Alexa statistics March 17, 2005 1:05 PM   Subscribe

What does this tell you about the quality and appeal of posts on Metafilter over the last few months?

By comparison Monkeyfilter, Memepool, Slashdot.
posted by DirtyCreature to Etiquette/Policy at 1:05 PM (138 comments total)

it tells me nothing since the tracker has to be installed on an IE browser

and everyone i know who views metafilter doesn't use IE.
posted by Stynxno at 1:07 PM on March 17, 2005


I blame quonsar.
posted by orthogonality at 1:11 PM on March 17, 2005


If you look at the view for 6 mos or 1 year, you see that the current level is pretty consistent with previous levels and that there was a sharp spike in Dec/Jan. I would guess that has to do with new signups during that period and the levels have now gone back to 'normal'.

My 2 cents' worth.
posted by widdershins at 1:11 PM on March 17, 2005


firefox 1.0 release. and quonsar.
posted by quonsar at 1:12 PM on March 17, 2005


I agree with stynxno. I had to deal with this crap at my office where people wanted to know why our Alexa ranking was so low. Found it hard to explain that someone has to install Alexa and be willing to have their browsing habits watched in order for it to work. When that didn't work I told them to ask the IT director knowing full well that she would tell them. She won't even let the Google toolbar be installed on office browsers.
posted by terrapin at 1:15 PM on March 17, 2005


It confirms that Metafilter is dying. Now we just have to wait for confirmation from Netcraft.
posted by sebas at 1:15 PM on March 17, 2005


so what this is telling me is that people who use alexa are coming to this site less and less.

but the spikes tell a different story. the spikes arrive when there appears to be a major news event (i.e. the election / the innaguration). those were major events that was covered by metafilter indepth. but now that those major events are over, less and less Alexa users are visiting the site.

so...maybe newsfilter is good at driving traffic to the site. matt should consider that when he turns metafilter retail.
posted by Stynxno at 1:16 PM on March 17, 2005


Let's have a closer look at the two year view.
posted by DirtyCreature at 1:17 PM on March 17, 2005


What widdershins says. Actually I'm surprised ther wasn't a more general upward trend in october/november and then a rapid fall off.
posted by Mitheral at 1:19 PM on March 17, 2005


Let's have a closer look at the two year view.

Dirty: you seem to be thinking that the average Alexa user == the average Metafilter reader. I'm not going to make that assumption because a) i don't have the data to back that up.

so if you're trying to cry wolf and say that this should be a sign of impending doom, i'm going to laugh at you and say if our Alexa rating dropped to 0 page views, I'd be happy because that would mean the 5000 active members dropped IE and are using decent browsers.
posted by Stynxno at 1:21 PM on March 17, 2005


It tells you that information you get from Alexa doesn't represent the browsing habits of the real world.

on preview: The two year view shows that Slashdot and Memepool are also on the decline (probably not in real terms, though) more than MetaFilter. What's your point?
posted by oaf at 1:21 PM on March 17, 2005


It tells me that we have yet to do a FPP on Alexa.

"I don't need privacy. I don't do anything wrong."

Come on guys! Be team players, and install ALEXA brand spyware today! ; )
posted by Quartermass at 1:22 PM on March 17, 2005


ABANDON SHIP ABORT ABORT
posted by naxosaxur at 1:22 PM on March 17, 2005


If you have a point, just say it.

Or, let me guess. You think metafilter posts are crap and that there should be some kind of scoring system for them?
posted by lazy-ville at 1:23 PM on March 17, 2005


You think metafilter posts are crap and that there should be some kind of scoring system for them?

(-1, Overrated)
posted by oaf at 1:25 PM on March 17, 2005


If you have a point, just say it.

I think he hasn't learned how to read graphs, and his question is a legitimate search for knowledge.

No, really.

Ok, not really.
posted by anapestic at 1:26 PM on March 17, 2005


DirtyCreatures line is plummeting...
posted by quonsar at 1:26 PM on March 17, 2005


1) As people have pointed out, this is nowhere near a reliable and representative sample, for a whole bunch of reasons. I just ran a quick trend report on MeFi using one of the big net ratings companies, and the current monthly average in February is actually above the 13-month mean up to that point.

2) Even that's meaningless, regarding your core assertion, because--as we're all supposed to have learned in the past few years--there is no reliable correlation between site _traffic_ and site _quality_. There was a whole lot more traffic in October--more than twice the spike above the mean that we had in Dec/Jan. Would you argue that the quality of posting was that much better before the election?
posted by LairBob at 1:26 PM on March 17, 2005


lazy-ville writes " Or, let me guess. You think metafilter posts are crap and that there should be some kind of scoring system for them?"

MOD PARANT UP!11!!!
posted by orthogonality at 1:27 PM on March 17, 2005


If you have a point, just say it.

I have my own views and suggestions but I don't claim them to be any more valid than anyone else's here.

But the facts are facts for all to see.

I provided those other three well-known sites as comparison to dispell any "global winds"-type theory such as some of those mentioned above.
posted by DirtyCreature at 1:28 PM on March 17, 2005


I'm looking over the 2-year graph, and I see a definite pattern...


posted by brownpau at 1:28 PM on March 17, 2005


Dirty Creature: your lack of intelligence is disturbing.
posted by Stynxno at 1:31 PM on March 17, 2005


But the facts are facts for all to see.

And the facts that all can see (well, maybe not you) include the fact that Alexa's viewing statistics have little to do with actual viewing statistics.
posted by oaf at 1:32 PM on March 17, 2005


I agree with stynxno. The facts are facts for all to see.
posted by idest at 1:32 PM on March 17, 2005


As noted, it tells me that MeFi users are adopting Firefox faster, or installing the Alexa buttplug less, and that you secretly want to be a web marketing genius but are actually kind of a hack.
posted by scarabic at 1:34 PM on March 17, 2005


It tells me you're comparing pageviews to 'reach', whatever that is. Since the other URLs show a 3-month Daily Reach per Million, here's the relevant chart for Mefi.

Having got that out of the way, I'd like to see a truly relevant graph comparison: Whose high-school yearbooks have more signatures - Matt's or CmdrTaco's?
posted by trondant at 1:37 PM on March 17, 2005


Ooooo.... speculation. How many reasons can we come up with for the sky falling?

Slashdot has half the page views compared to a year ago. I'm guessing that sites like that and Metafilter are mature, known websites. Even Fark's 'daily reach' is down 400 million page views from a year ago. Memepool and MoFi HAVE increased in readers but I think that's through people discovering that they exist.

I'm with the others, I'm willing to blame the 60-70% of the readers at this site that don't use IE. Doesn't using RSS to access the site affect the page views?
posted by Arch Stanton at 1:37 PM on March 17, 2005


My MeFi pageviews have dropped substantially.

One could argue that the thoughtful and urbane posters who used to dominate the contribution index have been replaced by shriller, louder members. A matter of taste, perhaps.
posted by trharlan at 1:44 PM on March 17, 2005


Speaking as someone who deals in statistics all day, I have to tell you that statistics are facts only in the most trivial sense. This type of fact is too weak to confirm any hypothesis without any additional supporting evidence. Furthermore, you have, in fact, explicitly declined to offer any hypothesis. In short, this is bad science.

However, if you're interested in driving the site traffic up, maybe you could help out and leave in an angry flameout? You get bonus points if it involves requests for money, delusional rants, false identities, and/or a nervous breakdown.
posted by casu marzu at 1:44 PM on March 17, 2005


presumably mefi users are similar to monkeyfilter users. but if you compare the two then there's a clear difference. mefi is declining; monkeyfilter is rising. the arguments about people not installing toolbars etc applies to both. so why the difference?
posted by andrew cooke at 1:44 PM on March 17, 2005


It means one thing:

Any idiot can troll MetaTalk
posted by eyeballkid at 1:44 PM on March 17, 2005


What I hate most about Alexa is people beliving in its graphs.

*System Requirements: Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer 5.0 or newer
posted by dabitch at 1:46 PM on March 17, 2005


how does that affect relative comparisons of like sites?
posted by andrew cooke at 1:47 PM on March 17, 2005


it tells me that MeFi users are adopting Firefox faster, or installing the Alexa buttplug less...

I'm willing to blame the 60-70% of the readers at this site that don't use IE. Doesn't using RSS to access the site affect the page views?


_All_ those things are true--these graphs aren't "facts" in any meaningful way, at all. They don't represent any kind of reliable trends, and even if they did, those trends wouldn't mean anything about the quality of the site. (And I'm saying this as someone who thinks that the overall quality _has_ plateaued--I just don't think that this post advances any credible arguments to that point.)
posted by LairBob at 1:50 PM on March 17, 2005


But the facts are facts for all to see.

Exactly how many fallacies do you really want to utilize in the course of one thread?

If Metafilter wanted traffic, it'd be posting pictures of Tara Reid's hooters and Fred Durst's man-unit. But Metafilter isn't a traffic-based scheme. Traffic has nothing to do with quality. Quality has nothing to do with Alexa. I'm sure we'd be happy to hear a cogent argument about your quality complaints, but, so far, nothing in this conversation has anything to do with anything else.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:53 PM on March 17, 2005


how does that affect relative comparisons of like sites?

The basic issue is that the population of people who have both (a) installed the Alexa tracker and (b) visit MeFi is almost certainly too small to generate reliable data. The "numbers" in the graphs aren't actual numbers--they're projections based on the actual tracking sample.

Small samples are, obviously, very sensitive to arbitrary changes, so the graphs aren't _necessarily_ doing anything more than showing how a pretty small set of people happen to be behaving. Sure, they _could_ be representative of the total population, but there's no reason to think they necessarily _are_.

When I looked at traffic data from one of the companies that's generally accepted as a standard for establishing ad rates, the curves had a totally different shape than the Alexa ones we're all looking at. The difference is that _their_ report actually flags that data as "marginal sample sizes", and cautions you not to put too much stock in it.
posted by LairBob at 1:55 PM on March 17, 2005


andrew cooke : "how does that affect relative comparisons of like sites?"

It's not a random sampling. You can only say something like "page views seem to have declined for IE users with Alexa installed". The post asks "What does this tell you about the quality and appeal of posts on Metafilter over the last few months", to which I have to answer "not much". As others have pointed out, the # of hits estimated by Alexa doesn't have anything to do with quality of a site. (Fox News, anyone?)

On preview: LairBob is money.
posted by theFlyingSquirrel at 2:00 PM on March 17, 2005


lairbob is talking crap.
sample size variations would be reflected in local noise in the data. local variations are much smaller than the large variations over months.
and your point, flyingsquirrel, is addressed by looking at relative trends for similar sites. for fuck's sake - this is basic statistical procedure.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:02 PM on March 17, 2005


lairbob is talking crap.

???

My point is about the consistency _between_ two projections that are derived from two different samples--two different sample bodies, using two different pools that are actually very small compared to the larger whole, are going to end up with two totally different projections of that larger whole. To me, that makes it clear that you shouldn't trust either one.

You're making an assertion about the internal consistency of a single small sample, which is an accurate one, but I don't see how it somehow disproves my assertion--that the Alexa sample is just too small to pay attention to.
posted by LairBob at 2:11 PM on March 17, 2005


What does this tell you about the popularity of MetaFilter?

Oh, really? Well, how about this?

I rest my case.
posted by soyjoy at 2:15 PM on March 17, 2005


MetaTalk is more interesting than Metafilter. Discuss!!!
posted by Kleptophoria! at 2:15 PM on March 17, 2005


What are some other sites that track web traffic that are generally accepted as reliable? I want to have a look.

Lairbob, which company did you look to for data?
posted by nyterrant at 2:16 PM on March 17, 2005


What does "per million" mean on those graphs? Does it mean "in millions"? Or is it some measure of the page views per million of Alexa-monitored page views that are attributable to MeFi? I suppose it must mean the former, but it's an odd way to say it.
posted by anapestic at 2:17 PM on March 17, 2005


OMG! Whaterver shall we do?
Maybe you all should have not complained about the Suicide girls.
posted by c13 at 2:20 PM on March 17, 2005

Page views per million indicates what fraction of all the page views by toolbar users go to a particular site. For example, if yahoo.com has 70,000 page views per million, this means that 7% of all page views go to yahoo.com.
So it could mean that there's more crap on the web for people to see. Also, that sort of measurement is more susceptible to movement having to do with different browsers, I reckon.
posted by anapestic at 2:20 PM on March 17, 2005


Lairbob, which company did you look to for data?

It's a for-pay service you need to subscribe to--any interactive ad agency or major online site will subscribe to at least one to do their web-traffic analysis. (I'm not trying to be coy, but this is a client of mine, as well, so I just want to be discreet.)
posted by LairBob at 2:22 PM on March 17, 2005


we'd be happy to hear a cogent argument about your quality complaints

I'll give you my own little experience with Metafilter. I don't claim at all that my experience explains the traffic changes but it certainly does mirror them as you can see.

Came to Metafilter as a reader a few years ago. Loved it. (Metafilter traffic was growing) Wanted to join as a poster to respond to some posts. Was shut out. Found that unsatisfying and highly non-meritocratic. Decided to leave and find somewhere else I could contribute. (Metafilter traffic was gradually declining). Was thrilled to find out that Metafilter signups were opened up for $5 and joined immediately (Metafilter traffic was steeply increasing). Saw a flood of fairly low appeal posts amongst the good ones with no way of quickly sifting through them, and grew increasingly frustrated and looked around at what others were doing (Metafilter traffic was decreasing).

Just my own, single sample size experience. The facts stand as they are whether my own experience is reflective of the majority or not. Interested to hear other plausible explanations.
posted by DirtyCreature at 2:24 PM on March 17, 2005


I'm sorry but all I'm seeing in these graphs is that MonkeyFilter and others are getting added benefit from unsolicited advertising on sites like ... MetaFilter. That's every bit as good an assumption as any other, (i.e. not terribly good.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:26 PM on March 17, 2005


So DC, I guess what you're saying is that your $5 was ill spent, and you want restitution or sumpthin?
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:28 PM on March 17, 2005


Take it to a lawyer. With such solid evidence as this, you have a clear case for suit.

(heheehehehhe)
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:29 PM on March 17, 2005


The more time I spend online, the fewer things I click through on. My own personal threshold is higher now I guess, I don't think it says as much about a particular website as it does about me.

That said, if you want to talk about a site that is severely declining in interest I would take a look at boingboing. I even deleted it off my del.icio.us page. There's only so much self-promotion and sex toys I want to look at in a given day.
posted by cali at 2:31 PM on March 17, 2005


So DC, I guess what you're saying is that your $5 was ill spent, and you want restitution or sumpthin?

No. Was money very well spent. $5 is a complete steal. Would pay $40 per month for it to return to how it used to be though. Just sad to see it declining.
posted by DirtyCreature at 2:31 PM on March 17, 2005


The facts stand as they are

Dude, I haven't seen a single fact in this thread.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 2:32 PM on March 17, 2005


I could care less if less people visit mefi. I also think matthowie could care less of these stats since he's got the real stats, not some lousy IE specific poll.

And I'm sorry, but as great as the links on Memepool are, sometimes it takes a week for a single new link to show up.
posted by furtive at 2:32 PM on March 17, 2005


Saw a flood of fairly low appeal posts amongst the good ones with no way of quickly sifting through them

Metafilter:remixed
posted by casu marzu at 2:33 PM on March 17, 2005


DirtyCreature: You already posted that thread to metatalk. I'm not sure why you felt the need to post again.

If you really feel that the quality has gone down, then either try to improve it (you have posted 3 FPP's - 2 on the exact same topic) or leave. You're not getting your five dollars back. And trying to get pity or start some class action stuff isn't going to help your cause any.

Would pay $40 per month for it to return to how it used to be though.

And exactly what is that? Specifics would be nice rather than "2 years ago it was different". Hell, 2 years ago, you were different.
posted by Stynxno at 2:34 PM on March 17, 2005


andrew cooke : " and your point, flyingsquirrel, is addressed by looking at relative trends for similar sites. for fuck's sake - this is basic statistical procedure."

I respectfully disagree. Your assumption is that the same type of people go to all these sites. I don't believe this is a valid assumption, which would cause your relative trends to not be comparable. I believe this to be basic statistical procedure. And even if you could compare them, it says fuckall about the quality of the sites (as "correlation does not equal causation," as I learned in basic statistics).
posted by theFlyingSquirrel at 2:37 PM on March 17, 2005


Here's one quick way to resolve this argument once and for all: everybody shut up and ask Matt to post a graph of the traffic logs.

Jesus.
posted by Ryvar at 2:38 PM on March 17, 2005


Holy shit, I'd better get memberships at Slashdot and Memepool if I want to hang out with the popular kids!

Pff. *scowls* Anybody want some smokes? *does crazy tricks with my balisong*
posted by sciurus at 2:39 PM on March 17, 2005


Relative trends on the web do not account for additional linking or advertising due to external factors like novelty or grassroots promotion. Relying on trend statistics to bear out unexamined assumptions would convince you that Miss buttfucking is good/Wonkette was the best of the PoliBlogs.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:41 PM on March 17, 2005


*jumps over a shark in a pool on a motorcycle while wearing waterskis*

There, are you happy now?
posted by loquacious at 2:57 PM on March 17, 2005


we need more Chika Honda posts NOW.
then, Alexa users will be happier.
posted by matteo at 3:05 PM on March 17, 2005


Would pay $40 per month for it to return to how it used to be though.

Two years ago, DirtyCreature wasn't posting. $40 is a bit high for me though.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 3:06 PM on March 17, 2005


What DirtyCreature really wants.
posted by brownpau at 3:11 PM on March 17, 2005


DirtyCreature writes "Saw a flood of fairly low appeal posts amongst the good ones with no way of quickly sifting through them, and grew increasingly frustrated and looked around at what others were doing (Metafilter traffic was decreasing)."

So would you use a tool that allowed you to highlight Metafilter posts by authors you select?
posted by orthogonality at 3:12 PM on March 17, 2005


Would pay $40 per month for it to return to how it used to be though.

How is this any different than today's front page?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:14 PM on March 17, 2005


lairbob is talking crap.

Furthermore, it's a misconception that a small sample size is bad. If only a handful of MeFites have I.E. 5+ and the Alexa toolbar (and despite this limitd scope with that regard, it would be a random sample), it's most certainly more than enough. As much as you'd like to think you're different, in the grand scheme, you're really not.
posted by panoptican at 3:18 PM on March 17, 2005


So would you use a tool that allowed you to highlight Metafilter posts by authors you select?

I would yes. That wouldn't be a bad start. I hope this data would be aggregated and used to determine respected authors for the lazy masses who don't care who produces their MTV as long as its appealing - myself included.

Other ideas
1. automated rating system along the lines of what I described in another post
2. raise the price
3. limit the number of posts an author can make until s/he has proven her/himself (according to popularity or moderation or some combination)
4. create detailed categorizations for every post and allow them to be selectively filtered on a personalized basis.
5. MUCH more Chika Honda.
posted by DirtyCreature at 3:26 PM on March 17, 2005


DirtyCreature, it is one thing to vocally criticize changes being made to the way the site has traditionally functioned. It is another thing entirely to suggest the site revamp all of its original basic principles entirely to suit you, personally.

I guess what I'm saying here is GYOBFW.
posted by Ryvar at 3:31 PM on March 17, 2005


This tells me that Firefox is catching on, that new signups happened around that period, and that the elections are over. Mainly the first.
posted by abcde at 3:59 PM on March 17, 2005


So would you use a tool that allowed you to highlight Metafilter posts by authors you select?

I would yes. That wouldn't be a bad start.


Are you aware that this "not a bad start" feature already exists? It's called linking users. Visit someone's profile page. Add them as a contact using the supplied link. Then visit your own profile page.

Tada! You're no longer an ignorant twat!

Try MetaFilter Remixed, too. I think you'll like it. Now what I would like is an end to your uninformed bleating.
posted by scarabic at 4:00 PM on March 17, 2005


Furthermore, it's a misconception that a small sample size is bad.

Yes, but only if the small sample size is random and from a large cross-section.

Alexa is not. Alexa's problem is not small sample size, but the fact that you must install their not-very-useful toolbar to become part of the sample. For very large, mainstream sites it has some value but for niche sites it has very little.

It's like if I did a phone poll but only called people on their home phones at 12pm. The problem would not be my sample size, but the fact that I was only talking to people who were home at that hour.
posted by chaz at 4:08 PM on March 17, 2005


scarabic writes "Are you aware that this 'not a bad start' feature already exists? It's called linking users. Visit someone's profile page. Add them as a contact using the supplied link. Then visit your own profile page. "

I linked scarabic, but his posts are not highlighted.

I've been cheated!
posted by orthogonality at 4:08 PM on March 17, 2005


MetaTalk is more interesting than Metafilter. Discuss!!!

Undoubtedly. brownpau's graph still has me chuckling.

But I guess I should always be mindful of those Antipatterns before posting here.
posted by DirtyCreature at 4:13 PM on March 17, 2005


As trondant points out above ... the original post is comparing "daily page views" of Metafilter with "reach" for the other sites - very different metrics. As already pointed out their relative "reach" should be compared to MeFi's "reach"; their "daily page views" with MeFi's.
posted by ericb at 4:25 PM on March 17, 2005


For background, please review DirtyCreature's posting history on Metafilter and Metatalk. You might start with his first comment ever. Not that it discredits his complaints, but he does have a very low signal/bitching ratio.
posted by Hildago at 4:35 PM on March 17, 2005


But - at the core Alexa statistics are hardly reliable. The Firefox explanation resonates with me, as does the fact that most adware/spyware tools (Adaware, Microsoft's GIANT Antispyware, Webroots Spy Sweeper, etc.) remove and/or block Alexa for I.E.
posted by ericb at 4:36 PM on March 17, 2005


Oh, the ennui!
posted by casu marzu at 4:37 PM on March 17, 2005


...and I suspect that many on MeFi are more diligent about using these tools than the wider "web" population. Just a guess.
posted by ericb at 4:37 PM on March 17, 2005


casu marzu - thanks for pointing out that site!
posted by ericb at 4:39 PM on March 17, 2005


I don't think this is really about 'shooting the messenger', Dirty. It's more of dismissing the idiot on the soapbox. As my post above points out, look at how similar sites like Fark and Slashdot have had their page views fall in half over the last 15 months, just like Metafilter. Would you consider them to be suffering? No.
posted by Arch Stanton at 4:45 PM on March 17, 2005


The obvious answer is to force all Metafilter members to swear a blood oath to never go to those other sites and immediately install Alexa.
posted by terrapin at 4:45 PM on March 17, 2005


Mathowie.

I'm too new here to identify other community members and their relative attributes on Flame Warriors.

But, I suspect others (like those who were able to match Mefites with Simpson characters) could do so!
posted by ericb at 4:48 PM on March 17, 2005


Actually, if there's a pony circling this pile of horseshit, it's the regular publication of MetaFilter's logs, crunched in some meaningful way. That would be cool to see, even just once in a while. Has it been done?
posted by scarabic at 7:44 PM on March 17, 2005


Like DC, I was a reader for several years until I could sign up in the fall. The quality of FPPs has steadily gone down hill. An example, todays post on Maine license plates. WTF? Best of the web?
posted by dbh at 7:56 PM on March 17, 2005


look at how similar sites like Fark and Slashdot have had their page views fall in half over the last 15 months, just like Metafilter.

The only logical explanation for this is that MetaFilter has begun to suck so powerfully that it's pulling down poor Fark's and Slashdot's traffic as well.
posted by soyjoy at 8:01 PM on March 17, 2005


Actually, if there's a pony circling this pile of horseshit, it's the regular publication of MetaFilter's logs, crunched in some meaningful way. That would be cool to see, even just once in a while. Has it been done?

Indeed. Matt provided a bit of info here to my (unfortunately) extremely narrow question. It would be really cool if perhaps a bit more stats along these lines were public.
posted by Ryvar at 8:08 PM on March 17, 2005


Hmm. I was always curious as to how many people readt MetaTalk compared to the other bits. As someone who has no idea, do these graphs mean what they say. (disclaimer: No Fucking Idea at all).

Or am I in the wrong thread?
posted by bdave at 8:10 PM on March 17, 2005


It's like those Toys'R'Us ads: You all need to turn your monitors upside down.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:10 PM on March 17, 2005


Has it been done?

Waxy's stats.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:14 PM on March 17, 2005


...
posted by quonsar at 8:15 PM on March 17, 2005


This thread proves to me how much people love Mefi, actually. It's like with family - we might moan and wail most of the time, but if someone else criticizes them, they better watch out.
posted by pikachulolita at 8:21 PM on March 17, 2005


Having looked at my own link, I see Andy needs to update those stats. Pretty please?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:23 PM on March 17, 2005


quonsar, I love you!
posted by ramix at 8:30 PM on March 17, 2005


I'm just gonna go ahead and pipe in another vote for "DirtyCreature is being a dick for no reason."
posted by shmegegge at 8:32 PM on March 17, 2005


If you want to take Alexa out of the equation (and thereby lose your excuse to bitch, you bizarrely bitch-prone people), you might just ask Andy to update the MeFi stats page.

On preview, I see stav beat me to it. Just email Andy and he'll get Skippy working on the newest stats.
posted by gleuschk at 8:33 PM on March 17, 2005


Late, but: I think there's been some absolutely terrific stuff posted over the past few weeks/month or so. It's been really good.
posted by carter at 8:45 PM on March 17, 2005


Dirty Creature come my way from the bottom of a big black lake
Shuffles up to my window making sure I'm awake
S'probably gonna pick my brain
Got me in a vice-like grip
He said one slip, your dead. Ha.
Dirty Creature of habit
Little horror here to stay
Anyone in his right mind would tell it to go away
but the river of dread runs deep
full of unspeakable things
The creature don't mess around
I don't wanna mess with him

I don't wanna sail, I don't wanna sail
I don't wanna, I don't wanna sail tonight
Dirty Creature's got me at a disadvantage from the inside.

Tentacles on the brain keep me from falling asleep
I'm rooted to the spot
The beast don't know when to stop
Sneaking up from behind
Binds and gags my wits
Dirty Creature got my head exactly where he wants it

I don't wanna sail, I don't wanna sail,
I don't wanna, I don't wanna sail tonight,
Taniwha is waiting for me just below the surface so bright (Yeah)
Even as we speak the Dirty Creature springs a nasty surprise.

Dirty Creature knows my type found it in a magazine
He's seen the look of fear before splattered all over the screen
The animal magnet thug draws me out of myself
I need a dragon-slayer who can save me from myself

I don't wanna sail, I don't wanna sail,
I don't wanna set sail for the middle of nowhere tonight
Dirty Creature's got me at a disadvantage from the inside (Yeah)
I don't wanna sail upon the waters of invention tonight


I like this song. It's by Split Enz, from the album Time & Tide. I don't know if it's relevant.
posted by bdave at 8:49 PM on March 17, 2005


It is a great song, from a great album. I had also assumed that it was the source of DirtyCreature's nick.

I didn't feel it necessary to post the whole bloody song inline, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:53 PM on March 17, 2005


But, I suspect others (like those who were able to match Mefites with Simpson characters) could do so!

This seems totally off-topic, no offense. That having been said . . . .

Reality is often more nuanced than Flame Warriors would have you believe. Quonsar isn't just an Enfant Provocateur, he's also a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde and in some ways a Godfather. I'd like to delusionally believe that I can self-analyze enough to state that I'm largely a Tireless Rebutter and Lonely Guy playing at Rebel Leader on the weekends for charity.

That doesn't mean that there aren't people who fit stereotypes neatly (Ethereal Bligh would be a pretty clear-cut Weenie if he threw tantrums rather than simply throwing up walls of text as a defense mechanism), but I want to highlight the fact that people are more complex than that. Where's the "Great Guy" for the other half of Steve@Linnwood's personality? Where's the "Well-Adjusted Nice Person" for Jessamyn? Matt's nobody's Admin - he never uses his authority against people just because they continually dare question him - he generally uses his powers to stamp out forest fires (or completely at random when cranky). When pressed by a large fraction of the forum, he caves because regardless of your opinion of his actions, he genuinely cares about the community as much if not moreso than the rest of us do.

Flame Warriors is oversimplified to the point of being outright dangerous. People drag it out of the attic every so often, dust it off and then attempt to insult the hell out of each other with horribly simplistic caricatures that do not reflect people as they truly are. This reinforces the elements that serve to poison a community, and I think that attempting to use it to understand the people in a community is worse than intellectually dishonest, it is outright lazy.

I'd ask you to take the time to get to know us - some of us a touch abrasive but a lot of these other people are worth knowing - and figure out for yourself who and what they actually are, rather than just relying on cardboard cutouts slapped on by others.
posted by Ryvar at 8:54 PM on March 17, 2005


Sorry, Stav. I am a loser today.
posted by bdave at 9:01 PM on March 17, 2005


insult the hell out of each other with horribly simplistic caricatures that do not reflect people as they truly are

Well, such charicatures can tell the truth about a person's behavior without telling the whole truth about a person's soul.
posted by scarabic at 9:08 PM on March 17, 2005


That's OK, BDave. I'm feeling the same way, pretty much.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:09 PM on March 17, 2005


Well, such charicatures can tell the truth about a person's behavior without telling the whole truth about a person's soul.

I'd contend that even that's false. People are nothing if not mercurial.
posted by Ryvar at 9:11 PM on March 17, 2005


Ryvar writes "Where's the 'Great Guy' for the other half of Steve@Linnwood's personality"

Steve_at_Linnwood has a personality? I thought he was just an AI seeded with College Republican talking-points.

I keed, I keed!

The other half of him is a great guy!
posted by orthogonality at 9:33 PM on March 17, 2005


I said they can be telling about "behavior," not "people." Read before reacting.

While people may be mercurial, their behavior can be singleminded and predictible and deserving of a good kick in the pants. Prove me wrong by not instantly telling me how wrong I am ;)

All satire is charicature in some measure. Ease up, enjoy your skin, take a lump now and then, and relax, lest you become a charicature of yourself.
posted by scarabic at 11:53 PM on March 17, 2005


Like DC, I was a reader for several years until I could sign up in the fall. The quality of FPPs has steadily gone uphill. We've finally moved away from PoliFlameFilter and gone back to best of the web. Thank you all.
posted by Bugbread at 12:52 AM on March 18, 2005


I just wanna speak as a long time reader who now only reads the blue once every month or so.

I used to read the blue (and contribute, post, comment) every day. Multiple times a day. New stuff was coming through. It was cool, it was fun. Ever since around the time AskMe started.. MeFi Blue just started to fall off the radar. del.icio.us came into life, and suddenly I could see 101 interesting links, rather than 10 at a time. I could avoid politics, and spend my time doing more productive things.

Now I read AskMe multiple times a day instead, and don't venture over to the Blue. The few times I have ventured over there in the last few months have been disappointing. I've seen 75% of it on del.icio.us, Slashdot, or someone's blog before. It's just not relevant to me anymore.
posted by wackybrit at 12:56 AM on March 18, 2005


No. Was money very well spent. $5 is a complete steal. Would pay $40 per month for it to return to how it used to be though. Just sad to see it declining.

Clearly, the drop off in quality is the $5 noobs not pulling their weight. Charge DirtyCreature $40 to shove off.
posted by biffa at 2:25 AM on March 18, 2005


While I don't think that the statistics that prompted this thread are particularly meaningful, I think that a lot of the abuse that DC's getting here is out of line. I don't get the impression that he's pissing on MeFi for no good reason. He evidently perceives a genuine fall in the quality of the site, and he wants to discuss it. It would be better if people could debunk the statistics without so much rancor.

I'm not sure how you'd really measure site quality except for your own personal impression, and clearly Alexa statistics aren't going to say much, except perhaps to poorly informed potential advertisers, so I think that criticism is probably better done by pointing out trends with links to objectionable posts. Still, cut the guy some slack.
posted by anapestic at 5:12 AM on March 18, 2005


Steve_at_Linnwood has a personality? I thought he was just an AI seeded with College Republican talking-points.

I keed, I keed!

The other half of him is a great guy!
posted by orthogonality at 9:33 PM PST


You sure you don't mean he's a Great American?
posted by nofundy at 5:54 AM on March 18, 2005


anapestic: have a look at his posting history, he's basically come in here shouting 'this is shit, change it to suit me'.
posted by biffa at 6:06 AM on March 18, 2005


anapestic, YHBT.
posted by brownpau at 6:19 AM on March 18, 2005


While people may be mercurial, their behavior can be singleminded and predictible and deserving of a good kick in the pants. Prove me wrong by not instantly telling me how wrong I am ;)

All satire is charicature in some measure. Ease up, enjoy your skin, take a lump now and then, and relax, lest you become a charicature of yourself.


That's just logically fallacious beyond words. I mean, wow.

As for easing up and taking my lumps - nobody's aimed a Flame Warriors jibe at me yet. I'm not only not taking any lumps, I'm suggesting that the idea that anybody needs to take any lumps from a laughable bunch of stereotypes few people fit into is as useless (were it true) as it is wrong.

Not only does the sum of my behavior on Metafilter fail to fall neatly into any or all of the three categories it most closely corresponds to, there are other categories of behavior - mostly positive behavior - which most people including perhaps myself display that there is no counterpart for amongst those stereotypes. Flamewarriors is not merely dangerously wrong to begin with - it is wildly incomplete from the beginning.
posted by Ryvar at 6:23 AM on March 18, 2005


he's basically come in here shouting 'this is shit, change it to suit me'

No, he hasn't. He hasn't said anything especially inflammatory, except to people who are hypersensitive to criticism. And he's offered concrete suggestions. The suggestions may be bizarre, but he is not making a personal attack on anyone, and he's being greeted with attacks in return.

Many MeTa posters will use "community" as their buzzword to, in effect, say "this is what I want." You'll see material on how deletions harm the community, or this or that helps the community, or simply "we do this because we're a community." Well, is this the way a responsible community responds to criticism? I assume that some of you belong to offline communities, as I do, and I never see this sort of harsh treatment of newcomers or critics, or newcoming critics. Sometimes the disagreements are quite harsh, with someone's job or a lot of money on the line, but the treatment remains civil, and people with different points of view are incorporated into the community and learn to treat each other in a respectful manner.

There is a big difference between "I've noticed a decline in the quality of front page posts" and "y'all suck!" DC has said the former, and people are responding to the latter.

And, on preview, brownpau, I don't think so, but you're certainly entitled to your own opinion.
posted by anapestic at 6:27 AM on March 18, 2005


anapestic, most offline communities I'm a member of would likely not respond well to a newcomer who walked in saying, 'bloody hell, things are going downhill here, you want to be adopting a pile of things that I've just come up with, regardless of the fact that you've been rejecting them for years'. We've been over why we don't want ratings on MeFi how many times?

There is nothing in my post that accuses him of making personal attacks.
posted by biffa at 6:47 AM on March 18, 2005


Ryvar, you're right. You are a tireless rebutter.
posted by shmegegge at 6:48 AM on March 18, 2005


anapestic, you're working on the fundamental assumption that DirtyCreature's "criticism" was done in good faith, instead of intending to drawing attention to himself and his:

Other ideas
1. automated rating system along the lines of what I described in another post


...along with other ideas that had either been previously discussed and dismissed, or ones whose merits were so far from self-evident that his failure to provide additional justification for them was damning.

He knew that throwing out something provocative (such as by ludicrously correlating dubious statistics with "quality and appeal of posts") would elicit responses -- and just like with scattershot spam, aim for enough targets and some responses will be invariably be positive. So I agree with brownpau: YHBT.

His lame accusation against everyone for shooting the messenger pretty much sealed the deal for me. What sort of posting history did he have before he assumed the "messenger" role, and what was his message, exactly? The answer to neither question particularly inspires confidence in his intentions.
posted by DaShiv at 7:00 AM on March 18, 2005


Anapestic there's a difference between someone who criticizes changes in accepted norms and someone who insists right off the bat that changes be made to the entire basic functioning of the system from the day they join. If you can't see that, I'm not really sure what else to say.

And shmegegge, I've let shit slide and disengaged from arguments many, many times on MeFi. As I said, reality is more nuanced.
posted by Ryvar at 7:04 AM on March 18, 2005


'bloody hell, things are going downhill here, you want to be adopting a pile of things that I've just come up with, regardless of the fact that you've been rejecting them for years'

You're inferring both a tone and content that wasn't in the original post:

What does this tell you about the quality and appeal of posts on Metafilter over the last few months?

Perhaps what he said was meant as a snark, but I see no evidence of that. In return he's been characterized as "an idiot on a soapbox" and been told to "shove off." You may not be accusing him of making personal attacks, but people are certainly taking what he's said personally.

I think that when people have shown a consistent pattern of abusive behavior here, they can, and perhaps should, be abused in return. I don't see that in his case, even though both his MeTa posts have been complaints (complaints in MeTa, what a revolutionary idea).

A lot of people with high user numbers here are anything but newcomers. If you read the history of his experience with the site, you'll see that he's been around for a while but couldn't join. It's not an uncommon story. Unless he's telling an out-and-out lie, he's had plenty of time to develop an informed opinion about site quality.

On the other hand, he probably won't be posting here much longer after the reception he's received, so I reckon almost everyone got what they wanted.

Anapestic there's a difference between someone who criticizes changes in accepted norms and someone who insists right off the bat that changes be made to the entire basic functioning of the system from the day they join. If you can't see that, I'm not really sure what else to say.

Where is this "insistence," Ryvar? I see only a suggestion. Did he threaten to take his ball and go home or sue Matt if the changes weren't made?
posted by anapestic at 7:07 AM on March 18, 2005


Anapestic: While I agree that the voices of the opposition may be overbearing, you really should check through his/her Metatalk post history. Since joining, DirtyCreature has made two threads and 12 posts in the grey. Both threads were about Metafilter quality being low/needing a rating system, and all 12 posts have been about Metafilter quality being low/needing a rating system.
posted by Bugbread at 7:41 AM on March 18, 2005


you really should check through his/her Metatalk post history

I did check his history. If he had made four or five threads in the gray on the same topic, then I'd say people had a better point. As to the twelve posts, eleven of them were in those two threads, so it really makes sense that they would be about that topic. Also, while he's mostly been talking about a rating system, he has offered other suggestions as well.

Just as the data posted at the start of this thread has limited analytical value because of the small sample size, so too does generalizing about someone's behavior here after twelve posts.

I don't think the rating system is a great idea, but it wouldn't kill people to say "it would be extraordinarily difficult to program into the system, it would require too much tweaking to make it work correctly, it would be easy to abuse, and/or people here are generally uncomfortable with the idea of rating other users" instead of calling him a dick.
posted by anapestic at 7:55 AM on March 18, 2005


How about "rating systems are inherently flawed in any open membership website now and forever?" Or at least until that magical day it is possible to identify who is behind the keyboard with 100% certainty.
posted by Ryvar at 8:06 AM on March 18, 2005


Jesus Christ, Ryvar, lighten the fuck up.

People drag it out of the attic every so often, dust it off and then attempt to insult the hell out of each other with horribly simplistic caricatures that do not reflect people as they truly are.

Bullshit. I "dragged it out of the attic" as a joke in response to Hidalgo's characterization of DirtyCreature's "very low signal/bitching ratio." This was not an attempt to "insult the hell out of" anyone, but it struck me as a very apt parody of the argument that DirtyCreature was making (if he was actually making one; I still can't tell). The fact that he blithely ignored constructive suggestions from both me and scarabic suggested that he was more interested in complaining than in seeking improvement to the things that were bugging him.

DirtyCreature, if you're still following along, and you are actually as disaffected as you claim, you have only two realistic options: leave, or set an example of the type of behavior you'd like to see from everyone else by making posts that you think are good. Complaining about the "overall quality" of the site in Metatalk is just pissing in the wind. You cannot change anyone else's behavior; once you learn this, you'll have a much easier time.

Reality is often more nuanced than Flame Warriors would have you believe... I want to highlight the fact that people are more complex than that.

You don't say! Dude, the website is just for funsies; it's not trying to "have you believe" anything. Mike Reed gleefully admits to having behaved like most of these characters at some point. I think many other people would as well, myself included.

Anyway, everyone knows that this is quonsar. Scroll down to the bottom of his userpage and compare the picture. Coincidence? I think not.
posted by casu marzu at 8:43 AM on March 18, 2005


I wouldn't mind adding a "my contacts' posts" item on the front page pull-down menu to have easier access to just posts for people I like. Sure, it's available when I click on my name, then on the 'view contributions...' thing, but it would be nice if it were more out in the open.
posted by Arch Stanton at 8:48 AM on March 18, 2005


casu: I may have overreacted, but I've seen it used so very, very many times in various IRC channels by assholes trying to pigeonhole the other posters. I've been both an antagonist and a victim of this crap, and eventually it began to really bug me the way it serves to poison people against one another.

Sorry if I came off a bit strident, I've just seen it used one too many times at this point to not get very very angry about the way it's served to unravel various friendships and communities. People are naturally drawn to characterizations as a natural outgrowth of our innate tribalism, and almost nobody is rational enough to prevent said depictions from coloring their opinions. Strikes a nerve is all. Again, my apologies.
posted by Ryvar at 9:05 AM on March 18, 2005


A little nudity around here would change everything.
posted by breezeway at 9:35 AM on March 18, 2005


We're all breathlessly awaiting the link to your webcam, breezeway.
posted by anapestic at 9:50 AM on March 18, 2005



posted by breezeway at 9:52 AM on March 18, 2005


It's true I don't have the depth of sensitivity and caring about the communities I am part of as some of those here. To me this is just entertainment. I'm not a troll (....proclaimed in my best Joseph Merrick voice....) I'm just an insensitive, low attention span couch potato looking for some light interesting reading. (Hmmm or is that the same thing?) However research studies support the claim that shockingly insensitive people like me purely seeking entertainment probably constitute at least 90% of a typical large online community userbase.

But even if the psychological profiling here eventually proved conclusively that I am the Evil Troll Overlord deriving my sick pleasure from stirring up communities by pretending to offer constructive suggestions, I am not convinced that will quite be enough to persuade Alexa to revise its traffic history so we can all rest peacefully in the knowledge we are heading in an upward direction.

Don't read this if you're sensitive. But just maybe it might help those giving these issues some serious thought.

Attention span threshold for this thread exceeded. Going back to the blue. Might give the green a flick through also.
posted by DirtyCreature at 10:08 AM on March 18, 2005


A little nudity around here would change everything.

That would all depend on whose.
posted by jonmc at 10:15 AM on March 18, 2005


DirtyCreature : "I am not convinced that will quite be enough to persuade Alexa to revise its traffic history so we can all rest peacefully in the knowledge we are heading in an upward direction."

Good thing, because I'm not convinced that Alexa's traffic history bears any relation to our direction.
posted by Bugbread at 11:23 AM on March 18, 2005


I am not convinced that will quite be enough to persuade Alexa to revise its traffic history so we can all rest peacefully in the knowledge we are heading in an upward direction.

Why should we give a shit what Alexa does? I'm floored that you're still pretending it means anything.
posted by scarabic at 12:01 PM on March 18, 2005


Well, that settles it, then. DirtyCreature is definitely a troll.
posted by casu marzu at 12:20 PM on March 18, 2005


Don't read this if you're sensitive.

Oh good grief. Don't you have any new and interesting links?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:23 PM on March 18, 2005


Well, that settles it, then. DirtyCreature is definitely a troll.

The argument could be made that he's just unusually stubborn and not very bright, but as those are among the qualities of story book trolls, I am coming around to your way of thinking.
posted by anapestic at 1:55 PM on March 18, 2005


He continues to hammer away at his irrelevant point (which is, I think, something along the lines of "OMG j00 guyz ar3 teh suxxx0rz!!") to the point of ignoring everything else, including several constructive suggestions. Thus: troll.
posted by casu marzu at 2:04 PM on March 18, 2005


Erm... there's a mistake here. It says we're a "Community based news oriented weblog." Of course, the news-event spikes, as people have noted, might have led to that (false) conclusion.
posted by koeselitz at 2:43 PM on March 18, 2005


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