community should get the rewards. If you believe Matt owns the content, then Matt should get the money.

Exactly what model are you working from here? Where do you see this in action? What community site or discussion board funnels all its ad revenue to the users? Are you applying some weird old-school authorship royalty concept here? This sounds straightforward and all, but really, where are you getting it? You make it sound like this is a well-established model.
posted by scarabic at 9:40 AM on June 3, 2004


Well, a) the bandwidth fees are provided for by someone generous, so those otherwise substantial costs are zero, and b) Matt can generate enough user donations to pay for new equipment at the drop of a hat -- all he has to do is ask, and the community will make it happen... at least it has in the past.

Matt stated earlier in the thread that part of the hope with the 1K ads is that he can move to paid hosting. Clearly, given the recent downtime, the generous bandwidth he's being given isn't quite working out.

Everything I think has been said already, except this: I am extremely offended by Beth's suggestion that user fees are somehow less morally offensive than advertising. Limiting MeFi membership to a certain economic bracket — one that, when I first got a MeFi membership, would not have included me1 — is less obnoxious than one measly fuckin' ad? Get over yourself. It's easy to be pure when you don't have to worry about how you're going to pay your rent.

I co-own and edit a small alternative fortnightly paper which is only a few months old, and you're damn straight I sell ads, the more the better, big honkin' ads and if newsprint could run Flash ads I'd sell them too, the more the better, because my writers work hard and they effing deserve to get paid (which they aren't, because right now the ads aren't even covering the printer's bill) and you know what, so do I. And so does Matt.

This isn't about Matt being a saint — I am nobody's brown-noser and god knows if I ran MetaFilter it would be run pretty damned differently. But I don't, and obviously in its current state I, and crunchland and beth, think it's worth visiting despite its flaws.

1. Not that I'm implying this wouldn've been any great loss.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:45 AM on June 3, 2004


I return to you from my wanderings in the desert, logging in after lo these many months to give you the words the Lord spoke to me at a diner counter in Cabazon:

"Matt gets the dough. Crunchland, while annoying, is still one of My children. Oh, and pie is My greatest creation."

So saith the Lord.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:57 AM on June 3, 2004


Good to see ya back, K-man.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:41 AM on June 3, 2004


hallelujah
posted by matteo at 10:47 AM on June 3, 2004


jesus. it's just a little gif. relax. you guys act like you own the site or something. if it was up to me I'd put goatse at random intervals on certain threads.
posted by angry modem at 11:43 AM on June 3, 2004


Kaf, buddy, pal, mate, chum... those sound like the words of Zarathustra, not God.

But whoever it was, I'm totally with him on the pie thing.
posted by chicobangs at 11:49 AM on June 3, 2004


You know one day Matt will get a life. He'll step out of his house blinking into the light and discover things like plants, trees, tweeting birds, slutty women and hard drugs. And then he'll think why am I wasting my time with these losers when I could be spending it with sluts and plants. And who the fuck could blame him?

All I'm saying is anything that stops Matt captaining the good ship MeFi, will be day this whole place really does go to hell. And if a bit of advertising keeps Matt in his house and looking after us, then I'm all in favour of it.
posted by dodgygeezer at 1:00 PM on June 3, 2004


If you look at some of his other sites, I think you'll see evidence that he probably has more of a life than most people who post here do.

And isn't he married? (if not, there are slutty women here, too)
posted by bingo at 1:12 PM on June 3, 2004


chicobangs, are you saying That's How Zarathustra Talks?
posted by soyjoy at 1:56 PM on June 3, 2004


And if a bit of advertising keeps Matt in his house and looking after us, then I'm all in favour of it.

YES!

Truth is, I agree with beth and crunchland that advertising is icky. Further, I seriously have a problem with others (a stranger in this case) making money off of my (our) contributions. But then I remember that at any point Matt could simply pull the plug on this little experiment and find another project. I've learned a great deal from this site and I'm still here because this site has evolved. I don't want MetaFilter to end. So if a small advertisement keeps this place alive for a while longer, I'm all for it.
posted by BlueTrain at 2:04 PM on June 3, 2004


rcade - Have you ever seen a case where the operator of an online discussion forum did not own the collective copyright to user-submitted contributions?

The WELL.
posted by NortonDC at 2:37 PM on June 3, 2004


I seriously have a problem with others (a stranger in this case) making money off of my (our) contributions.

Not to disagree with you, this is a valid enough point, but it has a flip side. We like to cast ourselfs as the "contributors" to MetaFilter, those who created the content. But the tone of that is a little high-and-mighty. It's not like we've built an encyclopedia and now Matt is selling it door to door. You make it sound like we're altruistically building something, a tower of diamonds, outside of ourselves that we hope, out of some sense of noble purpose, will be great.

The flip side is that we're not "contributing" to anything by being here. We do this because we dig it. We enjoy being here, we laugh, we learn, we all benefit all the time. We're communicating with each other here, not building some grand database of intelligence and wisdom. I just think that the "I don't like someone benefitting from what we made" routine is a little self-centered.

Obviously many have made the point that Matt has to do quite a bit of hard work for us to even have a place to learn, communicate, and play. I don't see why we're entitled to anything for using it.
posted by scarabic at 2:38 PM on June 3, 2004


The flip side is that we're not "contributing" to anything by being here.

Our contributions cause page-views. Our comments here may or may not be the end result. Remember, if this community were private, advertisers wouldn't approach Matt because they wouldn't know what's to gain. Because we post and comment, MetaFilter receives attention from the media, outsiders, and future members. We contribute a lot, collectively.

We're communicating with each other here, not building some grand database of intelligence and wisdom.

Who is to say that this database isn't being created? Advertisers (potentially) like us because we're affluent, intelligent, and have a (potential) proclivity to spend our cash on "stuff". For all we know, there's a guy out there right now using our collective contributions to write papers on Bush, Gore, religion, Microsoft, Google, etc. In fact, there have been papers written, and articles published, using our contributions. We're worth something. Our contributions are valuable and I would hate to see our content abused without our permission.

Again, I like MetaFilter and want it to stay. If that means that Matt gets a couple grand a month based on small ads, so be it (God knows I've never clicked any ads, but I could be in the minority). But our contributions (collectively) are valuable and shouldn't be taken for granted or abused.
posted by BlueTrain at 3:01 PM on June 3, 2004


If what you [that's a generic you] has to say is so damn valuable, then get off your ass and make some money off it.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:20 PM on June 3, 2004


soyjoy, you didn't know there were words to that, eh?

Maaaattttt...
caaaaaaan...
haaaaaaaaave...

THE DOUGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Pie-pie Pie-pie Pie-pie Pie-pie Pie-pie Pie-pie ....


etc.
posted by chicobangs at 3:29 PM on June 3, 2004


Our contributions cause page-views.

Yes, but consider that the pageviews you talk about may not be something we create. They may be *us.* I'm not sure that the advertisers are so interested in piggy-backing on the community here to ride its gravvy train to more pageviews. I think they're interested in reaching us. If you want to object to something, object to Matt offering someone access to you, not the fruits of your "contributions" (which, seriously, are web links and commentary thereon - what is this "database" or "content" we're even talking about, anyway?).

get off your ass and make some money off it

Indeed, a fair point. Someone like crunchland, who's been called out for copious awesome posts has got to have what it takes to set up a little gravvy train of his own somewhere. If it's not worth the trouble, the cost, the ramp-up while audiences find it (wherever it may be) then I guess there is something that Matt offers this good-as-gold community.
posted by scarabic at 3:32 PM on June 3, 2004


I think my contributions alone could bring in 15k a year, easy.

I WANT MY COMPENSATIONS!!!!!!!!!
posted by Blue Stone at 3:40 PM on June 3, 2004


If you want to object to something, object to Matt offering someone access to you, not the fruits of your "contributions"

My "contributions" ARE me. And vice versa. No one here knows what I look like, who is in my family, how much I make, or what I want from life because I've never mentioned them. BUT, I have mentioned that I love Sony products, I'm a vegetarian, I'm not planning to vote for Bush, etc. That's information that could be otherwise used to market products to my demographic.

what is this "database" or "content" we're even talking about, anyway?

Are you seriously arguing that our comments aren't valuable? Our political threads are years ahead of most magazine articles I read. Our religious threads are far more enlightening than your garden-variety conversation with friends. Our "best-of-the-web" links have given all of us insight into completely different worlds. We're not changing the world; but we are helping to shape it (ever so slightly) with our discussions.
posted by BlueTrain at 3:42 PM on June 3, 2004




Are you seriously arguing that our comments aren't valuable?

What makes them valuable? They're not rare or hard to replace. mathowie could wipe out the database tomorrow and start user signups at ID number 2 without affecting traffic one iota.
posted by timeistight at 4:59 PM on June 3, 2004


After posting the second comment in the thread, I haven't checked back, and now it's pretty much too late.

Well shit, I would have liked to throw in with Crunchland and Beth, because, for one thing, it might have deflected some of the pot shots that so many assholes up thread were hurling, and for another, I agree with them. Bravo on the very brave dogpiling, by the way -- Matt was in real danger there for a minute, before you all came to his rescue.

The impression I've gotten, Matt, is that you're very busy with your others sites, your job, your life, and that you don't have the time that you would like to have to devote to the site. Perhaps you don't exactly have the inclination anymore, either. This is understandable. I don't care. I think that from a technical standpoint--that is, keeping the software that runs the site up to date, keeping the servers up, et cetera--you haven't done such a great job. In terms of moderating the site, inspiring the tone of the site, defining its ethos, you've done spectacularly well--and it is of course in those areas that metafilter has always exceled anyway. So, good. Over all, though, I don't get the feeling that Metafilter has as prominent a place in your life, on your list of priorities, as it does, ironically, for a lot of the users. This is fine with me.

In any case, my objection essentially boils down to the notion that if you were to (beyond merely covering the costs of running it as a hobby) make a profit off of Metafilter, it had better become something where you'd think of it not as a hobby, but as a responsibility. Right now, if something goes wrong with the server, or if there's some feature that is missing, you have the luxury of saying, "well, I'll get to it when I have time," and if you never have time, that's ok--you're a busy guy. If you start making money off of it, (first 12k, but there's no reason you couldn't make 50k just as easily) however, the nature of the game changes. Either it becomes your full-time job, or you're exploiting your users. Exploiting, because, if you're getting more than you're giving back, we are making money for you.

And I don't think you want it to be your full-time job. I'm sure it's already a lot of work, but right now it's just a lucrative hobby, which it sounds like you've already had pangs of guilt about in the past.

Would advertisements hurt me? No. But they would bug the hell out of me, on principle.

This is an interesting ethical question. A lot of people don't seem to care about this kind of shit, it doesn't bother 95% of the users in this thread, but it does kind of give me the creeps. It's your site, and you will do as you see fit, but speaking personally, I would be more than a little bothered if I saw them on the front page.
posted by Hildago at 5:00 PM on June 3, 2004


We obviously need to have a fundraiser to let Rusty from K5 run Metafilter.
posted by Stan Chin at 5:18 PM on June 3, 2004


No. I'm not just being contrary. I see an ethical issue here that it is clearly apparent that some of you have no desire to even contemplate. That so many of you are self-loathing enough to deny responsibility and ownership of your own words is pretty surprising.

I've never proposed that we all should get 1/17338th of any profit the site should make, or even any other fraction based on any other equation. I said very early on in this thread that if the profits were put into some sort of scholarship fund, or something similar -- I don't suppose it would be possible to figure out a charitable organization 17338 people could get behind. My point is that as a community, the community should profit, and not necessarily the guy who plays the traffic cop.

And, if you ask him, even Matt doesn't feel that the content and database belong to him.
posted by crunchland at 6:10 PM on June 3, 2004


Sorry Crunch. I'm a totally ignorant lump, but I think I just made my own point about building up audience awareness.

Are you seriously arguing that our comments aren't valuable?

Valuebale how? To whom? You mean for dollars on the open market? Perhaps I am arguing that. It's not as if we're talking about a pay-per-feed syndication deal where people pay for the comments. We're only talking about selling ad space on the site. This is a sale of eyeballs, not a sale of content. As I said before, the ad is designed to get to *us,* not to capitalize on our contributions to this site.

Of course the comments have value. As I said, we all have fun here, learn, grow, and communicate. That is the value. But you are laboring under the impression that our comments have some per-kilo value on the open market, which an ad would somehow cash in on, and I'm just saying: get real, it's a weblink and discussion site. In terms of objective value, you're not even authoring the backpages of the Wikipedia, here. Geez, you'd think MetaFiler was the only link/discuss site in the world...

If Matt were syndicating your comments to the NYTs, such that they appeared at the bottom of their news articles, that would suggest that our conversations have "value" with a capital $. As it is, they have value to us, and to anyone who wants to join in, and to many who just come here to lurk. But an advertiser is buying access to the eyeballs here, not buying the content itself, or rights thereto. When your contributions here get syndicated for top dollar, then you can be a diva and demand a cut.
posted by scarabic at 6:15 PM on June 3, 2004


If it weren't for all of us, Metafilter would look like this, and Matt wouldn't be able to ask for any money from anyone.
posted by crunchland at 6:21 PM on June 3, 2004


If it weren't for all of us, Metafilter would look like this

This assumes there are no hordes outside this gated community wanting to get in. We can all be replaced. I appreciate there's something special going on here, but it's not because of me (save it) or you. It is, as stated above, because of us. And I think the success of the collective comes from the collective, not the individual members.

I think that from a technical standpoint . . . [Matt hasn't] done such a great job.

You can argue this either way, but I will say this: I have an idea for a decent web app that would only need a dozen members to become really cool and helpful to me. And there are already more than a dozen relatives begging me to build it. But you know what? Every Sunday afternoon it loses out to doing nothing. Because the idea of starting is overwhelming. MetaFilter works ok right now. It's a decent codebase that does what it's supposed to do (and there are a lot of little features-- e.g., how archive URLs work sensibly, how you can get to username pages by id or name-- that seem like simple, "obvious" things but take time and care); pulling it apart and rebuilding some of the guts is a pretty big deal. I'm not defending Matt (obviously only running dog Capitalist lackeys do that), but I don't see why you all are happy to show up and talk on his dime and then get pissed when he wants to put an ad in a corner.
posted by yerfatma at 6:34 PM on June 3, 2004


This assumes there are no hordes outside this gated community wanting to get in. We can all be replaced.

Now. Now. 3-4 years ago there was an open membership policy with no caps. Then MetaFilter got published (because of our collective content, which then related to Matt's great work) and this site's popularity went through the roof.

If we never existed, and never contributed to this site, this site wouldn't exist. If we all leave NOW, on the other hand, of course we can all be replaced (although I sincerely doubt this site would be as intelligent; people here have learned to contribute usefully; they didn't just show up here and spew brilliance).

I cannot fathom how any of you can claim that your contributions aren't unique or useful. I know of several posters here who are extremely intelligent and have given great insight into subjects previously unknown to me.

This site is worth something NOW because of all of our past contributions. Advertising dollars are found because this community established itself as intelligent and many people enjoy reading our content. This wasn't the case 3-4 years ago. That's a huge distinction that you, scarabic, have failed to realize.
posted by BlueTrain at 6:49 PM on June 3, 2004


I've never proposed that we all should get 1/17338th of any profit the site should make, or even any other fraction based on any other equation.

I'll gladly pay the 5.7 cents you're due from every $1,000 banner ad if it will buy you a cup of shut the hell up.
posted by rcade at 7:07 PM on June 3, 2004


Since the pile-on appears to be continuing, let me just say that for a large part I'm with crunchland on this one. Matt certainly does some wonderful work creating the infrastructure to allow MeFi to become what it is today, but in the end it's not just his baby, it's something we all created together. I have no problem with Matt using advertising to recoup his operating costs, and legally he can plaster advertisments all over the frontpage if it happens to tickle his fancy. But that does not mean we should all just "shut the hell up" about changes to the community site we've all built together (some putting more work into it than others, but still…), especially when it goes past cost and into profit.

On an aside, I'd prefer MeFi to remain text-only, but if there's big money in graphical ads, so be it.
posted by fvw at 7:32 PM on June 3, 2004


chicobangs, that's excellent.

crunchland, I know you're not trying to get into the fractions a la rcade's offer, but I think it's pretty simple.

For most of us, MeFi has enriched our lives. We've paid for that enrichment by providing content ourselves. That's one closed sytem.

(I gotta admit, maybe for you it looks like a bum deal becaue you've provided a lot of the top-shelf content, and I don't know how valuable you've found the site as a whole - but I think most Mefites who are not you will agree with the above correspondence and find that it pretty much comes out even, if not feeling like they still owe Matt or "the MeFi community" for all the fun.)

Here's the other system: Matt built MeFi and guided it and outfitted it, and continues to do so. Matt can be enriched however he chooses for that. That's a different system.
posted by soyjoy at 7:35 PM on June 3, 2004


that does not mean we should all just "shut the hell up" about changes to the community site we've all built together

who said that?
posted by scarabic at 7:37 PM on June 3, 2004


I said it. But I was only kidding. I can't recall an editorial policy here that Crunchland ever agreed with, and I'd hate to see him start now.
posted by rcade at 7:49 PM on June 3, 2004


I'm flattered that you've paid that close attention to what I write to discern my editorial stance. Does that mean you're actually a fan of mine?
posted by crunchland at 8:17 PM on June 3, 2004


When the guys getting their rocks off for free start complaining because the owner lets Trojan put up a poster on the wall, it's time to shut the joint down.

Folks, the harsh reality is that in the big scheme of things, MeFi is just a big gang-bang, and while your own bukkake words might have helped things come along to this point, it's really not important that the mess be allowed to linger.

Matt, pull out the jizzmop and wipe the hard drive clean. Time to wrap this party up.

I dead sincere on this, too. I get a lot from MeFi and I hope I give back enough, and I would really be at a loss if MeFi were to vapourise. But, Matt, if the cost:benefit ratio isn't working out to your favour, nuke the place. We'll all survive.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:27 PM on June 3, 2004


I don't read all your posts, Crunch. But I remembered that your response to text ads a year ago: You taught members how to block them and suggested that "Matt has finally sold us all out."

Amusingly enough, you complained a year ago about "invasive Google ads" on MetaFilter and are now running them on your site. Do you have any long-time users there as consistently ungrateful as you are here?
posted by rcade at 8:45 PM on June 3, 2004


next thing ya know, the man will have T-shirts and coffee mugs for sale.

not a sell-out. just selling.
so, rcade...get much revenue from cruel.com. I mean think of all the whips, chains and novacaine you could hawk.
posted by clavdivs at 8:55 PM on June 3, 2004


Metafilter: why am I wasting my time with these losers when I could be spending it with sluts and plants?

Relevant comment? I can only reiterate what has been said above, that 1. Matt surely has a right to do what he likes with his creation and 2. past evidence suggests that he takes his responsibility to the MeFi community very seriously, and will continue to do so.
posted by nomis at 9:15 PM on June 3, 2004


I have nothing to say.

Is Metafilter a type of Schroedinger's Cat?

Apparently I have something to say.
posted by ashbury at 9:32 PM on June 3, 2004


There are quite a few professional writers on MeFi whose every penny comes from what they write for a paying audience. As one of those hard-working hustlers (and one who has *snigger* "contributed" more than most), I find the ridiculous conceit that our ludic typing here is somehow dollar-worthy - to the point of enabling us to advise on the "profits" - hilarious.

Let me explain: MetaFilter doesn't solicit your contributions, however valuable you may deem them. We all know how highly intelligent you are and how, in an ideal world, punters would be queuing up to pay for the privilege of reading your comments.

However, your proud defense of your copyright and your authorship are profoundly beside the point. May I suggest you try to actually sell the rants, jokes and considered opinions you so generously offer this web site to a genuine publisher? You may feel flattered by the line "all posts are copyright of their original authors" and, hey, even, feel entitled. "Original authors" - that's something, surely?

Let me disabuse you of that notion. You're here - and you write here - because you enjoy it. In all probability, however pathetic it may seem to those of us who actually have to write for a living, this is probably the biggest audience you've ever had, right?

Well, I hate to break it to you - but it's Matt's MetaFilter that provides you with that audience. Try putting together all your brilliant arguments and insights and selling them to a publication or a publisher who is actually forced to sell them in a very, very, very crowded, competitive and content-rich market place.

Puf!

Face it, everyone: the only reason you're read by more than faithful friends is because you're posting to a web site which hundreds of people enjoy reading. Try the "get your own weblog, fuckwit" ploy and see how many stick with you. You may feel lovable, funny, respected, incisive, even essential but - how can I break it to you? - it's an illusion.

By all means collect all the wisdom and humour you've dispensed here - as well as all those fascinating, no doubt money-making links you've discovered - and propose them to a newspaper, magazine or book publisher. I'm sure they'd be very interested.

Finally, if you should argue that it's all of us together who make it great, consider how commercially successful the complete CD of MetaFilter since day one would be. Boy oh boy!

MetaFilter is a place built and maintained by Matt Haughey who, every day, saves it from all us savages, blowhards and dipshits who, if we had our own way, would have long ago driven it into the ground.

This American obsession with how many hours he puts into it and how much money he might make with it, forgets the essential fact that it's his creation; his highly successful idea; which he knew how to grow and maintain. Its success is measured by our willingness to come here and play - for fun, for bleeding, fuckin' fun, if I may me pardoned my French.

Perhaps the guy who invented Post-Its no longer helps with putting the glue on the little yellow notes. Perhaps the guy who came up with the vaccine against smallpox no longer gives a fuck. The guy who came up with the story line for "Six Feet Under" probably hasn't written a word in years. Hell, the designer of Manhattan's Central Park is dead - and yet I hear that people continue to enjoy it.

I'm loth to say it but I never realized - until this thread - how much Matt was resented and even envied.

It's more ridiculous than sad - but sad all the same...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:16 PM on June 3, 2004


In all probability, however pathetic it may seem to those of us who actually have to write for a living, this is probably the biggest audience you've ever had, right?

icky!
posted by eddydamascene at 10:30 PM on June 3, 2004


Oh.your.god.
posted by The God Complex at 10:45 PM on June 3, 2004


Can I just mention that I love the word 'ludic'?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:53 PM on June 3, 2004


Not until your book is out. If you say anything now Miguel will vociferously attack you for your pathetic viewing audience and delusions of grandeur. That's what happens when crunchland brings out his inner demon.
posted by The God Complex at 10:59 PM on June 3, 2004


Teehee, TGC! Crunchland really isn't the example - his own web site is a failed and desperate wannabe MetaFilter - and his objections here are more of a self-portrait than a critique. No, I think it's ordinary members - those without an axe to grind - who need to get a grip.

MetaFilter works - like all communication successes - because it brings together wildy disparate and theoretically incompatible sensibilities. It's the interaction, speed and spark that make it compelling. For any one of us to think they're important is to forget the main thing: we come here for all the others. Not for ourselves; not for the members X, Y and Z we love reading; but for the resulting, many-voiced buzz.

Talk about authorship and contributions are just stupid. We come here because we like the company. End of story, right? For example: I love reading your comments here vut, if you had a weblog all to yourself, would I go there? I'd certainly mean to. But would I go? No, of course not! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:38 PM on June 3, 2004


Well I must say that elegant piece of prose from the ludic Lusitanian (I love that word too, Stav) was, by itself, worth my monthly MeFi membership fee.
posted by nomis at 11:42 PM on June 3, 2004


That's why I don't have a weblog--the 'Miguel Factor." Besides, if I had my own weblog I'd have to respond to all the fanmail (I get enough women's undergarments in the mail as it is).

I am, however, contemplating a spread of photos that would consist in large part of me covered in hot oils clad in a bearskin and menacingly gripping a rather cumbersome war axe that looks as if it was created with the sole purpose of cleaving heads from shoulders. You'll be happy to know that this will be provided free of charge with full copyright available to any that wish it.

-----

You're telling me people won't pay unhealthy sums of money for an entire book of those random oddball antics? I guess I better get a job at a gas station so I can afford some marine rope to hang myself with.
posted by The God Complex at 11:57 PM on June 3, 2004


Imagine that we all met every day in a cafe for drinks and conversation. But this isn't an ordinary cafe. It's a little different in that we collectively set the menu, decide upon and provide some of the decor and entertainment—in short, we've made this a comfy place for us. Yes, "us" changes over time (and "us" is a lot more than just the frequent contributers); and, yes, the cafe owner built and opened the shop, cleans it up, locks the doors at night, is legally responsible for it, is responsible for throwing out the brawlers when they start knocking over tables and spitting on other people. He pays the building's rent, and when things go badly wrong, he takes the blame, not us. Not to mention that he's the single individual who's "contributed" the most.

Yes, all that is true. Even so, "we" hang out here, have made a it home away from home, in some moral sense, the place belongs to "us", too.

Or does it?

I think I'm arguing both viewpoints above, and for good reason...they're both, in their own way, completely correct. When it comes down to it, I think it's the cafe owner's cafe and, in a sense, we can go fuck ourselves if we don't like it. But of course we have strong feelings about how "our" little home-away-from-home cubbyhole changes or should change.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:32 AM on June 4, 2004


Well said, Miguel.
posted by scarabic at 1:08 AM on June 4, 2004


as stated, I don't have any problems with ads or matt making money, but I think hildago has a good point re profit = responsibility.

also, I just wanted to point out that just because you don't have to pay for something doesn't mean it's free.
posted by mr.marx at 1:31 AM on June 4, 2004


Good point, Cap'n Bligh. Allow me to play on your analogy, though. Of course we can enter this café and, barring outrageous behaviour, be allowed to carry on as we choose.

But hundreds of thousands of web sites already allow this (hundreds of which are very good, inviting and worth investing in, time and enthusiasm-wise). And yet do we - this motley, enormous crew - hang out there? No, we don't.

The truth is that Matt, thanks to a democratic, tolerant but normatively dignified and, in the end, ideologically rigorous policy, was able to attract a highly diverse (and therefore interesting) group of polar opposites; unlikely fellows and almost haphazard, anarchic members.

As all conservatives here - not to mention foreigners; younger or older users; eccentrics and outsiders - I have always felt <>at home here, even when I wasn't. It's 50% the design (which is unsurpassable: clean, efficient and satisfying) and 50% the atmosphere, which allows a maximum of dissenting/venting/flying-off-the-handle with a minimum of common-core humanistic values.

It works; it brings us in; it's compelling enough for us to care about it. But there's no denying, I think, that MetaFilter works because Matt has kept true to his own openness to others. If he tried to impose what he finds important or interesting; if he stuck to what he himself considers worthwhile "cool on the Web" links and deleted whatever he didn't approve of; MeFi would be a hundred times smaller.

What I think people fail to understand - valuable people, but with an authoritarian bent, likr all valuable people - is that Matt, not MetaFilter, is the cement, the go-between, the unifying mental structure. In this thread, for instance, he's clearly torn. Well, "torn" is his most glorious characteristic. Need I remind you that it took only a few complaints for him to nuke the link to the MeFi survey contained in the original pitch?

We users are free agents. Nobody asks us to post; nobody tries to influence how we post. In truth, we engage with each other. It's that electricity - that uncommon exchange between people who otherwise would be engaged with more like-minded characters - which makes us come back.

If Matt has no influence over us - and has made a conscious effort, disregarding blatant felonies - what right have we to blabber about a small advertisement on the front page? Have you actually looked at the size of the vote registration button? Do you really think advertisers will be clobbering themselves silly to expose themselves to such a cantankerous, money-pinching, comercially-suspicious bunch of freeloaders and anarchists of prey such as ourselves? Are we an easy sell? Huh, I'd say the worst in the world.

The controversy; the acrimony - this very disagreement - are what make us "contribute". But "contribute" is an hypocritical word, EB - the truth is we're all here because we enjoy being here. By all means start an Adless MetaFilter - use the clone and state we're all welcome.

Then see how many come.

Even Matt may not realize just how powerful this creation of his is. But it doesn't take much imagination to discover that he's the MeFi user who's had to put up with the most shit - and the only one who's cleaned up our mess without pushing an agenda of his own.

I think of MeFi as an Internet version of the Bill of Rights, put into practice. Considerations about money and work and what each citizen thinks are important, sure - but, more importantly, they're part of the exercise (and constantly changing) and the best possible proof of its marvellous power: attraction; engagement; pizzaz.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:33 AM on June 4, 2004


"But Grahill, I hate to interrupt Miguel when he's in the middle of his big dance number - you know how cranky he gets."

"Can't be helped, Opus. He's squirting brio all over the goddamn place again."

"Again? Jeez! Last time it was all we could do to hose it down before it hardened us all into a solid block of swoon."

"Hurry up, Opus. You know how well-hung his ardour is. If you don't stop him soon...."

"Oh all right, Grahill. But next time it's your turn. Now toss me one of those CardosoGuard™ disposable ponchos...."
posted by Opus Dark at 3:35 AM on June 4, 2004


Oh, jeebus, the prolix leading the verbose.

Administrator: please hope me!
posted by dash_slot- at 4:38 AM on June 4, 2004


Wow. I don't think I've ever seen Miguel dispense a beating before. His post isn't even a good-natured. What has this corrosive community done to our bilingual bon vivant?

One nit -- Crunchland isn't a "failed and desperate wannabe MetaFilter." It's a 14-year-old local BBS in the D.C. area that moved to the Web and has 500+ members and an active message base.

As a former BBS sysop, I admire how he kept a community alive by bringing it to the Web. And I don't think I've ever seen a more nicely designed UBB. I just find it weird that he deprecates Matt's work -- "the server has been down about as often as it's been up", sell-out, etc.

Even if you think that we're all a bunch of sycophants lashing out at anyone who criticizes our Dear Leader, you ought to recognize that running a site like this would be, on many occasions, a major pain in the ass.
posted by rcade at 4:53 AM on June 4, 2004


The truth is, I know that fussy users like me are no more difficult to deal with than any other kind of user, despite your earlier point. Aside from an occasional redesign of the look of the front page, and creating a couple banner ads (things I do because I like to, not because I have to), it's not that difficult to maintain. But then, I don't need to closely monitor the message base, and I never delete people's messages. They're responsible for their content, and anything that comes as a result of it.

When I wrote Matt a note the other day, I told him that the irony of me complaining despite the fact that I also run a community message base wasn't lost on me. I think it may be because I do run one that I may feel so strongly about it... or why I even bother to think about it in the first place.

Maybe I am not a sysop of Matt's stature. Maybe I don't need to be, on a place so much more insignificant than Metafilter, but I know I am not the "cement that holds the place together." I know I'm not as important to my site as Miguel makes Matt out to be. There, as here, I believe that its the users that make the place what it is. Maybe I'm deluding myself, but there, I'm just another user who happens to know a few more passwords.

But I guess I really shouldn't be dissuading people from their hero-worship. People need other people to look up to, and Matt is as good a person to look up to than anyone else, I suppose. If anything holds this place together, it's the copious jizz from people like Miguel.
posted by crunchland at 5:42 AM on June 4, 2004


If anything holds this place together, it's the copious jizz from people like Miguel.

Fertile, those iberian wordsmiths, ain't they?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:53 AM on June 4, 2004


In all probability, however pathetic it may seem to those of us who actually have to write for a living, this is probably the biggest audience you've ever had, right?

Dear Miguel Cardoso,

Fuck you and your smug superiority.

To quote you back to yourself:

You may feel lovable, funny, respected, incisive, even essential but - how can I break it to you? - it's an illusion.
posted by reklaw at 5:55 AM on June 4, 2004


That's OK, son - when people are as articulate as you (I loved the way you put together "fuck" and "you", not to mention the brilliant alliterative juxtaposition of "smug" and "superiority") I don't mind the odd constructive critique. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:00 AM on June 4, 2004


Er, for all the crap I've given Miguel in the past, I'm going to suggest no one step up to him right now. Brother's bringing it. Who knew there was a 6th gear?
posted by yerfatma at 8:20 AM on June 4, 2004


Migs, this is the highest-tempered I've ever known you to be. Though I think it's quite in order. I'm appalled by this thread.
posted by orange swan at 8:24 AM on June 4, 2004


O.K., let's see if it's possible to be more articulate re the "failed and desperate wannabe MetaFilter" Cardoso snark.
it is pretty harsh. and probably way, way too personal, Miguel.

"the biggest audience you ever had"? Miguel, you're seasoned enough a writer to know that audience isn't everything -- not to mention that MetaFilter is apparently MiguelCardoso's biggest English-reading audience, too. so let's not nitpick about that. MeFi is everybody's largest audience. it's wrong to single out crunch.

I like many of your posts here Miguel and you know it, and I'm willing to assume that your books are really good -- regardless of how much they sell. and I have no problem with Matt selling ads, as I have written earlier: but your crunchland's snark was way, way out of line.
posted by matteo at 8:29 AM on June 4, 2004


But I guess I really shouldn't be dissuading people from their hero-worship

could you please just let go of that line of total and complete bullshit...? i don't really have a clue who matt is, i've never visited his personal website, i have no idea what else he does on or offline. i don't like or dislike him, i simply do not know him; i most certainly do not worship him, nor do the overwhelming majority of mefites. insisting that we must all be addled brain fans because we don't see your point is a most odious conceit on your part. people disagree with you because there are other ways to look at this particular situation, and it boggles the mind that you can't accept that without flinging this particular insult our way. i too have run a vibrant high traffic community where the content was user generated conversation, and despite how fabulous the users were it was still my project, which i created and maintained. it mattered not how good i was at it or how much time i put into it - that had no bearing on the fact it was mine, to do with as i pleased. my idea, my execution, my website - visit, use it, or don't. i was entitled to do with it what i wanted, from putting ads on the front page, to deleting the whole thing on a whim (which is precisely what i did after 4 years). i never did get around to selling ad space, i was too busy with other things to worry about it... even tho' my user base constantly encouraged me to do it - "come on trace, make some money off this baby", they'd say. "we love coming here, and it would be nice to see you compensated for giving us a community we enjoy being part of". that old community's user base (who still belong to other projects of mine) still constantly encourage me to make money from one of my other high traffic user oriented sites. so obviously there is more than one type of user, more than one way to run a community, and you can choose which of those you're going to be and you can run yours any way you like. i understand you are vested in metafilter and it's healthy continuation, and you absolutely should voice your concerns, but could you please stop with the "you must be a blind follower to not agree with me" thing...? it's simply not accurate and to insist on it fully devalues your own position on the subject.
posted by t r a c y at 8:36 AM on June 4, 2004


You know, I'm pretty sure I said what Miguel has said, but in far, far fewer words. To wit: "If what you [that's a generic you] has to say is so damn valuable, then get off your ass and make some money off it."

But I suppose that's the difference between being a professional author and being a technical writer: the former are paid for their verbosity, the latter for their ability to get to the point in words everyone can understand.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:41 AM on June 4, 2004


I agree with Miguel on Matt's importance to the success of MeFi. His light and judicious touch; his good humor and notable even-temper; his attractive, useful, and thoughtful site design—these things collectively have been critical to MeFi's success. Matt pretty much doen't do almost anything wong (excepting the site's reliability, of course). It may seem like "not screwing things up" is a low bar to set, but it's actually pretty high. It is very difficult and unusual for someone in Matt's position to consistently make the good choices that he makes.

Recognizing this is not "hero worship". Other than what I've described here, I know almost nothing about Matt. Maybe he tortures puppies in his spare time. In this context, I don't care. Matt is the only individual here who has been a prerequisite for MeFi being what it is. And MeFi's been a big success, a lot of fun, and influential.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:44 AM on June 4, 2004


Also, I'm a little cheezed that my bukkake metaphor wasn't hailed as brilliant. I thought it was a wonderful, over-the-top bit of vile bile. It didn't make anyone laugh out loud or retch? Damn.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 AM on June 4, 2004


225+ COMMENTS?

Aren't you people done yet? It's a little tiny ad worth $1000/month, it's not Adrian Fucking Brody and Kate Beckinsale (Oh Kate, how could you, I'll never enjoy Cold Comfort Farm the same!) selling out to Diet Coke!
posted by Shane at 8:56 AM on June 4, 2004


A note: I'm torn on the complaints against mine and Miguel's verbosity. I agree that concision is generally a virtue. I also admit that my own instinctive reaction to verbosity in others is also negative. On the other hand, one thing that has always offended me about the complaints against verbosity is the implicit (often explicit) assumption that they indicate an excessive sense of self-importance. Yeah, they can, and perhaps often do; but this is not necessarily the case. In my case, I don't expect anyone to read what I write regardless of length—I assume that if I'm too verbose for someone's purposes, they'll skip what I've written. If I want to reach those readers, then it is my responsibility to edit my writing accordingly. It's my problem, not yours. But also, some verbosity can be both a stylistic and utilitarian choice—I repeat my points because it is my judgment that an idea presented multiple times from different viewpoints is far more likely to be successfully communicated to the audience (both on an individual and collective basis). I also prefer to avoid ambiguity. I recognize that this may make my writing tedious to some people—but please be assured that it is not a deliberate insult to such people, or an implication that their indivdual opinion and sensibilities are any less important to me than anyone else's. It's a judgment call, and one of temperment.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:02 AM on June 4, 2004


oi.
posted by taz at 9:11 AM on June 4, 2004


Right now it is clearer than ever that Miguel is a paid writer, because no other professional would have any reason to inflate "it's Matt's site, he can do what he wants," and "get your own blog, fuckwit" into a thousand word essay strung over three comments. I heart you, by the way.

Miguel, these are all points which have been brought up before. They do not really address the substance. No one denies that Matt has the power to do what he wants, but it has been known for some time is that this is a community site, and Matt is a largely ethical creature, so the precedent of users making suggestions and voicing concerns is well established, and in keeping with the spriit of the site. The fact that this is the minority opinion in no way indicates that it isn't worth being heard -- either it will be ultimately persuasive or it won't be, and there's no fucking reason why anybody should be trying to browbeat anybody else into submission.

And everybody on Metafilter already has a blog. It's pretty much a cover charge to get in. Matt has a blog, too, and it's not called Metafilter. Metafilter is a community web log that we all participate in, where Matt has power and is first among equals. He has the ability to do what he wants, but, deeply to his credit, he chooses not to exercise it with the arbitrariness that a lot of commenters in this thread are urging. See above.

The rationale, I believe, is that it stops being a community site when Matt starts using his superpowers, so, wanting to run a community site, Matt stays in the background. Therefore, the claim (I paraphrase here) that "Matt is God, live with it," while descriptive, is worth precisely nothing as an argument.
posted by Hildago at 9:12 AM on June 4, 2004


But also, some verbosity can be both a stylistic and utilitarian choice—I repeat my points because it is my judgment that an idea presented multiple times from different viewpoints is far more likely to be successfully communicated to the audience (both on an individual and collective basis).

Verbosity = Using more words than is necessary to get your point across. It may be your choice, but if you choose verbosity, you are by definition communicating less successfully to the audience.

Also, crunchland: what t r a c y said. The fact that we disagree with you doesn't mean we don't understand your POV.
posted by soyjoy at 9:19 AM on June 4, 2004


Re verbosity: People have damn short attention spans. You're going to get your point across to half as many people if you write long comments. It's just the way it is. Terse is an art, too, if not in Hemingway's "see dick run" sentences, then in Hammett's lean, sharp prose.

If you write long, you need some good hooks and punchlines to keep people involved.

EB, I'm not ragging on your style, I'm just pointing out that many people surf furtively at work between doing other things, and often long comments get ignored or receive Beavis reading comprehension ("Um, words... words... more words....")
posted by Shane at 9:25 AM on June 4, 2004

"Verbosity = Using more words than is necessary to get your point across. It may be your choice, but if you choose verbosity, you are by definition communicating less successfully to the audience."—soyjoy
Yes, but I use the term "verbosity" as a convenience, not as a concession to its appropriateness. The heart of the matter is the question of what is verbose for various purposes, with regard to various audiences. Specifically, a great many people, I think, instinctively assume something is verbose not because it is, but rather because they're not interested in some of the ideas that would otherwise be successfully communicated. Often, it's because those other things are minor points and not worth the effort. That, too, is a valid response; but it is "you're boring me", not "you're verbose". Also, "you're boring me" is not the same as "you're boring everyone and what you say has little value".

It's also the case that an audience's preferences and tolerances can greatly differ and are often a function of social norm. So, it's just not fair to equate "I don't like your writing/you are boring me" to "your writing is not very good/it has little value".

On preview: Shane, I completely agree, and that's why I said that it's my problem, not yours. But it's a utilitarian problem, not a moral failing on my part—which often seems to be the sebtext of many complaints. That's the only part of the complaint that really bothers me. As constructive criticism and an individual perspective, I value the complaint. As a personal attack, not so much.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:36 AM on June 4, 2004


That's OK, son - when people are as articulate as you (I loved the way you put together "fuck" and "you", not to mention the brilliant alliterative juxtaposition of "smug" and "superiority") I don't mind the odd constructive critique.

Oh, haw-haw, aren't you funny. What annoyed me was your basic contempt for people who aren't published authors (and it shows again there): the meaning of your overly-verbose post, essentially, was "no-one's posts here have any value because they aren't published like my excellent works of literature".

By all means collect all the wisdom and humour you've dispensed here - as well as all those fascinating, no doubt money-making links you've discovered - and propose them to a newspaper, magazine or book publisher. I'm sure they'd be very interested.

I think that warrants a "fuck you", personally. According to you, anyone who can't get their work published must accept that their writing has absolutely no value, and let others profit off it as much as they please. It's the same thing that newspaper journalists say when they steal whole pages from the web and pass them off as their own -- the idea that things on the internet cannot have any value, because they aren't "published". It well and truly rubs me up the wrong way.

Then again, everyone else seems to love you so I imagine I'm unlikely to get any support on this.
posted by reklaw at 9:40 AM on June 4, 2004

"Then again, everyone else seems to love you so I imagine I'm unlikely to get any support on this.—reklaw
No, Miguel was definitely out-of-line in this regard with his post. But his essential point was a good point: that especially given that the context here is a discussion of commercialization, the marketplaces's value of our contribution is both a valid and deeply revealing measurement. And Miguel is right: it's nil.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:44 AM on June 4, 2004


my bukkake metaphor wasn't hailed as brilliant.

what do you want, to be showered with applause?

no, wait...
posted by matteo at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2004


Yes, but I use the term "verbosity" as a convenience, not as a concession to its appropriateness. The heart of the matter is the question of what is verbose for various purposes, with regard to various audiences. Specifically, a great many people, I think, instinctively assume something is verbose not because it is, but rather because they're not interested in some of the ideas that would otherwise be successfully communicated. Often, it's because those other things are minor points and not worth the effort. That, too, is a valid response; but it is "you're boring me", not "you're verbose". Also, "you're boring me" is not the same as "you're boring everyone and what you say has little value".

It's also the case that an audience's preferences and tolerances can greatly differ and are often a function of social norm. So, it's just not fair to equate "I don't like your writing/you are boring me" to "your writing is not very good/it has little value".

On preview: Shane, I completely agree, and that's why I said that it's my problem, not yours. But it's a utilitarian problem, not a moral failing on my part—which often seems to be the sebtext of many complaints. That's the only part of the complaint that really bothers me. As constructive criticism and an individual perspective, I value the complaint. As a personal attack, not so much.
Um...words... more words... SEE? :-) Just kidding, I hear ya, EB.

BTW, I'd like to cast my vote for no more use of the word "son" on MeFi. In America, it's a juvenile way kids use to insult someone and pick a fight. Also it has connotations of whites calling blacks "son" way back before civil rights. It's just a stupid damned insult, IMO. Classless. Pick something better. Fuckwit hasn't seen much use lately.
posted by Shane at 10:09 AM on June 4, 2004


especially given that the context here is a discussion of commercialization, the marketplaces's value of our contribution is both a valid and deeply revealing measurement. And Miguel is right: it's nil.

I'm not sure I follow the argument. Because the monetary value of it nil, it's fine to stick ads all over it? Surely if our content causes someone to look at one of those ads when they otherwise would not have done so then it does, in fact, have some commercial value. "[T]he ridiculous conceit that our ludic typing here is somehow dollar-worthy" becomes somewhat less ridiculous when someone is, in fact, making dollars from people coming to view our ludic typing and clicking the ads next to it.

Oddly enough, I have no real problem with Matt selling ads as much as he wants, but this side-argument misses the reason why he should be allowed to. The reason isn't that our comments are worthless, but rather that we've chosen to post them to a forum Matt built up and owns. Miguel's whole bit about shopping our words around some publishers is a distraction, and -- given that he is a published author and that we're all aware of that fact -- an insulting one at that.
posted by reklaw at 10:11 AM on June 4, 2004


Yes, but I use the term "verbosity" as a convenience, not as a concession to its appropriateness.

Which is the difference between your verbosity and Miguel's (to me). I read that as, "I'm using a word that means something different than what I'm saying because I feel that I can surround it with enough other words so you'll get what I meant to mean from the context. Now let me say that again." Take a look at Miguel's flights of prose and yours. One is subtle shadings of meaning which may or may not be interesting to others. Yours, like most of my overlong comments, is circling around the point because you didn't settle on it beforehand.
posted by yerfatma at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2004


What annoyed me was your basic contempt for people who aren't published authors (and it shows again there): the meaning of your overly-verbose post, essentially, was "no-one's posts here have any value because they aren't published like my excellent works of literature".

I didn't get that at all. I don't think Miguel was excepting himself; when he says:

In all probability, however pathetic it may seem to those of us who actually have to write for a living, this is probably the biggest audience you've ever had, right?

I take it to mean "Even we professional writers, who would dearly love to have a huge audience for our published work, have to admit our biggest audience is here at MeFi," which is admirably humble. I admit it's possible to read it your way (with the emphasis on "you [losers]"), and if that's what Migs meant he deserves a thrashing, but I don't think it is. And I'm not by any stretch of the imagination one of Miguel's claque (just ask him!).

Miguel's whole bit about shopping our words around some publishers is a distraction, and -- given that he is a published author and that we're all aware of that fact -- an insulting one at that.

No, the fact that we're aware that he is a published author means that we should recognize he knows what he's talking about. I am, in a small and unremunerative way, a published author myself, and I fully recognize the truth of what he says. It's not a distraction, it's the cold facts: your words are "worth" what someone's willing to pay for them, and no one's willing to pay for ours. Being willing to pay for our eyes looking at ads is not remotely the same thing.

(Also, how can I resist someone who uses great words like ludic?)

Amusingly enough, you complained a year ago about "invasive Google ads" on MetaFilter and are now running them on your site.

Heh. Busted!
posted by languagehat at 10:38 AM on June 4, 2004


With the absence of quonsar in this thread, I give you:

WILL YOU TWO SHUT THE FUCK UP! SOME OF US IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WOULD LIKE TO GET SOME SLEEP BEFORE WORK TOMORROW!
posted by dflemingdotorg at 10:43 AM on June 4, 2004


reklaw, miguel's pride comes from making his living entirely by writing. if you haven't tried it, you should know that's quite an accomplishment--more so than just being published, in fact.

i would guess that lots of us here are published writers, but very few are full-time professional writers. getting paid for words is hard, time-intensive work, no matter their brilliance. making a claim of copyright to your posts (in the sense that it is your property and has market value) is ignorant and even offensive--should you be one of those prickly writers--to those who try to making a living at this.

i don't swim in your toilet; please don't pee in my pool.

(on preview: languagehat just said this more succinctly . . .)
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:53 AM on June 4, 2004


I'll try to keep this brief, but I want to address the important points made so far and it may go long.

I knew putting the actual price of the ads would make some uncomfortable and debated adding it for some time. I could have just put $1/CPM and still mentioned the 1M+ pages and an advertiser could probably figure it out, but I just wanted to make it clear. I know mixing money with leisure activities and especially with community projects that are somewhat co-owned by all is a murky situation. I'm keenly aware of all the implications of this and I do my best to make the most careful choices. I think the previous years back me up on that. Let me run down the major points of contention.

The Economics. Money changes everything, it's true, and with the half decade of history blogs have and even longer for online community projects, making money has rarely been possible and never been the point. Recently a half dozen or so folks have started figuring out ways to make a few bucks from weblogs, and in this respect, blogging is a lot like the web in 1995. I've put a lot of time into building and running the place and put frankly, I would be more than happy to make it my full-time job. I've had a lot of emotional ups and downs with this place but as I near five years of it I've reached a zen state where I can't see myself selling it out or shutting it down. I have a lot of ideas for it, but little time to devote to it which explains why so many things get neglected around here. I have a personal target amount where I can quit my dayjob and just develop websites like this. It's more than $1k/month, and if I got advertisers, it wouldn't get me completely to that amount, but it would get me much closer. I already live a charmed life where I get to do work I love and if I could focus just on my most personal projects and make a living from it, I think my life's dream would just about come true. I don't believe the amount is an insane one, as I said it'd mean about $10/hr for me to devote to it. When raising money, a classic business model for anything that is regarded as "free" is to give it away to most folks, but have a few benefactors. I believe one or two advertisers footing the bill for everyone else is a better setup than squeezing everyone for a few bucks.

The Ads Themselves. I don't know if I'll even be able to wrangle up an advertiser willing to spend that much money. All the earlier advice is sound - I should have demographics of blog readers (the blogads survey is the most comprehesive so far), I need to have actual data on click-throughs and impressions. Even with that, getting an advertiser is a longshot. On top of that, I would never, ever, do anything to significantly impact the user experience. I turned off the Google image ads the day I saw my first because they were so obnoxious. Any ads I take will be tasteful and simple, and lead to products or services I believe are good and can be trusted. I've already turned down a potential advertiser because it seemed on the surface to be slightly shady. I'm going to be selective purposely so that any image isn't annoying or invasive. I don't ever want to drive anyone away from the site.

I take user experience here very seriously. I wrote a book about MetaFilter's design. I originally developed the comments as they are in response to Slashdot's crappy comment experience. I used CSS for layout back in 1999 to make the pages as fast as possible. I've only added features slowly and made efforts to ensure that changes impact the site experience as little as possible. I believe I am thoughtful of what users want and need and tread very carefully. Last year I explained why I accepted ads for Google on the site. Given my criteria, I don't even know if I'll ever get an advertiser on the site, and I'm comfortable if no one bites in the next few weeks (at which point I'll likely just take down the ad link).

Who Owns What. I've studied how communities grow and behave for years now, contributed to a book on it, and have debated the issue of Who Owns What with numerous community leaders and users. I want to restate that communities are a special beast and that it's tough to say exactly where ownership of it begins and ends. When I started this place, everyone said I was like a bar owner and I should rule the bar however I see fit and if people didn't like it, then fuck 'em. I never subscribed to that point of view. I believe the power and magic of a community lies with its users, and though I spend a great deal of effort and time making this place as comfortable as possible, I don't believe I am owed full possession of all that goes on here. On the flip side, I don't believe all members of a community own it equally. There is some fuzzy area in between my ownership of the site, server, and code, and the contributions of others. I also take this point seriously and MetaTalk exists so that everyone has a say in how things go on here. I have read every word of this thread so far and have learned a lot from the feedback. I don't believe it's my show entirely and I'm aware of the value of everyone's contributions and hope I'm not overstepping the bounds of what is acceptable by allowing an advertiser to display their image on the site.

What Does Money Buy? Lastly, I want to make clear what the point of money is here. I would like to buy new servers without having to dip into my personal savings or deal with the headaches of collecting thousands of donations. I would like to fund more scholarship funds. I would like to be able to purchase software as needed and eventually move to a high availability host with plenty of bandwidth. These are all things I think would be great to fund out of some corporation's payment for an ad, instead of by us all.

To wrap up, I know this is a touchy issue and I assure you if I get an advertiser here it won't be annoying and I won't mind if you block the ad. The money will go towards my time and incidentals that crop up when running a community, and I believe that new stuff the money buys will offset any visual impact it makes on the site. To everyone that participates on the site and especially to those that participated on this thread, I want to thank you for spending time here, sharing your thoughts, and helping build a wonderful community. I make mistakes like everyone else and I appreciate that many folks are here to point out when I misstep.

Thanks again.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:31 AM on June 4, 2004


Thanks, Matt.

There really doesn't need to be a debate here. It's not a matter of worshipping or idolizing you -- or at least it shouldn't be. Hell, I don't even know you other than that apparently you used to live down the street from me a while back, and that your public conduct has demonstrated you're a decent guy.

The simple fact that as our host, you should be afforded some respect in how you operate the joint. People should of course be free to respectfully disagree with you and perhaps even try respectfully to persuade you to change your mind about something, as happened with the survey, but crikey, I wish people would cut you a break!

As it happens, I'll probably block the ad -- just as I do with googlesyndication.com; I'd block my own ads if I had any -- but you ought to be free to slap it up there. Your track record's shown you are pretty good about what you do with money that comes in from this, and once various suggestions have been made and opinions offered, I don't think metatalk needs to micromanage your time or your money.
posted by majick at 12:23 PM on June 4, 2004


Re $$:
Making money legitimizes things. Sad but true. And weblogs/'Net communities could use some legitimizing and respect.

People: "Lotsa people read this and they can sell advertising? It must be 'real'! Let's take it seriously..."
posted by Shane at 12:31 PM on June 4, 2004


I think it's time for a beer.
posted by Stan Chin at 12:52 PM on June 4, 2004


Matt, thanks for a thoughtful response. I don't like the idea of [lucrative, graphic] ads because I think they would change the nature of the site, however what you said is somewhat reassuring.
posted by Hildago at 1:18 PM on June 4, 2004


EB & MC: brevity is the soul of wit. Do more with fewer words. Speech is silver, silence is gold. Etcetera. In other words: get to the point already, dammit. We're working on Internet time here.

fap fap fap.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:23 PM on June 4, 2004


"I believe one or two advertisers footing the bill for everyone else is a better setup than squeezing everyone for a few bucks."

I can think of one company that ought to jump at it.


posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:15 PM on June 4, 2004


Thanks Matt. You have my blessing as an ordained minister in the Church of Spiritual Humanism (Presleytarian).
posted by dash_slot- at 3:58 PM on June 4, 2004


you know what? if you explained the whole "pepsi blue" thing to pepsico, i bet they'd totally buy ad space.

EB: you write beautifully. Write as much as you want, but realize that most of us (especially during the workday) don't have the time/energy/desire to read a big block of text. It's hit and run for a lot of us.
posted by amberglow at 4:58 PM on June 4, 2004


Go for it, Matt.
If Apple doesn't buy a 125x125 ad here, sell your stock, NOW!

And, speaking as a semi-professional writer who the Social Security department has determined should be getting 100% of his income from his writing, I agree wholeheartedly with Miguel, in all of his Verbosity As a Second Language, and the only copyright-based concession I'd ever want from MetaMatt would be if I somehow develop a comment here into the basis for a book or movie for which I have received an obscene advance, I would request him to quiety delete the original post.
...which of course, will never happen unless I hitch a ride on a ship propelled by the Infinite Improbability Drive.
posted by wendell at 5:54 PM on June 4, 2004


christ, matt you have more patience than a saint. i'd've pulled the plug on this baby just to show people who's in control way before now, and you're sitting there writing reasonable arguments.

in the end, people can vote with their feet. it's the usual free market standoff - and putting an ad on the front page is nowhere near the line where the masses are going to take their custom elsewhere. so by the pragmatic morals that govern the rest of our lives, there's no issue here.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:59 PM on June 4, 2004


Two cogent, timely arguments.
posted by Hildago at 9:48 PM on June 4, 2004


Delicious irony. This is what crash's comment looked like to me :

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

'[munched]' meaning my adblocker, the superb Admuncher, blocked the image because it was called ad.jpg. Heh.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:34 PM on June 4, 2004


why am I wasting my time with these losers when I could be spending it with sluts and plants.

Sluts and plants! They're the new 'hookers and blow'.
posted by wackybrit at 10:09 AM on June 5, 2004


Amusingly enough, you complained a year ago about "invasive Google ads" on MetaFilter and are now running them on your site.

for what it's worth ... I wasn't opposed to the google ads. I did discreetly tell people how to block them, but I never said Matt shouldn't use them. Of course, the stance I took then does make the stance I took here a bit more tenuous.

And as for my website, Crunchland, being a Metafilter wanna-be... the site was online at least 2 years before Metafilter was registered, and existed in another form for about 7 years before that. So, I guess the truth is, if you go by the sheer number of users, Metafilter is a wildly more successful Crunchland.
posted by crunchland at 6:44 AM on June 6, 2004


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